Leadership can be a tricky reality. Some people are given a title that conveys leadership. Others earn respect and become leaders in their own right.
The focus here at 3 Question Leadership is much simpler, however. Having a title doesn’t pave the way to executing the 3 Questions. You don’t have to be the high man on the totem pole to assess what you can do and who you can get to help.
The bottom line is actually pretty simple: make a positive difference.
I see this in student ministry all the time. There are kids who are incredible leaders, except they lead the wrong way, making a negative difference.
But when a student sees the opportunity to step up, step out, and make a difference in a room, my heart leaps.
One of my personal goals is to influence a room every time I walk in. I know the skills I have, and I’m ready to put them to use whenever possible.
If we were to agree to focus on making a difference every time we walk into a new situation, what could change around us? Our job, undoubtedly, would start to look different. Our homes might begin to transform. The places we frequent (like restaurants, convenience stores, banks, etc.) could start to look different as well.
So, where are you making a difference? How are you impacting the situations you walk into? Is there a change you need to make? Pick one area, start small, and see what happens.
A few weeks ago I met with my student leadership team. These kids have been walking with me through my 3 Question journey since August of 2016. The 3 Questions shape so much of what we do.
So I was somewhat surprised when I asked them to tell me the 3 Questions, and they struggled to answer.
Then, I had an epiphany: I’ve been blogging about the 3 Questions for the past 10 months, they haven’t.
In other words, the 3 Questions have become part of my everyday processing, but that doesn’t mean they had the same experience. They weren’t sitting down at a computer multiple times each week trying to write a blog related to the 3 Questions.
What’s the leadership lesson? Just because something is inherently important to you, does not guarantee it is inherently important to someone else. You have to keep vision out front.
You know what they say about assume? When we assume, we eventually have to exhume.
Well, nobody says that, but maybe they should. When we assume everyone else focuses on vision the way we do, we will soon find that vision being buried and forgotten.
So, what’s your next step? Ask yourself what you have been assuming everyone knows, but in reality needs to be brought back in front. You will feel like a broken record, but important things are worth repeating.
Don’t think of it as being a broken record; think of it as being a hit single set on repeat.
When I was an 8th grader, we didn’t have enough boys in 7th and 8th grade to field a football team, so the school decided to let 6th graders play. This was both good and bad.
It was good because we had enough kids to be able to play football that year, but it was bad because only one of the 6th graders had hit puberty. As a result, we had a historic season, and didn’t win a game.
Towards the end of the season our coach decided to work in a couple trick plays. One play involved some yelling from the sideline that we were using the wrong football, which would result in the center handing the quarterback the football (a legal exchange), the quarterback running toward the sideline as though he were going to trade the football. Just before getting to the coach on the sideline, the quarterback would run up field for what would hopefully be a touchdown and a win.
It didn’t work. The referees said the coach couldn’t yell that from the sideline. But the premise was true: confusion breeds chaos.
If we could get the other team questioning what they knew to be reality, then we could take advantage of the moment and surprise them.
In leadership, the principle applies as well. If the people we lead are unclear as to next steps, or even what we are trying to do, the result is chaos.
As a minister, if the adults who volunteer in my ministry don’t understand the long term goal and vision I set, then we have a team of volunteers who set their own long term goal and vision.
If student leaders don’t understand their role, then they set their own guidelines.
This isn’t master level manipulating. This is learning to sail the ship and getting everyone moving in the same direction.
What part of your leadership is suffering due to confusion? What steps can you take to add some clarity this week?
I took a Sunday off last week for the first time in longer than I care to admit. But in so doing, I realized I am not doing a good job of answering the 3rd question (click here to read about the 3 questions–a framework for growing as a leader).
You see, I’m great at understanding what needs to be done and what I can do, but I struggle with inviting others to help along the way.
Thankfully, there were enough people willing to pick up the slack and learn before we left that everything went smoothly (life goes on with or without us!). But, I’m still left with a clear step moving forward: train others. Answer the 3rd question.
I’m actually pretty consistent with asking the 3rd question when it comes to things I struggle with doing, but something I really enjoy, like running the sound board, it’s a lot harder to hand off.
But if I want to allow other people to serve, if I want to develop people who are willing and capable of stepping up, then I have to learn to let go, even of the things I may enjoy doing. Who knows, I may find someone who has more passion than me and can do a better job!
What about you? How are you doing at answering the 3rd question? Are you able to put aside your personal enjoyment for the betterment of other people? What steps do you need to take to let go of something close to you to allow someone else to explore their calling?
Once a month I go to a lunch with a group of youth ministers. I seldom miss, and it is one of my favorite regular meetings of a given month.
Honestly, I am probably a little abnormally committed to this lunch. Why? Because I love spending time with sharp youth ministers who are doing things well.
In fact, I would argue I am a better minister because of the time I spend with other ministers–they sharpen me and inspire me.
Today’s learning is pretty straightforward: surround yourself with people who make you better.
If I want to lose weight and get in shape, then it helps to have friends who are either on the journey with me, or who are further along the journey than I am.
If I want to become a better leader, then I surround myself with people who understand leadership and are growing everyday.
More recently, some of the people with whom I’ve surrounded myself have inspired me to become a more consistent reader (something I currently struggle at maintaining).
So, what about you? Where do you want to grow? Who can you find to spend time with that will make you better? How can you create opportunities for that time?
Take a leap today and see what happens!