The Central Component of Genuine Leadership Development Success

Relationship Centric Leadership Development

When we examine the 7 insights of the leadership journey of Jesus in a linear fashion as in the graphic above we see that by no accident the central component is relationship. Relationships are the heart and soul of leadership. Jesus centered everything He did on one central theme, relationship. The initiation of, the restoration of, the reconciliation of, the future of, relationships that not only He would have but that all of us would experience.

It is important to understand the central nature of relationship in the Leadership Journey as a key factor to all the other components.

We have three elements on one side of relationship that must be embraced and intentionally pursued at a personal level prior to engaging in an intentional leadership based relationship. On the other side we have three elements that must be understood, packaged and given away to someone else. In short we have Internal work to do, that prepares us for a leadership development relationship, where we have external work to do.

The central component of relationship is the key that unlocks true leadership potential for ourselves and for others. It is also the missing link in many organizations that hang their hat on positional or structural leadership. They often assume that by providing a leadership title and a ready made subordinate to an individual that somehow quality leadership, and a happy follower, will happen.

Genuine leadership happens when an individual chooses to submit to the course set forth by an individual or entity other than themselves. This submission of will is based on a permissive trust, a captivated heart and a clear directional path towards a shared goal. Leaders facilitate and cultivate an environment where the inspiration, instruction and motivation to be taken on a journey results in a singular best choice, to follow. The only way they can do that is through intentional relationship. Leadership can not happen without followership built on high value and high impact relationship.

No doubt there can be other motivating factors that would cause someone to follow another. However, upon closer examination you will find that the primary motivator in those cases would be some outside force or pressure. A paycheck, threat of a job lost, dysfunction, codependency, negative or positive consequence and so on. Successful leadership as we have defined it is identified by a enthusiastically voluntary follower. A follower who is feeling no outside pressure to follow, but willingly chooses to do so because of the value of the relationship and a desire to learn and grow.

This relationship central model of leadership is embraced primarily in theory alone by most. Seeking out and building intentional, rich, high impact relationships is much harder and takes much more investment than the latest book, podcast or conference. As a result we have a body of Believers with a lot of leadership skills, leadership opportunities and leadership potential that don’t really have any leadership development based relationships.

Jesus did have a ministry to countless thousands. He most definitely spoke to tens of thousands and influenced in his day numbers untold. But ultimately the cross is about 1 on 1 personal leadership and followership. His chosen method of influence, on a global scale mind you, was to invest in the lives of 12 men in a deep and impacting way through personal relationship. Providing for them intentional transfer of his leadership equity, authentic support of their efforts and earned reward on the journey and into the future.

Too many Church and ministry leaders today don’t embrace this 1 on 1 relational model of leadership development and disciple making. They lean much too heavily on the influence they can have to the masses through platforms and programs. Sacrificing and reinventing all the while the already proven method demonstrated by Jesus himself. Can you have results through programs and platforms and information exchange, sure. Should you include those methods, most definitely. Will that make up for the central component of true leadership, an intentional 1 on 1 leadership development relationship focused on investing in a future leader, no.

Some questions to consider:

  • Has your method of developing others relied too heavily on programs and platforms?
  • If asked, who would say that you are intentional and personally developing them?
  • What could you do to be more intentionally relational in your leadership development style?
  • What goal can you set as a next step in focusing on relational leadership development?
  • Who, other than your family, could you focus more of your leadership development attention on?
  • How are you preparing yourself today, to personally invest in a future leader tomorrow?


About Ken McGarity

With vast experience as a successful entrepreneur and active in ministry leadership for many years, Ken McGarity is most recently engaged as a Church Growth Consultant and Strategist, as well as Christian Leadership Coach to today’s up and coming Christian leaders.

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