12 Ways to Discover Your Leadership Style
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 11 Sep
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of David T. Olson’s new book Discovering Your Leadership Style: The Power of Chemistry, Strategy, and Spirituality (IVP Books, 2014).
Leadership isn’t meant to be approached as a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Since God made you with a distinctive personality and gave you unique gifts and passions, you have a certain style of leadership that fits you best. When you lead in that style and work together with others who are operating in their own leadership styles, you all can lead your church or other organization to accomplish great goals.
Here’s how you can discover your leadership style:
Get to know the factors that work together in Christian leadership. Leading like Jesus Christ involves a threefold focus, on: spirituality (loving God), chemistry (loving people), and strategy (loving the world by helping to fulfill God’s mission in it). Spirituality leads to spiritual depth, chemistry leads to relational health, and strategy leads to fruitful ministry. These three components support two general Christian leadership principles: influencing other people to move forward fulfilling God’s will by following Jesus in all aspects of their lives, and developing faithful habits and character that help you lead from the strengths of how God has created you. Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare you for successful Christian leadership by making you self-aware and teachable. Listen to honest feedback about yourself from others, and ask questions that help you learn.
Develop personal habits that make full use of your God-given personality, passions, and gifts and reflect your priorities. Pray for the wisdom you need to fully understand, strengthen, and use the personality, passions, and gifts that God gave you. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you set your daily priorities in tune with God’s purposes for you. Invest time every day in personal and professional habits that will help you accomplish your priorities, and ask at least one person you trust to hold you accountable.
Practice spirituality. Spirituality focuses on loving God with all your heart. Leaders practice spirituality in ways that include: teaching children and adults the Bible, encouraging individual and corporate prayer, practicing healing prayer, following and teaching the spiritual disciplines, leading spiritual retreats, mentoring teens and adults one-on-one, encouraging confession and repentance, praying for and seeking the presence and filling of the Holy Spirit, encouraging spiritual honesty, providing spiritual direction, modeling the importance of reading and studying the Bible and applying its wisdom to their lives, promoting a robust walk with God, living with genuine humility, and fostering peace.
Practice chemistry. Chemistry focuses on loving people with all your soul. Leaders practice chemistry in ways that include: showing love, spreading joy, hugging people, practicing hospitality, caring for people, encouraging people, recruiting people, celebrating with people, welcoming people, living with enthusiasm, loving strangers, and modeling the fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).
Practice strategy. Strategy focuses on loving God’s mission with your entire mind. Leaders practice strategy in ways that include: planning, organizing, strategizing, envisioning, delegating, administrating, sequencing, creating efficiency, developing sustainability, starting new ministries, reinventing outdated ministries, transitioning unfruitful ministries, safeguarding financial integrity, creating financial strength, and training workers.
Grow in leadership wisdom. Follow the leadership example set by Jesus, focusing all your strength on developing the attitudes and actions that Jesus modeled. Ask God to help you grow stronger and wiser in leader instincts, fruitfulness, and multiplication.
Understand the sacred leadership style. Sacred leaders have a deep approach to leadership. They help people experience the depths of God himself. God has given them a strong ability to connect spiritually with people and encourage them to grow deeper in their knowledge and relationship with God. They’re strongest in spirituality, intermediate in chemistry, and weakest in strategy. Sacred leaders often have the gift of teaching, which they use to help lay their churches’ scriptural foundations.
Understand the relational leadership style. Relational leaders have a loving approach to leadership. They help people and groups experience love in a real and personal way. God has given them a strong ability to connect emotionally with individuals and groups of people, creating caring relationships that inspire them to follow Jesus and love each other. They’re strongest in chemistry, intermediate in spirituality, and weakest in strategy. Relational leaders often have the gifts of shepherding or pastoring, which they use to disciple converts to the faith.
Understand the inspirational leadership style. Inspirational leaders have a motivational approach to leadership. They motivate both Christians and seekers to desire a stronger connection with Jesus and join together to positively change society. God has given them a strong ability to inspire and influence many people, motivating them to follow Jesus by engaging in God’s mission in the world. They’re strongest in chemistry, intermediate in strategy, and weakest in spirituality. Inspirational leaders often have the gift of evangelism, which they use to lead people to Jesus Christ.
Understand the building leadership style. Building leaders have a growth approach to leadership. They bring people together to achieve physical progress in expanding God’s kingdom on Earth. God has given them a strong ability to grow organizations by producing numeric growth and stronger ministry so that more people will come, join, and serve. They’re strongest in strategy, intermediate in chemistry, and weakest in spirituality. Building leaders often have apostolic and evangelistic gifts, which they use to grow their churches.
Understand the mission leadership style. Mission leaders have a multiplication approach to leadership. They help people see what God could accomplish if they left their safety zones and stepped out in faith on a new venture. God has given them a strong ability to call people to live out the Gospel in their lives while reproducing new disciples, leaders, ministry programs and ventures, and churches – multiplying new expressions of God’s mission in the world. They’re strongest in strategy, intermediate in spirituality, and weakest in chemistry. Mission leaders often have an apostolic gift, which they use to set the agenda at their churches.
Understand the imaginative leadership style. Imaginative leaders have a creative approach to leadership. They help people engage their culture by communicating the good news of Jesus in a way that is fresh, creative, and challenging to that culture. God has given them a strong ability to receive a vision from him and creatively communicate that vision to people, motivating them to step out in faith and live out a new way of being God’s people within their culture. They’re strongest in spirituality, intermediate in strategy, and weakest in chemistry. Imaginative leaders often have the gift of prophecy, which they use to analyze the cultures their churches hope to reach with the Gospel message.
Adapted from Discovering Your Leadership Style: The Power of Chemistry, Strategy, and Spirituality, copyright 2014 by David T. Olson. Published by IVP Books, a division of InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill., www.ivpress.com.
David T. Olson is a religious researcher, church planting leader and leadership coach. For the past twenty years, he has served in leadership for church growth and evangelism in the Evangelical Covenant Church. Dave is also the director of the American Church Research Project. His previous book was The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan). Dave and his wife, Shelly, live in Minneapolis.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Follow her on Twitter @WhitneyHopler.
Publication date: September 11, 2014