By Fr. Limukani Ndlovu
Leadership election is never a mere routine to be fulfilled but an exercise that involves discernment. When people participate in leadership election in any sphere of life, they hope that those they elect will enhance and protect their dreams and aspirations. Failure to deliver on the aspirations of the electorates warrants seeking alternative leadership in the future. Here, we share on some qualities of a good leader with reference to Paul’s first letter to Timothy 3:1-15 and Titus 1:5-9.
Good leaders recognize the value in those that they lead, see a large part of their role as to develop other leaders and their leadership development takes place as they begin to share their experiences, good and bad, with others. There is a tendency by some leaders to withhold information and yet information is power! Information is crucial as it also directly benefits the leader. Therefore, good leaders generously share information (cf. Gen 11:1-9; James 3:1-12). In his 57th World Day of Social Communications, Pope Francis encourages communicating in a cordial manner especially in situations marked by polarization and contrasts.
As there are no perfect families, there are no perfect leaders as well. However, for a leader to be considered good, such a person has to have a character that is unquestionable. They should have an above-average character knowing they will lead by example more than by words.
Instead of resorting to cohesion, good leaders make a positive difference in people’s lives, they do this when they speak with heart in the synodal process (Francis: 24.1.2023). They influence for the good of others and not for self-preservation and selfish ends. Good leaders find ways to leverage financial health to strengthen the well-being of others, especially for the “preferential option for the poor” (Centesimus Annus #11). Again, good leaders can be depended on for their professionalism and skills. They may not necessarily be all-rounded in competencies, then their strength is in their ability to collaborate ensuring that tasks are done in the best way possible.
Good leaders realize that some followers may outgrow the leader’s ability and they will always be ready to develop them without feeling threatened by another’s success. They gladly celebrate as those around them succeed. This enables them to have a heart of service, truly loving and valuing the people like Christ (cf. Lk 4:18ff).
Generally, good leaders are always learning and implementing new discoveries for the betterment of the people they lead. They invest time, energy and resources in learning so that they can share. They would not isolate themselves from people regardless of the amount of responsibility they may attain. Like the fish that gets strength from water, good leaders welcome the input into their professional and personal lives.
Good leaders walk in the light of God and walk as Christ walked (cf. 1Jhn 2:6; 2Tim 1:8, 13), rather than in the darkness of men. They are led and influenced by things on which God places high priority. Thus, they always think beyond today. “What’s next?” is a common question asked by good leaders, knowing that someone must continually encourage change, growth and strategic thinking so as to remain healthy and happy.
In terms of self-care, a good leader gives their body time to rest, relax and recalibrate knowing that resting allows them to find balance in their busy schedule. Rest allows leaders to serve people well, rather than serving them in a state of exhaustion.
Good leaders love their family more than institutions they serve and they never make their families feel like they spend more time with the organization’s members than they do with them. They never make their spouses turn out to be Church or political widows. They set aside time with their family outside of work activities. Effectively, good leaders have strong and loving home life, which provides them the support they need to lead well.
Good leaders participate in spiritual disciplines such as fasting, solitude, silence, pilgrimages and meditation. They are always conscious about why they embark on this or that project. They have a vision and clarity of purpose and this helps them to become healthier and stronger.
Good leaders never want to simply acquire information at the expense of experiencing the transformative work of the Holy Spirit in their life. They worship while driving or walking, aware that service is itself a form of prayer. While they are content, they also have a healthy discontentment about themselves (cf. Is 6:5). They are content with what comes to them, because they have hope. At the same time, they are discontented, because they long to see God work in his people in yet unseen ways. They seek to improve upon things, make things better, and see how much more impact can occur in the world for the happiness of many. Leaders must first be followers and they should not fear to follow those below them. They seek to create an environment where there is mutual respect and others willingly desire to follow them as they make their leadership contagious and exciting to follow.