Teachable leaders are aware of their own room for growth. That awareness makes them better equipped to help others grow.
Every leader should be humble, teachable, curious, and intentional because if you lead from that posture, it creates an environment that encourages transformation in the lives of those you lead.
When something is wrong, is your first instinct to say, "Well, at least . . ."? Check out this short video featuring author and research professor Brené Brown.
A leader's goal is to create a helpful, engaging, and relevant environment where people have the opportunity to experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth. After that, a leader let's God do what only he can do: change lives. But that first step of creating an environment is important. That's why the success of a group really does hinge on the quality of its leader. Here are three traits that really distinguish great group leaders:
1. Humility Humility comes from a strong, growing relationship with Jesus. Humble leaders acknowledge that we're all sinners, completely helpless without the love of God. Because they've been so dramatically transformed by this love, these kinds of leaders make every effort to move out of God's way so that he can connect with seekers in his timing.
- Humble leaders approach conversations as fellow journeyers, not as one who are handing off truth.
- Humble leaders "sit" on the same side of the table as their group members. They acknowledge they're also in need of a Savior.
2. Teachability Teachability isn't just about responding to direction and correction. It's an attitude. It's a spirit that says, "I will constantly learn about myself, others, and culture so God can use me in new and different ways."
- Teachable leaders always invite feedback because they know their job isn't to lead perfectly. Their job is to strive to respond effectively to the people God places in their groups.
- Teachable leaders actively pursue what it means to create open and conversational environments for people to explore topics and experience community.
3. Curiosity Curiosity is about engagement. Curious leaders are proactive in reaching out to group members in order to better understand where they are personally, emotionally, and spiritually, and encourage them to take meaningful steps towards their heavenly Father.
- Curious leaders are hungry to know more about their group members. They go out of their way to understand group members' perspective—not so they can change minds, but so they can connect and lead people toward deeper relationships with Jesus.
- Curious leaders don't teach. They ask questions.
These are simple ideas, but pursuing them often requires a shift in mindset. Most leadership books and blogs don't emphasize humility, teachability, and curiosity as key ingredients of great leadership. But they really will improve the quality of your group experience like nothing else. That's because they have the power to break down the barriers of shame and guilt that exist between people. They express a transparency and vulnerability that gives group members permission to be more transparent and vulnerable. And that's huge when you're trying to help others pursue spiritual growth.
Are you comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know?”
I’m not … but I’m learning to familiarize myself quickly. Luckily, leading a growing organization provides many opportunities to practice!
I used to avoid this statement like I avoided waking up for my 8am Art History class in college (I never went!). I’m becoming more comfortable today, though. It’s not that I know less today than a few years ago. At some point my age may cause that to be true. Rather, I’m just becoming more comfortable accepting and acknowledging what “I don’t know.”
Here is the problem. When I was a younger leader, I assumed admitting my lack of insight would undermine my leadership influence. I wanted to be seen as a thought leader. I wanted the promotion. I wanted the next opportunity. And I believed the path to the leadership promise land was paved by answers, expertise, and confidence.
Unfortunately, pretending to know all the answers led me to over-promise and under-deliver. In case you don’t know, that’s NOT the best method to promotions and opportunities.
Gavin goes on to explore five positive things saying "I don't know" actually communicates to the people we lead. It's well worth hopping over to his site to check it out.
I've written before about how your responsibilities as a leader are to think about the spiritual growth of every member of the group and make sure the group environment supports that growth. One of the best ways you can help yourself carry out those responsibilities is to perform regular group check-ups.
Every six months or so, take a timeout to assess how your group members are doing. Review the Group Agreement. Does the environment reflect what you all agreed to at the outset of the group? If not, you may need to bring group meetings into alignment with the agreement or adjust the agreement based on the rhythms you've established. Either way, it's a great opportunity to talk about what is and isn't working.
Is the group achieving its purpose? Are you making steady, incremental progress toward your goals of healthy relationships and spiritual growth? If so, take some time to recognize and celebrate that. If not, knowing you're off target is the only way you can get back on target.
Another great tool to use is the Group Member Assessment. Have your group members fill out this brief survey before you meet. It helps them to assess how they're growing in the Three Vital Relationships. Not only does the assessment help group members understand where they need to grow, it helps them understand how they've already grown. It's a great tool for mapping out the future, but also for celebrating the life change that has already occurred.
The assessment will give you a sense of how you can better lead your group members toward growth. Do you need to lean into a study about how to develop a deeper relationship with God? Do you need to focus on cultivating relationships within the group? Or maybe you need to cast some vision around serving others, and then get out into your community to do so on a regular basis.
The point is, you won't know exactly what your group needs if you're not intentional about finding out.
One more thing: Doing a group check-up may put you on the hot seat a little bit. It may reveal some areas where you can lead better. Don't take it personally. All leaders have opportunity for growth. The best leaders seek out those opportunities; they don't hide from them.
What have you done in the past to monitor the health of your groups?