September 24, 2013
Transforming Your Organization
One Leader at a Time ...
Organizations grow stagnant over time and begin to show signs of resisting change and being “stuck or frozen” in time. These organizations often place a high value on the past and even desire to return to the way things were. Even with dangerous economic trends looming, the comfort of continuing to focus on the glory and accomplishments associated with the past prevent organizations from focusing on the future and new ideas.
In order to transform culture and accelerate change, it is essential to put the right leaders in the right spots. In evaluating and identifying current or new talent, it is important to look for leaders who embody certain distinct and identifiable characteristics.
Attempting to change a status quo culture is an uphill battle. The most time-efficient way for a top leader to move an organization to embrace change is to hire game changers. Game changers love challenges and actually thrive on change. As a leader, how do you recruit and retain leaders who can make a significant impact on your organization? You need to focus your own leadership priorities to searching for the right leaders to fill key spots in your organization. The following is a list of key attributes to help you in your evaluation and search for transformational leaders:
Nine Characteristics to Identify Game Changers
- They not only value the future but actively shape the future.
- They not only adapt to change but enjoy leading and creating change.
- They not only emphasize quality and continuous improvement, but aggressively build new products and programs.
- They not only advocate for vibrant customer relations, but actually take time to listen to customers.
- They not only talk growth in sales, but create an organizational climate to foster growth.
- They are not only good at leading leaders, but are good at assessing and recognizing top talent.
- They not only accomplish professional and organizational goals, but also spend time motivating people around them to new heights.
- They not only expect leaders to be high achievers, but take time to break down roadblocks and barriers to ensure success.
- They not only value positive attitudes, but promote and live out a positive spirit and a “winning attitude.”
The speed of change in our economy and in the decision-making habits of consumers is accelerating rapidly. In order for organizations to increase market share and find ways to grow, they must create an organizational culture that values the future and embraces change. Change is tough on most employees. Therefore, it is imperative to find leaders who not only encourage change, but thrive on it and value success. Finding top game changers must become a major focus if you truly desire to position your organization for innovation and success.
Therefore, as leaders, we need to take time to search for and identify top talent that not only can adapt, but enjoys leading and creating change. Knowing the characteristics of a game changer will remind you, as a leader, that the quickest way to success is through picking the right leaders.
July 19, 2013
Are You Leading at the 30,000 Foot Level or Are You in the Weeds?
Are You Doing More, but Leading Less?
Do you find yourself doing more, working harder, and at the same time feeling less energized and satisfied with your ministry life? Successful leaders need to consistently cruise at the 30,000- foot level, taking the high view of the organization and its needs. Because successful leaders are results-driven and demonstrate a strong work ethic, it is common for a leader to become absorbed with management details rather than big picture vision and direction. If you are struggling with trying to accomplish more, but instinctively know you are leading less, then it’s time for a course correction.
Periodically I find it important to take a timeout and look at my work style and my work patterns. Today, we are faced with instant interruptions; and some of those communications are valuable and some are in fact a great distraction and harmful to focus-driven results. In order to take a closer look at your work style you need to do two things.
Two Ways to Examine Your Leadership Style
- Re-establish focus on the main thing.
- Evaluate critically if your work style is encouraging activity that is leader generated or producing work that is reactive and time consuming.
It is important to periodically refocus on the main thing. What is it you need to focus on to accomplish the larger mission and vision? You are in the driver’s seat and actually have much more freedom in the work environment than you think to choose and carry out major goals. I find it necessary to weekly create a “focus list” of eight to 10 items that are critical to achieve major organizational goals and keep moving the organization forward on its course to fulfill its mission and vision.
I recommend three steps for maintaining a vibrant focus list to keep you focused on the “main thing.”
Three Steps for Maintaining a Leader-Driven Focus List
- Build a focus list consistent with major organizational goals.
- Reflect weekly to update and edit your focus list.
- Occasionally take time to make sure your focus list reflects the “big picture” and does not include items that are too low on the organizational ladder.
Taking time to critically evaluate your work habits and patterns can also help you make sure you are spending your energy and time achieving results related to the main thing.
The following seven items serve as a checklist to make sure you are operating as a true leader at the 30,000- foot level and not gradually getting into task and project management and failing to set direction and vision for the team. You can place your energy in leading, which takes a committed and deliberate effort, or you can take the easy path, which focuses on details and completion and fails to rally those around you.
Checklist for Leading at the 30,000-Foot Level
- Spend less time on the to do list and more time in prayer.
- Spend less time on preparation and more time on spontaneous action.
- Become less self-reliant and more open to God’s leading and power.
- Spend less time on political strategy to maneuver and gain approval and acceptance for projects and more time on vision casting and idea generation.
- Spend less time alone to get projects done and more time involving the team to do the work, and benefit from the team dynamics and satisfaction of timely completion of projects.
- Offer less constructive criticism and instead more positive energy to ignite and multiply positive, results-oriented behavior.
- Offer less politically correct talk; instead, offer more direct communication to “tell it like it is.”
We make choices as leaders. We can either choose to lead and ignite others for team action. Or, we can bury our head in the sand by focusing on details that may satisfy a personal need to accomplish, but doesn’t unite others and help them achieve and contribute.
Time spent leading will have positive benefits for the organization and its people. Taking the leadership role and leading at the 30,000-foot level does two basic things: moves the organization forward and actually focuses our leadership on the people around us. Maintaining a high level of leadership to reach organizational goals will transform your thinking from the “to do” list, and instead, to the development and use of people to achieve organizational success.
If we make a commitment to lead, it should transform our work style and refocus our priorities; and then, you will find that energizing others is time well spent for the betterment of others and the organization.
April 17, 2013
Leaders lead. It sounds so simple; and yet, we make it seem so complex. I do think it is beneficial to occasionally go back and review the basics. Being an enthusiastic college basketball fan, I marvel at how often “great teams” actually execute the basics the best. So for aspiring and seasoned leaders, reviewing and practicing the basics will help us become strong performers.
The following are five basics worth remembering and practicing:
- Leaders influence
- Leaders think about the big picture and help others to see the future.
- Leaders create vision and direction.
- Leaders motivate others to unite around future vision and direction.
- Leaders challenge and expect aspiring leaders to grow to a greater level of influence.
- Leaders mentor
In The Mentor Leader, Tony Dungy emphasizes the need for leaders to make developing future leaders a priority.
- Leaders develop the strengths of others.
- Leaders help others achieve success.
- Leaders spend time building mentoring relationships to counsel, coach, and challenge.
- Leaders speak with conviction
Al Mohler in The Conviction to Lead says that Christian leaders possess a passion to lead which springs from deep and heartfelt inner convictions based on truth and Biblical principles.
- Leaders lead based on principals and convictions.
- Leaders lead with passion and enthusiasm.
- Leaders are hopeful and have strong faith in the future.
- Leaders know the importance of organizational history and telling stories to marry the past, present and future.
- Leaders lead from their strength zone.
- Leaders assess their strength zone and operate within it.
- Leaders become who God has wired them to be.
- Leaders focus on developing their own strengths.
- Leaders spend time taking their strengths, talents and giftedness to new levels.
- Leaders read – Steven Sample, former President of USC
Steven Sample in The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership talks about how important it is for leaders to take time to read a variety of books and articles from current to classics.
- Read the word faithfully.
- Read articles and books on leadership.
- Read current events.
- Read biographies and classics.
- Read for fun.
Five Biblical Principles for Leaders
The following biblical principles can provide God’s power for you to lead day in and day out. Try starting each day reading these verses and praying for wisdom to not only do the right thing, but to have courage when facing tough decision. Operating from His power in faith will provide a great sense of strength and peace for facing all circumstances.
- Pray for wisdom – James 1:5 – “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
- Exalt Christ – Isaiah 25:1 – “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks for Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Hebrews 12:2 – “Keep eyes; focus on Christ.”
- Have courage to do the right thing and make hard decisions.
Psalm 27: 3, 14
Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war rise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident.”
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.”
- Be devoted to prayer. Colossian 4:2 - “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
- Remember, it is a privilege to serve Christ.
During recent times of challenge, I had a trusted friend that kept reminding me that it is a privilege to serve Christ even when you may be misinterpreted or misunderstood. If you have the opportunity to serve Christ and risk all, it is still worth it to risk all for Christ.
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