Incoherent Ramblings, Leadership Journey

Start Somewhere

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I am a thinker. I have a terrible tendency to be able to argue both sides, even when they don’t need to be argued. Because of my propensity to think, I joke that I spend 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and 10% actually doing it. (more…)

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3 Questions

Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today, let’s take a moment for some evaluation. That’s right: you need to evaluate some things about yourself before moving forward in your leadership journey.

First, what is your plan for personal leadership development? What are you doing now that has helped you become a better leader?

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.

You cannot treat your own personal leadership development as a 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, and then expect the people you want to influence to view it as a 9. You set the example for personal leadership development.

If you are taking your development as a leader seriously, then you are starting on the right foot. The reality is that any forward movement is forward movement. You may not be doing anything at this point to develop your leadership, aside from reading this collection of thoughts, but you have started somewhere.

Second, take some time to define what leadership means to you. Very few things will limit the effectiveness of the rest of this blog as much as failing to define leadership. Over time I have realized how important clarity really becomes.

One way to work at defining leadership is with a simple web search for leadership quotes. You do not have to reinvent the wheel as you seek to define leadership, but at the same time it should be personal. Take a few quotes you find inspiring, or you read and something in you shouts “Yes! That’s it!” and use those. See how a dictionary defines leadership. Look at how Jesus defines leadership. Use sources outside of your own capacities, but let it be something with which you wrestle.

I am very wired toward service as a leadership trait. In fact, I tend to emphasize behind the scenes serving more than actually moving a group of people in a certain direction. Without a definition of leadership, my default setting is simply to teach teenagers how to serve. While serving is not a bad thing, I have had to wrestle with whether or not serving equals leadership. I decided the two go hand in hand, but there is a distinction to be made; a distinction of which I have to remind myself regularly.

So, what is your definition of leadership? Find a place to write your definition somewhere. Wrestle with it as you try to write it out. Ask yourself what are the weak areas of the definition? What are the strengths?

 

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Check it Out

Check It Out: The Tweet Song

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Today’s post is a lot lighter. I found this video earlier this week and thought it was worth sharing.

Tim Hawkins and Jonnie W. present the Tweet Song. Click here to watch it, or watch it below.

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3 Questions, Leadership Journey

3 Questions to Help You Become a Better Leader (Part 2)

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On Monday, I wrote about the first two questions (click here to read if you missed it). Today, I’ll finish it up with the third question.

Just a refresher, when I walk into a room, I want to ask myself three questions. The first two are:

1) What needs to be done? (Awareness)

2) What can I do? (Willingness)

And that brings us to the third question.

3. who can i get to help?

The third question focuses on including others in what has been a very personal and individual process. The difference between people who can answer the first two questions and the people who can answer all three often comes down to an ability to lead others. But leading others is not an art form that few can master. Everyone has the potential to lead.

Leadership takes place when you see a need and you invite other people to meet the need, preferably with you. A quick google search of “definitions of leadership” will return more results than you might care to peruse, but the simple idea boils down to seeing a better future and bringing people along to join in the better future and help it happen. Leaders have an ability to see the “horizon of possibility”.

If Leadership is rooted in the first two questions, then it blossoms in the third. It is not enough to simply be able to assess a need and meet the need, but a successful leader will be able to include others in meeting the need.

I have been teaching these questions to a group of junior high and high school students since August. One of the easiest ways the three questions have found expression has been through setting chairs up on Wednesday nights before our service starts.

A few weeks ago, before anyone else had arrived, an 8th grader, who has not been included in the teaching of the 3 Questions, walks into the youth room and begins to set up chairs. Completely unprompted by me (and like a bum, I didn’t even help).

This student had been included by the others so many times, that he unknowingly answered the first two questions that night.

Leadership leads to movement

Inviting others to help accomplish a task is good, but it is not the end goal. Ultimately, we want to move people in a common direction.

As a father, I want to lead my family to faithfully serve God.

As a leader, I want to lead others to impact lives for the sake of the Gospel.

As a Youth Pastor, I want to lead students into a growing relationship with Christ, and in turn I want to lead those students to lead their peers.

Ultimately, however, the goal of leadership is to leverage influence to create forward movement.

As we work through the 3 Questions, we have to come to terms with where we want people to move. Never be satisfied by simply answering the questions, but be willing to evaluate where you’re going.

So, there you go. These questions have slowly started shaping the way I lead, the way I teach others to lead, and the way I interact with people around me. I will continue to unpack what these mean and what they look like, but this is all for now. Thanks for reading!

 

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3 Questions, Leadership Journey

3 Questions to Help You Become a Better Leader (part 1)

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Well, here we go. If you haven’t read the intro to the 3 Questions, click here to do that before reading on. Once you’ve done that, read on.

The 3 Questions are all based around a single starting point: When you walk into a room, ask yourself these 3 questions.

As I mentioned last week, the first two questions really have very little to do with actual hands on, forward moving leadership and immensely more to do with service. Every leader, though, has to start somewhere, so we first lay the foundation for strong servant leadership.

1. What Needs to be Done? (Awareness)

The first question I want to ask when I walk into a room is “what needs to be done.” Before I move or even attempt to serve, I want to look for simple and complex tasks that need to be done. I want to sharpen my awareness before I do anything else.

For the sake of clarity, some exploration of the grander idea needs to take place. Walking into a room is not the steadfast starting point. Sometimes, the first question is asked when coaching a sports team, while sitting in a meeting, at a computer, or even at home. The first question does not have to happen upon an entrance, but it is a mindset.

I am not trying to establish a critical spirit or mindset, but instead trying to look for ways to help. The goal of the first question simply becomes creating an awareness of how things work and what needs to be done.

We cannot, however, move forward until we are able to determine what needs to happen.

2. What Can i do? (Willingness)

The second question moves from a simple assessment into the realm of personal evaluation. After walking into a room and asking what needs to be done, the next question to ask is “What can I do to help?”

The journey to leadership involves self-awareness and a willingness to meet a need. We all know people who excel at pointing out faults or weaknesses in our personal lives or in the organizations we serve and lead. How many times would a conversation move away from criticism if it included the statement: “what can I do to help?”

The second question may be the most important in terms of establishing a relationship. If we are unwilling to put forth effort, how can we expect to see results?

Think about it like this: we cannot accomplish anything without a willingness to do something.

If we want to see results from our leadership, we need to understand the importance of being willing to step in and meet the need. We may not always be an expert in the area, but sticking our head in the sand will not help us make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Sound simple enough?  As I have explored the second question, and even taught it to others, I have realized some people do these things naturally, while others do not. Some people intrinsically look for ways to help.

So, once again, before moving forward, ask yourself honestly if you’re wired to answer the first two questions, or if it is an area in which you need to grow.

Please don’t think I have all of this figured out, because I don’t. But, we have to start somewhere. So why not start by asking what needs to be done and what can I do to help?

Check back on Wednesday where I will post about the third question and a few things I’ve been wrestling with over the past few months specifically.

 

Click here to read Part 2.

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