I am frequently interviewed by students who are in leadership classes. Occasionally, I feel the questions may be of interest to others. Recently, a Christian student in Ohio asked me these questions:
What makes a good leader?
The ability to attract people to follow and the vision, discipline, and wisdom to take them somewhere. Good leaders are willing to sacrifice of themselves to help people accomplish something of value, which they may not be willing or know how to do on their own.
How have you grown as a leader over your lifetime?
Experience, both good and bad and the investment of others in my life. I’m a wisdom seeker.
What mentor has influenced you most and why?
Without a doubt, Jesus. He is the ultimate leader. His principles of servitude, intentionality and vision are unmatched. In an earthly sense, my high school principal took a special interest in me while I served as president of the student body my senior year.
How important is character in leadership?
I’m not sure one can separate the two. I certainly understand most of the definitions for leadership would allow a person of poor character to be called a leader, but my personal opinions won’t allow it. Certainly to be “great” leadership, one would need to desire to be a person of noble character.
What would be your advice to me as to how I can grow as a leader?
The best advice I can give is to find something to lead. Volunteer at church or in the community. Most organizations need more willing leaders and the best way to learn leadership is to do it. Also, do what you are doing now. Become an intentional wisdom-seeker. Surround yourself with people who you believe are leading well. Ask a good leader to mentor you. Read the books and blogs that talk about leadership.
I once wrote a post about reasons you may not be leading and what to do about it HERE.
What should I avoid to be a good leader?
Avoid the temptation to settle for mediocre. It’s easy to lead the mundane, lackluster, or half-hearted efforts. Leading at higher levels is hard. It’s messy, because it involves change, risk, and fear. Push through those things, ground yourself in Scripture and in accountability to others, build discipline in your life, and you’ll keep improving as a leader.
How would you have answered these questions?