Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “July, 2014”

Transitioning Your Leadership

All leaders will transition their leadership. It is not a question of if, but rather when will I hand it to someone else. Having this reality in perspective from the beginning of a leadership role can be very helpful when we come to the end. As Stephen Covey reminds us, “Begin with the end in mind.” Here are some practical reminders that will help ensure that you transition your leadership well to those who come after you.
1. Be intentional about your transition – plan for it.

a. Develop a bench of potential candidates to take your role
b. Expose them to tasks and people that will prepare them to lead in your place.
c. Include them in problem solving and discussions that will stretch them and get them out of their comfort zones.

2. Make the selection for your replacement far enough in advance so that you can overlap some and coach the new leader for a period of time.

a. Don’t make this overlap too long and be sure to give the new leader lots of ‘room’ to lead and make changes.
b. Make this timeline clear from the beginning and then exit the stage.
c. Give them freedom to make whatever personnel or system changes that they see are needed. And don’t get upset when they do bring change to things that you held near and dear. You are no longer the leader!

3. Position your replacement for success by not only giving them the title or role, but also give them the authority to lead.

a. A visible ceremony where the title and authority is passed from the old leader to the new is a very helpful reminder to all that “the old has gone and the new has come.”
b. Note that when God transitioned the leadership of Israel from Moses to Joshua, there was a commissioning ceremony in front of the leadership community led by Eleazar the priest. Note too that this commissioning ceremony was God’s idea and that it was done before Moses’ death. See Numbers 27:22-23.
c. Position yourself to be a counselor and coach for a period of time. You can act as one who provides context and background, even advice (if asked for).

4. Move on! Don’t linger, but rather trust God for what’s next!

a. We talk about the importance of finding our identity in being a servant of God and not in our leadership role or title. The test will come when we are transitioning to some other leader.
b. Do we cling to our leadership role or freely give it away to another? Do we demand a lateral or upward organizational move or can we submit to another’s leadership and follow them (even if perhaps they were your direct report previously)?

So who are those candidates that you are intentionally grooming to take your spot? Is that something that excites you or threatens / unsettles you? Kingdom leaders are givers, not takers!

Leading from the Promises of God – Part 2

Kingdom leadership is a leadership of faith.  While it can be said that those who don’t lead in the Kingdom also must exercise faith, their faith is founded in something other than God.  It may be experience, resources, skills or something else.  But we who lead in the Kingdom find our faith rooted in the promises of God.

Within the Scriptures we can find both general promises, for all people at all time, and those specific personal promises that are for our own life and leadership.  J.O. Sanders reminds us of this regarding a promise from God, “A promise by God is a pledge by God. It provides the warrant and forms the basis of the prayer of faith. The stability of a promise rests upon the character and resources of the One who makes it, even as the value of a cheque depends on the probity and resources of the one who signs it. The character and fidelity of God vouch for the credibility of the promises He makes.”

God sometimes gives to individuals specific promises that relate to their own unique situations at a certain time. The Holy Spirit impresses these special passages of Scripture upon our hearts and we have an inner assurance that this is part of His special leading in our lives. The immediate context of the passage may refer to another person, place or time, but we hear God’s voice speaking to our heart concerning our current situation.

Though such personal promises are a means of God revealing and confirming His will to us, we must always remember that this is a very subjective process. “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and as such we are capable of reading into certain passages of Scripture what we want to see. We can deceive ourselves, if we are not careful.

Again, Sanders encourages us, “But promises must be distinguished from facts. We accept a stated fact of God’s Word, but we plead a promise. When God proclaims a fact, faith accepts and acts upon it. When God makes a promise, we comply with its conditions, claim its fulfillment and receive the promised favour. The function of the prayer of faith is to turn God’s promises into facts of experience. The patriarchs through faith obtained the fulfillment of God’s promises (Hebrews 11:33), and turned them into personal experience.”

Leading from the Promises of God – Part 1

Kingdom leadership is a leadership of faith.  While it can be said that those who don’t lead in the Kingdom also must exercise faith, their faith is founded in something other than God.  It may be experience, resources, skills or something else.  But we who lead in the Kingdom find our faith rooted in the promises of God.

Here’s a reminder from Charles Spurgeon regarding Scriptural promises/  “A promise of God may very instructively be compared to a check payable to order. It is given to the believer with the view of bestowing upon him some good thing. It is not meant that he should read it over comfortably, and then have done with it. No, he is to treat the promise as a reality, as a man treats a check. He is to take the promise, and endorse it with his own name, by personally receiving it as true. He is by faith to accept it as his own. He sets to his seal that God is true, and true as to this particular word of promise. He goes further and believes that he has the blessing in having the sure promise of it, and therefore he puts his name to it to testify to the receipt of the blessing.

“This done, he must believingly present the promise to the Lord, as a man presents a check at the counter of the bank. He must plead it by prayer, expecting to have it fulfilled. If he has come to heaven’s bank at the right date, he will receive the promised amount at once. If the date should happen to be further on, he must patiently wait till its arrival; but meanwhile he may count the promise as money, for the bank is sure to pay when the due time arrives.

“Some fail to place the endorsement of faith upon the check, and so they get nothing; others are slack in presenting it, and these also receive nothing. This is not the fault of the promise, but of those who do not act with it in a common-sense, business-like manner.”

Charles Spurgeon
Faith’s Checkbook, a collection of God’s promises for daily use

Mentoring Others for Their Development

6 Reminders for Helping Others Create Goals and Development Plans

As we think of helping others create their personal goals and development plans, one of the first thoughts that should enter our minds is this:  What’s the purpose of this exercise?  Remembering the adage – always begin with the end in mind – we are instructed to ask ourselves, “What’s the desired outcome of these plans?”  Once that’s clearly defined, then the actual plans themselves are more easily identified.

The more specific the outcomes articulated, the more specific the plans can be to help accomplish them.  For example, a poor outcome would be, “to grow in Christlike character.”  Not that this is a bad overall objective, but a better outcome might look like, “to grow in Christlike humility.”  Note the sharper focus.  Now the plans on how to actually work intentionally on growing in humility will naturally flow out of this outcome.

A second reminder on setting goals and plans is that they must have a specified time period (time horizon) for their accomplishment.  In the collegiate context, we normally think in terms of semesters or summer breaks.  In the marketplace we think more along the lines of fiscal years or calendar years.  Knowing the time frame for accomplishing the goals again makes it easier to determine what realistically can be accomplished during the time allotted.

A third reminder is that as we help others in setting these goals, the outcomes must be agreed upon from the beginning of the time period.  If we do not have agreement on the outcomes, then, when it comes time for evaluation or feedback related to accomplishment, we will have major problems.  There should be no surprises on what was expected because from the beginning both parties agreed upon what the desired outcomes were.  Now we can objectively look at the facts of what really got accomplished during the time determined.  Did we hit the mark, overshoot, or undershoot?

A fourth reminder is to help others set realistic goals.  Many of us have over-zealous ambitions (ideas) on what we think we can get done in a given time period.  We too often shoot for the moon and barely hit the ceiling!   Helping others create goals and objectives that are realistic, allowing some margin for obstacles and unexpected challenges along the way, is part of the art of leadership.  Some may have to be challenged to stretch a little more than they are comfortable with, perhaps fearing failure more than stepping out in faith.  Again, the art of helping them put more stretch, growth, faith, etc. in their goals is an art, not a science.

Fifth, whatever goals or plans we finally settle on, remember that, “Man plans his ways, but God directs his steps.”  Plans and goals are simply tools to help us live more fruitful and obedient lives as we follow Christ.  They are not to master us, but rather serve us as we live day-to-day.  We must be careful that we don’t become slaves to our plans.  Plans are great servants, but poor masters!

Finally, remember to follow through on a period of feedback when the time period is finished.  As a mentor, it does not help the development of others if I don’t review with them their accomplishments after the time period is up.  This review should be one of overall affirmation, with few surprises.  Any shortfalls should have been highlighted along the way, not waiting until the end of the time to communicate dissatisfaction or failure.  If the goals were specific enough to begin with, then the outcomes should be self-evident.  In the case of shortfalls, we’ll need to discuss the “whys” and how to avoid them in the future, as well as lessons learned through the experience.

Creating goals and development plans are helpful for living focused and fruitful lives for the King.  Develop the habit and seek to help others do the same.  You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish for His glory!

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