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We asked Top Leaders to Share their Number One Advice, and Here’s What They Said…

July 31, 2014 7 Comments
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When I learned about the LDC (Leadership Development Consultation) Conference I was intrigued. I was excited by it’s vision statement: “Be inspired to pursue God’s highest in leader development in the nations.” I saw the immediate connection with God’s dream and calling in my life. In the litany of leadership conferences, LDC is refreshingly unique. It goes against the passive, audience-like conference style. In fact, it’s more of work session where it’s unique, collaborative, and dynamic programs enable the participants to identity and develop specific steps on the key opportunities and challenges they face in their own leadership development initiatives.

In other words, the very best students of Christian leadership development convene at this annual conference. LDC asked them the question, What’s the best leadership development advice you can give? and here’s what the participants said.

I strongly suggest that you take time let these truths percolate into your leadership mindset. Imagine how the world will change, if we have leaders who truly follow this.

  • “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17:17) In every matter, be it relationships or work situations, always be open to seeking to understand the true reality/truth with all its motivations and consequences. While we are not to judge people, leaders are continually involved in situations where wise judgment is called for. So don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Peel back the surface and look underneath to see the true causes of the pain and trouble, the joy or celebration that are the grounds of our reality.
  • Rejection is inevitable at some point by someone – perhaps even our own followers – but the key to a healthy leader is to know at a deep and stable heart level that our Lord Jesus has not rejected us.
  • Learn what Jesus said and did for the disciples. Follow His steps, like washing the disciples’ feet.
  • Leadership competencies develop as the leaders experience challenges, overcome them and reflect on what the experience has to teach them. This is rarely done intentionally, because so many leaders are so busy with administrative tasks that they don’t have time to reflect. Connecting the leader with a person or group that can help him or her debrief experiences and talk through problems is the best approach for helping the leader to grow.
  • To be the best leader you can be, the one best thing you can do is to deepen your relationship with Christ. This also applies to all of your relationships. In order to be the best co-worker, friend, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, pastor or trainer, deepen your relationship with Christ.
  • What is learned is more important than what is taught. Leader-developers often don’t realize how much they still have to learn! Humility, a willingness to be taught, and appreciative inquiry are all essential to become effective leader-developers. They’re also essential to life and godliness.
  • Leading by example – orchestrated by the Holy Spirit – is the organic way of mentoring and coaching leaders

  • Leaders will lead best when they are passionate about what they’re doing; when it’s simply an expression of who they already are and it’s not work for them. Look for those who serve as an overflow of their lives and walk alongside them to impart wisdom and help them to be whom they are in Christ.
  • In John 15:5, Jesus said, “Apart from Me you cannot do anything.” If you do not have an ongoing relationship with Christ, all your work, productivity and ministry are illegitimate in God’s sight (Hos. 5:7).
  • Be sure you are learning from others and in turn, passing it on.
  • Our own development in leadership is not determined by seeking a higher position, but by doing our best in the present one.
  • Examine your primary motivations as you lead teams and ministry projects. Do your motivations hold up in the light of Scripture?
  • Ask and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit each and every second of your life.
  • Allow for continuous communication, not just at one time or during one training.
  • Leader development happens in the context of discipleship. Discipling is bringing a person to fulfill God’s agenda for his or her life. It’s bringing the person to where God wants him or her to be, not where we want him or her to be.
  • Building leaders is a life-transformation process in the emerging leader that takes time and demands wholehearted commitment on the part of existing leaders.
  • A leader should honestly know himself.
  • Aim at holistic development and follow through.
  • Time does not automatically develop leaders but leadership development always takes time. There are no short-cuts to developing effective godly leaders. It requires relational commitment as leaders invest time into the lives of others.
  • Teach by example.
  • Maturing leaders need not only to know what they believe but to see how the Christian life is lived. Teach by example how to love, forgive, encourage, deal with crisis, and be accountable in order to avoid temptation. Share your successes and your failures. Show them your brokenness and weakness, not just your strength. Not by words alone, but by example. Live with them, eat the bread they eat, sleep, laugh and cry with them. It is your example they will follow. The most important value of a teacher, mentor or coach is therefore not his knowledge but his character. Competence can be learned from a textbook; character is formed by true living, Jesus’ way. Remind them that being a Christian leader is not about success, competence, or influence, but grace – grace to live through the brokenness, the failures, the trials and tribulations, the rejection by those you lead and love, who will disappoint you, as you will at times disappoint them.
  • Focus on quality over quantity; relationships over meetings; love over achievements.

  • Align yourself with a leader who has attributes different from yours and a leadership style that you can learn from.
  • Answer to the best of your ability the necessary questions before you start. Observe how leader development already takes place within the group you’re serving. Look for and learn from others who might be doing similar types of leader development. Know the difference between training and development.
  • Remember that you are called to be a servant before being a leader. Leading flows out of who you are in Christ and not by what you do, what you have or what others say about you. The way you lead others must be adorned by a humble spirit that reflects Christ above and beyond any human example or cultural value so that others are encouraged to do the same. Ultimately, everything a leader does and becomes must be placed at the feet of the cross as the paragon example of leading out of complete vulnerability, just as Jesus exemplified and opened a path for us to follow.
  • Who are you training to take your place?
  • Listen more. Pray more. Focus more.
  • Focus on being more like Christ. Content transfer will not build Christ-like leaders.
  • Stay grounded in Jesus (John 15:5)… Let Him be your center of gravity in leadership.
  • Someone said: if you’re about to give a sermon, pray as if you have never preached, and preach as if you had never prayed. Spiritual leadership is the marriage of deep spirituality and well-honed ministry skills – a blending of the divine and the human – a reflection of Christ Himself. We must make sure the impetus and vision for our leadership emerges out of our communion with the Trinity. Anything else obstructs the work of the Spirit. We must make sure our leadership emerges out of the very best in leadership character, vision, knowledge, skills and practices. Anything else obstructs the work of the Spirit. Leadership is a divine-human work. May our leadership offer the best in human leadership skills in the very fullness of the Spirit of Christ.
  • Develop and nurture your own intimate walk with God as Father in the regular presence of a small community of emerging leaders. Ask penetrating questions of them, repeat your key teachings, and make it burn (meaning: make the teachings challenging personally and experientially). Get out of the theory-room and onto the playing field as you build these people with the Holy Spirit’s help; He will guide you step-by-step. Stop looking for the perfect program and start building those around you to the very best of your ability. Let their progress, set-backs, feed-back, and most importantly, friendship, shape what you do and how you do it. And remember, building leaders takes real time.
  • Lead by example.

About the Author:

Paul Sohn is an organizational chiropractor, purpose weaver, and kingdom-minded catalyst. Paul currently serves at The Boeing Company as a LEAN practitioner, providing expertise in continuous improvement initiatives, building high-performing teams and processes to create effective organizations. Paul also serves as an organizational consultant and Board Director at the Portland Leadership Foundation. He is writing his forthcoming book on how to live intentionally as a twenty-something. Paul received a Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of British Columbia in 2010. Above all, Paul’s vision is to turn the world upside down by equipping, connecting, and transforming emerging Christian leaders and organizations.
  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Some amazing quotes here Paul! One thing that I have always pursued was living and leading as and overflow from my heart. It’s that kind of passion in others that has always motivated and inspired me and I want that to be why I lead as well.

  • http://www.pauljolicoeur.com/about/ Paul Jolicoeur

    Wow, there is a tone packed into this post. I especially like you last line that leaders should lead by example. At the end of the day, leaders only replicate themselves. So be the person you want others to be.

    • http://www.chandlercrawford.com/ Chandler Crawford

      I agree, you are always leading by example, it’s just a matter of what example that may be.

    • http://www.WesleyWiley.com/ Wesley Wiley

      “be the person you want others to be.” That’s tweetable Pau! :)

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  • http://www.WesleyWiley.com/ Wesley Wiley

    Great post Paul. There are some powerful insights there. I love the thought that time doesn’t develop leaders, but development will always take time. We must be intentional about growth and not just assume it will happen.

  • Beverly Richards

    Excellent advice from clearly “boots on the ground” leaders…