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A Leader People Want to Follow

What kind of a leader are you? There are several hundred books (at least!) that will help you discover that answer, but in my experience, there are really only three kinds of leaders. (1) Leaders with a position who don’t actually lead. Sorry folks, but I put the lassie faire style of leadership in this basket, as well as those who hold a position but don’t do anything with it. (2) Leaders with a position who lead like a tank. People follow them, but they only do so because they fear for their jobs – or they fear some other repercussion. And then there’s the third kind of leader. (3) Leaders with followers who want to follow them.

I shared this with a group of church leaders at a seminar and one of them confided, “I’d like to be that kind of leader, but honestly, I don’t think I am.” That led to a letter I later wrote to the pastor with Ten Things it Takes to be That Kind of Leader. (I’ve adapted it slightly for this blog post.)

  • Listen more than you talk.

And when you speak, affirm (even if you disagree) what you’ve heard … you don’t have to agree to affirm the person.

  • Own your mistakes.

You’ll make them. Own them IMMEDIATELY and don’t just admit it, fix it and fix the relationships.

  • Be the model.

People follow what you do more than what you say. However, if you’re the leader, you can’t be the primary doer … models model and handoff. Doers do and don’t let go. Learn the difference and be the model.

  • Be passionate.

No one follows an apathetic leader. Know your personal mission, your corporate mission, and your ministry’s mission and be fully committed, passionate, and excited about them.

  • Make a decision and be confident in that decision.

No one follows an indecisive “leader” (honestly, it hurts me to put those two words together). Gather “enough” information, you’ll never get it all, and then make a decision in a timely manner. It’s better to make a wrong decision than to dawdle and squander your leadership juju.

  • Be willing to be wrong.

If you make a wrong decision, change it (when possible … and for sure as early as possible). And be sure to revisit #2 above – own the wrong decision.

  • Don’t be wrong very often.

People don’t follow leaders who change course every other day. Make good decisions and see them through.

  • Stay the course.

See above. Finish what you start.

  • Delegate, empower and encourage.

I’ve written about the difference between delegation and empowerment in the Effective Staffing book. When you unleash the power of others, they will love you for it.

  • Hold slackers accountable.

Don’t run around and “fix” slackers’ problems – instead, hold them accountable. If they can’t do the job, fire them (yes, even a volunteer). Your response to poor performance says volumes about your leadership. If you aren’t willing to run a tight ship, the ship will either never sail or it will get lost at sea. People follow leaders who hold their crew accountable (and who sing the praises of both the team and those individuals who invested especially well).

Do these and you’ll have people lining up to follow you.