There are some life giving behaviors that good leaders engage in and live by. It is what sets them apart from other leaders, gives them great credibility and earns them the loyalty of their staff. It is also what makes their ministry or team successful. I say life giving because they give life to people and to the mission of the team or organization.
One: Good leaders never make it about themselves. They have the humility to understand that their leadership is about the mission they have been given and that they are stewards of that mission. Healthy leaders keep the focus on the mission, not on themselves. While relationships are critical the best glue is missional glue.
Two: Good leaders build a great team. Many leaders hire people who will do what they tell them. The best leaders hire people who they can empower within boundaries and release them. They empower rather then control and are not afraid of staff whose skills exceed their own. In fact they intentionally look for people who are better than they are in the areas they lead.
Three: Good leaders do not take credit for success. They give it to the whole team rather than take it themselves. They know that without God's empowering and the team they work with, success would not happen. It is not about me but about us together. Staff are not always out front and they appreciate it when their leader platforms them.
Four: Good leaders don't blame others for failures. Bad things happen and leaders know that if it happens on their watch they need to take responsibility. This sends a strong message that "my leader has my back." There may be private conversations but in public, there is no blame.
Five: Good leaders don't fail to address known issues. One of the things that gives leaders credibility with their staff is that they deal with issues even when they are hard. Issues that are not dealt with hurt staff and the ministry and staff need their leader to step into the tough places. Respect for a leader comes when they engage the issues rather than ignore the issues.
Six: Good leaders build a healthy life giving staff culture. Healthy cultures have an ethos of candid conversation, collegial relationships, trust, lack of turf wars, common mission, cooperation and humility. They avoid gossip, undermining of others, unresolved conflict, passive aggressive behavior, and other negative behaviors that destroy healthy cultures.
Seven: Good leaders don't ask others to do what they don't do. They model the values and commitments of the organization, don't take advantage of their position and lead the way by example.
Eight: Good leaders pay significant attention to their staff. Making time for staff, being available to them, removing barriers they face and staying relationally connected are all factors in a healthy staff culture. They are never too busy to ensure that staff have what they need to do their job well.
Nine: Good leaders keep the mission central all the time. Few things are more demoralizing than mission drift because it robs the organization and staff of a cause worth giving their lives for. One of the first jobs of all leaders is to keep the mission front and central with great clarity.'
Ten: Good leaders continually clarify what is important. There is nothing more helpful to any team or organization than clarity. Ambiguity creates all kinds of questions while clarity answers those questions. Leaders clarify all the time.
Eleven: Good leaders foster candid dialogue and a non-defensive spirit. It is wonderfully refreshing to meet leaders who encourage honest dialogue and who are totally non-defensive when their ideas are challenged.
Twelve: Good leaders lead collaboratively rather than autocratically. Collaborative leadership beats autocratic leadership every time because there is greater intellectual capital at the table as well as greater by-in. Few truly good staff will stay long term without having a voice at the table.
Thirteen: Good leaders require high accountability but exercise low control. They set appropriate boundaries but give a great deal of empowerment. Nor do they insist that staff do things their way but encourage them to use their creativity and gifts.
Fourteen: Good leaders develop their staff and the next generation of leaders. It is life giving when leaders are proactive in helping their staff grow. It is critical to the ministry to develop the next generation of leaders.
Fifteen: Good leaders don't stay beyond their usefulness. There comes a time for leaders to move on and it is better to move on when people want you to stay than leave when people want you to leave. And when they leave, they leave well!