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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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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Check It Out: Training with a Purpose

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I’ve been blogging now for 8 months. That’s a lot of posts. But the posts I got the most feedback on were from my “Lessons from the Farm” series where I reflected on leadership learnings I’ve gleaned from my time growing up working on my dad’s farm.

Today’s Check It Out is the first post from that series, and one that I needed reminding of this week: Training with a purpose. Click here to check it out.

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.