The Redundancy of Leadership

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Do you know the hardest part of writing a blog? The consistency of having to write another post. It comes up three times each week, like clockwork.

Ministry is the same. Sunday is always right around the bend (or Wednesday for many youth ministers).

Farming was the same. No matter how many years in a row you planted a seed, the next year it was time to plant it again.

I imagine CPAs have the same feeling. Regardless of how hard you work from January to April 15 one year, the next year you will have to work just as hard.

But in the midst of the mundane, there is beauty. In the midst of the repetition, there is opportunity.

Something a mentor pointed out to me not long ago is what he called the “redundancy of leadership.”

What does that mean? Simple: a major part of leadership is repetition.

Take, for instance, the three questions (you can read about them here). The three questions work great when you use them one time, but they find their greatest impact when they are asked and answered on a regular basis. The more frequently you answer them, the more integral they become to your leadership style and effectiveness.

The problem, however, is when redundancy carries a negative connotation. Who likes getting their teeth cleaned every six months? Or, who enjoys shooting hundreds of free throws? Or, what parent anticipates the excitement of yet another dirty diaper?

The redundancy of leadership means having the same conversation over and over. Sometimes the audience changes, but sometimes the message and audience remain the same.

The redundancy of leadership means yet again casting vision for your organization, even though you did it last week, or last month, or last year, or all of the above.

This week, embrace the redundancy. Find the beauty in the mundane. Excavate the excitement of the repetitive. And, above most other things, hang in there.

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Guest Post: The Security of Structure

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We have a first for the blog today! Here’s a guest post written by friend Eric Kaiser.

My kindergarten son and I love Legos! We have a ton. Honestly, I use my son as an excuse to buy a lot of Legos. Most of the time he will help me at the beginning, lose focus, and move on to something else as I finish.

Legos are masters of illustrating the instructions to build complicated toys. Step by step builders know what to do. There are even patterns that emerge as each product is completed. Unless there are missing pieces, it is almost fool-proof.

I love the security of structure. I would rather build something with instructions than build from creativity. My son is the opposite. He would much rather start putting blocks together without a certain project in mind. The end result is a ton of fun. His wildly imaginative construction adds flavor and fun to my straight forward designs.

Leaders need both structure and creativity. While we continually grow as leaders, our tendency toward one or the other can make our leadership lopsided. How can we balance our leadership?

Compliment your style

Build a team that compliments one another. Usually we gravitate to people who lead like us, who think like us, and relate like us. Intentionally find people who do things differently. Give them freedom to speak, dream, and direct.

Force yourself to grow

Find some way to limit yourself and see how you can overcome limits with creativity. Reduce your next event’s budget by 15%. Limit your involvement in planning the new project so your team is allowed to stretch their leadership legs.

Fail forward

If you never try, you will never grow. One of the hardest things for me to do is allow myself to fail. I am much more gracious to others who fail. When I don’t live up to my expectations, I need to allow myself the freedom to fail and try again.

What advice would you give to someone who is prone to structure? What would you say to encourage someone to embrace creativity?

 

G. Eric Kaiser lives in Plains, TX with his wife and son. He serves as youth pastor of FBC Plains, TX and loves his job way to much. When he’s not working, he’s probably reading some Batman comics. He’s a nerd like that. 

Structure vs Creativity

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Last week I talked about leading from creativity and leading from structure, using the backdrop of two recent woodworking projects. Today, I want to reflect a little more.

I truly believe that effective leadership calls for both creativity and structure. There are times where being creative is the only way to move forward, and there are times where maximizing from the steps, mistakes and successes of others has already paved the way.

So, today, my question for you is simply: do you find yourself more naturally leading from creativity or from structure?

I wrestle with a heavy tendency to want to lead from a position of creativity. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I am a thinker. I joke that I spend about 90% of my time thinking about what I could do, and only 10% of the time actually doing it. The byproduct of that much thinking: creativity.

I fight against structure. I would much rather write my own Bible study, create my own logo, plan my own trip, or create a new wood working project than try to follow a blueprint written by someone else.

But, if we are going to be honest with each (and why wouldn’t we be honest?), my leaning to creativity is often times my greatest weakness. I suffer when I refuse to ever walk the path someone cleared before me.

Truthfully, I grow as a leader as I wrestle with this tension. Too much creativity, and my mistakes swallow me whole. Too much structure, and I get crushed under the weight.

So, which way do you naturally lean? How do you find balance between creating new and learning from the old? Please share your experiences!

Leading from Creativity

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Over the past 4 days I’ve completed two different projects, both of which have been furniture. The process I used to accomplish each one is quite different, however.

My first project was something I’m calling a “grill prep station”. It’s construction was very basic. I had two pallets, one of which I was able to cut in half and still keep each half uniform in build. I attached the half pallets to the full size pallet, added a couple 2×8 boards I had laying around, and found three or four more boards to complete the project.

I only cut one or two boards, but everything else was very much a “this might work here” progression. In the end, I love my prep station. There’s room for growth, and I can change things around without any remorse, because it wasn’t supposed to match a blueprint anyway.

The end result is a place for me to place plates, food, seasonings, drinks, and my bluetooth speaker, all while enjoying an evening grilling.

Some leadership experiences are like this: I’m going to make the most of what I have, get creative, and be proud of the end result.

We may find ourselves in an unorthodox situation, and leading requires out of the box thinking. This is natural and beneficial for a team.

Leaders who can see what I refer to as the Horizon of Possibility, look at the materials that have been given to them, and they create what they can dream. The materials may be physical, financial, or in terms of personnel, but the end result is something worthy of satisfaction.

We can all probably think of someone who, with extremely limited resources and personnel, made a drastic impact on the world. They didn’t follow a blueprint, but instead said “this might work” and gave it a shot.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, embrace the freedom that comes from not having to follow a blueprint. You can make a mistake, but that’s okay. Roll with the mistake and make it a strength!

But don’t let yourself become tied to this way of leading as the only way. On Thursday, we will look at the benefits of the other method of leading: following a plan.

 

3 Questions & Hurricane Harvey Relief

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Would you like to know a secret? The 3 Questions are not a new concept. They were birthed out of observation more than anything else. I simply put the thoughts into a process, which is far from revolutionary.

A contemporary example of how we can answer the three questions in real life is helping with Hurricane Harvey relief.

As the news stories and pictures and reports roll in about the devastation, how many people with boats have made the trip to help offer rescue? How many first responders have migrated to try to offer help?

All of these people, whether they realize it or not, are working the three questions: What needs to be done, What can I do, and Who can I get to help?

I know of churches who are asking that question today. For some, what they can do is limited by age, and for others their financial situations may prevent other solutions.

But ultimately, as they (and we) work through the 3 questions, let me offer a few suggestions:

  1. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. If you cannot make the trip, do not let that keep you from giving. Fight the mindset that says “If I can’t go, then what’s the point.”
  2. Find something you can do. Read reports, google search for needs. Give what is most beneficial, not what is simplest to give away.
  3. Equip those around you to participate. Find a way to include others in your plan. You might even try to brainstorm with them to see what you can do together.

In a time like this, leadership becomes key. But please don’t lead for the sake of saying you led, but instead lead with a purpose. Let your efforts have an end result of life change. Equip those around you who don’t know how to help.

Finally, and most importantly, pray for those who are suffering and recovering. The damage is incomprehensible, and some people will never fully recover from the devastation. Pray for those who have lost, pray for those who give of time and resources, and pray for the recovery in days ahead.