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Leadership traits tell us whether a person is a leader or just a manager, or neither for that matter. As we said earlier, one of the main functions that a leader of a team must perform is holding the team together and moving it forward.
A leader is responsible for the direction and progress of the organization, for ensuring that project goals are met, making sure there is a full team effort and keeping the team happy.
Motivation Is What Starts Momentum
Motivation is the key to holding the team together and getting momentum going. To motivate is to cause a person to act in a particular way; it is to stimulate the interest of a person in their work activity. John Maxwell says in his book, "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," that momentum is the leader's best friend.
We have all faced the challenge of creating change in an organization and good leaders with good leadership traits know that to change direction, you first have to create forward progress and that takes motivation.
It takes a real leader to start the ball rolling, that is, to create momentum. Then the followers catch it and the managers keep it going, once it has begun. But getting it going requires someone who can motivate others...not someone who needs motivating himself. That is why motivation may very well be one of the leaders best leadership traits.
In simple terms, motivation can be considered as the amount of effort an individual is willing to put into their work. Therefore, it is important to ensure that any team is highly motivated toward their work. A lack of motivation in any member of a team can have a negative affect, reducing the group's effectiveness and possibly leading to the de-motivation or discouragement of others.
Motivating volunteer workers is one of the most significant challenges for leaders and especially church leaders. That is why one's leadership traits are important. Despite the presence of a serving spirit among church workers, it is often difficult to adequately fire up their enthusiasm, participation and commitment.
Misunderstanding the true nature of motivation is a key part of the problem. Motivation cannot be turned on and off at will like a faucet. The trouble with this on-again, off-again approach is that it overlooks the pivotal role of relationship building. It simply is not possible to motivate people in an enduring way if you have not built a close relationship with them.
Jesus Was the Master Motivator
Because Jesus was the master relationship builder, He was also the master motivator. He should be the Christian’s model for excellent leadership traits and motivating others.
Consider how He influenced His disciples:
1. He was more concerned about relationships than results.
2. He built upon the needs and aspirations of people first, never trying to force anybody to be or do anything against his will.
3. He viewed people in terms of their potential rather than their performance.
4. He helped others see and realize their own potential by sharing his vision of them, encouraging them, and strengthening them.
5. He led by example. What He was had more impact than His words.
6. He worked through His followers. His concern was for them to be successful, not that He would receive credit.
7. He trusted His followers enough to give them great freedom to choose what to do and how to do it.
8. He was open to sharing His own ideas and listening to those of His followers.
9. He communicated clearly by building bridges of reality, empathy, affirmation, and support.
Build Relationships with your Ministry Team
Instead of asking, "How can I motivate the members of my ministry?" the church leader with great leadership traits should ask, "How can I build a closer spiritual relationship with my ministry team members?" This calls for a relationship-building lifestyle.
This motivating lifestyle is described in the following guidelines for building relationships with ministry members:
1. Determine a vision and mission for your ministry.
Decide whether the ministry is needed and wanted by the church. If so, will it be supported?
2. Hold a personal recruiting meeting.
One on one, without high pressure, find out whether each person feels called to serve, is competent, and has the time necessary to devote to this ministry.
3. Create a niche (special place) for each member of the ministry. This, of course, will be in keeping with each individual's spiritual gifts, passion, abilities, personality, and experience. Obviously, getting to know each of your team members is important is important to accomplish this task.
4. Carefully develop and communicate job descriptions for each team member.
Specifically, this should include a particular job, approach, length of service, names of other team members, expected performance, and ways to evaluate themselves.
5. Promote success by equipping and training the team members.
Help them understand through teaching and demonstration (explicit example) how they can do a good job.
6. Let team members personally participate in running the ministry.
Consult with them when making decisions, remain open-minded and willing to change, help them see the ministry as their own, and put them before their performance.
7. Listen, Listen, Listen!
Be alert to and create opportunities for listening. Let others "unload" on you before you "unload" on them. Then you may not need to unload on them!
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Periodically remind people of the ministry’s vision, goals, prayers. Keep members up-to-date on ministry progress, activities, answered prayers, etc.
Help them share personal Christian testimonies, feelings about ministry events, personal joys and frustrations, and love for one another. Get feedback from team members on what they are doing and accomplishing in the ministry. Pray individually and as a team regularly.
9. Encourage and praise team members individually and as a group, for what they do or try to do, and for who each person is.
Encourage and praise through listening, compliments, recognition, fellowship, follow-up, humor, and prayer. All of this goes a long way in motivating your team members.
10. Minimize the demands you make on team members.
Keep time and meeting demands reasonable. Respect the fact that there are many claims on their "free" time.
11. Hold team members accountable for performance.
Goals and deadlines must be set, progress reports made, and follow-up taken. Any criticism of team member performance should center on their actions, not on them personally.
12. Pray, pray, pray!
Prayer is indispensable in the Lord's work. Our strength and direction comes from the Lord. Why would we forsake praying to the One who is the source of our power and wisdom?
All of the above leadership traits add up to proper motivation of each team member, which leads to momentum in the organization, which leads to success in the work and ministry.
The single best motivator of all is the Holy Spirit. Strive to be the kind of person God wants you to be, and He will surely bless your efforts. Remember, God is more concerned with the worker than the work he does. Help your team members be passionate followers of the Lord, as you are, and their motivation will be pretty much guaranteed.
Motivating others is one of the best leadership traits to possess, but it is a function of one’s own spiritual development. It is letting God minister to the spiritual needs of others through you, which encourages and frees others to be all God enables them to be. It's a win, win, win situation. God gets His way in our life and we grow and we minister to others whom we help to grow in the Lord as well.
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