In reading about leadership, I stumbled upon research that studied people who led others out of danger. Specifically, the study focused on fires in underground mines. The leaders who successfully led others out of danger had 5 characteristics. #1: "The leader of each escape may be described as an aware, knowledgeable person or as an individual who is alert to his environment, attentive, and discerning. This person notices things - more so than do other people."
#2 - These leaders did not force themselves and their suggestions on the group - the leadership developed in a natural way. The psychologists who studied the groups examined how the leaders led people out of danger. The effective leaders naturally evolved from the community. They did not force themselves into leadership, force people to to follow, or force ideas. Rather, they knew their people and used that knowledge to bring the best out of everyone. The key was understanding group dynamics and being able to use it to lead.
In the context of leading our churches in missional transformation, what can we learn? Perhaps we need to allow leadership to develop in a more natural way than our current polity allows. How often do we choose elders because they have been in the church the longest, give the most, or say, "pick me!". Graham Baird, founding pastor of Highland Church in Paso Robles, CA, said in our podcast that they steer clear of anyone who asks to be an elder or leader because they are probably not ready to lead. Rather, leaders are people who naturally emerge from the community with a humble spirit and deep knowledge of their people.