Everything rises or falls on leadership. That statement captures an important truth about church planting. Good leadership can’t guarantee a church’s success, but it’s practically impossible for a church to survive for long without it. So, if leadership is so important, what makes a good leader? According to a survey of leadership studies conducted by Shelly Kirkpatrick and Edwin Locke, there are six traits of good leaders: honesty, motivation, self-confidence, drive, knowledge, and cognitive ability. Here are three quick observations about this list.
- What’s not on the list–personal charisma. We’d probably all agree that personal charisma is a great trait to have. However, it’s a trait that’s been thoroughly studied and it has no correlation with good leadership. In fact, you don’t have to look very hard to find extremely charismatic personalities such Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and, more recently, Osama bin Laden who were absolutely horrible leaders. Other traits that you might expect to see such as creativity or adaptability are also not on the list. These six are it!
- Notice how closely related most of these traits are to personal character. You need to know a little more about the studies to fully understand this. The link between character and honesty is obvious. Less obvious is the link to motivation but, according to the studies, the most important aspect of motivation is what it is that’s motivating you. Good leaders are motivated by a worthwhile cause, not a need for personal power. Similarly self-confident leaders are not egotistical. They’re decisive, even tempered, and willing to admit mistakes when they make them. Even driven and knowledgeable leaders are characterized that way because they‘re hard workers who are willing to do their homework and learn from their experiences.
- The studies showed that people who don’t have all these traits can still be effective leaders. They just have to work harder at it. Keep that in mind before you get discouraged because you’re weak in one or more of these areas. Even better, if the weakness is character related, get to work on it.