Lead Well: 8 Ways to Sharpen Our People Focus

As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. [Proverbs 27:17]
Everyday we interact with others. Everyday how we deal with these interactions can help us win friends and influence people. Or maybe not.

Some people seem to be naturally gifted in building relationships, handling confrontation, harnessing the opportunities that new encounters can bring. Some of us aren’t. Instead we focus more on ourselves, our interests, our point of view, our growth and our need for affirmation.

To lead well in life is to turn the focus from ourselves on to other people. To intentionally think of them. To take responsibility for playing our part which in reality is the only part we can take responsibility for.

Smile. Costs nothing to give.

Remember names. Who enjoys being called by the wrong one.

Speak words of encouragement. Specific words show we have noticed something someone has done well.

Believe the best of people. This is the difference when we focus on others and not ourselves. We can be too keen to protect our own position because we believe in us more than others.

Recognise the power of having the right people around you. People can work with you, help you to grow, stop you from making mistakes, and keep you on track with all you want to accomplish.

Pass on what you know to someone. Help others to grow. Pour into another what you have had poured into you.

The best of relationships take time and effort. Building anything takes time and great relationships are no different. Don’t compare the depth of your friendships with people with the ones they have with others. Just be a friend, serving and loving them the best you can.

Help people to know you better. It’s not that people don’t like me, it’s that they don’t understand me. Or I could put it another way and say it’s that they don’t know me well enough.

When we focus on these things we sharpen others. We make them better. We brighten their countenance. We lift them. We put a smile on their face. We put a spring in their step. We become someone known as someone who is all about helping others to flourish. 

The alternative is way too selfish and doesn’t bear thinking about.

How do you sharpen your people focus?

Build Church: The Right Framework

Systems and structures are not for everyone, they are not the work of every person or personality. Yet we all benefit from a well-built and well-maintained structure. Just take a look at yourself for starters. After all if it wasn’t there we would just be a pile of skin, muscle, sinew and veins.

A strong and healthy structure creates an environment through which God can do some pretty incredible things.

At the Conference earlier this week, we were reminded on a number of occasions how a good system can actually help reach people, raise awareness both to those far from God and those within the church. They know ‘who we are’, ‘why we do what we do’ and ‘how to communicate the good news to others’.

The framework should be worked on together where we can come to a place where are agreeable knowing that the benefits will help us to build. It won’t rule us but it will remind us. It won’t get in the way but it will keep us accountable to all God desires to do, in us and through us.

Frameworks should be for the facilitation of growth. 

Frameworks are helpful in reminding people who we are and what we are about.

Frameworks for to aid better communication, greater collaboration and increased alignment to the vision. We should become better connected as team.

Frameworks create the right kind of accountability. Are we doing what we said we do? How can we improve things by 1% to increase our effectiveness for God?

Frameworks should help in the resourcing and the equipping of those who have a mind to work and who are about the building of what needs to be built.

Frameworks do not replace the power or the presence of God.

Frameworks on their own cannot transform a persons life, rescue them or make them a new creation. Only God can do that. They can however make sure we remember ‘it’s all about Jesus’.

A good framework will help bring control to what is being built without holding people back or disempowering them. My heart is to work with others who have the same desire and help create the right frame, structure and systems within my own life, my marriage, my family, my teams and the church I am part of, to create an environment where we flourish, grow bigger and bear the right kind of fruit.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree or disagree with me?

The Art of Coming Under

I want to do what I want to do. Sounds fair. Don’t you know who I am, I’m the leader.

[Pause]

My journey as a leader has taught me many things and one of the tougher lessons was this, ‘It’s not about me.’ As always with any lesson that needs to be learned, very easy to say but harder sometimes to believe.

If we cannot learn to come under authority we probably struggle to be someone in authority. ‘I’m in charge’ is having authority but doesn’t necessarily make you a leader that people will listen to and follow.

From my own personal experience of thinking I can do what I like and still be a great a leader, this lesson is one I definitely learned the hard way. I possibly thought I was untouchable, invincible maybe. God’s grace is amazing that you can have a stinking attitude, make some dubious lifestyle decisions yet He still makes incredible things happen and young peoples lives are changed. However, those ‘things’ are still wrong.

I have spoken before about being called to account for actions, challenged on my attitude and how I was living. Tough, uncomfortable conversations but all a part of the process of learning to come under the authority of others.

Learning to respect those in positions of spiritual authority is difficult. Look for the fruit they produce. Check their heart. They are human after all and will most certainly get it wrong at times but so do we. Yet submission to those in spiritual authority over our lives brings more benefits than concerns. At least it always has for me.

I have benefited from coming under authority more than I have ever felt constrained by it. Coming under has brought me freedom to become who God wanted me to become, with boundaries that afforded me protection I needed when I didn’t even realise I needed it [hope that makes sense].

I have regretted making my own decisions without consultation of others who could have offered wisdom, insight, clarity and better ideas to undoubtedly bring about an end game that would have included less upset with people.

I have discovered that although the vision I have for what I am leading may be amazing, it remains irrelevant if I haven’t considered the bigger vision it is a part of.

Coming under has kept me safe in my leadership. Yes, it brings accountability, but it also brings so much more. Spiritual authority over my life is about leaders praying for me, speaking into my life, encouraging me and being along side me.

Now I have the privilege and responsibility of being one of those who is in a position of spiritual authority. To stand up for them. To pray for them. To assist them. To cover them. To help them see beyond what is just in front and have an eye for the bigger picture they are part of. To help them hear what God is saying for them and their future.

It’s never been about me and it never will be. My heart is to always be positioned right as a Christian leader so that I don’t make any stupid mistakes and disqualify myself from what God has for me to do.

Thank you to those who watched out for me in the past. Without that cover I may not be where I am today, doing what I am doing, with my beautiful family and the incredible people I get to do life with every day.

Leaders and Accountability

Leaders need accountability

One of the key things I have learned in 25 years of leadership is this: accountability is not just a good idea, it’s an absolute must.

I know I’m in danger of repeating myself but when you’re young you really don’t see the need for accountability. It’s such a boring sounding word. I don’t need ‘wisdom’ from someone older, I don’t want to be asked ‘how am I doing?’ No one can tell me anything and certainly not teach me anything. I will just learn from my own mistakes and so be it.

You can be right in your own mind if you want but that doesn’t make you a good leader. Don’t be so arrogant. It’s not an attractive quality. Leaders who don’t look for and welcome some form of accountability are setting themselves up to fail as leaders.

I am totally convinced that I would not have survived in leadership if it hadn’t been for the voice of reason, the voice of responsibility and the voice of right-thinking.

The voice of reason asks me the right questions.
Why are you doing this?
If you keep behaving like this where will it lead?
How can you do things differently to get a better result?
The big ‘what if’ type questions

The voice of responsibility keeps me safe within the right kind of boundaries.
To not listen to others who have gone before is a great display of ignorance. Ignorant people think they don’t need any boundaries which only leads to a whole bunch of issues that could have been avoided – lack of clarity, lack of engagement and focus, confusion, demotivation of the team, lack of identity, a breakdown in trust which all lead to a loss of respect for the leader. I think I’ve caused a lot of them over the last 25 years just because I chose not to be attentive to what my leaders were saying.

The voice of right-thinking helps me grow in wisdom.
It’s not about listening to every voice but considering what the right people have to say. Their mistakes are often their best wisdom. I know that works for me now as a leader when I’m thinking of what to pass on to others.

I am absolutely certain that these voices have impacted and benefited me in at least 3 areas of my leadership…
my behaviour – the type of leader I have become
my growth – the fact I am still in leadership all these years later
my aptitude – the skills I have as a leader

How about you? How has accountability influenced your leadership for the better?