4 Ways to Be Present as a Leader


Leadership is not really about being in charge, there is way more to it than that.

If you are having to wave around your ‘title‘ or keep reminding people that ‘you should be allowed to do what you want because you are the boss’ thenI want to suggest your leadership may be in need of a review.

The best leaders are the leaders who have a presence. Not in a ‘big brother’, or ‘the boss is watching’ kind of way. It comes through in how people behave, the culture, the communication, the atmosphere. It is hard to define, you could say it’s more ‘felt than telt’.

It’s not about being ‘the boss’ either, ‘telling people’ or even about giving directions all the time on how things ‘must’ be done. It’s not about rocking up and just complaining, correcting and finding fault. You will have a presence but it will not be a healthy one. Anyone can do that.

Instead, it’s about how you show up, how you make others feel, and how effectively you communicate both verbally and non-verbally.  It’s lending a hand. It’s giving a word of encouragement. It’s about seeing your team and acknowledging the effort. It’s about asking the right questions, hearing them and seeing what they need to make them even more effective.

I am always working hard on my leadership and the way I come across by focussing on the following 4 things…

Demonstrate a confidence in your team. Think about it, they are not trying to get it wrong. No one wants to crash. A little bit of belief makes a massive difference. Focus on the wins, give them the thumbs up, be part of the ‘we can do it’ mentality. Confidence breeds confidence.

Praise publicly and criticise in private. Too easy to find fault and go straight what’s not working or not done. I have made that mistake and it was an uncomfortable lesson to learn. When things are not quite right, they usually already know it. Save the comments and review for a more appropriate time.

Watch the non-verbals too. The face struggles to lie. Whether it be disapproval, the rolling of the eyes, or just not seeing people doing things well, the non-verbals are often more powerful than the words we speak. Smile more. Help them out if needed.

Talk with them rather than to them. Ask questions. Learn about their world. Be genuinely interested. As a leader we know what we want and we are trying to make sure others understand that.  It can seem counter-intuitive to slow things down but by being there for the team, serving them, getting involved in their lives and knowing what’s going on will eventually see a lift in productivity and progress happens.

What would you add to this thought? Do you agree or disagree? What’s your experience of a leader with great ‘presence’?

6 Benefits of Leaders Working Together

When leaders work together you don’t only get things done but there are other benefits too:

Synergy. You create something greater than the sum of all the parts. 

Momentum. You make forward progress. Not just little steps either but leaps forward. 

Appreciation. You see the value that each person brings to the table. 

Soaring with Strengths. You soar with your strengths while others soar with theirs. 

Vision is Accomplished. You see what you are dreaming for becoming a reality as you work on it together. 

Culture Created. You build the culture of the organisation rather than forcing it. 

I’m sure there is more. What would you add to the list?

I Appreciate You

Just so you know, (put on best Southern drawl American accent), ‘I appreciate you’. 

I jest, but these three small words can seem hard for some people to say despite how powerful they are when spoken and received by the hearer.

It’s easy to make comments, find fault, defend your corner and have an opinion. Maybe we need to learn to say ‘Well done’, ‘Good job’, and ‘I appreciate what you have done’ more often. 

So let me be first to say to all the teams who serve across all our locations at Xcel, ‘I appreciate you’. Your effort, your sacrifice and your willingness to do whatever it takes to build local church does not go unnoticed. Thank you. 

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

Undervalued Leads to Underperformance 

It’s tough as a leader to hear that a team feels undervalued but it’s important that they feel able to tell you.

It doesn’t matter whether they are actually undervalued or not. If they feel like it, then that perception will eventually feed into the team, their attitudes and how they perform.

Undervalued people will leave teams. 

Undervalued people will leave teams and tell people why. 

Undervalued people will leave teams and tell people why, which can foster animosity towards those who lead.

Nobody wants any of that.

Yet it happens. Not deliberately either. Leaders are busy people and at times they have an eye on one of many things. That’s not an excuse, just a reality. 

Possible antidotes in this:

Leaders – increase your levels of awareness, to know what’s going on, ask the questions, invite feedback, don’t allow ignorance to be an excuse any longer. 

Team – have patience, your leaders are humans too, they get it right and they get it wrong, they may not see it but it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Don’t quit the team, instead help your leader lead. 

What’s your experience of this and how have you dealt with it?

Big Conversations

Leadership involves BIG conversations. Not always easy or comfortable but absolutely necessary.

BIG courage.
BIG vision.
BIG hearts.
BIG minds.

Big courage to hear what may be difficult to hear.

Big vision to see the future even though the view maybe different to yours.

Big hearts so that you don’t fall out with people who are on your team.

Big minds to be open to new ideas.

I love that the team I work with can be honest, open and forthright at times. We can disagree. We can challenge ideas. We can say no. All done not just to be awkward but with the purpose of discovering the best way forward. That’s the quality of a great team.

BIG conversations lead to BIG visions being accomplished.

I would rather be on a team like that than one geared more towards SMALL conversations because the vision doesn’t challenge things enough, doesn’t stretch the imagination or need any difficult decisions to be made.

Always go BIG.

5 Tips for Team Leaders

What does it take to be a team leader?

The ability to lead a team well is an art. It’s a gift. Everyone thinks they can do this but in my experience, that’s just not true. Yet to become a great leader, this is probably the place where we begin. A leader of 10. A leader of a small group and taking them somewhere.

Team leaders are a part of the common cause that drives other individuals to become part of the team. They may have ultimate responsibility but how they lead the team will determine how successful or otherwise the team becomes.

Here’s 5 quick things to help you become a better team leader:

Know why the team exists. Why does the team actually exist? Why are you here? If you don’t know the cause then what’s the point of even turning up. Keep the ‘why’ at the forefront of all you do otherwise the team will create its own agenda and sense of purpose.

Be good with people. If you are not good with people then don’t expect to be a good team leader. ‘This is the way I am’ is not an excuse. A team leader is responsible for the care of the team members, for knowing more than their name and the task they must complete. Learn about people to become good with people.

Make it fun. There are times when being a task-master is important, after all we are in this team to achieve something. Just remember along the way or when it’s done to celebrate, have a party, acknowledge the success, say ‘thank-you’.

Be prepared. Once you know why the team exists, start thinking about ‘what’ the team must do and ‘how’ the team could actually do it. Think strategically. Have some ideas. Make some notes. Lay out a plan. Get yourself prepared. It’s not all on you as leader but the team will expect that you have at least given it some thought.

Have an open mind. You may be prepared with a plan but don’t exclude the rest of the team. You might be the leader but that doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on good ideas. Encourage contribution. Empower them to own the vision. Let them see that you don’t only speak but that you listen too. Use some of their ideas.

Great team leaders are an essential part of seeing a vision fulfilled. If you are their leader then remember that they need support, resources and lots of encouragement. You may never see the vision accomplished without them. Find them. Care for them. Feed them. Be there for them.

A Full Tuesday

Today I had a few things I wanted to get completed…

The next preaching series. Every month those of who are involved in preaching across Xcel get together to discuss upcoming themes. We share scriptures, ideas and resources with the aim of planning what we hope will be a helpful, inspirational and challenging series. After we complete The Jesus Lifestyle we will be heading into a preaching series all about Grace.

Right now we are in the series formation stage. This involves getting everyones input and then creating the journey. The series is actually going to be called ‘GRACE THROUGH THE EYES OF…’ and we will use Bible characters to help display the many facets of God’s amazing grace. The journey will take us from Old to New Testament, to see the ever present thread of God’s grace, moving to the place of looking at grace through our own eyes and the eyes of the Church.

So today was about getting that together which will obviously help the teaching team. It’s also useful for the Planet Kids and Planet Youth teams as they also teach from the same theme but in their own style.

Almost finished this today.

The Xcel Future Leaders programme [XFL]. There’s a whole bunch of admin that goes with this so we are ready for the launch next Monday. We have learned some stuff from last year, so we take the best of that and add to it for this time. I can delegate some of this but the overall design of this years XFL as well as any other short courses we run at Xcel is on my desk.

Catch-ups. One with my Lead Pastor. One with our PAIS team leader. They are up and running and will be in school all day tomorrow. Another with our Youth Pastor who was popping in ahead of the relaunch on Friday night.

Never got to the XFL stuff. Never chatted with PAIS. I forgot about a dental trip for 2 of my daughters so that kind of interfered with the day, which meant leaving the office at about 2pm, doing the school tour, get to dentist, back home and then food shop so we can eat tonight. That stuff moves to Thursday now.

Tonight was CG at Pastor Johns. Good food, great company, a bit of conversation, discussion and then we prayed together too. The team I get to do life with are incredible. So much wisdom, strength, faith, experience, ideas, encouragement and real desire to build the local church and see God’s kingdom established. I don’t want to be anywhere else!

It’s been a FULL day. Just not quite as planned. I love my job and count it a privilege to do what I do.