Empowered

As a leader, I need to encourage you to move as far away from being a command and control leader as possible, and become a leader who understands the importance of empowerment. Empower and Release leaders are at the forefront of organizational discovery and there is a reason for it. Empowerment enables trust, freedom, autonomy and a feeling of worth in your direct reports. It also maximizes your time as a leader and allows you to move the organization forward.

One thing I am faithful to do with my leadership team is to have “the talk” and it always sounds something like this.

You are a ten at what you do and it is my job to empower you to do it. You will be your best when you are working in your passion and your strengths. Where you are a ten, I may only be a six… and if I tell you how to do your job, your ten will sink to an eight because of my six. 

However, if you will let me empower you to be the best leader you can be… If you will allow me to release you to your own creativity, you may even work as an eleven. 

Understand this next point. If I release you, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s OK. I want you to know that I may pull you into my office and we may even have some words,… but out there with our people… I will support your decisions. You can trust that I will support you as a leader.

Now here’s the thing… I demand the same from you. If you feel I have made a mistake in leading you or this organization, I have an open door, let’s talk about it in my office. When we leave my office, we will be united in front of our people and I will be grateful that you had the courage to come to me rather than go to the others. Now get out there and change the world.

Every time I have that talk, I can see a feeling of relief wash over the face of that leader. You see, the leader that can instill trust and empower his or her people early in their relationship, and not destroy that trust by actions, will buy the loyalty, trust and respect of their people. In those very special cases, everybody wins.

Leader Video

Church Planter Video

Risky Leadership

TAKE A CHANCE. The riskiest idea may turn out to be the most innovative and transforming. In a culture that despises change, this is a paralyzing thought. True transformation seldom comes without a leader determining something drastic needs to happen. If that “still small voice” is telling you to do it… do it!

DON’T LOOK BACK. There was no crystal ball when you made the decision, and come-what-may you work through your objectives. Be confident. The decision you made was thought out, and if you believed in it’s transforming power (unless the environment has changed), continue to believe. As a person of excellence, you should focus on the forward progression of your decisions.

MOVE FORWARD. Rather that setting the reward at the final objective, allow yourself to reward the team in incremental steps. Too often we lose our drive because we see the final goal as the only victory moment. Celebrate each landing on the staircase to your vision.

STOP WORRYING. If your heart is in it, the consequences of a radical decision are yours to deal with. Besides, worry will affect the outcome. Place your concentration on the future. If you must worry, use it profitably by asking; “What’s the worst that can happen?” We tend to forecast doom and the actual answer to that question will often remove worry entirely.

Remember, THERE ARE NO MISTAKES. The lessons learned through missteps will be instrumental in driving you closer to to your goal and refining your understanding. Mistakes are nothing more than invaluable learning opportunities. True, people will see one mistake and overlook one hundred profitable decisions, but that is their lack of vision and shortcoming, not yours.

STEP OUT. Dynamic leaders move beyond their comfort zone. The more success you experience by risk-taking, the more comfortable you will be outside of the zone. You have to do a new thing and no matter how hard you look, the answer is not inside your box.

RELEASE YOURSELF. Perfectionist tendencies will keep you from attaining success in new areas. Perfection is only reached when you have been at something for some time. This does not apply to new ventures. Shelve the perfectionism and do something new.

RELEASE OTHERS. Build your team, empower them, and let them make mistakes (remember, there are no mistakes). Do not micromanage and allow them the victory celebration at each step. Never rob them of the glory of success. Their glory speaks of you as a leader so let them receive it.

EVALUATE AND MEASURE. Every step of the doing should be evaluated and measured. What are the results we are seeking? Are the results coinciding with the plan in this endeavor? If the results are contrary to the greater vision then stop and reevaluate–humbly with your team–is the best place to start.

DON’T STRESS. The big victory will come. Celebrate the small victories, regroup after the detours, and find camaraderie with the team. Build the relationships and center them on the milestones. Each victory will draw you closer to the final goal. When you reach the final goal…

CELEBRATE. CELEBRATE. CELEBRATE!

Then start the process again…

One Guy Theory – Revisited

I want to share with some thoughts that I feel draw some important points for us as we consider the effectiveness of ministry in our churches. The thoughts come after reading February’s Business Week and is called “The One-Guy Theory.”

While we cannot run our churches as we would a Fortune 500, the ideas from the article that I want you to consider are: The effectiveness of streamlining the decision making process, Empowering leaders to make decisions, and, Supporting (publicly) the decisions they make (even if they are askew).

Here are my thoughts….

First. As a church (or other organization), how long does it take to move on a need? Does it require a group (committee) to meet, debate, and eventually rule on the need? Or, is there a person who is empowered to make a decision? I believe this to be a paramount issue in today’s church. In fact, our lack of ability to take definitive action is greatly responsible for where we are today with so many plateaued and declining churches. We need to respond to the shifts in our cultural surroundings, and empower our leaders with the ability to make those shifts.

Second. I know this is hard. But, we must give ownership to people we trust. Ownership to make decisions! I used to have a very frank conversation with each of my leaders when I was a Pastor. See, I believe that disunity in the public eye is detrimental to church harmony. The conversation went something like this:

“This is your baby! I will trust you to make the decisions necessary to make this thing happen. I want you to know however, that I am here for you, as an advisor, but you have the ownership to make it happen. I want you to know that if you make a less-than-ideal decision, I will support you publicly. However, we are going to talk about it behind closed doors. You are a trusted leader so I will never undermine that trust publicly. Therefore, I expect the same in return. If you feel I have made a bad decision in the running of this church, come talk to me about it. My door is always open. For the sake of unity, let’s commit to open conversation and trust in each other’s public support.”

A leader who knows that you will support them will be both cautious in their decisions and will give you the benefit of the doubt in yours.

Finally, this One-Guy Theory requires for the Christian that even in our ownership to make CEO type decisions, it is really a Two-Guy Theory. If Father is not involved in your decision making process, than PERHAPS you should not be making any decisions at all.

Ya’ know what, forget the word perhaps…

Overcoming Obstacles

Vince Lombardi is famous for saying: “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Take a look at the picture above. These guys are training to be heroes. This reminds me of my need to be a problem solver. Most success is directly related to the leader’s ability to problem solve. In the case of these soldiers, their ability to take a bit of a hit for each other, or experience pain for the team is what leads to their excellence. Make no mistake–as you lead–you will take the hits, you will experience pain. Mitigating the severity is a key to great leadership.

If the obstacle confronts you, the leader…

Sheer determination is key. It sets the relevant leader apart. It’s what makes the difference. At times the solution is found in the “grit.” You just need to hunker down and get over the wall, plow the field, or do the task. However, if the obstacles involve people (which they usually do) the strategy changes. To overcome you will need to devise strategies to minimize the resistance. Effective strategies that minimize resistance will mean the difference between making headway and bouncing back.

If the obstacle confronts the team…

Pulling a group of diverse individuals is hard enough. To do so for the overcoming of an obstacle is all the more difficult. However, it must be done. You need to tap the creative thinking that a team can provide. Your leadership will be shown in steering the solution, implementing the correct approach, assigning the action items and rewarding the team members that make it happen.

Here are some tactics that may help you motivate and direct the team response.

1. Share as much information as possible. People do not work well in the dark.

2. Work with the willing. Even with an “A” team assembled, not everyone on the team will be the star player at any given time.

3. Provide the right amount of guidance. People who are more capable than you will still look to you for your leadership.

4. Work side by side when necessary. In the noise of confusion, your presence in the midst of doubt will do more to help clarify thoughts than anything else.

5. Stretch your people beyond their current talents and abilities. You will be amazed at how effectively they will work when they see growth in their own thinking and abilities.

6. Make it fun, actionable, and highly visible. Most of us–growing up–enjoyed a puzzle or a challenge. Reframe the solution as a challenge that will be fun to discover. Bring a picture similar to the one above to the meeting.

7. Let them feel the weight of the challenge. Fun is… well, fun. It can help us to motivate. However, at the end of the day, the task is serious. Let them see what rests on a favorable solution.

8. Reward them. When the wall has been scaled, get them together, and do something special. Recognize the one(s) who drove the solution. Our drivers are our most important assets. Empower them for the next time around.