How to Spot a Leader in the Making

by Andy Wood on June 11, 2010

in Enlarging Your Capacity, Five LV Laws, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Legacy

Leadership is generational 

Every great or good leader I have studied or known all had one thing in common:  Somebody saw their potential and called them out.  They had an authority figure or a prophet, an “evangelist” or a teacher/coach who handed them the reigns one day, or encouraged them to go out and find their own place of influence.

There comes a point at which every leader must see past his or her own headlights.  It has been said that you haven’t truly led until you have trained someone else to do what you do, as well or better than you do it.  That’s why, when you look at the life and work of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, you find him in constant search of a new generation of leadership. 

It’s also why you find him expressing disappointment in people from time to time.

Tucked away in the “classifieds” of his letter to the Romans, you find this great Apostle offering the reigns to some people.  I wonder what they did with the opportunity…

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my  offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:14-16).

Leadership was never intended to be the purview of a few microphone managers.  God intended every believer to be an influence.  But there are ways to recognize who is on the C.U.S.P. of a whole new wave of influence.  Who does this describe in your world?  And does it describe you?

1.  Character. 

“Full of goodness,” Paul says.  The lack of character contradicts the truth we’re trying to proclaim.  And while our goodness is ultimately a matter of identity and transformation by the Holy Spirit, “goodness” is a general term that speaks of our disposition, faithfulness, and attention to right conduct.  Goodness alone does not make a leader.  But no one can lead with credibility without it.

2.  Understanding. 

These Romans were “filled with knowledge.”  Not the kind that puffs up, but the kind that accompanies wisdom.  Effective leaders are hungry to learn and understand.  Watch for the person who takes the initiative to gain new insight, to ask intelligent questions (or even occasional “dumb” ones).  Again, it’s possible to have understanding without being a leader, but no one can lead without understanding.  You just become the blind leading the you-know-who.

3.  Skill. 

Technical skill does not assure leadership, although technical skill is helpful.  Conceptual knowledge is nice – even helpful.  But again, that just assures you have some theory. 

Leadership requires a different kind of skill, and Paul found it here.  These people were “able to admonish one another.”  They were skilled at teambuilding, encouragement, and community.  More than just conceptual or technical knowledge, they had people skills where they were needed most – the ability to encourage the heart to action.

4.  Priesthood. 

Don’t get lost in the technical definition of “priest.”  We are a kingdom of priests.  But priesthood runs in two directions.  We are priests unto the Lord, but we’re also priests OF the Lord who serve the world by giving it the gospel.  We announce God’s good news to those who need to hear it.

Translating this to leadership, a leader is one who can represent the vision, passion, and values of the cause or organization.  They do so to the public as the “head cheerleaders” of the organization.  They do so with followers by holding them to the standards and values the organization stands for.

So how do you find the leader-in-the-making?  Look for the one who completely buys in, and represents the highest ideals of what you stand for.

What to Do With Potential Leaders

Once Paul recognized the great potential these people had, what did he do about it?  Three things:

1.  He expressed confidence in them.

“I myself am convinced…” is his way of saying, “You can do this.”  It’s amazing how powerful a simple expression of confidence can be.

2.  He boldly called them out.

In baseball terms, at some point you have to put the ball in their hands.  This was Paul’s way of doing this.

3.  He showed them how they fit into the larger plan.

Leaders tend to be big picture people.  And as such, they need to be able to see where they fit into the grand scheme of things. 

It’s way past cliché to say, “What we need is leadership.”  What we need are leadership makers – those who can see potential diamonds in the rough and call them out.  And in the meantime, let’s make sure to stay on the C.U.S.P. ourselves.  You never know when somebody may hand you an entirely new set of reigns.

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