3 Quick Ways To See How Effective Your Leadership Really Is

One of the most difficult aspects of leadership is to know how you’re doing as a leader.

Add a little insecurity into the mix, and it makes things even more complex.

Naturally, you’ll get feedback from your peers and probably get an occasional 360 review (both great practices).

But beyond that, how can you tell how you’re doing as a leader?

There’s a way to check that’s much simpler than you might think. By asking yourself three simple questions, you can not only get an accurate gauge of how you’re doing but an instant sense where you might need to improve.

Why This Matters (Leadership and Self-Delusion)

I find a lot of leaders are not clear on how well they’re leading.

This falls into two categories:

Leaders who overestimate how well they’re doing.

Leaders who underestimate how well they’re doing.

Both are problematic for different reasons.

If you think you’re doing better than you are, you’re the last person to realize you need to improve.

And if you think you’re not doing as well as you actually are, then you likely have potential you have not yet tapped into.

So getting a reasonably accurate check-in on the quality of your leadership is critical to help you lead with all diligence.

3 Easy Ways to Check Your Leadership Effectiveness

The following three questions form three quick shoulder checks you can do.

As with all self-assessment, there are limits on how accurate it will be. But my guess is as you work through these questions in the next few minutes you’ll know a lot more about your leadership than you might predict.

And, lastly, a quick note. This post (like almost all posts on this blog) assumes you want to lead better now and steward the leadership gift that God has given you. If you don’t, you’ll push back against these questions. I get that. But if you care about leadership, as difficult as the answers to these questions might be, you will want to answer and act.

So, to gauge your leadership, as honestly as you can, answer these three questions:

1. Is anyone following you?

One of the best ways to tell whether you’re a leader is simply this: Look over your shoulder to see if anyone’s following.

If no one’s following (or only a few are), you’re really not leading.

It doesn’t matter how many leadership books you read, how many webinars you do or how grandiose your vision might be, a leader without followers is not actually a leader.

While we all get touchy about this in leadership, the reality is leaders lead people. (This post explains why some leaders have a higher number of followers than others.)

So who is following you? Be honest.

2. Who is following you?

That you have followers is one thing, but the next thing to check is the kind of person following you.

High capacity leaders will attract other high capacity people.

The caliber of the people around you points to the caliber of leader you are.

Again, this isn’t always a fun question to answer, but it can become a springboard to progress.

If you don’t like what you find, ask yourself why higher capacity leaders don’t follow your lead.

And then take the steps you need to take to change that.

Here are a few posts that will help you better lead high capacity people.

6 Reasons You’re Losing High Capacity Leaders

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Says Out Loud

How to Tell If You’re An Organizational Or Relational Leader

I also wrote about developing a high capacity team in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

3. Who are you following?

It’s not just a question of who follows you, but also a question of who you’re following.

I’m not talking about the podcasts you listen to, the blogs or books you read or the conferences you attend. Our celebrity culture has created a mass following mentality that allows many people to follow influential leaders almost effortlessly. I’m not slamming this.

I read and listen to leading voices all the time and love going to great events. I’m in when it comes to that.

But I think it’s easy to develop a false intimacy with these influential leaders, thinking we know them when in fact we’ve never met them and in all likelihood never will.

While you can learn from people you read or listen to, even more important are the people you actually hang out with.

On that note, ask yourself:

With whom do I spend the most time personally?

Who’s building into me, personally?

Who’s mentoring me?

Do the people I spend the most time with represent the kind of leader I want to be in 5 years?

Are the people closest to me helping me grow into the leader God has called me to be?

If the answers to these questions bother you, change the circle of people you hang out with.

Find some leaders and mentors who can help you realize your potential. Seriously, send an email today to someone who can do these things for you before you close this blog post.

Know why this is so important?

As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Grow Your Personal Leadership

Of all the mysteries we try to crack as leaders, the mystery of leading ourselves is one of the greatest. Do that well, and you’ll be a leader others want to follow.

That’s why I’m so excited about my new book, Didn’t See It Coming. It’s all about overcoming the 7 greatest challenges everyone experiences, and no one expects.

Take cynicism for example. You might already be rolling your eyes at this post and coming up with 5 reasons it won’t work in your case.

That’s exactly the kind of self-limiting behaviour leaders never see coming.

Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor of Central Church, Las Vegas, calls Didn’t See It Coming “the most important book you’ll read all year.”

Brian Houston and Andy Stanley call it ‘powerful.’


What Questions Would You Ask?

I find that by asking myself these three questions on a semi-regular basis, I get a fairly accurate assessment of where I am. It doesn’t replace a full 360 review and regular feedback from others, but it can be a great shoulder check and supplement.

How about you? What questions would you add to this list?

Leave a comment.


  1. Don Jacobsen on February 14, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    I’m interim pastor of two small, struggling churches which are pastor-shopping. What kind of legacy can I leave in 6 – 9 months?

  2. Andre Rangel - Rio de Janeiro on February 1, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Thank you!
    Excellent post.

  3. Prince Alfred on January 29, 2018 at 7:05 pm


  4. Okun Dawodu on January 26, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Thorough following of leaders entails spending time to study articles, assimilate, fellowship, hear the words, etc . these makes one to lead and become strong leader.

  5. Doru Cirdei on January 25, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Carey, thank you for your articles. As a leader I really need inspiration, wisdom and encouragement. I really appreciate your influence over my life and ministry! Great job!

  6. Craig Morrison on January 25, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    What’s the secret to get beyond the 1000 person church barrier? We’ve been there for almost 60 years.

  7. Robert on January 25, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    Jim Rohn was one of my mentors. I sure do miss the time we spent together.

  8. Michael Henderson on January 25, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Good post, Carey! Regarding #1- someone once told me “If you are leading and no one is following, you’re not leading. You’re just going for a walk.” Thanks for all you do!

  9. Jonathan on January 25, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    What caliber of followers did Jesus have? Why on earth would a pastor change who he hangs out with? You really like to make leaders feel like they are quite something. Why don’t we focus on letting God use us and be open to that, and realize unless we take up our cross and follow Jesus we lead only our own selfish desires. God first, preach the holy scripture in love and truth and the Lord will add to your numbers just as in acts 2. Forget all your silly manipulations and self focused ways to grow a church. Most truth seekers would rather worship with a few earnest disciples than a huge church full of emptiness.

  10. JohnH on January 25, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    How do you determine if a person is following you?

  11. ThankGod on January 25, 2018 at 8:34 am

    Great read. Good to be here with you Carey.It can only get better

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