Five Attributes of a Leader Worth Developing
The path to discovering and embracing our unique life purpose tends to look different for everyone. Some involve a heroic quest — the following of a burning desire through unforeseen obstacles. In other instances purpose opens gradually like a flower — the dream grown into through a process of trial, error, and exploration. And then there are stories where calling unexpectedly drenches a person like a surprise bucket shower — events or circumstances leaving little room for doubt.
When it comes to unique purpose and vision, Travis Collins, the CRM collective director of :Beta: Communities, is all wet.
Travis’ desire to impact people for God took an early and sudden turn into leadership development several years ago. It started not so much as a dream but as a necessity. Today, he leads a group of people who are committed to deeply developing emerging leaders, those who will in turn impact their world for the Kingdom of God.
Why focus on developing leaders?
According to Travis, it’s all about maximizing your influence on the world.
Parking Lot Leadership
When I sat down with Travis to find out what makes him passionate about leadership development, he took me back about a decade to the place where God unexpectedly taught him how crucial this would be for his own life specifically, and for God’s people in general.
Having been deeply impacted by mentors and leaders himself, when Travis accepted a position as a young youth pastor, he hoped to be able to influence others in the same way. At first this was possible, but soon things changed.
“When I first started as a youth pastor, there were three volunteer leaders and twelve students. But within a year and a half we had over 150 students coming on any given week, and whereas with twelve students I felt like I could do a lot, it increasingly felt unmanageable… in their spiritual development they got further and further from me.”
As one person, Travis’s capacity to mentor and relationally disciple all these students was seriously limited. Watching 100 junior highers run around a parking lot emphasized his sense of inability to make a real difference in their lives.
“That’s where I really think God instilled in me to leverage my influence, and the influence of the Kingdom, to see greater numbers of people impacted in deeper ways.”
Travis realized that if he strategically developed and poured deeply into his volunteer leaders, they could then develop and pour deeply into the youth, maximizing his time and impact, and increasing the possibility of each student to have an experience of God.
“It’s kind of this deep and wide concept. We were pretty wide, but not very deep, because there were so few of us in the leadership role. At that time I wanted to grow really wide, but I also wanted to grow deeper, and recognized we needed more leaders to have the depth. And I would say that similar mentality is what’s carried me through.”
Leaders and Legos
“A mentor of mine used to talk about all of us being legos. Every lego piece has a different number of slots allotted to it. Each of those slots for us as people represents a person we can invest in deeply and meaningfully. All of us are really different, so there’s the lego pieces that have like 24 slots on them, and there’s the lego pieces that have one or two. A lot of what we do at CRM is help our leaders understand what kind of legos they are, how to best be utilized, and how many prongs they have.
“That word picture sticks with me a lot when I think of leaders. Let’s just say I’m a ten-prong person. So I can have ten people at any given time in my life, given my capacity, my circumstances, my personality, and my giftedness, that I can invest in deeply. If I’m around a lot of people, I have to be somewhat selective on who I’m going to be giving my time and energy to, and that’s where I think leaders rise in priority.
“Our time is limited. Our capacity is limited. How do I maximize my effort for the greatest Kingdom impact and return? Those who are able to multiply are those who are able to take it and run.”
Looking for Leaders
Recognizing that he can’t invest in everyone, there are several factors that help Travis discern which leaders to empower. These criteria were largely influenced by leadership expert Bobby Clinton, as well as his personal experience. When deciding who to develop, Travis would suggest to look for the following:
1. Posture of Learning
People with a heart posture of learning are open and willing to learn non-judgmentally. They also do something with what they discover.
This is simple, but important. People need to be available to be developed.
Choose people you enjoy spending time with. You will most naturally develop people you like being around.
Look at the person’s past experiences of success and failure, focusing more on how they responded rather than what led to it. When life squeezes people, what’s really in them comes out. Invest in people who are committed to character.
Prioritize people whose vision aligns with yours. You don’t need to have the same vision, but there should be enough common ground that a mentoring relationship will feel valuable to both of you.
The Bottom Line
A lot has changed since Travis’s parking lot leadership lesson. His vision has expanded and grown, but what hasn’t changed is his desire to see an ever-expanding group of people impacted with a deep experience of God, and to see them live into God’s Kingdom purposes. His vision to accomplish that through developing leaders has only gotten stronger.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megan Beehler lives in Long Beach, California, where she recently completed an apprenticeship with :Beta: Communities.