The Leadership Struggle

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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?

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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Losing Teeth & Growing as a Leader

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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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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.

Today’s Decisions. Tomorrow’s Direction.

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Have you ever done something you never thought you would do?

For me, it’s running. I used to think people who ran 5K races were crazy. Now, I’m one of the crazies. I’ve run 5Ks (including one during a vacation), 5 mile races, 10Ks and even a half marathon.

Every time I’ve trained for and completed a race, I can look back and see decisions I made along the way that helped me achieve the goal. The most obvious was simply the choice to spend time running instead of doing something else.

Our leadership principle today is a simple one: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.

The decisions we make today affect where we will end up tomorrow. For leadership, the implication is rather simple: are you making decisions today that will make you a better leader tomorrow?

Are you reading leadership blogs (like this one), books, and articles? Are you listening to leadership podcasts that will stretch your understanding of what it means to lead? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help you grow as a leader?

What have you set up in your routine each day that will help you expand your leadership influence? It may be as simple as sending an encouraging text each day, or clicking over to Amazon to find a good book on leadership. Or, maybe it’s adopting the three questions and trying to answer them each day.

Remember: Today’s decisions. Tomorrow’s direction.