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7 Essential Requirements for All Good Leaders

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If you were to assess your personal leadership ability, how would you assess yourself today?

Over 40 years in church leadership (with continual learning), has taught me that I know less about leadership than I think I do, which only deepens my commitment to keep learning and practicing leadership.

It’s similar to my walk with God, the more I know him, the more I realize I’ve only scratched the surface of this profound and intimate relationship. And I’m fired up to know Jesus more and walk with him more closely.

The same is true with leadership. We become better leaders but culture changes, COVID happens, global political and economic patterns change, etc., and all this impacts how we interpret the leadership principles we know and put them into practice. How are you growing?

Leadership is not a linear or black and white process. It’s nuanced, artful, and ever-changing. The core principles may remain the same, but how we practice them evolves. It’s our responsibility to continue to learn and grow.

7 Essential Requirements for All Good Leaders

What are the big picture essential requirements of our leadership in general? Which ones are you strong in, which ones need improvement?

1. A Growing Sense of Self-Awareness

If it’s true that culture changes, we grow and learn, fail and succeed, and relationships either improve or decline, then it’s also true that self-awareness is not a point-in-time arrival, but a continuing process.

Our most foundational self, made in the image of God, created on purpose for a purpose remains consistent. Yet, the process of personal maturation combined with the changing world around us impacts how we see ourselves in relationship with others. We must keep growing in our sense of self-awareness.

There is also the element of faith that makes it possible for our flaws to be redeemed and made useful for the sake of loving people and leading them well.

  • How do you see yourself today compared to a year ago?
  • How do you perceive others see and relate to you compared to a year ago?

2. An Eagerness To Practice Leadership

I enjoy playing guitar but I don’t practice so I don’t get better. I’ve become more of a guitar collector than player.

We can collect leadership knowledge but without putting it to practice, we don’t become a better leader.

When it comes to becoming a good guitar player, you have to practice what you can’t do until you can. Like a really difficult chord, that you just can’t play. You work on it and work on it until you can.

As leaders, it’s important that we identify our specific leadership gap(s), and related skills we do not yet possess, so we can practice them in real ministry until we can.

Otherwise, we’re in danger of doing the same things in the same ways, over and over again. We don’t make progress, we just get tired.

  • What specific leadership growth gap and related skills are you working on?
  • Do you have a coach to help you?

3. A Heathy Desire To Learn From Mistakes

All leaders make mistakes. When you are out in front and taking new territory, missteps are part of the journey. If you aren’t making mistakes you probably aren’t truly leading.

No one wants to make mistakes, that would be a strange desire, but it’s a healthy desire to learn from your mistakes. What are you learning so far this year?

A healthy staff culture that embraces leadership development gives permission to make mistakes. Maybe lots of mistakes and even a big one or two. But they don’t give permission to make the same mistake twice. Do you know why?

Because repeating mistakes indicates you are not learning from your mistakes and that changes the game entirely.

  • What was the most recent leadership mistake you made?
  • What did you learn from this mistake?

4. A True Willingness To Take Risks

No church plant ever became a thriving local church without the leader(s) taking risks. And when risk-taking stops, that often signals the potential decline of any church.

Taking wise risks includes a combination of prudence and courage. Good judgment and discernment are needed along with stepping into the unknown without all the answers.

That’s the definition of a good risk isn’t it? You did your homework, talked with God, sought wise counsel, but in the end, we can’t guarantee the results, but we still must take responsibility for the results. That is the essence of leadership—repeated again and again.

Risks vary greatly from a building project where the church’s financial health is on the line, to a difficult conversation where a relationship is at stake, but they all matter.