This week I spent some time teaching a group of incarcerated men about the topic of leadership. These men are, to say the least, honest in their opinions. I asked them to describe the best leaders they’ve ever known, and their words echoed with these characteristics:
- The best leaders have integrity. The men I taught whose own decisions have cost them their freedom know how easy it is to be fake—but they also know the value of a true, honest, and faithful heart.
- They’re transparent. That is, they don’t live in hiddenness. They’re real. They’re willing to talk about their own struggles, helping others to see that they, too, desperately need God’s help.
- They help others develop their own gifts. They see their role not as the one who simply displays his giftedness and abilities, but who guides others to become all that God wants them to be. The best leaders raise up the next generation and equip them.
- The best leaders are self-sacrificing. They’re not interested in building their own kingdom, because they know the work is not about them in the first place. In what may seem almost contradictory, these leaders point away from themselves.
- They’re passionate about what they do. Their energy is apparent. Their zeal is obvious. You just know that they believe in their work—so much so, in fact, that you want to be on their team.
- They don’t give up. Leadership is sometimes frustrating and difficult, but the best leaders don’t quit. Even if they’re the only ones still pressing forward, they’re willing to walk on. No mountain gets in the way of their faith.
- They’re humble. My students in this class know what ego is—and how destructive it can be. When they see humility, it catches their attention. They see when a leader deflects attention and praise.
- They delegate. They know that their organizations will accomplish more when more members are involved in the work. In addition, these best leaders then don’t burn out under the burden of leadership.
Any surprises here for you? In what areas do you still need to grow?
This article originally appeared here.