3 Ways to Spot a Great Leader Blog Feature

By: Patrick O'Connell on July 13, 2017

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3 Ways to Spot a Great Leader


It can be challenging to find excellent leaders. Here are three characteristics I look for to spot a great leader, plus which qualifications and traits are necessary and which are not.

When identifying leaders, it’s important that they demonstrate the following three characteristics:

1. Teachability

An excellent leader is ready to learn and is always open to learning new things. You might have someone who is a high-powered leader in a corporate setting, but they’re humbly expressing that they want help learning about leading in a church. That’s a leader right there. Excellent leaders are teachable.

2. Spiritual Velocity

Give me somebody who has just been baptized or healed of addiction through the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s spiritual velocity; it’s how you are centered with Jesus. Some of us have been camped out for a really long time near Jesus, but we’ve been chilling. There could be some people who are really far from Jesus but who are now looking at Him, and their lives are focused on Him. Those people have spiritual velocity, and you want to identify those people.

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3. Relational Intelligence

Is the person awkward? Are they socially adept? Can they communicate in a group? Are they nervous around people all the time? There are some people who don’t have relational intelligence, and that’s okay. But when identifying a leader, you want to look for demonstrated relational intelligence.

It’s important when you’re looking for a leader that you look for all three of these characteristics, not just one or two.

Notice what didn’t make the list? I didn’t include Bible knowledge, a Bible college background, or membership in a local church. I’m not saying those things are bad; they’re actually really great. But the three characteristics above are the principles that I see in my own work as a leader. They were demanded of me, and consistently I see them lived out by great leaders who get it.

When you’re searching and wondering where to find a leader, start putting the people in your sphere of influence through these lenses and see what you come up with. You just might be surprised.


Patrick O’Connell is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. A man who didn’t grow up in church, he dabbled in atheism and was a committed agnostic for many years. He eventually found his way back to God. O'Connell helped plant a network of churches in Kansas City, and it was there that he began coaching and training church planters. He wants to leverage his knowledge, experiences and understanding of church planting and Kingdom to help people find and follow Jesus. Today he does this as Director of NewThing. Patrick has served in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received a Master in Missional Church Movements from Wheaton College. He’s married to Nancy, and they have three kids. He likes to run, read, and hang out with friends and family.


About Patrick O'Connell

Patrick O'Connell is the Global Director of NewThing, a catalyst for movements of reproducing churches. He is passionate about helping people start new things for the Kingdom. He's married to Nancy and they have three great kids. He likes to run, read and hangout with friends.