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Today I want to challenge you to think about something with your team: What type of leaders do you want? Rarely do we stop and ask that question.

We ask, “How many leaders do we need?”; “where do we need more leaders?” or “how fast can wet get new leaders in place?” But, “what type of leader do we want” isn’t a question you hear too often.

When we only think about “how many”, “where” and “how fast” we’re tempted to minimize the training we provide for our new leaders. Our thinking defaults to quantity rather than quality.

There are three potential consequences to this mentality.

  • The focus becomes placing new leaders rather than developing them. And placing without developing is dangerous.
  • Training focuses on giving information rather than producing transformation. Instead of thinking about how to maximize the new leaders strengths and potential we simply want them to get the job done.
  • Training ends once they step into the new leadership role. If they turn out to be the kind of leader we don’t want, then we look for ways to dismiss them rather than looking for ways to develop them.

But when you answer the question, what type of leaders do we want? ¬†You’ll find yourself saying, “We want men and women who…

  • exhibit a bold faith
  • model godly leadership
  • make wise decisions
  • know how to make people feel loved and encouraged
  • know how to influence others
  • identify and equip new leaders
  • take initiative when they see a problem or something that could be improved
  • cast a compelling vision to their team
  • delegate for development rather than dump responsibility

The list could go on.

When you identify the type of leaders you want you will take greater care in how you develop them. The development of that individual may take longer than you want. But recognize if you want quality leaders then you have to provide quality training.

So, what kind of leaders do you want leading in your organization? What’s your next step to start developing them into that kind of leader?

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.

When people ask what I think the best leadership tool is today, they’re expecting me to respond with a particular book, program or course. While all those are helpful none of them rank at the top of my list. The one thing that produces the greatest leadership development results every single time is hands-on work under the watchful eye of a mentor.

If you want to develop someone to be a small group leader, then put them in your small group and start giving them the tasks of a small group leader. If you want someone to be a manager, then bring them along side you and start giving them the tasks of a manager. If you want someone to be a worship leader, bring them along side you and give them the tasks of a worship leader.

But wait!!! They’re not ready!! Exactly! That’s why you give them the tasks before you give them the title. There’s nothing like the messy soil of failure to learn how to lead well. For example, the best way to teach a young leader how to lead a meeting is let them lead a meeting while you watch. Then immediately afterward discuss with them what they did well and what they could do better. This type of coaching has a powerful impact on learning.

Each baseball season a whole new crop of youngsters line up to play the game for the first time. Months before they ever take the field for a game, they start practice with a coach who guides them each step along the way. Each practice they go through a series of repetitions learning to throw, catch and swing. Then when the pre-season of practice is over, and it’s game time these little rookies take their positions on the field with a new level of confidence and competence. The coach’s observations and feedback have transformed their skills and readied them for the game.

Remember it’s not experience that produces the transformation, its the evaluated experience that makes the difference. What hands-on experience can you give your leaders this week that will give them the swings at the plate they need to develop into great leaders?