4 Ways to Be Present as a Leader

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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’?

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5 Ways to Help Leaders Think

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Here are 5 quick things I have learned when it comes to the thinking aspect of being a leader. I recognise this may not come easy to everyone but I have discovered the importance of the thinking the process, and how much it is an essential aspect of leadership which every leader must embrace.

To not think things through could be seen as ignorant, maybe lazy, perhaps a little dangerous.

Create Space. For me I have to be deliberate and block out time, even to the point of putting it in the diary as an appointment sometimes.

Learn they way which works for you. I like a clear desk and a pile of clean sheets of paper and then I am ready to go on the journey of thinking, noting down thoughts, questions, ideas which I can come back to later. To an observer it may seem like a curious process but I have learned over the years what works for me.

Honest Reflection. We have to be willing to ask the more difficult questions. It’s not about what I think is right for me but rather what is right for what or who I am leading, to which there is a subtle difference.

Good sounding boards. My personality is more introvert and therefore I naturally lean to sitting on my own to work things through. However, that is not the best kind of leadership. Getting the right people around me can help take my own good thoughts and make them even better. Plus it is good to be able to ask someone else who you trust and who shares the same vision, values and heart as you, ‘what do you think?’

Time with God. I can have great thoughts but what I really want are Gods thoughts. All of the above are only as useful as it is to make time to hear from God, what does He think, how is He wanting to lead and direct me. One of my favourite scriptures is from Proverbs 16:9 ‘A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps’.

There are benefits to thinking things through properly, none so more powerful than just not looking like you haven’t really thought about it. People are not always keen to follow a leader who doesn’t seem to care or give them confidence of any thought or preparation.

Thinking things through builds trust. It creates a greater sense of team, if we involve them too in the thinking process. It shares responsibility too. It reveals how much you actually care about who or what it is you are leading.

Why not take some time this week and create your own thinking plan. Think about how you will make time to think. I guarantee it will be worth it, for you and for your teams.

Any other suggestions in regard to this idea of leadership and thinking?

Today’s Leadership Reminders

Reading feedback today from our first Growth Track session last night and I am reminded of some important leadership principles…

Be willing to listen to other peoples opinions. It can make for uncomfortable reading but by involving others you have the potential to take something which is good and make it so much better. This is why I love that we are doing a ‘pilot run’ of the Growth Track, for such a reason and some of the comments are great.

Be willing to admit when it wasn’t quite right. All the planning in the world doesn’t make up for actually going through something with a bunch of people. The feedback just reminded me of things I had meant to say, they were in my notes but I just forgot.

Be willing to work hard at making necessary changes. Some of these are on me to do and then getting others to help with the rest. It’s no good listening to comments to just ignore them. Leaders execute stuff, they get stuff done and work hard to make things better.

Team is always best. This for me is an example of Team Xcel at it’s very best, collaborating on what we all agree will be a great success and help many people in their journey with God. Team can also help in making the suggestions happen too.

It’s all about helping people move on one step with God. It’s why I am excited about the Growth Track and what it can mean for people and their connection with God, with others, with their purpose and with the church family.

What have your leadership reminders been today?

Give What You Want

To lead well in life is to not get stuck being someone pointing out problems and becoming someone who chooses to become a part of the solution. If you want something, then instead of pointing to others and asking them to ‘sort it’, why not start and try to give it yourself.

Here’s how it can work…

Need more friends, then be more friendly. 

Want people to listen to you, then begin by listening to others. 

Feeling you’re being overlooked, then start noticing people. 

Never receive any thanks, then give some. 

Want to be more connected, then be the one who makes connection. 

Aspire to be a leader, then show a greater willingness to be led. 

Believing for a great future, start believing in a great now. 

Hey, you might add others to this list. It’s just a thought that follows on from my others this week about how to lead well in life. Check them out and tell me what you think…

Leading Well in Life

Be Willing to Learn

Stretch Yourself

The Unlearn Adventure

So, the invites for the ‘front-yard’ BBQ have gone out and now we are looking forward to meeting some of the neighbours. 

It’s not rocket science. I’m supposed to know the people I live next too and if I’m honest, I know some of their names but I don’t ‘know’ them. I have been here 9 years which is just makes this embarrassing really. 

I am unlearning connection. 

I am unlearning the way things are. 

I am having to relearn getting to know people. 

Here’s to seeing what unfolds. #unlearn

5 Areas for Continuous Improvement as an Exec Pastor

It’s easy to get caught up in the doing of a job, be overly-led by a job role/description, maybe even make the Executive Pastor [XP] role too operational. In my opinion it is much more than just keeping an eye on the budget and all that stuff, although they are very important.

Here are 5 things I work on and remind myself of often which I hope help me in my role as an XP .

To Be a Better Listener. I acknowledge this is a much needed area of improvement for me. I like to give an opinion, yet I am learning that the XP role requires a greater willingness to listen. It has to be about helping others feel like they have been heard and understood, even if the answer is still no or not yet.

To Become More Solution-Orientated. This doesn’t mean I fix everything but I can give time and attention to a challenge or idea that others may not be able to. Sometimes this can involve some tough conversations, asking the difficult questions and digging in to understand something properly. The bigger challenge is doing so in as graceful was as possible.

To Develop Others. I am always reminding myself, what we do is all about people. I  might love a good system or process to help move things forward, however there is no substitute for being more focused on growing bigger people.

To Make it More Fun. I mentioned in church the other Sunday how I used to be the life and soul of the party and that maybe I have allowed an appropriate level of sarcasm to become cynicism. There’s an honest ouch! Life should definitely be more fun.

To Always Know the Heart of my Lead Pastor. Probably the most essential. Knowing what to say yes or no to depends on me knowing and understanding my Lead Pastors heart. This means good, regular, open and honest communication, alongside the need for a strong trust-filled working relationship. If I don’t know him well enough then I cannot act on his behalf with any confidence.

I am here to serve my Lead Pastor and his vision, which is all about God and building the local church.  It’s about being able to work well with others, including people in the process, in the decisions and empowering them to make things happen.

If you are in a similar role, what would you add to this? If you are a Lead/Senior Pastor, what would your comments be?

Unlearn Church?

The recent advertising campaign by Ford challenged us to UNLEARN.

UNLEARN Postman
UNLEARN OAP
UNLEARN Pets
UNLEARN Autographs
UNLEARN Everything

Ultimately they are wanting us to think differently about cars made by Ford. To see Ford differently. The strap line they used was to ‘let go of what you know’. See the video here.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about this UNLEARN idea from a local church perspective and genuinely want to hear your thoughts. You may or may not be part of a church, that doesn’t matter.

Let me just say, I am not looking for an opportunity to become liberal in the message – the Good News of Jesus is just that and it will not change. I am not about to make some parts easier to swallow just because they challenge us. We all know the ‘how’ part can be amended. Perhaps the UNLEARN is part of this.

Here’s how I am approaching this thought:
1. Don’t think too long about the answer – your immediate thoughts are what I want to the 3 questions below…

Q1: What would it mean to UNLEARN church?
Q2: What do we need to UNLEARN to see our churches vision happen?
Q3: What do we think people not in church need to UNLEARN about church?

2. When it comes to the answers…
Be honest. Be creative. Think outside the box. Think about others. Be encouraging and positive. Keep it simple (so I can understand it).

3. Finally – let me know if you are a church goer as this will give me some context for your answers.

Let’s start a conversation and maybe UNLEARN church, seeing it as an opportunity to ‘let go of what we know’ and to learn something new that may be of benefit for those of us already in church and possibly of even greater benefit for those who are not going to church right now.

I know some of you are going to love this opportunity and thanks for getting involved.

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?