5 Things Leaders Think About

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A leaders view is usually different to everyone else. They have already seen where they want to take people. The vision is very clear. Just like standing on the mountain top on a clear day, seeing for miles in full colour, all around, a great panoramic view. The challenges lay more in how to take everyone on the journey, to help them to see the future and to want to make progress towards it.

Leaders maybe look out from the summit and wonder how shall we do this? They think about the difficult questions, the balance different aspects and facets of leadership and decision making like others on the journey with them may not.

From my limited experience here are 5 possible areas of thought (potential areas of disagreement)

Big picture  vs  Small details

Making decisions individually  vs  Making decisions collaboratively

Listening to the right opinion  vs  Ignoring the wrong opinion

Staying inside the lines  vs  Thinking outside the box

Honouring the past  vs  Living for today  vs  Building for the future

Why Should People Follow You? [Friday Leaders Post]

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I have learned the hard way that leadership is about more than title, it’s about more than being in a role for a long time, it’s even about more than being the oldest person in the room.

Maybe we are in a leadership role or we have a desire to be a leader in the future. Wherever we find ourselves on the leadership journey it is important that we are willing to reflect on our progress.

I have made a quick list of things that I think every leader should reflect upon., especially would-be leaders.  They may not be worded brilliantly but I hope you get the sentiment behind them. This is the kind of self-awareness I would rather discover for myself, while praying and seeking God, than have some random person come up and tell me.

Take some time to think about which side of the sentence you fall on?

You want to be a leader who others will follow but are not willing to be the follower of your own leader.

You talk about being an example but are not an example. 

You talk about giving but don’t give. 

You are happy telling others what needs to be done but not happy to do anything yourself. 

You consider your own image and reputation to be more important than that of your team. 

You say it’s all about Jesus but when people see you their opinion would be that it’s all about you. 

You talk about being teachable but are unwilling to listen to others and learn. 

You talk about a need for grace but are unforgiving towards others. 

You talk about being a leader but don’t actually lead. 

You want to be judged by your intentions while judging others based on their actions. 

You are quick to complain about others but not quick to receive the same complaints made about you. 

You see the speck as a problem in another’s eye but avoid the honking great tree in your own.

You pay attention to the level of good character and integrity in other leaders while not paying enough attention to your own character and integrity as a leader.

Leadership isn’t easy, not should it be. Like anything we want to be successful at, it takes hard work, determination, perseverance, a lot of honesty and a willingness to learn and to change.

What might you add to the list?

50 Things That Every Leader Should Consider

Here’s a list of things that should concern anyone who wants to be a leader. I might unpack them throughout 2016. They are not in any particular order at the moment.
  1. Knowing the ‘why’?
  2. Understanding success
  3. Learning from failure
  4. Getting out of your comfort zone
  5. Becoming magnificent & not being ordinary
  6. Advanced decision making
  7. Making great decisions
  8. Building the right reputation
  9. Learning to speak well
  10. Having respect
  11. Being truthful
  12. Communicating effectively
  13. Learn how to get your point across
  14. Difference between good and great
  15. Integrity
  16. Setting higher standards
  17. Changing things
  18. Increasing your capacity
  19. Lifting your game
  20. Understanding the relationship matrix
  21. Building the right relationships
  22. Being disciplined
  23. Investing in yourself
  24. Keeping the BIG picture in mind
  25. The power of a goal and doing them right
  26. Better time management
  27. Your attitude
  28. Having a spirit of excellence
  29. Using your initiative
  30. Having some determination
  31. Finishing well
  32. An eye on the detail
  33. Taking responsibility
  34. Taking risks
  35. Pioneering
  36. Listening well
  37. Knowing how to be assertive
  38. Confrontation
  39. Handling the criticism
  40. Knowing your purpose
  41. Developing others
  42. Always serving
  43. Adding Value
  44. Developing your ability to see
  45. Understanding the power of ability
  46. Building a team
  47. Dealing with the overwhelm
  48. Stopping the procrastination
  49. Mentoring and being mentored
  50. Always learning
I would love to hear from you.
Would you add anything else?
What do you think comes first?

Leaders: Be Impatient for the Right Things

Among the many things I have learned on my leadership journey this particular ability is an ongoing area for improvement. Sometimes you get it right, others times, not so much. Tell me what you think after reading this.

It is tough being in charge. Making things happen. Getting others to make things happen. It can bring you great joy but it can also bring you great frustration too. The challenge is to not become impatient for the wrong things, only for the right things.

Being impatient can be good BUT it can cause us to react badly, to become excessively brash, to assert our authority inappropriately, to make rash decisions, to upset the team, to be overly nit-picky, to miss out on what is being done well, or just not explain ourselves clearly enough. Impatience for the wrong things can cause us to become passionate about things that in reality don’t really matter.

Patience maybe a virtue but I do think a good leader can be impatient about some things too…

  • Wanting the best for people and to see them flourish.
  • Rooting out bad practices that hinder the right results.
  • Getting rid of gossip, slander and all wrong kinds of negativity.
  • Helping people remember the why and inspiring them about the future.
  • To not being stuck but making progress with the vision.
  • That we are not seeing the right kind of change in people’s lives, we are not making a difference in our community, we are not fulfilling the call of God on our lives.

This is why I think leadership is an art. Getting that balance right can be tricky. People don’t like it when we become impatient about the wrong things or even about the right things but in the wrong way. Yet they will follow us wholeheartedly if we are impatient for the right things and in the right way too.

Your thoughts?

 

Leaders Pay Attention to Detail

Having an eye for the detail is about caring enough as a leader that what we want to see happen is actually happening.

It’s not about micro-managing but it is about asking some critical questions. After all, leaders lead. Questions that will help us move forward, improve, and hopefully bring the success we desire. To not care about the detail is to not care about the vision.

  • Are we ready?
  • Do we have everything prepared that we said would be prepared?
  • Practicals?
  • Teams?
  • Do people know what they should be doing?
  • More importantly, do they know why they have been asked to do it?
  • Are we ready for the unexpected?
  • Have we missed anything?

As leaders in Xcel we meet every week and ask questions like this. We are passionate about making sure that what we say we are as a Church is actually the experience people get when they come to Church. It’s not coming from a position of criticism but instead from a place of understanding that the experience someone has will impact their willingness to return, which ultimately affects their relationship with God.

The stakes are high, so we want the welcome, the worship, the word, the atmosphere, the connections, the teams, everything to be done well. We are not looking for perfection, but being excellent with what we have, doing all we can to move people on in their journey with God and with others.

Check out some posts I wrote a few years ago on this topic: The Detail Test, Detail Test 2, Detail Requires Time, Detail Brings Reward, Where Are You on The Detail Test

Leadership Stuff I’m Always Learning

In no particular order of importance, here’s a bunch of things I am always working on and continue to learn about…

Learn to be the ultimate servant. Leaders serve people. When you stop serving or look for reasons why you don’t have to then maybe you are beginning to rely too much on your title. Where can you make your serve more effective?

Learn to listen. We love to talk but it’s the art of listening that can make all the difference. People want to know they are being heard. Who needs you to listen?

Learn to hear God. As much as we need to learn to listen to people, hearing the whisper of God is more important. What has God been saying to you recently? Have you heard His voice lately?

Learn to think. Such an under-rated skill, thinking. Sometimes we don’t know what to do and it’s often just for a lack of thinking it through. Create some space, remove distractions and mull it over. Where are you stuck? What needs some thinking time?

Learn to pray. Prayer makes a difference but is so often the last thing we do. As Christian leaders we probably all need to focus more on this one. You can never pray too much, can you? What are you believing God for at the moment? Who are you praying for?

Learn to read. Leaders are readers. Simple. Reading makes you think, helps you grow, opens your mind to different ways of approaching situations. However brilliant you may be we have to remember that ‘no-one is as smart as all of us’. What are you reading right now that is challenging you in your leadership and all aspects of life?

Learn to lead through the vision. Vision is out of which flows decisions and priorities. If you don’t know the vision then you don’t know what to say yes and no to. Leading through the vision will also help others understand why we do what we do. Are you leading through the vision or your own personal preferences?

Learn the values and the culture of where you are one of the leaders. It’s not my way that matters. I may consider it to be the greatest idea since sliced bread but if it doesn’t match the values and culture of where I am then it will only work against what is being built. All I create is a sub-culture and that is never healthy. Are you over protective of where you lead? Are you empowering of the next generation?

Learn about people. John Maxwell writes that ‘people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’. To care does not come naturally, very often it takes quite a bit of effort. How do your people skills need to improve? How can you improve your understanding of those you lead?

Learn to honest, open and transparent. Sam Chand writes that the culture of an organisation should be like this. For that to happen it must start with those who lead. We demand it of others, we want them to admit mistakes, be accepting of new ideas and able to share experiences, so why don’t we do the same. Where are you pointing the finger at others and saying they are wrong while not placing yourself as a leader under the same scrutiny?

These are a good place to start in our leadership learning. What would add, if anything, to the list?

Don’t Take It Personally

One of the biggest things you have to learn as a leader is to not take things personally.

Leadership isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone, so don’t make it harder by taking stuff that you don’t need to take on. Carrying extra baggage only makes the leadership journey harder than it already is. Here’s some things I’ve had to learn that are just a part of being a leader…

Pop shots at how you lead. The ‘You’re a lovely person but…’ kind of statement.

Questioning what you do. The ‘Why have you come here?’ type stuff. Or the ‘I wouldn’t do it that way’ comments.

Those last-minute changes. The ‘Can we do this now’ which comes from our leaders that can be thrown upon us.

Team challenges. Missing team. Why aren’t they turning up and how we think it’s our fault.

As a leader we have said we will carry it, we will cover it, we will own it, which means all this stuff and more is inevitable. It’s not personal. I have discovered that the only reason I take it personally is because there maybe an element of truth in it and I don’t like the challenge.

Here are the questions I ask myself,,.

What can I learn here and do I need to make any changes? Even if I 100% disagree there is obviously a perception about me coming through so I am wise to take note. Often the reasons we don’t like how we feel is because there some truth in what we hear. We are not being a very good leader. No one enjoys listening to something when it reveals an element of truth. Be honest with yourself and look at how you may need to grow. 

Who are making the challenges or comments? If it’s from those who lead me then sometimes I just have to suck it up and do it. If it’s from the team then perhaps I have to see if I’m leading them well enough. From anywhere else, I can listen but may choose to ignore it after asking myself the first question.

How am I growing myself? Sometimes I haven’t responded well to the challenges of leadership. One thing though has helped over the years ~ always be learning. Read, listen, have some accountability. Whatever works for you but I know that when I’m not doing anything to grow my leadership capacity I become more susceptible to taking things personally.

My final comment is this. Even when it gets personal don’t take it personally. Most of the the time we choose to take it personally when we don’t need to. On rare occasions it will be personal, maybe even downright nasty. Stay calm. Don’t argue. Ask yourself the questions. Move on. Don’t take it with you.

Leadership isn’t easy. It is a challenge. However the rewards are amazing and I wouldn’t change what I get the privilege to do every day.

What would you add to help leaders not take things personally?

Always Ready

Leaders lead.

One thing I have had to learn (in 25yrs of various leadership roles) is that when it comes to leadership, even when it’s a day off, that doesn’t disqualify you from your leadership position.

This is not an argument for being a workaholic and never having time off. Rest and relaxation are very important. It’s just my realisation that leaders can delegate as much as they like, can be away from their desk and not ‘actually’ be the one doing the work, yet they are still leading.

In fact, how things are when you are not there is often a bigger sign of your leadership ability than when you are.

Leaders are always ready. They are never ‘off’. It’s never alright to say ‘that’s not my job’.

I have come to rest comfortably that I am always leading, therefore I am always ready, for both the expected and the unexpected. That I cannot be ‘off duty’ and act ‘however’ because even the casual moments are moments that others may observe. Integrity is won and lost more in those ‘moments’ than in the ‘work’ times.

Always ready. If you don’t want that then my suggestion is simple…don’t be a leader.