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4 Questions Successful Leaders Ask Themselves

By: Jay Mitchell, Vanderbloemen Search Group

When I was leading classes on non-profits at a prominent west coast business school, I would regularly lead students through a SWOT analysis of one or two non-profit organizations.

A SWOT analysis is a simple tool used in businesses to help organize and categorize the present situation: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

You may have used this tool in your own church or organization. What I want to suggest to you is that this tool can also be helpful to you, your staff, and your church leadership as you intentionally analyze your own leadership capabilities. 

Your person and your character are the most valuable tools that your leadership has. What goes on inside you, for better or for worse, will always be mirrored in your organization and in your people.

Take a look at SWOT on a deeper level, and make decisions on what you find.

What are your strengths as a leader?

Because humility is such a valued character quality in ministry, we often don’t take the time to acknowledge and maximize the gifts and strengths that God has given us – whether gifts from the Holy Spirit, personality styles, years of experience, and overcoming challenges.

Take an honest look at yourself. What do you do really well? What character qualities, experiences, or leadership skills do you bring to your organization or team? What unique experiences and perspectives do you bring with you into any task or relationship?

What are your weaknesses as a leader?

In our work as search consultants, we often ask candidates to tell us about their weaknesses. I am amazed at how often we hear “I work too hard,” or “I have trouble saying no,” or “I am just not good with details.”  While all of these are valid and need to be addressed, in our interviews we are looking for true self-awareness. My favorite response was “I can be a real jerk sometimes when I am focused on solving a problem.” He then went on to talk about what he has done to address that.

What are some areas where you are not operating at peak efficiency? What experiences or training do you lack? What circumstances or situations tend to bring out the worst in you? Are there character issues that get in the way of your success or enlisting the support of your team? Just as it is with your strengths, it’s equally, if not even more important, to be brutally honest with yourself about your weaknesses. 

Where are your greatest opportunities?

Great leaders move beyond just acknowledging strengths and weaknesses. They actively look for opportunities to maximize their strengths and address their weaknesses.
What are some of the opportunities for growth and development on the horizon that can help you become the leader and person you need to be? Are there conferences, classes, or coaching opportunities that will help you as you seek to grow?

Perhaps that most important opportunity for growth is the presence of safe, authentic, grace-filled relationships with people who will tell you like it is. These are people who have no agenda for you other than just being there and helping you achieve your goals. This is the most underutilized opportunity for many leaders who have been taught that vulnerability and openness are to be avoided.  Who are the safe people in your life who love you as you really are but also love you enough to help you not get stuck there?

What threats are facing you as a leader?

The other sides of opportunities are the circumstances, people, unattended character flaws or external challenges that can prevent you from becoming the person and thus, the leader that God made you to be.

One of the greatest inhibitors to becoming a high level leader is a resistance to recognizing threats. Great leaders walk towards problems, bad news, and crises. They look ahead to see where those threats might come from and are proactive in preparing for them.

The one threat that will make all the other threats attack in full force is avoiding negative information, conflict, problems, and potential blind spots.

The health of your church staff depends on your own health as a leader. The greatest leaders are self-aware, and a personal SWOT analysis can help you lean into your strengths and anticipate possible threats to your own leadership development.

Have you ever done a personal SWOT analysis? What did you learn about yourself?


This article was provided by our church executive search partner, Vanderbloemen Search Group. To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group's recruiting services and how they can help you fill your open position, click here. To read more insightful articles on Vanderbloemen's blog, click here.

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