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What might exceptional leadership look like?

Leadership is on a lot of lips and minds today.  Christian organizations are constantly on the hunt for gifted, called and anointed leaders, but few know how to actually identify, recruit and develop the leaders they need and want. Experience has taught me that it is much easier for someone to want to be known as a leader than to actually be a leader--an exceptional leader. We already have enough mediocre and/or average leaders.

I have been studying and practicing leadership for over forty years.  I continue to grow in both leading and learning how to lead better. I read all I can on the subject. I’m not what I want to be or what I will be, but at least I’m not what I was…even last year. By God’s grace I’m still a life-long learner…trusting Jesus to be excellent in how I lead others.

What does excellent leadership really look like? How would you personally define excellent leadership? What qualities are high on your list?

To get the ball rolling on what excellent, stellar and exceptional leadership looks like, here are four attributes that have been on my mind lately. This is not meant to be exhaustive…just a few I have been thinking and praying about.


Telling the truth at all times and at all costs. Being a person who says what he means and means what he says…consistency between what is said and what is done. (See Psalm 15:4B)


Sees things through to completion. Doesn’t make promises that aren’t kept. Takes responsibility seriously; doesn’t intentionally or lazily let things fall through the cracks. Owns sin and mistakes without playing the blame game.


Makes the tough calls and confronts when necessary. Decides when it’s as clear as it’s ever going to be without trying to keep everybody happy or being afraid to make a mistake. Show me a leader who never made a mistake and I’ll show you a leader who never “made” anything


Genuinely cares. Affirms and encourages the people being led. Not in it for personal gain or accolades (See I Peter 5:1-3). Leadership is not about the leader, but about Jesus and those He has entrusted to the leader.

In my opinion, excellent leadership would include ALL FOUR of these. What do you think? Please add a few at the top of your list that would separate an average leader from an exceptional leader.

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