God does not pluck you from the ranks and make you Number One overnight. Leadership is a progressive matter of individual development, and these principles are universal. They will work for corporations as well as the corporate body of Christ. But my framework, for our purposes, is ministry. In fact, there are five levels of leadership development.

The Starting Place
The Call. The first level of leadership is the call. Who is called to be a leader? How do you identify the call? Are you supposed to be a follower all your life and nothing more? A supervisor? Who is called to be a leader in the body of Christ?

Since leadership is a matter of influencing the direction of another's life, then we are all called to be leaders. Each member of the body of Christ is called to influence the direction of another's life toward Jesus Christ, toward the plan of God, toward the Word of God. That means that every one of us has an anointing to lead in some capacity. There is an anointing to lead on everyone who is born again. We are all called to be influencers of men. God wants the body of Christ to lead this world into the millennial reign. God wants us to lead this world to Jesus Christ. He wants us to lead the unsaved into the knowledge of Him.

What Will You Do With the Anointing You Have?
Being born again gives you the anointing to lead, to influence men. What you do with that anointing determines whether or not you go to the second level. Each level builds on the level which precedes it. If someone who is born again does not use the anointing now available to them to influence other people for Jesus Christ, God cannot promote them in the kingdom. Certainly they will go to heaven. Their salvation will not be jeopardized or dependent on their stewardship of God's call to leadership. But as far as promotion to a higher level of influence, responsibility or leadership in the body of Christ, that will never happen.

God promotes faithfulness, and faithfulness requires us to do with our lives as He directs. If we are called and anointed to influence others for Him and we do not do it, we have not been faithful. Influencing others for Jesus Christ is evangelism in its purest form. I know for some folks the word evangelism conjures up images of street witnessing and strikes fear in their hearts. They want no part of that. But influencing others for the Lord should not be viewed so narrowly. It simply means letting your light shine in accordance with your personality, your talents, your gifts, your social background, your acquaintances and your friends. You are unique, and when you let your light shine within the sphere of your influence, it will have a different result than when someone else lets his light shine.

Let the light shine! That may mean telling someone he needs Jesus. It may simply mean living by the values in God's Word and having someone notice it. It may be sharing the love of God with another person through an act of kindness.

There are a lot of ways in which we influence other people for Jesus Christ. But if we are not deliberate in our daily walk with God, consciously pursuing opportunities to influence others, we may occasionally open the door for conversation, but be counted unfaithful because we do not press through and truly influence them for Jesus Christ.

If we are not faithful to use the anointing to affect another's life for Him, we will not be promoted in the Kingdom of God to a higher level of leadership.

If you are faithful to use the anointing He entrusts to you to influence people for Him, God will give you a position of authority.

After the call comes the second level of developing leadership, Position.

Position. Your new position of leadership could be anything from leading a Bible study or home care group to a supervisory opportunity at work. It is a position of some leadership responsibility that is officially recognized. At this level, you have received "positional authority." The danger of positional authority is that the leader may come to rely on having people follow him solely because of his position.

This type of person says, "Do what I say because I'm in charge, not because of who I am or the relationship we have. Don't you forget who's boss around here." If that is the attitude you adopt, you will never move beyond this second level of leadership.

For example, I've seen a hard-working, front-line employee promoted to a management position because of his diligence. At this point, he has no experience; he only has the position. He walks into the workplace and assumes that everyone is going to follow him just because he is the boss. It usually takes about a year and you find that guy packing his U-Haul and leaving.

Positional authority, or the idea that someone will follow your lead because they have to, is one of the most ill-conceived ideas about leadership there is. And yet it's also one of the most common reasons leaders fail.

"Sir, Yes Sir!"
Leadership was once all positional for me, because of my background in the military. I almost made it my career. I went to a military academy, went into Air Force pilot training and flew for six years. The military was my background, so everything I understood about leadership at that point in my life was positional. I had to salute anyone who was an officer because they had a position. The captain, the major, the lieutenant colonel, the wing commander, the colonel-whoever. They were leaders because of their rank. Their position of authority made them a leader in my estimation.

But even in the military it did not take long for me to recognize a certain truth: Leadership is not purely positional. I discovered that there were men who had the rank, but nobody would have followed them to a dogfight. Yet there were other men, often of lesser rank, who commanded such respect that others often sought to follow after them. I began to realize that true leadership is not altogether positional.

There was another element involved which the Lord has helped me identify in recent years. For someone to succeed in leadership, he must first realize that it is a relational undertaking. Leadership is not about position; leadership is about relationships. Secondly, your ability to relate effectively is cultivated. It does not have anything to do with your personality, nor does it have anything to do with how naturally charismatic you are. There is no such thing as a born leader - you have to be taught how to lead.

Relationship. The third level of leadership is the Relationship level. This is the one in which people follow you, not because they have to, but because they want to. This is the level at which they will do more for you than the job description requires. They want to please you. This is where leadership truly begins to be effective. This is where it begins to be fun. People want to follow your lead because you have done what is necessary to cultivate a relationship with them that makes them want to follow you.

A good question to ask yourself as you anticipate this level is: What qualities in people makes me want to follow them? Think of someone you consider a good leader. Decide what you believe has made him or her effective. Then develop those qualities or traits in your own life. In many respects, we are all the same. We do not like dishonesty. We do not like subterfuge. We do not like manipulation. We do not like arrogance. We do not like haughtiness. We do not like prideful people who impose their will upon us. We do not like to do things which do not make sense.

A lot of leaders say, "You don't need to know why you have to do this. I don't have time to tell you why. Just do it." Well, you can get away with that for a while, and there may be occasions, such as an emergency situation, when that is a legitimate thing to say. But for the most part, people need to know that what they are doing makes sense. So when you give direction to people, ask yourself the question, "Am I giving them sufficient reason to follow me?"

I want a leader to have integrity. I want him to be faithful to his word. I want him to be loyal to me. I want him to be open and honest. I want to know he cares about me. I want to know he is bringing the same qualities to the relationship that he is asking me to bring. Why do you think we follow Jesus? We know He cares about us. He has our best interests at heart. As a leader, you too must have your followers' best interests at heart.

The Fruit. The fourth level of leadership is the one I call the fruit. The purpose of effective leadership is to accomplish something, to achieve the results you desire. At the end of the day, you must produce results, or fruit. In the long run, people will follow you not only because you have the position, not only because they want to, but because they see their efforts producing results. Your followers need to see the fruit of their labor; they need to see themselves achieving their goals. Their accomplishments will light a fire in them that will feed their desire to accomplish even more. This is an exciting level of leadership. This is the level at which explosive growth most often occurs.

I have seen many churches, ministries and business organizations at this stage of their development. When you look at a graph of their growth, it is rarely a straight profile. When the people making the effort begin to see results, there is a flurry of phenomenal growth for maybe a year or so. This really is one of the most exciting levels of leadership. Then the activity can seem too slow, or maybe even cease for two, three or even four years. Everything can seem static when, in fact, things have not really remained static at all. The organization has simply been consolidating past growth and preparing for the next push. New relationships have to be cultivated. The next level of goals and objectives has to be communicated. Then all of a sudden, there is another growth spurt and the graph goes up again.

When you have invested in relationships and they have developed properly and when people are following because they want to, the result is like setting a lit match to kindling. It sets flame to the activity within the organization. When you have tangible, visible results, people want to be a part of that, and they are more on fire than they have ever been before. But if you do not produce fruit, you will lose the people who have a vision for their lives and for what they want to see accomplished. (And these are precisely the people you want to hang on to!) It does not matter how much they like you - if they do not see results, they will eventually move on. But even after results are achieved and the fruit becomes apparent, if you stop there, you can still limit growth, because there is only so much you and your leadership team can do unless you also develop leadership skills in those following you.

Reproduction. I call the fifth and highest level of leadership the reproduction. The highest level of leadership is when you recognize and deliberately cultivate leadership qualities in the people following you, preparing them to assume a role of leadership in the organization. When you begin developing leaders under you, this is where long-range growth occurs.

Let's say you are in charge of the direct-mail department of an organization. You have a dozen employees, and you are trying to plan for some anticipated growth within your department. Too much of the time our mentality is, "We'll hire the people we need when the growth comes. Once we get busy we'll go out and find the leaders or get the managers or supervisors." This is a mistake. God is not going to expand you to a point where you cannot manage the growth He brings. That would be poor management on His part.

You must prepare for the growth before it comes. The preparation is made by developing leaders within the department as you continue to develop as the leader of the department. When you begin to reproduce yourself as a leader in those under you, preparing them for a role of leadership, then you have ascended to level number five.

Why People Follow
Each of these levels helps us understand why people follow.
  1. When you respond to the anointing to influence another, you have answered the call.
  2. When others follow because they have to, you have moved to the positional level.
  3. When others follow because they want to, you have moved to the relational level.
  4. When others see tangible results as a function of your leadership, you have achieved the fruit level.
  5. When others are growing and developing as leaders themselves, you have achieved the reproductive level.
At this point, you have the deepest kind of loyalty established within an organization. You have loyalties so strong that the devil cannot divide them. When all of these levels are in place, you have an organization primed for long-term growth, primed to continue through all the storms the enemy can whip up, because these loyalties come only as a result of having moved through all five levels of leadership development. What level are you on?