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10 Essential Attributes of Great Creative Leaders

Apr 9 2019

As a Creative Leader and Pastor there’s always a list of things to “do”.  Every week I find myself in a series of meeting, all with outcomes and agenda items. If I’m not careful I can begin to think that leadership is simply about getting things done. It begs the question;

Am I just the leader, or am I actually leading?

You may have a title or position of leader, but are you leading your team? Are you functioning as the leader. The reality is, leadership is about people. It’s not just about getting things done. Our role is to take the people we are responsible for leading from where they are now, to where God would have them be.

Leadership doesn’t just happen. It’s something we need to actively think about, pursue, and develop.

Recently I read about a study in INC. magazine by management consulting firm Zerger and Folkman on the attributes of great leaders. They ranked leadership skills most important for success by interviewing over 330,000 bosses and employees asking about the traits that great leaders have. The results were interesting to me because they don’t just apply to corporate leaders, but in fact to all leaders, especially creative leaders within a Church context.

I wonder as you read the following which you need to develop or continue to develop in your own leadership?

So here are the top 10 traits that we as creative leaders can focus on developing for maximum success.

1. Great leaders are able to inspire and motivate other people.

Inspiring other people will come naturally to some, but not to most. For most of us it’s something we will need to work on in order to become the creative leader we’re called to be. If you’re wondering why you’re having trouble getting your team to do what you need them to do, perhaps it’s because you’re not inspiring them. Perhaps your communication is lacking, or boring, or seemingly irrelevant.

Or, are you giving them something to follow, and something to be inspired about? Are you the sort of person that others want to follow?

Your level of enthusiasm and passion is rubbing off on them, for better or worse.

When you communicate with your team do they respond with enthusiasm or apathy? If you’re going to be a great creative leader, you need to learn the art of inspiring other people.

2. Great leaders have high levels of integrity and honesty.

Ephesians 4:1 encourages us to “live a life worthy of the calling”.It’s exhorting us to live weighty lives. Like a set of scales where the call of God is on one side and our lives are on the other. Our lives are meant to measure up to the call.

When it comes to integrity and honesty, those in the business world see the value of these attributes in leadership. How much more in the Church should we value and possess these characteristics?

3. Great leaders solve problems and analyse issues.

It’s easy to see problems and to point the finger at the person who caused the problem. In far too many organisations this is the normal mode of operating. The Church should be different. We know that it’s in unity that God brings blessing. So when problems arise let’s be great leaders who approach problems differently. Let’s look for solutions. Let’s solve problems and create unity instead of pulling unity apart by finger pointing and accusation.

4. Great leaders have a personal drive for results.

If you’ve been given the privilege of a leadership position and you don’t have a drive for results, then I’d be questioning whether you’re the right person to be in that position. I think about this regularly in my own life – where am I driving for results? What am I making happen? Am I waiting to be told, to be pushed, or am I the one on the front foot taking personal responsibly?

5. Great leaders communicate powerfully and prolifically.

As a leader you will probably have to repeat yourself (a lot) in order to get your message across. Communicating your message powerfully doesn’t mean being abrasive, or aggressive, but it does mean creating an impact. Great leaders know this and they don’t become tired of their own voice either. Instead, they know that people often need to hear the message many times and in many different ways to actually take it in. The message may stay the same, but the method can and should change. Either way though, know that in order to be a great creative leader you will need to grow your tenacity and ability to communicate powerfully… over and over again. It’s through this communication that you will build culture, create a common vision, and lead your team effectively.

6. Great leaders build authentic relationships.

Some leaders choose to remain distant from the people they lead. They pretend to have relationship, but the reality is they don’t. People can tell if you genuinely care for them, or not. If you use people simply to get your thing achieved, eventually they will realise that you don’t care for them like they thought you did. It will hurt them, you, and things will end up going backwards.

Great leaders realise they can’t know everyone, but they can know some people, and they choose to build authentic relationships with these people. They don’t use people to get stuff done. Instead they build meaningful, real, intentional and authentic relationships. Then they partner with those people to achieve the vision together. 

7. Great leaders display professional and technical expertise.

I’m sure we all want our teams to be excellent. We want them to be the very best they can be. We expect this of them. But do we have the same expectation of ourselves? Are we leading in the area of expertise? Great leaders don’t settle or become stagnant in their expertise.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. The truth is, those hours have to be intentional. We can’t just pass time and think our expertise is getting any better. Instead, we need to proactively work on our expertise (leadership, pastoring, communication, shepherding, people skills etc)  if we’re going to be great creative leaders.

8. Great leaders create strategic perspective.

Great leaders don’t just have a vision, or know the vision, they create strategy for achieving the vision. In the context of Hillsong Creative, we don’t have our own departmental vision, we own Pastor Brian‘s vision for our church. But knowing what the vision is and achieving that vision are completely different things. A great leader knows the vision, and works on a plan for making it happen.

9. Great leaders develop others.

People don’t always come “ready made”. It’s not often that someone will walk into your life or team and solve all of your problems. Instead, people come willing and then it’s up to us to develop in them the attributes they need to contribute meaningfully. Often this will take a lot of time and intentionality. Great leaders don’t look past the person who isn’t ready yet, they see the potential in them and they commit to the journey of developing them.

10. Great leaders innovate.

When you do what you do week in week out it’s easy to stay within the safety and rhythm of the known. Great leaders don’t just play it safe though. In order to grow others, to lead others, and to go beyond the average, great creative leaders push forward with new ideas and new ways of doing things.

The Bible depicts God in this way. He is often “doing a new thing”,but at the same time He doesn’t abandon the good of the present. To be great leaders we need to emulate Him. Looking for and creating the new without throwing out the good things He’s already built. Often the present can be a foundation for the future. A great leader will learn from the past, be grateful for the blessing of the present, but also keep passionately pursuing innovation to take us into the future.

I wonder which of the above characteristics you’ve got covered? Which of them are you already a 10 out of 10? I’m sure there’s at least some that you’re already living out. But I also wonder which of these traits you need to develop further? Let’s not settle for getting things done. Let’s be intentional about leading and growing in our leadership as we do all we can to be the creative leaders we’re called to be.

Over to you!



P.S If you found this helpful and want to learn more, I went into much more detail and depth on our Hillsong Creative Podcast. You can check out that episode here.