The following are eight of the most important leadership principles I have learned as a senior leader over the past three decades. I have found that each of these leadership principles is vital to the success of any organization, whether it be faith-based or not.
1. They Continually Cast a Compelling Vision
The Bible teaches us that without a vision the people perish (Prov. 29). This means that people are like sheep and will scatter and/or lose focus if they are not continually motivated and guided as to the mission and purpose of the organization or church they belong to.
Every executive leader must be personally empowered and full of passion so he can continually remind the people of the vision and purpose of their existence. An organization without a compelling vision is going to lose momentum and membership. Leader without a compelling vision don’t know why they are leading, which will result in their organization experiencing a lack of cohesion and power.
2. They Set Practical Goals to Attain Their Vision
Having vision without practical goals to implement the vision is tantamount to merely having a dream that disappears once you wake up. Even if your vision was given to you supernaturally by the Lord, goals are necessary to take it from the mystical realm to the practical realm. For an effective goal I like using the acronym SAM. Each goal should be:
If a goal is too ambiguous then it is no good. For example, “This year our church will grow larger” is too ambiguous. If a goal is too lofty and not attainable then it is a pipe dream. For example, “This year our church will grow by 50 percent” when it has never grown more than 5 percent in the past 20 years. If a goal is not revisited to evaluate if you achieved the desired results, then it was not measured and is worthless.
Eventually, when the principles of SAM are not followed, the people in the organization become discouraged and believe that the vision of the leader is nothing more than rhetoric and good oratory, and they will cease following him or her.
3. They Build Strong, Competent Teams to Perpetuate the Vision
Every leader needs to process the vision and mission of the church with a competent team that will have ownership over its fulfillment. When leaders merely give out direction and orders to their team, then they are creating followers who can’t think for themselves. Thus, as the organization grows, the leader will have more and more burdens upon his shoulders, which will eventually become a bottleneck.
However, when leaders build a team around their strengths and/or weaknesses they will have people around them who will compensate for the gifts and abilities the leader doesn’t have. A leader doesn’t have to be the smartest or most capable person in the organization; leaders' greatest job is to surround themselves with the smartest and most capable people and get them to work together to accomplish the task before them.
For example, macro directive leaders need micro operational people around them, as well as team builders, to fulfill their vision. When macro leaders don’t have micro leaders then there aren’t proper systems or people in place to carry out their directives.
Finally, effective leaders are constantly encouraging and building the confidence of their team which counteracts all the negative things they either think about themselves or the negative information they are bombarded with via media and relationships. One of the greatest things an effective leader does is build faith, confidence and courage in their team so they come to the place where they believe they can achieve great things!
4. They Put First Things First
Effective leaders are continually grounding themselves in their core values of faith, family and personal renewal. Those who are not grounded will either burn out or disqualify themselves because they will eventually fail to have integrity either within themselves or in their families.
In regards to their organizations, effective leaders have learned to put their finances and time toward empowering the people with the most potential so they can bear the burden of the work and expand the capacity of the organization. They have also learned not to have transactional relationships that objectify people, so that people only feel valuable if they are contributing to the success related to fulfilling their goals. When executive leaders treat people with dignity and respect, they will get more output than if they merely use and abuse people.