Key Elements Of Leadership

I recently began thinking about leadership and decided to write down some of the things I have learned about leadership over the past few years.  There is no lack of experts that have opinions on the subject of leadership… and I am by no means an expert. however I figured I would share my thoughts.

There are some fundamental ideas about leadership that I feel are important for good leaders to understand.  Some,  if not all of these are already established and accepted ideas in some perspectives of leadership.  Some of them go directly against the grain of everything we are taught about ” Alpha Wolf ” style leadership… and for good reason!

  • Authority is given not taken
  • Leaders should be able to follow well
  • A role of leadership is functioning to promote unity and forward momentum with minimal exercise of authority.
  • It is critical that a leader recognize that the role of a leader is to
    • Lead in humility
    • Develop a mentoring relationship with those he leads
    • Promote mentoring relationships in upcoming leaders
    • Demonstrate proper boundaries in dealing with issues of
      • Pride
      • Personal conflict
      • Burn out
      • Life choices
      • Balance
      • Discernment

Leading in humility is a tough job, it requires a selfless determination to recognize that your authority is given to you and is something that you must measure and use with discernment.

some questions a leader should consider asking.
Will you recognize me as your leader?
If so will you respect the authority that you have given me and trust me to make decisions for you?

Do you give me permission to speak humbly, honestly, and directly with you when I need to talk to you about how you are dealing with the subjects of:

  • Pride
  • Personal conflict
  • Burn out
  • Life choices
  • Balance
  • Discernment

A good leader should promote healthy boundaries yet still welcome to questions and even challenges to their opinions. Often it is difficult when others challenge our vision and ideals.

It is critical that a leader develop a good balance of gracefully accepting criticism, instruction, and even condemnation; Without feeling threatened.

The best way to develop good balance is to hold loosely to ideals that are not based on rock solid principals.  We often set our full weight on issues that are largely unimportant, and forget to defend the core principals that are worth saving.

By regularly revisiting core values; re-establishing their truth,  and by evaluating and holding loosely to the less important ideals and preconceptions of your vision: you can maintain a healthy balance in your leadership.

Maintaining good balance as a leader gives the team  you are leading the freedom to truly thrive and challenge you in new areas of leadership; instead of wallowing in mediocrity and internal squabbles over meaningless issues.

So if you feel like you are having trouble as a leader try applying some of these principals and you may just discover that leading is easier than you thought.

So how about it… any leaders out there that want to weigh in on this??  what do you think?


  1. Jason, you nailed it in all ways but one.

    The key aspect of leadership you missed (although it's there, but not explicitly) is servanthood. As a leader, you are a servant to those that are following you. With that attitude, you will achieve all the aspects of what you talk about here. A true servant leader will accept critiques, other opinions, and suggestions, weigh them against the needs of the team and the mission of the team, then decide on the best course of action based on that information.

    Servant leadership is the hardest thing to do for proud or serious "type A" personalities. Their challenge is to keep their personal head-strong will out of the way to support the team.

    Amen, brother, preach on!
    My recent post Puppy Tweets For Your Beloved Puppy

    • Phil,

      you are absolutely correct. I purposely avoided the specific use of the words "servant leader" in this article because the words are thrown around so loosely these days without really understanding the heart of the matter. I probably should have given a little more structure to the idea of servant hood. I often struggle with using the cliche's of our time because I don't want the words to lose the weight of the principals behind them. Thanks for the comment… glad you came by!

  2. Good stuff so far… I'll add this: A leader needs to have a healthy sense of identity that exists outside of of where he is a leader. If his (or her) identity only comes out of the place of leadership, things will get unhealthy fast. Identity should ideally come out of identity in Christ or if the person is not a christian at least from a healthy view of self. That will lead to an ability to accept criticism and ideas easily.

    I believe a good leader also needs to have the courage to take risks and even make mistakes. If the leader is afraid to make mistakes then the people under will likely being trying harder to avoid mistakes than to do their best.

    Finally, I would say a good leader needs a heart that is sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    • Caleb,

      I agree it is rare that a leader's identity is truly founded in Christ, but a correct identity is a critical part of becoming an effective leader… many leaders have an innate desire to fulfill an emotional or psychological need that has not been met. And that need becomes the weak point in their ability to lead.

      great points! thanks for commenting!

  3. Hey friend…yes, I'm still out there in cyber-space….and my middle middle class duplex (or at least the half the bank let's Jan and I live in :-) ….. well the 1st dude beat me to the "servanthood" point, which cliche and all probably needs to be said in some kind of package. I liked what you wrote , tho, and would call that a small re-edit. One other thing I'd quibble a little with: it's pointless to ask others for their trust: trust is earned, so if we want more of it, we should act in a way that will elicit that response with gladness. We can RESPECT a position, or role, but trust is IMO another animal. Feedback welcome as always.

    blessings on you and yours
    PS: this topic is joined at the hip with DISCIPLESHIP, which is another churchy, religious word that we need to KEEP, CLEAN UP, and put to USE.

    • hey greg! good to see you back!

      While I see your point about asking for trust, the very action of humbling yourself to the people that you will lead is a huge first step towards earning their trust… That being said none of these things are a defacto formula for successful leadership… ultimately you are correct. Trust is something that is earned… as is respect, however respect is generally linked with authority (and as I mentioned, it has to be given not taken) so by humbling yourself before those you would intend to lead… you are in a way “horse whispering” and earning the first tokens of respect, and trust, and… being entrusted with authority… this is a great foundation for moving forward and it breaks with the status-quo on “alpha wolf” style secular leadership.

      Regarding Discipleship… yep that word is rife with overuse. The key is actually being involved in the lives of the people that you are leading… loving them…encouraging them…challenging them… the goal is to amplify the passions and ideals that were given to you by God… and transfer those values forward into a new generation of leaders.

      dude thanks for the comment! you challenge and inspire me! glad to see you again here… looking forward to more!

  4. You are on a roll, this post is even better than the original: must be that organic food or something. Well said, and the humility factor in leadership will either make or break a leader in the christian sense of the word. On an individual level, respect and trust are both earned, but I guess there is the possibility of "saluting the stripes" as they say in the military, and the older I get, I see some sense to that: happens at work all the time (and should)….it even keeps us sane when our MASH/Frank boss is blathering on. Interesting how GOD given authority and man given authority often go CLASH. Hmmm. Love what you say about discipleship: when is the book coming out ??? :-) Pax, bro

    Greg R

    • Greg,
      you are a great encouragement! bless you for that! The organic food may have an indirect effect due to me losing 50 lbs this last year! I definitely am feeling pretty focused! and tons of energy! Regarding spiritual and secular authority… well Jesus did say he would “turn the world upside down” in so many words eh?

      and the book?… who knows… the wife has been prodding me to write something… the woman is a tireless inspiration and encouragement!

      may your paintbrush be light and your rollers be less splattery!


  5. OK, I'll bite: if you were to write a book or books, what would be the themes ?? Just curious to know what's brewing inside that chrome dome of yours…… I'd be tempted to do one on Christians drawn to extremes (say those who see our best apologetics as facts and figures Vs. "experience only" types who see our mind as an obstacle to Christ-likeness). One unsolicited caveat: do NOT compare your writing , too much, with the work of others or you'll never get started because it's NOT… know where that goes……

    A blessed and contented Tuesday to ya
    Greg R

    • LOL well… honestly I would have to write something that is not cliche’ because thats how I am… there are so many “How to be an awesome Christian” and “Why you should be an awesome Christian” and “This is the whole reason you exist” and “Top ways to be authentic” books… I think I would have to write something more like “cliff jumping for lemmings” obviously it might not be popular but the cover could be really cool! :)

  6. cliff jumping for lemmings would be the AWESOM-EST……..but of course repeat buyers would be a problem…..unless your sequel is like "Zombie Lemmings for GOD…" or somethng like that.

    Agreed: we probably don't need another "YOur Best Life NOW, Yeah, Even better than Astro-dome Boys' Best Life…..So There….."


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