I have had the opportunity to serve in ministry leadership roles in several situations. I keep in touch with most of those ministries, and I am always interested to see how they have changed over the years. This is a good thing. If the ministry is still doing the same things it was doing when I was there, something is wrong.
No matter how capable you may think you are as a leader, your time will pass. You move on to another responsibility in the organization, respond to a new opportunity elsewhere, or retire. You may have implemented important policy changes, developed sound programs, and designed creative processes, but these will change over time. The only lasting investment you make in any situation is your investment in the people with whom you work.
The primary goal of any leader is to develop other leaders. This does not mean simply reproducing yourself in others but calling out and encouraging each person’s unique gifts and abilities. How do you go about developing emerging leaders?
First, you take the time to mentor others. Mentoring is time consuming, but a good leader does not seek to hold on to information or skills but freely shares them with those who are teachable. In so doing, the leader may find ways to improve his or her own performance.
Second, you coach others as they implement what they have learned and as they make new discoveries. Good coaches encourage emerging leaders to stretch themselves and set challenging goals. Emerging leaders often do not know their capabilities unless they are pushed to do more.
Third, you give others not only the responsibility but the resources and authority to make things happen. You can give emerging leaders the opportunity to do something, but you must also be willing to provide the time, money, and other necessary resources to get it done.
Fourth, you trust others. Avoid micromanaging and give emerging leaders the freedom to succeed or fail. Emerging leaders need the chance to learn from success and from failure. Certainly there is risk involved here, but risk is necessary to really learn. After the fact, you celebrate successes and process the failures with the emerging leader.
Fifth, you recognize the successes of emerging leaders in the way that is most appropriate to that person. Not everyone wants personal recognition. Some desire quality time with supervisors or peers, freedom to pursue their own ideas, or opportunities to learn and grow.
Who are the emerging leaders around you? Who are you investing in today?