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 Structure

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On Tuesday I wrote about Leading from Creativity. You can check it out here.

Over the past week I’ve completed two woodworking projects. The first one, as I wrote about on Tuesday, developed from a place of creativity. The second one, however, had a blueprint.

Now, I’m not one who usually likes to follow someone else’s plans, but I knew I wanted a bar stool for our new house and had no clue where to start. So I found a site where someone had already gone through the process and laid out their steps, and my goal was to simply follow what they did.

I followed the process, making a few adjustments (read:mistakes) here and there. The end result was something I could be very proud of: something that looks like a real piece of furniture!

Leadership can be the same way sometimes. We don’t always have to blaze a new trail, leading from creativity. There are plenty of times in leadership when we can benefit from the leadership and experience of those who have gone before us.

This may mean reading books or blogs (like this one!) and putting into practice what you learn. Or maybe you learn better by listening to podcasts, or sitting down over meals.

Ultimately, learning from the experiences of those who have walked the path of leadership before you helps you navigate the path of leadership more efficiently.

How are you making the most of the structure around you? Are you reading books regularly? Are you meeting with mentors consistently? Are you gleaning from the wisdom and experiences of others? Find a way today to benefit from the hard work someone else has put into their own experience and you’ll be a better leader because of it.

 

 

Check It Out: Hard Conversations

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Today’s Check It Out is a lesson, again, I learned years ago: waiting for the “right time” to have a hard conversation is often cut short by the arrival of the “necessary time”. Click over and check it out.

Don’t Hide from Hard Conversations

Lessons from the Big Chair: Communicate Well

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The church where I serve has been without a pastor since January, and I have had the privilege of serving alongside an incredibly wise, discerning, and experienced interim pastor over the past four months. As that time has drawn to an end and we have a new pastor coming in a few weeks, I thought I would spend some time reflecting on a few lessons I learned along the way. Today will be the last post in this series.

It’s really hard to narrow down some of the major lessons I’ve learned, while at the same time trying to keep situations general. Let me finish the series with the final piece of advice he gave me as he left: keep the lines of communication open.

So many leadership struggles happen as a result of poor communication. I find myself referring to people as “black holes of information” whereas just this week my loving wife accused me of the being the same thing.

Communication can be hard.

While communicating, intent can get ignored.

Content can get confused.

Comments can get misunderstood, and tensions can rise.

That’s why, as leaders, we need to learn to continually keep the lines of communication open, going both ways. We need to communicate well with those we lead, but we also need to be willing to listen and establish a culture of two-way communication.

So, how are you doing at communicating this week? Do you need to work out a situation with someone in a supervisory role above you? What about someone you are leading who may need to communicate with you? What are you doing to help them find opportunities to communicate with you?

Or maybe, for you, communicating means simply checking in and asking how life’s going. Whatever it looks like, keep the lines of communication open and watch your leadership influence grow.