Inviting Feedback [Friday Leaders Post]

Always better as a leader to invite feedback than only getting the feedback you receive uninvited.

Leaders need to be willing to learn and to be willing to listen. Leadership is about more than being right, it’s about being credible.

If I refuse to listen eventually people will stop talking to me. They will stop telling me things. The things I like to hear but also the things I need to hear, however difficult they might be.

So here’s a great question for any leader to ask of their team and those who they have responsibility for…

If you were me, what would you do differently? 

Don’t be unnecessarily unkind and don’t be anonymous either in how you answer, but I am happy to hear your thoughts if you want to.

Leaders Needs Some Self-Control

Reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography has challenged me in my leadership. His ability to come up with a plan for how to do life at the age of 20 is astounding. I’m 45 and still trying to figure some of that out.

He possibly birthed the idea of self-discipline and how such an attitude helps in producing a successful life. Let’s be honest, he did alright on that philosophy. My leadership and therefore my influence is poor in comparison, but I am inspired.

Here are the 13 virtues that he determined to improve and in so doing believed he would see an improvement in how life turned out…

Temperance: eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. In other words don’t overindulge in food or drink. In keeping this he felt that others would easier to follow.

Silence: speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. This is first to gain knowledge, which you do better by listening rather than always talking. Second it was about stopping the silliness, the prattling & joking as he put it which is the lowest form of conversation.

Order: let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Order is about making progress, having time for the right and beneficial things. It requires self-discipline to keep all aspects of business within its allotted time.

Resolution: resolve perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. If you say what you’re going to do it, then do it.

Frugality: make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing. This is not about being stingy but about being purposeful with what you have.

Industry: lose no time; be always employed in something; cut off all unnecessary actions.  Laziness is not a virtue to be celebrated. A willingness toward hard work, contributing and adding value is essential. You want success as a leader and a person then frugality and industry are extremely worthwhile partners.

Sincerity: use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. Words matter. How we treat others matters. Personally, I would rather be thought of as sincere than insincere.

Justice: wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Be ready and willing to fight for what is right. Don’t knowingly hurt another or knowingly avoid standing on behalf of another either.

Moderation: avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 

Cleanliness: tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habituation. A leader who cannot look after themselves well is not a leader that others would want to follow.

Tranquility: be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or avoidable. Keep the peace, be at peace, don’t rise to everything.

Chastity: rarely use venery (sexual indulgence) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. Enough said really.

Humility: imitate Jesus and Socrates (that’s according to Ben Franklin)

How would you score? I looked at this list, amazed at its simplicity but also at its depth and power in its potential for making me a better leader. So I thought I’d give the plan a go. Franklin kept a record at the end of each day to note if he had failed, the aim being that with the focus on one virtue each week he would begin to see some change over time.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Or if you know me, maybe you will let me know how it goes.

5 Ways The Why Impacts Me

Couple of weeks ago I wrote about 5 Benefits for Knowing ‘Why’ We Are Doing This

There are benefits corporately of a strong ‘why’. What about for me then, either as leader or one of the many team players. How does the ‘why’ impact me? How should I behave because of the ‘why’?

I serve at the pleasure of my leader. If I get ‘why’ then it probably means I get the leaders heart, they are usually one and the same. As a member of the team it is easy for me to serve that vision and always be mindful that it’s what they want that really matters. It’s a heart thing.

I believe the best in my fellow team mates. In between what I expect of my team and what they actually execute is a decision. Do I believe the best or the worst of them? In the interest of team, putting our effort in towards the same thing,  it makes sense to choose to go with believing the best in them.

I let go of my own vision and serve the bigger one. This is a tough one but I have definitely learned that very often to see my own personal vision fulfilled it comes through serving someone else’s first. If it’s really about the bigger cause then I have to be willing to lay my personal agenda stuff to one side.

I say yes or no to the right things. A strong ‘why’ certainly makes this easy. It can become the filter which other decisions are passed through.

I always give it my 100% best. This is not about perfection, it’s not even about always agreeing, but it is about doing the very best with what you have. If it hasn’t got your heart then you are not going to be able to fake this one, people will notice pretty quickly.

I have not always been great at these. I can get lazy about them. They get tested by all sorts of things too. Ultimately though, it is a test of the heart ~ to the vision, the ‘why, and to those who lead me and who I work alongside. And as I have said many times before ‘I’m in’.

How about you? How good have you been at aligning your heart with the ‘why’?

5 Tips for Future Leaders

What does it take to be a leader?

People have been writing about that subject for a long time, myself included. I love the whole leadership development process. I love getting to journey with someone who has a heart and desire to learn, to be challenged, to grow, to discover new things about themselves, to maybe even be told off once in a while too.

Everything should be considered a test. How we handle just about anything will have an influence on our ability to lead.

I do not teach from a position of completion. I am still on that journey myself. Here’s 5 quick things that can help you become a future leader:

1. Be teachable. Display a willingness to learn.

2. Join a team. Get involved. Don’t be picky, just start making something happen for someone else.

3. Read about leaders and leadership.

4. Get a coach. Find someone who will spur you on towards greatness but also guard you against your own foolishness.

5. Develop a greater self-awareness. Know your strengths and grow them. Know your weaknesses too and work to minimise their impact.

Great leaders do not arrive over-night. They emerge over time. Make the decision to become a great leader and do all you can to stay on that path.

Integrity Job Style

Here’s my simple thought as I read the book of Job this week.

I don’t want what Job went through but I would like to think that whatever happens in my life I would hold on to my integrity like he did. Even when those closest to him encouraged him to blame God he refused to be persuaded. He maintained his integrity.
[Job 2:3 MSG: Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there – honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work.”]

Sometimes you have to fight for it.
Sometimes it isn’t easy.
Sometimes you can convince yourself that you deserve to ‘give your opinion’, ‘speak out’, ‘feel sorry for yourself’.

The challenge of standing by the non-negotiable standards in your life is what makes integrity.
Integrity isn’t easy.
Integrity can set you apart.
Integrity determines your response to things that happen.
Integrity is a leadership must.
Integrity is an overlooked spiritual discipline

You grow your integrity, then you fight hard to make sure you do not lose it.

How is your integrity looking?

Adding Value

Your success is not based on your position.

That is a difficult for us to learn. If you want to be an influential leader then you must learn it. You are most valuable where you add most value. And here’s the thing – that may not be in the ‘position’ you currently find yourself in.

How do you add value?
What do you bring to the table?

At Stronger Conference Pastor Kevin Gerald spoke about this. The challenge of ‘feeling valued v adding value’. I was glad of the reminder…

…to focus on the adding value and get past the craving to feel valued
…to understand that craving to be valued hinders me from being valued
…to know that I will make bad decisions if I make them based on how valued I feel
…to realise that people can invalidate me as well as value me

Leaders sacrifice the right sometimes to be valued. Often the one leading the way we feel least valued. Not everyone will like you, enjoy what you are doing and this means you not feel valued. The fact is that you are probably acting in the place that adds most value.

Shepherd or Hired-Hand?

Reading the Gospels at the moment. Just read John 10:11-13 where Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd.

This is one of those ultimate leadership markers for me, a distinguishing characteristic between leaders and would-be leaders. What would you do for the thing which you are responsible for? How far would you go?

Shepherds are willing to give it all. For sheep!
Leaders MUST be willing to give it all. For that which they lead.

It sounds really obvious…AND IT IS!! But it’s a truth which, if I dare be so bold, not many actually have the willingness to live up to. Many want to be shepherds/leaders/carriers of responsibility BUT don’t have the stomach for what WILL be demanded of them in that role.

This is a rally cry to all the ‘good’ people with some ‘great’ intentions. Those that step forward to take hold of responsibility but then seemingly just as quick, slip back whilst never pushing through to that next level. Jesus challenges us to ‘lay our life down’ and that even those excuses that can be deemed legitimate are just that, an excuse and by using them cause us to miss out on some life-changing opportunities.

Luke 9:57-62 and Matthew 10:37-39 both talk about this. Sometimes the words of Jesus were tough and people decided not to follow anymore. Now I don’t want that to be the case. I would rather people consider the cost before stepping into the ring.

Hired-hands give up when the going gets tough.
Hired-hands have the freedom to walk away.
Hired-hands don’t have the drive and determination to see it through.
Hired-hands are merely doing a job. They clock-in and clock-out.
Hired-hands know that they are not responsible and therefore act as though not responsible.

The Church, business, families – needs more than hired-hands. It needs one or two to say YES – we really are willing to grab hold of something, take responsibility and make IT happen. Build something. Change something. Create something.

Shepherds fight for it. You get tough when necessary.
Shepherds are compelled to act. You never really clock-out.
Shepherds understand they are responsible and act accordingly.
Shepherds carry the burden not because they have to but because the want to.
This is the essence of leadership.

I know which one I’d rather be and which one I’d rather be known as.
Calling ALL shepherds. Don’t let distractions cause you to abandon your post – we cannot afford for that to happen.

[Which are you? How can you tell?]

Why Do Leaders Fail?

2nd Question for your thoughts…

Why Do Leaders Fail?

I have been involved in leadership training for 13 years and throughout that time I have seen many would-be leaders come and go. It seems that only the minority stand the test of time. Leadership is about the long-haul, it is a lifetime journey not a short sprint. Too few seem to have the stomach for it.

In my experience…
…many have looked good for a moment…
while leaders don’t live for the moment, they build for a lifetime.
…many want to just enjoy the privilege…
while true leaders demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice more than they could ever receive.

The whole premise of this blog when it started was to discuss the idea of those tests that leaders come across and whether they truly count towards becoming a better leader or not. Does it matter if a leader isn’t great at everything? What things can they get away with?

Please share your thoughts…why do you think leaders fail?

The Risk Test
The Passion Test
The Purpose Test
The Detail Test
The Vision Test
The Fullness Test