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?

Leadership Disciplines [2]

Last week I wrote that to become a better leader requires discipline. 

The subsequent question could be, ‘in what’? Different leaders would answer this in different ways. I have some disciplines that would not be considered out of the ordinary, such as reading, keeping my relationship with God good & strong, staying teachable, praying, being accountable, etc.

To dig a little deeper this is where my thoughts are at the moment, what I am being disciplined about in regard to my own leadership. I know it’s not revolutionary but through recent conversations I was reminded about the importance of making these two a priority…

Stop telling others what to do. I am the leader, I probably have the right to tell you what to do, and it doesn’t mean I never will but I am doing my very best to more disciplined in my empowering of others.

This is not just about delegation but delegation with purpose. Helping others to flourish in their own abilities. It’s about me being disciplined to make sure that they know and understand the bigger picture, that they begin to see things that need to be noticed and thought about, and that they realise they have it within themselves to work out what should be done in response.

It means I am asking more questions of others. What do you think? How do you think this can be improved? What do you and your team think we could do? Why is this important to us?

It challenges others to grow. It challenges me to keep growing. It increases a sense of ownership. It releases people to flourish and get on with seeing the vision come to pass.

Stop doing things that others could do just as well. An article I read recently suggested that if someone can do something 80% as well as me, then maybe I should be giving them the permission and the resource to be doing it.

That is difficult for me as a leader. I like things done well. However, that just means that I keep control of everything for fear that they might not do it as well or the same way and that helps no one. The results are often negative – I get overwhelmed and they don’t have anything to get their teeth into.

I am therefore having to be more disciplined to get myself out of the way. To be purposeful in the giving away of roles and responsibilities. I am having to be disciplined in ensuring that as I empower others I resource them adequately and work with them on the journey.

Someone asked me how I think strategically about church, what is my thought and/or development process? I guess this would be a part of the answer. For any organisation to achieve its vision it takes more than one or two people, it takes as many as want to achieve it. Part of my role as a disciplined leader is to facilitate those opportunities and then to empower, equip and release those who are willing to be involved by stopping to to tell people what to do and getting myself out of the way.

What do you think? 

3 Things to Remember About the Words We Say

We say it. They hear it.

We move on from it. They get stuck in it.

We’ve forgotten what we said. They can’t forget what we said.

We need to be better at realising the power of ALL the words that we speak, the well thought out ones alongside the not so well thought out ones. ALL are powerful. ALL have influence.

We can argue that it’s not our fault that they hear it wrong and maybe there is some truth in that. However, we can play a more proactive role and possibly do more to ensure that people understand us. We have to help them know what we meant and decrease the potential for us inadvertently making someone feel worse or to cause a comment to stick at the forefront of a persons mind, lingering and festering there, leading them to think things we didn’t really mean.

It happens.

We say something to someone and (hopefully) expect them to get it. They might, they might not. It may bounce off them or it may go in. We feel better for having shared, yet they feel worse for having heard. We don’t think anything of it, they can’t stop thinking about it. At least we’ve got it off our chest, by throwing it all over their head!

Words are a challenge and we must be careful. So much presumption of understanding. So much misunderstanding. So much held on to and replayed, over and over again.

3 things to remember, to remind ourselves of…

  1. Just because it can be said, doesn’t mean it should be said. If we are honest, most opinions should never be shared. A lot of our thoughts should remain just that, a thought. This goes for posting on social media too.
  2. Never assume that those listening get the meaning of what is being said. What we say and what others hear do not always match. Presumption can be a killer. Plus no one should want to think that they have upset someone through blurting out some unfiltered thoughts.
  3. Ask yourself whether what you are saying is believing the best or the worst of the person, or the situation. If it is not believing the best, come up with a different way of saying it. Pause. Consider. Then speak.

I am not an expert at this. I get it right and I get it wrong. One thing I am determined to do is put as much effort in as possible to getting it right more often than not. Hopefully I’m improving. How about you?

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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

6 Things About an Idea

I have recently spent time inviting some young leaders into my world and what I am often surrounded by…IDEAS. There is not a shortage of ideas when the Vision Team for Xcel Church get together. Leaders need to learn about the journey an idea may have to travel.

Here are some thoughts about ideas…

1. Ideas are not difficult to come up with

2. Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean it should be done

3. Ideas deserve to be challenged to help make them the best they can be

4. Ideas need to go through a process to answer some important questions…

  • Is it feasible? Do we have what it takes to do this?
  • Is it sustainable? Can it last?
  • If we didn’t do use resource on this idea what could we do instead?
  • Is it attached to the vision? Does it fit?

5. Don’t hold on to your idea so tightly that it will be too painful if it isn’t adopted

6. Above all – keep having them

What are your thoughts about the idea creation process?



7 Things Leaders Have to Think About

This reads simpler than it actually is.

1. What the preferred future looks like

2. The detail of that preferred future

3. The strategy required to move towards that preferred future

4. The leaders who will own the strategy that moves us towards that preferred future

5. The teams that the leaders will grow who can work together with the strategy that moves us toward the preferred future

6. The resources that those leaders require to give their teams, equipping them so they are more capable of achieving the strategy that can move us towards the preferred future

7. Are we on track in all that we are doing in respect of the preferred future we have seen?

Would you agree? Or would you change the things you think leaders have to think about?

A Holy Spirit By-Pass

My last post talked about leadership growing pains. I shared my experience and some things that can help you. I missed one vital ingredient.

When we feel that we have reached our limit or that our head keeps hitting the ceiling of our own capabilities then as a Christian leader we need to have an understanding that there is another way to breakthrough the barrier. It involves us stressing less, it involves not just endeavouring in our strength to increase our capability and our capacity.

Instead it may involve us getting out of the way.

It may involve us working like it depends on us but praying like it depends on God.

It’s not about running faster on the hamster wheel of busyness or trying to work smarter. Instead it’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to break that ceiling. It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in to all truth. When we struggle for answers, the Holy Spirit can impart wisdom. When get stuck at a leadership roadblock, it’s the Holy Spirit that can help navigate the journey.

God can do in 5 minutes by the power of the Holy Spirit something that may just kill us off if we only try doing it for ourselves.

We must be leaders who pray, read, learn, think, question.

But…above all these, we must be leaders who ask the Holy Spirit to lead us as leaders, to impart wisdom, to help us solve those knotty problems, to break the ceiling on our leadership.

Keep the Big Picture in View

Leading is a tricky skill.

One of the toughest things I had to accomplish was a transition in my thinking. To move from the position of ‘what I want’ to the position of ‘what does the big picture want’. To move from ‘what makes me look good, what’s a win for me’ to ‘what makes the vision look good, what’s a win for the whole’.

That seems a little crude in writing, so let me try and explain.

When I was first in leadership, looking after the youth group in Sheffield, when I thought about it, planned for it, came up with ideas for it, most of the time they were only ever based on what I wanted and what I thought would be best for the group. There’s nothing wrong with that. I had been put in that position of responsibility to do just that.

But what I have discovered in 25 years of leading is that this way of thinking is not enough. In fact I would go so far as to say it’s wrong.

I can grow an amazing youth programme, it could be the greatest on the planet, but if it doesn’t grow at a sustainable pace, if it outgrows what it is a part of, then maybe all I have done is help grow a deformed looking body. After all, the youth group I ran only existed because it was a part of the bigger ‘whole’.

I hope that makes sense. We can all be passionate for what we do. Can we passionate for what we do within the context of the bigger picture? Are we willing to yield to the overall vision or are we expecting the overall vision to yield to us? That’s the killer question which in my experience lots of people struggle with.

Perhaps it’s the difference between saying ‘my whatever’ and saying ‘our whatever’. It’s the difference between only focusing on your one thing and ignoring everything else and instead focusing your area of responsibility with an eye on the whole. If we do this here, how does it affect over there?

This is a tricky idea to articulate but I hope you catch my heart. It takes a certain amount of willingness and discipline on our behalf to keep the bigger picture in sight. To remember that we exist as a part of the whole, not as a separate entity. A body doesn’t work like that and neither does a church, a business or a family even.

1. My heart for what I do should never be bigger than my heart for the bigger cause I am a part of.

2. If I feel it is unfair that I don’t always get what I want then I have made my ‘thing’ more important than the ‘bigger cause’ it is a part of.

3. I have to remember the bigger picture is not about me. If I get everything I want then I might consider that fair but it’s not really. I’m just being selfish and that’s never good.

This has been and probably will continue be a difficult path for me to navigate. Part of my role now is to help others make this transition. It is possibly one of the harder, yet most invaluable transitions that a leader can make. It increases a leaders understanding, their value, their influence and ultimately their capacity to accomplish greater things.

I have made it my goal to never limit myself to just what is right in front of me and be all-consumed about that just for the sake of that one thing. I have made it my goal to be all-consumed about what I do with a realisation that it is part of something bigger, greater and way more significant. If I hadn’t made the transition, maybe I would still be where I was just grateful that I was still in charge  of ‘my’ youth group and I would have missed out on so much.