Defining Leadership

About a week ago, a colleague of mine appreciated how passionate I was about leadership in church and ministry, but then asked an intriguing question. “What does leadership mean for you?”

A great question! I find that I assume people know what leadership is. But like any term or word, there are so many interpretations. It’s like trying to define religion or spirituality. Ask ten different people and you’ll get ten different definitions. And all of them are probably correct with certain nuggets of truth in each. Leadership is the same way. But we overuse the word so much and think everyone is on the same page. The reality is not so clear.

Since much of the work I do is on leadership and empowerment, it makes sense that I define the word leadership. You may agree with parts and possibly disagree with other parts. I’d be interested in your comments and definitions of leadership.

I make no secret of my being a fan of John C. Maxwell. He has written many great leadership books over the years and I believe all of them are worth reading. Time and time again, Maxwell defines leadership very simply: “Leadership is influence.” I’ve always liked that definition because it is so simple. A leader cannot get anything done if she has not influenced others to follow. That influence is usually gained through five types of actions, taken from Developing the Leader Within You:

  1. Position: people follow because they have to.
  2. Permission: people follow because they want to.
  3. Production: people follow because of what you have done for the organization.
  4. People Development: people follow because of what you have done for them.
  5. Personhood: people follow because of who you are and what you represent.

There is one more aspect of leadership that needs to be discussed. I believe leadership is all about service. A leader must be other-serving and not self-serving. Ken Blanchard writes about the need to grapple with the ego. For Blanchard, ego can mean two things:

Edging God Out

or

Exalting God Only

True leadership is not only about influence, but it should be an influence that serves others and God. You can be a good leader without God in your life. But for me, leadership is used for God and His will. My leadership is about “Exalting God Only.” And if it edge’s God out (which it does from time to time), I have to check myself and focus in on what’s most important.

How would you define leadership?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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