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Leadership Emergence

Updated: Dec 10, 2018

In my previous posts I discussed the significance of leadership attributes and how an organization can prevent leadership derailment by employing leaders that are effective. This post sheds light on leadership emergence, which is a leadership theory that many organizations are using to enhance effectiveness in their leaders. This theory is beneficial because many leadership development approaches have addressed surface structure skills as opposed to the deeper, principled aspects of leadership, to help develop long-term effective leaders. Literature shows the need to dive several layers deep and to focus on the need for the identification of strong aspects of leadership.


The leadership emergence theory focuses on the concept regarding principals of the bible, particularly how Christian views are aligned with leadership. Due to the increase in spirituality in the workplace, which is a movement with individuals seeking to live their faith and spiritual values in the workplace, leadership emergence is increasing in popularity as organizations find ways to enhance leadership in their employees. Robert Clinton, the founder of the theory, states that the theory focuses on concept that life is used by God to develop a leader to influence both formal and informal processes. Clinton defines leadership emergence as the overall process in which God is at work in selecting that leader to become the leader God wants him to be. Throughout the life of a leader, certain incidents happen that shape the leader’s character, leadership skills, and leadership values. This theory is based on the premise that leadership selection is a lifetime process in which God continues to select leaders for leadership responsibilities at higher levels.


The constructs of the theory divides the leadership formation and emergence process into six stages over the lifetime of the leader.

  • Phase I is called the Sovereign Foundations phase. God works with the foundational items in the life of the leader for future leadership beginning from birth.

  • Phase II is the Inner Life Growth phase. The emerging leader receives both informal and formal training.

  • Phase III is the Ministry Maturing phase. Emerging leaders serve in ministry as their prime focus and get further training.

  • Phase IV, is the Life Maturing phase, during which the emerging leader is able to identify and begin using his combination of gifts, training, and experience with effectiveness and impact, and learns to develop its use to its full potential.

  • Phase V, the Convergence phase, in which the leader becomes most effective in his role as a leader and in his ministry, as his potential is maximized and exercised.

  • Phase VI. the Celebration phase, which follows the active ministry of a leader by influencing a community based on a lifetime legacy of leadership.

Research has shown that the leadership emergence theory can produce effective leaders if they are prone to spiritual tendencies of having a strong belief in God, which can increase leadership effectiveness and success within a leader. Although effective leadership depends on the traits of the leader, management can set the tone and leadership climate within an organization to enable leaders to perform at higher levels while becoming more effective leaders in an organization.

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