Identifying Emerging Leaders

leadership virgil sierra Mar 09, 2020

When any organization begins to grow and expand, the need for identifying new leaders increases.  As the lead pastor of a growing and flourishing church over the last years, I continuously find myself thinking about how to discover, develop, and deploy more new leaders to run with our vision and help lead our people.  If we truly want to continue growing, it is imperative that we consider ways in which we can identify emerging leaders.  We don’t get great leaders by chance or luck.  As a growing organization, we must constantly, strategically, and systematically be looking for leaders.  The question is, How do we do it?  When trying to identify and spot upcoming leaders, at Vertical Church we have a filter of five characteristics that we consider.


  1. MAGNETIC: Are they magnetic? Leaders are people who draw others to themselves.  Who are the people in your organization who always have people around them?  Do you have leaders in place that others love to be around?  A magnetic person is a person who has influence.  Who are the people in your organization who are naturally and consistently influencing others?

Magnetic people tend to be good team players.  They are collaborative, great teammates, and good communicators.  They seek others’ input and opinions, use it to shape their ideas, and generate consensus.  They have strong people skills and have emotional intelligence when it comes to dealing with others.  They are well-liked and well-respected by their peers and get along with others easily.

  1. DRIVEN: Are they driven? Leaders are people that are proactive and progressing.  As the saying goes, “It’s hard to drive a parked car.” You never want to bring someone into leadership who you have to push.   

Emerging leaders are driven and determined to grow.  They not only show an interest in growing and developing themselves, but also have the ability and interest in developing others.

Driven people have a natural knack for building talent and want to see others succeed and grow to their fullest potential.  Our organizations will not flourish without driven people in leadership positions. 

  1. TEACHABLE: Are they teachable? Teachability is so important. People who are teachable are willing to re-learn that which they already know.  They have an attitude that is always willing learn and receive feedback from others.  People who tend to be ‘know-it-alls’ are not teachable.

I have found that most everybody thinks they are teachable; but many are not.  Someone who is teachable is able to take correction well.  When a person easily becomes defensive after being corrected, it’s a sign of lack of teachability.  A teachable person is able to receive constructive feedback with a good attitude.  However, when a person always gives excuses or resorts to blame shifting, this may be a warning sign that there is low teachability.

There is nothing more dangerous to an organization than having a leader in a leadership role with influence, but lacking teachability.  Emerging leaders should exemplify teachable qualities such as being humble and hungry.

  1. GIFTED: Are they gifted? Anybody can make themselves look good on a résumé. But, does this possible candidate truly have the right giftedness?  Everyone is wired differently.  Every job needs a different skill set and gift-mix.  Understand how they’re wired and how they’re gifted.  Pair up their giftedness with the role they play in your organization

Do you know your team’s giftedness, roles, and strengths?  Do you have the right people in the right seats?  It’s so important to consider the reality that some people are gifted in the area of leadership and some are not.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Some are great at following orders, supporting the leader, or simply managing people and resources.  But the continued growth and success of any organization is highly dependent upon positioning qualified, gifted leaders in positions of leadership and influence. 

  1. CULTURE: Do they understand and carry your organizational culture?  Do they have your DNA? Every organization has a culture.  Organizational culture is basically the idea of “This is how we do things here.”  It is reflected in the values, the vision, the environments, and the rewarded behaviors and attitudes of the organization.  It’s an important factor to consider.  Because you may have someone who is qualified and has good experience, but does not yet grasp the culture of your organization.  These people may hold on to the organizational culture of the previous organization that they worked/volunteered at. 

When you are considering empowering someone to a leadership role, you want to make sure that the person truly lives out the values of your organization.  Somebody that doesn’t carry the culture of your organization will stick out for all of the wrong reasons.  This can bring confusion and, in most cases, it will cause great frustration to others in your organization.

In conclusion, when you identify the right emerging leaders and position them in the right seats on the bus, you will see positive results.  You will notice improvement and lift in the fluidity of your organization.  You will experience increased inspiration among your team members when they are functioning in the areas of their giftedness.  You will notice innovation flourishing even more when you have the right leaders leading in the right positions.  And the bottom line is that you will see increased results overall!



This article was written by Virgil Sierra



Virgil Sierra is the lead pastor of Vertical Church (a.k.a. Iglesia Vertical) a bilingual church in Sunrise, Florida. He pastors together with his wife Gislaine and they are blessed with their three kids Caleb, Sophia, and Nico. He’s passionate about changed lives, church growth, and leadership. He is also a songwriter and international recording artist and was the lead singer of the Latin christian band CONTAGIOUS for 20 years.



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