Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Who is Responsible for My Development?

The heights of great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night.

The Ladder of St. Augustine,  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My conversation with this 30-year-old leader had come to a point of discussing his ongoing development as a leader.  “But my organization is not even thinking about my development,” he explained in exasperation.  “When will I be developed as a leader so that I can truly make my contribution?”

I’ve reflected on that conversation many times.  Who is responsible for our development as leaders?  I ‘d suggest 3 sources who are very interested in you reaching your potential for influence in the Kingdom.

First of all God Himself is very interested in your leader development.  While both competency and character are needed to lead well, God chooses to focus our development on the character side.  The obvious reason is that He will certainly take care of competency issues through His help as we depend upon Him.  This does not mean that leadership competency is not so important for Kingdom leaders, but God places a priority on character for His leaders.

He is committed to seeing Christlike character shaped within us all, especially His leaders.  He is constantly arranging the circumstances of our life and leadership in order to help us grow into the person He desires.  We can embrace these opportunities for character growth or seek to run from them.  But should we choose to run, He will again raise up new circumstances to once again move us towards Christlikeness.

Our second source of development should be our organization, corporation, business, or workplace.  Businesses and organization that purposefully invest in developing their leadership communities tend to do well over time.  These organizational opportunities can be formal (academic credentialing through study. i.e. secondary degrees in organizational leadership) or semi-formal (certification, continuing education days,  or seminars around areas of leadership competency).  Some workplaces are better than others about providing this type of intentional development.  And even those who are committed to this intentional development of leaders will often greatly cut the budget or staffing for it when there is an overall budget tightening.

The third source of our develop comes from within ourselves.  We must own our own development as leaders.  Rather than waiting or complaining about not being developed, take the responsibility upon yourself to be the best leader you can be.  Seek out opportunities for growth in competency and character.  Pursue it wholeheartedly!  Start today!

One of the most helpful development opportunities is having a mentor for your leadership. Many emerging leaders tell me that they can’t find a mentor willing to meet with them.  Here’s my suggestion.  Find a leader who you think can be of some help.  Approach them with this question, “Could we begin to meet together for me to ask you questions about how I can be a better leader?”  Note that you’re not asking them to mentor you.  Many busy leaders will immediately decline this offer…too many things to do!  But they all have to eat sometime, so invite them to a meal (you pay!) and come with specific questions that they can respond to.  Take good notes and reflect on their answers for your own growth and development.

Be the best leader you can be for Jesus sake and embrace your own development!

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