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youth worker, youth ministry, leader, development

How are Leaders Developed

By Doug Franklin May 4, 2021

There is an ongoing debate among leadership experts.  Do the times make the person? Or does the person make the times?  In other words, do difficult situations force a person to become a great leader?  Or does a person – a great leader – emerge from the shadows to shape the times?

For example, consider the case of Abraham Lincoln.  When Lincoln took office, seven southern states already had left the Union.  The nation was literally coming apart at the seams.  The United States would become the Divided States without extraordinary leadership.  Now look at the situation at the end of Lincoln’s life in April, 1865.  The Civil War was over and the United States was again one nation.  Why did these results occur?  Did the difficult times transform Lincoln into a great leader – the right times changing the right man at the right moment in history?  Or was Lincoln already a great leader who shaped the times – the right man at the right time in the right place?

Let’s consider how changed leaders transform everyone and everything around them. 

5 ironic truths about leadership

Leaders seek to make positive changes,
but along the way they themselves are changed

There is something about leadership.  When you lead, you are never the same again.  Leadership forces you to deal with new situations, develop new skills, and revise your thinking based on changing circumstances.  It’s like riding a bicycle.  You have to keep moving forward or you’ll fall off.  Leaders soon discover that they must keep advancing, growing, and changing.  If they try to stop, the situation will pass them by.  In such a case, followers will turn to other leaders because they no longer have confidence in the previous leader.

Leaders use transformational tactics,
but in the process they themselves are transformed

Transactional leaders have little impact.  Few followers want to be led by leaders who tell them what to do, expect them to comply, and reward them for obedience.  Transformational leaders have a lasting impact.  They empower people to develop their own leadership potential.  Transformational leaders discover that personal growth is a two-way street.  Emerging leaders help experienced leaders sharpen their skills and enlarge their hearts.

Leaders take people where they don’t want to go,
but in the end they themselves go where they have never been

Few people like change.  They especially dislike change for change sake.  Leaders navigate around the resistance and reluctance that comes with implementing change.  Moreover, they experience the thrill of seeing their vision become a reality.  They celebrate the fulfillment of a mission through teamwork.  Like Moses perched atop Mt. Nebo, leaders stand on the summit and rejoiced at the panoramic view of the “Promised Land” – their God-given mission.

God gives leaders their positions,
but ultimately they position themselves closer to Go

Leaders resonate with Solomon’s request in 2 Chronicles 1:10a.  “Now give me wisdom and much understanding, that I may lead these people.”  Leadership is hard.  We all are ill-equipped to be the kind of leader God wants us to be.  The only way to be an effective leader is to have a close, personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  When leaders stay close to God they can draw upon the resources of heaven.

Leaders are in the spotlight,
but in due course they themselves turn the spotlight on others and on God

When things go wrong, people blame the leader.  But when things go well, the wise leader gives the credit to others.  It seems unfair, but that’s servant leadership.  Leaders serve to bring glory to God, not to themselves.  Leaders always remember that they serve an “Audience of One.”

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More