10 Traits to Identify Potential New Servant Leaders

One of the most important tasks of a leader is to identify potential new leaders. If a church or organization is to grow, finding new leaders is critical. 

Equally vital is the quality of leaders being discovered. Good leaders learn to look for qualities in people which are conducive to good leadership. If you want to have a culture which reproduces leaders, read THIS POST first.

But, where do you find these people who can be future servant leaders?

I find it helps to look for certain qualities, which all good leaders need or qualities which, consistently over time, seem to make good leaders. Of course, in context of the church, the Bible gives us clear guidance in selecting senior leaders (who will hopefully also be servants). But, my church is always in need of new servant leaders – from the parking lot to the hallways every Sunday. Where do we find a continual pool of new leaders?

The following are traits I look for in leaders I hope to develop or with whom I want to work.

Here are 10 valuable traits when looking for new servant leaders:

Concern/Love for others – You can’t lead people effectively if you don’t genuinely love people. I’ve seen people in positions who have great power, but they don’t appear to love others. These leaders often produce followers – if only seeking a paycheck – but they never reproduce leaders.

Not a complainer – Candidly speaking, leadership encounters complainers regardless of what we do. I certainly don’t want to add complainers to my team of leaders. A positive attitude will get my attention every time.

Teachable and open to suggestions – A person who thinks they have all the answers will repel other leaders. People with no desire to keep learning rarely find their place on my team of leaders.

Excellence in following – This is a biggie for me. I try to follow people I lead, because there are times they know more than I do. Many times. Someone who isn’t willing to follow is seldom ready to lead. I look for a servant attitude – willing to do what needs to be done for the benefit of others. 

Reliability – Leadership is about trust, and trust is developed over time and consistency by doing what you said you would do. I look for people with this quality.

Interest – The people with a burning passion for the church or organization often make great leaders. You can train someone to lead others, but you can’t easily train them to have interest.

Good character – Character counts. Not perfection. Not flawless. But, good character is necessary to be trusted on a team. Integrity. Honesty. A humble desire to always be improving as a person – this kind of character.

Potential – God always saw potential in others they themselves couldn’t see. I try to have eyes to see potential in others.

Confidence – Leaders have to move forward when others are ready to retreat. This takes confidence. Not being prideful, but a genuine willingness to lead through the hard times – to do what others aren’t willing to do.

People skills – This goes without saying, but you can’t lead people if you can’t communicate with people. You don’t have to be the life of the party (I’m a strong Introvert), but you do have to be able to engage people and make them feel a part of things.

Well, those are some traits I look for in potential leaders.

Do you have other traits you look for in recruiting leaders?

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35 thoughts on “10 Traits to Identify Potential New Servant Leaders

  1. I would add a couple of other traits like

    Strategic thinker – they should be able to see the big picture and be on the look out for insights or trends that can positively impact decisions and increase the effectiveness of the ministry.

    A catalyst for open dialogue – in a good way … not just following the leader and expected to be followed … that could be a case of the blind leading the blind. So a potential leader should be a catalyst for open dialogue that engages other team members who might hold differing views.

    Able to say No … they must not be a people pleaser and be able to celebrate both success and failure (learn from failures) too

  2. Thought it was an excellent post. As a pastor – only pastor right now – I am always looking for others who have leadership potential. Thank you for the good advice.

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  4. Has A Desire To Develop Leaders. A leader must be capable of identifying potential leaders, and then willing to develop those whom he identifies. That requires prayer, planning, impartation and interaction – It means committing to a process and monitoring progress.

  5. Hi Ron

    I’d like to suggest a change for your title – Remove “Leaders” and insert “Servants.”

    "10 Traits to Identify Potential New “Servants.”

    Lots of info, and talk, today about “Leaders” – NOT much about “Servants.”

    I suggest this because – Jesus instructs His Disciples – NOT to be called “Leaders”
    For you have “ONE” leader – Jesus. Mat 23:10 NASB.

    And here are – “10 Traits to Identify Potential New “Servants.”

    1 – Are they living examples of – NOT lording it over “God’s heritage?” 1 Pet 5:3 KJV
    2 – Are they living examples of – Lowliness of mind? Phil 2:3 KJV
    3 – Are they living examples of – Esteeming others “better” than themselves? Phil 2:3 KJV
    4 – Are they living examples of – Submitting “One to Another?” Eph 5:21 KJV, 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
    5 – Are they living examples of – Prefering others before themselves? Rom 12:10 KJV
    6 – Are they living examples of – Being clothed with humility? 1 Pet 5:5 KJV
    7 – Are they living examples of – By love “Serve one another?” Gal 5:13 KJV
    8 – Are they living examples of – Laying down their lives for the brethren? 1 John 3:16 KJV
    9 – Are they living examples of – NOT speaking of themselves, NOT seeking their glory? Jn 7:18 KJV
    10 – Are they living examples of – NOT “execising authority” like the Gentiles?” Mark 10:42-43. KJV

    And – NOT one of His Disciples called them self “leader.” 😉 wink…

    ALL His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”

  6. Vision. I like to surround myself with men and women who have a clear vision for the future and how they fit into that vision.

  7. A noticer – Are they able to see things that need to be done and do they take action on them? Leaders should be on the lookout for areas they can help in. Being a noticer helps.

  8. Thanks so much for this post. I'm in the midst of creating a new Women's Ministry team at my church – from scratch. It's a little overwhelming. Thiis has definitely been a great launching pad. I feel like I have a sense of clarity now.

  9. Emotional Intelligence is something they also need to develop — self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill. Emotional Intelligence gives us skill in relating to others and makes us much more effective leaders. I've seen too many ministries sabotaged because of leaders who don't even understand themselves, nonetheless, others.

    • I agree, Angela.

      Emotional intelligence/maturity is critical in leadership. People need to learn not to be tossed back-and-forth on the waves of emotions. Their own, or those of others. This is something that definitely needs to be taught from the pulpit. However, especially in leadership, the consequences of lack-of-emotional-control can be devastating. Not only is it setting a bad example of Christlikeness, but it teaches others what is acceptable in leadership. Sadly, too many leaders are tossed back and forth on the waves of their own emotions.

  10. Great post, Ron. As we are seeking to implement a leadership development strategy at our church, I am finding that one attribute to add to this great list is “someone who can develop/reproduce leaders.” I need for our leaders to be able to identify these same attributes in others and develop them.

    • Kelli, you stole my comment 🙂
      But well-said. And even prior to their ability to reproduce other leaders is simply being good with the up-front expectation that we will be needing you to have a discipleship heart. A heart that is comfortable in raising others up to replace you. If I see that in a potential new leader……welcome aboard!