Every leader has their own productive strengths, internal capacities, and external opportunities. That’s part of what makes each of us unique. And within that, there is great freedom and importance to be yourself.
With that said, however, there are three broad categories all leaders are measured in by those who follow them.
Before we dig into those three areas of responsibility, I’d like to acknowledge an important fact.
All leaders are evaluated.
Even those who resist it.
(Evaluation is not the same as judgement. Evaluation is based on strengths with a bias of support and for improvement. Judgement is based on weakness with a bias for criticism or even condemnation.)
You may or may not have a formal annual review by a supervisor or a board of directors, but you are evaluated by those you follow you.
It’s not always even a conscious process, but don’t pretend it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t mean people aren’t grateful for your leadership; being assessed is just part of being a leader.
You are assessed on your:
The results of your evaluation range from the possibly surface sounding issue of whether or not someone likes you, to the deeper issues of whether or not that person actually trusts, respects, and follows you.
The danger in knowing you are evaluated is the potential for you to fall prey to performance or people-pleasing.
Which, of course, are to be avoided at all costs.
The best way to embrace the evaluation of your leadership by your congregation is to evaluate yourself first and more rigorously than your followers would.
The idea of your congregation evaluating you doesn’t mean you report to everyone. Still, it does acknowledge that people make daily decisions of whether or not they will continue to follow your leadership.
(If you have a direct supervisor, it’s also wise to evaluate yourself and take action on your personal growth before your supervisor does.)
Let’s dive into the three broad categories of responsibility for which you are assessed for both capability and results.
3 Categories of Leadership Responsibility:
(Note: This post acknowledges the elements of spiritual life and character as foundational to these three categories.)
1) Relational Savvy
Healthy, meaningful, and productive relationships always begin with connection, and that requires trust.
I like the word “savvy” because it says so much. It includes confidence, knowledge, and ability. It provides perception and understanding.
All of those ingredients are part of being self-aware as a leader.
The process works like this.
Heart ➡️ Connection ➡️ Trust ➡️ Follow
Here’s a brief summary of how these four words work together.
If you lead with your heart, people can connect with you. If people connect with you, they will trust you, and if they trust you, they will follow you.
If you read this process in reverse, it gains even greater clarity and insight.
People will not follow anyone they do not trust. They cannot trust someone they don’t connect with, and they can’t connect with someone with whom they cannot find their heart.
I’ve written an entire post on this, and you can read it here.
Spiritual discernment is also a vital part of great relationships with people. This does not suggest you are constantly evaluating every word a person is saying. Remember, relationships are meant to be enjoyed.
However, you will need to discern the nuances of what someone is saying in certain conversations, especially if you are basing a significant decision upon it.
Another helpful post on this subject is titled “10 Great Relationship Principles I’ve Learned from John Maxwell.” You can read it here.
2) Strategic Execution
The people who follow your leadership not only want to know where you are going, but also that you know how to get them there.
My family knows that I’m notoriously poor with directions while driving. I start thinking and talking, and sure enough, I miss the exit! And whenever I think we should turn left, it always should have been right.
My best intentions and good relationships are not enough to get us where we are supposed to arrive. (Waze has become my best friend while driving!)
While very few people want to see charts and graphs, they all want to know you have a plan and that you are consistently working your plan.
“Strategy makes progress believable. Vision unites the team and strategy aligns the team. Alignment is the process by which the leaders and the people come together in agreement about how they will realize the vision. The vision represents the why, and the strategy encompasses the what and how.” (from Confident Leader! Page 138.)
What if you are a good leader but not a good organizer? For example, you may be good with people and a strong communicator. That’s great, but unfortunately not enough. There is good news for you.
The good news is that if you are not great with strategic plans, you can ask others to help you.
My new book, Confident Leader! will help you develop your strategy, but to get you started now, here are a few important questions from that chapter. (Ch 11 – page 139)
- Who is the point leader?
- Who is on the team?
- How are decisions made?
- What are the key objectives and the preferred timeline?
- What are the obstacles in your path?
- What resources required?
- How will you review and measure progress and determine success?
3) Inspirational Approach
So far, we have covered:
Good with people:
Good with Strategy:
The 3rd category is inspiration.
The responsibility to inspire is not reserved only for the senior pastor and a few leaders at the top of the organization.
All leaders must inspire.
The good news is that you can inspire people your own way making the most of your personality and strengths.
Keep in mind that the majority of the time you inspire others is not while standing on a stage before a large crowd, it’s more often one to one and small groups and is connected to how you live.
Of course, what you actually say matters, but your actions are much more powerful than your words.
If your life contradicts your words, you will not inspire anyone.
Whether you are casting vision to your board, or one staff member or a small group of volunteers, who you are, and how you say what you say matters.
You may be a leader who inspires others because you have a big personality, and you’re a great communicator. That’s wonderful.
But what if that’s not you?
You may be like many church leaders who inspire through your relationships because you’re just really good with people. Or you may inspire because you are so organized! Does organization actually inspire people? Absolutely! Remember, people hate chaos and love progress!
You will need some relational back up just like the relational leader needs some strategic backup, but the point is to lean into your own style of inspiring others.
Good at Inspiring:
I hope this is helpful to you and your team!