How Leaders Grow

One of my all time favourite books is How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Published in 1936, this book has been perhaps the most influential book in my life second to the bible. When I saw some leadership research with the “Carnegie” branding, I was intrigued to say the least.

In a short video which you can see here (and find the summary here), Matt Norman, a business leader, shares about some research they found regarding the most effective ways to develop leaders. To be honest, nothing was overly remarkable about his presentation, however I did find some gold in the rough. I thought I’d take a look at one of the key findings and process them through a gospel lens applied to our context.

Matt said there were “four accelerants leaders attribute to their growth in today’s business environment”. They are: Culture, Mentors, Networks and Confidence. Giving priority to who you are rather than what you do, these four accelerants are vital to help leaders thrive and succeed through challenges.


  1. Culture

Culture can be described as the characteristics embodying ideas, customs and social behaviours of a particular people or society. In often unspoken terms, it informs how one ought to behave in a particular scenario. Norman says that culture either “eats us up or builds us up.” We want culture that builds people up. For the gospel driven leader, they ought to be seeking to be part of a culture that is not only authentic and genuine but also Christ exalting and centred on love. Such a culture will inevitably be marked by grace and love with the trajectory of mission and service.

To grow leaders, we constantly need to create a context where they are encouraged to not conform to the ‘culture’ of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:1). A culture where leadership is not seen as ‘lording over people’ but rather humbly serving them (Matt 20:25-25). In this context leaders will thrive. When the culture is healthy, the leaders will be healthy.

What culture are you setting in your context?


  1. Mentors

Mentoring has become one of those malleable terms in today’s society. It can mean so many things and function in so many ways. Essentially as Norman mentions, mentors “improve our self-understanding” in either formal or informal ways. The model of mentorship we primarily see in the Scriptures is that of discipleship. Paul exhorts, “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). He calls older people to teach the younger (Titus 2:1-4), and models himself as a spiritual father/mentor for churches (1 Cor 4:15). He is in good step with Jesus’ imperative to be “making disciples” which involves going to others, not waiting for them to come to us. In the words of Michael Frost, we affirm that we have a sent and sending God whom we image when we are sent to make disciples.

In your context, have you created pathways where leaders can be discipled and mentored?


  1. Networks

Networks to me are like plankton to whale—I absolutely love it! Norman sates, “these interactions between people help us build our capacity to deliver our best work.” Malyon Leadership in partnership with neoLeader conference firmly believes networks are essential in growing any leader. This idea does not merely originate in our western context but rather derives from a biblical one.

We see in Paul’s letters he had built many networks around him. Whether it was church leaders or ministry partners, Paul was continually surrounded by others who spurred him on in the gospel. These are what we like to call “gospel partnerships”. Paul refers to them as “fellow workers” and “faithful ministers”, “beloved brothers” and “servants of Christ”. In fact, he mentions around 80 different times the people who have helped him in the advancement of the gospel. This year at neoLeader you will be given the opportunity to be part of a network, a network that seeks to deepen your affection for Christ and abilities in stewarding influence.

Do you have these networks in your life? Have you created network opportunities for your leaders?


  1. Confidence

It was a couple months ago that I heard Guy Mason speak on “gospel confidence.” It’s a confidence that is not rooted in our abilities, vision or charisma, but rather in the explicit truths of the gospel. It involved God’s identity being revealed, God’s plan announced and God’s presence assured. Such truths permeate the fabric of our lives, diving into and exposing the nature of our heart, the wonder of the gospel and the implications of this impending kingdom!

Now this isn’t to be confused with bravado or mere “self esteem”, but rather true self-awareness. Such gospel confidence accrues as we learn about our selves and as we enjoy what we find out. For the Christian leader true self-awareness only happens in light of the gospel as it reveals our identity (Eph 1:1-18), our purpose (1 Pet 2:9-10) and informs our stewardship (1 Peter 4:10). These factors help build gospel confidence in leaders and in turn grows them effectively.

 Are we fostering this type of confidence in our leaders?


With these four key factors in mind, let’s consider how we might be personally positioning ourselves and those we lead to embrace these accelerants, so we may grow effectively.


Written by Darren Dakers
Originally posted on 12 Aug 2014