Many people agree that there is a leadership dearth in our world, especially in our churches. However, these same church leaders do not agree as to how to identify and develop new leaders. The one thing that can’t be compromised being up close and personal with those you think are ready to lead. When we find someone who we think might have leadership potential, what do we do? How can we be certain that this person is ready for the leadership mantle? I believe can identify leadership potential in a person by practicing an age-old art – asking questions.
In his classic book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders listed 22 powerful questions to determine if a person has leadership potential and is ready to lead. Though these questions were designed to identify Christian leaders, you will readily see these questions are applicable for any organization. Spend time asking yourself these questions, but also spend time asking these questions to others who display potential for leadership.
1. Have you ever broken a bad habit? To lead others, you must master your appetites.
2. Are you self-controlled when things go wrong? The leader who loses control under adversity forfeits respect and influence. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
3. Do you think independently? A leader must use the best ideas of others to make decisions. However, a leader cannot wait for others to make up his or her mind.
4. Can you handle criticism? Do you profit from it? The humble person can learn from petty criticism, even malicious criticism.
5. Can you turn disappointment into creative new opportunities?
6. Do you readily gain the cooperation of others and win their respect and confidence?
7. Can you exert discipline without making a power play? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and needs no show of external force.
8. Are you a peacemaker? A leader must be able to reconcile with opponents and make peace where arguments have created hostility.
9. Do people trust you with difficult and delicate situations?
10. Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate thing that they would not normally wish to do?
11. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or your decision without taking offense? Leaders will always face opposition.
12. Can you make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of your leadership potential.
13. Do you depend on the praise of others to keep you going? Can you hold steady in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
14. Are you at ease in the presence of strangers? Do you get nervous in the presence of your superiors?
15. Are the people who report to you generally at ease? A leader should be sympathetic and friendly.
16. Are you interested in all people? All types? All races? No prejudice?
17. Are you tactful? Can you anticipate how your words will affect a person?
18. Is your will strong and steady? Leaders cannot vacillate or cannot drift with the wind.
19. Can you forgive? Or do you nurse resentments and harbor ill-feelings toward those who have injured you?
20. Are you reasonably optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix.
21. Do you feel a master passion such as that of Paul, who said, “this one thing I do!” Such a singleness of motive will focus your energies and powers on the desired objective. Leaders need a strong focus.
22. Do you welcome responsibility?
These are classic questions from a godly man. These are not just questions to detect leadership potential, but these questions reveal spiritual maturity in an individual, which is the basis for any kind of leadership.
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Did you find these questions helpful? Which question (s) resonated with you the most? Why?