Successful leadership takes more than your gifts, knowledge and talents as a leader. It is also about how you show up as leader. If you are tired, stressed and distracted, you will not be able to lead effectively. Too many leaders focus on gaining more knowledge and ideas on leadership, and neglect their self-care. Let me suggest a few simple steps for taking care of yourself that, along with your gifts, knowledge and talents, will help you be a more effective and successful leader.
Have you had the experience of working under a leader who took every criticism personally? Not only did he take things personally, but he did not forget those who offended him. He knew how to hold a grudge. Whenever he talked about those who offended him, he never had a kind thing to say about them. Somewhere in his heart he felt good and justified when that person failed, fell short or made a mistake.
I wish I could say that kind of leadership only happens in the secular organizations. The truth is, it is all too common in the church and Christian organizations as well. In some cases the secular organizations are far more transparent and forgiving.
The question is, are you such a leader? Do you see characteristics of one who is easily offended? If so, let me offer some suggestions that will help you to not be a leader who is easily offended.
As leaders we hear much about time management. With all the responsibilities of leadership comes an acute concern for time management. I constantly hear things like:
- “I am trying to keep up.”
- “I have to guard my time.”
- “I don’t have enough time for my family.”
- “If I only had the time I would….”
- “I am too busy.”
- Add a phrase which expresses your concern about time management.
Concern for proper time management is important for effective leadership, but proper energy management is far more important.
Whether stated clearly on the job description or implied, leaders are hired to make an impact. A leader’s impact usually results in change for the organization.
I am sure some of us have been affected by leaders in such a way that it pains us to talk about the experience driven by abuse of power, egocentricity, and attitudes of “I’m always right,” “my way or the highway” or “feel free to challenge my ideas, but I am not going to change my mind.”
In John 17:16 Jesus said that those who follow Him are not of the world even as he is not of the world. Although as His followers we are in the world, we are not of this world in terms of the values and standards which stand in contrast or opposition to the kingdom of God.
As followers of Jesus living in the world, we focus on living out and displaying the qualities of the One we are following, Jesus Christ.
On too many occasions we are concerned, disappointed or discouraged when we see leaders in the church who are speaking and acting in ways that do not accurately reflect the Church as the Body of Christ: Christ-centered, loving God and others. Instead we see:
As we discussed last week, false starts happen in life as well as in leadership. False starts may happen in leadership when you arrive with enthusiastic vision for your new role or after you have been in the same place for 20 years.
Last week we talked about the signs of a false start. Today let us look at how to recover from one.
Seeing the excitement and focus on each athlete’s face at the summer Olympics in Rio indicates that they have come there with a plan in mind and a goal to achieve one thing and one thing only—win a medal. They don’t care who the competition is, they are not backing down at a chance to win a medal.
One thing that occurs during the athletic events is a number of false starts. A false start is when a competitor begins before the official signal, or when the attempt to begin something is unsuccessful. An athlete’s false start is usually caused by the excitement and nervousness of getting a shot at winning a medal. Once the false start has occurred all the athletes are given a chance to start over, and many athletes who had false starts went on to win medals because they corrected their mistakes during the second try.
Leaders also will have false starts. Sometimes the false start occurs when they first arrived, or it could happen after they have been there for 10 or 20 years. When it comes to leading, false starts can happen anytime and every leader can have one.
Developing trust takes time, effort and intentionality. You have to be conscious of the fact that you are working on building trust with the people you are leading.
I recall the time when my wife and I were asked to co-pastor in Trinidad in the fall of 1990. We went to a people who knew of us but did not know us well enough to immediately trust us. We had to earn the trust of those we were called to lead in the church.
Leadership cannot be effective and successful without trust at its very core. You may know of talented and gifted persons who seemed poised for great leadership, but whose careers never really got off the ground because they lacked the trust of others. They had a promising and hopeful beginning but they did not get far in their leadership career because they never developed trust with those they were leading.
According to Steven R Covey, “You cannot effectively lead without trust.” Coven says Warren Bennis puts it this way, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”
Leadership in this 21st century is less about command and control, and more about healthy relationships and the ability to listen well, asking deeper more meaningful questions with the aim of bringing out the best in those you lead. People are no longer interested in working for leaders whose approach is the old command and control style. “The old models of ‘command and control,’ and management having all the answers, are no longer up to the task.”