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  • Writer's pictureBolaji Akinola-Alli

Leadership Styles

Updated: Mar 24

Relevant leadership styles from 2,000 years ago that can be applied to leadership roles today.


The idea behind this blog is to take lessons from past leaders in the Bible and identify relevant leadership lessons that can be applied to all aspects of our lives today, especially the corporate world. This idea came from reading the bible like a history book from cover-to-cover. Although this is not my first attempt at reading the entire bible, I am hopeful that I will make it to the end this time, mostly because I have adopted a new strategy.

What makes it different this time?

For one, I am doing it with friends and I have multiple resources on historical context, theology and reflection videos. This is made available through a bible plan called the Bible Recap by Tara Leigh-Cobble which breaks down the bible into small chunks each day. This way you could actually get through the content in 365 days.

In the Bible, we find a trove of leadership examples that can provide invaluable lessons for our modern lives.

So what is Leadership?

I found many definitions on leadership, but here are the two I would say I resonate with the most:

  1. Leadership is essentially a form of relationship through which one person influences the behaviour or actions of other people. [1]

  2. Leadership is applying a set of behaviours to guide and impact outcomes, enabling groups of people to work together to accomplish what they could not do working individually [3]

The key thing to remember is leadership is about people, and people are complex and different.

Here are a few examples that showcase the different leadership styles with examples from the past and present:


1. The one with the gift

Gifted leaders are those who use their exceptional abilities and know-how to influence other people. Examples from the bible include Joseph and Solomon.

Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, rose to prominence in Egypt due to his integrity and ability to interpret dreams. His story emphasizes the value of forgiveness, and strategic planning.

Another talented chap was King Solomon, who was famous for his wisdom and exceptional ability to make tough decisions. He brought a long period of prosperity to his people using his gifts.

Today, we have people who are naturally gifted and have worked hard to excel in their respective fields. Examples include Lionel Messi, Viola Davis, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Bill Gates. These leaders are able to lead other people not because they were more dominant characters than their peers but because they were more talented. With relative ease, they show you how it is done, and are admired for their gifts.

2. The one with the courage

The less talented leader with lots of courage and resilience to proceed through it all, to the very end. They are effectively risk takers and usually purpose-driven. Some examples in the bible include:

Paul, known for his transformation from a persecutor of Christians to one of the most influential leaders in the Bible. He wrote many letters that formed a substantial part of the New Testament. Paul's leadership was marked by his courage, resilience, and determination.

Esther of Jewish origin, married to a Persian king, risked her life to save her people from annihilation. Her story underscores the power of strategic planning, courage, and advocacy.

Today, similar examples can be found from business leaders, activities and national heroes who take the leap of faith and give into a particular passion or desire. Examples of courageous leaders include Malala Yousafzai, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Nelson Mandela, and Elon Musk. Courageous leaders inspire trust, build stronger teams, and create lasting change.

Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius - Peter Thiel

3. The one reluctant to lead

These are leaders who did not particular have the desire to lead or did not have the courage to put their hands up to lead, but they have been appointed or called to fill in some big shoes. Some examples from the bible include:

Moses, a humble shepherd who had a temper, a speech impediment, and self-doubt became one of the greatest leaders in Biblical history. Despite his initial reluctance, his journey was marked by his close relationship with God, patience, and perseverance, teaching us the importance of faith and resilience in leadership.

Gideon, initially doubtful and fearful, eventually embraced his calling and led a small army to a miraculous victory. Gideon's story reminds us that leadership is not about our capabilities, but about God's strength working through us.

These leaders may not be exceptionally gifted or courageous, but they have been appointed or called to lead. Some examples of these include Mahatma Gandhi and George Washington.

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” -William Shakespeare

4. The one who serves others

A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of their people and the communities to which they belong.

Jesus, the epitome of servant leadership, led by example. He washed his disciples' feet, healed the sick, and ultimately sacrificed his life for mankind. His leadership style, marked by selflessness, compassion, and love, serves as a powerful model for leaders today.

Examples like this in these include the likes of Mother Theresa and Mahatma Ghandi.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” -Jack Welch


In conclusion, these Biblical leaders, with their unique styles and contexts, offer diverse and rich perspectives on leadership, reminding us that effective leadership can take many forms and is often shaped by one’s character, faith, and dedication to serving others.

What other examples come to mind? What are you preferred leadership styles? 



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