Most of us know about best selling author Jim Collins’ book, “Good to Great.” I think it is biblical and admirable to aspire to be a
great leader–not just an average or good leader.
It seems to me that there are two questions here.
1. What does a great leader look like? What are the characteristics/attributes of great Christian leaders? What attitudes, beliefs and behaviors do great leaders have?
2. How does one become a great leader?
First we must define a great leader and, second, we must discover how to become a great leader.
I know this is short and over-simplified, but greatness, it seems to me, has to be defined by:
- Getting things done (results)
- Getting along (relationships)
A great leader knows how to move the ball down the field and accomplish God-pleasing goals for the kingdom of God. The leader does this as he/she shepherds, leads and encourages those who are helping to reach those God-pleasing goals.
As usual, it is not either/or, but both/and. It is achieving goals that honor the Lord and help the organization achieve it’s purpose and vision and, at the same time, it’s maintaining a healthy organizational culture by taking care of the people on the way to those goals.
So here is the big question I would like to spend the rest of this post exploring:
Are some leaders born with greatness genes–a certain set of gifts that set them apart, or is being a great leader something that can be learned?
For starters, I think there is a big difference between talent(s) and skill(s). Talent(s) does not translate into greatness in leadership unless it is developed into skill(s) which entails hard work, dedication, focus, determination and endless deliberate practice.
Tim Tebow said, “Hard work will always beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
The person with few talents coupled with hard work will have a better chance at leadership greatness than very talented leaders who depend too much on these talents and are not willing to work hard. I further believe that God honors hard work and a dedicated effort that pleases Him, which can more than make up for a lack of natural talent or gifts.
There are many talented leaders who accomplish little of eternal and lasting value due to pride and an over reliance on their gifting, coupled with the neglect of both hard work and working hard in the relationship arena.
So, those of us (myself very much included) who feel we are not super-gifted or super-talented can have a legitimate shot at leadership greatness. You are born with certain talents but not with greatness. Greatness is not determined by other’s evaluation of you, but by what God thinks about your leadership.
Being a great leader, as you are led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring Him, is something all leaders can pursue. So, go for it! Be the best you can be with what God has invested in you and be great for the Lord and for His kingdom.