What defines a good leader? 

If you were to ask a room full of 1000 leaders, you might get 100 different answers. There would be a ton of overlap, some far-fetched ideas, some standards that are impossible to measure up with, but you would also get some fairly consistent feedback.

We did the research and started listening to and asking the leaders we know and trust. Leaders who wrote amazing books, leaders who speak at conferences from a few in attendance to thousands in the room. Those with no social media impact and those who social media footprint could rise or sink a ship.

We did the research so you can lean in. 

After the dust settled, we found that there were six main characteristics that made good leaders, great. This was a process. Not all leaders start off great and not all leaders can turn the corner to become great. But, the leaders that could turn a corner or could push themselves to that higher level of leadership, all exhibited these six characteristics. We’ve outlined them for you in the below diagram.

Leadership Wheel

Great leadership is outward focused. 

The first quality of a great leader is someone who is outward focused. They are leading a church that is focused not on themselves (the holy huddle), but rather on those they have been called to reach and bring back home to God. You would think that this is a given, but how many churches do you know of that are a story unto themselves? Could you make the move from outsider to insider? A great leader knows how to make the move and lead out in front with this. They stand on the edge of the cliff and jump off first, leading others to follow. As they do, they accomplish what Jesus set out to do, heal the sick.

Great leadership is community centered. 

Great leaders know that the Jesus mission starts at home and extend outward. Missions is not a far off idea, but a near reaching principle. At the church we are a part of here in San Diego, it’s best understood as this:

“Don’t think you have to go out into the world in order to make disciples. Start by opening up your front door and saying hello to your neighbors. God hasn’t brought us out to the world; he has brought the world to us.” 

San Diego is a interesting context, as it exists as a melting pot for hundreds of languages and cultures from all around the world. Is your context really all that different, or on some level, has God brought missions right into your backyard too?

Great leadership is a proven multiplier. 

Any one can be a good leader, but a good leader knows how to multiply things. Some might say they have the “golden touch”, where everything they touch succeeds. In this, we are talking about a leader who can exponentially grow systems, practices, and relationships to scale, where a few people who “get it” can reproduce themselves into others. It’s why the successful churches are the ones who are “churches that plant church-planting churches”. You don’t just plant a church; you plant a church-planting church. Start off with the end in mind, and you’re going to grow outside of yourself.

Great leadership is an authentic lifestyle. 

Have you ever bitten into a fake piece of fruit? You know, the ones they have in little kids’ play sets? Of course you haven’t. Sure, you’ve played around with them when you’re with kids, but you’ve never looked at one and said, “Oh my, that looks absolutely delicious.” You know how to spot the difference between what’s real and fake. And you know what, people do too.

People can spot a fake from a mile away. We’ve been bombarded with advertisements since the say we were born. The only marketing that will work from now in is the marketing of a life changed. If your life has not been changed by the story of Jesus and if you’re not a part of a life-changing movement where you’re at, then figure out how to make things right in your life and push those around you to do the same. You can’t fake Jesus, so don’t try to.

Great leadership has unlimited visioneering capacity. 

And it’s not just the ability to see off into the distance, it’s seeing what lays ahead and knowing how to get yourself there. It’s the ability to know where you need to go as a church and creating the right team around you that can help you get the job done. You should never have enough resources to accomplish your mission. If you do, then your mission isn’t big enough. If God isn’t the only one who can make it happen, then whatever you’re working on isn’t a God-sized dream.

Great leadership has a mentor mindset. 

If you were to get hit by a car tonight, do you have have someone ready to go who could take the reigns from you? If you are not prepared to pass the torch, then you are missing out on one of the most critically important pieces to leadership, let alone great leadership. Great leaders are ones that know the importance of the one out in front, and how to create that same fire and passion in those who are following close behind them.

In most cases, you do have people under your leadership who want to take over. There are always those who want more, whether that’s responsibility or power, if the ownership is there, it’s up to you to make it happen. Create a system of leadership that reproduces itself into others at every step along the leadership pipeline. And when the time is right, release them into the wild knowing that everything you’ve been doing with them will make certain they succeed.

Hold up; That’s not the end of the story. 

In addition to these six leadership characteristics, you have undoubtedly noticed the two components that are holding them together: a solid understanding of the Bible and a focus on prayer (we labeled these as “Bible Based” and “Prayer Powered”). Without the core, the leadership wheel goes off track and comes unhinged. Above all else and more importantly than the six characteristics is the core. Everything you need to know about a great leader starts here. So before you go off and start implementing a system with these six characteristics, make sure you have the core down. Without it, God will not bless anything. Don’t believe us? Look around and see for yourself: those that are attempting to survive will never thrive on their own power.

It’s all God or nothing; period.

Here’s what we’re going to do. 

Over the coming weeks, we will be bringing you their side of the story. We are going to feature insights, tips, etc … into what makes good leaders great, from leaders who are great. You will hear what makes them tick, what you can do to become a leader like them in your own context, and ultimately, how to make the transition from being a good church leader, to one that is great and causing others to be great as well.