These are 15 of the top things that go into making an exceptionally productive leader. (Pexels/Spencer Selover)

What makes some leaders exceptional? Here's a brief list I made from my 30 years of studying the top ministry and marketplace leaders in America.

1. They realize they are in a race and thus work with a strong purpose.

"Do you not know that all those who run in a race run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain it. Everyone who strives for the prize exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. So, therefore, I run, not with uncertainty. So I fight, not as one who beats the air" (1 Cor. 9:24-26).

2. They believe anything is possible.

"We never test the resources of God until we attempt the impossible." —F.B. Meyer

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable and receives the impossible." —Corrie ten Boom

What do you think of when you read names like Chuck Yeager, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Walt Disney, Dr. Cho, Tommy Barnett or Oral Roberts? They all believed their dreams were possible

3. They read about and listen to other successful leaders and have turned their cars into universities

With CDs and digital downloads, it's easy to create a learning space in your car during drive time (2 Tim. 2:15, 4:12).

4. They have a dream and communicate it often.

Knowing where you're going is the first step to getting there. You can take people where they would never go on their own.

Nothing happens until people start talking about it.

I'll never forget the morning I, as a young pastor with 125 church members, saw something in God's Word I had never noticed before. It was Acts 13:44: "And the next Sabbath day almost the whole city assembled to hear the word of God."  At that point, I began to believe it was possible to reach an entire city (Prov. 29:18; Phil. 3:13-14). I refused all excuses, and the church grew by 30 percent, then 54 percent, until we enjoyed 6,000 on our "active list" and over 4,000 in weekend attendance. Then we planted churches in other neighboring communities and later, internationally. Our missions director informed me that globally, we had over 100,000 in our churches every weekend.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for (dreamed of), the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).

  • Know what you want.
  • Make a list.
  • Look at the future.
  • Begin to act today. (If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.)
  • Go to God's Word and get His promises on it.
  • Insert your name in the promises.

5. They accept full responsibility.

Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.

6. They know the power of thoughts.

"for as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). In other words, you really do become what you think about most of the time.

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude] (Eph. 4:23, AMPC).

They don't let small minds limit their thinking. Some sabotage their lives with "can't dos."

7. They know that failure is not fatal

And neither are mistakes. They aren't afraid to tackle big problems, conflicts and confrontations. Fear de-motivates and discourages. They know that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger.

8. They love what they do.

Surprisingly, only 6 percent of pastors and churches really have a passion about what they do.

I read of a study involving 1500 people over 20 years old:

  1. 83 percent chose jobs for the money.
  2. 17 percent chose jobs or careers doing what they love doing.
  3. Results:  After 20 years, 103 had become millionaires, and only two of them were from the 83 percent.

9. They treat people right, realizing that we are interdependent.

Love people; use things.  And the payback is a thousandfold.

Read Dr. Steve Greene's book, Love Leads, and Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard.

10. They are constantly planning.

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty (Prov. 21:5, NLT).

11. They stick to their top goals and priorities.

12. They are fanatically committed to quality (1 Kings 7:8-10 Message).

No expense was spared—everything here, inside and out, from foundation to roof was constructed using high-quality stone, accurately cut and shaped and polished. The foundation stones were huge, ranging in size from 12 to 15 feet, and of the very best quality. The finest stone was used above the foundation, shaped to size and trimmed with cedar. The courtyard was enclosed with a wall made of three layers of stone and topped with cedar timbers, just like the one in the porch of the temple of God.

They shoot for "zero defects" and zero errors.

When a speaker has prepared for weeks to give a powerful presentation, a microphone that hasn't been checked properly ahead of time can negatively affect the presentation. Misspelled words in program guides are unacceptable. Building and grounds maintenance must reflect quality and cleanliness.

13. They get the right people doing the right things.

One good person in the right place can do the work of three others. Productive leaders get, keep and grow the right people. None of us is as good as all of us.

14. They hold people accountable.

Staff and employees must be aligned with their vision, goals and priorities.

Keep a log of what you've assigned and inspect. You empower people by giving them responsibility, guidelines, expectations and then holding them accountable for their actions

15. They consistently ask three questions.

1. Do we have the right people?

2. Are we doing the right things?

I recommend that you read Good to Great by Jim Collins and Breakout Churches by Thom S. Rainer. You'll find that successful, fruitful, effective leaders focus on a few things and do them really well.

3. Are we doing the right things right?

These are 15 of the top things that go into making an exceptionally productive leader.

This is an excerpt from Dr. Dave Williams' CD set, 42 Things Productive Pastors Know and Do that Others Don't. The principles are applicable to Marketplace Businesses too.

Available at davewilliams.com/42Things.

Dr. Dave Williams served for over 30 years as pastor of Mount Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan, with over 500 outreach ministries around the world. Dave led the church in giving over $40,000,000 to world and local missions. His leadership training course, The Art of Pacesetting Leadership, is credited with catapulting one church from 226 to over 4,000. Another church went from 8 to over 1,000. His all-time best-selling book, The New Life: The Start of Something Wonderful, is a practical, step-by-step guide to help new believers become established in their Christian walk and has sold over 2.5 million copies. His latest book, Hope in the Last Days, is published by Charisma House. Dave now focuses on helping young ministers whenever he has an opportunity.

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