How to Identify a Super Star Younger Leader

Bill Hybels speaks about “hiring 10’s” in the sense of always hire the very best person for the job, no matter what.  If you can’t find a 8, 9, or 10, then consider waiting to hire.  I’ve found it to be true over and over.

But what about when you’re looking to mentor a younger leader?  How do you define who is a “10” when they are in the mentoring phase of leadership?  It’s a much tougher choice, because often a young leader hasn’t had time to develop yet to prove what their rating is or will be.

While we can’t identify “10’s” with perfect accuracy, there are a few things we can look for that help tremendously in the process of investing our time wisely.

1. Does the young leader love Jesus, or do they love serving Jesus? – Are they passionate about Jesus without a role?  It’s often a different issue, and a tough one to tell at times.  If you took away all of their roles, jobs, titles, platforms, etc, would their passion for Jesus be any less?  If your gut says that they would cool their jets if they weren’t in the spotlight, you might want to keep looking.

2. Can you tell the difference between their confidence and their cockiness? – It’s about humility.  A young leader will likely have flashes of confidence, and other spurts of arrogance.  But can you tell a difference between them?  If not, then it’s probably all arrogance in different colors.  Walk on by and keep looking.

3. Do they learn on their own? – It might be a book/video/conference type of thing, but it might just be them watching other gifted leaders and learning from them.  It’s no secret that leaders are learners.  Even young leaders learn this pretty quickly. What is their desire to learn?  The higher the teachability factor, the higher up the scale they can go.

4. Does anyone follow them? – Even an introverted, quiet leader will still have people who look to them for input and influence.  They don’t need to be an upfront, loud, extrovert.  But they do need to have people who watch them and follow their lead at some level.  Every gifted leader has people who pick up on it, usually long before the young leaders themselves discover their call in life.

5. Do you like being around them? – Sometimes you’ll find a 9 or a 10, but it’s still not a fit.  Personalities do play into the equation.  If you’re going to pour into them, you’ll have to spend time with them.  If you dread being around them, it probably won’t work.

6. Do they have put words into action? – I’ve worked with some young leaders who wanted it desperately, even felt God calling them to serve.  They were gifted, and naturally exhibited leadership in social circles.  But when it came time to stand up and lead in a spiritual area, or to set the right example, they backed down each time.  Their fear was too great.  I met with them, encouraged them, modeled for them, trained them in successful tools, and gave them safe places to try leading.  Even with clear, direct guidance on their next step, they simply wouldn’t take it when the time came.  They just weren’t ready.  It’s ok.  It doesn’t mean they won’t ever be, it just meant that now wasn’t their time.

If you can find someone that checks all of the boxes in a positive way, you may have a candidate for investing time in.  Pray like crazy with them, and for them, and then be willing to dive in if God green lights it.  We have to invest in the next generation.  Let’s do it as well as we can.

What other qualities would you add to the list?