What is leadership?

“Is leadership all about title? I don’t think so. Leadership is all about influence. The fact of the matter is, each of us are exercising leadership in some capacity.” – Steve Macchia

One would think there would be general agreement in answer to the question, “What is leadership?”

Perhaps it doesn’t surprise you to note that in fact there isn’t universal or even broadly shared opinions about this important word. We are living in fascinating times.

Is leadership all about title? I don’t think so. Leadership instead is all about influence.

And the exercising of leadership happens every time any group of two or more are gathered together: in each setting there is a leader. This is true at home, at work, in the church and community, in the widest and thinnest of social sectors today.

The fact of the matter is, each of us are exercising leadership as “one who influences,” and therefore it’s wise to consider the definition, philosophy, impact, roles and attributes of Christian leadership.

To some, leadership is an authoritative presence that projects an assertiveness toward others and the work they are called to complete. To others, leadership is the coalescence of varying ideas and personalities around a shared team mission. To still others, leadership is about communicating ideas and concepts and then inviting others to own them for themselves.

The variety of leadership styles is on the increase in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-theological world we inhabit today.

Then, to consider some of the attributes that matter to effective leadership, we begin a laundry list depending on one’s personal conviction about the importance and power of a leader.

Some might list: bold, determined, decisive, convincing, compelling and powerful.

Others might include: collaborative, cooperative, empowering and team-building.

Still others might note: thoughtful, compassionate, humble, gracious and kind. Again, the qualities that matter most to leadership are varied by philosophy, experience, theology and conviction.

Regardless of style and attributes, are there baseline understandings that we share in common? That’s when I find the conversation getting even more engaging, stimulating and much more interesting. Especially when we are talking about Christian leadership, with the triune Godhead and a host of biblical examples provided for us as leadership role models. Even there, as history has proven, the variations of exemplary leadership are all over the map.

So, what are your answers to the questions:

“What is leadership?”

“What style of leadership do you appreciate most?”

“What are the attributes of leadership that evoke your best response?”

I would like to suggest that these questions are worthy of our exploration, especially in the confused-about-leadership times we are living in today. Will you share your answers with us? Comment below; I’d love to hear from you.



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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.