Not by Power nor Expertise

Good leaders do not necessarily have to be an expert in the field where they are called to lead, though it helps if they are. Nevertheless, good leaders know how to surround themselves with the right people, then train and/or empower them to accomplish great things. Good leaders also know how to preserve and maintain healthy relationships.

Great leaders generally acknowledge that success is less about power or a particular vocational expertise. Rather, it derives more from skills of self-awareness, self-management and interpersonal relationships, along with mindful living.

When doing graduate studies, I was part of a group of six students who spent six weeks under the guidance of supervisor developing our skills as chaplains. One member of that group was in his mid-40s and had a Ph.D. in Education but was unemployed. He had a history of working in leadership positions for educational institutions but was unable to keep a job for very long. By the end of the six weeks, most of us in the group understood why he struggled to keep a job. His self-management had a lot to be desired, and his treatment of some of us in the group indicated clearly that he lacked the interpersonal skills to relate respectfully and healthily to others.

He was part of our group, seeking to gain another skill that might improve his chances of being hired. Unfortunately, his reputation preceded him wherever he went. His need was not additional vocational skills; he needed better self-management, self-awareness and interpersonal relations.

Perhaps at one time leaders could rely on their skills or power to get people to follow and do what they wanted. However, the days of that leadership style have passed. If people don’t feel heard, valued and respected, they will move on. Any expertice or power a leader might have is soon lost to followers if that leader lacks self-management, self-awareness and interpersonal relations.

Good self-awareness means that you are aware of your emotions and how they affect your response to others – including the people you are leading. Good self-management is the ability to wisely choose your response to a situation rather than simply reacting. You take full responsibility for your own emotional state rather than blaming others for how you respond.

Good interpersonal relations lead you to show respect for others regardless of who they are or what they have done. Exercising interpersonal skills includes listening well and providing a safe place for others to share their opinions. You do not belittle the ideas of others. Most important of all, you sincerely convey to others that they are valued. In words and actions, you demonstrate to others that they are adding something of value and that they are valued for who they are.

Maybe you have not been bringing out the best in those you lead because you come across as the expert in every topic discussed. Or perhaps you attempt to use your power to get people to do what you want.

Ask those you work closest with to give you some honest feedback about how you come across as a leader. You may be surprised to discover that what they need more of from you is not expertise but improved self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal relation skills.

If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.