Leadership can be a scary thing, especially when leading others is relatively new to you. Stepping into a new role where your main responsibility is caring for and coaching others is a big responsibility that no one should take lightly.
However, knowing when you’re ready to lead can be tricky. You might ask yourself…
- Do I have what it takes?
- Will people listen to me?
- How will I know when I’m ready?
All these questions and more are common before stepping into leadership. Today I want to suggest 7 Signs that indicate you are ready to lead others. They aren’t comprehensive, but my prayer is that they are helpful.
1. You are ready to listen before being heard.
When you think of leadership, you probably equate it with speaking. Most people see how leaders influence others by what they say, and respect that people listen to them. There is great appeal in having people listen to you and having the ability to influence what people think based upon what you’ve said.
Though speaking might get the limelight, you won’t be ready to lead until you are ready to listen before being heard.
You’ve probably heard it said before…people don’t care what you know until they know that you care. The same is true with listening before speaking. More than any other action you could take, listening to those you lead creates lasting credibility.
Listening to your team will create longer lasting credibility than any momentary sermon or talk because it demonstrates you value what your team thinks and feels. Bottom line…
Listening shows you care more about the person you’re leading than the position of influence you have over them.
If you are ready to spend more time listening than speaking, then you are ready to lead others.
2. You have established a rhythm of going to Jesus as your source of security.
Leaders are some of the most insecure people I know. Maybe it comes from a desire to please others, but primarily this is a result of leaders needing to be liked by everyone. This necessity to be liked by all can quickly become what you find your worth in. The dirty little secret of leadership is that joy often becomes dependent upon what you hear from those you lead.
Too often leaders find their source of security in those they lead rather than the God who leads them.
Your security can never be found in people. If your security is dependent upon what people say about you, then you’ll never experience true emotional freedom, as people’s perceptions of you won’t always be accurate and will always change. What they see isn’t always reality, good or bad.
This necessitates that leaders establish a rhythm of going to Jesus as their source of security. There must be a daily pursuit of Christ that results in a daily affirmation from Him. When you hear what Jesus says about you and what He demands from you, it will put into proper perspective what others will say to you.
Without this daily rhythm, you’ll hope your past security in Christ will sustain you during future temptation. Don’t take this gamble, but instead establish a rhythm of going to Jesus as your source of security.
3. You care more about the mission than the sacrifice required.
When entering any leadership position, your eyes are usually focused upon the role you will fill rather than the mission you will work to fulfill. You focus upon…
- Job descriptions
- Gift assessments
- Hours required
- Tasks to be performed
You think about yourself. How YOU fit in. What YOU will do. To an extent this is helpful. All of these and more are important to discuss in order to accomplish the mission. Discovering and improving your place on the team will always matter.
However, leaders should always care more about the mission than their place in it. When you care about the mission more than the individual sacrifice it will demand from you, you’ll do WHATEVER it takes to make it happen.
Leaders set the example for what it means to make the right sacrifices for the mission. Sacrificing your preferences, giving of your resources, not being above any task… all these and more show that you care more about the mission than the sacrifices required.
This doesn’t mean you make inappropriate sacrifices of sacred time with family or become someone who doesn’t ever say no. On the contrary, you demonstrate for your team how to sacrifice appropriately and rally your team to fall more in love with why you do what you do everyday.
So the question you must ask is… Do I care about the mission enough to sacrifice for it?
If you can answer yes, then you won’t be surprised when leadership demands more of you.
4. You are willing to lead from a place of humility.
Pride is a horrible platform for leadership. Yet many leaders stand on it, masked in false confidence. What many leaders describe as a confident demeanor is really just selfish pride. Those who are actually ready to lead do so from a place of humble gratitude and not from a position of pride.
Humble leaders express gratitude for being able to do what they do because they recognize leadership is a privilege, not a right. Some of the best leaders I know are amazed at what God is doing through them. It’s not because they don’t believe they have talent, it’s simply because they don’t consider themselves essential.
Prideful people see themselves as essential and believe they are a gift to their church or organization. The more pride contained, the less gratitude they express.
As a young leader, you might want to hit the ground running as you enter into your new leadership role. May I suggest it’s better to hit the ground on your knees before Jesus first. Spend time asking Him to keep you humble and thank Him for the opportunity before you.
Constantly remind your heart that He can do His work without you, but it’s a privilege He wants to do it with you. Not only will this put thankfulness in your heart, but those who see you seeking Jesus will trust the direction you begin to direct them.
5. You are ready to learn more than teach.
As previously mentioned, leadership is largely equated with teaching and speaking. Leaders are usually perceived as instructors, and to a large extent this is true. However, the best leaders don’t always have the perfect answers to give, but they do have the right questions to ask. They understand their role isn’t always teaching because they aren’t the only influencers in the organization.
Great leaders are constantly seeking to learn from those they lead because it’s impossible to lead those you don’t understand .
Understanding those you lead is essential for growth. The team can’t grow the organization if they don’t grow in their understanding of their place in it. As the leader it will be your role to help them discover and actualize their best position on the team.
This will only happen if you are ready to learn from them by taking the necessary time to listen to them. Become students of your team and learn with them. If you go into leadership thinking your primary role is to teach, you’ll never grow a learning organization. Your organization might grow, but they probably won’t know how it happened. (If you are looking for a great resource to create a learning organization check out this resource.)
6. You love the team more than your place on it
Some people find great joy and satisfaction being on a team. Others have a difficult time not being in the spotlight. We see this all the time in sports. You can quickly tell who are the pro athletes that think of the team first and themselves second. It is demonstrated in how they play the game and it is echoed in their acceptance speeches.
The same is true in the church world. Some leaders love the team and others simply love the position their team gives them. If you have an insatiable desire to stand out, to be the one leading, you might want to reconsider leadership.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to influence and impact people’s lives. I’d even say that leadership ambition can be Godly. However, whenever you begin to love your specific role more than the team, you’ll begin to put your wants ahead of the team’s needs.
A quick test as a young leader is to identify your emotional response when something is celebrated in your organization. Do you try to celebrate what OTHERS did or what you did? Do you think about how the team made it happen or are you focused upon how you made it happen? Are you frustrated if you aren’t acknowledged or joyful if the team is celebrated?
7. You understand your leadership is for the benefit of others.
When you really boil it down, leaders exist for the benefit of those they are leading. Leaders are needed because people need direction, love, care, guidance, support, someone in their corner… Leaders were created to be for you.
My mentor and boss, Jared Cowgur, recently taught me this perspective of leadership; the reality that leaders are needed for the benefit of those they lead. This new perspective should make you reevaluate if leadership is really something you want.
Leadership isn’t about people doing things for you, but you doing something for them. Leadership isn’t about having someone take more work off your plate, but you helping someone find their God given place in this world. Sometimes it will be convenient for you, and other times it will be very costly to you. But the truth is this…
Leadership isn’t about you, it is about those you will help. Leadership is for the benefit of others.
If you can accept that, embrace that truth, and find great joy and satisfaction in it, then sign up for leadership. There are people who need you and you will benefit them greatly.
What About You?
What did you think about the 7 signs? Anything you would add? Comments are celebrated below! Hit the share button if it was helpful.