Tag: routine

4 Reasons I Have a Leadership Application

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I am in the process of interviewing students who applied for our Student Leadership Team. The application process is two fold: a written application and an interview.

The written application is a compilation of 9 questions. The questions help give me insight into how these students think about leadership–which is always insightful. One of the questions, specifically, asks how they hope to grow from their time on the leadership team, and from that I learn what they expect leadership team to look like.

But there’s more to my reasoning than just to get an inside look. Here are four reasons why I have an application process for Student Leaders:

  1. An application process sets the precedence that leaders put in extra time. Leadership is one part shifting our focus (awareness) and one part doing the extra work (willingness). If a student is not willing to take the time to fill out a few questions (as little as 5-10 minutes) they are likely not willing to go the extra mile. If there is no commitment up front, then you will get some students who just want to do something for the sake of doing something.
  2. An application process communicates a desire to do more. For some students, they feel like they could be doing more, but they don’t know where to start. When you open a process and allow them to pursue the steps of joining a team, it helps cement in their minds their desire to take another step.
  3. An application process helps establish commitments. I set the deadline and then give a week window for interviews. If they cannot schedule a meeting within that week, then they may need to wait to join the team. Leaders commit and follow through with their commitments. The application process (written and interview) helps teach them to take initiative.
  4. An application process starts moving everyone in the same direction. It gives a shared experience. Every student answers the same questions. I unintentionally left a very poorly worded question on the form, and it ended up being a unifying moment as the kids talked with each other trying to figure out what it meant. They now have the shared experience of trying to answer that question. (This was the answer I was expecting, by the way.)

I have never turned away a kid who applied, although I have had one who filled out the application but at the interview decided to back out (which I agreed with wholeheartedly).

What does your application process look like for student leaders? Does your experience line up with mine? I’d love to hear from you!

Having a Plan

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What are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

I ask this question from time to time, and if you’re reading this, then I hope you would include this blog as part of it.

But what else are you doing?

Do you read books on leadership? TED talks? Audiobooks? Podcasts? Are you in a network of other leaders who help you wrestle with ideas?

What we do to grow our leadership influence is both a variable (what we do) and a constant (grow our leadership influence). But it rarely happens on accident. Intentionality paves the way for progress.

If you want to expand your leadership influence, it starts with intentionality. Commit to growing. Make sacrifices for the sake of growth.

Reading, for me, is a sacrifice. I have a solid routine, but regular reading is not part of that routine. That’s why I set a goal of reading a certain number of books the past few years (and increased my number this year). I want reading to be a central part of who I am, because it opens my mind to things I don’t get from old episodes of Psych. So, I’m finding ways to work reading into my routines.

So, once again, what are you doing to develop your personal leadership?

Take some time today to work through this. Make a decision about what you’re going to do, and then stick with it.

Maybe you’re going to read one leadership book each month.

Or listen to one leadership podcast a week.

Or start your day with a leadership thought.

Or watch a leadership video from YouTube or RightNow media.

Or choose to not do anything. But that’s not you. You want to grow.

In the meantime, I know you’ll hang around, and we will continue to grow together. Thanks for being here, now let’s expand our leadership influence.

Leadership Mistakes: Moving Too Slow

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I had a nickname in high school: Slow Motion. Care to guess where it came from? Well, it wasn’t my speed. It was my lack of it.

I’m a big guy. Back then, I was just a tall guy, but I’ve never been quick. As a result, my lack of speed constantly haunts me. Okay, that may be a little extreme. But you get the idea.

In leadership, however, one of the mistakes we are often tempted to make is moving too slow. This happens for two main reasons:

  1. Fear – We worry about dealing with the fallout from the change. If we upset the apple cart, how can we be certain the end result is worth the struggle in the middle? Often times this is the equivalent of saying “I don’t want to diet because I’d have to worry about being too skinny.” If the change needs to be made, don’t let fear of the outcome hold you back.
  2. Ease – It’s actually easy to not upset the apple cart. It’s easy to keep the status quo, even if the needed change would mean higher productivity in the end!

But, what are the benefits of not allowing fear and ease to cause us to move too slow? Simple: progress.

When we learn to fight against the urge to move too slow, then we start to see progress. We are able to develop more people. We are able to move more people forward. We are able to stand up to our fear and apprehension because we have experienced the other side.

Naturally, there’s a balance between moving too fast and moving too slow. So ask yourself two question: 1) which side do I lean towards? and 2) Does it seem to work to my benefit?

If your answer to the second question is no, then guess what? You need to start trying to move the other way. If you’re naturally a “wait and see” leader and find yourself constantly regretting your patience, then start moving toward action. The same is true if you’re an action oriented person who regularly leaves a trail of bodies in your wake.

There’s always room to grow, but the question always comes down to: are you willing to evaluate in order to grow?

Act Now or Wait?

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I’m a terrible bargain hunter. What I mean is, if I find a bargain, regardless of a need, I try to convince myself (and my finance department) of my need for it. In those moments, I tend to live with an incredible sense of urgency, hoping to never miss the opportunity.

The rest of the time, however, I tend to let things run their course, rarely getting in a hurry. I live by a pan mentality–It’ll all pan out eventually.

The balance between action and patience is one of the most challenging parts of leadership for me. Over time I have seen some problems resolve themselves naturally, usually problems in my realm of influence.

But when it’s a problem in another leader’s realm of influence, their patience and waiting often drives me crazy. Oh, the hypocrisy.

There’s obviously a line between waiting and action, and the *blessing of leadership is learning to walk the tight rope. Act too soon or too often, and you become Chicken Little declaring a falling sky at every turn. Wait too long, and you’re the Titanic trying to avoid an iceberg.

Great leaders know when to act. Great leaders also know when to hesitate. After all, if the answer was to always do one or the other, everyone could master it. There would be no intuition, no mistakes, no nuance.

If you’re like me, you lean to one side over the other. Which side is it? Do you tend to act or tend to wait?

Now, if your tendency is action, is there a situation around you demanding waiting to act?

If your tendency is waiting, what situation around you requires action?

Respond appropriately today and allow your leadership influence to grow!

Naming Leadership

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My oldest daughter turns 12 tomorrow. When she was younger, she had imaginary friends. Each friend had a name, none of which I can remember. But the name made them personal.

Hang with me for a minute. If you have children, or have ever been one, then you know the power that comes from giving something a name.

We name our stuffed animals. We name our cars (at my former church, “Bertha” was our temperamental van). We name our guitars. Well, you may not have guitars, but I name my guitars and those of other people (shout out to Tay Tay).

There’s an affection that comes from naming them. There’s a sense of pride and ownership. There’s a sense of power.

But at the end of the day, the stuffed animal is a stuffed animal. The guitar is a guitar. The car is a car. The name does nothing to change the fundamental existence. It makes us feel better or more connected, but it does not change the core.

Leadership is the same way. We can give someone the name of leader, but does that truly change who they are at the core?

I see it time and again in student ministry and in watching people who work with students. They wait for students to show a sign of achievement before bestowing the name of leader. Students lift the renaming up as part of their goal–some target to aim for or strive towards. Once they “become a leader”, then they will step up and lead.

What if this approach misses the point completely? What if I am a leader regardless of whether or not I have the title?

What if I am not searching for someone to give a new name, but instead for someone who already doing what leaders do?

I have said this before, and I will repeat it until I stop breathing or am shown that I’m wrong: leadership doesn’t show up because of a title. You can influence people around you regardless of your place on the org chart. You don’t need a title or a position to exert influence. You need a mindset.

I regularly talk with students about “making the room better.” I want them to walk into a room and it to be a better place because they are there, regardless of their title.

This is what I strive for. I don’t have to be up front to accomplish this. I don’t have to touch every life in the room to accomplish this. But I have to be consistent.

Stop waiting for a title to come your way to lead. Grow your influence.

Stop waiting to bestow a title on a student who is worthy. Throw the title away and help them grow their influence.

Then, at some point down the road, you and they will look up and realize you, and they, are making the room better.

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