I love the energy, passion and creativity of young leaders. Helping young leaders grow and flourish is one of the most important things more mature believers can do. I want to leave a leadership bench behind me that is better than the one with me. That is success for current leaders.
As we work with young leaders there are some foundational leadership principles that we can help them understand. These go to their leadership EQ which is critical to their success.
Humility. Leaders are simply using gifts that God has given. They are given in trust to use on his behalf. Leaders are not more important than others, they simply have a different role than others and are called to be faithful to the role God has given. Leadership is not about us but about our faithfulness to the one who gave us the gifting to lead, the care of those entrusted to our leadership and the God given mission we have.
Self awareness. Understanding how we are wired, how we are perceived by others, what are strengths and weaknesses are is critical to good leadership. The more we can help young leaders become exegetes of themselves the better leaders they will be. This includes knowing where our sweet spot is and playing to our strengths as much as possible.
Dark sides. Every leader has a shadow side. Those who do not understand their shadow side and where they are vulnerable may easily become victims of their own sin or dysfunction. We ought to help young leaders understand their shadow side and encourage them to spend as much time dealing with the shadow side as they do their strengths. Those who don't deal with their vulnerabilities end up hurting themselves and others.
Honoring others. Great leaders honor other people and help them become all that they can be. Remember it is not about me but about us. My success is directly connected to the success that I help others achieve. Leaders are developers of others. They value healthy relationships, honest feedback and giving the praise to the team rather than taking the spotlight for themselves
Approachability. Young leaders need to learn how to separate their personal pride from their work. Feedback on their work is not an attack on their person, although many people see it that way. Developing a "nothing to prove, nothing to lose" is critical to healthy leadership. Unapproachable leaders cannot be healthy leaders. Remember, it is not about me, but about us and the mission God has given us.
Teachable. Leaders who are teachable grow and develop. Those who are not often run the risk of ending up as narcissists, concerned only about themselves and resistant to honest and needed feedback. This goes to humility and approachability. The most brilliant leaders who are not teachable or approachable will end up hurting others and the organization they lead.
Hearts toward God. In ministry, nothing matters more than having a heart that wants to please the One on whose behalf we exercise leadership. Maintaining hearts that are tender toward God, want to follow Him and hear from Him, please him and know Him is the most important leadership requirement of all.
If you are a young leader you may want to ask those around you how you are doing in these seven areas. If you are a mentor of young leaders, consider talking to those you mentor about the importance of these issues. They will make all the difference as to their future success.
And I need to remember as a mentor of others that these qualities are as much caught as they are taught. So, how I lead and live will impact how they lead and live.