Author: wes

Lessons from the Big Chair: Work with People

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The church where I serve has been without a pastor since January, and I have had the privilege of serving alongside an incredibly wise, discerning, and experienced interim pastor over the past four months. As that time has drawn to an end and we have a new pastor coming in a few weeks, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on a few lessons I learned along the way.

First, something we covered regularly, was at the end of the day all we have left to work with are people.

Understanding the reality of this statement is imperative for leaders. We are not working with robots, cattle, kittens, or cookie dough. We are working with people with individual and unique personalities, preferences, opinions, strengths and weaknesses.

For a minister, this means leading a group of people is never the same experience. Every meeting, every service, every event, has a unique feel and energy because the people who are present is constantly different.

For a leader, this means get to know those you lead. Learn what makes them tick, what makes them happy, and what makes them upset. Take some time jotting down a few personal observations about how they respond.

If someone seems to always respond in the negative, learn how to lead them to a positive reaction by anticipating their negativity.

If someone values being included in a decision, find ways to include them in other decisions.

If someone brags on a written note they received from you, write more notes to them.

At the end of the day, all we have to work with are people. Make the most of the effort you spend and get to know the people you lead and serve.

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Take Time to Say Thank You

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How are you on a scale of 1 to 10 on showing gratitude to others? Go ahead, give yourself a number. 1 would be “why would I be grateful to those losers” and 10 would be “I’m so grateful, I’ve built a Hall of Fame for other people to show my gratitude.”

Now, take a minute and think about how you’ve shown gratitude to those leaders around you who have poured into you to make you better. When was the last time you connected just to say “thank you”?

Part of leadership is recognizing where we’ve come from and the people who have helped us along the way.

I think about a few key men in my life who have helped shape me over the years, one especially being my father. I wouldn’t be who I am, or be able to do what I do if it weren’t for his support throughout my life. His model of what it takes to work hard, to think outside the box, and to succeed has meant the world to me.

You have someone like that. Tell them thank you today.

But before you do, let me flip this around.

Have you ever led someone who you feel is destined to do great things? You know, as strange as this may sound, I have a few people in my life who I have led and helped grow that I am proud to say I helped them become who they are (even though the “help” I offered was minimal).

There are a few students I have had over the years who bring a smile to my face when I get to reconnect. And to them, I am grateful for the time they allowed me to pour into them, for the mistakes I made and they forgave me for, and for their continued excitement and encouragement.

So, take some time after you share your gratitude with one of the people who poured into you, and say thank you to someone who has allowed you to speak into their lives over the years.

Leadership doesn’t stop when your paths split along the way.

Find a way to connect today, and celebrate the leadership journey.

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Check It Out: Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today’s “Check It Out” is an early post dealing with your own personal development and how to help make sure you grow as a leader. Click here to read it.

Here’s a glimpse:

Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.

Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.

Clean Your Lenses

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Have you ever noticed that experts in a certain field seem to see things differently than you? Sometimes, it’s not even experts.

Hunters have a language that is all their own, as do mechanics, policemen, teachers, musicians, and every other interest, hobby, occupation, career, or calling.

Just the other day I was playing a Squier Classic Vibe 50’s telecaster in Butterscotch Blonde (you still with me so far?) and someone who doesn’t play guitar commented how it looked just like a very well-known artist’s guitar. I knew the difference (mainly a few zeroes on the price tag), but he did not.

Why is that? Because over time I have been able to develop a “lens” for viewing guitars. The way I look at guitars is influenced by my experience, opinions, and information gathering.

The same is true for your leadership. If you’re reading this, you have leadership influence in some realm of your life. More than that, you have developed some kind of “lens” to help you view situations around you pertaining to your leadership.

Your leadership style is influenced by your experience, opinions, and information gathering.

My question to you today is simply this: what is that lens in your life? Have you thought about what it is that shapes how you view the situations and the world around you? Have you considered the unhealthy influences? Have you weighed the positive influences?

For me, the 3 Questions (click here if you haven’t read about them yet) have become the lens through which I run my leadership. More specifically, the third question encourages me to equip and involve those around me.

So, once again, how are you viewing the leadership opportunities around you? Is there some kind of correction you need to make?

Maybe you could benefit from putting the 3 Questions into practice in your life.

Maybe, the application for you is to simply take some time to journal about the lens through which you are viewing things.

Whatever it is, take some time and grow your leadership by examining your lenses.

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