I first came across Andy Stanley’s “The Next Generation Leader” (2003) a number of years ago when I was guiding a student leadership group through some leadership training. I had been searching for a resource that I could give to them, one that would be practical and valuable at that age and stage of their young lives. I found this book, and it seemed to be aimed at leadership development for those who are young and in the early stages of the development process, therefore an appropriate resource for what I wanted to accomplish. What I found when I read it was leadership value for me that continues to influence my thinking today.
“The Next Generation Leader” presents five characteristics of leadership that are or will be necessary for the next generation of leaders, those who are developing and learning leadership today. Those characteristics are: competence, courage, clarity, coaching, and character. Stanley describes and illustrates each of these “C’s” in a fairly simple, understandable, and practical way, with the following basic concepts:
- Competence – Knowing that you have limited strength, identify your core competencies and apply your energy into doing those things that you do well; where you have weaknesses, delegate responsibility to those who have that as a strength
- Courage – Progress requires change, and change requires courage, because people will resist; leaders often have to be one of the first to act, even in spite of fear
- Clarity – Be a confident but humble decision-maker, and seek counsel; the leader cannot eliminate uncertainty, but must be able to be clear in the process of navigating that uncertainty
- Coaching – First, be coachable / teachable by seeking input and being willing to listen; then, as a coach, learn to observe, instruct, and inspire
- Character – Character is the will to do what is right even when it is difficult; your character is more important than your success, because it gives you trust and credibility as leader
These characteristics may seem to be basic, but I found their simplicity to be part of their value for my own leadership. They were tangible concepts that I could remember and incorporate. I found benefit in all five, and the first one in particular (competence) became a concept that changed some of my method of leadership. I would encourage this resource for any new or developing leader, but I would also encourage it as a resource for experienced leaders. You may find a nugget of truth that enhances your own leadership!
Stanley, A. (2003). Next Generation Leader. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Publishers.