Home Small Group Leaders Articles for Small Group Leaders The First Things All Leaders Should Learn

The First Things All Leaders Should Learn

When someone first steps into leadership, what should they focus on learning? There are dozens of possibilities. As a mentor, I don’t want to frustrate a new leader by having them focus on things that are too advanced or even too simple. However, it’s important I provide a Learning Pathway that makes sense and helps them progress in their ability to lead at the next level. One of the exercises we did as a leadership team while I was at Seacoast was to identify the competencies we felt were most important at each level of our leadership pipeline. Below you will find what we came up with. Also, if you click HERE (Leading Others Mentoring Guide) you can download a sample of one of the Leadership Greenhouse Guides we developed for our leaders to mentor their leaders.

The list for your organization will be different than ours, so I encourage you to gather your lead team, identify the levels of your leadership pipeline and then define the competencies that are most important to you for each level. This is a great exercise that will force your team to decide what leadership behaviors are most important in your origination. You’ll also discover this list will provide a framework not only for training but for hiring, promoting and evaluating employees. Just remember when you sit down to develop the list, it will take more than one meeting. Don’t rush it—going through the process is just as valuable as having the final list of core competencies.


  • Managing Your Time
  • Setting Personal Goals
  • Improving Personal Communication
  • Managing Your Personal Resources
  • Dealing with Conflict
  • Leading with Your Strengths
  • Submitting to Authority


  • Casting Vision
  • Managing Others’ Goals
  • Recruiting Volunteers
  • Giving Soul Care
  • Practicing 360 Communication
  • Resolving Conflict
  • Aligning People


  • Evaluating
  • Motivating Others
  • Managing Budgets
  • Team Building
  • Decision Making
  • Leading Meetings
  • Applying Situational Leadership


  • Persevering in Difficulties
  • Evaluating Systems
  • Building Morale
  • Employee Engagement
  • Hiring, Firing and Repositioning Talent
  • Mentoring Leaders
  • Focusing


  • Establishing Organizational Value
  • Forecasting the Future
  • Managing the Leadership Pipeline
  • Taking Risks
  • Inspiring Others
  • Succession Planning
  • Practicing Execution 
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Mac Lake is the Development Pastor at Seacoast Church, a multi-site church with 13 campuses, where he oversees leadership development, small groups, missions, communications, and internships. He is a popular church leadership conference speaker and the author of the training resource Growing Small Group Leaders. Learn more from Mac at MacLakeOnline.com.