7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders.

I previously posted reasons leaders tend to leave an organization. (Read that post HERE.) The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team – so I thought a companion post was appropriate.

I’m writing from the perspective of all organizations, but keeping leaders should certainly be a high priority in the church.

I never want to stop someone from pursuing a better opportunity, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.

The reality is leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long. Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change. In fact, leaders even like a little chaos. Show a real leader a problem ready to be solved and they are energized.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage leaders to stay:

Give them a new challenge.

Let them tackle something you’ve never been able to accomplish. (Even tell them you’re not certain it can be done.) Leaders love to do what others said couldn’t be done. Or what no one has figured out yet how to do. Let the leader be a precursor to what’s next for the organization. Let them experiment somewhere you’ve wanted to go, but haven’t tried. They may discover the next big thing for the organization.

Allow them to explore a specific area of interest to them.

Leaders are attracted to environments where they can explore – especially in areas where they have a personal interest or where they want to develop. This may even be outside their direct job description. Give them permission to do something new.

Invest in them.

Mentor them personally. This is huge for younger leaders. They crave it, but don’t always know how to ask for it. This is not micromanaging. This is helping them learn valuable insight from your experience and exposing them to other good leaders.

Give them more creative time to dream.

This is a stretch for some structures, but it’s needed to retain leaders. It doesn’t mean people aren’t held accountable, but I prefer to do so with goals and objectives rather than with a time clock. You might keep someone from feeling stifled if you give them more margin in how they spend their time.

Don’t burden them with your fears.

I’ve seen this so many times when a senior leader gives other leaders in the organization more responsibility. It makes the leader nervous, so they revert to controlling and micromanagement. They don’t give them a chance to prove themselves. They try to tell them how to do things. Fear is what is discerned by others. And, it doesn’t communicate you trust them. It doesn’t mean you are absent from the process. It is hard to release responsibility to someone unproven, but you must stifle your fears and let them learn to lead. Stay close enough to jump in when requested or when it is absolutely required.

Allow him or her to help you lead/dream/plan for the organization.

Include them in discussions and brainstorming in which they normally would not be included. The more they feel included the more loyal they will be.

Reward them.

If they are doing well – let them know it. Praise them privately and publicly and compensate them fairly. What is celebrated gets repeated.

Keeping a leader on your team will be at challenge for you as a leader. You will have to stretch yourself to stretch them. But, it’s almost always worth it. As they grow, you grow, and the entire organization grows.

Related Posts

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

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

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

24 thoughts on “7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

  1. Great companion post to yesterday's! We don't often realize that one of the best ways to keep a leader is to release them…

  2. Hey Ron,

    The problem is too many people are responding to a pay cheque, not the call of God or his anointing to lead.

    Until that is addressed and people aren’t brought onto leadership until there is a clear call and anointing on someone to lead, they will leave, because it is no different to getting bored and disillusioned in

    an ordinary secular job.

    Unless the biblical foundations for leadership and team are implemented into the church, we will have nothing more than career focussed church leaders instead of fathers protecting and watching over the sheep with counsel, teaching

    and providing an environment to mature in their gifts and walk.

    Hope that makes sense. I am not in any way attacking ur blog or disagreeing.

    Thanks for ur posts.

  3. Have the leader be a mentor to someone else in the organization who is known as an up and comer – someone with a lot of potential. This tends to engage the leader as much as it does the person to be mentored!

    • I love that idea Bill. It takes a leader willing to invest and a future leader willing to learn, but if those are there, powerful things can occur. Thanks!
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  4. Words do it for me.

    The words, "I appreciate you." or "You are doing a great job." I hear this all the time.

    Also, I love hearing this, and I hear it almost every week: " If there is anything that you need to help you perform better, any tool or product, just let me know, and we will get it for you."

    The best for last: "We don't mind trying new things. You are free to innovate and try new things here." The sweet part is that they mean it.

    I love my job!

  5. And it's not even pay so that I can take care of the family…it's like I get an evaluation, the little salary grid that they have says I am worth an extra 3% or 5% or whatever, but because of market forces, I get nothing. Now I understand that if this job pays in general $30,000-$50,000, they can't pay me $70,000. But if I'm worth 3%, then give me that as a bonus. At least I don't take a pay cut, in essence, for the high quality work that I do.

      • Not sure that I have, but I'd agree with you. I actually like what I do and who I work with, management just doesn't have a clue.

  6. I'll add one to that list: compensate the leader when they excel and exceed expectations. I'm in a job situation where I try every day to excel and that's really what's expected of me. The down side to this is that when it comes time for an evaluation, I can almost walk on water, but the leadership falls back on… well… you're at the top of your salary scale and we can't give you a raise.. well OK, but how about a bonus or some other atta-boy perk that gives me an incentive to continue that work level. I stay because jobs are scarce and I have a family to take care of, but if I had the opportunity to move somewhere else, I'd jump.

    • Thanks for sharing Jon. I agree. It makes it hard at the top to balance the issue of pay vs. income, but without paying where people can take care of their families, you can't expect a leader to stay.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

      • I get where Jon is coming from.

        In previous jobs it' hasn't always been about the pay (though it is always nice) but it is so much more abouyt what you doi being recognised and that when it is recognised it is appreciated. Even if it's only a letter to say thanks or a free dinner for you and your partner.

        Little things do go a long way.

        Great post.