The Secret to Developing Leaders

Your most intense season of growth as a leader did not come as a result of a book, a conference or even a blog post.

It came through something much more important than that. It was a person who looked at you and saw what you could become, even when you couldn’t see it yourself.

In a previous post, we talked about how organisations that abound in leaders do so primarily by developing people into leaders rather than recruiting those already established. A great example of this was Andrew Carnegie, who explained how he had 43 millionaires working for him by pointing out that they weren’t millionaires when he hired them but had become millionaires as a result.

Carnegie went on to explain how he was able to develop people so effectively:

“Men are developed the same way gold is mined. Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold… but you don’t go into a mine looking for dirt, you go looking for gold. That’s exactly the way to develop positive people. Look for the gold, not the dirt: the good, not the bad. The more positive qualities you look for, the more you are going to find.” (Andrew Carnegie)

In each of us is dirt and in each of us is gold. The first word God spoke over mankind is ‘it is very good’. We have fallen and tarnished that goodness with sin. We are in God’s image. The image is broken. There is gold. There is dirt. The bottom line is that whichever of these things we look for, we will find.

If we go looking for dirt in a person’s life, and use that dirt to erase their name from consideration as a leader to develop, we will end up with a very short list and very few leaders. Bad choices, poor performance, and moral mistakes can cause us to write off a potential leader, though all of these were true at times of Jesus’ disciples, and these men were never written off.

On the other hand, if we look for gold we will find it. We will see the gifts of God in the lives of people, and can help develop that gold so the dirt is brushed away and the gold shines.

We dream of seeing thousands of leaders unleashed into schools, hospitals, businesses, families and churches. The stakes are too high to let a little bit of dirt keep us from striking gold.