Marks of a Leader
Many business owners and leaders are carrying too much on their shoulders and would love to hand off much of the workload to leaders they can trust. But how can you know who those leaders should be?
Let’s dive into Exodus 18 for a biblical answer. For a little bit of context, Moses had already led the Israelites out of Egypt and was serving as the only judge for the people. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethrow, suggested what he was doing was too heavy to handle alone.
Jethrow gave Moses advice to appoint more leaders to his team, saying, “… You need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men – men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible – and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten.” Exodus 18:21, MSG
As leaders, we should share the load and lighten the burden. So, what do you look for when appointing a leader?
Organizational Leadership is a Spiritual Gift
As we speak about leaders, we mean someone who has direct reports and is responsible for a team. People often think everyone who has influence is a leader – and that is partly true! Whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a stay-at-home mom – you have influence, and in that sense, you are a leader.
But, there is a big difference between general influence and organizational leadership.
Leading an organization or team isn’t only about influence. It’s also taking responsibility, vision, developing people, and accountability among many other things.
We believe the Bible teaches that organizational leadership is a spiritual gift, and like every other spiritual gift, some people have it, and others don’t. Leadership is listed as a spiritual gift in a few places in scripture, including this passage from Romans 12:
“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” – Romans 12:6-8
Leadership is not more important than any other spiritual gift. You can see it is buried in the middle of the list – not the first or the last, just one of many. In fact, the verses that precede that passage specifically warn us not to view some gifts as higher than others.
In that Romans 12 passage, the NIV translation provides a specific footnote for the word “lead” that says its meaning is “to provide for others.” The original Greek word used in that passage means to govern or oversee others or to be responsible for the management or arrangement of an organization or activity. One Biblical scholar suggested it might be better translated as, “If your gift is organizational leadership, lead diligently.”
Not everyone is a leader. It’s one of many spiritual gifts Paul lists, and it’s right in the middle of his list, not first or last, not more important than others. So, we shouldn’t try to force everyone into leadership because it isn’t always what growth should look like for someone. We’re charged with developing people, not just leaders. It’s about catching a vision of who God created someone to be and coming alongside Him to help them take steps toward that.
When someone has the spiritual gift of leadership it simply means God uniquely wired them for capacity and “giftedness” in that area. He gave them the raw ingredients necessary for that role. But leaders must still work to acquire skills and mature in how they use that gift, which is a lifelong process.
What Do You Look For In An Emerging Leader?
The senior team here at Betenbough Companies has discussed this in-depth and came up with the following:
We think of these as prerequisites to be a front-line leader. Emerging leaders already value each of those things in their current role. If you can’t tell 2 to 3 stories where they demonstrated each of these values, then maybe you should help them start to develop and demonstrate one or more in their current role.
We’ve learned that if someone doesn’t have each of these to a large degree, they won’t be fruitful as a leader in our organization. These four leader values may not be the same for your organization, so it would be helpful for you to come up with your own.
Ask yourself what you look for in an emerging leader in your organization.
Organizational leadership is a gift from God, but what we do with it is our gift to Him.
Sign up for our next webinar, “Calling vs. Career.”
To watch the recording of the “Marks of a Leader” webinar referenced in this post, click here!