Have you ever asked yourself, “What makes a leader great?” I’m not talking about being a good or capable leader, I mean great. What must a person do to attain greatness as a leader? What daily choices do they make? What books do they read? What kind of people do they associate with? How does someone go from being a decent leader to becoming truly great?
From my experience, leaders who go from good to great are born out of a lifetime of learning and refining who then seek out other potential leaders to invest as much of themselves into as possible.
I was in occupational ministry for over 10 years before the economy took a nosedive and forced me into reinventing myself so I could make a living. But I never strayed too far from my passion of leadership development and personal growth. So when I found myself serving in a local church with a young leader who needed some guidance in a ministry area I knew extremely well, it just made sense for me to come along side them and help out.
I learned a lot about the state of leadership in our young church leaders, but I also learned a valuable lesson about life: sometimes, the greatest gift you can give the world is helping another leader grow beyond your skills and abilities.
Good leadership is always based on character (your moral compass), credibility (your trustability), integrity (you are who you say you are), and humility (be confident enough to lead, but humble enough to be led), your vision (the gift of seeing what lies ahead and sharing it with others). But if that were all that was required for leaders to be great, how come there are so few great leaders out there to follow?
How Do You Grow From Good To Great As A Leader?
1. Learn As Much As You Can About Leading
Harry S. Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” You should commit to learning something new about leadership and leading every day of your life. From books, magazines, and e-books to videos, webinars and conferences, you should always seek out new ways to grow in your knowledge and wisdom when it comes to leading others and being led.
2. Realize Your Greatest Impact On The World May Be To Raise Up A Great Leader
It’s human nature to desire to be great and have praise and adoration lavished upon you, but to become a truly great leader, you must ignore those desires. You have to come to grips with the fact that you may never be the greatest CEO or company President, but your legacy may be that you helped someone achieve a level of accomplishment that they never dreamed could be possible. Jesus said, “The last shall become first and the first shall become last.” (Matthew 20:16)
3. Always Look For People With Great Potential
There is no shortage of people who are seeking to lead, few of those may even become decent leaders. But as I have discussed before, you should always be on the look out for people with great potential: diamonds in the rough that can be refined and polished into great leaders. They are out there, you just have to be looking for them. And when you find one, be willing to lead them.
4. Fully Understand The Life You Live Will Not Be 100% Private
Investing in others requires you to be transparent with your life. It’s easier to only share to good things in your life, but younger leaders need to hear about your failures as much as your successes. Give them the gift of not having to make the same mistakes you did and make sure you tell them all the reasons you failed and lessons you learned. It’s humbling, but honest, transparent leadership grows honest, transparent leaders. And we can surely use more of those.
5. Be Willing To Share As Much Leadership As You Can
In the situation I described above, there came a moment when I realized that my young friend would surpass the level of success I had attained (all while he is 20 years younger than me). And I know that I had to decide if I was ok with that. You will come to that crossroads yourself if you choose to lead an emerging leader. I hope that you decide (as I did) that the person you are investing yourself into deserves all of the wisdom and knowledge you have to offer. For them to grow, they need the advantage of your experience, your successes, your failures. And in the process, you will take a major step in your own leadership.
Every leader should commit to growing their leadership and developing the leaders around them. By sharing all that you have learned, developed, and experienced, young leaders learn to become good leaders and you can take a step forward from just being good to becoming a great leader.
Question: What is your plan for growing your own leadership and the leaders around you?