Every leader should be humble, teachable, curious, and intentional because if you lead from that posture, it creates an environment that encourages transformation in the lives of those you lead.
It’s important to be organized. That’s true for everyone, but especially for leaders. If you’re not organized, you can’t get things done. And if you can’t get things done, you can’t lead well. Pretty simple, right?
It's always fascinating when a massive Harvard research project confirms what the Bible has been saying for millennia. This Ted Talk is well worth 13 minutes of your time.
Please, don't end up in my group. Be honest. If you're a leader and you've been to GroupLink to start a new group or add members to an existing group, you've probably had that thought about someone. I know I have.
The New Testament records 183 questions that people asked Jesus. He gave a direct answer to three of those questions, but he asked 307 clarifying or redirecting questions in response. Our takeaway: One well-placed question is better than ten good answers. Asking great questions is a skill every leader should work on developing over time.
Why ask questions? Great questions meet people where they are in their faith journeys. Instead of just providing people with easy (and too often trite) answers, great questions help them to own their faith. Questions encourage people to think for themselves. That self-directed shift in thinking has a higher probability of influencing future behavior. In other words, it has a higher probability of helping people grow.
What makes a great question? Curiosity is the secret ingredient of great question-asking. A leader should be genuinely curious about what’s going on in the lives of his or her group members and what those group members have to say.
Great questions aren't judging. They don’t presume an answer. They’re asked in a spirit of learning. They build empathy.
What makes a great question asker? The most effective leaders are full of conversations, not answers. They're humble, satisfied with delayed credit (or no credit at all), generous, concerned with others, curious, and empathetic. Great leaders ask great questions and continually strive to be better at asking great questions.
I don't know about you, but I'm better at asking questions than I used to be but not as good as I want to be. Improving is hard work, but it's worth the effort.
When something is wrong, is your first instinct to say, "Well, at least . . ."? Check out this short video featuring author and research professor Brené Brown.
I thought you might be interested to know that Andy Stanley recently spoke at Leadercast Live in Atlanta. Rejuvenate Meetings published "4 Lessons on Leadership From Andy Stanley," a blog post with a rundown of their takeaways from his talk. Here's the intro:
Because the theme of the event was “The Brave Ones,” Stanley explained to the 5,000 people in the room and the 100,000 people tuning in what brave leadership looks like.
Take these four lessons from his presentation to heart as you boldly lead your team on a day-to-day basis.
- Brave leadership doesn't require a certain personality.
- Don't be put off by the how.
- Dismiss what's assumed to be impossible.
- Act on what breaks your heart.
When something goes wrong, is your first instinct to assign blame? Check out this short video featuring author and research professor Brené Brown.
Have you ever wondered about the purpose of your life? Have you ever wrestled with why you spend your time doing what you do, and whether you've made the right choices in life? Check out "How to Know Your Life Purpose in 5 Minutes," a TED talk by film and theater producer and former Disney executive Adam Liepzig.
The title's a bit provocative for the sake of being provocative (I don't know that you'll actually discover your purpose in five minutes), but the content—especially Liepzig's conclusion—is excellent. It has ramifications for the way you live and the way you lead others . . . including those in your Community Groups.
A leader's goal is to create a helpful, engaging, and relevant environment where people have the opportunity to experience healthy relationships and spiritual growth. After that, a leader let's God do what only he can do: change lives. But that first step of creating an environment is important. That's why the success of a group really does hinge on the quality of its leader. Here are three traits that really distinguish great group leaders:
1. Humility Humility comes from a strong, growing relationship with Jesus. Humble leaders acknowledge that we're all sinners, completely helpless without the love of God. Because they've been so dramatically transformed by this love, these kinds of leaders make every effort to move out of God's way so that he can connect with seekers in his timing.
- Humble leaders approach conversations as fellow journeyers, not as one who are handing off truth.
- Humble leaders "sit" on the same side of the table as their group members. They acknowledge they're also in need of a Savior.
2. Teachability Teachability isn't just about responding to direction and correction. It's an attitude. It's a spirit that says, "I will constantly learn about myself, others, and culture so God can use me in new and different ways."
- Teachable leaders always invite feedback because they know their job isn't to lead perfectly. Their job is to strive to respond effectively to the people God places in their groups.
- Teachable leaders actively pursue what it means to create open and conversational environments for people to explore topics and experience community.
3. Curiosity Curiosity is about engagement. Curious leaders are proactive in reaching out to group members in order to better understand where they are personally, emotionally, and spiritually, and encourage them to take meaningful steps towards their heavenly Father.
- Curious leaders are hungry to know more about their group members. They go out of their way to understand group members' perspective—not so they can change minds, but so they can connect and lead people toward deeper relationships with Jesus.
- Curious leaders don't teach. They ask questions.
These are simple ideas, but pursuing them often requires a shift in mindset. Most leadership books and blogs don't emphasize humility, teachability, and curiosity as key ingredients of great leadership. But they really will improve the quality of your group experience like nothing else. That's because they have the power to break down the barriers of shame and guilt that exist between people. They express a transparency and vulnerability that gives group members permission to be more transparent and vulnerable. And that's huge when you're trying to help others pursue spiritual growth.
There's some good stuff in this video.
Leadership is all about creating an environment where other people can grow and thrive . . . even when doing so requires some sacrifice on the part of the leader.
As Mr. Sinek puts it, "If the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the [group]. When we feel safe inside the [group], we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities."
Are you comfortable with the phrase, “I don’t know?”
I’m not … but I’m learning to familiarize myself quickly. Luckily, leading a growing organization provides many opportunities to practice!
I used to avoid this statement like I avoided waking up for my 8am Art History class in college (I never went!). I’m becoming more comfortable today, though. It’s not that I know less today than a few years ago. At some point my age may cause that to be true. Rather, I’m just becoming more comfortable accepting and acknowledging what “I don’t know.”
Here is the problem. When I was a younger leader, I assumed admitting my lack of insight would undermine my leadership influence. I wanted to be seen as a thought leader. I wanted the promotion. I wanted the next opportunity. And I believed the path to the leadership promise land was paved by answers, expertise, and confidence.
Unfortunately, pretending to know all the answers led me to over-promise and under-deliver. In case you don’t know, that’s NOT the best method to promotions and opportunities.
Gavin goes on to explore five positive things saying "I don't know" actually communicates to the people we lead. It's well worth hopping over to his site to check it out.
Despite its benefits, social media can be addictive, and it can breed all kinds of negative emotions and behavior. I've seen too many people fall head first into a sea of insecurities due to the influence of social media. If this is you, it may be time to take a break.
In this TED video, author Malcolm Gladwell puts a new and fascinating spin on a story we're all familiar with . . . or at least think we're all familiar with.
I got to see Gladwell give a longer version of this talk at last year's Catalyst Conference. It may have been the highlight of the conference for me.
To dig deeper, check out Malcolm Gladwell's book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.
This past week in his series Ask It, Andy Stanley gave advice that sounds so simple yet can be so difficult: when making decisions, get other people's opinions.
Leading people means you're going to have to have tough conversations from time to time. It's just part of the deal. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier, but it is what it is . . . and what it is is one of the most difficult aspects of leading.
A little over a year ago, Sue Bates provided some great practical advice on navigating uncomfortable conversations, but I thought it was probably time to revisit the topic. So, I poked around the web and found a trio of great articles:
- How to Give Constructive Criticism: 10 Tips for Successful Coaching from the Modern Servant Leader blog
- Tips on Having Difficult Conversations from Harvard Business Review
- 5 Strategies for Tackling Tough Conversations by Scott McDowell at 99u
What additional advice would you give a leader faced with having to initiate a tough conversation with a group member?
I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day holiday. To help you ease back into the work week, here's some wisdom from Coach John Wooden. He has a lot to say about living and leading well.
Jesus' parable of the bags of gold in Matthew 25 can be perplexing, but I think Wooden's observations offer insight. Maybe God is less interested in us winning than he is in us succeeding. Maybe he wants us to focus less on outcomes (which we mostly can't control, anyway) and more on making the most of the gifts and talents he's given us.
Focusing on success can be liberating in a world so obsessed with winning.