Identifying Potential Leaders for Your Congregation

Magnifying Glass looking at small photos of people

Your Leadership Development Team should have several practices and strategies that enable them to identify potential leaders, especially from groups that may be at the margins (young adults, people of color).

Places to Look For Potential Leaders

  • Attend newcomer classes. Ask for people's stories and see who is showing leadership in other areas of their life.
  • Talk to small group ministry leaders about who is showing leadership qualities.
  • Hold a ministry fair in the congregation. Enable people to learn more about ways to serve in a fun and festive atmosphere. This provides a transparent, low-risk way for people to explore service.
  • Host special in-person training events that include lots of interaction so you can see potential leaders "in action."
  • Ask the "connectors" in the congregation to act as scouts for potential leaders.
  • Have members take the Centered Leadership series from the UU Leadership Institute. Schedule workshops to discuss the case studies and participate in the activities provided.

Qualities to Look for in Potential Leaders

  • Have already demonstrated leadership qualities and not just qualities that make them a good follower or doer. Read this article: How to Tell if a New Volunteer is Truly a Leader (Or Simply a Doerby Carey Nieuwhof.
  • An understanding and loyalty to the congregation's mission and vision
  • An understanding and practice of covenantal relationship
  • Some understanding that faith leadership is different than corporate or non-profit leadership
  • A generally positive attitude -- not known for complaining
  • Open to learning and growing, including challenging their own assumptions
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Integrity—they do what they promise or let others know if they can't follow through
  • Gratitude and a generosity of spirit to the others they work with
  • Grounded and Centered—spiritually, ethically and emotionally
  • Seen as a leader that others follow—has influence
  • Loves people in practice, not just in principle

For a humorous counterpoint to this list, see Top Ten People Who Should NOT Be On Your Board

About the Author

Renee Ruchotzke

Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) is a Congregational Life Consultant and program manager for Leadership Development.

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