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’?

Leaders Must Learn to Understand People

I am no expert at this. Like most people, I am on the journey of learning how to win with people.

Here’s one thing I have been reminded of recently…

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.

In response to this, perhaps all of us at some point have been guilty of just making it the other persons issue. If they don’t get me, well tough. This is me, like it or lump it.

Really? I have learned to slap myself when I think that way. To be successful with people is not the other persons responsibility, it is mine. I have to make the effort. If I think someone doesn’t like me then I have to take responsibility and discover why. How is it that they don’t ‘get me?’

I cannot afford to continually live in ignorance. I have to consciously make the effort to win with others. To consider their viewpoint, to place myself in their shoes, to take time and help them to understand me, to know me better.

Next time someone we find ourselves in ‘one of those’ conversations where it just seems that the other person isn’t on the same page as you, lets take a moment and become a winner by helping them understand what we mean, to apologise for any confusion and do all we can to help move things forward.

We won’t always get it right but better to try and fail than to never even bother. Improve your ability to understand people and you just might change your world.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

Reading this book once again and loving the powerfulness and the simplicity of the ideas Dale Carnegie promotes that can help us in our relationship with others.

Yet, despite their simplicity it’s a shame that an awful lot of people just ignore them.

We can be too quick to complain, too quick to criticise, too quick to condemn. We make circumstances about ourselves, our emotions kick in and out natural defensiveness comes to the fore. We don’t always like taking responsibility for the way things have gone or the responsibility to handle everything and make some necessary changes ourselves. After all, it’s never our fault.

Reminded that we all know people that we want to change, regulate and improve. However, the most important person to start with is the one we see in the mirror every day. I have to stop wanting everyone else to change while being unwilling to do so myself.

Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean [Confucious]

More importantly for me are the words of Jesus ~ ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’.

This is a good reminder for me. I don’t always get it right but I’m working on it. How about you?

Avoiding the Tit-for-Tat

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff [Matthew 5:38-48]

Honestly, how is our walk with God? How would we score ourselves? What would we say needs to change?

Maybe in the area of my interaction with others there is some room for improvement. Jesus was all about people. He had compassion for the lost, he wanted people to know about the kingdom, and he was direct at times with those who thought they were better than the rest. 

One thing he never got into though was the good old tit-for-tat, one of the great human pastimes that just seems to make more trouble for us than actually help us. 

As humans we might be guilty of wasting an awful amount of energy and resource in getting back at people, giving as good as we get, involving ourselves in a tit-for-tat argument. 

According to the words of Jesus there is an antidote to this behaviour. It can be considered counterintuitive, it’s a deliberate choice on our part but it involves 5 simple things…

1. Live generously
2. Love your enemies
3. Live graciously 
4. Give your best to everyone
5. Pray for them

This is a challenge in my walk with God and to be honest I need to be walking well with God to even get close to being consistent in these. 

How about you?

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.

How to Handle People

If you were at Xcel Church today, what one thing did you learn or get reminded about when it comes to dealing with people? Jesus was fairly straight on what can be considered a tricky subject. It’s always good to reflect on what we have heard and ask ourselves: ‘is there anywhere I fall short and need to improve?’

Judging too hastily.

Criticising wrongly.

Conflict lover, or conflict avoidance.

Not just being able to give criticism well but receive it well.

Speaking with truth with love.

Love how the Message version puts part of this…

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbour’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole travelling roadshow mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour. [Matthew 7:1-5]

If you are like me, when I read just these few verse I acknowledge there is definitely room for improvement. The danger of thinking I have arrived and got these sorted is the moment I let my guard down, become complacent and then mess it up.

How is the Jesus Lifestyle a challenge for you?

Winning With People

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.

Naturally I am not a ‘people person’. I have had to work on this discipline. If I’m honest I’ve probably got it wrong more times than I’ve got it right – but I’m always willing to learn. 2 books really helped me in this – Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends & Influence People’ and John Maxwell’s ‘Winning with People.’

I am true believer that even the non-gifted in areas like this can develop the their people skills and improve opportunities for success in handling all types of relationship. Wise people gain more wisdom at every opportunity – especially when its FREE. Make the investment. You may pick up a nugget or two that could change your life forever (if that’s not too dramatic).

Take responsibility for your people skills & sign up today HERE