What Identifies a Leader?

What Identifies a Leader?

What identifies a Leader? There are numerous books and articles written on this topic. They all have good information. I have been a reader of leadership books for many years, and have benefited from the insights of good leaders who have chosen to write about their experiences and opinions.

For the past twenty-five years I have been in the business of identifying and equipping leaders. For most of this time I really did not feel qualified to judge if a person would become a good leader or not. From experience I know that some people who look like they could be good leaders never develop into leaders. I have also seen people who were passed over time after time for leadership responsibility, but when they were finally given a chance to lead they blossomed into tremendous leaders. First impressions do not define a leader.

I have attended many conferences that state uncategorically that leadership is all about character. I certainly agree that character is an essential element for Christian leaders. Yet, all of us know people who are good leaders and do not demonstrate good character. Please do not misunderstand me. I think leaders should have exemplary character. But, we all know people with great character who cannot lead. Character alone does not define a leader.

Some of us would like to think that training and education can make a good leader. But, we all know this is not true. Training and education can give a leader the tools necessary to move to a new level of leadership. I know extremely competent leaders who are illiterate, yet capable of leading thousands of people. So, training and education do not define a leader.

There is another school of thought that insists great leaders are born to lead. This implies that leadership is genetic, and only a select few will ever excel in leadership. If this is true, the world is in trouble. We need millions of leaders in all areas of life. If leaders are born to lead then there will be no way to plan for the future, and no way to really identify potential leaders. I don’t think birthright identifies or entitles a leader.

So, what does define a leader? Is there a formula we can follow that will always produce good leaders? I don’t think there is a formula, but I do think there is a prescription. Paul identified this prescription in 2 Timothy 2:2 – And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Real leaders produce more leaders, and this is what defines a true leader. They accurately pass on from one generation to the next what they have learned. They are capable of identifying reliable people to whom to pass on what they have learned. These people are qualified to teach others, which tell us they are capable of teaching others. And they look for the right people to equip to be the next generation of leaders.

The qualities that identify a potential leader are:
1. They are learners (the things you have heard me say)
2. They know how to delegate (entrust to reliable men)
3. They are good judges of character (entrust to reliable men)
4. They choose the right people to equip (who will also be qualified to teach others)

• Learners are people who continuously get what they need in order to do what needs to be done.

• Delegators recognize that every worthwhile job will require a team to complete, and they understand that the best way to equip others for a job is to show them how to do the job, let them do the job, and insist that they teach others to do the job.

• Character is judged by what a person does, not by what is said. Reliable people always do what they say, and what they say is good and right. Good Character is a result of practiced obedience to the Word of God.

• Equippers spend their time and energy on people who will be able to equip others.

When I am in the process of qualifying a person for leadership I want to know some things about him/her.
1. What he/she is currently learning in order to get a job done?
2. Is the job he/she are doing big enough to require a team, and if so, how did he/she choose the team and how is he/she equipping the team?
3. Are stated beliefs and values demonstrated in personal action? Does he/she do what he/she says?
4. Are the people he/she choses to equip engaged in equipping others?

Real leaders are reliable people of demonstrated good character who are involved in learning in order to accomplish what needs to be done so that they can engage others in a worthy cause in such a way that new self-replicating leaders are produced.

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