If you are a leader you are developing leaders, even if you don’t know it.
The question is this: Are you doing it on purpose or by default?
In my case I’ve spent the last 19 years or so developing leaders passively, or by default. I figured that as I taught the Bible, led worship, and moderated discussions that burgeoning leaders would simply learn by osmosis.
I was wrong.
How do I know? That’s not how I learned to be a leader! Several people took special interest in me, devoting time and energy to me. They sat me down and taught me how to teach, how to lead, how to counsel, how to plan, how to be on mission, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve submitted to the leadership of some poor leaders in my day too. And in those cases I knew that I wasn’t being led well because they weren’t leading me. Instead they were placing all the responsibility on me. I get that. Who wants to volunteer for more to be put on his or her proverbial plate?
Whatever the case, somewhere along the line I dropped the ball. I went from being intentionally developed by a few great people to hoping this whole missionally following Jesus thing would just rub off on those I would like to develop. This was a mistake…and I don’t want to make it anymore.
So, as I look back into my past I can think of a handful of people that I did invest in intentionally. In these few relationships I tried to be strategic and purposeful. Here are a few things I learned:
- Be Clear about Expectations — If you are wanting to invest in someone or someone asks you to mentor them, spell out the expectations. How often are you going to meet? What will you talk about? Who will be responsible? What are you asking of yourself and the other?
- Hold Each Other Accountable — Listen to the person you are investing in. He or she will likely tell you, overtly or covertly, how you are doing. When you get this information, respond! Make changes when appropriate in order to help the person you are leading reach his/her potential. And hold the one you are leading accountable to the things he or she agrees to. Don’t assume progress is being made — check up on it!
- Follow up, Follow up, Follow up — I have found that when it comes to leadership development, one old adage is true and one is not. It’s not true that distance makes the heart grow fonder! Instead, distance helps lead the heart to wander. On the flip side, it is true that once you are out of sight, the one you are leading will eventually let you drop out of mind. How do you prevent this? Meet regularly, check in via email, facebook, text, etc. more often than you meet in person, and do a drop in every now and then!
- Listen a Bunch and Listen Some More after That — If you’re anything like me, then you like to talk! But if I want to help someone grow in their leadership, I need to listen way more than I talk. This is so very hard for me! Instead of listening I’d rather think out loud, fix problems, and just enjoy the sound of my own voice! But doing so hampers the growth of the one in which I’m investing.
- Be Inviting — There may be nothing that is more damaging in leadership development than being overly guarded. I’m not saying that you should be stupid and eradicate all the boundaries around you and your family. But what I am saying is that you must be authentic with the ones you are leading. Invite them in. Lead by example Let them see you fail. And let them see you get back up again!
What else would you add to this list? How else can we develop missional leaders? Let me know in the comments below!