Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category
Have you ever asked yourself that question?
About a year and a half ago I began getting a picture of some major shifts that needed to take place in my leadership. They were big one’s. And the clearer those shifts became, the more I found myself asking myself: “Do I have what it takes?”
Fast forward 18 months – today – March 30, 2012.
For now, I’ll skip getting into all the details of what’s transpired, but I will tell you that this past year and a half has been one of the most energizing, clarifying, and invigorating seasons of leadership I’ve ever experienced. More on that later…
But here are a couple of things I’ve learned that might help some of you.
Don’t think that you are the only one asking this question.
I’m convinced that the majority of (if not all) leaders who are leading anything that requires internal growth and change all have moments when they find themselves asking this question.
I also think it’s complete B.S. that most of them never get honest about it and aren’t willing to (at some point) share about their journey through it with those they’re leading.
Listen….people need to hear this. It will be a great help to them! They need to hear that there will be times when you will doubt whether or not you truly do have what it takes to lead. There will be times when you will wonder if you’ve hit your lid and need to move on so that you don’t become a lid for your organization/church/whatever.
You aren’t crazy. Just because you don’t always hear these types of things being talked about from the conference stage doesn’t mean that even the greatest leaders aren’t struggling with this question from time to time.
This is a good question, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the right question.
I don’t think the primary question should be: Do I have what it takes? The more important question is: Is this where God wants me to be? Am I supposed to be here?
The question of whether or not you have what it takes is always secondary! Think about it – Do you have what it takes in that moment when you’re asking yourself that question? Probably not!
BUT….if you have a conviction that you are where you’re SUPPOSED to be….then it really comes down to an issue of trust. Trust that God will honor your YES to him. Trust that he will show you what steps need to be taken. Trust that he will bring the right people around you to do what you are unable to do alone.
So instead of asking that question from where you’re at right now – reframe it and ask it through the lenses of faith and trust. Ask it with your eyes pointed forward into the future.
Assuming that I am where God wants me to be….
- WILL I have what it takes….as I bring more and more of the right people around me to help?
- WILL I have what it takes….as I continue to grow and stretch myself as a leader?
- WILL I have what it takes….when God provides future resources that I’m unable to see right now?
And the answer is. (INSERT DRUM ROLL)………. Yes, I believe so.
Now move forward and lead from there.
I’m not a big “model” guy when it comes to organizational strategy. While I definitely recognize and admire fresh, innovative ideas that other people are accomplishing, it’s very seldom that I find myself jumping to adapt someone else’s idea or approach in the contexts where I’m leading or creating. Don’t get me wrong, models certainly can be helpful, but if we’re not careful, they can also paralyze us.
Case in point… A couple years ago I learned of a particular structure/model that was working very effectively for another organization that I really admire. And it just so happened that it was proving very successful in an area that we were really struggling to make progress in. So, I decided that we were going to adapt that approach and make it work for us. The only problem was that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get it to work in our context. In fact, the more I tried to make it work, the more frustrated and stuck we became!
Eventually, what I realized was that I was trying to force ourselves into a model that was birthed out of an entirely different story, culture, and DNA than ours. Their approach was grown organically out of who they were, what they valued, and where they came from. The most freeing moment came for me when I gave myself permission to walk away from the model and instead shifted my focus on our own context – who we have and where we’re realistically and currently at organizationally.
And guess what? We saw almost instant progress!
I think often times, models carry an assumption with them that says: “You have what it takes to make it work!” But the fact is, you may not. And that’s ok! Chances are, it took some time for the other guys to evolve, morph, and grow into whatever “model” is currently effective for them.
Allow successful models to inspire, provoke, and start conversations. But don’t allow them to dictate or lock you in to a certain strategy or plan that you may not be ready for….or that may not even be right for you at all!
And if you are going to use someone else’s model….. ADAPT, ADAPT, ADAPT to your own unique context and DNA.
What would you add to this conversation?
There are a couple of really important things that I ask every new person who joins our team to be extremely intentional about. They’re mostly in regards to internal organizational culture. Here are a couple of them.
MAKE NO ASSUMPTIONS
Let’s start from the basis that we will not assume anything. Which means that I will clearly communicate everything that’s important for you to know – even if I have a hunch that you already know what I’m about to tell you. I would rather say it and you tell me that you already knew instead of not saying it because I didn’t want you to feel like I was insulting your intelligence by telling you something that I assumed you already knew.
(Congratulations if you understood that last sentence...)
Not assuming means that we will need to OVER COMMUNICATE with each other – especially in the beginning. I’d rather have to ask you to communicate less than get frustrated by the problems that arise when we’re not communicating enough.
(This is why I think one-on-one meetings should be much more frequent with new hires in the beginning. Part of our role as their direct supervisor is making sure that we’re making ourselves available for the very thing we’re asking them for. In this case – clear communication.)
ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
Take plenty of time to learn about us. Have an inquisitive posture with everyone on the team. Learn our story. Learn why we do what we do.
This is important because your fresh eyes will soon see better ways of doing certain things. This is good! BUT….before you tell us how we can do it better, show respect by taking the time to understand why it’s being done the way it is. That will score you a ton of points with the team.
Stephen Covey said it best: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Don’t assume that your idea hasn’t already been thought of. There may be a very legitimate reason why it’s still being done the way it is. BUT…..on the other hand, there may not be! And that’s a big part of the reason why you’ve been hired to join our team!
But….no matter what – always take time to understand the stories behind things before you try changing them. It’s as simple as asking: “Tell me about _______, what have your thoughts been about that?” That will go a long way.
What are a couple of the biggies you communicate to new people who join your team?
I’m gaining a ton of personal fulfillment and energy these days from coaching, developing, and leading my team. My desire is to do whatever I can to help them succeed and win.
What drive me to do this? Well, several things. For one…I love my team and care about their development as leaders…or better yet – as humans! And secondly, I know that if they succeed, so will The Orchard’s mission.
One practical way I try and help set them up for success is by giving each of my direct reports an opportunity to give me – their leader – direct feedback on how they feel I could do a better job of leading them. So once a month, right alongside my input and development of their leadership, I ask them to answer a very simple, three-part question:
What can I (as your leader)….START, STOP, & CONTINUE DOING…..that would help set you up for greater success?
This is an important question because it cuts out any assumptions I may have about how well I’m leading my team.
More specifically, here’s what I’m asking:
START – What am I not currently doing that could potentially set you up for greater success?
STOP – What am I currently doing that is frustrating you or that you feel could be hindering your success as a leader?
CONTINUE – What am I currently doing that is helping you to succeed?
I’m convinced that building a strong team isn’t just about the leader developing, growing, and stretching their team…..it’s also about providing that team with regular and consistent opportunities to develop, grow, and stretch their leader.
What are some of your best practices for doing this?
Lots of peeps. Lots of need. But only one me.
We all know how easy it is to spread ourselves too thin. We start giving ourselves to too many people…and the ones who deserve the most end up getting far less than they need or deserve.
It’s not about equal investment, it’s about strategic investment.
My goal is to invest in the right people…for the right reasons…and in the right way. So here are three questions that I try to ask myself on a regular basis:
WHO am I investing in?
WHY am I investing in them?
HOW am I investing in them?
If I can’t answer all three of those questions well, it’s time to get back up to the 30k ft view and reprioritize.