A recent survey was published in a book by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner called, The Truth About Leadership. They asked each respondent to select seven characteristics out of twenty. These percentages represent respondents from six continents so it was a fairly large data base.
Here are some of the highest percentage ratings for leaders… Honest 85, Forward-Looking 70, Inspiring 69, Competent 64, Intelligent 42, Broad-Minded, 40 Dependable 37, Supportive 36, Fair-Minded, 35 Straightforward, 31 Determined, 28 Cooperative 26, Ambitious 26, Courageous 21, Caring 20, Loyal 18, Imaginative 18, Mature 16, Self-Controlled 11, Independent 6.
Notice that the top four characteristics were cited by more than 50 percent of the respondents: 1. being honest 2. being forward-looking 3. being inspiring and 4. being competent.
This study was not targeting Christian leaders; however I think these top four are qualities that members of our churches look for in leaders.
“Honesty” and integrity should be first because a Christian leader cannot lead if he is not the real deal. The old saying, “if you don’t walk the walk don’t talk the talk” is true. We desire for our leaders to do both. Their talk needs to match their walk and vice versa. We’ve all witnessed Christian and secular leaders who have imploded and lost their positions of leadership simply because of one lie or compromising the truth at some point. As followers of Christ we must always be men and women of integrity as we seek to reflect Jesus Christ.
“Being forward looking” is another expected quality of a leader. Successful leaders lead by consensus but they lead the consensus! In other words they combine the best ideas from others with their own and weave them into a plan that impacts the future. We call this quality “vision.” The ability to see what does not exist yet, to actually conceptualize it before it is on the drawing board. As Christian leaders we should be best at this because our future is guaranteed. We know that God will work all things together for good and we know who is actually holding history in His hands.
“Being inspiring” is another great quality to possess. Most followers desire for their leader to be inspirational and passionate about what they do. Again, as Christian leaders this should not be that hard because of the Holy Spirit living in us. He will teach us and guide us and fill us with passion and energy. Our Book is not boring. The Bible is the most exciting book in the world for it is God breathed. It inspires and convicts and changes lives. Our real problem is not that the message is boring but sometimes the messenger is! As we preach and teach God’s Word we should always do it with passion and zeal.
The last characteristic is “being competent.” Needless to say as leaders we should know what we are doing. Preachers need to know how to preach and shepherd and lead. Teachers and disciple makers should be able to move someone by communicating God’s Word with clarity. The best leaders are those who are still learners. They still attend conferences, read books, and avail themselves to training and mentoring thus becoming more component.
Let’s not forget that the single most important characteristic for all Christian leaders is to be “Christ-like.”
So how is your leadership style? In what area do you need to grow?
Keep the Son in your Eyes,