The Leadership Style of the Kingdom Man
Leaders are people of high integrity, high ideals, and a high regard for their fellow man. They have the ability to empower those around them to lead better and more productive lives, inspiring trust and fellowship in their communities. There is, however, a difference between leadership style of the secular man and the Kingdom man. Christian leadership is a covenant between you and God. You do the work not because of a reward that accrues to you, but because God has entrusted that responsibility to you. You just carry out that responsibility regardless of circumstances. God, who has called you, will always remain faithful to the covenant. Your service is to God, not the people. But you cannot be of service to God, and not the people, and vice versa.
Elements of the Christian Leadership
As a covenant, Christian leadership encompasses the following: Calling, or doing the will of God; Competence, or doing what you do well; Confidence, or knowing what you can do by yourself and what you can do with God’s help; and Character, or living a life according to Bible character values.
In John 5:30, Jesus says: “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me”. This is also repeated in John 1:13; 4:34; 5:30; 6:38-40; 7:17; and 9:31. Like Jesus, this is the first order for a Christian leader: to do the will of God. It should be noted that calling is something that comes from God and is not something that one can be educated/trained to receive. However, after the calling, God can and will provide the means and resources to be fully equipped to carry out the tasks commensurate with the call. God will not call someone into leadership role without training him and equipping him. That leads to the second thing: Competence.
Doing what you do well (competence) leads to a higher level of performance. Throughout the Bible, we read of the support for seeking capable men (Genesis 47:6; Exodus 31:1-5; I Chronicles 26:30, 32; II Chronicles 2:7; 2:13-14). We also read of skilled men, whose hearts were stirred by God, being sought after to do the work of God (Exodus 35:21-25); competence in thought (wisdom and understanding), and competence in craft (skill) (I Kings 7:14). In Ezra 7:1-10, we read that the hand of God was upon Ezra (a calling) that preceded Ezra’s action of studying and practicing the law of the Lord. Colossians 3:34-24 gives a sense of the need to do what we do well, from which we can derive a need for competence. While calling without competence can still lead to success, calling with confidence should lead to greater success.
With calling and competence, success may not occur to the level that it could if the leader lacks confidence. The focus here is on self-perception, rather than reality. From Matthew 14:28-31 we see an example of both confidence and a lack of confidence in the account of Peter asking Jesus to let Peter walk on the water. From this exchange, we can see that calling without competence (presumed that Peter did not get trained in walking on water) but with confidence can lead to success, but that calling without confidence, as Jesus states, leads to failure. From calling comes a large measure of success followed then by competence and then confidence. While each is sufficient, it seems to build as the elements are added together. There is yet a fourth element which is the true display of leadership: character.
Character is a key element of Christian (biblical) leadership. Psalms 1 provides us with a view of the blessed (righteous) leader who, through his/her beliefs, does not interact with the wicked nor participate with evil people. Psalm 15 says that the leader walks in integrity, works righteousness, tells the truth, focuses on righteousness, lives in holiness, does not make immoral gains, and honors those who fear the Lord. I Timothy 3 provides us with the traits and characteristics of a good leader, or overseer. They are: integrity, above reproach, respecting and keeping the covenant of marriage (covenant with only one woman), temperate (sober), prudent (tames one’s desires), respectable (modest), hospitable, not pugnacious (quarrelsome), gentle, and peaceable. Titus 1 tells us that the leader should be above reproach, not be accused of dissipation or living a life of waste and excess, as well as avoiding rebellion, and not to resist being under control (character trait of knowing that we are all under authority to someone in the organization). In I Peter 2:1, the leader should avoid intention to harm, dishonesty, inappropriate speech, and covetousness. In addition, the leader should be of integrity and not say one thing but do another (hypocrisy). In James 1:19-27, the leader must be a good listener, humble, and control his speech. In II Peter 1:5, the leader must exhibit moral excellence and self-control.
The pacesetting leader
This leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. The focus of this style is “Do as I do, now.” The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.
The authoritative leader
This type of a leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. The focus is “Come with me.” The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her.
The affiliative leader
This leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and
belonging to the organization. This is “People come first” leadership. The affiliative style
works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the
team needs to rebuild trust. According to Dr. Henry Cloud, “You will build trust to the
degree that the people that you lead feel like you are connected to them.” Dr. Henry Cloud
asserts that all influence is built on the foundation of trust. For you to have influence, the people
you are leading must trust you. That trust is only built to the degree that the people you lead feel
you are connected to them and truly understand them. This style should not be used
exclusively, because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre
performance and a lack of direction.
The coaching leader
This is the leader who develops people for the future. It is “Try this” leadership style. The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall. It is least effective when teammates are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.
The coercive leader
This is the person who demands immediate compliance. This is the “Do what I tell you” leadership style. The coercive style is most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire. This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.
The democratic leader
A leader like this builds consensus through participation. This style asks “What do you think?” The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates. It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence for another reason or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader.
Other leadership styles include:
The visionary leader
Visionary leaders are those who have the ability to define the common direction of their group, whether it be their country, their community, or their family. Leaders of this kind are good at deciding on a realistic future course of action for their group, based upon the resources available to their organization. They understand that different possible outcomes may arise, and have the ability to plan for them.
The Management Leader
Managers are the people who are good with the logistics of organizing people. Often, they have a good head for details and planning, and understand that communication is the key to effective leadership. They have the ability to solve problems as they arise, and are good at delegating responsibilities and tasks to those best suited them.
The Team Leader
Team leaders are the leaders that go unrecognized. They are excellent communicators, the people who do everything they can to help their group or organization, selflessly serving for the common good. Team leadership requires a special kind of man — one who is humble, caring little for personal prestige.
The Encouragement Leadership
This style of leadership revolves around encouraging and supporting the people around you when they do good things. Leaders of this kind are great at recognizing potential in others and helping it to blossom for the benefit of the group. Teachers often have these abilities in spades – think about how Jesus changed the lives of those around him through encouraging them to new ways to thinking and acting, and how his love and compassion inspired love and compassion in those around him.
The Risk-Taking Leadership
Risk-taking is something that all great leaders do, at the proper time. They have the ability to recognize opportunities, and the ability to take advantage of those chances. They have foresight, insight, creativity, imagination, and a fair helping of courage.
The Christ-Centered Leadership Style
The Christ-centered leadership style is modelled after Jesus Christ’s style of leadership. He taught the disciples that in the Kingdom they were not to lead people as those in the world did; they were to be radically different. The leadership style that Jesus taught and modelled was neither about command and control, nor status and power. He did not teach techniques, but grew character — a character centered on a Christ-like servant heart. He modelled servanthood and challenged his disciples to follow that example — to be like him. From the Kingdom perspective, this makes leadership modelled on Jesus and centered on his indwelling character superior to all secular leadership styles. Jesus’ ministry catered for the total man. Let us then delve into what the leadership style for the Kingdom man should be modelled after Jesus’, which is the foundation.
Differences from the Worldly Leadership Style
Apart from being a servant-leader, Jesus taught why the Christ-centered leadership should be at variance with that of the world. He instructed in Matthew 20:26, that the attitudes and leadership practices of the Kingdom man should not be like in the secular leadership style. “… It shall not be so among you …” Christ-centered leadership style is not the way of the world, whose wisdom is folly in the eyes of God (1 Corinthians 3:19).
Unlike the secular leadership style where the leader exercises power over others and achieves their goals, which leads to rewards, benefits and preferential treatment, Jesus declared that in the Kingdom, greatness belongs to the servant and that distinction grows from child-like humility (Matthew 18:4). He taught that leaders were to serve others, not to be served by them.
Jesus’ heart was a servant heart (Philippians 2:5-11), from which his behaviour flowed. This heart led him to act for the benefit and growth of others. This he demonstrated when he confronted the disciples through the visual parable of the foot washing. He challenged the disciples to follow his example (John 13:12-17), a challenge for leaders that echoes down through the centuries to us today. The lesson? Christian leaders must center their characters on a Christ-like servant heart, not serving themselves with the benefits of position, power and status, emulating leaders in the world. On the contrary, Jesus calls us, as his leaders, to grow a servant heart. He calls us to follow his example with humility, serving those whom we lead; enabling them to achieve the purpose to which God calls them is our goal. Why? Because in the context of the Kingdom of God, they are not our tools but together, we collaboratively serve God and His purposes. This is Jesus’ leadership style. It is the way of Christ and we must follow that way, however divergent it may seem from all we know or think or have learned.
The servant-leader serves the people he/she leads which imply that the people are an end in themselves instead of a means to an end. This approach to leadership forces us away from self-serving, domineering leadership and makes those in charge think harder about how to respect, value and motivate people. Selflessness is one of the strong traits of a servant-leader.
What the servant-leader does includes the following, but not limited to these:
– Devotes himself/herself to serving the needs of the people
– Focuses on meeting the needs of those he/she leads
– Develops the people to bring the best out of them
– Coaches the people and encourages their self-expression
– Facilitates personal growth in all who work with him/her
– Listens and builds a sense of community
Commitment and devotion – This is a great character trait for a leader, as well as other people. A leader should be devoted to selfless service. It is always amazing that a lot gets done when nobody worries about who gets the credit. It is creating and maintaining the organizational culture. A leader must show uncommon commitment.
Vision – This is a meaningful articulation of what the people stand for or ought to stand for, in such a way that it can be appealing, and it creates intuitive picture that it conveys vividly what it can be in a better future. When clearly and vividly communicated, vision instills a common purpose, self-esteem and a sense of belonging. When a leader has declared his/her vision, it is easier to examine any convoluted idea that someone brings to you in the light of the vision and ask whether it fits or not. Vision makes a leader avoid unnecessary compromise.
Mission – Mission statement describes the purpose of a people, and what it takes to get the people to accomplish that purpose. The mission statement should declare the purpose of the people, the values of the people, and the major goals to be accomplished. He must be a visionary with a sense of accomplishment of the mission. A leader has a mandate for his people.
Values – These are guiding principles for the people, which determine the kind of people, and define their culture. A leader must be able to articulate these values.
Motivation – This is the ability to provide an incentive or reason to compel people into action. A leader must be able to chart the course so clearly that the people are so motivated to follow by acting.
Consensus Building – The leader should have the ability to build agreement among differing groups within a group. Once the agreement is arrived at, the leader needs to take the initiative, and affirm that the group decision needs to be implemented, and put the plan together to do that.
Building Character – A leader must have character, meaning compassion, courage, candor, competence and commitment. He must be independent and full of integrity. To be independent means that such a leader must not tolerate and succumb to all manner of social and political pressure that will compromise God’s standard. He must not abuse the power of leadership as a means of suppressing the people. He must be an action oriented individual with a mission to accomplish, and with all the vigor to move swiftly to perform and set an example for others. He must not be a perpetual leader, but must be willing to train, mentor, coach and prepare others to lead. Such leadership is nothing traditional and/or hereditary. For a leader to have the type of character befitting of the duty he is called to, he must maintain absolute integrity. You cannot maintain your integrity 90 percent and be a leader. It must be 100 percent at all times.
Selflessness – leading and executing programs and projects because it is in the best interest of the people. This is the leader who champions an unpopular policy. Most likely, a leader who campaigns mainly on the basis of popular policies is more interested in getting elected than doing what is in the interest of the people. A selfless leader risks his own fate in order to do what is right. A leader must put duty before self.
Stewardship – taking a clear stance in support of partnership and empowerment. Stewardship encompasses partnership and empowerment, and the willingness to contact those around us, to own our doubts and limitations, and make them part of our dialogue with others.
Service – A leader must be accountable to those he serves. To have a sense of service is to choose service over self-interest. Our contribution is our humanity; hence to affirm our humanity, we need to embrace service in this adventure. Come to think of it, that is leadership.
Trust – A leader needs to have a strong dosage of trust if he is to achieve this task of leadership. Trust comes out of the experience of pursuing what is true, and that lies within each of us. We need to cultivate trust. If we have to cultivate it, then it means that we have some work to do. This trust will give us the confidence and courage to work with one another.
Communication – A leader really needs to improve his communication with those he leads. It needs to be free flowing. Where there is no communication, confusion and chaos find their way to the fold.
Focus – A leader needs to stay focused, and to share the vision openly in order to have a common ground on which to walk, and a common goal towards which to work.
Living Out Jesus Leadership Style
Here are some questions which will help you to daily live out a Christ-centered leadership, modelled on Jesus leadership style:
“How can I live out Christ’s servant hearted character, putting first concern for those whom I lead?”
“What else can I do to enable each person I lead to achieve his or her full potential?”
“What can I do to ensure that others have understood me and that I have understood them?”
“How can I improve how we work together by adjusting how I interact with each person?”
“How can I affirm those who are honest and truthful and how can I better reflect Christ’s love by treating everyone with honesty and dignity?”
“How can I make my values to be more Christ-like and live them out in front of those whom I lead?”
“How can I engage my team to build a shared vision that encourages greater levels of cooperation?”
“How can I encourage my team to continually find better ways of doing things?”
“How can I better equip and empower those whom I lead to more easily reach fulfill our shared vision?”
“How can I publicly and genuinely recognize the value of individuals and their achievements?”
Leadership ought not to be stressful and fearful.
Leadership ought not to be frustrating and depressing.
Leadership ought not to be a right and with might.
Leadership ought not to be oppression and suppression.
Leadership ought not to be about personal development.
Leadership ought to be rewarding to all.
Leadership ought to have checks and balances.
Leadership ought to be pro-actionary and not reactionary.
Leadership ought to be with a passion to make a difference.
Leadership ought to be listening and doing.
Leadership ought to be planning and implementing.
The Holy Bible
Robyn Benincasa, How Winning Works: 8 Essential Leadership Lessons from the Toughest Teams on Earth, (Harlequin Nonfiction, June 2012).
Leadership Claybury Developing People, Leadership, Leadership Style, Modeled on Jesus, Servant Leadership
Daniel Goleman, Leadership That Gets Results, (2000 Harvard Business Review study)
Williams, D. (2002) The Preacher’s Commentary #13 Psalms 1-72. Thomas Nelson Publishing.