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The Difficulty of Leadership

The Difficulty of Leadership
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Ministry is difficult. One of the challenging parts of ministry is how to cope with the reality that our spiritual lives and our relationships are often intertwined.

As a minister, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes when someone pushes away from church, I take it personally. I view it as a personal failure. I wonder if there’s a mistake I made in the relationship. Sometimes, I can point to something, sometimes I cannot.

So, how do you cope? How do you make that adjustment so you don’t take things personally? Honestly, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know if I have any answers–I’m still pretty new to this. So I lean on the wisdom of other people.

Yesterday I read a post by Carey Nieuwhof that hit home, and I wanted to share it with you. Carey has a 30+ year history in ministry, is a podcaster, blogger, and pastor. He has an uncanny ability to tackle the tough issues in truthful ways, regularly challenging me.

So, as I read his post yesterday, I couldn’t wait to share it today. Here’s a snippet from his post “7 People You Can’t Afford to Keep in Leadership“:

And as someone (or several people exit), the discussion at the leadership table will end up with someone saying:
Look, we can’t afford to lose people. 
Trust me, there’s always someone at the leadership table who thinks we can’t afford to lose anyone.
That’s simply not true.
There are a few kinds of people you can’t afford to keep.
In fact, sometimes the people you are most afraid of losing are the people you can’t afford to keep.
Here’s the strange paradox of leadership: some of the people you think you can’t afford to lose are the very people you can’t afford to keep.
So how do you know the difference?

I think you’ll be surprised by what follows, so give it a read!

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Incoherent Ramblings

3 Core Leadership Traits

3 key leadership traits
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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.

  1. Are they willing to do something when no one else is looking. So much of leadership means taking initiative and accomplishing something when no one else is doing it. If I see a kid walk into a room and make the room better without the influence of peer pressure, I immediately take note. A student (or adult) willing to do something that may get noticed but not credited often reveals a servant’s heart.
  2. Do they have that next gear. Everyone can be goofy in their own right. What I’m looking for in a student leader is someone who can move past the goofy into some serious discussions. If they’re capable of that, then opportunities to discuss influence will present themselves before too long.
  3. How do they treat other people. Over the top sarcasm aimed at others often sets off warning lights. Complete obliviousness to the needs of others (a lack of situational awareness) does the same thing. These issues can be worked through, but a deficiency in both may mean some time needs to pass before moving forward.

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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Check it Out

Check It Out: Redefining Leadership Potential

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Developing student leaders is a tricky subject. Today, I thought I’d re-share a post I published previously on Redefining Leadership Potential.

Here’s a snippet of it:

I treat teenagers as though they are capable of taking a leadership role, regardless of their age. Why? Because, they are capable of leadership regardless of age.

There is so much to develop in this discussion, but we can leave it at this post for today. Click over and give it a quick read.

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Incoherent Ramblings

The Leadership Mystery

the Leadership mystery
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I’ve always been enamored by people who could cook using cast iron pots and pans. For years they seemed to have been a mystery to me.

Then, starting in January, I began cooking my breakfast every morning using a cast iron pan. I learned how to prep the pan, how to cook in the pan, and how to clean the pan, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to using a non cast iron pan again.

The more I have used my new favorite cooking pan, the mystique and intrigue of cast iron has slowly faded away. What used to be a mystery has become a staple in my routine.

What fascinates me is the mystery was greater when I hadn’t tried cooking with cast iron. It was something “they” always used, not something I used. I would read about how to use it, but the best growth came through experience.

I’m probably moving in an obvious direction at this point, right?

Leadership is the same way. We can read about leadership. We can watch and admire what “they” do. But until we roll up our sleeves and start exercising leadership, theory is only theory.

Leadership is messy. Plans don’t go the way we want. We make mistakes. We pull the trigger too fast on some things, and not fast enough on other things. We look back and see what we could have done differently.

But at the end of the day, leadership only grows when it’s being used.

My success as a leader is not based on my most recent endeavor. My success as a leader is based on my ability and willingness to move forward in spite of or inspired by my most recent endeavor.

What decision are you holding off on because you’re afraid to move forward today? What’s your cast iron pan? What is the thing that intimidates you? Step up to the metaphorical stove and start cooking! You’ll be glad you did.

Interested in getting more posts like this in your inbox the day they post? Subscribe to 3QL today!

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3 Questions, Incoherent Ramblings

The Leadership Conversation

the power of potential
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Leadership influence is a tricky concept. The reality about leadership influence is we all have influence, but so many people that I observe fail to realize the impact their influence is making.

Influence, unfortunately, does not always mean a positive outcome. Often times I see the result of influence being more negative than positive.

That’s why my heart beats for teenagers. They are exploring the realm of their influence, often missing the real impact they have.

Sometimes, teenagers get so tuned in to their own interests and preferences that they neglect the impact their decisions and actions are having on those around them.

Sometimes, adults get so tuned in to their own interests and preferences that they neglect the impact their decisions and actions are having on those around them.

That’s why I love the leadership conversation. If I can take a student (or adult) and help them begin to discover the potential and influence they have, then we can start to move forward together.

That’s also why I love the three questions. Teaching the three questions to students is a way for them to start to realize the impact they can and do have on a room. More than that, it helps them see the results of that impact. And that impact doesn’t come from being up front or in charge. It comes from serving and adding value.

I want any room I enter to be better because I’m there. Now, that may not mean that I’m the center of attention, and a lot of times that’s not the case at all. But wherever I am, I want to make an impact on those around me in some way. And I love helping others do the same thing.

What about you? Where are you in the process? What’s your passion for developing leaders? What are you doing to develop student leaders around you? What are you doing to develop your own leadership? What step do you need to take today to move forward either developing student leaders or developing your own leadership?

Here are two things I would suggest to help you move forward here:

  1. Find someone to start working through the three questions with you. It doesn’t have to be someone in your immediate context, although that would help. Meet regularly and ask each other: How did you answer the three questions? It seems simple, but the accountability results in a tremendous increase.
  2. Subscribe to get more 3QL posts in your inbox each week. I’m here to help you expand your leadership influence!
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