Quotes About Leadership from Thom Rainer

Posted on Posted in Dale Roach, Quotes

From 1999-2002 it was my pleasure to attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky to pursue my doctoral degree.  During that time, Thom Rainer was the Dean of The Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry.  It was great to sit under his teaching.

Dr. Rainer’s thoughts on leadership and leadership development helped me in the development of my leadership skills.  Here are a few quotes about leadership from Dr. Rainer.

Leading change is one of the most difficult things pastors and church leaders will do in a church. But it’s also one of the most needed things in many churches. So how a pastor or church leads through change will dramatically affect the results churches will have when changing.”

Leaders who fight to get through the day often dump on their family when they get home.”

Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they choose to respond at all.”

“When we know we’re tired of leading, it’s just easier to avoid people who know us well enough to recognize the problem.”

Leadership is changing. Some point to technological advances as the great equalizer. Others say it is the social media facet of technology that is key. Still others point to the Millennial generation and their changing expectations of leaders and life in general. Some would say that the failure of political and business leaders led to the change.   There is undoubtedly truth in all explanations, and there are probably many more explanations to the changing role of and demands on leaders. The overall thrust of the changes is that elitist leadership is dead; at the very least it is dying. The demand for greater transparency, honesty, and just plain decent behavior has never been higher.  Elitist leaders will not survive this new era. And though this new open leadership model has its challenges, the move away from elitist leadership is a positive development for our organizations and society.”

“Just when a leader thinks he has put in his time and efforts toward his leadership status, some young guy or gal comes along who revolutionizes our organization or our world. Humility demands that we recognize there are others smarter than we are. If not, we leaders could really be embarrassed.”


Leaders and organizations often neglect the “soft” issues related to emotional IQ. But Goleman and others demonstrate, through rigorous research, these very qualities can make or break leaders, and thus the organizations they lead. In Goleman’s research, for example, he found that the emotional IQ of a leader was twice as important as cognitive IQ and competencies in relation to the success of an organization.

The Five Categories of Emotional IQ

Emotional IQ is often delineated in five categories. Each category tends to be self-descriptive.

Self-Awareness: The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives. Self-confidence. Knowing how you affect others. Self-deprecating sense of humor.

Self-Control: The avoidance of emotional outbursts. Thinking before speaking or acting. Trustworthiness and integrity. Comfort with ambiguity. Openness to change.

Motivation: A passion for work that goes beyond money or status. The propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Optimism in the face of failure. Organizational commitment.

Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional makeup of others. Responding well to people according to their emotional reactions. Avoiding sarcasm. Avoiding condescending remarks toward others.

Social Skills: Proficiency in managing relationships. Success at building networks. Effectiveness in leading change. Persuasiveness. Expertise in building and leading teams. Basic interaction skills with others.”


Bold leaders are willing to take incredible steps of faith and to make tough calls that few other leaders will make.”

Advancing leaders not only do what they are assigned, they are always thinking ahead. They take on responsibilities well beyond what their supervisors expect of them. While they do excel at tackling today’s work, they are always thinking about what needs to be done for the future betterment of the organization.”

“…the leadership literature of just a couple of decades ago rarely spoke of humility as a positive trait. To the contrary, some of the older publications implied that humility could be perceived as a weakness. Confidence moving toward arrogance was not uncommon among the leaders of the past. Today, advancing leaders are more likely than not to have a humble disposition. Confident humility actually engenders followship.”

Advancing leaders are creative and innovative. They have the ability to think outside the box. When they hit a roadblock, they just seem to find a way to move around it. Many of the great ideas of the future are being formulated in the minds of these leaders today.”

All of the above quotes about leadership are from Thom Rainer.

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