The Five Practices of Extraordinary Leaders

The leadership story in the Bible, and Jesus in particular, defines and promotes an alternative to conventional leadership methods. This alternative consists of five practices used by extraordinary leaders.


Practice #1: Learning

Virtually every leadership paradigm advocates learning in some form or another. “Leaders are learners” is an adage that has been around for years. However, the motivation for learning is often to keep leaders ahead of their followers. Extraordinary leaders learn for a very different reason. They learn in order to serve others better. Learning provides the fuel for the other four practices.


Practice #2: Serving

Jesus contrasted extraordinary leadership with conventional leadership when he said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:25-26, NIV). Conventional leaders rule others. Extraordinary leaders serve others.


Practice #3: Caring

Conventional leaders often use rewards like money, gifts, perks, and recognition to obtain influence. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but unfortunately they tend to create a transactional relationship between leaders and followers. Extraordinary leaders take a different approach. They simply care for people, sharing their lives with them with no expectation of anything in return. Ironically the byproduct of unconditional caring is a more powerful form of influence than that which can be obtained the conventional way.


Practice #4: Doing

All leaders have to get things done. They have to produce meaningful results. Conventional leaders tend to use control to get things done. Extraordinary leaders instead use inspiration. They share a vision of an objective they are passionate about and invite others to pursue it with them. Through their vision extraordinary leaders are able to offer something that is a powerful motivator for most of us, significance.


Practice #5: Teaching

This final practice is closely tied to the first. Extraordinary leaders invest in those they lead by sharing with them what they have learned. They take the time to instill their wisdom into the people they lead. The outcome is that people who follow extraordinary leaders become leaders themselves.

Dave Alford Is passionate about developing leaders. As a pastor at Saddleback Church, he oversees the strategies for developing leaders through Saddleback’s intern program, online campus, men’s communities, women’s communities, single’s communities, and resource development for small groups. Dave also writes, coaches, and speaks about leadership. His background includes experience in business, pastoral ministry, and higher education. He has a Bachelors degree from UC Davis, an MBA from USC, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University. Dave and his wife, Molly, live in Irvine with their 3 children, Jimmy, Christy, and Matthew.

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