training wheels Developing leaders is an essential component of leadership.  One of the most important jobs that a leader has is finding other leaders, giving them an opportunity to lead, and teaching them to be the best possible leaders.  Finding a potential leader can be difficult, but it is even more difficult to spend time developing leaders so that they can lead on their own.

This post has been adapted and re-written from an original post written in October 2010.

How to Train Leaders:

1. I do, You Watch

If you want potential leaders to do something you are doing, give them opportunities to watch before they start trying to do it themselves.  Let them hear you teach before you have them teach.  Let them sit in on meeting that they wouldn't normally get to be a part of.  This may seem like something that might happy incidentally, but be sure to also be intentional about having them spent time learning through observation.  Great teachers need to listen to other great teachers, great musicians need to listen to great music, and great leaders need to serve under other great leaders.

2. We do

After the potential leader has watched you do the work, give them an opportunity to work with you on something.  Work on the skill together from beginning to end.  This isn't the point to push the leader to just try it on their own, give them an opportunity to work on their skill while you are still in control and can do it all with them.

3. You Do, I Watch

At this point, it is time for you to begin to let go and allow for some freedom for the new leader to come in and start trying out their skills.  As they start to do what they have been learning, we will also get to see some of the unique ways that they have been gifted and what they are most passionate about.  In the beginning stages we are laying some groundwork for the skills we are trying to develop, but as we let go some of the uniqueness of the individual leaders own styles and preferences will begin to become evident.  As they begin leading, we should be careful to not completely let go but spend time being present watching, critiquing, and following up to help them to continue to grow in their leadership.

4. You Do, I Do Something Else

Now it's time to let go.  They've watched you, they've done it with you, and they've done it on their own while you've watched them.  Now it's time for you to completely let go of the reigns and find something else to do; this might be the most difficult step in the process because of the apparent risk, but if you cannot get through this step you aren't truly allowing them to lead the way they need to lead.

"You will never feel adaquately prepared to apprentice another leader, and if you do feel adaquately prepared you are probably not prepared.  You are not responsible for knowing everything about your field or knowing more than everyone else in your field.  You are responsible for passing along to someone else what you do know" - Notes from Andy Stanley Session at Catalyst 2011

What steps do you find most natural and what do you find most difficult to do in your ministry?

Photo Credit: Micah Taylor