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Monday
Jan232017

I'm not a leader! Really? Are you sure about that?

Questions:

  1. How many leaders in the Bible, when first called, told God they were not a leader or that they were unable to lead?
  2. How many leaders functioning in a leadership role today have you heard say, “I am not a leader?”
  3. How many people who won’t step up to a leadership role are actually called of God to lead?

Answers: 

  1. Most of them…Jeremiah, Isaiah, and David for starters.
  2. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, quite a few.
  3. A lot--more than we think. Maybe you are one of these!

When I was in Germany a few years ago, Martin Buehlmann (who invited me) asked me when I first realized I was a leader. I told him it was a process and that there wasn’t a single day or a single moment when I said to myself, “I just now realize that I am a leader.”

I personally believe there are many leaders whom God has called into leadership who are making excuses and who are not willing to get out of their comfort zone, or who feel inadequate for the responsibility! I have felt inadequate most of my 45 years in ministry. I still fight insecurity and fear a lot of the time.

Lorne Sanny, who was president of The Navigators for 30 years used to refer to himself as the “reluctant leader”; but he was also the obedient leader, because he stepped up even though he didn’t always feel he had what it took to lead.  But Jesus has what it takes to help any leader lead--and lead well!

What exactly is leadership anyway? Is it a gift? Is it a role? Is it a position?

I believe the Bible speaks clearly of leadership as a gift. Because you have leadership on your business card or in your job title doesn’t make you a leader. There are many people in “leadership roles” who aren’t leaders; but there are many more who should be leading and are arguing with God about it.

Romans 12:3-81 Corinthians 12:27-30Ephesians 4:10-16 are some key passages that speak of leadership as a gift.  I don’t believe that everyone is a leader anymore than I believe that everyone is a teacher or an administrator. An exception needs to be made in the family where the husband is called to “lead.” But in the body, His church, there are various gifts…one of them being leadership.

I believe that leaders are people who intentionally, deliberately and proactively try to move people from where they are to where they could or should be, believing that God has called them to do this.

Moses is the best example of this that I know of. He was asked to lead a group of people (literally) from one place to another.  Exodus 32:34, ESV: “But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you…

I see the following in this verse:

  • God tapped Moses on the shoulder, spoke to him, and gave him a leadership assignment;
  • God asked Moses to lead a specific group of people, the Israelites;
  • God asked Moses to lead these Israelites from one piece of land to another--from Egypt to the promised-land.

Leaders are people with certain attributes and qualities that God has bestowed, which enable them to motivate/encourage/persuade people to go from where they are to someplace else.

In closing, here are a few, perhaps painful, questions:

  1. Are you a called leader who is making excuses and refuses to lead?
  2. Have you been telling God and others that you are not a leader, but in your heart of hearts you know that you are?
  3. Are you running from God’s clear word to you as Jonah did?

+The body of Christ needs you. Step up and step out in dependence on Jesus and watch what He does…in spite of your insecurities and inadequacies. 

Saturday
Jan212017

Do you feel like you need a vacation or is it something else you really need?

Do you need a vacation or a sabbatical or is it something else you really need?

Brian Howard share some terrific insight as to what the  real issues are with lots of tired and exhausted leaders who are moving toward burnout!

Originally posted by Brian Howard

Why a vacation won’t solve our problem.

Are you exhausted, burned out, and hoping that a vacation or sabbatical will fix your issue? You are likely mistaken. If you want to live a full, healthy, and rested life, you are going to have to address the root issue of the burnout. Fail to do this, and you will simply find yourself right back where you started after your time away.

Seth Godin says; “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”

The real issue for an exhausted person is not about getting a vacation but creating a life where you will not end up run into the ground. How can you create a life where your work makes an impact but where you are also creating space for rest? Here are five suggestions for setting up a life you don’t need to escape from:

1 Create a Plan to Guide Your Decisions

 For many years now, I have annually written out and implemented a Life Plan. Over the past decade, I have lived it out, taught it, and coached scores of leaders through Life Planning. Writing and living out a life plan is one of the best investments you can make. Assessing your life and planning where you want to go will yield tremendous results. Once you have written a Life Plan, commit to reading it weekly and planning accordingly.

2 Put in Place a Fixed Work Week

A common thread among burned out leaders is a lack of an intentional and planned week. Consider your top few priorities, and build a week where you prioritize each. I schedule intentional time weekly to invest in those whom I lead, plan and block intentional times to write, and have a regular set schedule where I coach a few key leaders. In the book, The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, The authors contend that discipline is not the key to prioritization. Discipline is only necessary for a short amount of time until you build a habit. Discipline yourself to create an ideal work week and stick to it for a few weeks until you have created a new habit.

3 Establish Boundaries

Have you established boundaries? What time will you finish working every day? Are evenings and weekends different than workdays? How will you deal with texts and work emails after hours? How many evenings will you commit to being at home weekly? For 23 years now, I have spent at least five evenings per week with my family. That’s one of the boundaries that I have set and lived out. What are your boundaries? Where will you draw the line?

4 Be OK with Saying “No.”

If you are going to create a life that you don’t need to escape from you are going to need to get comfortable saying no.

When we consider whether to say, “Yes” or “No,” one helpful question to ask is, “What are the true costs of saying, ‘No’?” I have found that often there are no real costs. In reality, you can say “No” much more than you currently do and experience no consequences for doing so. How can I make better decisions on when to say “No?”  Consider the following questions:

1. If I say, “No” will I damage a valuable relationship?

2. Will saying, “No” cost me financially?

3. Will saying, “No” jeopardize my employment?

4. What other opportunities will saying, “No” allow me to pursue?

If you say yes to everything, you are likely to head toward burnout.

5 Consider Implementing Rhythms of Rest

 A starting point for considering rhythms of rest may be:

 

  • Four hours off every day
  • One day off every week
  • Two-three days off every month
  • One day off every quarter

 

In many cases, you can take mini vacations every day and every week. Spend a few hours a day completely away from your work. Take a 24 hour day off once per week and stay away from everything that has to do with your work.

Don’t check email or respond to work texts. If possible, put your cell phone away and spend time in person with friends or family. A long weekend once per month away from work has the potential to leave you rested and ready to make an impact in your work.

And if you can pull it off, vacation three or four times per year rather than just in the summer. Saving all of your vacation until you are about to die in July may not be the best strategy for rest. Knowing that you are only three months away from a week away will likely give you the endurance to press through a difficult work season.

You aren’t helping yourself or anyone else if you burn out in a few years. Instead, create a life where you can make a long-term impact.

If you found this post helpful, please share it below!

 The post Why A Vacation Won’t Solve Your Problem appeared first on Brian Howard.

 

Thursday
Jan192017

How to know if your church or organization is in trouble, or heading for trouble!

There are churches and organizations that are in trouble, or heading for trouble, but don't realize it.

Here are some signs you may be approaching turbulent rapids or a big waterfall that can wreck havoc with your leadership boat!

 1. The Senior Leader Is Often Caught Off Guard And Surprised By Team Members And Circumstances: 

This is often due to lack of preparation as well as taking time to think, pray and plan. The person responsible has become more of a manager than a real leader. Are you blindsided by what people are saying and what circumstances are coming up? Do people on your team see things before you do? Do you often have no sense of what’s really going on?

2. Followers Are Looking Elsewhere For Leadership Rather Than To The Leader And His Executive Team: 

Some are even looking outside the organization or church.  Have you lost credibility and people’s confidence in your leadership?

3. The Senior Leader Does Not Look Forward To Meeting With His Own Team: 

He/she doesn’t appreciate and affirm them and doesn’t celebrate wins with them (small and large). Meetings with the leadership team is the low point, not the high point, of the week.

4. The Trust Level In The Leadership Team Is Sinking Fast And Is At An All-Time Low: 

It’s the elephant in the room which nobody has the courage to talk about. Fear rules the culture.

5. Key Leaders Are Leaving The Organization But Not Saying Why, Nor Being Asked Why: 

When there is more than the normal turnover at the top levels of leadership, it is often a sign that the organization is in trouble.

6. The Senior Leader Is No Longer Learning And Growing: 

He thinks he knows it all and rarely asks for input and ideas from others in the organization. He can even get angry when an idea of his is challenged or a better idea is presented.

7. New And Younger Leaders Are Nowhere To Be Found: 

Most of the key leadership is 55 and older, possessive of authority and reluctant to develop capable, godly younger leaders. Much of what these older leaders are doing is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

8. The Senior Leader Is Increasingly Operating From Fear And Insecurity Rather Than Faith And Confidence: 

If you are leading, ask yourself if you are secure enough in your identity with Jesus and who you are to allow those around you to succeed without feeling jealous. Do you easily rejoice when others on your team are successful without much help from you, or do you resent it?

9. The Senior Leader Has No Idea What Team Members Are Thinking And Feeling: 

The leader almost never asks questions as to what is going on in the lives of those he leads and is not sincerely interested in their well-being.

10. There Is More Talk About Yesterday Than Tomorrow: 

More time is spent looking in the rear view mirror than through the windshield. The “good old days” are looking better than the future days. Do you honestly feel that your best days are in front of you or behind you.

“Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. People who take the lead are the foot soldiers in the campaigns for change…the unique reason for having leaders—their differentiating function—is to move us forward. Leaders get us going someplace.”

-Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Wednesday
Jan182017

A priceless quality every leader needs to possess to lead well.

Brad Lomenick shares a priceless quality that leaders want to see in an employee or volunteer who is in a key role.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

I love leaders who execute. Leaders who get it done.

Leaders who can take a project across the finish line.

Leaders who know how to finish. And are motivated towards completion. 

When it comes to hiring new employees, no other characteristic is more important than someone who can finish. It is the #1 trait related to work ethic that I look for in a new hire.

Anyone can come up with a new idea, a new concept, a new pithy word, a new organization, or a new perspective. "Ideators" and idea people are fairly easy to locate and include in your organizational process. What ultimately matters is whether you can take an idea from concept to completion. And to do that, you have to have finishers on your team.

The folks who are intrinsically wired to make things happen, and bulldog their way to the finish line. Those who find joy in checking things off the list. But not just a task machine. What matters is whether you can carry the ball all the way down the field and cross the finish line.

Take a moment and think about who that is on your team. If you don't have someone in this role, go find them immediately. This is incredibly important if you are the leader- you have to have someone on your team in whom you have ultimate confidence that if you hand them a project, they will get it done... and without your constant management of them. The answer can't constantly be "we're still working on it....". You're either moving forward or backwards.

Ultimately, my recommendation is that everyone on the team plays the finisher role. Now some have to more than others, but no one can or should only be the "idea" person. Everyone is required to execute and own projects from start to finish. It's a non-negotiable. As a team, take incredible pride in being able to take a concept and turn it into a finished project. Make it a distinctive part of your culture. Make it part of your DNA. 

 

Monday
Jan162017

Building or re-building trust on your team!

In his seminal book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni mentions the absence of trust as the first step downward from healthy team dynamics.

When someone on your team, in your organization, or in your family says, “I don’t trust you,” a meaningful relationship is on the downhill slide. Now I’m sure that quite a list of things could be created in order to build or regain trust that has been lost.

From my personal experience and observations as a coach and leader, here is a short list to facilitate both the building and regaining of the critical trust component in any team endeavor, whatever that endeavor might be:

1.  KEEP YOUR WORD

 If you told someone you would call them, then call them. If you said you would have what they requested on Friday, then have it on Friday. If you said you would meet them at a certain place/time, then be there and be on time. Believe me, when I say that simply being good for your word builds credibility and trust and, conversely, being a person who says one thing and does another on a consistent basis will cause a major trust leak in your relationships.

2.  TELL THE TRUTH

Even if it hurts or causes embarrassment, tell the truth.  If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to have a great memory. How many leaders have you known, read about or heard about that were caught in lie after lie. They were congenital liars and had perfected it to an art. They could lie right to your face and make you believe them (at least some of the time.)

Some leaders have gone to their graves believing their own lies, which they told themselves and others for years. It was lies that brought down former President Richard Nixon. It was years of lies that caused the demise of business leaders like Bernie Madoff.  They lied to themselves, their families and their business associates.

3.  BE TRANSPARENT

Be real and be open. Be who you are and don’t try to be someone else. Share as much as you can of your life, your mistakes, your weaknesses.  I used to think that people would not respect me if I confessed sin and displayed weakness or if I said I didn’t know when asked a question. It took me years to understand that being vulnerable and transparent gained respect, not lost it.

4.  OVER COMMUNICATE

In my opinion, it’s better to over communicate than to under communicate. Within reason, and not compromising sensitive information that simply cannot be shared, share as much and as often as you possibly can. Trust begins to fade when people think you are hiding something from them or covering something up.

5.  UNDER PROMISE AND OVER DELIVER RATHER THAN OVER PROMISE AND UNDER DELIVER

 How many times have I heard someone say, “I’ll have it done by_____.”  The day and time comes and goes and it’s not done. I have learned the hard way…if I promise, I will do it. Even if I have to stay up all night, I will do as promised.

 Since I don’t relish the thought of staying up all night, I’m slow to make promises which I’m not reasonably sure (no matter how hard I’m pressured to promise) I can fulfill. This is especially true of children who have long memories of the broken promises their parents made to them. Not a legacy you want to leave!

What I often do now is ask, “When do you need this, at the latest?”  Then I will think about it, pray abut it and look at my schedule to make a determination if it is possible. I’d rather say, “I will do my best to have it for you on_____, but cannot promise.”  It’s part of being good for your word, which (sad to say) many leaders are not. It’s encouraging to see the face of someone light up when they got something earlier than promised. You can light up the faces of others, and save face yourself, by under promising and over delivering.

So, now it’s your turn! What would you add to this list? What, from your experience as a leader, have you learned that builds trust or regains lost trust?