Leadership Isn’t Always Flashy

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I think it is safe to say everyone has a situation in their life where they would enjoy being the leader. Is that a generic enough statement to start today?

What I mean is this: everyone has a desire to lead, something.

But the reality is leading is often the hardest thing you can do in a situation. One of the most consistent struggles I see in student leaders (and in my own ministry) is the constant battle to find ways to leverage leadership influence.

I’ve written about the redundancy of leadership before, and this is similar to the feeling of redundancy. Being a leader who makes a difference is a choice we make when we walk into a room or encounter a situation.

The 3 questions actually establish a different foundation for leadership. Instead of starting from a position of top-down authority, the 3 questions look for ways to exert influence with simple actions.

Effective leadership, whether it be top down or simply exerting influence, maximizes impact when pursued on purpose. In other words, part of being a leader requires conscious effort. Everyone can lead a little without thinking about it, but the best leaders work on their craft.

So, what are you doing to work on your leadership? Read books that help you become a better leader. Surround yourself with people who make you stronger. Strive to become a person of positive influence. Find blogs or online articles that challenge your processes.

It may not be flashy, but find ways to grow as a leader. Put in the effort and work, and you’ll see the benefit.

Flint-Like Friends

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Proverbs 28:18 says “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to build some key relationships with some great people. Many of those relationships are ones which I try to keep fresh on a regular basis. Some of them, however, go dormant for a season.

Last week I had the honor of reconnecting with some good friends. It was a joy to talk about faith, life, ministry, family, and several other things. We asked each other questions to help us understand situations and problems, and even shared some great dreams we have for our lives.

In the end, I’m so grateful for the men and women who surround me and whom I am able to engage in mind stretching conversations. I was challenged by the things we discussed (and hopefully did the same in return), and I believe we were better for the time we spent together.

What about you? Who are you engaging on a regular basis to make you a better leader? Is there someone you need to re-engage? It may not be someone locationally close, but with modern technology most people are only a text away.

If you cannot answer the question above, take some time today to write down a few names of people you can start trying to bounce ideas off. Then, over time, see what starts to develop. You might be surprised at what happens next.

Leading by Letting Go

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I have what I would like to think of as a giving personality. I’m always willing to do something to help someone else. Well, usually.

But sometimes, my willingness to serve and to help may be the thing that prevents me from expanding my leadership influence.

Most areas where I serve, whether at church or somewhere else, my willingness to help may actually be harmful. My desire to equip those around me may actually be undercut by my desire to serve.

What about you? Are you someone who is willing to let go of something?

Think about it like this: I really enjoy running sound on a Sunday morning. Because of a few shifts in our congregation over the past year, I have gladly taken on a much larger role in the sound operation of a service. I have a few people who I have shown how to run sound, established some work-arounds to make it easier for someone else to do the job, but because I enjoy it, I haven’t fully let go.

This would be fine if I weren’t on staff, on stage, or regularly distracted by other responsibilities on a Sunday morning. So, what I’ve managed to do is handcuff anyone who might be willing to take a larger leading role.

So, what if I handed off that responsibility to someone else? What if I was willing to fully equip someone else to fulfill that need?

Are you unknowingly holding on to something in your ministry or at your work that might be holding those around you back? What do you need to let go of in order to let someone else shine?

Leadership Grows

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Our own personal leadership should always be growing and evolving.

On Tuesday I made the statement that we are not who we are today without who we were yesterday. I promise that’s not my attempt at philosophy.

Do you ever find yourself being content with where you are as a leader? I don’t think I’m alone in this. The struggle is always going to be “is this it, or can I grow some more?”

The answer, by the way, will always be yes, you CAN grow some more. But there’s comfort in what we know.

Don’t settle for comfort. Don’t settle for anything.

So, how can you grow in your leadership? Here are a few tips:

  1. Learn to ask good questions, and ask them a lot. I love being around people who can ask a question that inspires me. Find someone like that and learn to ask good questions.
  2. Find people who are doing something different, and learn. This is true of craftsmanship: if you want to learn how to sew, find someone who knows and learn. But it’s also true in leadership. You don’t have to lead like someone else does, but you can definitely learn from what they’re doing well and apply it to your life.
  3. Find the way you learn, and grow. I’ve blogged about this before, but find out what learning style you are, and get after it! Embrace your unique giftedness, and learn.

If you’re not growing as a leader, take some time to evaluate and ask the question “why”?

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Sharpening Your Leadership Sword, pt 2

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On Tuesday, I posted about finding ways to develop your leadership daily and weekly. Today, I’m going to look at something that’s a bit of a long range view: conferences.

Now, to be fair, I’m not a well traveled and varied conference goer. What I do have, however, is my own experience.

There is a conference I go to almost every year hosted by the Baptist General Convention of Texas called Texas Conclave. In relative terms, this is a smaller conference (hundreds, not thousands) that features main room sessions, breakouts, and an exhibit hall.

A few years ago I came to the realization my greatest takeaways from Conclave are usually the relationships–connecting with friends who have moved away, catching up with buddies from college, and meeting new guys who are doing things right in their context.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the main room teaching, and walk away with encouragement and inspiration following most of the breakout sessions I attend, but for me, the value of Conclave is in the relationships.

I have also been able to attend Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit a few times in recent years. I go to a satellite site that is attended by a relatively small number, so I get excellent teaching and lots of relational time.

Are you sensing a theme? I’m fueled by relationships. I love hearing what other people are doing and learning from their passion and heart. I enjoy connecting with friends. This, perhaps more than any conference, is worth it’s weight in gold.

So, how do you sharpen your sword? Know yourself. Find what excites you, and embrace it. Provide yourself with opportunities to build on what motivates you, and watch your leadership grow.