Let’s be honest. Leadership development is not the strength of many companies. If someone performs well, they might get promoted but are often left to figure out their new responsibilities themselves. Or you hire someone from outside because it’s easier and quicker than training someone internal that is capable. Your team is likely frustrated in either scenario. As a Christian business leader, following the example of Jesus in business means developing the leaders God entrusted to you.
Jesus modeled leadership development throughout his ministry. He called up his twelve disciples to follow him and invested in them, training them along the way, so they could continue his ministry when he was gone. He built consistent rhythms of intentional relationships that helped the disciples achieve God’s mission even when Jesus was no longer physically there. This month our Truth At Work Round Tables talked about the rhythms Jesus went through with the disciples and how they can be applied to business.
Models for Leadership Development
There are many leadership development models that guide business leaders in training others. Many follow four progressing stages starting with high direction from the leader that tapers off as the student becomes more competent. You might start by modeling a skill while being observed and later talk about what you did and why you did it. Next, you might repeat the same skill while being assisted and later discuss feedback. Then, you’ll allow the one developing the skill to lead while you assist and, again, discuss feedback. Lastly, you will be ready to delegate the task to the trainee, empowering them as they lead.
This is a simple model, but it doesn’t mean it’s a simple process. It’s not usually as straight-forward as going through each of these stages one time. It doesn’t tend to be as linear of a process as these models might suggest, and development must be tailored to the needs of the individual that is learning. You might be in the second or third stage for a while, working side by side to provide high support so the trainee develops high competence and confidence.
There will be points in time where their confidence might waiver as they realize all they have to learn, and as the leader training them, it might require you to invest more time and energy to help them through this mental hurdle. This can often be the point where the leaders being developed and the leaders doing the developing might throw in the towel. However, this is also often the point that proves the leadership of the leader who is doing the developing. Committed, patient leaders that are determined to help others succeed will bear down with them in the hardest parts of their development.
Jesus’ Example for the Christian Business Leader
Jesus took his disciples through a development model very similar to this; modeling for them, allowing them to assist him, letting them lead with his support and guidance, and then commissioning them. He was patient with them through doubt, fear, and mistakes and celebrated with them in their successes. He also entrusted them with continuing his ministry and starting the Church as he ascended to heaven. Jesus was the greatest example of leadership development, and as a Christian business leader you will be a good steward of your role and the people God has given you when you follow his example.
“The true mark of a Christian leader is trying to build up other people. Raise up other leaders!” – Charles Colson
Creating a Culture of Leadership Development
If you aren’t developing the leaders around you, how might you begin doing this? Even if you don’t have a staff, how might you invest in a younger leader you know from another setting? If you have a larger company, how can you create a culture of development where any employee overseeing the work of other employees is investing in the learning and growth of others? What does leadership development look like with those in your personal life?
Leadership development is a crucial element of being a Christian leader. Biblical business leadership sees the potential in others and helps them to realize it in themselves. Not only is it good for the leaders in your care, it’s good for your business. Employees will stay longer they feel there is room to grow within a company and their employer sees potential for more in them. Jesus saw more within people and spent his ministry helping others grow into the people God created them to be. Let’s follow this example as we represent Christ in the marketplace.
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