Lead Yourself Well to Lead Others Better

It has been said that the people close to us determine our level of success. Moses learned this lesson in the wilderness and so implemented a plan to put competent, godly leaders next to him. David had his mighty men. Paul had Barnabas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, and Phoebe.

When ministers decide to be leaders, they cross a very important line. They no longer judge themselves solely by what they can do themselves; the truest measure of the impact of a leader is found in what those around them accomplish. In God’s economy, our personal development happens most as we are developing those He has called around us.

THE QUICK SUMMARYThe 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, by Jenni Catron

You have the capacity to become an extraordinary leader—if you are willing to embrace a deeper definition of leadership and take action to apply it.

In The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, Jenni Catron, executive church leader and author of Clout, reveals the secrets to standout leadership found in the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Weaving a winsome narrative filled with inspiring real-life stories, hard-won wisdom, and practical applications, Catron unpacks four essential aspects of growing more influential: your heart for relational leadership, your soul for spiritual leadership, your mind for managerial leadership, and your strength for visionary leadership.

Leadership isn’t easy, but it is possible to move from ordinary to extraordinary. Jenni Catron shows the way. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Look at almost any definition of a leader, and it will include something about others: influencing them, directing their work, guiding their development. And while this is true, leaders must remember that the first priority of a leader is to lead yourself.

Leaders like to lead. And when we say we like to lead, we usually mean we like to lead others, right? But if you can’t lead yourself well, you will be ill equipped to lead others.

Part of the responsibility of leadership is understanding your influence on others. Leadership is only as strong as the leader. And that responsibility, if you’re grasping the weight of it, is the reason why your leadership journey must begin with leading yourself well.

Self-leadership is a willingness to make yourself uncomfortable in order to lead yourself and others to bigger dreams and greater goals. It requires the humility of introspection. Many leaders skip over self-leadership because the discomfort of facing their own limitations is frightening enough to discourage them before they’ve even begun.

Jenni Catron, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership 

A NEXT STEP

The centerpiece of Jenni Catron’s book is based on the fundamental biblical truth found in Mark 12:28-30, commonly known as the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Using this scripture as a foundation, Catron develops a multi-dimensional leadership model that requires leading from our whole selves – heart, soul, mind, and strength.

As noted in the quotations above, Catron feels that first learning to lead yourself is a critical foundation of influence. With this model in mind, set aside time to inventory yourself in each area.

You will find the self-assessment described in the book in an online version listed in the Recommended Resources below, but first, reflect on these questions developed from the book.

Heart – Relational Leadership

  • How are you connecting with those you lead?
  • Do you know their stories and what inspires them?

Soul – Spiritual Leadership

  • What does spiritual formation look like for you?
  • When do you most feel like you’re experiencing spiritual growth?

Mind – Managerial Leadership

  • What systems do you have in place to instill disciplines that transform ideas into accomplishments?
  • How do you demonstrate stewardship in making good, consistent decisions about how to best manage your resources?
  • What principles do you follow in creating a culture of accountability for yourself?

Strength – Visionary Leadership

  • How strong do you feel about the vision you’re working toward?
  • Is there anything you need to do to help own it more?

Once you spend time taking this inventory, prioritize three actions to take in the next three months, with specific and measurable markers of success.

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 44-3, July 2016


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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Practice Extreme Ownership

What your church can learn from the mission-focused leadership of the United States Armed Forces.

A clear, executable mission is the key to success for every branch of the military. An outstanding attention to teamwork and training make the United States Armed Forces the most formidable fighting force on the planet. Leadership is just as important to each service branch as it is to your church.

In recognition of Armed Forces Day (May 20, 2017) and to honor of the commitment and sacrifice of the men, women and families of the U.S. military, SUMS Remix brings you a key action of mission success found in the U.S. Navy Seals:

Practice extreme ownership.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

Sent to the most violent battlefield in Iraq, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL task unit faced a seemingly impossible mission: help U.S. forces secure Ramadi, a city deemed “all but lost.” In gripping firsthand accounts of heroism, tragic loss, and hard-won victories in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser, they learned that leadership―at every level―is the most important factor in whether a team succeeds or fails.

Willink and Babin returned home from deployment and instituted SEAL leadership training that helped forge the next generation of SEAL leaders. After departing the SEAL Teams, they launched Echelon Front, a company that teaches these same leadership principles to businesses and organizations. From promising startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped scores of clients across a broad range of industries build their own high-performance teams and dominate their battlefields.

Now, detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family, or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment.

A compelling narrative with powerful instruction and direct application, Extreme Ownership revolutionizes business management and challenges leaders everywhere to fulfill their ultimate purpose: lead and win.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Today’s Naval Special Warfare operators – SEALs, for Sea, Air, and Land – can trace their origins to the Scouts and Raiders, Naval Combat Demolition Units, Underwater Demolition Teams, and Motor Torpedo Boat Squadrons of World War II. Their pioneering efforts in unconventional warfare are mirrored in the missions and professionalism of the present Naval Special Warfare teams.

The principles critical to SEAL success on the battlefield – how SEALS train and prepare their leaders, how they mold and develop high-performance teams, and how they lead in combat – are directly applicable in any group, organization, corporation, or business.

For SEAL teams, the beginning and foundational leadership principle is this: the leader is truly and ultimately responsible for everything.

The best leaders don’t just take responsibility for their job. They take Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission.

This fundamental core concept enables SEAL leaders to lead high-performing teams in extraordinary circumstances and win. But Extreme Ownership isn’t a principle whose application is limited to the battlefield. This concept is the number-one characteristic of any high-performance winning team, in any military unit, organization, sports team or business team in any industry.

When subordinates are not doing what they should, leaders that exercise Extreme Ownership cannot blame the subordinates. They must first look in the mirror at themselves. The leader bears full responsibility for explaining the strategic mission, developing the tactics, and securing the training and resources to enable the team to properly and successfully execute.

Extreme Ownership requires leaders to look at an organization’s problems through the objective lens of reality, without emotional attachments to agendas or plans. It mandates that a leader set ego aside, accept responsibility for failures, attaché weakness, and consistently work to build a better and more effective team.

Such a leader does not take credit for his or her team’s successes, but bestows that honor upon his subordinate leaders and team members. When a leader sets such an example and expects this from junior leaders within the team, the mindset develops into the team’s culture at every level.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership

A NEXT STEP

As the senior leader of a staff team, or as a staff member leading a ministry team, the principle of Extreme Ownership means that you have the responsibility for everything that occurs with your team – everything.

To begin utilizing the concept of Extreme Ownership, select a recent ministry activity that did not go as well as you had planned. On a chart tablet, write the activity and date at the top.

On the chart tablet, review the development of the activity, by listing the genesis of the idea, discussion and planning prior to the activity itself, and all individuals along with their specific responsibilities in carrying out the activity. In addition, list any external factors that may have impacted the result of the activity.

Go over the chart tablet in detail with the following questions in mind:

  1. What leadership support did I provide in the genesis of the activity?
  2. How did my words and actions affect the initial planning of the activity?
  3. How involved was I through direct or indirect decision-making in the initial planning?
  4. Once initial planning had begun, did I connect on a regular basis with the leaders of specific tasks?
  5. If so, did I encourage them, offering additional training or insights as needed?
  6. Did I pull all the leaders together regularly to briefly review their individual progress toward the common goal?
  7. If so, did I help them understand how their individual and team success would lead to the success of the overall goal?
  8. On the day before the activity, did the team meet to verbally run through the activity’s main actions?
  9. If so, what was your level of participation? Did you verbally support and affirm your subordinate’s plans or critically suggest other options?
  10. At the activity itself, what was your role?
  11. How often did you circulate around during the activity and speak to your subordinates?
  12. How did you “take notes” during the activity for later discussions?
  13. Did you realize during the activity that it had not met your expectations?
  14. At the conclusion of the activity, how did you thank everyone for his or her involvement?
  15. Did you have a preplanned “debrief” of the activity, or was it only after you realized things didn’t go as planned?

To successfully complete an activity, or lead change, or to challenge people to accomplish a difficult or complex task, you can’t make people deliver the result you envision. You have to lead them.

Extreme Ownership is a mind-set and attitude. When leaders practice Extreme Ownership and develop a culture of Extreme Ownership within their teams, the rest will begin to fall in place.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 41-1, published May 2016


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Be Careful Where You Aim – You Might Hit It There

a guest post by Mark Miller, bestselling author of Chess Not Checkers and The Heart of Leadership


When was the last time you took a vacation? This may seem like a random question, but it is not intended to be. One of the disciplines I have learned and had to relearn over the years is the value of getting away. Even when I’m not working, I can still learn something…

This learning experience came while playing golf. Now, let me set the record straight; I am a lousy golfer. However, for some strange reason I really enjoy the game. Although I played quite a bit years ago, these days 6 – 8 rounds a year is typical.

We were making our way around the course, and I had enjoyed my share of good shots and bad. I am always excited when I can string two or three good ones together. This greatly enhances my chance of a bogey!

We approached the 9th hole and the yardage indicated about 280 yards to carry the water or a layup with a considerably shorter shot. I should confess, for me to hit a drive 280 yards involves some roll and maybe a bounce on a cart path. To carry the lake was not a likely outcome.

I stepped up and crushed one. We watched in amazement – this was one of the best drives I had hit in years. It landed about 270 yards away… in the lake. The guys with me seemed to be impressed with how far I had hit it; little consolation knowing I would have to hit another one from the tee with the addition of a penalty stroke.

I teed up my second ball – I blasted it! Two in a row – what were the odds? Again, it landed about 270 yards away, exactly where the first one had landed. Wet!

What’s a guy to do? I reloaded and hit a third one. For this one, I really stepped on it. It went about 275 yards. Wet again.

And not to be deterred, I teed up my fourth ball and launched it – you guessed it, SPLASH!

The point of the story? There are probably several, here’s one…

I knew I couldn’t hit a golf ball 280 yards on the fly before I took my first swing. So, what happened? I wasn’t trying to. I was aiming about 20 yards LEFT of where the ball was landing. Or at least I thought I was. In reality, my alignment was off!

Many times, leaders think their organizations are aligned and the truth is they are not. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different outcome. That’s the trap I found myself in. I rationalized my poor outcome:

“I guess I’m just pushing it a little; maybe the wind is a factor; all I need to do is fire through the hitting zone; full rotation with a complete finish.”

All these thoughts ran through my head. Never did I consider, or want to admit, I might be hitting it exactly where I was aiming!

Great performance begins with great alignment.

A former golf coach taught me, “The flight of the golf ball never lies.” As it relates to organizations, my friend and colleague, Randy Gravitt, reminds me that our systems, structure, habits and behaviors are perfectly aligned to create the outcomes we are currently experiencing.

If your organization is not hitting it where you want, there could be many reasons – however, I would start by checking your alignment. Great performance begins with great alignment.

Keep swinging!

Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

How to Rewire Your Teams for Maximum Collaboration

Do key leaders in your organization only think about their ministry area and not the entire organization?

Divisions are necessary in all organizations, even churches. They provide the structure that allows your ministry to function smoothly. Every organization is divided into divisions, functions, or some type of grouping. Doing so allows each group to develop the special skill sets needed to make it function.

But when departments or functional areas become isolated from one another it causes problems. Leaders often refer to this as creating silos.

But organizational silos can also cause problems – the same structural benefits listed above also prevent the flow of information, focus, and control outward. In order for an organization to work efficiently, decisions need to be made across silos.

To break the down the barriers of silos in your organization, the goal is not to destroy the meaningful structural divisions themselves but to eliminate the problems that silos cause.

Many organizations will face the following barriers:

  • Uncoordinated decision-making
  • Competing priorities
  • Dilution of energy and effort

The following excerpt will provide your organization tools to help break down the silos in your organization.

rewireteamsfb-2

THE QUICK SUMMARYMidnight Lunch, Sarah Miller Caldicott

Thomas Edison created multi-billion dollar industries that still exist today. What many people don’t realize is that his innovations were generated through focused approaches to teamwork and collaboration.

Authored by the great grandniece of Thomas Edison, Midnight Lunch provides an intriguing look at how to use Edison’s collaboration methods to strengthen live and virtual teams today.

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A church accomplishing its mission requires many people working on multiple teams to be successful. Often, these teams drift into a pattern of accomplishing things “their way,” erroneously thinking that what’s best for their team will be best for the organization as a whole.

This lack of coordinated decision making across the organization is the third indicator of silos in the organization.

True collaboration operates like an invisible glue that fuses learning, insight, purpose, complexity, and results together in one continuous effort.

Thomas Edison viewed true collaboration among his teams as a value creation continuum, recognizing that complexity was a norm that all team members needed to understand and address. Here is a four-phase model of the collaboration process that translates Edison’s decades of groundbreaking practices into language for the 21st Century leader. A core question serves as a launching point for the exploration of each phase.

> How do we create the foundation for true collaboration to flourish?

Phase 1 – Capacity: Select small, diverse teams of two to eight people who will thrive in an environment of discovery learning and collegiality.

> How can our collaboration team reframe the problem at hand, driving the greatest range of creativity and breakthrough solutions?

Phase 2 – Context: Focus the outlook of the team toward development of new context that broadly frames the problem or challenge under consideration. Use a combination of individual learning plus hands-on activities to drive perspectives for potential solutions.

> Can the collaboration team stay the course and continue forward despite disagreements?

Phase 3 – Coherence: Maintain collaboration momentum, creating frameworks for progress through inspiration and inspirational leadership even though disagreements may exist. Newly discover, or re-emphasize, the shared purpose that binds the team together.

> How can our collaboration team leverage internal and external networked resources nimbly and with speed?

Phase 4 – Complexity: Equip and reskill teams to implement new ideas or new solutions using internally and externally networked resources, rapidly accessing or managing complex data streams the team must navigate. Leave a footprint that contributes to a broader collective intelligence.

Sarah Miller Caldicott, Midnight Lunch

A NEXT STEP

Church leadership teams aren’t working to invent the next light bulb, but Edison’s Four Collaboration Phases can be instructive for leaders who want to break down silos on their teams

Within the four phases of capacity, context, coherence, and complexity lies the invisible glue that can help your organization develop true collaboration practices to achieve your mission.

Phase 1 – Capacity

Create your own “midnight lunch” experience by ordering pizza or other takeout food. Pick a unique place in your normal environment that is not normally associated with regular tasks, or go offsite. Use the informal atmosphere to foster conversations about interest areas of all your group members. Actively listen to the conversations, and develop a deeper level of knowledge – and connection – with your teammates.

Phase 2 – Context

As a team, take 10 minutes and create an individual list of the various sources of information you draw from each week. Does your team see a pattern in their lists? Now challenge them to create another list of five additional sources that will intentionally shift the context of their information-gathering. During weekly meetings, take five minutes to share how this new context is broadening their ministry context.

Phase 3 – Coherence

When team members begin to use self-referencing language (I, me, mine) more than team-referencing language (us, our, ours), it is an indicator that defenses are being raised and the team is in danger of losing coherence. Often, the language of the team is the first indicator of a team losing its momentum toward a shared goal. Lead your team to be constantly aware of their language, and guide them to practice inclusive language by first modeling it yourself.

Phase 4 – Complexity

Among all organizations, the church has the most potential for the existence of excessive hierarchy. To overcome this, lead your team to clear away internal roadblocks which add unnecessary time and complexity to your process. The use of the strategy map process above can be both a beginning point and continual guide to your journey toward simplification.


Closing Thoughts

Cooperation, communication, and collaboration are three keys to breaking down the organizational silos that are keeping you from achieving your mission.

Taken from SUMS Remix, Issue 9-3, March, 2015


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

You can find out more information about SUMS Remix here.

Subscribe to SUMS Remix here.

LEGO Bricks: Toys for Kids, Lessons for Adults

LEGO Bricks and I go a long way back.

As a boy growing up in the mid-60’s, LEGO play sets were a treat at our church. After we completed our Sunday School lesson, and if we had any free time, and if the weather wouldn’t allow outside play, our teachers would bring out a big box of LEGO Bricks and let us have at it.

Lego Bricks - pile

When I became a parent in the early 80’s, it wasn’t long before the first of dozens of LEGO sets appeared. Over the years, our four children (now 35, 31, 27, and 23) were the recipients of LEGO play sets with themes like Castles, Undersea Adventures, Cities, and of course, Star Wars. For some reason, our second son was captivated by the Star Wars universe, especially LEGO sets with a Star Wars theme. Even at age 31 and in the Air Force, he still manages to acquire a new LEGO set every Christmas (my wife and I – guilty as charged!).

With 4 grandchildren now part of our extended family, the LEGO fascination has been passed on to a new generation of Adams kids. It started with Duplos for Jack, but at age 8 he has rapidly progressed to creating masterpieces with traditional LEGO sets. Lucy, age 5, is enjoys regular LEGOs but always eyes her dad’s Star Wars collection. Lola, 3 years old, left Duplos quickly after eying her brother’s LEGOs. Leia, almost 3, doesn’t have a chance! Between her Star Wars dad and sister, she will probably pass us all in LEGO abilities!

LEGO Bricks are not just for kids. The LEGO Group – reluctantly at first, but now all in – regularly connects with AFOL (Adult Fans of LEGO) groups. There are user groups like LUGNET (LEGO User Group Network) and dozens of conventions, competitions, and the like all over the world.

The full-scale replica of a Star Wars X-Wing Fighter astounds me: It’s 43 feet long with a 44-foot wingspan, weighs over 22 tons, and was built with over 5 million LEGO bricks. A crew of 32 builders took over 4 months to construct it.

Amazing.

All from a plastic toy brick which only has value when it’s connected to another brick.

Authors Ron Hunter and Michael Waddell recognized this, and included the LEGO Brick in their book Toy Box Leadership. Here’s how they saw the value of LEGO Bricks when talking about leadership:

LEGO Bricks provide the essence of the leadership lesson on Relationships: Building begins with connecting.

LEGO Leaders recognize connectional value

  • Connecting builds a strong foundation
  •  Connecting unleashes the power of synergy
  • Connecting utilizes the strength of unity

LEGO Leaders recognize connectional ability

  • LEGO bricks are reliable
  • LEGO bricks are reusable
  • LEGO Leaders recognize connectional failure

LEGO Leaders recognize connectional failure

  • Misplaced bricks
  • Forced bricks
  • Isolated bricks
  • Unorganized bricks

 

Leaders often get so caught up in the programs that they forget about the people – the building blocks of any organization. There may be tremendous value in plans, but the strength of any organization is in its relationships.

In LEGOS – and in organizations – building always begins with the clicking sound of connections.

 

Toy Box LeadershipToy Box Leadership

Consider the LEGO Brick…

It’s the ubiquitous toy.

Lego red brick

Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers and adults.

It’s been named the Toy of the Year, Decade, and Century.

Who hasn’t been mesmerized for hours, building things, tearing them down, and starting over? It’s been a part of children’s lives since 1949 – but before that, LEGO meant wooden toys.

Speaking of meaning, the word LEGO in Danish means “play well.”

That applies to adults, too. LEGO bricks may have been designed with children in mind, but it didn’t take long for adults to get into the act.

A global Lego subculture has developed, supporting movies, games, competitions, and themed amusement parks. All for the kids, right?

 Right.

Each Lego piece must be manufactured to an exacting degree of precision. When two pieces are engaged they must fit firmly, yet be easily disassembled. The machines that make Lego bricks have tolerances as small as 10 micrometers.

The Lego Group estimates that in the course of five decades it has produced some 400 billion Lego blocks. Annual production of Lego bricks averages approximately 36 billion per year, or about 1140 elements per second.

And yet with all this, remember these two complementary facts about LEGOs:

  • The unique and singular purpose of a LEGO brick is to connect with another brick.

  • A single LEGO brick is worth, well, practically nothing.

What will you learn from LEGO today?

Lessons in Leadership from a Solar Paradox

Last night the Winter Solstice occurred at 11:48 PM ET, making today the first day of Winter in the U.S., and the shortest day of the year. This is a typical day for me, in that I see both the sunrise and the sunset. Reflecting on this, a question popped into my mind:

Why does the dawn “break” but the sun “sets”?

From the science perspective, they are equally defined: when the upper edge of the sun appears (or disappears) on the horizon, that’s the sunrise (or sunset).

In our language, however, the dawn appears in an instant (breaks) while the sunset takes its time (sets).

I’m no scientist, but I think it’s a matter of visual contrast. In the darkness before dawn, the world is hidden. Unless our eyes have adjusted to the darkness, everything is hidden to us – until the sun illuminates it in a flash. At that instant, everything becomes clear.

As the day winds down, we are cognizant of our surroundings even as the light fades into darkness. We are comforted by what we see, even when we can’t see it any longer. The memory of what we saw remains even when we can’t see it.

As a leader, we often have both dawn and sunset moments. Sometimes we sense things around us but only see them when something “breaks” – an idea, or a comment, or a situation. Other times, we are so familiar with the visible that we “see” it even when it’s not there.

A wise leader knows the difference, and can utilize both “breaking” and “setting.”