A Strategy for Leadership Development

What do Leaders think about?

Leaders think about Vision. They think about strategic targets. Leaders think about the next goal(s) that need to be reached.  They think about the processes required to make these things into reality. They think about the resources they have, or wish they had. These are some of the things that leaders think about and so they should. That is what leaders do.

What do leaders need to think about?

In addition to the above, leaders also need to think about how they are intentionally developing leaders in their organization. When I coach leaders, this is one of the things I look for. I look for the priority leaders give towards developing leaders.  It doesn’t surprise me that those who give this a high priority tend to be healthy leaders.

If leadership development is of interest to you then you are likely already thinking about questions that begin with ‘Who?’ and ‘How?’.

Here are some thoughts I have on leadership development. The following ideas come from reflecting on my own leadership development. If you are a leader who wants to become more effective in raising up leaders, I would recommend that you start there.  Consider your own journey of leadership development. Consider what worked, what didn’t work, and what your experiences have taught you.

What  have you learned from your own experience of leadership development?

I view leadership development as discipleship. Not everyone I disciple become leaders, but everyone I develop as leaders are people I disciple. It turns out that some of the people I disciple develop into leaders, because of God’s call on their lives. Whether a person becomes a leader or not does not diminish my interest in helping someone learn how to love God and love people in the unique way that God has created them to do so.

So where do I find my future leaders? They are amongst those I am personally discipling. If you haven’t caught my underlying principle yet, here it is. Besides setting vision and developing strategic plans, the essential function of a leader is to be a skilled disciple maker.

When someone I am discipling appears to have a leadership call on their life, there are four words that orient how I spend my time with them. Doing. Being. Othering. Resourcing.

Doing.

I like to give potential leaders opportunities to stretch themselves and to experience on the job learning (read ‘failure’). I want people I train to learn how to reframe their experience of failure and see it as learning and something to actually celebrate. I’m looking for opportunities to help people regularly review their progress in meeting their goals. Here are my go to questions. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs to change? What are you learning? What Is Next? The last question is my favourite. The acronym is WIN.

Being.

The more I help others develop as leaders, the more important this dimension of leadership becomes.  I want everyone I work with to finish well so I give a lot of time exploring one question, ‘How is your soul?’

Othering.

I want leaders to develop their ability to establish and maintain trust with every relationship they have.  One of the greatest skills for a leader to develop is their ability to have crucial conversations with others while doing everything possible to maintain peace and mutual upbuilding (Rom. 14.19)

Resourcing:

When I think ‘resourcing’ I am asking, “How can I help people think about how they can resource what they want to do?” I have them think about what they already have and who they already know. Sometimes I will help with resourcing but find that in many cases people discover on their own what is needed to do what they want to do. An important leadership characteristic is the ability to locate the resources required to accomplish that which needs to be done.

One more thought…. Manage Your Expectations

Perhaps I can leave you with one more thought on this topic of ‘developing leaders’. Manage your expectations. Not everyone you develop as a leader will remain with your organization. This can be a tough one, but you need to learn to be o.k. with that. You need to see the larger story of God’s kingdom and realize you were given the privilege of contributing to a larger story than the one that you and your organization are living out.

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