Investing in Leaders

I have two Bible College degrees. I spent many years in seminary learning things such as hermeneutics, systematic theology and exegesis; all fantastic stuff! But one thing I was never taught was how to lead leaders. I’ll give you the heads up; it’s tough!

It’s crucial that we honestly and genuinely invest in our leaders if we want to see them grow with the ministry or Church that we lead. Most, if not all of what I have learned in this area has come from books, articles and sadly, yet importantly; trial and error through experience.

Leading leaders is tough for a variety of reasons: different personalities, varying ideas about direction and the past experiences that leaders bring to the team and their role. If we don’t guide and invest in our leaders, we can see leaders become apathetic, disillusioned or even burnt out. So how do we best invest in leaders? Here are five quick tips that may be beneficial to you as you navigate this.

1. Personalise it!
Leaders want to be appreciated not only for the role they are doing, but the people that they are. So often in leadership, we can limit the person to the role in which they serve.  I struggle with this a lot! I have to keep remembering that it’s crucial to keep speaking into the person as an individual, and not just what they can offer you ministry.

2. Invest in the leader outside your mandate
What I mean by this is to go the extra mile with your leaders on a personal level outside what is expected of you. As a leader of leaders, I know I encourage my leaders to invest in their few (or small group) outside the scheduled program time. I invite them to visit their young people at their sporting events, graduation events etc. The point is, if we expect our leaders to invest in their young people outside the Church, why do we not hold the same standards for ourselves? Genuine leadership is leadership that goes outside what is expected.

3. Reiterate the vision
Are you leaders able to recite the vision of your ministry? If not, they are either probably wandering aimlessly or they are just focusing on week-to-week programming. As the leader of leaders, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the leaders not only have purpose, but hold the same ‘why’ as you. Vision unites a team, so it’s crucial that we always have the vision front and centre and threaded throughout every facet of the ministry/Church.

4. Be honest
Putting in bluntly, leader can pick ‘fake genuineness’ from a mile off. Leaders want ‘real’, so make sure you give it to them. Tell them when you have failed or when one of your ideas didn’t work. Surprisingly, humility is a fantastic bonder between teams. Be honest as a team; don’t point fingers at other leaders when things don’t go to plan… even if it was 100% someone’s fault. Effective leaders unite teams by owning the team’s wins and failures. The reality is, you will sometimes fail as a team. The true test is how well your team members help each other up, and as the leader of leaders, it’s up to you to set the cultural tone of honesty.

5. Give your leaders opportunities to grow
Nothing says ‘I believe in you’ more than offering leaders opportunities to grow. We afford paid staff personal development opportunities, so why not offer them to our volunteer leaders? Yes, the financial cost may be burdensome, but the message it sends the leaders is invaluable.
Journey with your leaders through internal and external training development opportunities and watch them grow in ways that you never thought was possible.

We invest in leaders by giving the message “I believe in you and I’m going to show it”. It’s that basic. We need to not fall in the trap on focusing on the mechanics of what the leader can offer and start investing in the dynamics of their leadership and what they can offer the team and how they can develop as a leader and person.

What would you include in this list?

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