A printable PDF can be found at the end of this article.

Chances are that if you have picked up this product, you are a leader. As a leader, you want to help others in their roles as leaders. The materials on the following pages can be used for personal study and learning or they can be used to help others to understand what a leader looks like. You will find some special things on the last two pages that include “ABCs of Leadership” and the “Ten Commandments for Leaders.”

A good leader has…

The leader of an organization or group has certain qualities no matter whom she is leading. By looking at the qualities of leadership, we get a picture of a good leader.


Vision is looking ahead and being able to see the possibilities of where you and your organization could go. It is using a proactive approach to spring all your players into action to accomplish it.

Mission — What you are doing today. Vision — What you’ll be doing in the future.

“Leaders dream dreams and have vision and can communicate those to others in such a way that they, of their own free will, say ‘yes.’”

Mike Murray

What is the vision you have for your women’s organization?


People can have vision, but unless they have passion to go with it, nothing will happen. Passion takes the vision into reality.


The integrity of the upright guides them … (Prov. 11:3 NIV).

  • Actions speak louder than words.
  • Win your followers’ respect. Oncethat happens, your sphere of influence is built up. Qualities that make you respectable are caring, honesty, and a listening ear.
  • Respect will help you have influence, which is what leadership is all about. Leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less.

Princess Diana had much more influence than the royal family because she showed she cared and had compassion for the people.

The leader’s habits are… consistent with his values.
The leader’s words are… consistent with his deeds.
The leader’s expressions are… consistent with his feelings.

Stephen Covey
(Principle-Centered Leadership)



Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: … He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant (Phil. 2:5f NIV).

Pride and egocentricity lose the loyalty of followers. Humility is shown by exhibiting:

A servant heart

What is the common theme? Servant leadership is
… being considerate of others
… valuing others’ opinions
… being helpful

Be a servant … Matthew 20:25–28

A caring heart

Ways of showing your followers that you care:

  • Send encouragement notes
  • Pray for them and tell them they are on your prayer list
  • Make up a prayer calendar using birthdays with each person getting prayed for every month on the day of their birthday
  • Ask about them and their families
  • Give silly treats at special times

A listening ear

  • Listen to connect with people to hear what they are saying
  • Listen to learn from what they are saying

A teachable attitude

  • Learn from what friends and foes are saying
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Keep learning new leadership strategies and techniques

“It may sound corny, but it’s true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

John Maxwell
(21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader)

Good Spiritual Life

A leader’s spiritual life is exhibited by:

  • A solid prayer life — Pray especially for wisdom from the Lord

If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:36 NIV).

  • Being grounded in the Word
  • Being a good steward
    … in your spiritual walk
    … where money is spent for the organization
    … in selection of people for leadership positions or other service


Be a risk taker

  • Try new ideas
  • Don’t be afraid of failure

We often do not try new things because we fear failure. Failure means you have at least tried something and not continued in the same path. If you fail, don’t be afraid to try again.

“You cannot be creative if you don’t risk. You cannot risk if you don’t dare fail. It is not failure if you learn from it.”

Harvey Wilson
(Volunteer Administrator’s Manual)

  • It takes courage to stand strong alone. The saying, “It’s lonely at the top,” is something experienced leaders will tell you right away. Taking the “road less traveled” takes courage.
  • It takes courage to deal with conflict. Issues will come up when not everyone is in agreement.

Sometimes a decision needs to be made and the group cannot make the decision. It is at this time the leader must decide what would be the best for the majority of those involved. Being in God’s Word and asking Him for wisdom daily are necessary for making the best decision.

The diagram below gives ways of responding to conflict. Above the line is what we strive for — to see others through God’s eyes. Below the line is seeing others from our human condition. How we see others sets the tone for handling conflict in our leadership.





Al Newell
(Executive Course in Volunteer Management)


In order to be the best leader possible, be committed to the task given you! That means you do the best now and also help to insure the organization continues after you are no longer the one leading it.


It is the responsibility of the leader to find a successor. You can do this in several ways.

  • Lead the way with responsible leadership
  • Mentor
    • Show someone how to do the job while you are still in the office
    • Let them do some of the tasks while you help
    • Then let them do a task or two on their own
  • Train current and future leaders


Self Discipline

“I defined discipline in the beginning of life as the choice of achieving what you really want by doing things you don’t really want to do. After successfully doing this for some time, discipline becomes the choice of achieving what you really want by doing things you now want to do.”

John Maxwell
(Developing the Leader Within You)

Problem Solving

  • A leader’s top priority is to work to make the organization better than it was when she first started as its leader
  • See the needs of the organization and move it forward
  • Work with the organization’s strengths and weaknesses

Personal Sacrifice

The commitment to service involves personal sacrifice of time and effort.

Authentic servant-giving is never at arm’s length or in absentia. Personal involvement is essential and it usually means adapting our schedule and our ways to fit into others’ needs.

What Does This Mean for LWML Leaders?

  • Leading a volunteer organization offers challenges
    • You as a leader are a volunteer
    • The team leaders are volunteers
    • Your followers are volunteers
    • Everyone in our local group is in a time crunch
  • A leader must be open to new possibilities
    • Think in terms of flexibility and change
    • Run short and efficient meetings or possibly no meetings — only task force or committee assignments (See Meetings 101)
    • Make short-term assignments
    • Consider co-leadership (See Leadership in Pairs)
    • Think in terms of time efficiency
  • Missions, Christian growth, service, and fellowship are still key elements of the organization
    • Women do still have a heart for missions
    • Women want to have opportunity to grow in the spiritual walk
    • Women want to be a part of opportunities for service
    • Fellowship will follow out of these activities

Some Fallacies About Leadership

Since leadership is not only a position that we get elected to or appointed to but a way of living and thinking, here are some fallacies about leadership and a leadership response:

  • If I am not on top, I can’t lead.
    Response: Leadership is influence, not position.
  • When I get to the top, I will learn to lead.
    Response: You will be tomorrow what you are preparing for today.
  • If I were on top, everyone would follow.
    Response: If people don’t follow you now, they won’t follow you then.

A Leader Activity

If this study is used with a group, the following activity is a way of visually seeing yourselves as leaders.

  • Take digital photos of all women as they arrive for the session and print them. Give to each person a frame that has been prepared beforehand. Frames can be made of cardstock.
  • As you begin, ask each person to write on the top of her frame her very best leader quality.
  • Then ask the participants to move around the room and ask others for their best qualities. These qualities should be written on each of the other three sides of the frame.
  • After the participants return to their places, give them their photos and tell them they have a true picture of a leader as shown on their frames. Encourage them to cultivate these qualities in service to our Lord.

Ten Commandments for Leaders

  1. Thou shalt know the facts. 
    Be a walking encyclopedia of current and future LWML activities – on the local group, zone, district, and national levels.
  2. Thou shalt not procrastinate.
    Give thyself ample time to handle all matters in an orderly fashion. Do not assume anything: check and double-check each step of the way to a successful completion.
  3. Thou shalt not dominate thy meetings.
    Though thou be a leader, do not become overly proud of thyself and bore others with lengthy speeches and endless preaching. Unless thou can tell jokes well, do not subject the people to thy dull wit and wisdom.
  4. Thou shalt read all thy mail promptly.
    Do not store unopened mail on the shelf, expecting to take care of it at a later date. Thou may be missing out on urgent business that requires immediate attention.
  5. Thou shalt keep harmony within the organization.
    Do not allow jealousy or hurt feelings to grow. Remind others of their Christian sisterhood and encourage them to show love and kindness to all.
  6. Thou shalt distribute materials promptly.
    Make sure each member receives national and district publications on time. Make additional copies for those women in your church who have not yet joined LWML.
  7. Thou shalt constantly look for ways to improve yourself and the organization.
    Use resources offered by LWML. Attend leader development seminars, read books and listen to tapes that will aid you. Evaluate the activities to see if they are helping to meet your goals. Retain that which is good. Discard that which is ineffective. Do not continue an activity just because it has been done for years.
  8. Thou shalt start thy meetings on time.
    Be punctual thyself and set a good example for others. Show thy enthusiasm and joy in working for the Lord so that others will be begging to take thy office next year.
  9. Thou shalt remember to thank the members.
    Praise and compliment the members who have served on committees and projects. Do not miss an opportunity to recognize a member’s contribution.
  10. Thou shalt remember to thank the Lord. Thank Him for all the assistance He has given you and for exposing all those hidden talents you never realized you had until you became a leader in the LWML.

ABCs of Effective Leadership

Always begin with prayer for guidance.
Be willing to try new meeting formats.
Coordinate meeting times and dates to include more members.
Delegate with confidence.
Experience can be a great learning tool.
Forgive shortcomings of others and yourself.
Give frequent “pats on the back.”
Humility keeps the focus on God and His will.
Integrity always wins in the long run.
Just remember - a good leader empowers others.
Keep growing.
Look, listen, and learn: THEN begin to lead.
Maximum motivation comes from mentoring.
Nothing ventured; nothing gained. Think creatively!
Open up to options: continually search for better ways to do things.
Prepare the organization for change.
Quietly spend time with the Lord as you prepare for any task.
Respond quickly to communications - phone, e-mail and regular mail.
Smile with the joy and love of Jesus.
Train your people in leadership skills.
Understand the goal of the meeting or event.
Visualize details needed, designating people for effective coordination.
Welcome suggestions for improvement.
EXpect and allow for unknown factors and events.
You are the one responsible for the task undertaken in your leadership role.
Zest describes a celebrative attitude that the leader models at all events.

© 2001 Lutheran Women’s Missionary League
Revised 2011 Leader Development Committee

View printable PDF of this article, Look of a Leader