3 Ways to Develop as a Leader…Without a Budget

power meeting from above

I was meeting with a young pastor recently who wants to grow as a leader. He lives in small town. He is young, but his staff is even younger. There are not a lot of seasoned leaders in his church…or at least not that he has discovered. (I usually think there are leaders who simply haven’t been tapped, but I understood his dilemma.) The church looks to him to lead.

His question. Who invests in him? He recognizes the need to grow as a leader, but he’s not sure where to find it. His church can’t afford (or doesn’t think it can) to send him to conferences or hire a coach.

What should he do?

Here were 3 suggestions I gave him:

Form a peer leadership group – There are people in the community who own small businesses. They meet a payroll. They have guided an organization to success. Even in the smallest communities, someone owns (or manages) the local grocery store or serves as the bank brach manager. For a group like this, I like to keep it relatively small, no more than 12, and 4-6 6 might be a better number. I would share stories, talk about experiences, and learn from each other. It will be mutual beneficial. I have such a group currently…and have had many times before. These groups are usually comprised of believers, but not professional ministers. I’m trying to learn leadership and management practices…not theology…in these groups.

Start a book club – Recruit leaders in the community to read a leadership book together. These can be mid level managers or senior executives. The learning is from the book being studied and the reflection of the group based on personal experiences. In this type group, the size can be as any size between 2 and 25 people. The larger groups often provide the broader range of perspective. The only cost is the book. Everyone buys their own. You can assign one person each session to guide discussion on what they learned from the book and open for discussion. With a large enough book…people will discuss, and the learning experience is rich. For this group, you might use a Christian leadership book (such as a John Maxwell book), but I wouldn’t limit the group to believers only. It’s a great way to interact with the community in a non-threatening way, while gaining valuable leadership and management insights.

Ask a community leader to mentor – There is one leader in every community (usually multiple leaders) who is further along than you are in the process of leadership. There will always be one leader in the community from whom I can learn. Always. While some may disagree with me, this usually is a believer for me, but doesn’t have to be. I want them to be honest, moral and have a good reputation, but knowing in advance their specific walk with Christ is not a prerequisite for this type mentor. (I have multiples in my life, depending on the need.) Again, I’m seeking development in the areas of leadership and management. I have other spiritual mentors.

You don’t have to live in a large town or spend a lot of money to develop as a leader. You simply have to possess a desire to grow and be intentional.

What you’re looking for is people skills…how to handle conflict…how to delegate and how to motivate and cast a vision. You can learn those things from hearing other leaders’ experiences.

What suggestions do you have?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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13 thoughts on “3 Ways to Develop as a Leader…Without a Budget

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  5. I love the peer group suggestion. A few of us gathered once a month around the basic questions of "where are you stuck" and "what recurring challenges do you face" and it was a huge encouragement to us.

    Also, I gotta say, podcasts have been a game changer for leadership development. They turn any commute into an educational opportunity

  6. I see your points and agree with everything but I believe leaders need to experience real life problems and get the chance to develop solutions—they need to be in the drivers seat. For instance, one can read about surfing night and day for ten years, but when they actually get on a surfboard they'll most likely fall and realize their formal training was only half of their education.

  7. These points are great Ron. Those of us in ministry often forget the wealth of knowledge we can gain from leaders in our community. I have served in a couple smaller churches with little or no budget. For me reading has always been a huge source of growth. Now I always recommend to younger leaders to follow blogs and listen to Podcasts of those who are great leaders. Much of what can be heard at conferences/trainings can be found in these avenues as well (not to minimize the other benefits of a conference). Technology and media have come so far since I began in ministry. The possibilities for learning and growing from being somewhat mentored by leaders through available media outlets are endless.

  8. We led people who led other people. This kind of looked like a pyramid of accountability! When you are leading people who are leading, it is always really good to strengthen the bottom of the pyramid and the best way to do that is through encouragement. Nothing encourages people more than those at the top of the accountability pyramid listening to those at the bottom, because basically they are bearing a huge burden of upholding and carrying out the vision and they matter. So you huddle up and you take the pyramid that is shaped like a triangle by layers of title and you make it a circle where everyone is equal and there are no titles! Huddling up really helps because if you consistently add value to those you are leading, they naturally add value to those they are leading. No better way to be contagious. So we Huddle Up as a family and set an atmosphere of humility and servanthood and we ask questions and we listen, we actively listen: How can we better serve you? What are we doing so right by your perspective? What are we doing so wrong by your perspective? What helps you? What hurts you? You matter to us, so how can we show that more? What can we do to better help you hold up your part of the commitment to this vision?
    Twitter: kmac4him