The Fastest Way to Develop a Leader is Slow

July 29, 2015 - Mac Lake - Leadership Development
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I want you to consider something: The fastest way to develop a leader is slow.

Would you agree with me a potential leader can experience all kind of training but not be developed? He can sit through a two-day seminar, a half day turbo training or a four-day conference but still not experience long-lasting transformation. You see it’s fast, but it’s not really leadership development if the leader’s character and competencies aren’t advancing. This type of fast informational training has value for inspiring and informing but have little impact on influencing long-lasting behavioral changes.

When I look at men in scripture with the greatest leadership character and leadership competencies they’re men who walked alongside another godly man for a season of time, typically years.

Discovering and understanding a potential leaders gifts, personality and passion only comes by walking together for a while. Uncovering their leadership strengths and potential takes a season of observation and discussion. Helping them develop a growth plan takes trust and time. And modeling healthy leadership behaviors can only happen over time. But by doing these things you begin to see incremental progress in those you’re developing.

Wow, that seems slow, but it also seems it’s a lot faster than throwing them in a couple of conferences or classes.

Therefore, I’ve concluded that the fastest way to develop a leader is slow.

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Mac Lake

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3 responses to The Fastest Way to Develop a Leader is Slow

  1. Thank you, Mac, for this tremendous post. We’re finding in our local church that apprenticeship is working effectively within a one-to-one model. In a fast paced culture, this requires a level of discipline and recalibrating. But the payoff has been significant. The Moses-Joshua/Paul-Timothy model proves to be a solid approach. You don’t hear this message very often – all the more reason that I deeply appreciate your words here — thanks so much —

    @SteveMcCoy360 (Sarasota)

  2. Travis Stephens July 31, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Mac,
    We’ve learned this the hard way at our church. We’ve went through a multitude of leaders over the past 18 months because we haven’t taken the time to slowly walk with them. We just wanted to hand them a job description and a few leadership tips here and there, but of course that strategy hasn’t worked. So, we’re trying to change our approach, but it’s so hard to be patient. Sunday is always coming, and if you don’t have capable leaders, the experience suffers.

    How can you tell when you should be patient with someone, or when someone is just never going to get to the level you need? Because in some instances, I feel like we’ve spent a lot of time with people who just can’t get it. And I think to myself, we should’ve been investing in someone else for the last 6 months.

  3. Hey Travis, Yes investing a potential new leader is always a risk and it doesn’t always turn out like we hoped. But asking a few questions from the start can help us avoid some of those leadership development missteps. As we look at the potential leader we’re considering investing in we have to ask: What is their next step in leadership? Have the learned to lead themselves? If not then that is their next step. If they have then they may be ready to lead others. But there are a few qualifying questions that we have to move to first. Do they exhibit a healthy character? If not then move forward cautiously. Do they show potential in the competencies it will take to lead in the area you’re training them for? Do they express the type of enthusiasm that will enable them to have the right level of commitment? Sometimes we overestimate a potential leaders character, potential competency and commitment level. We can be blinded by our own desperation to fill a spot and chose the wrong person. That’s why when possible start with looking for the person who demonstrates character, competency and commitment rather than start by looking the position that needs to be filled. But when all is said and done I dont know anyone who bats 1000% in developing leaders. Even Jesus had one of his 12 go bad. And Paul had several who disappointed and deserted him. Stay encouraged, keep up the good work and fight the good fight. The fact that you are out there seeing potential in people and investing your time is more than many others are doing.

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