Three Elements of Great Leadership

Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, ESV).

What makes a great leader?

One of my favorite books on leadership is entitled Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within by Robert Quinn. I love the following quote from this book…

The leader can transform from separate individuals into cohesive teams. So linked, these individuals can communicate without words. They can capture the imagination of larger communities, enticing them to dream new dreams.

How can we transform our teams, our families, and our churches into communities that capture the hearts of others, causing them to dream new dreams? I believe there are three key elements of great leadership.

First: Big vision!

Jesus told the disciples that He would make them fishers of men! 

Is there a more inspiring vision than changing individuals who change the world? A great leader has a deep reverence for possibility, potential, and what should be. Big-vision leaders can then communicate this vision in ways that challenge others.

The “fishers of men” challenge by Jesus is divine genius.

Second: Sacrificial example

While reading books on leadership, one point becomes clear—people follow examples, not words. There is no better example than Jesus. As the Apostle Paul writes…

…did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:6-7).

And Paul confers…

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Great leaders have an innate ability to conform vision to memorable words, but they inspire by example.

Third: Attract and Release

Great leaders attract followers and align the abilities of the believers to vision. 

Effective leadership attracts an abundance of volunteers, while less effective leaders must pay or rely on an increasingly small (and thus overworked) group of loyalists. Great leaders have a divine calling given by the Spirit that attracts the spirit in others.

The greatest leaders that I’ve encountered often successfully lead despite themselves. To fulfill their calling, attractional leaders must develop a humble ability to hear criticism and judge its worthiness.

Another favorite author writes…

When you eat something amazing, you are almost always transported back to another moment in your life. To be a great chef, you must cook something that others have eaten millions of times but do it in an original manner that, while being creative and new, wakes up those memories.

Vision, Example, Attractional—a great leader speaks to a seed already implanted in us by the Spirit of God. A great leader is old-school, traditional, and doctrinally correct but also new and fresh.

Let’s all become leaders who inspire fishers of men!

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