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Doug Gehman

A Leader That People Will Follow

As evangelists, we are all about preaching the Gospel—as we should be! But part of having an effective evangelistic ministry is surrounding yourself with an effective team. Whether we want to admit it or not, our team’s effectiveness has a great deal to do with our leadership.

“I have a tremendous respect for my team members. Godly, hardworking individuals, they often get little recognition for their vital role in ministry. We share the same vision, however, and apart from them my ministry as an evangelist would not be what God has made it today.”

Luis Palau

Hear from Doug Gehman, President of Globe International, as he shares critical leadership principles for leading your team in today’s blog post.

I remember the day when the power of leadership first hit me. We were living in Thailand, we had completed a three-year internship, and were now launching a new ministry and building a team. I was chatting with a fellow missionary, a British teacher friend who lived in our town. I told him about some of my plans to begin evangelistic event work in Sri Lanka. Almost in passing he said, “Leaders are gifted by God to make things happen.” I thought to myself, “Yeah! That’s it! God has gifted ME to make things happen!”

Dr. Henry Cloud says that the most important function of leadership is to “define reality.” Leaders sift through the fog of issues to see what is really going on, where the problems really are, and what needs to be done about them.

But leadership is more than seeing a problem and doing something about it. Clarity of vision is only the first gift of leadership. The second, just as important, is the ability to inspire others to take up the challenge, join the team, and go to work. In short, you are NOT a leader until somebody starts following you!

There are a lot of “lone ranger” visionary leaders out there who have plenty of vision and clarity. Unfortunately, they lack the skills or patience to build a team around their vision. While they can inspire people to follow, they can’t keep them on the team. They have not developed team skills. They tend to rally people to a cause, but then mistreat them by severity or neglect, leaving a trail of disappointed and wounded souls behind them. Patrick Lencioni says the Number One reason people hate their jobs is anonymity. “If I disappeared no one would even notice.” Good leaders do their best to avoid such malaise in their team members.

By contrast, a great leader articulates vision, builds a team around that vision, and then nurtures the team members in a very personal way. People will follow that leader into war! They will walk through fire and swim across oceans to turn the dream into reality.

But, team leadership is tricky. In their seminal book Management of Organizational Leadership authors Paul Hersey, Kenneth H. Blanchard, and Dewey E. Johnson emphasize that leading a group of people requires high flexibility. You cannot “lead” or “influence” everyone on your team in the same way. A good leader adjusts leadership styles to fit the person and the need. Simply put, an expert requires a different style of leadership than an intern. A good leader will also adjust his style to both competence and confidence.

The authors use a “Situational Leadership” model to graph the qualities of COMPETENCE and CONFIDENCE (my paraphrase of their language) on vertical and horizontal axes. A thoughtful leader will chart each team member on the graph, at the intersect of these two qualities in four possible quadrants. The authors suggest leader behaviors that are appropriate for people in each quadrant. I highly recommend the book for developing responsive and flexible leadership styles.

Good leaders also get to know their team members as human beings: their biases, their interests, their passions, and their perspectives on life and work. In other words, leading people is much like pastoring. Jesus said a shepherd knows his sheep and they know him (my paraphrase).

To help leaders assimilate all of this information into good leadership styles, I developed a simple tool: REAP Leadership. The acronym REAP delineates four “postures” that a good leader will use to build and nurture a healthy team.

RECOGNIZE gifts. God has gifted people differently and those gift mixes will be present in the team members who serve with you.

ENCOURAGE growth. Encourage your team members to discover, grow and use their gifts in their personal and ministry lives.

ALLOW input. Make room for the gifts that are present in your team and allow their perspective and value to find a place of expression in the ministry you lead.

PROTECT vision. The overall vision and direction of the ministry must stay on course by your strong, gracious, consistent, servant-based leadership.

In conclusion, I quote William Easterly, author and Professor of Economics at New York University: “Each of us has some innate advantages in doing some things and innate disadvantages in doing others.” Easterly illustrates his point with a hypothetical but entertaining team scenario:

“Heaven is where the chefs are French, the police are British, the lovers are Italian, and the car mechanics are German – and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the police are German, the lovers are Swiss, and the car mechanics are French – and it is all organized by the Italians.”

Bravo, Dr. Easterly! A good leader can – okay, a good leader will TRY to – get the French, British, Italians, Swiss, and Germans all working together, settled into the right positions and happily doing their jobs, so the team is pulling in the same direction and with a unified vision can press toward the goal! That is leadership!

Next Generation Alliance is proud to partner with Globe International in the Globe + NGA Collaborative. Before you create a new 501c3 for your evangelistic ministry, check out how the NGA + Globe Collaborative can help you get up and running and make an impact efficiently and with excellence.

Doug Gehman