Some lead through inspiration and vision. Some lead through the power of their personality. Some lead through policy and guidelines. Some lead through authority and position. I read Mark Sanborn’s book, “You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader.”

Here are four key characteristics of effective leaders from that book:

Mark’s book

(I have added some comments following each point, based on my personal experience in leading others.)

Effective leaders:

1.  “Believe they can positively shape their lives and careers.”


Christian leaders should be proactive rather than reactive. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they make things happen rather than watch things happen or wait for things to happen. They are not waiting for the phone to ring, the email notice to appear or to hear a knock at the door to know what they should do.  They are hearing from Jesus and moving out from there, sometimes saying no to squeaking wheels and the urgent but not important.

2.  “Lead through relationships with people as opposed to control over people.”


Today’s effective leadership is all about relationships, not command and control. Love, care and concern for people are what makes good leaders and is what followers long for and desire from their leaders. Sad to say, many pastors and leaders continue to lead through control and position to get things done and they might get it done, but there will probably not be high morale or joy in the place.

3.  “Persuade others to contribute, rather than order them to.”


Effective leaders learn how to cast vision and bring people along through persuasion, painting a picture of a win/win future for everyone and helping people see how their individual contribution contributes to the greater whole. People want to know that their work matters and makes a positive difference.

4.  “Get others to follow them out of respect and commitment rather than fear and compliance.”


The greatest thing a Christian leader has going for him/her is a life of integrity through their relationship with Jesus.  People are more likely to follow a leader based on character and trustworthiness, not position.  The worst kind of culture that can be created is fear-based instead of trust-based. People development works best through inspiration rather than through authority. A leader is able to rally people to a better future and does so through concern, compassion and care not control, forcing compliance.