6 Ingredients for Successful Leadership Development

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By Kate Smith

We’ve all known good and bad leaders. For me, John and Carol Arnott are some of the best leaders I could imagine. They are an amazing spiritual mother and father to Duncan and me. They’re great leaders who love us, see the best in us, believe in us and have made way for us. They’ve given us lots of love and at times, correction. Duncan and I are the leaders we are today because of them.

God wants His blessing to flow through all generations. I believe that each person has a responsibility to pass on what they’ve received to others. Duncan and I want to pass on all the good things we’ve gained from John and Carol’s leadership. We are always looking to develop other leaders.

In my opinion, the greatest leaders are those that develop other excellent leaders. They create a culture of development and an expectation of growth in the people around them. That takes vision. You always need to have other people in your mind’s eye, thinking about what opportunity, feedback and help you can give them to move forward into their destiny.

Duncan and I use a recipe of six ingredients for leadership development: identify, direct, find a fit, give opportunity, correct, and affirm. These aren’t steps that happen one at a time, but we use all six ingredients in different measures at different times.

Identify

As a leader, it’s your role to create a culture where people’s God-given potential is celebrated, and people are given the opportunity to grow. You need to learn to tap into the God-given potential in others and draw it out. So how do you spot a potential leader?

Firstly, look at the gifts upon somebody’s life. Find out whether they have influence. Leaders always have an influence on other people. 

Secondly, look at whether they can follow other leaders. Good leaders are able to follow well. In a church setting, it could be that someone joins a mid-week group. She is part of the group, engaging well, and taking part, and she decides to bring a friend along, telling him, “Hey, you should join this group. I’m getting a lot out of it, and I think you will too.” The small group begins to grow because she continues to invite her friends along. She displays both influence on other people and the heart to follow her small group leader. These small actions show that she has the heart of a leader.

Look out for people with an open heart. Those that are able to be humble and learn from a spiritual mother or father. People that are teachable will always be easier to lead, to help them grow their skills, and bring along into what God has for them.

Direct

When you’ve identified a leader, you need to get to know them. Take time to sit with them and listen to their heart and their dreams. Ask questions to draw out a sense of where they want to go and to help them gain clarity of vision for themselves. Then, most importantly, communicate what you see! Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you about their potential, and encourage them to pursue that.

It’s so important to clearly communicate your vision at this point. People you’re leading need to be on board with where you’re going, so that they can move in the same direction as you are, rather than just flying off doing their own thing.

Find their Fit

If somebody has a desire, dream or an inclination for a certain area of ministry, they’re more likely to be motivated to grow and to succeed in what they do. It’s so important to find the right fit for someone that lines up with their purpose. That fit needs to be a joyful fit. It’s got to be a joy for them to be in the role, and a joy for you to have them there, too.

A few years ago, we placed a couple in a new role that had a far bigger leadership reach than they’d experienced before. When they started, it felt like a big leap for them, but we could see that they had a heart for the area of ministry that they were already serving in. They were displaying the skills, the competency, anointing, integrity, and experience that they needed to be able to step up a level. Duncan and I helped them discover a bigger world that they didn’t realize was out there. Now, they’re building and bringing up other leaders with them because they’re in the right fit.

Give Opportunity

When you’ve identified a leader, discovered what’s in their heart, and found a joyful fit for them, you’ve got to begin to give them opportunities.

Duncan and I regularly use a principle that we learned from my brother-in-law Murray when we’re placing people in leadership in ministry. Here’s how it works: once you’ve identified a person, sit down with them and let them know that you’d like them to have a role, but in three months from now. If they accept the role, explain to them that from now on, you want them to behave and act like they’re in the role. Give them clear expectations so that they can create measurable fruit. This does two things:

  1. It prepares those around them at a subconscious level. They start to see the leader in a position of influence and follow them. Then, three months down the line, when we announce that they have this leadership position, everybody will cheer because they’ve seen the leader in action and can see that they’re the right person.

  2. Secondly, it gives them a chance to get to grips with the role. They get to face the challenges of the role and develop their ability to fulfill the role without a title. It’s a good way of gauging whether you've got the person in the right fit without loading them up with a level responsibility that they could actually flounder in.

If they bear fruit in that first three months, you know they’ll continue to bear fruit. If they’re not bearing fruit, you have the opportunity to bring direction and a bit of course correction. If that doesn’t produce change, you can look at how to place that person in a different role that fits them better, without disruptive changes taking place for the church or for the leader you’re raising up.

Correct

Correction should always be about helping someone achieve their God-given destiny. It must always be for their sake. To help leaders behind you grow, it’s important to create measurable expectations at the beginning, so that you can see down the line where they’re bearing fruit, what areas they lack in, and how they can continue to develop. Correction might come in because of issues in behaviour, motivation, communication, or many other reasons. It always needs to be packaged with love, rather than control. When you give someone an opportunity to course-correct, it’s their choice to follow your leadership or not. Bad leaders use coercion, fear and manipulation to bring correction. A good leader always gives their followers freedom of choice.

Affirm

Correction is only really successful where affirmation is a central part of the culture. As leaders, it’s our role to affirm each person’s identity and capacity to accomplish what God has given them. In order to affirm others, we need to be deeply rooted in the affirmation of the Father ourselves.

Understanding and experiencing the Father heart of God has transformed my leadership. Just knowing how much He loves me, and learning to live from His love, has helped me overcome intimidation and comparison. I struggled for a long time believing that other people in ministry are better than me. That was the voice of the enemy making me think I should be like somebody else. The Father revealed to me that to be the best leader I can be, I should be myself and allow His anointing to flow through me in the gifting and anointing he’s given me. I’ve become free to be me, to lead as me. God’s heart for every person in leadership is that we are rooted in the Father’s love and the identity that He has given us.