I’m not much of a football fan, but even I know the importance of the NFL draft (thanks in part to Kevin Costner’s spectacular performance in Draft Day and thanks in part to my husband’s annual outrage over the Dallas Cowboys picks.) And I’m in good company. Over the course of three days every year, dozens of millions of people from all over the world watch representatives from all 32 NFL teams draft new players with the hopes of propelling their team to future victories. These three days undeniably shape the future of football, determining the fates of entire franchises.
Any serious football fan will tell you that the greatest NFL draft steal took place in 2000. The draft itself had seven rounds, and that year a total of 254 new players were selected by franchises to play in the NFL. There were the usual upsets and surprises early on in the draft, but it wasn’t until the sixth round that a young University of Michigan quarterback was finally selected as the 199th pick by the New England Patriots. Today, this same draft pick is widely recognized as the greatest quarterback, if not the greatest football player, of all time– Tom Brady.
Back in 2000, Brady was by no means the most desired new recruit in the NFL. In fact, his unimpressive NFL Scouting Combine performance was widely known amongst the NFL franchises. So why pick a relatively undistinguished college graduate that had been overlooked almost 200 times in the draft? According to the assistant director of player personnel at the time Scott Pioli, “We just saw the value there. We didn’t think he was going to be this guy who won seven Super Bowls or that he’d come in and be what he was to the franchise. We just said, ‘OK, we’re going to take him because there’s just too much value at this point and time to keep passing up.’”
Today, not only does Brady have a remarkable seven superbowl wins under his belt, but he holds nearly every major quarterback record, including most career passing yards, completions, touchdown passes, and games started. He is the NFL leader in career quarterback wins, quarterback regular season wins, quarterback playoff wins, and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, as well as being the only Super Bowl MVP for two different franchises. And he’s the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl in three separate decades, and the oldest Super Bowl MVP at age 43.
And it all started for Tom Brady because someone saw value in him that others did not.
When developing a strong team, the goal is to recruit and coach leaders who bring great value. But how do you identify that potential value in someone? What qualities and skills are good indicators of value, and how can we ensure we don’t overlook them?
Here’s 10 questions to ask when “drafting” for your leadership team. I am writing these from a Christian leadership perspective, but if you are leading in a non-Christian space, you will still find many of these qualities applicable.
1. Do they demonstrate spiritual maturity, and prioritize their spiritual growth?
In 1 Timothy 3, the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy on qualifications for leaders in his local church. From this list it becomes abundantly clear that there needs to be a level of spiritual maturity evidenced in their lives.
Galatians 5 lists the evidence (or fruit rather) of a life fully devoted to Jesus, one where the Spirit of God is actively transforming the way we think and live. When identifying leaders to develop, examine the fruit you see in their daily lives.
2. Are they trustworthy and reliable?
An important question to ask when evaluating whether or not someone is demonstrating good character is simply, “Is this person reliable and trustworthy? And how have they demonstrated these qualities in the life of the church or organization we are a part of?”
3. Do they want to be taught?
On a practical level, you have limited time to invest in people. Love everyone, but don’t squander your time on those whose pride and ego keeps them from being transparent and teachable. I’ve coached a number of teachers and preachers in my life with levels of experience in public speaking ranging from a complete novice terrified of standing in front of people to the pastor who had decades of experience delivering sermons, and there is only one type of person that I have never been able to help. Only one. The one who didn’t believe they needed coaching.
4. Do they live what they preach?
Ask yourself this question, “Is this someone I want my children (or my hypothetical children) to look up to?” When answering this question you are undoubtedly thinking about the way they devote themselves to Jesus, treat their spouse, their work ethic, or the way they respond to challenges. You are thinking about what they post on social media and who they hang out with. You are thinking about the way they respond to conflict, manage their money, and the way they influence the spaces they are in.
5. What is their level of experience?
This is a pretty obvious question to ask, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. You see the potential within someone, and are ready to promote them. After all, this person seems like the perfect addition to your leadership team, and a bit of a relief and support for you personally. I love that you see the gold in people and are excited to champion both their gifting and calling! I commend this Christ-like approach to leadership, one committed to investing in other leaders and seeing God’s Kingdom come through the mobilizing of disciples for ministry.
BUT make sure you know their level of experience first. It may not disqualify them from leadership or change the level of investment you make in them, but it will help you better understand the type of support, direction and training you will want to provide them.
6. Do they know how to connect well with others?
Leaders must know how to connect with the people they are leading. When they speak in front of others, how do others respond to them? Can they relate to the real needs, wants, and experiences of the team members, church members or clients they are serving? Do they provide direction and counsel in a way that people can follow along and apply? Do they come across as likable, knowledgeable, and compassionate? Or do they leave an impression as a know-it-all, a drill sergeant or an absent-minded professor?
Some leaders are more naturally gifted at knowing how to connect with others. For them, it’s an intuitive emotional intelligence that often makes them great story-tellers, motivators and empathizers. For others, this is a skill that is developed over time with focused coaching and effective habits. That’s where you come in.
7. Do they share the core theological beliefs of the Church or organization?
This is a pretty straightforward question, but an important one.
8. Do they carry the vision of the church or organization?
Can they articulate the vision in a way that feels true to who you are as a church community or organization while also staying true to who they are as individuals? In other words, you aren’t looking for team members who can simply recite the vision like one would read a mission statement off of a dusty plaque hanging on the wall of an office space. You are looking for people who have a deep sense of commitment to the vision, and who embody it in how they live their lives way beyond Sundays or work hours. This level of ownership of the vision spills over into how they lead.
9. Are they contributing to the life of the church or organization?
Do they actively serve in the local church? Do they attend or lead small groups? Are they committed tithers? Do they know what is happening in the life of the church, and as often as possible, do they encourage and help people engage in spiritual growth and service in the life of your local church?
10. Do they love the people they will be leading?
Look for leaders who love the people of the church or organization you are a part of, and genuinely care for their wellbeing. The best leaders will approach every leadership responsibility as an opportunity to serve their fellow brothers and sisters, reach the lost, and build up the church.