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Leaders who are Different

There is no “one-size fits all” approach to leadership. There is an abundance of examples of rich diversity in nature marked by the sheer volume of unique species of plants, animals, fish, rock or foliage. And as diverse as creation is, leaders too are developed through different gifts, personalities, abilities and styles.

Here are four types of different leaders I’ve had the privilege of serving with:

1. The reluctant leader – I wrote about this at length here. A reluctant leader is someone who believes that they could be or should be doing something else. There are countless biblical examples of this leadership type. For this conversation, however, let’s refine our thoughts to the person of Moses.

Moses didn’t want to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  He didn’t want to carry the burden of leadership while wandering in the desert. Moses was called by God to lead even though he wanted to live into a different calling.

We sometimes will work with leaders like this. It’s important for us to affirm their calling, while encouraging them to engage emotionally in the leadership opportunity they’ve been given.

2. The timid leader – Gideon is a prime example of a timid leader. Timid leaders question both their calling and their ability, and yet timid leaders are often times the most powerful and profound leaders of an organization. They spend a great deal of effort connecting relationally with those whom they are charged with leading because they are willing to earn the right to lead through relational connection.

Timid leaders are catalysts for relational depth in your community.

3. The headstrong leader – These leaders are intense. They push through obstacles and often times run over people in the process. Peter was this kind of leader. At times their intensity can be misdiagnosed as arrogance. Headstrong leaders have a clear picture of where they are going and are determined to get there.

Headstrong leaders need boundaries or they will run over everything in their path. Be firm, remind them of vision and set them up to succeed by allowing them to help lead your organization and community forward.

4. Systematic leader – Systematic leaders choose their path wisely. They calculate the pros and cons of any given leadership situation and have often thought through a variety of different solutions to a problem while others may still be attempting to describe what they problem is. One biblical case study for this type of leader is Joshua. Joshua learned how to bring a vision to life by leading the people of Israel into the promised land.

Systematic leaders can help you make wise decisions that may bring a larger vision into focus and/or into reality over time.

The reality is that each of us is a blend of these different leadership types, but we may possess a natural tendency or dominance towards one or two of these profiles. Think about your team of leaders. Which ones fit into which profile? Are there other types of leaders you would add to this list? What type of leader are you, and how does this shape how you lead?

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