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Thursday
Dec132018

Good leaders are risk takers!

Okay, allow me to go out on a limb here and say that every true bona fide leader is a risk-taker at heart.  They have the gift of courage, the gift of taking healthy and appropriate chances, of fearlessly rolling the dice one more time (not literally, as in gambling) the gift of going out on a limb…I think you get my drift.

The cautious, careful and calculating  so called “leaders” are not usually out in front leading, but somewhere in the pack, reminding everyone of all the reasons why the current plan of attack won’t work and is doomed to failure.

Now that we have that settled, let me say that there are a variety of different kinds of risk-takers:

 Relational

  1. Financial
  2. Strategic
  3. Physical
  4. Confrontational
  5. Emotional
  6. Career
  7. Big decisions

Some leaders are a combination of some of the categories above, and I’m sure there are other categories I haven’t thought of.

Let me drill down on just three of them:

 1.  The relational risk-taker is willing to stake a lot on a relationship to make things happen. He believes so strongly in what he sees in a person that he is willing to bet the farm even though he has no hard evidence and is going more on a gut instinct. The leader put his money on a person by hiring that person, giving that person responsibility beyond their experience or by allowing that person to make decisions that could be costly if they didn’t turn out well.

 2.  The confrontational risk-taker is first cousin to the relational risk-taker. This leader sees someone performing well below their potential or someone in clear violation of established values and is going to sit down and have the come-to-Jesus talk. The difficult conversation is about to happen. It can either make or break the future for this leader and his organization or church. The true risk-taking leader does not shy away from the tough confrontational interactions. He doesn’t relish them or look forward to them, but neither does he run from them.

 A friendship could be lost, an employee could leave, a gossip-spreading chain of emails could make life difficult for you and your future as a leader, but you are willing to take the risk.  You are more interested in speaking the truth than being popular. You are more motivated to deal honestly and openly with people rather than look the other way and ignore attitudes and behaviors that are in violation of your values and work standards. You are willing to be misunderstood and criticized (if need be) for your confrontational talk.

3.  The big decision risk-taker is willing to step out and take advantage of a once-in a-lifetime opportunity, knowing full well that it could be the best decision they ever made or the worse decision they ever made. There are churches and companies that are thriving today because the leadership took advantage of a paradigm- shifting opportunity that had some risks attached. There are other churches and organizations that are dying on the vine because they said “no” to such an opportunity to embrace a radical idea, move in a totally different direction, sell something, buy something.

 You and I have read about people and companies who saw an opportunity to try something new or different; go in an exciting, totally new, but risky, direction; take advantage of an offer being given; and yet, in all of this, having no guarantees whatsoever that it will turn out the way it was promised or perceived. These types of leaders operate with the philosophy of nothing ventured, nothing gained. They are thrilled with the prospect while the more careful and cautious types retreat into their comfort zone…their fear-zone. I have worked with both types.

 Here’s what I’ve learned. No matter what risk-taking decisions you move toward:

  1. Some will like your decision
  2. Some will not like your decision
  3. Some will not understand why you made the decision
  4. Some will understand why you made the decision, but still not like it
  5. Some won’t care what you decide
  6. Some will leave because of the decision you made

But that’s what true leaders do. They make decisions, they take reasonable and healthy risks without over-analyzing, procrastinating or being frozen with the fear of failure.  After all, not making a decision is, in and of itself, a decision--just not a good one!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Jesus took some giant risks for you. Take a few for him!

 

 

Tuesday
Dec112018

3 QUESTIONS THAT ENABLE LEADERS TO CALL FOR COMMITMENTS

Leadership is all about decisions. It's deciding what you want to do, want to achieve and then deciding what you are not going to do that will keep you from achieving the most important things. Dan Rockwell shares three questions that help leaders sort out how to make the right commitments on what they choose to do.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

3 QUESTIONS THAT ENABLE LEADERS TO CALL FOR COMMITMENTS

Back on the farm, we threw bales of hay down from the hay loft to feed the cows. Our cat waited for us to lift a bale to see if there might be a mouse nest. Most of the time, when mice went running, the cat came up empty. He couldn’t commit to one mouse when so many were present.

Options are shiny distractions that drain energy and dilute opportunity until commitments are made.

The courage of commitment is the ability to eradicate options.

Lead team members to make commitments:

It doesn’t matter how many alternatives are on the table if you don’t understand the power and cost of eliminating options.

Danger:

It’s easy to reject an ugly idea. The truly dangerous thing is a bright shiny idea that dilutes your resolve to commitment to a clear path forward.

Shiny new ideas are more dangerous than ugly dumb ideas.

From option to commitment:

1.  How are you willing to take responsibility?

Begin by exploring options. Move quickly to asking team members what they are willing to commit to do.

How are you willing to inconvenience yourself to bring this commitment into reality?

2.  What are you willing to invest?

Investment transforms imagination to reality.

 

  • How much time are you willing to invest?
  • How much energy are you willing to divert from current activities?
  • How many resources are you willing to allocate?

 

3.  What are you willing to stop?

‘Having it all’ is a savage lie that drains our belief in the necessity of eliminating good options.

If your schedule is already full, any meaningful commitment requires you to take something out of your bucket. Those who keep all their options  open end up paralyzed or frantic, and always over-committed. 

How might leaders help team members make commitments?

Where does the courage to explore commitments over discussing options come from?

 

 

Monday
Dec102018

Sexual Stupidity

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t read about some well-known movie star, a sport standout or successful businessman who has cheated on his wife or acted inappropriately with some woman (or women) to whom he’s not married. The “Me-Too-Movement” is bringing more of this to light, but it has undoubtedly been going on for a long, long time.

Recently I read Proverb 6:32 in the NLT where it says: ”The man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.”

It is even more sad when this happens to a nationally/internationally known Christian leader which we have also been seeing a fair amount of lately. It is disheartening to read about a leader in the body of Christ who, through some very poor and unfortunate choices, has not only become an “utter fool” but can contribute to those following him to become jaded, and deeply wounded over this  significant breach of trust.

There are people following that leader who, from that point on, vow to never again trust a Christian leader. My heart just breaks when I hear this. With some it is the second or third time this has happened. Our enemy is rejoicing.

As most of you know I coach Christian leaders and have been doing so for 14 years.  It troubles me greatly when I think of the number of those I have coached, and am coaching, who struggle with some form of sexual addiction and are consistently and constantly losing the battle.

Some have actually physically committed adultery or are regularly doing so in their minds due to what they watch, listen to, or read. My sense is that this kind of, what I am calling “Sexual Stupidity,” can not only destroy the leader himself, but can also destroy a marriage, kids and an otherwise fruitful ministry. Some leaders never bounce back from this and are scarred and damaged for the rest of their life.

The enemy has a mission, which is to destroy Christian leaders (1 Peter 5:8). Luring us into sexual stupidity is one of his best and most proven tools of accomplishing this.

In addition to Proverb 6:32 we find this in Proverb 7:23,24 in the NLT: 

“He followed her at once, like an ox going to the slaughter. He was like a stag caught in a trap, awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart. He was like a bird flying into a snare, little knowing it would cost him his life.”

That’s pretty descriptive of what’s happening: costing him his life, his marital life, his parental life, his emotional life, and his ministry life. I have known, or known of, Christian leaders who having once stepped into that trap, got hit by that arrow, flown into that snare walked into that slaughter and have never returned; indeed, paying the price of loosing your life in a myriad of ways.

Recently I have begun to pray for a number of Christian leaders who I personally know: That they would be kept pure and far away from this kind of behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing full-well what the ultimate price tag could be.

Lust in its various forms is a battle that every man fights at one time or the other. Some seem to never experience victory in this fight and are constantly leveled by blows from the enemy.

I am not about to give you a simple formula for having victory in this area, but let me close by sharing this from Romans 6:12, 13 in The Message Paraphrase:

“That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things.”

These two verses have been of tremendous help to me, as I am, by his grace asking him daily and minute by minute to remind me that I am raised to a new life in Jesus and therefore don’t have to give sin  (sexual sin in particular) a vote, the time of day or run little errands on behalf of the enemy’s voice in my mind when he says things like:

  1. Go ahead, nobody will know
  2. Everybody does it; it’s no big deal
  3. There’s no harm, and God will forgive you
  4. You’re only human after all and nobody’s perfect

 At times I will ask a coaching client who really struggles in this area—in what ways are you giving sin a vote, the time of day or running little errands? I am more and more hearing, “Thank you Jesus, I didn’t give sin a vote today.” What are you currently doing or practicing that is giving sin a vote?

Who is that person(s) you can share with when you are on the brink of committing sexual stupidity and knowingly or unknowingly stepping in that trap?  Don’t wait. It’s not worth the wait or the consequences. The price tag is huge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday
Dec082018

3 Easy Ways to Burn Out Your Team

As a leader you certainly don’t want to burn out. Additionally you definitely don’t want to contribute to the burnout of those on your team. Eric Geiger shares three ways you may be doing that without knowing it.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

3 Easy Ways to Burn Out Your Team

A burned out team blesses and benefits those they are designed to serve less and less because those who are burned out live with muted passion and numb affections. Thus a wise and loving leader shudders at the thought of creating a culture that cultivates burnout. While much of the responsibility to guard against burnout rests on each person, leaders can surely drive a team to burnout. Whether leading a team of staff or a team of volunteers, here are three ways to raise the likelihood of burnout (Obviously, you don’t want to do these things):

1. Change directions continually.

A leader who continually changes directions will burn out those who are attempting to follow. If you want to frustrate and exhaust a team, change directions continually. People will grow discouraged, as they will never taste the joy of seeing a plan come to fruition. The people will invest time and energy in a direction only to have the direction change. They will likely shudder at the announcement of the next “vision meeting,” because all they have been working on will likely change. Again.

2. Be inconsistent.

If your team never knows what to expect from you, you will foster a culture of fear or anxiety, which can easily raise the likelihood of burnout. So if you want to burn out a team, swing the pendulum from extreme to extreme in all your leadership. Keep ’em guessing! Switch from frantically firing off hundreds of emails a week to only allowing for face-to-face conversations and then back again. Require strategic plans several years out and then switch and bash the whole concept of strategic planning. Main point: never let them settle into what you are thinking.

3. Fail to care.

The best way to raise the level of burnout is to not care for the people you lead. View them as tools to accomplish a mission, not as partners and people. There are more chess pieces somewhere in the world at your disposal, so simply fail to care for people and gather some more.

Here is the painful paradox of serving on a burned out team: less of an impact while feeling like you are working more. If you want more burned out people, change directions continually, provide inconsistent personal leadership, and fail to care.

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec062018

Advice to young leaders (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the post from last week. You might want to read that before tackling what is below.

Advice To Young Leaders (Part 1)

5. Don’t be a slave to your tech “toys”

You can tell the difference between the men and the boys by the price of their toys.  I saw a bumper sticker once that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” That pretty much summarizes the western culture’s view of “stuff.”

Watching leaders with their “devices” (jumping at each vibrate or ring tone) makes me wonder if the tail is now wagging the dog. What started as a helpful tool has now become our master and enslaved us.  Awhile back I was at lunch with a leader and, under the table, he was texting while nodding and pretending to pay attention to his guests who had traveled some distance to meet with him. 

In order to dethrone our love affair with “Our Toys,” how about creating finish lines at the end of a work day (5p or 6p) and turning off your cell phone and computer so you can focus on some replenishing time for yourself and time with your family? I have suggested this more than once to leaders I coach. For some, it can be like going cold turkey from a drug. Goes to show you how tied we are to our tech toys. Have your tech toys become an “idol?”

6. Don’t suffocate but delegate

Good leaders get others to help them, while other leaders try to do it all by themselves. We need to go back to the first piece of advice on delegation given in the Bible: Exodus 18 where Moses was instructed by his father-in-law to learn how to delegate.

I give an exercise to those I coach, asking them to write down everything they are doing, or think they should be doing, ministry-wise.  Then put a check next to everything on the list that only they can do.  It always surprises them that many of the items are not checked, which obviously means someone else could do some of these things.

Why, then, is someone else not doing it? It’s because they have never asked anyone to do it, nor have they trained anyone to do it. The rationale is often that “I can do it faster myself…that it will take too much time to train someone else….time I don’t have.” This might work in the short run; but, in the long run, it will “kill” you and truncate any growth your team, church or organization might experience. Check your ego at the door and learn how to delegate, before you fall victim to burn-out and/or a complete meltdown.

7. Don’t be a loner but choose genuine community and accountability

I understand that accountability is often seen as an idea with no teeth--a concept that is more bark than bite, but that doesn’t negate its essentiality and criticalness.

I know of a lot of young leaders who simply believe they don’t really need accountability and don’t want it either. This smacks of Proverbs-like “folly” with a good deal of pride mixed in. These young leaders want the freedom to do what they want, when they want--not having to answer to anybody. The potential thrill of skating close to the edge of the ice gives them an adrenaline rush that can be exciting, but can also be very dangerous.

There are leaders in the evangelical church who encourage church attenders to be in “small groups” but don’t regularly participate themselves; nor do they have a friend or friends to whom they give permission to ask the tough questions to which they fully intend to be brutally honest in answering.

I have been in vocational ministry for 50 years and have seen more than my share of fallen leaders who got into sexual or financial sin (two of the biggies), and there wasn’t a single person in their ministry circle or among their close friends who knew what was going on.  Everyone was blindsided by it!

I personally knew a lead pastor of a large church who literally scoffed and laughed at the idea of being accountable to anyone, but didn’t object if anyone on his staff wanted to pursue it. He saw no value in it and wanted no part of it. After a period of time, that pastor allowed himself to get into a compromising situation which eventually resulted in him stepping down and the church dealing with the fall-out of a sordid situation. It didn’t need to happen. He had no one walking closely with him. The devil had the last laugh.

To whom are you making yourself known?  Who are you allowing to ask you the questions you would rather not answer, but need to? You are not smart enough, godly enough, or strong enough to go it alone and it was never God’s intention for you to do so.