I’ve been asked, “What’s the most important thing to consider when you hire someone?” There are many lists of criteria I could use. Fifteen plus years ago I started using the three “C’s” that I heard Bill Hybels give: Character, Competence and Chemistry. Over the years, I’ve added a few C’s, especially for those who will be top leadership team members. Now I have six of them I use as filters in the interview process. Calling. Character. Competence. Commitment. Conflict Resolutions Skills. And Chemistry.
But here’s the top of the top. This is the one I shared with ten young interns in a talk about the top ten things I’ve learned about church leadership over nearly four decades – “Leaders Know Character is Critical.” So of the top things I look for in a leader? Character. Character is the most important of all. It will take you higher than you imagined. Lack of it will take you lower than you ever wanted to go. Excellent character is indispensible for outstanding leaders.
Character is top of the top because, even a little shortage, will leave a huge gap in that leader’s long-term ability to lead people. People will be patient with leaders that are growing in competence, leaders that are a bit quirky or a tad unskilled in resolving conflict. If a leader has a character issue, trust is broken. When trust goes down the tubes, everything else heads in the same direction.
The truth is, character matters. Not just in my realm of major leadership experience: a church. It matters everywhere, all the time. I’ve observed the crash of marriages due to character issues. I’ve seen businesses flounder and fail because leaders didn’t have character. I’ve watched a non-profit organization go through great challenges because a leader lacked integrity. I’ve definitely seen the pain caused by church leaders who had cracks in their character.
We can look at our nation’s recent history and see a major financial crisis in 2008-2009 because boldness or instant gratification triumphed over temperance. But even more, people knew bad risks were being taken but did not have the courage or confidence to speak up. People without integrity sold mortgages to those who could not pay them. They then bundled these mortgages into securities that were fraudulent and sold to others. People with large egos, lacking in humility, oblivious to the harm they may have been doing to others, became very rich at the expense of millions who were victims of the financial crisis and subsequent recession. Yet to this day, these same people seem unable or unwilling to accept any degree of responsibility and to recognize that the main problem was, essentially, a character issue.
The top of the top. It’s character. A collectively written article in the Ivey Business Journal said it superbly under a heading, Why Character Really Matters: “When it comes to leadership, competencies determine what a person can do. Commitment determines what they want to do, and character determines what they will do.”
We must remember this. Character is not something that you have or don’t have. All of us have character. Character is not a light switch that can be turned on and off. But every situation presents a different experience and opportunity to learn and deepen character. Michael Hyatt says character is shaped by three forces (see previous blog). How is your character being shaped? What will you do this week to grow your character?
QUESTION: Are there any additional insights you have learned about character? I’d love to hear them in the comment section below.
9 Months, 3 days ago, I published this blog post in honor of my father in-love, Fred Augsburger. THIS MORNING – January 30, 2017 @ 2:15AM, he heard the words, “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant, Enter Into Your Eternal Reward.” WELCOME HOME!
*A Celebration of Life for Fred Augsburger will be held February 11, 2017 @Berlin Mennonite Church, 4718 US Route 62 Berlin, Ohio 44610. Visitation: 2-4 PM Celebration of Life: 4PM
95 years ago today. April 27, 1921. A ten-pound baby boy was delivered by Doc Toot in the bedroom of a rural Elida, Ohio farm house. Clarence and Stella Augsburger were the proud parents of their first born of five sons and one daughter. Over the years, while planting, cultivating and harvesting tomatoes and melons on the small family farm, God was nudging Fred to a distinctive kind of sowing and reaping.
After a five-year apprenticeship helping start a church in rural Wisconsin, Fred and his wife Carolyn and young family of two daughters, were invited to Youngstown, Ohio to start a church in 1952. A Caucasian farm boy answered the call. A predominately African-American inner city community was the field.
Seeds of love, compassion, acceptance and authenticity were freely planted. Acts of kindness, servant-hood, mercy, justice and respect were consistently cultivated. Everything was drenched with the living water of the Holy Spirit. And a church was planted. A harvest of fruit was evident. People of all skin tones worshipped God together. First a church on the south-side, and then a second church 15 years later on the northeast side of Youngstown. Thirty years of faithful and fruitful ministry.
During and for an additional 15 years beyond planting two churches in Youngstown, were hundreds of fruitful ministry opportunities as the Fred Augsburger family of five children and parents travelled, sang and preached their way across the landscape of North American churches. Stories of transformation, healing and restoration abound. Several interim pastorates from Ohio to Oregon. (A book with their life story has been written). Sowing and reaping. Faithful and fruitful.
A God-loving, Christ-following, Spirit-empowered faithful leader. Married to an equally called, passionate and gifted wife. Together, they created five children who all married and birthed 13 grandchildren who now have added 10 great-grandchildren. At all levels of the legacy, there are younger generations living out a similar call that has been shaped by their father, grandfather and great grandfather. They have been faithful and fruitful.
Fred’s legacy has been lived out in many powerful ways through this family. They are as varied as the uniqueness of each child, in-law, grandchild and great grandchild. But one I know most intimately. I married his third daughter, Linda, nearly 42 years ago. Together we have spent 37 years in ministry. The last 30 of those ministry years, planting a church in Cape Coral, FL. Our passion for loving God and loving people has been shaped by our father and father in-love. We have been faithful and fruitful.
And our three children have also been molded by their grandfather. One of our sons recently wrote: After just passing two years of sobriety this month, I was praying for Grandpa and reflecting on the wonderful man he is and the wonderful family I have been blessed to be a part of…and then it hit me…grandpa asked me one time if I was ever going to be a pastor. He said he had a dream where I was walking in his footsteps, I believe he said literally walking in his giant shoes, trying to fit into them. Although I am not going to be a pastor, I realized that I am finally walking in his shoes. At the time, the shoes were too giant and too big for me to fit into. But, through the grace of God, I feel the shoes fit now. I am not perfect. I still am trying to “wear them in” and they are becoming more comfortable as I wear them. And I just wanted to thank you grandpa for being a man of God and passing that down through the generations. Thank you for the shoes grandpa, they fit!
Even at age 95, having just moved last week into the nursing home section of the retirement community he has resided in the past eight years, he is still laboring in the fields where God has placed him. He regularly prays for, encourages and inspires his peers. He sows seed. Cultivates and waters spiritual soil. And he still has the joy of a fruitful harvest.
If God gives me another three decades of life and health, I want to still be living and leaving such a legacy like my father in-love. Happy 95th Birthday Fred Augsburger!
QUESTION: What are you doing now to leave a legacy like my father in-love Fred Augsburger? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.
The most influential leaders inspire us without even being aware of it. They lead by example. Instead of using their position and power for personal perks and privileges, they find a way to bless others. This axiom made it to my “top ten” list awhile back as I reflected on nearly forty years of leadership in preparation for speaking to some young aspiring leaders.
We’ve all seen leaders who’ve become mesmerized by their own success. They worked hard. They served others. They were rewarded. They climbed each step to the top of the mountain. They believed all their admirers. They were offered perks and privileges. And then. They demanded those advantages and opportunities. They expected respect, honor and special treatment. Some followers begin to lose respect. Even become resentful. Others, draft as close to the leader as possible so they too can enjoy the rewards.
One of my favorite leadership books of the last fifteen years is Good to Great, authored by leadership expert, Jim Collins. Jim writes how Boards of Directors typically believe that transforming a company from good to great requires an extreme personality, an egocentric chief to lead the corporate charge. But that’s not the case. A necessary ingredient for taking a company to greatness is having a “Level 5” leader, an executive in whom extreme personal humility blends paradoxically with intense professional will.
Level 5 leaders aren’t afraid to pick up trash in the parking lot as they walk toward their office. And if others see them, they feel inspired to join them in making the grounds cleaner. These extraordinary leaders don’t use their power primarily to get perks and privileges. They use their influence to bless others and gain maximum impact.
In contrast, the leader who is enamored with their own success, becomes the subject of a story in Jim Collins sequel, How the Mighty Fall. Collin’s research revealed five commonalities of those companies which have journeyed from good to great and back to mediocre. The first stage in the movement toward decline is: Hubris Born of Success. Arrogant neglect. Nothing more to learn. Entitlement. “What” replaces “why.” Neglect of the original “flywheel.” These are the markers which Collins and his research team discovered among companies on a downward slope.
“Derailed” by Dr. Tim Irwin echoes the findings of Jim Collins. Irwin writes of derailment as a process with predictable progressions (stages). Stage 1 is a Failure of Self-/Other Awareness. Stage 2 is Hubris: Pride before the Fall. Again, extreme arrogance—the leader’s belief that he or she is the epicenter of an organization’s success.
Bottom line. Legacy-leaving leaders leverage their influence for good. They spend their leadership capital for the good of those who helped make them a success. They use their influence for the good of the organization or for their team, rather than for their personal gain. They recognize blessing, grace or at least luck in their success. They remember they still need to put their pants on each day, one leg at a time.
QUESTION: What have I missed? Have you seen examples of both kinds of leaders? What would you add? I’d love to hear it. Thanks!
In almost four decades of leadership, I’ve made more than my share of errors. The error I’ve regretted the least is this one—Effective leaders give others the benefit of the doubt. This was one of my top ten leadership learnings I shared with young Arise worship interns several months ago.
I’m grateful that I had mentors in my life who gave me the benefit of the doubt. The best leaders gather all the facts before drawing conclusions. They postpone reaction and help team members learn from their blunders. Effective leaders extend patience and grace. They are slow to make a judgment about another’s motives. They choose to take others at their word and allow them to prove their authenticity and follow-through. Great leaders are known for looking for the best in another person or in a situation.
One of my strengths is discernment. Yet, people have proved my first impressions to be wrong. When I refused to act (or react) on my initial assessment of a situation or circumstance, I’ve watched immaturity and inexperience turn into exceptional leadership over the long haul.
Allow me to share four reasons why I believe effective leaders must try hard to give people the benefit of the doubt:
- I have a tendency to overestimate internal vs. external factors. – When someone makes a mistake or does something that disappoints us, I have a tendency to believe this is caused by their individual personality, and not their situation. We must learn to ask ourselves these types of questions: If I were in this person’s shoes, with their knowledge and experiences, would I act any different? What environmental factors may have influenced this person’s actions, which I may not be aware of? Our own self-awareness and other-awareness can help improve our ability to understand why people act the way they do. We may need to learn their story.
- My beliefs about people can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. – The results we get in life are often connected to our beliefs and expectations. When we expect a certain behavior or attitude from another person, we often experience that reality—both positive and negative. Giving the benefit of the doubt is an effective way to reverse self=perpetuating cycles of cynicism.
- It teaches me how to forgive myself for my own mistakes. – Making it a habit to give others the benefit of the doubt allows me to give me the benefit of the doubt.
- God asks me to give to others what He has given me. – We have these instructions in the Bible: “Don’t get bitter or angry or use harsh words that hurt each other. Don’t yell at one another or curse or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ” (Ephesians 4:31-32). The “normal” behavior all around me, (especially on social media) is filled with all of the “do nots” above—bitterness, anger, harsh words, rudeness, etc. It’s never been more evident than in the recent presidential election. However, I serve a God of the second chance. I want to be like Him.
Today, what will you do with those whom you have some doubts about? Whether a new employee, a client, a friend of your daughters, or a new President of the United States—will you give the benefit of the doubt? It just could be the best error you ever make.
QUESTION: What’s the natural go-to tendency for you? Judgment or benefit of the doubt? Any insight you care to share with other readers on why that is your propensity?
Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of funneling nearly four decades of leadership experience into 90 minutes. I shared ten things I’ve learned about leadership with ten millenials. They were Arise Worship Interns from across the world. I summarized them in a blog: Top Ten for Young Leaders. Then the requests started rolling in to unpack these top ten. So, here’s the fourth principle from the series: Leaders Cultivate a Servant Heart.
The best leaders are servants. They know that the way up is down. Great leadership is the opposite of what you tend to think. Leadership is not about position, power, prestige and supremacy. It’s all about servanthood. The way to the top is from the bottom in God’s upside-down economy. Instead of taking, we give. Instead of self-indulgence, we self-sacrifice. Instead of going to the front of the line, we go to the back. It’s the opposite of what our culture screams.
Connected most closely to servanthood, is humility. A servant leader has a heart of humility. They have the right attitude and are accessible and approachable. Popeye’s CEO, Cheryl Bachelder had a guest on her blog, Joshua Becker. Becker wrote: “Humility is the act of being modest, reverential, even politely submissive. It is the opposite of aggression, arrogance, pride, and vanity. And on the surface, it appears to empty its holder of all power. But on the contrary, it grants enormous power to its owner. Humility offers its owner complete freedom from the desire to impress, be right, or get ahead. Frustrations and losses have less impact on a humble ego and a humble person confidently receives opportunity to grow, improve, and reject society‘s labels. A humble life results in contentment, patience, forgiveness, and compassion.” Love it. These are the characteristics of great leaders. The way up is down. Learn from the greatest leader of all times: John 13:1-16 and Philippians 2:5-11.
I recently heard Rick Warren tell a story about Dan Cathy. Dan is President and CEO of the restaurant chain that his father, Truett Cathy, founded. Dan was in southern California checking on some new Chick-fil-A restaurants their company was building near Saddleback Church, where Rick is the founding pastor. These two stopped at a construction site of a new Chick-fil-A.
Here’s how Rick tells the story. “We were looking at the building. While we were there we were hungry so we went next door to, I think it was a Taco Bell. It was some other fast food in competition with Chick-fil-A. We’d been out, our hands were all sweaty and dirty and we went in the restroom and washed our hands. Then I watched Dan take out extra sheets…This is the CEO of a chain of restaurants. I watched him pull them out and I watched him hand clean the sinks of the Taco Bell bathroom we were just in. I looked at him and said, thank you for doing that Dan. He said, “Rick we teach our staff to always leave any place they are better than it was when they found it, whether it’s our place or not.” I thought nobody in that Taco Bell and nobody at Taco Bell Corporate will know that the CEO of their competition just cleaned their bathroom… for free.”
Wow! The heart of a servant. The greatest leaders model going down on their way up. The finest leaders resist an entitlement mentality. They help others become successful. They serve others. Even the competition. Even when no one is looking. And if any one does notice, they say, “My pleasure.”
P.S. For previous blog posts on the topic of servant leadership, click here.
QUESTION: What is one thing you can do this week to better demonstrate servant leadership in your setting? I’d love to know if you are willing to share it in the comment section below. Thanks
Last month, I got a really good deal! I purchased a Lifetime Pass to any National Park in our nation. And I only had to invest ten bucks. What a deal!. It’s normally a twenty-five dollar entry fee per car into each individual park. What’s the catch, you ask? You just have to be mature like me. At least age 62.
But more importantly, 100 years ago today, August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the National Park Service, a new federal bureau responsible for protecting the then existing 35 national parks and monuments, as well as those yet to be established. On this Centennial Celebration of our national parks in the United States of America, there are now 397 of these unique national treasures, comprised of nearly 52 million acres of land.
While visiting the Olympic and Mt. Rainier National Parks last month near where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, I was once again overwhelmed by the beauty of our country. I felt fortunate to experience and photograph these wonderful natural places that have been saved for all of us to enjoy. My wife and I’ve visited many of these “crown jewels” that visionaries like President Wilson, President Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and Stephen T. Mather preserved. These forward-thinking leaders created these places “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Their consideration for the environment and for future generations have given me and millions more the pleasure of seeing portions of our country as pristine, unchanged and unspoiled as they were long ago. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
On this memorable day, I’m challenged to also be a forward-thinking leader. I must examine myself. Am I just thinking about myself? Do I only plan for today or even for just my lifetime? Am I setting up the next generations for blessing and success? Am I investing my life to leave the world around me a better place or am I just a consumer, taking all I can get? Will my grandchildren have more to enjoy or less to enjoy because of my decisions today? On this Centennial day, I invite you to join me with this honest inward look.
QUESTION: What are the intentional ways you are attempting to be a forward-thinker? I’d love hear from you in the comment section below.
For More Naturescapes by Dennis from additional National Parks, GingerichPhotoArt.com
You will be known for something. Your brand is what people think of you. You have a personal brand that is shaped by what you do and say, how you look, and what you post on social media. Will you determine your brand or let others determine what you are known for?
This topic is one of the top ten learnings for leaders that I shared with ten young millenials attending a worship internship this summer at our church. I was impressed by your responses to those top ten and the number of requests for me to elaborate on each of them. So, here’s number three.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Larry Linne speak at a large community-wide National Day of Prayer event. Afterward, I bought his book, “BRAND AID: Taking Control of Your Reputation—Before Everyone Else Does.” It’s the best resource I know on this topic. It’s superb!
Here are a few things I remember when I heard Larry speak and underlined when I read his book. They’ve become a conscious part of my day-to-day practice. Hopefully, you will be as inspired as I’ve been, and be intentional about this part of your life.
Brand Creation in Thirty Seconds – Larry tells of his high school philosophy teacher who said, “People will spend the first thirty seconds when they meet you forming an opinion about you. Then they will spend the future of their relationship with you trying to find evidence to support their initial opinions.” Managing the first thirty seconds of a relationship is one of the most powerful brand management strategies in existence. Co-author Patrick Sitkins is a research expert in branding and digital marketing. His research shows people typically develop first impressions based on dress, posture, fitness level and modern (not too modern) styles. Very interesting to ponder.
Brand Creation in Four Minutes – People will spend around four minutes learning about you via your Internet footprint, prior to meeting you. 78% of decision-makers look up salespeople before meeting with them. The Internet amplifies what we say and do, many times before people meet us in person. I love this line from the book, “As in an echo chamber, what you say there doesn’t stop when you close your mouth. It reverberates and has a life of its own, for better or worse” (p. 60-61). Ask yourself before posting on social media, “How will this impact my brand?” Social media is the word of mouth of today. Try typing your name into your search engine of choice and you will know your personal brand that others see.
Brand Creation in Two Years – Your online presence (or lack of it) will help you or hurt you. Depending what kind of work you are in or what your long term goals are, it’s very important to be strategic in building your brand. I’ve experienced first-hand success as I’ve turned my hobby of photography into a self-supporting part-time business that has developed it’s own following. It takes time and consistency to become trusted and credible. Linne writes that it’s often at least a two-year process. As a pastor in the same community for thirty years, I can tell that it does take years of consistency and visibility to build high levels of trust with people outside the core of your church.
Linne’s book is chock full of specific steps and practical principles that will help you be strategic in building your brand. There’s even a section on repairing brand damage. A few weeks back, I left those young millennial interns with Linne’s sobering reminder: “Your personal brand is only as strong as your behavior, and every moment counts.” We are watching that truth unfold every single day with a certain Olympic swimmer on the 2016 USA Team in Rio, Brazil. It can take years to grow the reputation of a champion, but it only takes minutes to become a chump. Your actions and attitudes today will determine your brand tomorrow. Have a great day!
QUESTION: What would you add that I might have missed? Love to hear it below!
A couple weeks ago, ten worship interns from Arise Worship returned to their homes—multiple states, three countries. During the eight weeks they were at Cape Christian, I had the opportunity to attempt to inspire these young millennial leaders toward transformissional living. I shared ten things I’ve learned about leadership. You can see the list in a recent blog post. I’ve been asked by many of my readers to say more about each of these learnings gleaned from four decades of leadership. Here’s the second of the ten: Leaders Build Teams.
Great leaders build teams that build great organizations. It’s a very rare occurrence to see an individual single-handedly build a healthy organization. When you peak under the hood of a great running business or a non-profit, you’ll usually see some high-octane, well-oiled teams at work. In fact, if you see a business that isn’t growing and succeeding, it is frequently due to a leader who has not gathered and established teams around her or him. I truly believe, a leader is at their very best and doing some of their most important work when they are raising up other great leaders through building teams.
Here’s a 3D approach I’ve used to build teams:
DISCOVER—Train yourself to look for other leaders. My high school principal shoulder-tapped me and asked if I had ever considered becoming a pastor. I hadn’t. But I did. And I am. Over 37 years now of fruitful ministry. Principal Glen Roth had trained himself to look for leaders.
When you are looking for team members, seek out people different than yourself. Creating a team means bringing together people with different skillsets and varied personalities to work towards a common mission. It’s important to understand what each individual team member’s strengths are and put each person in a place to shine. The whole team will get better. A rising tide raises the level of all the boats in the harbor.
And, I’ve always tried to train other leaders on the team to keep their radar on so they can spot potential leaders and team members. They rub shoulders with people you don’t know. The best leaders are always team players. At every level in an organization—building a team—should be of high importance.
DEVELOP—Leaders grow leaders. It takes intentionality. Leaders collaborate and help others become winners. Whether its formal or informal, pouring yourself into less experienced leaders is necessary to build a strong healthy team. It might be easier to do it yourself than to show someone else how to do it. You might even be able to do it better than anyone else on the team. But keeping leadership only for yourself, will ultimately hinder the growth of your organization.
Bill Hybels, states it powerfully in his book, Courageous Leadership, “When a leader develops not only his or her own leadership potential, but draws out the leadership potential of scores of other leaders as well, the kingdom impact from one life is multiplied exponentially. It produces far more fruit than any single leadership achievement could have. The impact of that leader’s life will be felt for many generations to come.”
DEPLOY—Allow others under your leadership to actually lead. Offer real-life opportunities. Not micromanaging, but coaching them. Give clear boundaries. Invite their input. Provide them with appropriate authority. Let them know you have their back. Assure them it’s okay to fail. You are there to support them. You are there to make sure they get some wins under their belt. You are there to help build their confidence. You are there to inspire and equip them to be effective leaders.
The bottom line is, an organization, a church, or a business can only grow as much as you have growing leaders who are growing other leaders. As long as you are growing leaders, you can keep growing your organization, your business or your ministry. You can’t do it alone. If you really want to be the most successful leader possible, you must discover, develop and deploy other leaders around you.
QUESTION: What would you add to this topic based on your leadership experience? I’d love to know. Use the comment section below.
This week, ten worship interns from across the globe, left our church campus and returned to their homes in Australia, Canada and the United States. During the two months these Arise Worship Internship millennials were with us, I treasured the opportunity to inspire young leaders toward transformissional living. I had the privilege of funneling nearly four decades of leadership experience into ninety minutes one morning. I shared ten things I’ve learned about leadership. You can see the list in my last blog post.
Since that blog post, many of my readers asked me to share more about each one of those ten. So there will be ten blogs to come. Here’s the first one: Leaders are Learners.
As a young leader, Dr. John Maxwell provided me this axiom: leaders are learners. For many years, I subscribed to his Injoy Life Club –monthly leadership teachings on cassette (some of you young leaders will have to Google that word). Later, I added to my growth plan, Defining Moments, monthly talks or interviews by Bill Hybels. Those were on CD. Later it was DVD’s. For decades, I attempted to read at least one new leadership book per month. I attended a two or three day leadership conference and/or a one day workshop at least once per year. These were my biggest leadership growth habits for dozens of years.
Many years in a row, I sat down and wrote a growth plan for the year ahead. What would I read, listen to or attend? Who would I try to learn from? Understandably, as a pastor, I wanted to learn from the best teacher. So a heavy dose of my reading included the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus. As a pastor who was starting and growing a young church, I knew I needed leadership skills and inspiration in large doses. So I read inspiring stories of great business leaders and church leaders. I studied how-to books. I learned from other great churches, a few years ahead of ours. I sought out mentors from near and far.
In more recent years, I intentionally developed another passion, my long-time hobby—photography. Same thing. Books, online videos, websites, blogs, photography magazines, and studying the work of other photographers have consumed most of my leisure time. I created more free time. I stopped watching television. If my wife is watching one of her few favorite HGTV home makeover shows, I’m sitting beside her with my laptop, learning from other photographers or processing my own captures.
More than any of the above methods of growing my leadership skills, is an even more important one. Consistent face-to-face contact with other inspiring leaders. King Solomon wisely stated, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). For the last twenty years, I’ve met weekly with a group of several other like-minded growing pastors. I’ve learned so much from them. They might have even learned a little from me. They’ve taught me, encouraged me, challenged me, stretched me, supported me, laughed with me and cried with me–over lunch on Monday’s.
As I’ve grown my love of photography into a fully self-supporting hobby and business, the most important component of that development is my investment in a five-day hands-on photography workshop at Glacier National Park in Montana. Led by professional nature photographer, Joseph Rossenbach, that experience was epic in thrusting me forward. I learned so much. Even the five other learners were teachers for me. Iron sharpens iron. Invaluable technical skills and business acumen were transferred into my life that week.
Over the decades, things have changed. But they haven’t. Now it is Kindle, Mp4’s, You Tube, Vimeo, podcasts and webinars. But still, growing organizations are led by growing leaders. You are never too young or too old to learn. Young, middle age or older. All of us are potential learners. Leaders must be learners.
QUESTION: What keeps you a learner? What is the most effective way you learn? Please share it in the comment section below. Thanks!
This week, I was honored to speak to Arise worship interns. I love inspiring young leaders toward transformissional living! These millennials, span from age 17 to 31. They come from around the world (Australia, Canada and the United States). They are with us at Cape Christian for eight weeks. Then, they’ll return to their varied settings to lead. So, I asked myself, what would I have wished to know from a seasoned (aka “old”) leader when I was that age? I funneled nearly four decades of leadership experience into ninety minutes. They eagerly listened and took notes.
Here are the things I shared with these young leaders. They are in no particular order. Ten things I’ve learned about church leadership in nearly forty years:
- Leaders are Learners—Growing organizations are led by growing leaders. Read books and blogs. Listen to podcasts. Attend workshops and webinars. You are never too young or too old to learn.
- Leaders Build Teams—Great leaders build teams that build great organizations. Train yourself to look for other leaders. Discover, develop and deploy them. The best leaders are team players. They collaborate and help others become winners. Leaders grow leaders.
- Leaders Determine Their Brand—You will be known for something. Your brand is what people think of you. You have a personal brand that is shaped by what you do and say, how you look, and what you post on social media. Will you determine your brand or let others determine what you are known for? The best resource I know on this topic is the book Brand Aid. It’s superb!
- Leaders Cultivate a Servant Heart—The best leaders are servants. They help others become successful. They have the right attitude and are accessible and approachable. The finest leaders resist an entitlement mentality. Great leaders love to celebrate the success of their team and help others rise above them.
- Leaders Error on the Side of Grace—Effective leaders give others the benefit of the doubt. They gather all the facts before drawing conclusions. They postpone reaction and help team members learn from their blunders. They extend patience and grace. And when they are right, great leaders rarely point it out to their followers.
- Leaders Leverage Their Influence for Good—The most influential leaders inspire us without even being aware of it. They lead by example. They pick up trash and everyone else feels compelled to join them. They don’t use their leadership power to get perks and privileges. They use their influence to bless others and gain maximum impact.
- Leaders Know Character is Critical—I look for six C’s in leadership team members: Calling, Character, Competence, Commitment, Conflict resolution skills and Chemistry. Character is the most important of all. It will take you higher than you imagined or lower than you ever wanted to go. Excellent character is indispensible for outstanding leaders.
- Leaders are Big Picture Thinkers—Top leaders see what others don’t see. They paint a picture that allows team members and followers to see why, what they do, is important. Great leaders learn to fly above the immediate hill or valley and get a bird’s eye view of what is best for the organization over the long term.
- Leaders Must be Persistent—Great long-term results always come out of perseverance. Overnight successes usually happen through years of persistence by someone. It always looks easy after its been done. But there was nothing easy about it. Jim Collins writes about the “flywheel effect” in Good to Great. He’s exactly right. You can only live your vision with stick-to-it-ness. Persistence is mandatory.
- Leaders Must Keep Their Priorities in Order—As a leader in a large church, there are hundreds and hundreds of people that I try to bring with me on the journey. But the most important? My own family. My ministry won’t matter without them. My ministry won’t matter without my physical, emotional and spiritual health. I reminded the young interns to set personal boundaries and keep their lives in proper perspective and balance. I ended by sharing what I learned three decades ago from Rick Warren—divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually.
These ten are for young, middle age or older leaders. All of us are learners, correct? I have more to learn as well. What would you add to this list? Please share it in the comment section below. Thanks!