Leadership's True Test

How exactly do you gauge the effectiveness of a leader? By the attendance at meetings? By the financial growth of the organization? By some kind of satisfaction survey from the membership?

I think that the true test of leadership is something completely different. The real litmus test comes after the leader leaves. What happens to the organization after the leader has moved on speaks volumes about the kind of leader that was running the organization. Were long-term procedures and plans put in place? Was the vision communicated so that other people in the organization truly own the mission? Were other leaders mentored and prepared for taking over? When the leader has moved on -- will the organization continue forward without a hiccup or just dissolve because it was shallow and held together only by the effort of a single person in charge?

For the last couple years, I've been leading a small group ministry at the church we attend. I love the way God grows people in the context of community and it's been exciting to be a part. Recently, though, my wife and I felt that God wanted our family to move to another church. There was nothing wrong with our existing situation or the people there - we just sensed we were being sent to serve elsewhere. While ultimately I know that this small group ministry is God's and not dependent on anything I did … I can't help but wonder if I was involved in the kind of leadership that fostered a sustainable ministry or if I was just a shallow organizer.

It was about six months ago that I realized that I had been going about the leadership thing all wrong. I was handling almost everything for this ministry myself, rarely delegating, and working in a completely top-down model.

So for the last half-year, I made a conscious effort to change the structure of the group and my leadership style. I tried to get more feedback on decisions and interact with a small core of leaders rather than deciding everything myself. I recommended that we re-organize the way our teaching was handled - overhauling it so that we got as many people involved in leading/facilitating as possible. We also simplified the whole meeting schedule, making it easier for others to lead and for group members to come if they missed previous weeks. I can only hope that some of those changes laid a foundation that will help this ministry flourish apart from any one person.

I don't know what kind of group or organization you are leading… but it's worth asking: Are you burning yourself out doing everything? If you stepped away would everything crash to the ground? Are you the kind of leader that is building a rock-solid organization… or are you just organizing people?