Just about every day I get an email from Harvard Business Review with some blurb, stat, or infograph about Leadership. The other day, one headline caught my eye about surprising findings of leadership competencies (skills needed for effectiveness) from a global survey of leaders. The survey was for 195 global leaders to rate 74 leadership competencies. You can see the Top 10 below:
The reason why the researchers were surprised was that a survey of global leaders overwhelmingly (2/3 of respondents) put "Has high ethical and moral standards" as the top quality in a leader. In other words, global leaders without any direct connection to the church or a Christian worldview recognized something incredibly important: Character matters.
For spiritual leaders, we can't overlook how important this finding is. It confirms so much of what we know to be true from our earliest days sitting under someone's leadership--we only follow those we know are "walking the walk" as much as they talk. Oswald Sanders' book Spiritual Leadership is one of the first books I make aspiring leaders read, because it does a masterful job of exposing our ambition and recognizing that spiritual leadership is a gift of stewardship from God, not something we make on our own.
Remember leaders, our capacity to lead and influence others starts and ends with a hard look in the mirror of who we are. When we see stories of spiritual leaders (both pastors and prominent Christians in the public eye), we're forced to look at ourselves and pray the words of David in Psalm 139 "Search me and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts. And see if there is anything grievous in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." When spiritual leaders fall, it provides an opportunity for the Enemy to gain ground and can have a ripple effect in peoples' lives for years to come.
So if you're a leader and you're wondering if you're cut out for what God has called you to, whether you're a pastor or Sunday school teacher or serving on any number of ministry opportunities, the first and most important thing is to develop and strengthen your character. After that, gaining and growing in competencies is just like learning to throw a ball and ride a bike: practice, practice, practice. Find a mentor, get some training, and get busy serving and let God grow you!
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.