How To Develop Leaders

Think about your church or business from top to bottom. Are you frustrated by the gap between your plans and your results? Do you look around at the people in your organization and wonder where are all the leaders? Do you look at the leaders you have and wish they were better?

The church I help lead made a critical decision several years ago to be intentional and aggressive in developing leaders throughout the organization. We were typical of many organizations where training and development are top-heavy, focused on the men and women who were 'the leaders.' So we took six months to put together a leadership development system that has increased the number of recognized leaders in our church by 400% in two years. 

Based on our experience and listening to the stories of other churches and businesses who are doing this well, here are the three critical factors in developing leaders:

Leadership defined

When I consult with a business that wants to grow its leadership capacity, I start by asking them to answer the following questions: 

  • What is leadership?
  • What are the differing levels of leadership in the organization (i.e., leading self, leading others, leading teams, leading organization)?
  • Where does each team in your organization fit within the differing levels of leadership identified in the previous question?
  • What are the competencies needed at each leadership level?

Plans developed 

Once there is a clear definition of leadership, a blueprint can be drawn up to give an overall picture of the system that includes:

  • Communication - letting everyone in the organization know the pathway to every layer of leadership
  • Recruitment - encouraging people to higher levels of leadership
  • Training - growing the character and competencies needed to thrive at every level 
  • Assessment - evaluating whether each person in the system meets the qualifications needed for advancement to the next level. 
  • Implementation - doing what it takes to get your system up and running in the next 6-18 months. 

Results delivered 

Make sure to celebrate the wins for individuals and the entire organization. And don't forget to identify and correct any breakdowns in the system (people don't start; people get stuck; people don't stay).

Healthy organizations have a simple and sustainable way to develop leaders at every level. Use these three factors to evaluate your current efforts to develop leaders. Or use them to begin building a brand new system. And if you like someone to help you build and implement this kind of system for your church or business, let me know. I would love to help you!

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