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We all want to be great leaders. We want our churches to be thriving, growing, vibrant communities of faith. We want the people who file into the doors of our buildings to see their lives through the lens of worship, bringing glory to Jesus every day of the week in every context. 

We know that leadership matters

So what does it take to be effective?

Here are five characteristics of great leadership. 

1) Great leaders have integrity. 

To say great leaders have integrity is not to say that they are perfect. Great leaders are the same person in the pulpit, in the office, and in the home. When people pull back the curtain on how the sausage gets made at your church, will they still respect what you say from the stage? If people could watch your interaction at home with your spouse, could they believe the words you preach? This is integrity: to be honest about who we are wherever we are, including the good and the bad.

2) Great leaders take the bullet

In football, the quarterback takes all the credit or all the blame for a win or a loss. In church, it’s no different. Great leaders will take the brunt of criticism when things go poorly in order to protect staff unity. Certainly there is a need for accountability internally, but to the public, great leaders absorb blame. 

 characteristics of great leadership 3) Great leaders communicate well. 

The foundation of every church is relationship. All relationships thrive when communication is done well. Great leaders over-communicate goals, expectations, vision, and encouragement. They are includers who invite people into decision making processes rather than holding on to power. Great leaders know the power of words and steward language wisely. 

4) Great leaders empower. 

One of the characteristics of great leadership is the ability to see the potential in others and then leverage that raw talent towards a common goal. Unlike the narcissistic leader who has to control, great leaders release people to dream, lead, and innovate. Letting go is not the same as spurring on. Great leaders do not simply allow others to lead, they elevate them to higher levels of success. 

5) Great leaders know their limitations. 

Not all leaders are the same. There’s a temptation for leaders to believe that they have to be some part-William Wallace, part-Steve Jobs hybrid human being with mad skills. It simply is not true. Your leadership has limits. Great leaders take the time to figure out what they are, and then embrace them. Leaders who do not try to expand their abilities wider are set free to go higher and deeper. Fire yourself from all the things you aren’t as a leader so you can invest fully in the leader you are. 

You don’t have to be a famous leader to be a great leader. These five characteristics of great leadership are attainable for any leader. Not sure how to move forward? Let me help. 

What do you think are the primary characteristics of great leadership?