Nine Principles for Effective Leadership

Written by Katherine J. Kehler

leadershipprinciples“If women would realize what an influence they have, they would be filled with pride. If men recognized how influential women are, they would be scared to death.”

It is said that we all influence at least 250 people in our lifetime. We each have the responsibility of leadership.

Every woman can be a leader. Yet results of surveys show that most women greatly underestimate their influence.

At home it can be organizing our children to clean the house or, more important, instilling values and morals into their lives. At the workplace, it can be motivating people for sales. We influence others by what we say and do–and by how we do our work.

We recognize that Mother Teresa was one of the great religious and humanitarian leaders of the world. When we aspire to be leaders, we must learn to discern between fame and greatness. Fame is Madonna; greatness is Mother Teresa. There is a tremendous shortage of and need for truly great leaders–leaders who are trustworthy, ethical, good, honest and who have high personal standards. The world is looking for honest and upright leaders.

Thankfully there are more women in leadership now than when I first began taking on leadership responsibilities. Being in leadership roles for more than thirty years–with greater and lesser responsibilities–I have learned a great deal about good leadership. What is a leader? “A leader is a person who influences people to accomplish a purpose.” How do you become a leader? “A leader correctly assesses a situation and knows how to take the next step.”

Whether you know it or not, whether you believe it or not, you’re a leader–an influencer. Your opinions are listened to and acted upon. The following nine principles will help you make the most of your influence:

1. Have a dream that will leave this world a better place

“Is there anything worse then being blind? Yes! The most pathetic person in the whole world is someone who has sight but has no vision.” So said Helen Keller.

Leadership is simply the ability to turn a dream or a vision of a desired future state into a reality with and through the cooperation of other people. To throw your life into something worthwhile, your dream must be worth dying for. What do you get excited about?

Have a big vision; something beyond your capabilities to keep you challenged. If we have aimed our efforts for this moment only–for ourselves, for the accumulation of material things, for pleasure–we will soon become dissatisfied and disillusioned with life. Former British Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher said, “There is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves.”

Have a dream and vision that is greater then yourself–one that will leave this world a better place.

2. Know what your strengths are

To be leaders, we need each other to reach our goals. Each of us has only some of the skills needed to do a great job. We need to surround ourselves with people to fill in our gaps. Seventy-nine year-old Muriel Tower, an experienced entrepreneur, said, “You get things done through other people. Number one in business is get the best person for the job. Number two, delegate. Number three, supervise–go back and see that they did it.”

In order to be effective, you need a team to work with. We lead on the basis of our strengths; we gather our team on the basis of their strengths.

What is your leadership style? Are you a visionary? A person who can see the big picture and take risks? Or are you a detail person–an administrative type? You see the need for systems and order. You do things right and at the right time. You are efficient. Perhaps you are more of a sales person–a people gatherer. You love people and can sell anything to anyone, but don’t care about details. Or maybe you just love working by yourself. A hard worker–a producer. Let someone give you a track to run on and you’ll do it.

Before you are thirty years old, you can probably do all of those jobs without too much difficulty. But once you are over thirty, you realize you don’t want to do the things you aren’t good at. It uses up too much energy. When you know what you are good at, surround yourself with a team who are good at the other three.

When you have that team, meet with them regularly and have a purpose statement that you work toward. Review it often with your staff so you don’t lose your focus. Set short and long term goals, and evaluate two or three times a year to see how you are doing. Your team will be motivated toward reaching your goals together. Give credit where credit is due. Say “thank you” to the people you are working with. Encourage them often!

Understanding your strengths and the strengths of others is a key to effective leadership.

3. Strive for excellence

The people you want to influence will not rise to a higher standard of excellence than what they observe in you. The authors of Megatrends for Women write, “Male or female, the effective leader wins commitment by setting an example of excellence.”

We were hosting a dinner for influential women in three cities with a well-known, successful speaker. Of course we were eager to make a good impression, so we spent hours wording the invitations. However, when they were printed and we looked them over, we discovered–to our dismay–that the logo for our organization was printed upside down. It was a costly oversight.

After much discussion, we decided to reprint them even though we knew that the majority of the women would not even notice the mistake.

We wanted to influence leaders and we had to do things right, not only do the right things. Leaders must strive for excellence.

Strive for excellence and you will motivate others to do the same.

4. Be persistent

Mother Teresa was a determined woman. Margaret Thatcher was a determined woman. The key to being a good leader is endurance–being a non-quitter. You will be tempted to quit and be encouraged to quit by those who are friends and enemies. Be unwilling to throw in the towel. Be determined.

One journalist wrote of Mother Teresa: “When I met Mother Teresa, I discovered she was very tiny–less than five feet tall–and kept her head cocked to one side. She had gnarled hands and thick peasant feet that protruded from under her coarse white sari. Although there was no mistaking the aura of warmth and kindness that surrounded her, I felt I was in the presence of the most powerful, focussed and determined person I had ever met.”

According to a survey done by Deloitte and Touche, senior women executives rated Determination and Perseverance as the number one essential qualities for Women’s success in business. In order to leave this world a different place, you have to be persistent. Leaders don’t grow in a comfort zone. Leaders are not people with exceptional talent; they are people who have learned from their mistakes and get up and try again.

Persistence is a key to effective leadership.

5. Be willing to stand alone

If you have a passion, a dream or a mission, set measurable goals and work toward accomplishing them. You will find that many times you may have to work alone. You will probably be lonely.

People are looking for leaders who are willing to give it all they have, and they will follow–for a while. However, when the going gets tough, when pleasure and comfort compete with responsibility and long hours, followers will drop away. That is when you have to be sure that what you are doing is right, so that you will keep going.

James Cook said, “A person who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”

6. Be ready for resistance

One of the facts of life is that when you are in leadership, you have to solve problems.

Pastor Lloyd Ogilvie, for many years the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California and now Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, once observed that “Everyone has problems; if you don’t have any now, you will have problems; wherever you work or live, you’ll have problems; or you just might be someone else’s problem.”

Sometimes we have the faulty notion that we should be able to go through life problem free–that if we have problems, something is wrong with our life. As leaders, we have to be responsible, no matter how painful it is. Running away is not an option.

We can easily fall into waiting for someone else to solve our problems. In her book, The Cinderella Complex, Colette Dowling writes about waiting for Prince Charming: “Like Cinderella, women today are still waiting for something external to transform their lives. We may venture out a little, but underneath lurks a wish to be saved, a deep yearning for dependence.”

You don’t need to wait for someone else’s help. You will have problems. Be ready. Expect it. If you know you are doing what is right, you won’t cave in when the going gets tough.

Facing problems and dealing with them by making good decisions is the difference between a leader and a follower.

7. Set an example for your staff

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and never succeed.”

I am amazed at how often people want a position, but not the responsibility. It is natural to want to escape responsibility; we all do it. However, being a leader means working long hours. It means being available to solve problems or give direction whenever necessary. Being a leader means being a servant, whether you are in your home or at work. You are always on call.

A leader works hard.

8. Be ethical

As I travel a lot, I gather stats from many different papers and magazines. USA Today stated that two in three adults believe ethics “vary by situation” or that there is no “unchanging ethical standard of right and wrong.” Only 18% of the people ages 20 – 30 said that there was one standard of right and wrong.

The Vancouver Province printed another study, which reflected that we tell 200 lies a day. Everything from giving excuses for our behaviour, to saying things like, “I hate to bother you . . . ” Don’t expect your staff or the next generation to do what is right if they see you doing what is wrong. It is incredibly important that we have a strong code of ethics to base our decisions and lifestyle on.

What set of values dictate your ethics–your behaviour? Or do you have a code of ethics? Do you have convictions that cause you to say, “I will never do that” or “For me, that is not an option?” If you don’t, sit down, think through and write down your non-negotiable code of ethics. Sometimes it can be the little things that erode your standards and–by the way–your self esteem. When temptation comes, you may very well do something that you will later be sorry for. Sometimes you have harmful situations to live with the rest of your life.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “I am not a consensus politician, I am a conviction politician.” What kind of leader are you? Do you have convictions of your own or do you live by the consensus of other opinions?

It is of utmost importance to have high ethical standards to be an effective leader.

9. Let God be your guide

Elizabeth Dole, President of the American Red Cross, stated in an interview: “To me it’s very important to know I have a source of strength beyond my own. When I’m undertaking a difficult assignment or making a tough decision, I’m glad I don’t have to rely on my own energy, wisdom, and judgement.”

Twenty-four years ago, I realized I needed a source of strength beyond myself. The goals I had set for myself were not satisfying and even relationships did not fill my deepest need. At the ageof thirty-two, I gave the control of my life to God. He is that source of strength I needed. I simply prayed, “I want You to be my Guide from now until I die.” He heard me.

Initially, I was filled with tremendous joy, peace and satisfaction. I felt like someone really cared for me–accepted me unconditionally. It was like finding a missing piece to a puzzle after looking for a long time.

My goals, priorities and dreams started changing. My dreams became much bigger–beyond what I could personally do. My scope of interest grew from the home base to the community, from the community to the province, from the province to our nation, from our nation to the world.

I noticed many women in my world were not maximizing their abilities; I worked hard to encourage and train them to be the best women they could be.

Yet what is more important, I realized that if Jesus Christ could satisfy me and change my life so dramatically, He could do that for anyone. So I started telling people how they could have a personal relationship with God.

Find the power to change your life and your world–let God be your guide.

Oliver W. Holmes was quoted as saying, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as is what direction we are heading.” What direction do you think you will be heading 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 25 years from now?

As a leader, what direction are you heading? What direction are you taking the 250 people you are influencing?

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as he is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.


48 Responses to “Nine Principles for Effective Leadership”


    I thank God for using you to encourage and bring revival to my life. Please keep up the good work.

  • Kate says:

    We appreciate all the kind support.

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  • Sowo Michael Oluwatoyin says:

    Thank God For your contribution to Christian Dom and Leadership ethics. may God bless and enlarge you. amen.

  • Francis Agbenyo says:

    Thank you very much I am excited, moved and filled by your teachings. Above all the gospel has transformed my life tremendously God give you more wisdom.

  • habiba says:

    Thank you much for all your great ideas and so much more i am grateful that God is using you to reach the world through business management.

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Hi Keira, I am glad you appear to be pleased to have found this site and this particular article. Look around we have lots of very good, helpful stuff which I trust you will also look at and benefit from. By the way, I am not into fate! I have another way of thinking about these things. Does that intrigue you?

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Jonas, thanks for your comment. So many people have benefitted from this very helpful article which is really applicable to all sorts of people. I especially hope that young people will read it and learn how to be effective and upright influencers of others. These values are very much needed in all areas of life no matter what we are doing and in spite of a person’s age. I was particularly glad that the writer was courageous enough add her own testimony in a clear and concise form because that too is a sign of leadership, especially in a culture when we hear so much about negative behaviour, attitudes and life styles. Who knows whom you will influence to be a Godly leader as you share these points with those in your church and, if God leads you, in your place of employment too. Blessings,

  • Doris Beck Doris Beck says:

    Glad to hear that this site and this specific article has helped you! We are always blessed to hear about how the articles are a blessing to our visitors!

  • Jonas Phiri says:

    the site have helped me to grow spiritually in church leadership, even the leadership at the place of work, regards, stay blessesd

  • juhi says:

    Amazing it helped me a lot to develop this ability

  • Sharon says:

    I love the comments on this site

  • Anamika Adhikari says:

    i am really thankful such a meaningful and resourceful Material and a kind of good guidance to our life.
    It’s really very very outstanding and very useful to our life.

  • Alfred says:

    Yes, God is so awesome! What an education to study this article, and what a joy to read through this series of comments! I’m optimistic that my wife will also appreciate it.
    What I especially need to learn of this is to get out of my comfort zone, to embrace boldness, and to gather a team that will fill in where I’m in need of help.
    Regarding point 9: No doubt, the Author of Life was an inspiration to Katharine, leading her to be a leader and guiding her to write this to help others find and develop their God-given abilities.

  • Ochun says:

    This article has inspired me….I really enjoyed reading it…God is so awesome

  • prabhakar.kondepogu says:

    dear writer
    Its great to encourage yopu to write many more articles, which can be very gud helpful for this younger generation leaders.
    you will be great inspiration yo the Future leaders of the Christendom

  • mokoena mj says:

    i enjoyed reading this powerful message.i really gained a going to use it to motivate women as this is women month in south africa God bless

  • Hazelle Schenk Hazelle Schenk says:

    Thank you to those who have commented! We’re glad to have you visit the site and we are happy to hear about how helpful it has been in your lives. I pray for God’s blessings upon all of you!

  • Sharon says:

    good article– thank you

  • James Aidoo says:

    This is a brilliant piece which help me in my meeting with my officers. God bless you to bring more of such useful pieces.

  • April says:

    I enjoyed the article very much. I will use this information at my next meeting because it gave me insight into being the type of leader we should all strive to be.

  • Jocelyn says:

    Godbless you always?

  • Golden Lady says:

    AMEN to this article, well done !

    Best to you all

  • Kate says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Celu!

  • Celu says:

    Awesome artile!
    Leadership can never be fully effective without the greatest leader of all times being part of it, that is God through Jesus Christ.
    Thank you, we need more of such articles.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Glad you found our site Vijay….this is a great article wish some excellent points to follow to be a good leader. Blessings to you as you endeavor to be just that!

  • Vijay says:

    i will follow this to be a leader

  • Jamie Jamie says:

    Dear Hunter, would you say it is good leadership to withhold information that has made a difference in your life? Even in an environment where you know that some people are not going to accept what you say? To me, a leader challenges people’s pre-conceived ideas and pushes them to think beyond their comfort zone.

    If Katherine had left out point 9 she would have been leaving out the part of her life that has made the biggest impact on her ability to lead with excellence. In her words, “It was like finding a missing piece to a puzzle after looking for a long time”. If Jesus Christ transformed her life and leadership so significantly wouldn’t it be disingenuous to leave that experience out of her challenge to others?

    And you, why would you ignore something that someone else had found to make such a difference in their life? How have you explored the claims of Jesus and the potential impact He could have on your life? On what basis have you decided that Katherine’s ninth point is not worth investigating? What if Jesus was the missing piece to your life as well?

    I am sorry if this sounds like a pressure sales tactic. That is not at all my intent. I guess I just read your comment and wondered why.

  • Hunter van Heerden says:

    Dear Katherine

    Loved your article, but an effective leader would have left point 9 out, as you are not in control of whom will be reading your article. We also all come from diverse backgrounds and an effective or great leader would have kept that in mind.

    The first 8 points are worth investigating and implementing in our business.


  • Phindile says:

    I am glad had to google on the effective leadership and came accross the nine principles of effective leadership. Let us persevere to get more information and it will work well for us. I am glad to be reminded that I need the team as a pillar of strenght. Impressive indeed!

  • Sharon says:

    thank you for posting this very thought provoking

  • Dr. Durable Osung says:

    If you really want to be a successful and influencial leader then you must read this. It has helped me alot!

  • Yinka says:

    This is a good piece it is really meant for me keep it up

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Glad you found it helpful Mao!

  • Mao says:

    Thank you for this, really motivates me..God Bless!!!

  • soni says:

    great article
    best motivation…
    thank you
    God bless

  • Rasheil says:

    Ashia –

    Thank you for stopping by our site! :) I pray that the information will bring growth both personally and for the group. I pray for the leadership role that you are to take, that the Lord will use it and bless it. May you be blessed with great wisdom and understanding, in Spirit and in Truth!

  • ashia ineji says:

    i enjoy what you have exposed. i will use it to help the group i want to mentor

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    thanks so much for taking the time to visit and for leaving a comment. Just so you know, visitors are not able to remove their comments once they are submitted.

  • AGS says:

    perfect article, thank you so much, we all need Jesus in our lives and my ask Elly to delete his or her comment? everything should be positive, we dont like negativity as it only brings back negativity…

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Glad you found our site Nazer and enjoyed this article.

  • Nazer AHmad says:

    Great article! I especially love the references and quotes by other scholars.. Will definitely share with my peers!

  • elly says:

    It was such a good article until there was a pressing of faith. Even leaving it at “finding I needed a source of strength beyond myself” would have been less exclusive than pointing ONLY to the power of Christ. Believer or not, I felt the last point and invitation was disregarding of who I am and who others can be. One can encompass all of the virtues that you have listed, not be a “believer” (or may perhaps believe different things) and still be a strong and respectable leader. This is not coming from an atheist or agnostic or anyone trying to discredit the Christian church (or any church), but simply one who recognizes the exclusivity implied in what I’m sure you intended to be inclusive.

  • This was agreat article of leadership, vey specific and well ariculated. It will be useful in my daily life and will facilitate my leadership. Be blessed and continue to bless Christ is my personal saviour and he is a great God.

  • Joshua says:

    Thanks for this excellent guidance on leadership especially 8th 9th and the rest let the Living God bless you through His son Lord Jesus Christ

  • Antoine Moussally, MD says:

    Thank you Katherine for this lovely article. We often gave training on Leadership Skills but never Leadership Principles.
    It is really a cornerstone that would enhance our vocation in leading, influencing and serving scouts members.
    Wish you all the best.

    God Bless You

  • Gary says:

    Great article. Only fly in the ointment is opening paragraph. Why should men be “scared to death” of women’s influence any more than a man’s influence. Such a comment perpetuates the male/female confrontational relationship that has plagued us for so long. It’s an odd beginning for an article that ends with an invitation to accept Jesus, who did so much to elevate women.

  • Angelo Ben Ingi says:

    Dear Katherine,
    Thank you for this resource material.
    I will be using it to teach some women group in South Sudan who aspire to become leaders.
    God bless you

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