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4. Becoming a Person People Want to Follow

Developing the Qualities of an Effective Leader


"Leadership sets the standard, whether the organization is a business, a church, or a family. The higher the standard, the more effective the leadership." -- John C. Maxwell

What does it mean to be a leader?

Is it a position or role that an individual fills? Is it an action or something a person does? Is it a personality or character trait?

In the simplest of terms, a leader has influence with others. As such, a person may have a leadership position, but if they are not affecting the thoughts and actions of others, they aren't a leader.

Did you know that you are a leader?

Whether you consciously realize it or not, you have an area of influence; the true question is, are you an effective leader?

Imagine that you're holding an open umbrella. Under the protection of that umbrella are all the people that you have influence over -- your family, your friends, your church, your business/workplace, your school, your community -- and the success of these circles can never, will never, rise any higher than the level at which you hold the umbrella.

Leadership sets the standard, and the higher the standard, the more effective the leadership. As such, you should strive to be the most effective leader possible.

John Maxwell gives us five nonnegotiable characteristics that every effective leader must have; let's explore them now!

An Effective Leader Must Feel a Sense of Calling

Effective leaders feel a strong sense of responsibility to take their place. People who are "called" discover something bigger than themselves, whether a mission, challenge, goal, or movement draws them to take action and bring others along with them. This calling can be defined as that "have to" feeling, a sense that they have little choice but to answer the call.

An Effective Leader Must Be Able to Communicate

Effective leaders can communicate their message to others and convey their strong belief in those who follow to carry it out. To be an effective leader, you must find a way to ensure that your vision is seen, implemented, and added to by others. A leader sees the big picture but understands that it cannot be made a reality without the support of others.

An Effective Leader is Creative in Handling Problems

The reality is that everyone faces problems, but an effective leader can creatively find solutions. The key is to use the problem as an opportunity for growth and change. Effective leaders know how to turn their challenges into learning opportunities and can help others do the same!

“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. ” — Homer

An Effective Leader is a Generous Contributor

One of my favorite Maxwell quotes is, "The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him [or her] but the number of people he serves." Effective leaders understand that their purpose isn't just to provide the vision and then stand back and watch others do the work; part of their calling is to roll up their sleeves and get to work with everyone else. They understand that they have something to give, and they do so freely.

An Effective Leader Acts Consistently

No one has ever been an effective leader for the long term without consistency. Socrates once said, "The first key to greatness is to be in reality what we appear to be." Effective leaders are consistent in how they :

  • Respond to their people; this builds security.

  • Demonstrate their principles or values; this provides direction.

  • Carry out their projects or responsibilities; this builds morale.

This week, consider the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the effectiveness of your influence?

  • Have you identified your calling? If yes, how have you answered the call?

  • How have you communicated your vision to others? How can others help you bring your vision into reality?

  • What was the last problem you solved creatively? How did that solution impact your influence?

  • How can you serve others this week? When will you take that action?

  • In what areas do you need to grow your consistency? How can you implement change this week?

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