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Five Keys to Becoming A Healthy Leader

Over the course of almost four decades of leadership, I’ve experienced many seasons of great fruitfulness, and a few painful seasons of failure. This is what I’ve learned what it takes to become a healthy leader.

Looking back perhaps the the greatest lesson I’ve learned is that there is a direct relationship between my personal well-being and the quality of my leadership. The response of others to my leadership is directly proportionate to my pursuit of the things that I hope to impart. Healthy leadership is hard but,  it’s a battle worth fighting for.

Here are five areas of development that must be pursued to become a thriving and healthy leader of a flourishing organization: Health, Head, Heart, Hands and Help!

HEALTH – Are you pursuing personal, physical and spiritual well-being?

Most leaders I know struggle to maintain their personal health and equilibrium. The demands of leadership can often become overwhelming and, in many cases, the first thing to go is our personal life. Our families suffer, our bodies sag and our spiritual life is neglected. The keys to victory in this area are to: 

  • Determine and declare your priorities
  • Harness the force of habit
  • Enlist the power of accountability

Remember, a thriving leader builds his inner world and leads from the inside out. Also check out Emotionally Healthy Leadership by Dr. Pete Scazzero for some practical help with what this looks like in everyday life.

HEAD – Are you pursuing knowledge and wisdom as a lifelong learner?

One of the biggest traps a leader can fall into is to stop feeding on the knowledge and wisdom of others. If we think we have arrived, we will stagnate. The people we lead will always adapt to our pursuit of learning. If we fail to pursue knowledge and wisdom, so will they. The keys to becoming a lifelong learner are to: 

  • Cultivate a curious heart that seeks understanding
  • Ask great questions and seek wise counsel
  • Take time to read books, watch documentaries, and expose yourself to ideas outside your personal bubble

Remember, a healthy leader is a lifelong learner. 

HEART – Are you growing in maturity and Christ-like character?

The heart is the seat of our feelings, emotions and temperament. Unfortunately, many leaders fail to cultivate emotional health and maturity in their lives. Emotions are a gift from God. They are great servants but poor masters. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. And, the final fruit is self-control (Gal.5:22). Maturity is the ability to govern ourselves under the government of God in a way that esteems others above ourselves and processes pain and disappointment in a positive way. The keys to cultivating Christ-like Character are to: 

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude
  • Replace every lie with truth
  • Commit to regularly serve others in a way that reveals any remaining immaturity

Remember, a thriving leader is growing in Christ-likeness in all things.

HANDS – Are you building your toolbox and growing your skillset?

Whether leading in ministry or in the marketplace, your set of skills is crucial for success. In every vocation the three universal qualities needed are wisdom, excellence and relational skills. A thriving leader is constantly obtaining new tools and developing new skills so they can serve more effectively. The keys to growing your toolbox and skill set are to: 

  • Receive training from others with greater skills
  • Risk to practice what you are learning even if you might fail at first
  • Pass on your tools and skills to others; you retain more when you give it away

Remember, a thriving leader is constantly growing in their ministry skills.

HELP – Are you drawing support from peers, professionals and mentors?

We live in a highly individualized culture driven by performance and achievement. This causes many of us to feel an unspoken pressure to make it on our own. Although this may seem like a courageous attitude, it is antithetical to one of the greatest values of the Kingdom of God: Interdependency. A thriving leader is not afraid to ask for help and draw on a multitude of counselors. This is also why it’s so important to build an amazing team around youThe keys to receiving the help you need is to:

  • Humbly acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses before the Lord
  • Reach out to others who are more gifted or successful in the areas to which you aspire
  • Align yourself with anointed mentors and spiritual parents who can guide you into fruitfulness

Remember, a thriving healthy leader asks for help and guidance when in need.

  • diane brodeur November 13, 2014 at 6:00 am

    There is so much good information given here on how to thrive both personally and corporately in the environments we affect an in which we live. This is so encouraging!

  • Steve Restrick May 3, 2015 at 5:24 am

    Great Artical , practical wisdom , written from experiance in the fiery furnace of leadership and ministry…

  • Mark Jones August 29, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Michael, I really appreciate your insights. The first one, Health, has been my failure. In an effort to keep up with all the demands I have not taken good care of myself. That has recently changed and I feel the time spent exercising is paying me back with greater energy and clarity of mind. I might add one idea, and maybe its secondary, but a leader needs a creative outlet. That could be many things: hunting, tinkering on cars, collecting stamps, or the typical creative expressions. This may be related to Health but on the mental side of health.

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