Many ask the question, are leaders born or made. Vince Lombardi stated leaders arent born, they are made. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal which is worthwhile.” His quote suggests individuals are not born with the skills, gifts, or expertise needed to be a leader but with hard work, education, and experience an individual can become a leader. Aubrey Malphurs suggested leaders can be born and made. In her book, Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs (2003) speaks of a leader’s possession of God giving capabilities (innate traits or abilities) and developmental capabilities (knowledge, skills, and emotions) and how combined they make up the leaders total capabilities (pp. 75-87).
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Malphurs book speaks mainly leadership in the church, but the information provided can be applied to any context. She defined leadership and built upon that definition by addressing the various components that comprise leadership. Several audits were provided to allow me to determine my strengths and weaknesses in relation to leadership. This leadership audit analysis is a summary of the results from the audits and inventories taken.
Christian Leader Audit
Christian leaders are Christian leaders outside of as well as inside the Christian community (Malphurs, 2003, p.13). A Christian leader can work in any context. They are able to guide, direct, and influence other individuals or groups in accomplishing a desired goal while bringing glory to God. Malphurs (2003) discussed eight core distinctives of Christian leadership, the second being committed to Christ. The Christian leader audit evaluates the strength of an individual as a Christian leader by assessing their level of trust, commitment, and faith in Christ. I scored a nine which indicates I am a strong Christian leader.
The church and Christianity have been a major part of my life. I have a trusted relationship with Christ, I am committed, the Bible is the source of truth for everything that I believe, and I try my best each and every day to display Godly character. Servant leadership is something I try to display in the workplace and the church. In order to practice servant leadership, you must be willing to serve. As a leader I am willing to help out in any way that I can. An area that I continue to pursue growth in is leading by the power of the Holy Spirit. I want to increase my reliance on Him in leading and guiding my workers as we strive to be a better unit and in our work with families and children. I want to be sure all I do is to glorify God so that I my workers will see the Godly character in me and strive to do the same. Let your light so shine before me, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16, KJV).
Servant leadership is the humble service of others based on our love for them (Malphurs, 2003, p. 34). One of our purposes in life is to serve God by serving others, because by serving others we are serving God. Servant hood requires us to be humble, selfless servants who seek to help others with love. The servant leader audit evaluates an individual’s level of servant hood. I scored a 23 and my score indicates I am a strong servant.
I entered the social work field because of my strong desire to help people. I get satisfaction from seeing families eliminate the barriers hindering them from improving their situations and ensuring children are placed in safe, nurturing, environments. In completing this assessment I found majority of the statements to be true. Malphurs (2003) mentioned four characteristics of a servant leader: humility, service, focus on others, and love (p. 34). In my work as a supervisor I truly believe I display all four characteristics. Humility is very important to me in leadership. I have never been fond of leaders who exploit their authority. I work with fellow supervisors who are quick to call attention to the fact that they are the supervisor, even outside the workplace. As a supervisor, I want my workers to be comfortable coming to me and not see me as a domineering individual but as someone they can trust and depend on to help them out. Some areas I want to continue to progress in as a servant leader are bringing out the best in others and to lead in such a way that people see me as someone who is willing to help others become all that God wants them to be. For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good work, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10. NIV).
Leaders must conduct themselves in ways that let people see them as credible or trustworthy. The credibility of a leader consists of having a unity between ideas, promises, actions, and achieving. Malphurs (2003) spoke of eight ingredients that contribute in various ways to building leadership credibility: character, competence, clarity of direction, communication, conviction, courage, composure, and care (pp. 56-66). The credibility audit determines the strength of the leader’s credibility by examining the eight ingredients mentioned by Malphurs. I scored an eleven which shows I have high leadership credibility.
Credibility or trustworthiness is very important to me. Credibility can make or break you especially as a leader. There is a saying, “if you’re going to talk the talk you have to walk the walk,” which simply means back up what you say with action or do what you say you are going to do. As a supervisor, my workers are constantly watching what I do, listening to what I say, and determining if I have done what I said I was going to do. I communicate with my workers about what is happening and they trust me to be truthful and to share things with them. They know that I truly have their best interests at heart. They also understand there are some things, as a leader, I may not be able to share with them due to confidentiality.
As I read the credible leader chapter of Malphurs’ book, I found that I must realize as a leader I will make mistakes and it is okay. I have always been a person who seeks perfection in all that I do. I want to do my best in whatever task I set out to tackle. Malphurs (2003) stated even the best leaders’ make mistakes (p. 67). Although we may make mistakes that can affect our credibility, we must realize there are steps that can be taken to regain it. Admitting the mistake, accepting consequences, and acting to correct the situation will allow us to regain trust and credibility when it is lost.
All Christians possess a spiritual gift that is to be used to glorify God and to build up His kingdom. Many are not aware of their spiritual gifts or may feel they don’t have one. Malphurs (2003) defines a spiritual gift as a unique, God given ability for service (p. 77). The spiritual gift inventory allows the leader to identify the gifts they were given and suggest ministries in which they may be effective. My highest scoring gifts were faith, giving, help, mercy, and administration.
I found the spiritual gift inventory to be interesting and I was anxious to see my highest scoring gifts. Honestly, initially I was concerned that leadership was not higher on my list because I currently serve in a leadership role. As I reflected on my higher scoring gifts I realized that these gifts are essential for great leadership. My highest score was the gift of faith. I truly seek to grow in this area daily. I have learned through various trials and tribulations that there are many things beyond my control and total dependence on God is the only way to endure and progress. I find myself striving to do things in the will of God.
Giving and helping were also high scoring spiritual gifts in my inventory. The spiritual gift of help would explain the strong desire I have always had to go into a profession in which I would be able to help others. My current job allows me to help individuals in various ways. I am able to help those who can’t have children foster or adopt and help those who had their children removed from their home to get the services they need to be reunified with their families. I find great joy in my job. I would also consider myself a giver of money, time, and talent. I’ve noticed that even in my season of struggling financially God continues to bless me to be a lender and not a borrower. In the giving of my time, I am a very loyal and dependable person. If I say I am going to do something, unless some extenuating circumstances arise I will do just that. Mercy was another high scorer. I believe it corresponds with the desire to help others and being a giver. As an individual who possess the spiritual gift of mercy, I am genuinely sympathetic, empathetic, and compassionate about others and how they feel.
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A natural gift, or talent, is an inherited or natural ability to do something. Unlike spiritual gifts, natural gifts can be possessed by believers and nonbelievers and usually given at birth. Natural gifts can be flourished with practice and training, but spiritual gifts can only flourish as we grow in God. The natural gifts and abilities indicator allowed me to observe the vocations and occupations that I have the strongest interest in. The highest vocational interests were social work and teaching and the occupational interests were social worker, teacher, and counselor.
Teaching has been an interest of mine since I was a little girl. I vividly remember playing school with my doll babies and my chalkboard. I obtained an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood and transferred to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington to obtain my Bachelors. An assignment for one of my courses was to go to a local school and work with a youth one on one who was having difficulty. This experience allowed me to see that teaching in a classroom was not for me. It was discovered the child had ADHD. To see the child initially display the behaviors associated with the disorder and then to see him slow down to the point that he couldn’t function a whole day at school and had to leave at 12:00 every day was too overwhelming. I realized that I would have a class of approximately 20 children and there would be children with ADHD and etc. that I would not be able to give that one on one attention to. Even though this experience led me to obtaining my Bachelors in Psychology and enter into the field of social work, I still have the opportunity to teach. I train individuals who are interested in being foster and adoptive parents and I love it. I truly believe I have a natural gift to teach or train.
A natural talent I possess that was not mentioned in the natural gifts and abilities indicator is the gift of budgeting. In my current position as foster care supervisor I have to manage money on a daily basis. The gift indicator allowed me to see that I am using my natural talents everyday in my current field of work.
Passion refers to a strong emotion about something. Malphurs (2003) states passion focuses on what the leader feels strongly and cares deeply about (p.78). Individuals motivated by passion and desire tend to be more satisfied in their jobs. This satisfaction could lead to better job performance and less stress. The passion audit allows an individual to identify their passions. My passion appears to be the strong desire to help others, particularly children.
My passion for helping others, especially children, gives me great satisfaction in the job that I do. The protection of children from physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and dependency is my motivation. My goal in this field is to ensure that a child resides in a loving, nurturing, and safe environment. I am there to help and assist the parents and caretakers who are not able to provide such an environment due to barriers. I do believe there are times when an individual’s desire to do something is diminished because of restraints. For example, as social workers in the child protective services unit, we have a passion for protecting children and helping families seek the resources they need to provide a safe environment. However, sometimes we seem to get so bogged down with the paperwork and other tedious aspects of the job that our passion seems to dwindle away. The paperwork is definitely necessary but sometimes overwhelming. We have a huge turnover rate because people come to work in the field to help others but find there is much more required that they did not necessarily think the position entailed (court involvement, documentation, paperwork/forms, and etc.). I sometimes find myself getting so caught up in the logistics that I tend to forget what motivates me to do what I do. My passion is to help others, especially children.
Character, referred to as soul work, is the sum total of a person’s distinct qualities, good and bad that reflect who he or she is and affects what he or she does (Malphurs, 2003, p.80). The manner in which an individual interacts with and treats others displays who they are. A person’s character can also be determined by the way they react or respond to situations. The women’s character audit for ministry determines the overall strength of the leader’s character. I scored a 21 indicating I am a leader of strong character who will prove credible to followers.
A saying goes, “you measure a person’s character by how they act when no one is watching, and by the choices they make when they believe no one will ever know (Myatt, 2009). As a leader and an individual I seek to uphold a character that portrays my morals, beliefs, values, and knowledge, skills, and emotions. This is an area I continue to develop in. I have recently been experiencing some suffering in my personal life, suffering that I have seen tear others down. But God has allowed me to continue to grow and build my character and trust in Him. As a believer in Christ I know suffering will come and it comes to build our character and relationship with god. Suffering brings about patience, patience creates character and character brings about hope. I have found the experience of suffering is God’s way of showing is how we react in situations, which shows us where our heart really is. This experience can show us where we need to seek guidance and growth. Our character consists of our humility, passion, credibility, knowledge, skills, and so much more. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
Leaders are born and made. There are some God given capabilities (spiritual and natural gifts) that leaders receive at birth or when they are born again in Christ that can bring strength to a leadership role. Malphurs (2003) states a leader’s gifts provide them with special abilities needed to carry out their ministry so leasers would be wise to know what their spiritual and natural gifts are and what gifts are needed to lead in their specific area of service (p.78). Leaders also possess God given capabilities they weren’t born with and that can be improved over time. Malphurs 92003) named at least four developed capabilities a leader must possess: character, knowledge, skills, and emotions (p. 80).
Malphur’s book, Being Leaders, allowed me to conclude you don’t have to be born a leader. Leaders can be made with hard work, increased knowledge, skills, and with faith in God. The audits and inventories allowed me to assess my strengths and weaknesses in leadership. The information obtained will enable me to build upon my strengths and continue to develop my weaknesses. The gifts or talents the Lord blessed me with at birth (passion to work with children and the temperament) enabled me to lead in my current workplace and the skills, knowledge, and training I have received and continue to receive has allowed me to become more effective.