7 Attributes of a Maturing Leader

I frequently say to our church I’m less interested in where a person has been and more interested in where they are going. I would make that statement about leadership also.

The best leaders I know don’t have all the answers. They haven’t got everything figured out yet. Most wouldn’t even consider themselves “experts” in the field of leadership. (I certainly don’t consider myself to be one.) They are humbled why people would ask for their input. They realize they have much to learn.

What they have done and are doing is to continue maturing as a leader. The best leaders I know are consistently getting better.

In fact, you can often spot a maturing leader. They share common attributes.

Here are 7 attributes of a maturing leader:

Able to think strategically in the moment.

They don’t just spout off the first thing that comes to their mind and worry about cleaning it up later.All of us have done that at times, but maturing leaders have learned their words carry great weight and so they choose them carefully. (I wrote a post about that HERE.) They are encouraging and guard their tongue from reckless and hurtful words. It’s not a matter of being politically correct — it’s caring for people. It’s valuing others. It’s being intentional to use the power of words to bless others rather than tear them down.

Recognizes the contributions of others and willingly cheers other’s success.

It’s natural, especially early in a person’s leadership to seek to “build a resume”, but a maturing leader doesn’t have to get all the glory. In fact, they may get none, because the attention is shifted to the team — often to those who did the real work. This leader has learned when others succeed the leader succeeds.

Doesn’t act in anger.

They carefully plans a response. They take time to “cool down” before addressing a heated issue. Possibly they have been burned by their own quickness to react and so now they are becoming more careful and methodical in their approach.

Releases more control.

Maturing leaders place trust in others. They empower people to do work and take ownership. They know, often by painful experience, the more they control the less things can grow and be healthy.

Thinks beyond today.

Personally and for the organization, the maturing leader is guiding a path towards a better reality. They strive to see what’s coming and prepare for it. They likely experienced not being prepared and want to protect the vision for the long-term.

Concerned about, but doesn’t stress over small things.

Some things just don’t matter as much in the grand scheme of things. Leaders should be concerned about the details — even the smallest things can make a huge difference, but maturing leaders look to the big picture and dismiss issues which have little impact on the overall vision. A maturing leader has learned they cannot make everything matter or nothing really will.

Receives correction without becoming defensive.

This is huge. Maturing leaders don’t hold a grudge. They forgive easily. They see feedback — even that which is hard to hear — as valuable information which can make them better. Leadership can be painful, so it takes time for a leader to get here, but maturing leaders have learned life is too short and there is no value in lingering in the past.

You may not have all of these as attributes yet, but my encouragement is to keep improving.

Brag on yourself: Which of these are you doing well?

Be honest: Upon which of these attributes do you most need to improve?

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13 thoughts on “7 Attributes of a Maturing Leader

  1. A quality that goes along with your great points “thinks beyond today” and "releases more control" is mentoring (or discipleship). In the NT we see Paul mentoring Timothy who not only helps Paul to be successful, but Timothy is also being discipled and prepared for more leadership. A good team thrives even when the leader can't be there in the short term, as the team understands the vision and the strategy, they are empowered, and those being mentored can step in to fill any short term gap. Paul followed Jesus’ example in 2 Tim 2:2 and his reproduction was infinite: Paul -> Timothy -> Faithful Men -> Others, etc…

  2. Ron, as always great stuff.

    What do you think should be a senior pastor's or staff's responsibility in contacting those who leave the church? It seems this is the most common complaint we get from people with a church background. They're used to pastor's visiting those who miss a couple weeks of church, and it's not something we do. Would love to hear your thoughts.

    • I see two questions. When they leave and when they don't come for a while. I think as a body we should check on one another, but I believe we have to lead our church to do that as a body — not as a staff responsibility. In that sense, I may contact some I know, but so should everyone else. When people leave the church — depending on why they leave — I may reach out to them to see if there is anything I can learn from their exit, but I don't chase people down either. Ultimately I think people have to decide where they feel God is leading them to attend. 
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  3. I struggle with the second one. I know it is what I am supposed to do, but find it difficult to live out – both parts. I have certainly become better at both, but still have miles to go before I sleep.