We know certain traits are common among good leaders.

For example, strength, decisiveness, courage, drive, and resilience. These are just a few of the desired attributes of a good leader. All are needed and admirable.

We need leaders who have the ability to help the church forward. Without them, we can spin our wheels and get stuck. 

But is progress the only issue on the table? What about how you get where you want to go?

The destination is incredibly important, but the journey matters.

The purpose of your church sets the direction, but the leaders set the culture.

Candidly, I’m not going to follow a weak leader, but I’m looking for more than just strength. And I’m fortunate; I’ve been blessed to follow leaders who possess the attributes that aren’t always championed.

They are traits ascribed more to the heart of a leader and make that leader not only someone you are willing to follow but fully trust respect and are willing to serve.

They are the attributes that connect the human heart to another heart. They draw people closer to the leader, and thereby, closer to the vision.

I admire traits like courage and decisiveness, but I’m drawn to traits like humility and grace. It is almost certain that people relate to you in a similar way.

Humility and grace are not skills that you can practice and improve like communication or recruiting, but as attributes of the heart, you can embrace and live them out intentionally.

These attributes do not require special gifting, a certain IQ, specific education, or a unique personality. They are available to anyone who decides to intentionally adopt them.

5 Attributes to Grow Influence:

1) Compassion

Jesus’ leadership modeled a heart of compassion for others, a genuine empathy that led to action.

Compassion seldom makes the headlines or gets the limelight, but it carries the light of Christ’s love into the world.

It may seem counterintuitive or even strange that compassion might heighten a leader’s influence, but if we embrace a servant-leadership model, it makes perfect sense.

When we demonstrate compassion and express our empathy with action, God adds his presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to our life and leadership.

2) Receptivity

The leader who is open to other’s opinions, ideas, and solutions will always have greater influence than those who are not.

Receptivity does not represent careless or undisciplined thinking, but instead, a disposition of partnership, inclusion, and fluid thinking.

Most leaders are generally receptive in nature; you can see that largely in their relationships. But when faced with a weighty price tag (what they must actually do) attached to a new idea, change in program, or more complex solution, etc., it’s not resistance you experience; it’s the result of exhaustion. They simply have no margin for anything more on their plates.

Unfortunately, this makes the leader seem closed, lacking openness to suggestions, perhaps even rigid or controlling when often that’s not the case at all. Sadly, they lose influence.

In contrast, the leader deemed more receptive, gains more influence.

3) Humility

The longer I lead, the more I’m convinced that humility is the cornerstone of spiritual leadership.

There is something special about a genuinely humble leader. And you just can’t fake humble, at least not for long. 

For a more in-depth article, you can read about the 12 traits of a humble leader here.

Here’s a short excerpt for you now.

Humility is based more on the idea that you don’t feel superior or better than others because of what you have, your status or power, and equally, it’s not about feeling inferior to others.

Humility is not about your place on the org chart; it reflects the disposition of your heart. You can be the CEO and be humble or full of pride. You can be among those with the least formal status or authority in the organization and also be humble or prideful.

Humble leaders live for others more than they live for themselves. Humble doesn’t mean insecure. Don’t confuse the two. Humility is an attractive virtue; insecurity is not. Humility is directly connected to strength; insecurity is tied to fear and our weaknesses.

4) Generosity

We often think about generosity in terms of the financial realm, but that’s a limited expression of a generous leader. Generosity runs deeper and carries a wider scope; it is an attribute that begins in the heart of a leader.

A generous leader not only gives to others financially but for just a few examples, is generous with his or her time, expresses words of encouragement, opens doors of opportunity, is quick to offer help, and leads for the benefit of others. 

We are not generous for the purpose of increased influence, but it is one of the results.

5) Kindness

Human kindness softens the heart and bonds people together.  It naturally encourages those it touches as well as reducing tension and diminishing conflict.

Like the other attributes, influence is not the goal or motivation for kindness, but it is one of the results.

I’ve written an article dedicated entirely to this one attribute that includes the four “thieves” of kindness, and you can read it here. But let me give you a brief excerpt for now.

  • Kindness is an essential human quality that allows trust, connection, and genuine exchange to take place.
  • Kindness brings peace and joy into pressure-filled situations.
  • Kindness is not a new idea, but it’s often underdeveloped as a leadership trait.

God delights in kindness.

… but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:24

You can see the balance: justice, righteousness, and kindness.

Kindness alone will not sustain you as a leader, but without it, you are overlooking an attribute close to the heart of God.