There are some people who teach that everyone is a leader or everyone can become a leader. Well, that depends on how you define/describe leadership. Personally, I don’t think that everyone is a leader any more that everyone is a teacher or an administrator. Christian leadership is a gift that some have and some don’t have.

In 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Paul discusses “spiritual gifts.” Romans 12:7 (ESV) speaks of leading: “If service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one does acts of mercy. With cheerfulness.” (Emphasis mine)

As you can well imagine, I have done a lot of reading, studying and observing about leadership through the years.  In my thinking, a leader is a person who is wired and gifted in such a way as to be able to take some people from where they are to somewhere else. That, in its simplicity, is it. Leaders proactiviely, intentionally and deliberately seek to influence some people to see what they seeand go where they’re going.

Marcus Buckingham expresses it this way:

What defines a leader is his preoccupation with the future. He is a leader if, and only if, he is able to rally others to the better future he sees. As a leader you are not satisfied with the present, because in your head you can see a better future. Whenever a person strives to help others see a better future, there is leadership.

Not only does this leader see a better future, he has the ability to persuade, convince, and motivate others to want to go there.

There are three characteristics that leaders I have read about, studied and known possess:

1) They See It Clearly

A leader is first and foremost somebody with followers. If nobody is following, you are not leading, no matter what outstanding leadership qualities you might think you possess. Many years ago, my daughter Anna, had a sign on her bike that read. “Lead, follow or get out of my way,” and the way she rode that bike, I believe she meant it!

I think people are more than willing to follow someone who knows where he or she is going. So, the first questions to answer are: What is my vision? Where am I headed? Is it clear to me? Does it excite me, energize me, and motivate me?

A son asked his father, “Daddy, when we get to where we’re going, where will we be?” I’m afraid that many present-day leaders can’t answer that question, They are certainly busy and certainly getting a lot done. It is very easy to be working hard at delegating, managing and being efficient but not heading toward a clear destination.

Managers do things right, but leaders do the right things. And it is probably true, as some have concluded, that in all too many situations, we are over-managed, but under-led. Where are the leaders today who have a clear vision bursting inside of them? There was a pastor who remarked “Everywhere Paul went there was a revival or a riot. Everywhere I go they serve coffee.” What is often missing is clearness of vision.

+ On Thursday of this week, I will conclude “What Is A Leader” with:

2) They Say It Convincingly

3) They Show It Consistently