The best leaders are not isolated geniuses, but simply willing to listen and learn from others. This principle holds true whether you’re in ministry or business, and for two key reasons:
1. Effective leaders lead in community.
In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, Paul reminds believers that we belong to one another, and we need each other. My sister’s gifts are, in a sense, given for me, which means I am weaker without them.
Healthy leaders recognize this truth and depend on it. They admit the limitations of their own minds, their own insights, their own vision, and their own abilities, so they utilize the input of others, and they’re stronger for it.
2. Effective leaders aren’t afraid to be wrong.
A healthy leader does not pin her authority on being right all the time. That’s because effective leaders are motivated by something bigger than their pride. Take Paul in Philippians 1: this long-time servant of the gospel discovered that fellow Christians were happy about his imprisonment.
But did he get angry? Did he get defensive? Did he become cynical, jaded, and hard? No. Instead, he responded, “But what does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil. 1:18)
Paul knew his entire life’s work was not, foundationally, about him, which is why he had nothing to prove. So what if other Christians didn’t like him? So what if other Christians betrayed him?
Those were burdens Paul never presumed to bear, because his ministry was not in service to himself. It was in service to Christ, and that is the lightness of leading and working for something much bigger than your own reputation. When it’s not about being impressive, then you no longer fear feedback or criticism, and you can welcome it instead.
Beth Moore once shared this advice, passed on to her from a friend: “Critics are the unpaid guardians of our souls.” I believe it.
Even when the feedback comes uninvited, it is almost always an opportunity to grow. Even so, the best leaders seek it out, instead of waiting for it to come, because leaders were never meant to lead alone.