Skip to content

What is Active Leadership? By Robert McFarland

How would you define “Active Leadership” ?

“Active Leadership” is leadership that is fully engaged and intentional. Active Leaders think through the impact they want to have—and the thinking they need to cultivate to achieve it—and they deliberately use every opportunity they have to influence their followers to that end. They take their responsibility as leaders very seriously because they realize all their actions have ripple effects.

As a leader, you are the catalyst for the change you want to see in your team. You cannot expect that your team will do what you want them to do on their own. They will want to see your Active Leadership to show them how.

Below are the four tenets of Active Leadership.


Active Leaders must help their team members believe that they genuinely care about them and take an active and ongoing interest in their professional and personal development. They must regularly give praise for what the team does well and compassionately give constructive feedback to help them improve. And they must place a premium value on flexibility in the workplace and be willing to change.


Active Leaders must ensure that everyone understands and identifies with the vision of the organization and subscribes to the organization’s core values. They must explain the importance of the work that the organization does to the extent that the team members believe that the work they do matters. And they must help everyone on the team see that their individual performance is important to moving the organization forward and that all their colleagues are doing their part.


Active Leaders must instill in their team members a belief that the organization’s leadership knows how to run the organization. They must provide sufficient autonomy for assignments and must provide the tools that the team members believe are necessary to do their jobs. And they must ensure that they treat everyone fairly and trust that the team will do their best work.


Active Leaders must communicate authentically with team members and ensure that communications are understood by everyone. And they must be willing to freely share information—in person as often as practicable—and clarify responsibilities so that everyone understands what is expected.

As you use your Active Leadership to lead your team, the Golden Rule should guide your actions:

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 ESV).

But it is not just about treating your team well; it goes beyond that. It’s about treating everyone in your sphere of influence that way, including your customers, your suppliers, your investors, and the people in your community.

Good leadership is using your words, your actions, and your influence to serve others. You are in a position of leadership to serve your team. Don’t squander it by being merely a boss.

[This article is adapted from the bestseller Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew.]


Robert McFarland is the author of the best sellers Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew and Dear Employee: What Your Boss Wishes You Knew. Robert is also Blogger-in-Chief at, where he helps intentional Christians lead impactful lives, and he is President of Transformational Impact LLC, a leadership development consultancy helping leaders achieve the results they want in business and in life.

Time to go deeper. Watch this Outcomes Conference 15-minute presentation by Robert McFarland!


Now register for the Outcomes Conference 2019!. There is still time and we are delighted Robert McFarland will be  back among our gifted faculty for this year’s event.


What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

Upcoming Events

Check back later!