Leadership is all about moving people forward; every day a leader must think and act in forward motion. This can only happen if the leader steadily strengthens his/her skills through both experience and new knowledge. The easy path is to settle for what he already knows (a personal status quo) and remain satisfied with the feelings attached to being comfortable and secure. The better path, the more rewarding journey, is to change the way he thinks about leadership and, consequently, the way he leads.
Level One leaders are easily stranded in their position; people follow them because of their title. Every new pastor starts on Level One. They are often referred to, not by name, but by title; “pastor,” “preacher,” “reverend.” A healthy leader will move quickly to establish relationships with key congregants who will begin to see him as someone they want to serve beside, rather than under.
If you want to move to Level Two leadership, and have people give you Permission to be their leader, you want to show them they are valuable to you. Placing people ahead of position will draw them closer to you and they will begin to help you while you help them. “Good leadership is about leading with others, not just leading others.” (John Maxwell)
Level One leaders find it difficult to admit a lack of knowledge about a subject, but Level Two leaders are not afraid to admit they don’t know something; they seek out answers and use the situation as a tool for learning. I would recommend that you intentionally look for an area you need to know more about and let your leadership team members do the research and share what they have learned. We did this in the area of stewardship in one congregation; I asked the finance committee team members to research Nelson Searcy’s book, Maximize. They learned how to lead the congregation to give and I learned how to let them teach me their findings.
Level One leaders do not assess their people to discover where they currently are; instead, they assume they already know. Level Two leaders realize they cannot take a group where they want them to go until they have a grasp on where they are at present. These leaders move toward the people by showing that they care to know who they are, where they are from and where they want to go. Surveys, questionnaires, spiritual gifts tests and connection card response options are all tools in the hands of a Level Two leader.
The Level One leader thinks, “I’m over you.” The Level Two leader says, “Let’s work together.” Level One: “Don’t let people get close to you.” Level Two: “I’ll come to you.” Level One: “What I think is what is important.” Level Two: “What do you think?” Level One: “You are here to help me.” Level Two: “I’m here to help you.” Level One: “The manual says…” Level Two: “Let’s think outside the box.”
Do you want to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership? Register for our 5 Levels of Leadership Seminar, April 1, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Resource Center. Facilitated by Steve Suders (a John Maxwell trainer) and Lynn Hardaway, these video sessions with John Maxwell will enable you to improve your skills as a leader and understand what it takes to move to the next level. Be innovative and bring your staff!