The Biggest Challenge with Leadership Development

“Every growing organization will have a leadership shortage.”

When Pastor Steve Murrell said those words last week, I immediately felt a great sense of relief. His statement explained so much of our current challenges. No wonder we always needed to train new leaders. No wonder we kept asking ourselves, “Who’s next?” No wonder we had so many people making rookie mistakes. These weren’t caused by bad things. They were just part of the growing process. And the solution was simple: train more leaders.

Developing leaders seems like a big challenge. But most of these can be overcome.

  • For Identifying new leaders we can develop criteria for current leaders to look for.
  • For Instructing new leaders we can create materials to give them the knowledge they need.
  • For Imparting to new leaders we can schedule times of personal interaction to make sure we touch their hearts, not just their heads.
  • For Interning new leaders we can open different platforms where they can be observed trying their leadership skills.

In short, there are ways we can plan and structure for growing leaders.

But there’s one problem in leadership development that no older leader can overcome. There’s one thing we can’t do: we can’t develop a leader who doesn’t want to be developed.

  • We can’t train a leader who doesn’t want to be trained.
  • We can’t empower a person who doesn’t want to serve.
  • We can’t teach a person who won’t receive correction.
  • We can’t work in unity with a person who doesn’t want to trust others.

I’m not saying to give up on people right away. No one gets it right the first time. I’m thankful for many leaders who gently or forcefully corrected me when I needed it.

But at a certain point, we can’t keep spoon feeding them. New leaders must rise to the challenge. If we don’t give them that chance, then they won’t truly be leaders. As Pastor Kevin York said, “Many times in leadership development we don’t hold the new leader to their responsibility to being developed.”

So leadership development isn’t a one-sided thing. It’s not one leader forcing their will and impression on young leaders. Instead it’s a convergence of two sides – the current leader who’s looking to train others and the young leaders who’s willing to be trained. That is an unstoppable combination.

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