Leading a church ministry is no different than leading a work group or a corporate department. It requires many of the same traits.
At the newspaper where I landed my first job, the best writers were plucked from the newsroom and promoted to editors.
And while some of them were inspiring and talented, there was little understanding that a good writer doesn’t always make the best leader.
What does being a leader mean? How can you gain leadership skills to prepare for future success in your ministry or your career?
Leadership – like every valuable skill – is something you develop over time. In a recent Inc. magazine column, best-selling author Jacob Morgan notes that the best leaders are not always at the top of the organization chart. “It relies on your ability to influence and engage other people,” he says.
Jacobs says aspiring leaders need to concentrate in four areas: Self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence, and genuine humility
I agree with Jacobs that daily self-reflection can help set the foundation for strong leadership. Mindfulness meditation may be all the rage right now, but there’s a reason it’s so popular – taking stock of your behavior and discovering your true values are powerful tools for future success.
For Catholics, mindfulness meditation can incorporate prayer and contemplation. At my home altar I have several books that prompt deep thinking, including a daily missal and the book, “When Women Pray,” that contains essays written by several prominent Catholic women.
Striking a balance
Good leaders listen to lots of opinions from different sources, but they always take responsibility and act quickly and decisively. If you weigh informed opinions and issue a verdict, you will strike a balance as a thoughtful leader.
Balance for Catholic leaders means a focus on others, including our families. When we strive for balance, we think of exercising more or eating well – but balance means sharing meals with our family members, attending the events they participate in, and getting a good night’s sleep.
Jacobs says leaders who are truly self-confident know where they stand and improve themselves every day. If you can say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I was wrong,’ that’s a sign you have true self-confidence.
Even if you reach a great milestone in your career, never forget everyone who helped you reach your goals. Most of us started working in our chosen profession on the ground floor, and it was key mentors and colleagues who helped nurture our best qualities and chief capabilities.
Engagement with colleagues
This year I was flattered to be asked to serve as president of the Orange County chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. One of the many reasons I joined the chapter is to hone my leadership skills while rubbing shoulders with leading local communicators.
I realized right away that the position requires a lot of good leaders – not just one – to be successful. I am fortunate to work with a board full of dedicated people who want success for our association and the communicators it serves.
In service to this and other volunteer-run organizations I’ve learned strategic leadership skills while contributing to an impressive and far-reaching international group. I’ve been able to share some of my own talents with colleagues in a variety of communications fields.
I try to remember what Jacobs notes in his Inc. story: You must constantly evaluate your progress and ensure you are staying on the humble, balanced path to be an effective leader.