I read a really good post from Carey Nieuwhof at the end of last week on 12 books every leader must read. Feel free to click over and check it out.
I thought today I’d share a few books I’m reading through at the moment.
I’ve written about this before, but I tend to have book ADD. I have a difficult time sticking with a book once I start, but it’s a discipline I’m working to develop.
So, what about you? What books are you reading? I’d love to hear, so comment below!
On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of shared definitions. (Click here if you missed it.
So, what’s the benefit of a shared definition?
I played basketball in high school. One year our coach drew up a play we called “Oklahoma”, and the play would end in a lob pass to the basket. The play itself was a pretty big leap for our collective ability, but that didn’t diminish the excitement.
Then, in a game, he called the play. I quickly ran through the mental motions and realized I would be on the receiving end of the lob pass at the basket–my chance for a Sportscenter top 10 highlight play.
One problem–not everyone knew the play. Not to throw someone under the bus, but the other post botched the execution which in turn eliminated any possibility of my going on to play basketball professionally. There was no lob. There was no highlight. There was no cohesion.
When we share definitions, we get on the same page as those around us, and they get on the same page as us. When we agree that we all start from point x, and we all move to point y, then we move as a unit.
Shared definitions lead to unity.
Shared definitions lead to increased impact.
Shared definitions lead to greater influence.
As a leader, our job is to navigate the waters of multiple priorities, trying to provide a clear direction for those we lead.
What situations are you facing that would benefit from a shared definition, a common goal? What arena of poor communication is preventing your influence from growing more and more? Are you willing to make the necessary changes? What’s the first one? What are you waiting for?
One of the things that fascinates me is listening to people talk about small towns. In Texas, we have our fair share of small towns. But here’s the tricky thing: not everyone shares the definition of a “small town.”
Don’t believe me, try it. If I were to walk up to people in my current town of 23,000 and ask if they think we are living in a small town, I think many would say yes.
If you ask me, my answer would be different. This is actually the second largest town I’ve ever lived in, and I grew up in a town of 500. And no, that’s not a typo–there are only two zeroes after that five.
So, which is right? Is 500 a small town, or is 23,000 a small town? Can they both be small towns? At 500 are you supposed to change it from town to village? Is 23,000 a small city? Is it a large town?
Here lies one of the biggest struggles I see in leadership time and again – a lack of shared definitions. We get in a room with a group of people and start talking about a subject, presuming agreement on basic terms, and realize (or sometimes don’t) we are talking apples and oranges.
Have you ever asked a group of people what “deep” means? Chances are in a group of five people, you’ll get six different answers (how’s that for deep?).
Or, how about the way you express emotions. I would say I’m more reserved and intense, but to some people that comes across as detached and angry. I have had times where I thought I was having a wonderful discussion with someone only to find out later our relationship was negatively affected because of our lack of shared definitions.
Learning to navigate the tricky waters of varied definitions provides a very difficult challenge for leadership. But until we get people on the same page, you will find very often the battles you face find their roots in this principle.
What struggles or battles are you facing because of a lack of shared definitions? What adjustments can you make to get on the same page moving forward? Are you willing to do it?
Have you ever seen The Matrix? You know, the Keanu Reeves movies from the late 90s and early 2000s where the world as we know it is all a computer program.
Over the course of the movie Neo (Reeves) discovers he’s been living a lie. Everything he thinks is real is only a computer generated illusion. Through a course of actions he “wakes up” in the real world–a place significantly more hopeless and destitute.
After “waking up”, Neo hacks back into the Matrix for some training. His clothes have changed, his hair has changed, even the ports that were present on his body are no longer there. This is called, if I remember correctly, his residual self image. It’s what he thinks he looks like, or what he chooses to look like.
We all have a similar problem. We have a residual self image we want others to see and believe about us. You have one. I have one.
As we seek to recognize leadership potential in students (or even adults), part of our task is to look past the residual self image a student projects, and discern what lies beneath.
It’s not cool to be a servant leader, but when you see that glimpse of humility, bells should be going off.
For me, those bells are a wonderful thing. I love seeing the potential in a student and learning to navigate the waters of what is currently and what could be in the future.
Are you looking past the residual self image of those around you? Are you starting to notice the potential? Do you know how to start developing that potential? (Click here to read the approach I take.)
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Today I’m going to play off of Tuesday’s Check it Out that linked to this post.
I’ve written before that I spend a lot of time thinking through things. As I’ve started at a new church and am building new relationships, I find myself thinking about those new relationships a lot.
Over the years I’ve picked up a few ways to get to know students (and people) a little bit better, and there are a few things that I value pretty highly when it comes to discerning leadership potential.
Obviously, there are multiple traits I look for, pay attention to, and work toward when evaluating leadership potential, but these are three of the core ones. When I find someone willing to go the extra mile without credit, who has the ability to get serious when the situation calls for it, and who treats other people with respect, then I know I’ve found someone with incredible leadership potential.
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