Leading from the Foundation of Grace

Thoughts from Chris Lautsbaugh, who has worked in missions for 21 years. He blogs at www.nosuperheroes.com and has published a book on grace, Death of the Modern Superhero: How Grace Breaks our Rules.

Here are 8 traits of grace filled leadership:

  1. Emphasis on principles rather than rules – Rules modify behavior, principles change hearts. Anyone can adjust their lifestyle for a season or adhere to a structure. Lives are truly changed through transformation rather than conformity. When we focus on principles, it teaches people wisdom which works in a multitude of situations.
  2. Valuing people – It is easy to view people as a means to success in our teams. If our people feel cared for and valued for who they are, not merely what they do; we will have their hearts and their loyalty. This involves listening to our people and finding ways to serve them; all motivated by a desire to see them succeed.
  3. Push towards excellence, leaving room for failure – As gracious leaders, we know our own shortcomings and failures. This gives us the ability to push people towards success while also allowing them to make mistakes. No one wants to work for a leader who demands perfection.
  4. Allows different opinions while promoting commonalities – One of the leading traits of controlling leaders is insecurity. Insecure leaders hurt people. Gracious leaders recognize the need to surround themselves with other strong leaders, valuing differing strengths and ideas.
  5. Confronts personally – Gracious leadership is not a free for all with no confrontation. Rather, the confrontation occurs in a manner which values the team member. You want to avoid general announcements or side comments to a group. Value people enough to say the hard things to them face to face.
  6. Allows people to experience the consequences of their actions – Another misconception of grace is “sloppy agape.” True grace realizes lessons are often learned through experiencing the result of a bad decision and learning from it. Grace does not remove consequences or attempt to protect people from their bad decisions. Titus 2:12 tells us, “grace trains…”
  7. Believes the best – We must trust our people; doing away with judgment, critical spirits, and suspicious attitudes. This value allows us to truly release people to do the job, avoiding the dreaded dirty delegation or micro-management.
  8. Willing to be abused – Grace filled leaders often get accused of being taken advantage of. People naturally look for loopholes or ways to work the system. But, this happens in rule-based leadership as well. The potential for abuse does not disqualify the leadership style. A few will work the system, but more will flourish and thrive under this style of leadership.

In a world filled with heroes falling every week, we need better examples of leadership.  People who are concerned with changing hearts rather than merely modifying behavior or accomplishing tasks.

What are other traits of gracious leadership you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.

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About Gary Coiro

Nonprofit & Church Leader Nonprofit Leader and Consultant since 2004, following 15 years as a pastor. Competencies include board development, fundraising, staff development and management, strategic planning, church work, Bible teaching, and capital campaigns. Currently consulting and serving on the Church Ministries Management Team for a large multi-cultural evangelical church.
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