Why Follow the Leader?

© Harishmarnad | Dreamstime.com - Colorful Arrow Of Arrows Moving Up Lead Photo

So far in this series of articles about becoming a person others follow, we have discussed What Leadership is NOT and What Leadership IS.”

To sum up both articles, let me propose that leadership is usually defined in three ways:  the position of, the qualities of and the function of.

After 46 years in various business and ministry roles, I believe that the function of leadership is what counts.  If no one is following, then you aren’t leading.

I would like to suggest for your consideration five requirements of leaders so that people can, will and want to follow you.

Personal Leadership Dynamics

Twenty-five years ago I started my own five-year study of leaders and leadership as I struggled to keep up with the growth of my executive search firm.  I learned the most from one book that is still being updated, published, and used today:  The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner.

I still have my original copy all marked up, including page 22 where I underlined three criteria of a study about how employees perceived their top management:  Trustworthiness, Expertise and Dynamism.  In the margin I wrote: “TED – the perfect leader.”

Today I still teach an enhanced version of the same model of personal leadership dynamics, translating TED into the 3Cs of Character, Competence and Catalytic.

Let me share an outline of the three characteristics and the ten behaviors that I believe are always required for leadership regardless of the role.  This is especially critical when leading a career ministry team in a church, the members of which are volunteering their time and talents.


  • Meet commitments: Be a promise keeper
  • Walk with integrity: Be consistent in words and deeds
  • Serve sincerely: Support, care for and trust others

Would you follow someone whom you did not trust?  If a leader breaks promises, says one thing but does another, or seems not to be interested in the well being of others, how long will it take followers to stop following?


  • Know thy stuff: Be expert in your craft
  • Manage things: Plan, organize, follow-up
  • Direct people: Recruit, train, assign

Can you follow leaders who do not know what they are doing?  If they do not plan or are not organized, how do you know what you are supposed to do?  If they cannot get the right people in the right roles, how confusing is that going to be?


  • Vision:  See a preferred future
  • Wisdom:  Know how to get there
  • Strength:  Build energy and resources
  • Courage:  Guts to step up and out

Have you met people with character who are competent and yet you cannot follow because they are not going anywhere?  Or maybe they cast vision, but don’t know how to execute or they cannot get the resources needed?  Finally, if they don’t have the courage to move forward, how can you?

All three characteristics are required to encourage and stimulate others to follow you be it one-on-one, in teams, or in organizations.  While I believe being catalytic gets most of the attention in leadership literature, it is character and competence that attracts and assures people. A serious deficit in any one of these three characteristics, however, raises barriers in your leadership ability.

Teamwork makes the dream work

But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  Eph. 4:15-16, NASB

Just as each person is a unique mix of six factors – experiences, abilities, personality, interests, values and spiritual gifts/calling – each team is a mix of servant leaders who come together for the work of ministry.  I learned at Transformation Church where I am a member that two additional characteristics are required:  Chemistry and Collaboration


Team chemistry is built on positive relationships.  Members smile a lot and like each other.  They know about and care for one another.  Oh yeah, and they win a lot too.

Chemistry happens when a unique relational mix of diverse backgrounds, personalities, work styles, values, and interests come together for a common purpose. It has an elusive quality that isn’t always easy to define, but you can tell when it is missing.

Let me describe what I mean from the ministry side of my life.

The career team at my church started with two members who knew and liked each other, were very different from one another, and were committed to the same vision.   Three years later there are 18 members including the original two who share leadership of the team, nine who are core teammates, five who come occasionally when asked and available, plus two church staff members who support the rest of the career team along with another 16 ministries.

Becoming part of the team includes completing a ministry interest survey, interviewing with at least two of the core team, background investigation and a confidentiality agreement.  New members are start by serving along side core teammates, usually in hospitality and admin roles, not only to learn ministry functions, but especially to build relationships.  Training and equipping includes two half-day workshops teaching the 7-step career ministry process using our workbook and online career ministry resources.   We stay in continuous communication with one another by phone, email, the church intranet system, team projects and social times together – typically with food.

All of us pay attention to one another to discover what each teammate does best and who needs it most.  Not only do we seek good chemistry through relationships, but also collaboration.


Co-laboring is the functional side of teamwork. It involves planning and organizing supported by processes and systems.  On our ministry team with are two co-leaders who take turns being the point person.  They support three core teammates, each one responsible for a different ministry environment – quarterly workshops, weekly support groups and ongoing individual coaching.

Each person has their unique role to fill, and by working together, everyone achieves greater goals than working alone. It’s not just many hands make work light, but rather the right hands in the right places make work good.

How to Start Today

1.  Pray for God’s vision, wisdom, revelation and strength.  You can ask others to pray for you.  You can also pray for them.  For more about prayer, take a peek at Prayer Warriors Needed.’

2.  Memorize the 5 keywords and how they fit together in this simple diagram…

5Cs of Leadership – Brian Ray

  • The arrowhead is to illustrate your personal leadership dynamics which encourages and stimulates others to follow you.
  • The arrow shaft and feathers put your personal leadership in the context of a team or organization in which you bring people together for a common purpose.

3.  Share this article with 10 people who know you well – a mix of your leaders, followers and peers.  Ask them to rate you on each of these five requirements.  A 10-point scale will do.  A ten is terrific.  A zero is (well) zero.  Ask why they awarded and withheld points.

4.  Pick the one requirement you believe God wants you to submit to Him. More feedback from your raters can be helpful.  More prayer is required.  Take the next step you think God has prepared for you.

Speaking of Feedback

Please reply.  Tell me what hit you?  Is it true?  What do you think we should do, especially as it relates to the Crossroads Career ministry?

This dialogue about our ministry’s leadership and growth to equip the Church to help more people find jobs, careers and God’s calling is vital to each and every church and person served.  Amen?


Image Credit: © Harishmarnad | Dreamstime.comColorful Arrow Of Arrows Moving Up Lead Photo

Comments 2

  1. I really like the Chemistry part… that is very important. But chemistry doesn’t just happen as you said.. you have to be intentional in development and training to make that a reality.

    1. Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.