Two Negative Extremes of Leadership

The two extremes of leadership I see that drive me crazy are the controlling leader and the hands off leader.

Have you noticed these extremes of leadership?

Most leaders tend to lean towards one or the other extreme. I’ve even seen some leaders who live in one of the two extremes, sometimes alternating between the two. They never learn the healthy balance between the two.

Effective leadership requires a little of each extreme.  It requires a careful selection of elements of control and elements of release.  Good leaders are willing to wrestle through the difficulties and continually practice to achieve the right amount of each.

Have you seen these two extremes in leaders?

Which of these extremes do you lean towards to the most?

How do you strike a healthy balance?

Every Organization Needs Some Good Bad Ideas

I love a good bad idea…don’t you?

The truth is…in a healthy organization…there really are no bad ideas…at least not in the organizational sense.

Here’s what I mean…

If you have someone on your team who is coming up with ideas…who is trying to do their best for the organization…who understands and buys into your vision…then every idea he or she has holds the potential to be a good idea.

Even the so-called bad idea usually triggers another better idea, which often leads to the best idea…

It launches discussion…it generates momentum…it spurs dialogue…

Sometimes the best ideas start because someone offered what others at first thought was a bad idea.

Effective brainstorming often involves a lot of bad ideas that help shape the best ideas.

Part of healthy team building is creating a culture where all ideas can come to the table, no idea is dismissed, and there is a freedom to critique, scrap and improve ideas.

If you start labeling bad ideas you shut down team member’s willingness to share more ideas…

Great leaders learn to welcome all ideas…bad ones and good ones…knowing that it encourages idea generation…and that ideas are a lifeline of a growing, healthy organization…

Perhaps the bad idea you’ve been tempted to dismiss is an open door to your next masterpiece idea.

What do you think? Does your organization welcome bad ideas?  Have you seen one bad idea stir a discussion that led to a good idea?

Three Steps to be an Expert Disciple of Jesus

Jesus was specific about what it takes to be a good disciple. If we want to mature in our walk with Christ, we should pay close attention.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 NIV

Here are three steps to be an expert disciple:

First, we must deny ourselves – Jesus is not saying here that we should not own anything. He is not telling us to skip your vacation this year. He is line our desires with His desires. He is asking us to prioritize our life!  In denying ourselves, we are to look to Jesus and not unto our own abilities.

Second, we must take up our cross - I don’t have a cross, at least not literally, but what Jesus is encouraging here is for us to carry forth His mission. We are to be the salt of the Earth. We are to spread the Good News. We are to be Christ’s ambassadors to the world, as others see Jesus in us. The message and wonder of the cross is to be evident in us!

Third, we must follow Him -That may seem like the easiest, but it is perhaps the most difficult. I remember when I was younger playing “follow the leader”. The guy in front made all the moves. The object was to follow the leader exactly.  It was usually easier in looks than in practice. Jesus is our leader and every day we need to mimic the Savior!  It won’t always be easy, but it will always be best.

Which of these three steps do you most need to apply to your life today?

Was I Thinking Of You This Morning?

I was thinking about you this morning. Maybe not you specifically, but I was thinking of someone like you…that is if you are someone who is sitting on the sidelines afraid to pursue your God-given dreams, watching the world pass you by.  Was I thinking of you?

Maybe it’s because I encounter many people at their point of desperation…when they are tempted to give up…

It could be because I’m wired to dream big dreams…or because I’ve been sidelined for a time…watching everyone else pursuing their dreams except me…

But, for whatever the reason, I continually sense the need to encourage people to move forward with their dreams and aspirations.

Have you thought lately about the legacy you are leaving? Will you leave a legacy of having followed the dreams you had for your life?

If that’s your desire for a legacy…you may have to:

  • Take a risk…
  • Face the fear of the unknown…
  • Resist the temptations to give up…
  • Ignore the negative voices in your life…
  • Say yes again to God’s call on your life…
  • Release the guilt of the past by receiving God’s forgiveness…

What is your dream?
What is holding you back?
What legacy are you aiming to leave behind?

What will you allow to be the greatest pull on your heart?

Go for your dream…get started today!

The Summit, by Eric Alexander: A Book To Challenge and Inspire

What are you afraid of?

Do you have a dream you haven’t tackled out of fear?

Have you allowed your weaknesses, even your disabilities to hold you back from all God would have for you?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you MUST read this book.  Buy it HERE now.

The Summit, by Eric Alexander, retells the story of Eric’s powerful story and his unique life journey of guiding people with disabilities to the most perilous places of the world, including Mount Everest’s first blind ascent. In The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone you will follow in their historic footsteps, and learn about faith, trust, prayer, depending on God, as well as the perseverance needed during these climbs and in your own life. Be inspired and motivated by Eric’s insight, not simply to survive but to thrive every day in God’s grace.

You can even read the first two chapters free HERE. Can’t pass that up!

Be inspired, be challenged, be moved…Read this book! There is also a Kindle edition at Amazon, which is what I purchased.

Watch this video:

What is the one fear you want to conquer? Share it here!

Don’t Shy Away from the Word Balance

Over the years, I’ve heard differing opinions on the use of the word balance. I’ve learned there are many who actually hate the use of the word. For example, some say the life of a Christian is never balanced because God wants all of our lives. I couldn’t agree more. Others say it’s impossible to balance between work and home because one of them deserves our greatest energy (our home), and yet the two extremes will always compete for our best time and energy. I completely agree. In those contexts, I agree balance should not be our goal. We should prioritize our life around the extremes of life, ensuring that those things we value most receive our greatest attention.

Balance, however, doesn’t always mean things are equal. I prefer to use the term balance to describe how a person responds to the extremes of life. Balance to me means a person learns to stand up…keep their equilibrium, even when things in life are not equal…out of balance. When life is crazy, which it often is, the person of balance learns to juggle each area where over time none of them has to suffer. A balanced person prioritizes his or her life around what is most important, for me, that means first my relationship with God, then my family, then my work and my service to others, and then organizes life in a way where each area receives adequate attention for success.

I realize much of this discussion is semantics, but i believe it has importance in principle also. People who want to achieve success in all areas of their life must find ways to give adequate attention to each area, without neglecting those things/people of greatest importance in life. That requires balance. (The Proverbs 31 woman had balance.) I met with a new father recently and he’s having to learn how to balance marriage, parenting, and his work life, while attempting to be successful in each part of his life. He’s learning balance.

The leaders and people I respect most in life are those I see learning to balance success in all areas of their life…at home…at work…and in the world.

Don’t shy away from the word balance. Just learn to use it well. Gaining a sense of balance is a process that often takes years and even a few stumbling moments to accomplish, but it’s worth the challenge.

What does the term balance mean to you? In what area of your life are you most out of balance?

10 Characteristics of Good Leadership (Expanded Version)

It’s been a long time since I wrote the post 10 Characteristics of Good Leadership. It remains one of my most read posts, being found by readers through search engines. Shortly after I wrote the post my friend Jesse Phillips at Catalyst asked me to expand on each item. You can thank Jesse for this post.

In an expanded version, here are 10 characteristics of good leadership:

1. Recognizes the value in other people, so continually invests in others – Good leaders see a large part of their role as developing other leaders. Leadership development takes place in an organization as good leaders begin to share their experiences, good and bad, with others.

2. Shares information with those in the organization – There is a tendency of some leaders to hold information, because information is power, but a good leader knows that the more information the team has that collectively the team is better, which directly benefits the leader.

3. Has above average character – There are no perfect people, but for a leader to be considered good, they must have a character that is unquestioned within the organization. Leadership always draws criticism from someone, so a leader may not be able to get everyone to believe in him or her, but the people who know the leader best should trust the leader’s character.

4. Uses their influence for the good of others - Good leaders are as interested in making a positive difference in people’s lives as they are in creating a healthy profit margin. This doesn’t mean that balance sheets and income statements aren’t important, in fact they are vital for the success of an organization (even non-profits), but a good leader doesn’t separating a desire for helping others from the desire for financial success. Good leaders find ways to leverage financial health to strengthen the well-being of others.

5. Is skillful and competent - Good leaders can be depended on for their professionalism and follow through. You don’t question whether a good leader is going to be able to complete a task. If they don’t know how to do something, they will find someone who does, but they will ensure that a job is done the best way it can be done.

6. Not afraid for others to succeed (even greater than their own success) – Good leaders realize that some followers will outgrow the leader’s ability to develop them any further. Good leaders, however, aren’t threatened by another’s success. They are willing to celebrate as those around them succeed.

7. Serves others expecting nothing in return – Good leaders have a heart of service. They truly love and value people and want to help others for the good of the one being helped, not necessarily for personal gain.

8. Continues to learn – Good leaders are always learning and implementing those learnings into the betterment of the organization. That could be through reading, conferences, web-based learnings, or through other leaders, but also through people who report to the leader.

9. Remains accessible, approachable, and accountable to others – Good leaders don’t isolate themselves from people regardless of the amount of responsibility or power he or she attains. Good leaders willingly seek the input of other people into their professional and personal lives.

10. Is visionary: Thinks for the organization beyond today – Good leaders are always thinking beyond today. “What’s next?” is a common question asked by good leaders, knowing that someone must continually encourage change, growth and strategic thinking for an organization to remain healthy.

What do you think of the expanded list? Do you agree with my assessment of good leaders? What would you add to my list?

5 Steps to Getting Unstuck

I have recently written two posts about reaching dreams. Actually I’ve written lots of dream posts, but two in recent days. One post (HERE) was about how to reach them and the other post (HERE) was about why you may not be reaching them. A couple of the comments on those posts brought up another important question. What do you do when you are stuck between dreams? I have written some about that issue also, but not recently or as specific as the questions were asking.

Perhaps you had a dream, but you got sidelined pursuing it. Perhaps your dream absorbed all your energy, all your resources, and all your passion, but it didn’t work and now the dream is dead and you don’t know what to do next. I understand. I’ve been there several times in my life. If this is your situation, here are a few suggestions:

Here are 5 suggestions for getting unstuck:

Recharge – Whenever a dream fails you are drained emotionally and physically. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to spend a season resting and waiting. This doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing, but it does mean allowing yourself a chance to heal. (For a similar post on this topic read THIS POST)

Refocus – Most likely your setbacks have taken your focus off of the big picture of your life. You may have been saturated with fear and uncertainty and you are afraid to risk again. You may need a fresh dream or you may need some new dreams, but at some point you will have to lift up your head from the natural self pity that accompanies disappointment and refocus on your future and the plans God has for your life.

Redesign – If the dream is God-given or at least God-honoring and you don’t believe it’s time to give up the dream, then spend some time setting some new goals and objectives towards reaching the dream. You may need to redesign your dream into a contemporary context as culture or your life changes, you mature, or God gives you greater understanding. You may have to tackle the dream from a different angle, learn something new to help you towards it, or make some new connections with people who can help you achieve the dream.

Replace – It’s okay to get a new dream. While we may not achieve one dream, many times God leads us through disappointing opportunities to teach us valuable principles to help us achieve other dreams. (Read a similar post HERE and HERE.)

Re-start – One thing is certain, you will never reach a dream if you are sitting still. Even God-given dreams require a commitment of personal energy and resources. Often people who fail to reach a dream remain sidelined because they never start again. Don’t be a victim of that mindset. Find your passion again, get your dream in focus, be willing to risk, then get started again. (For more encouragement here, read THIS POST)

If you feel stuck today, you may also want to read 7 Pieces of Wisdom for the Disappointments of Life.

Have you ever been stuck? How did you get unstuck? What would you add to my list? Where are you now along the journey of reaching your dreams? Let your story encourage others.

Preparing to Recover in the Moment

Yesterday morning I was scheduled to do the welcome at Grace Community Church. After the first song, I was scheduled to come on stage, welcome people to the service, and we would continue worship. It was that simple. Before the second service, I was in a meeting in another part of the building. All of a sudden I thought to look at the time. The service had started and I was late. I jumped up and started running for the auditorium. I arrived just in time to hear one of our worship leaders covering for my absence. I was mortified. Thankfully, Dustin covered for me.

The incident, however, served a purpose, because I was reminded of an important principle. No one on our team should be irreplaceable.

Is your staff prepared to recover in the event of a no-show? Do you cross train for every position?

Things can happen. People get sick. People leave the team…sometimes quickly. Scattered brained pastors get distracted.

Take a minute to review your organization. Where are the positions that would still be empty if key people aren’t in their place? What changes need to be made in your organization, so you can continue in spite of any absences?

7 Reasons You May Not be Achieving Your Dreams

Recently I posted 7 steps to achieve your dreams.  I love helping people attain their God-given visions.  It occurred to me that there may be a counter post needed here.   This may seem like common sense, but I’m not sure it is sometimes.  The fact remains that more people will look back on their life and wish they had done more with their life than they did.  I heard someone once say something like, “If you’re not careful, your “hope to do’s” will become your “wish I had’s”.  I have many of those areas in my life.  I want the next phase of my life to be different.

Here are 7 reasons you may not be achieving your dreams:

You have no goals – You may have some but you’ve never written them down, analyzed them or organized them into reachable and attainable goals.

You have no plan – A goal without a plan is just a goal. A goal with a plan is an avenue to success.  You can’t “work the plan” if you never wrote one.

You need accountability – We were designed for relationships.  Sometimes knowing someone is going to hold you accountable is enough incentive to follow through.  Give a few people the freedom to challenge you to work the plan.

You are afraid to share the load – If you are trying alone for fear of sharing your dream, you’ll also have no one with whom you can really share the victory.  Sharing the load builds synergy, makes a stronger effort, and keeps your ego from sidelining your progress.

You’ve given up – You may have had a set back and now you’re afraid to try again. Successful dreamers are willing to get up after a fall, knowing they will be stronger and better equipped the next time.

You aren’t willing to take a risk – Fear can sometimes be a powerful motivator, but most of the time it’s one of our biggest stumbling block.  Some of the best moments of your life are hidden in your fears.  Risk-taking and dreaming go hand-in-hand.  If the dream requires no risk, it isn’t much of a dream.

You never got started – Every road to success begins with one step.  If you don’t start, you’ll certainly never finish.  What step do you need to take?

Are any of these your reason for not achieving your dreams? What would you add to my list?

Be sure to read 7 Steps to Achieving Your Dreams