5 Practical Ways to Become A Better Leader

June 16, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo: Courtney Dirks, Creative Commons

photo: Courtney Dirks, Creative Commons

Becoming a better leader is one of those daunting lines on your to-do list. It’s in there with “be a great father” or “get closer to God.” It’s a noble item, to be sure, but it’s a hard one to check off.

It feels large and intangible and like you will never quite know when you’ve arrived.

But here are five tangible (to-do list friendly) things you can do to work on your leadership: 

Read

There is always more to learn—about leadership, about God, and about how to run a great team. The quickest way for any of those areas to become stale is for you to stop learning about it.

Whether you’re naturally a great reader or not, start to weave reading into your life.

Rotate the kinds of books you read and be willing to explore books you may not have otherwise picked up—you never know where you will find wisdom. But the more you’re learning, the more you have to draw from as a leader. By continuously learning yourself, you’re modeling the same for those who follow you.

Operate in your strengths

There are some tasks that bring us life, and others that don’t. While there are times all of us must do things we don’t necessarily love, try to find a way to spend the majority of your time doing things that energize you.

Figure out what your strengths are—the things you do better than anyone else, the places that are only yours to influence—and rework your schedule so those take up 80% of your time. Figure out where your unfruitful time is going, and either eliminate those tasks, or hire someone else to do them.

We are all gifted in different ways. By surrounding yourself with people who are gifted in different ways than you are, you’ll free yourself up to operate in your gifts, instead of devoting all your time to your weaknesses.

Make time to listen

Your staff is your greatest resource. They have eyes and ears in places you don’t, knowing the ins and outs in a way you can’t possibly know all by yourself. Take time to listen to them, hearing their feedback and the feedback they receive from the congregation. Take their suggestions seriously — they’re in the thick of it, they know what needs to happen.

You’ll empower them by giving them a voice in the ministry, and you’ll improve your church in the process.

Set expectations 

It is incredibly important for a team to know when they’re doing something right.

I’m sure you’ve been in a situation like this before: You’re doing your job to the best of your ability, but you’re not really sure what’s expected of you. Therefore, you’re never quite sure when you’ve been successful. It’s a frustrating place to be. Help alleviate this for your staff by setting clear expectations and letting them know when they’ve met them. It’ll help your team perform better and it will help them feel more successful, a key component in retaining a staff.

Be open to feedback

Receiving feedback is a daunting thing to do. It’s scary to open yourself up to criticism, and we often respond defensively when we receive it. But accepting feedback is the mark of a good leader.

Be open to feedback and provide times and places where it’s safe for your staff to give it. They see you and know your strengths and your weaknesses and they can’t give you powerful insight into how you’re doing, being received, and growing.

Allowing them to speak into your life empowers them and helps you improve.

Good leaders come in many shapes and sizes, and there’s no proven formula that’s one-size-fits-all. But staying humble, continuing to learn, and making the most of your team will help you be the leader you want to be, and will give your congregation the leader they deserve.

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