My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #7

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.

Lesson #6: Followership is a prerequisite to leadership. If you have a difficult time following you will have an even more difficult time leading.

Lesson #7: Be patient. There are times when no action is the best action.

Leaders are those within an organization who take responsibility for making decisions and bringing change. They empower people to discover and utilize their natural gifting, talents, and potential. Leaders are eager to move their organization forward and anticipate results. It is easy to act impatiently. There are times when no action is the best action. Effective leaders understand their people and develop a pace of movement that benefits the organization, even if that pace is too slow for him/her. The correct pace of movement comes from studying an organization’s past successes, failures, hurts, and assessing current strengths and capabilities. A leader’s impatience can harm an organization.

I have learned this lesson firsthand in my years of pastoral ministry. Not every organization moves at the same pace. There are those within the organization who want to see things move quickly. There are times when a leader’s patience will be misunderstood as a lack of confidence, fear, or uncertainty. It shouldn’t be. Many want the leader to just “do something.” Effective leaders know it is important to choose the best over just anything. When the times comes for a leader to decide, he/she must be decisive and take responsibility for their decision. Until that point, patience must be exercised so the best decision can be made and the correct vision cast. There are times when no action is the best action until the correct action can be taken.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #6

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.

Lesson #6: Followership is a prerequisite to leadership. If you have a difficult time following you will have an even more difficult time leading.

Leaders ask people to follow. They ask those with an organization to trust their ability to move the organization toward a desirable destination. Leaders ask others to set aside their many individual wants, desires, and plans and come together around a single focus. Effective leaders understand their leadership started with willing followership. To ask someone else to give up their own wants and desires for the good of the organization, a leader must know what it means to have been asked to do the same thing in the past – and did it. This principle is best illustrated within the ranks of the military. In the Marine Corps, the Private is the lowest ranking enlisted person. No one is below and everyone is above. As the Private learns to be led by taking and following orders, he/she will understand what is being asked of them. When that Private becomes a Sergeant, the lessons learned by being a good follower enable good leadership. Followership is a prerequisite to leadership. If a leader has been unwilling to follow the leadership given to them in the past, it is unlikely he/she will be able to effectively lead people in the future.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #5

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.

Leadership assumes movement in both leader and organization. An organization does not hire/call/secure a leader with the hope of standing still. The goal of any organization, whether secular or spiritual, is to move toward its decided upon purpose and mission. Leaders must also move forward in their personal growth. Leaders who become stale personally will quickly be leading stale organizations. It is important for leaders of organizations to be life-long learners. One way in which learning continues is by looking back to past decisions.

It is counter-intuitive to believe you move forward by looking backwards. I am not advocating living in the past. I am not talking about insisting the former ways are the best. I am talking about an honest assessment of past decisions. Leader don’t always get it right. For many, what seemed to be the right decision at the time turned out to be a costly mistake. An elementary life lesson is that we learn from our mistakes. The same is true in leadership. To ensure the same mistakes are not made in the future, leaders should often evaluate how their past decisions were made. Questions like, “Did I have enough information to make a good decision?”, “Did I make this decision based solely on emotion?”, “Did I seek the necessary counsel before making this decision?”, and “Did I consider how my decision would affect the organization in the future?” are all appropriate. Looking back over 18 years of pastoral ministry there are many bad decisions. I wish it were possible to have a “do-over.” There are no “do-overs” in life. We can only learn from the mistake and be better prepared for the future. Leaders owe their organization a commitment to learning from past mistakes. For a leader to assume they have made no mistakes is a mistake itself.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #4

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

One thing is certain- leaders communicate. Vision, direction, instruction, and expectations must all be communicated for an organization to function properly. Although many ways exist, the primary means of communications remains verbal. Leaders stand before their people day in and day out to reinforce their organization’s mission and purpose. After all, leaders are called/hired for this reason and the organization looks to the that leader guidance. It is easy for the leader of an organization to get comfortable with and prefer to hear his/her own voice. This can be harmful to an organization.

There comes a point where leaders must listen to the people who make up the organization; to the people whose responsibility it is to carry out the organization’s mission. Effective leaders take time and listen. They understand that although they have the responsibility to guide the organization, they don’t have all the answers, nor do they possess all the good ideas. Effective leaders regularly seek input and feedback from the members of the organization regarding what they are hearing. This allows the leader to be confident that the message being communication is being correctly, while sending a message that the members of the organization matter and are valued. As a pastor, I have found that some of the best ideas for ministry were not mine. Instead, the best ideas came from the pews. Smart leaders will not allow their voice to be the only one heard within their organization.

 

 

Missional Monday: Transition

Today is a day of transition. Yesterday was my last day as the senior pastor of Port Royal Baptist Church, my home for the last eight years. I will be forever indebted to the people of Port Royal Baptist for allowing me the opportunity to serve and grow alongside them. I leave the church healthy and poised for future growth and effective ministry. A few words of thanks to the people of Port Royal Baptist.

Thank you for giving me the freedom to preach God’s Word. As a minister of the gospel, I am called to share the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). At times, God’s Word is not easy to hear or handle. You have never asked me to soften, back off, or water-down God’s message. I appreciate being able to carry out my calling among you while honoring God with a clear presentation of Scripture.

Thank you for your willingness to accept all people into the fellowship.  God has called us to reach all people. Thank you for embracing an ethnically and socially diverse community. There are churches that say, by word or action, that only certain types and colors of people are allowed. You gave me the confidence to go into the community and invite everyone, knowing they would be welcome.

Thank you for loving my family. The lives of a pastor’s wife and children are unique. At times, they are asked to take a back seat to the entire congregation. Thank you for being a blessing to Terri and Jordan. Thank you for not putting unusually high and unfair expectations on them. Thank you for encouraging and allowing me to take the necessary time to foster these critical relationships. Thank you for taking care of my family emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I would like to especially thank you for allowing me the time to be with my dad when while he was sick. How you ministered to my family at this death is something that will live with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you for trusting me. You allowed me to lead as I have been led. I have asked a great deal from you these eight years. I asked you trust and love each other during a difficult time. I asked you to love your neighbor as yourself. I asked you to be increasingly active in reaching our community. I asked you to give more to missions. Each time you responded. You trusted me when I didn’t get it right.

I will be assuming the same role at First Baptist Church of Perry, Florida on August 1st. This move is different from those in the past. Moves before this one included our son, Jordan. Now that he is grown, married, and on his own, his adjustment to a new church, school, etc. has not been part of our decision. It’s just the two of us. My heart is full of excitement about this new chapter in our lives. To the people of First Baptist Perry – I look forward to serving alongside of you. I look forward to investing in you and the community. I look forward to walking with you as God reveals His perfect plan for the church. I will be writing more about this transition in the future.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #3


Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Leadership Lesson #2: Be Last.

Leadership Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

People are the critical component within any organization. Budgets, visions, capital, product, and sales have their place, but it’s people who move the organization forward. Knowing how to manage the different personalities, temperaments, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses of the people within the organization is paramount to its success. Leaders understand the constant and often stressful need for balance where people are concerned. The balance is two-fold. First, there is a balance between the people of an organization and the mission of the organization. Second, there is a balance between the praise, correction, and encouragement offered to the people of an organization. Effective leadership within an organization is like a tight-rope act.  Leaning too far to either side can have disastrous consequences. How does a leader strike the appropriate balance?

Praise Publicly. People need to be recognized for their accomplishments. Their successes deserve to be celebrated. In their minds, praise from the organization affirms their worth, value, and contribution to the organization. Public praise also fosters a better work environment. If the people of an organization know their efforts and hard work will be applauded publicly, they are likely to be more productive and satisfied.

Correct privately. At times, it becomes necessary to offer correction to a member of an organization for such things as poor job performance, refusal to work as part of a team, and divisive attitudes, to name a few. The faults and shortcoming of an individual should never be the subject of public discussion. The correction of these faults and shortcomings should never be witnessed by other co-workers and team members. Correcting privately boosts morale, provides motivation, and limits resentment between coworkers/co-laborers.

Encourage consistently. Leaders understand the success of their organization is directly linked to the people who serve the organization. An atmosphere of encouragement is key to productivity. People become discouraged, disheartened, and disappointed easily. Leaders must – day in and day out – encourage their people by letting them know that what they do matters. Leaders must consistently encourage their people to push themselves further, to follow their calling, pursue their hopes and dreams, and to never give up.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #2

Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Leadership Lesson #2: Be Last.

This is counterintuitive. We are taught by the world to look for our best interests.  We are taught to get all we can. We are taught the end justifies the means. We are taught the only person you can trust is you. In the context of leadership, “be last” is perplexing as well. After all, aren’t leaders supposed to be out front, you know, leading? Aren’t leaders to supposed to lead from the front, be visible, chart the path of an organization? Absolutely. This principle has less to do with a leader’s physical position within an organization and more to with his/her heart position before the organization.

There is an unwritten rule in the Marine Corps – officers eat last. An interesting phenomenon occurs when Marines gather to eat – junior Marines go to the front of the line while senior Marines go to the back. No orders are given. It just happens. This practice is symbolic of a critical battlefield truth – leaders sacrifice their own comfort – even their own survival – for the good of those in their care. I learned this lesson during my years in the Marine Corps and it is one I still practice today. In his book, Leaders Eat Last; Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek quotes retired Marine Lieutenant General George Flynn who explains this principle further:

“Leaders are expected to eat last because the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

Effective leaders ensure their people have everything they need to be successful. Effective leaders display a willingness to sacrifice what they want so others may have what they need. When leaders inspire those under their care, they will in turn dream bigger dreams, invest precious time and energy in their organization, and will be far more productive and satisfied.