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Defining what an effective leader is

Not long ago, one of my sons gave a talk to his company on the subject of leadership. Earlier, we had texted each other regarding the same subject.

At any rate, our texting caused me to ponder the crucial nature of leadership for myself.

To be sure, leadership is very difficult to define. There is a certain elusive mysteriousness about it. There is no set formula. Leaders come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and with differing temperaments.

Whether we are talking about a church, a company, an educational institution, a nation or whatever, the following are several crucial characteristics of an effective leader.

First, a leader is a follower. No question about it, leadership has become a high-status buzz word in our society. We are being told in numerous books, magazines and seminars that leadership is the way out of every difficulty. And the fact of the matter is, that’s true. Leadership does determine the success of practically every human endeavor.

Second, a leader is a visionary or dreamer. Warren Bennis, in his book “Why Leaders Can’t Lead,” says that “the founding fathers and mothers and the adventurers and inventors who succeeded them were dreamers-and dreamers on a grand scale. Today,” he says, “We do not dream but merely fantasize about money and things. As a dreamless sleep is death, a dreamless enterprise is meaningless.”

Third, a leader is the guardian of the big picture. As a senior minister of a church, one of the critical roles is to be the guardian of the big picture.

Fourth, a leader maintains the balance of things. The authors of “The Dichotomy of Leadership” make balance the central point of leadership. They state, “Every behavior or characteristic carried out by a leader can be taken too far. Leaders can become too extreme and upset the balance required to effectively lead the team.

Sixth, a leader is undaunted by criticism. The biblical character, Nehemiah, was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. His critics and enemies were everywhere. But he had the perfect answer to his critics. He said, “I am doing a great work, and I can’t come down.”

When a leader has a great purpose he or she is pretty well immune to either praise or criticism.

I’ve only scratched the surface of defining effective leaders. But my purpose in writing on this subject is to point out that effective leaders are needed in every area. I say to you the search is on for effective leaders.