I took a Sunday off last week for the first time in longer than I care to admit. But in so doing, I realized I am not doing a good job of answering the 3rd question (click here to read about the 3 questions–a framework for growing as a leader).
You see, I’m great at understanding what needs to be done and what I can do, but I struggle with inviting others to help along the way.
Thankfully, there were enough people willing to pick up the slack and learn before we left that everything went smoothly (life goes on with or without us!). But, I’m still left with a clear step moving forward: train others. Answer the 3rd question.
I’m actually pretty consistent with asking the 3rd question when it comes to things I struggle with doing, but something I really enjoy, like running the sound board, it’s a lot harder to hand off.
But if I want to allow other people to serve, if I want to develop people who are willing and capable of stepping up, then I have to learn to let go, even of the things I may enjoy doing. Who knows, I may find someone who has more passion than me and can do a better job!
What about you? How are you doing at answering the 3rd question? Are you able to put aside your personal enjoyment for the betterment of other people? What steps do you need to take to let go of something close to you to allow someone else to explore their calling?
I try to make a habit of looking for a leadership lesson in every situation I find myself in. Do you do that?
When I go to sporting events, I find myself evaluating the psychology it takes to be an effective coach. Or, at a restaurant, I wonder about the training and communication it takes to establish a healthy work environment.
Now, I’m not always silently meditating on these things, but they are something that pops up nonetheless.
More recently, when things have not gone the way I think they should, I don’t criticize the people in the situation, but I beat myself up for not establishing a better culture.
This does two things: One it takes the pressure off the people I’m leading (right or wrong). Two, it puts the pressure back on me (right or wrong).
Part of my approach is cultivating a 3 Question mindset. If I watch something fail, or at the least go poorly, I immediately begin evaluating what needs to be done, what I could do, and who I could get to help. Sometimes I will have the opportunity to make the needed changes, other times I don’t.
I never want to be someone who sits by and criticizes, but rather someone who is willing to take the steps necessary to initiate change.
How are you at evaluating? Can you draw leadership lessons from a variety of situations? Are you at a point where you can answer the 3 Questions to make a situation better?
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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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Have you ever considered that you are not who you are today without who you were yesterday? Is that confusing enough for you?
Think about it like this: in the last few days, my youngest daughter has lost 2 teeth. This is a normal part of the growth process. Every adult has lost at least one tooth along the way. But, if we didn’t have our baby teeth come in first, those adult teeth would be a killer.
If you’re a parent, think about that for a little while. What if your baby never cut teeth? Then what do you blame the nasty diapers on? Oh, and there’s the whole chewing food thing that becomes essential for health.
So, in order to have our adult teeth come in, we have to have baby teeth come in first. This seems like a simple concept, and it is, but do you think about your leadership the same way?
If you’ve been leading for very long at all, I’m sure you can think of a time where you were cutting your baby teeth. It was undoubtedly a big deal at the time. Then, as you’ve grown, that baby tooth has fallen out and been replaced by another tooth, one that has stood the test of time.
One example would be the foolishness and arrogance of a minister in their early 20s. I knew everything at 23-24. Except, I didn’t. As that baby tooth of confidence (which was important at the time, but eventually taken too far) made the initial cut, it made the way for the adult tooth of realizing I don’t know everything and I need to ask more questions, and always be learning.
What’s your most recent tooth loss? How have you grown in the past few weeks as a leader? Are you willing to grow some more? What tooth do you need to pull?
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