Leadership Reading List: Great Leaders GROW

By Matt Steen

I love getting things in the mail.  The other day, I got a copy of Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s book Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life, compliments of Michael Nichols (whose blog you really need to be reading).  The book is short and sweet, I read it in a little over an hour (120 pages), and while we all know that we need to be growing as leaders… it gives a simple tool to actually do it.

The book starts off with a simple reminder that our ability to lead is dependent upon our ability to grow.  Without consistently developing our leadership abilities, we stagnate… as do the teams we lead.  Using the simple acronym GROW:

  • Gain Knowledge: Leaders need to be learning.  Whether you are reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or which ever delivery system works best, leaders must be constantly and consistently learning about themselves, others, their industry, and their field of leadership.
  • Reach Out to Others: There are few things that help us grow more than having to teach.  The act of preparing for a small group study or a sermon forces us interact with scripture in ways that we wouldn’t normally do so.  In the same way, looking for ways to help others grow in their leadership, whether formally or informally, strengthens our leadership as well.
  • Open Your World: Growing in our leadership abilities requires us to get outside of our comfort zone.  I liken this point to sermon preparation: sometimes, in order to find just the right illustration, you need to get and and do something different.  Hobbies, travel, volunteer work (outside the church context), and spending time with people in different industries are a great way to get started.
  • Walk Toward Wisdom: In order to be effective as leaders we need to crave wisdom.  Seeking wisdom in the form of self-evaluation, honest feedback (looking back), and counsel from others (looking forward) helps us to learn from our current situation and grow stronger as we move into our next.

I can see this book being a great tool to use in a coaching, mentoring, or team development context: serving as a jumping off point for your regular gatherings.  While the information is nothing earth-shattering, it is a great refresher on the importance of developing ourselves as leaders.  With this in mind, I’d like to share what I found to be the most profound statement in the book:

Growing, for great leaders, is like breathing.  It is not optional.  It is not something you do in addition to your real job.  It is at the core of your real job.  Leaders- the good ones- are always learners.  The way they go about it will vary from leader to leader, but it is not an option.

Go and do likewise.

Matt Steen

Matt Steen loves seeing the church thrive.  Currently serving as a Church Concierge with Church Simple, Matt has served as an executive pastor, youth pastor, and planted a church in Baltimore.  Matt lives on Long Island with his wife Theresa where he secretly leads a resistance movement against the New York Yankees (this might be the Orioles year... or not).  You can follow Matt on twitter (@matt_steen) or at ChurchThought.