Admit it: If you saw an e-flyer talking about a $599 conference to become a great leader, you’d strongly consider attending.
As leaders, we all wrestle with how to lead our staff, our team or our family in the most effective way possible.
Having studied leadership and leaders for &%$#@ years (around 30 years, if you’re wondering), I have seen many traits that seem to be common to top leaders. Whether it’s the pastor of a thriving church or a CEO of a healthy business, the dad in my men’s group that I really admire and respect or the coach that made my kid better at their sport and as a person, the same traits apply to the best of the best.
If you want to be the best of the best as a leader, I encourage you to work on these traits in your leadership starting today! I work on these every day because I am far from being perfect in these areas. I encourage you to do the same!
1) They know where the future is. If you are a college football fan, you know how historically bad the Northwestern University football team has been. When Gary Barnett was hired as coach in 1991, he put a single rose on his desk. Why? Because he wanted to cast a vision for the future.
He told the team that “the purple was going to Pasadena.” He envisioned them going to the Rose Bowl for the first time in over 40 years. In 1996, they went to the Rose Bowl.
Leaders have the ability to envision the future through experience, wisdom, research and prayer. Leaders then help those they lead get through tough times, advance in their craft and be encouraged in what lies ahead. Absurdly great leaders lead with an eye on the future.
2) They are great listeners. Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, sin is not absent.” That’s a great verse for leaders. Eric 10:19 would be “when words are many and ears are closed, great leadership is not present.” As a talker myself, I have to work on this daily. Great leaders know that a question is better than a statement. They know that understanding is more important than being understood.
Great leaders recognize that listening with grace and trust is significantly healthier than listening with suspicious and condescending ears.
Absurdly great leaders listen at a level that is uncommon for the common leader.
3) They care about those they lead. In addition to being a talker by nature, I also am a task-driven person. That means that I get a lot done, but sometimes it’s at the expense of shepherding well those I lead. I really do (and always have) cared for those I lead. It just hasn’t always felt that way to those I lead. I have learned that caring for those you lead is significantly more important than getting the job done well. Life is more important than productivity. Each leader cares differently. I don’t believe that there is one right way to care. The key is not how you care, but that you care.
Absurdly great leaders care about those they lead and show that they care.
4) They have the highest level of integrity and honesty. I once met a gentleman who gave up a career trajectory to begin a career in business consultation in the area of integrity. He saw such a lack of integrity and honesty in the business world that he had to do something about it. The last time I connected with him, he was consulting with some of the top business teams in the world.
Are you a man of your word? Are you a woman known for treating people fairly? Do you care about who you are when no one is looking? I submit to you that the plaque on the wall, the dollar figure in your checkbook and your rung on the corporate ladder are not worth the price of your integrity, character and honesty. As a Christ follower, our goal is to be “little Christ,” and that means living like Jesus. Absurdly great leaders have the highest level of integrity, character and honesty.
5) They have a strong walk with the Lord. It’s really hard to live out those four leadership traits at the highest level without a relationship with Christ. Galatians 5 tells us that the fruits, or the results, of our relationship with God are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Do you see the correlation of that list and the traits we’ve just discussed? It’s pretty apparent where the strength to lead like this comes from, doesn’t it?
A strong walk with the Lord also indicates that you are a praying person. Great leaders are praying leaders. They pray for difficulties, thank God for blessings, intercede for those they lead and praise God for the opportunity to lead.
Absurdly great leaders make a vibrant relationship with Jesus their top priority.
If you feel you’re missing the mark, you’re not alone. If you feel like you’re just an absurd leader instead of an absurdly great leader, you’re not alone. These are high marks.
However, if you make these your top priorities in leadership, you will find that you will soon be the best of the best in leadership. You will discover that you are an absurdly great leader in the season ahead.
What traits would you add to this list? Would you replace one of the traits on this list with yours?
Live well. Lead well.
Eric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Churchin St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000. During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor. He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites. Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting. He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17. A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World.