Finding Emerging Leaders

This edition of Whiteboard Wednesday is a reprise of a popular episode! We hope you enjoy this powerful post from the past!

Season 5 is coming on the Wednesday after Labor Day!

Taking another look at the Leader-Follower Matrix, which kind of follower would make the best emerging leader?

On the Leader-Follower Matrix, there are two axis. The first is concerning the engagement of the followers with the mission, vision, and values of the church. The second has independent, critical thinking on one side with uncritical thinking on the other. This creates four quadrants of followers: Passive, Conformist, Alienated, and Exemplary.

The Kelley Leader-Follower Matrix diagram.


First, there is the passive follower who is disengaged and does not think critically. They often just follow without asking many questions.


The conformists are engaged but still not critical thinkers. They are active with the mission, vision, and values, but they still fail to ask the important, difficult questions.


Alienated followers are critical thinkers but also disengaged. They often have many questions but are somewhat negative, owing to perhaps a past hurt. These three types of followers are not who we are looking for to become emerging leaders.


The exemplary follower, is one who is both engaged and an independent, critical thinker.

Exemplary followers ask the hard questions and are very active in the mission, vision, and values of the church. These are the types of followers that can become great emerging leaders.


There is one other type of follower who falls in the middle of the matrix — pragmatists. They do enough to get along but they never rock the boat, they are engaged but not too much. They stay within their comfort zone. We will talk more about pragmatists in the future.

As you look for exemplary followers to become emerging leaders, key signs that point to exemplary followers are:

  • someone who is willing to take risks
  • someone who asks difficult questions
  • someone who is willing to suggest better ways of doing things
  • someone who is willing to experiment

These are the people you want when trying to identify emerging leaders! They will make excellent leaders in whatever ministry God calls them to.

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