Leadership isn’t a position; it’s a process. Throughout our lives, we will hold several positions of leadership in different areas. In fact, there will be seasons where multiple leadership positions converge at once. You may be parenting, leading in some capacity at your church, maintaining a job, and trying to launch a business all at the same time! So, I prefer to start all leadership conversations by focusing on the controlled variable: you.
Just because you’re the constant doesn’t mean you stay the same. Rather, it’s quite the opposite. I have found that there are three main stages for effective leadership: the discovery phase, the productive phase, and the wisdom phase.
A Biblical Example of the Leadership Process
It is important to emphasize that effective leadership entails being in every phase at the same time. Some areas of your leadership will be in full bloom while others are just getting started. That’s completely normal! Being aware of the process allows you to relax when something is not immediately successful. We see this principle in Numbers 17 when God selects the first high priest among the Israelites.
There was a conflict between the twelve tribes of Israel over who would lead. So, God instructed Moses to tell the chiefs of every tribe to write their family name on their staff. Then, they were told to put the staff in a tent. Whoever’s staff sprouted overnight would be the one that God had chosen.
The staff of Aaron, Moses’ brother, “sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds,” Numbers 17:9. Through a miraculous sign, Aaron was chosen to be the first high priest of Israel! In those times, a man’s staff was a symbol of his leadership. It was what he used to guide and correct sheep. So, through the miracle, God foreshadowed the fruitfulness of Aaron’s leadership.
This passage signifies that Godly, effective leadership occurs in stages. Think about it—a single sprout would’ve solidified Aaron as God’s choice. Instead, God chose to showcase something profound: when leaders are chosen by and connected to Him, they’re destined for abundance, miraculous encounters, and continual growth. The best part is that since we now have Jesus as our high priest (Hebrews 6:20), every believer is a chosen leader if they choose to accept the challenge!
With that, here are the 3 Stages of Effective Leadership:
1. The Discovery Stage
In this phase, you are actively learning who you are and where you fit. One of my main rules to live by is to never invest in something you don’t understand. So, the discovery phase is a vital learning period. If you try to escape this phase, you won’t develop a foundation and your metaphorical house will crumble. Even if you don’t realize it, God is always trying to prepare you for the next season He has planned for your life.
If you’re younger, many areas of your leadership may be in the discovery phase. Don’t let this discourage you—embrace it. We have to be a beginner at everything before we can be an expert at anything. If you’re older, you better make sure you at least have a few areas in this stage. As John Maxwell says, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we are not really living.” Don’t die before you’re in the ground!
2. The Productive Stage
This is a stage of a lot of accomplishment. The discovery phase has given you a good foundation to build from, so you’re doing just that—and probably pretty fast. For many people, this phase feels really good. You’ve hit your sweet spot, and what you’re doing actually feels like effective leadership. However, if you’re not careful, this stage will not be sustainable. Remember that God is your provider, and you’re partnering with Him rather than doing it all by yourself. Be diligent about resting and creating boundaries in order to maximize your output.
For many businesspeople, the productive stage is where they transition from being a doer to being a leader manager. They learn how to work on their business more than they work in their business. The result is undeniable scale and growth.
3. The Wisdom Stage
The main desire in this stage is to give back and pour into other people. You have learned through your experience, and now you want to share what you know. Your goal should be to develop the endurance to carry your discovery phase to your wisdom phase. Effective leadership vulnerably shares how the mistakes they made in their discovery phase have contributed to the success they demonstrate in their wisdom phase.
I believe we move from knowledge to understanding to wisdom. In our discovery phase, we gain knowledge. In our productive phase, we put that knowledge to the test and gain understanding. Finally, in our wisdom phase, we reflect on our understanding and gain…well… wisdom!
On a trip to Australia, Becky and I decided to try our hand at scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. However, when the day of the dive arrived, it was getting stormy. The wind was blowing, and the waves were going crazy. I told the instructor half-jokingly that I didn’t want to go anymore, thank you very much! His response hit me in a profound way:
“The weather on top has no influence on what’s deep,” he said matter-of-factly.
We went on the dive, and it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. Fish of every color of the rainbow, giant goliath grouper, and purple clams were everywhere I looked. It was a completely different reality down below than it was on the surface.
That’s what the wisdom phase can be like. At this point, you will have developed a deep sense of unshakeable truth. In the areas where you have true wisdom, chaos won’t disturb you. You have confidence that cannot be seen or swayed by emotions.
What do you think it takes to practice effective leadership? How are you experiencing the different stages right now? I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments. And, if you want to dive deeper into a specific stage, I encourage you to sign up for our Real Estate Workshop October 15-17, 2021. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer in the discovery phase or a seasoned investor in the wisdom phase, we have something for you. Click Here to learn more.