According to Dr. Howard Hendricks, developing leadership begins by identifying those who have the core characteristics of leadership (though they need not necessarily be well-developed). He states that those characteristics are commitment, competence, communication, and creativity. We have previously discussed finding those who are committed and competent, so now we are going to jump into the details on finding those who can communicate well.   

Dr. Hendricks shares:

 I want a person who is not only committed, not only competent, but communicative. So, I put down six elements [that would describe a communicative person]. Now, obviously, not everyone is going to have all of these, but think of the possibilities!

  1. Knows how to listen. The hardest skill to teach is listening. It is a piece of cake to train someone how to speak. Try training them to listen.

Harvard Business Review did a review some time ago and discovered that 70% of an executives time is spent listening. This is the one skill for which he receives zero training. There are very few institutions, particularly liberal arts ones, from which you can graduate without a course in speech. But who has one in listening- the more important of the skills?

And we keep wondering, “Why do we have problems in marriage?” The answer is simple; no one knows how to listen. Why is it that you have problems with teenagers? All of us do. It’s because we don’t listen. Why do we have problems in churches? You’re on a board, [and your discussions are] going around and around and around. It is because nobody’s listening. I’m waiting for this guy to get through so that I can give my high-powered stuff.

You have two ears and one mouth. That is an audio visual reminder.

  1. Knows how to write. I get this from students all the time, “I know it, but I can’t express it.” I’ve got news for you son; you do not know it until you can express it. You can have a lot of things running around in your head, but until you can recognize it, you do not know it. There is a big difference.

So, you who are trained: put everything you want a person to know in writing first, and then secondly let them hear it audibly. When you teach a class- record it. Women learn best from reading. Almost 90% of those who go to Christian book stores are women. Men listen audibly. So when I lead a person to Christ, the first thing I do is give them something to listen to. 

If you listen to something three times in a 24 hour period, the potential for you to recall it is absolutely phenomenal.

  1. Knows how to speak. I have a group of men I mentor and awhile back I asked one of them to give his testimony at a big breakfast we hosted downtown. Twenty-six minutes after he started his two-minute testimony, he sat back down. The man needed help. So I worked with him until he could pack that message into an actual two minutes. When he listened to it (because I recorded it for him), he wept and said, “That’s what I wanted to say.” And I said, “Of course you did. But how would you have been able to? No one has taught you.”

We have got to help our people learn how to speak.

  1. Knows how to think. Most men would rather die than think and many do. But it’s so essential to problem solving. Every church and every group has problems to it, that’s what life is about. The question is, “How do we solve the problem?” Do we still have the same problems we did twenty years ago because no one sat down and asked, “Is there a way we can solve this thing?”
  2. Knows how to read. I’m talking about reading that’s stretching and motivating. John Wooden, that motivating coach of UCLA, said, “It’s what you learn after you have learned it all that counts.” I love that.

How many of you wish you could remember more of what you read? What you need is the 40-20 rule. Try it. Don’t buy it, try it. For every 60 minutes you read, read for 40 and reflect for 20. Try it and watch what happens.

You will come to remember what you read if you take the time to process it.

  1. Knows how to live. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that you might have life.” I mean really live. Are you living or just existing? Have you ever come across someone and asked them how they are and they said, “Well, pretty good under the circumstances.” I just want to ask them, “What are you doing under there?” You take a look at their face and it looks like the cover of the book of Lamentations.

God’s people are so serious. It’s painful to watch them. You know, if you take yourself too seriously it’s probably because you don’t take God seriously enough. If anybody ought to enjoy a belly full of laughter, it’s a Christian. To know that I’m totally secure in Jesus Christ- man- what a liberating truth to enjoy life! I really think this is why a lot of people are turned off from Christianity. They are watching us. They think, “There’s got to be a better way to live than that.”

The product of your leadership development will be proportionate to the level of person you begin with. Be sure when picking out your leaders that you look for signs of commitment, competence, and communication before demanding it of them in an official capacity.

Be sure to check back next month and see our final leadership development necessity, Develop People Who Are Creative.  This series is taken from a video/workbook resource called The Dynamics of Leadership by Howard Hendricks. To order the program in its entirety, be sure to visit our Hendricks Center Store.

About the Contributors

Kymberli Cook

Kymberli Cook is the Assistant Director of the Hendricks Center, overseeing the workflow of the department, online content creation, Center events, and serving as Giftedness Coach and Table Podcast Host. She is also a doctoral student in Theological Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, pursuing research connected to unique individuality, the image of God, and providence. When she is not reading for work or school, she enjoys coffee, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters.