obert J. Clinton, one of my teachers and thought mentors at Fuller Theological Seminary drilled into my thinking the idea that developing leaders is both a central purpose and a critical skill of leaders. Yet it's disturbing how few churches and church leaders I observe practicing either.
This month five churches met in our SoCal Multiplying Church cohort to work on Developing A Leadership Pipeline. One question we addressed was how do we identify emerging leaders?
Drawing upon some of Bobby Clinton's material here is a quick tool set of ideas you can use to identify emerging leaders in your church:
1. Acts. Look for men and women, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties, who do leader acts. These may be simple things such as calling a group's attention to the activity at hand, organizing people, or giving a nudge to someone that engages them more deeply in the life of the church. Leadership acts are identifying markers of leadership potential. When you see someone doing leadership acts regularly you probably have an emerging leader at hand.
2. Tasks. Once you spot a potential leader the next step is to give that leader a leadership task to accomplish. A leadership task is a short activity that has a defined beginning, end, and a specific purpose to accomplish. A leadership task is not just doing something. It must be about leading others to do something. This is critical. Remember, leaders don't just do things; leaders lead people. The leadership task is not nearly as critical as how the potential leader addresses the task, engages others in doing the task, and how they process what they learn about leading others from the task. As a leader developer you should be able to observe the leader as they engage this task and once it's completed talk with them about it. How did they think it went? What did they observe, learn, gain from a leadership perspective? It's this debriefing conversation that turns the leadership task into a learning experience that helps potential leaders grow into actual leaders.
3. Stretch Assignments. Finally, if your emerging leader is making progress give him or her a stretch assignment. A stretch assignment is a longer, more complex expectation than a leadership task. A stretch assignment will often give the emerging leader responsibility for solving some sort of problem, like "would you organize a service project for our local school" or "would you lead a team to do follow up on guests from our Easter activities?" The emerging leader will have to evaluate the problem, come up with a solution, organize people to carry out the plan, and report on the outcomes. Stretch assignments tests an emerging leader's capabilities, skills at leading a team, and their willingness to take responsibility for something important.
With these 3 leadership items you can identify, test, and train emerging leaders who have the potential to be vital, life-giving leaders in your church.