Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Taking a Break

Yes… I’m taking some time off.  When was the last time you had an extended break?

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

 

 

The Traveling Leader

The thrill of looking out the airplane window long ago disappeared. It seems like all the fun has gone out of traveling by air, and now what we can look forward to is getting off the plane as soon as possible. But many leaders have to travel. Leading a geographically dispersed team can involve frequent air or land travel. Here’s some ideas on how to travel and lead well.

 Limit your overnight travel when your children are young. The demands of parenting when the kids are young are such that frequent overnight travel can be overwhelming for the parent left behind. As Kingdom leaders need reminding that our greatest contribution and lasting legacy can be through our children (and grandchildren).

 Help the family celebrate your trip with special events while you’re away. When you do travel, seek to make it a special occasion with special treats and activities if possible. That way, your leaving can become something to look forward to, not something to dread.

 Be all there when you return home. Remember, the trip ends the day after you return. You’ve been away serving others, giving yourself wholeheartedly to them. And now you return home and need to recharge and catch up on what’s happened while you’ve been away. If not careful this can lead to a passivity at home when you return or a distractedness, instead of continuing that servanthood and applying it to your spouse and children who have been anxiously waiting for your return.

 Take notes to remember key observations and experiences and debrief with your spouse when you return from a trip. With today’s technology you can keep current in most places through phone, texting, or email. Be intentional about keeping your lives integrated and not separate. But realize that the level a detail shared depends upon your spouse’s desire and perhaps confidentiality issues.

 For longer trips be wise in how tightly you fill the days. As a general rule consider breaking the days into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening. Schedule two of the three parts and keep one part open for recharge and personal time. Schedule breaks within your trips so that you can take an entire day off for some mental or physical activity that you find refreshing.

 Take a To Be Read file with you on a trip. I’m often sent articles or resources recommended for me to read. I’ll print them out and place them into a To Be Read file that goes with me when I travel. As I read, I toss and lighten the load in my briefcase.

Traveling well is an art and requires you to know yourself well. What makes you most effective when you are out of your routine at home? You and your family are paying a large price to travel so you will want optimize this effort. Don’t waste this opportunity nor neglect your family responsibilities either. Be wise!

 

How Many Apples in the Seed?

The question is not how many seeds are in the apple, but rather how many apples are in the seed? It’s a matter of perspective and vision. Vision sees the potential of the multiple apples that can come from one seed that is planted and nurtured to the point of maturity. And not only that one apple tree from that one seed, but true vision sees orchards of apple trees that can come from a single seed given enough care and time.

Leaders with vision see the current reality and also the future reality that they are seeking to create. They see what is and what is not yet. The future that they see they see by faith knowing that unless God intervenes then it will not be realized.

Vision differs from dreams or fantasies. Vision can see how, by the grace and empowering of God, our current reality becomes the future. Dreams or fantasies hope for that future, but have no connection or pathway from the present to the hoped for future state.

Vision needs to be big enough to attract and recruit resources (people and money), but not so big that it is immediately dismissed by others who hear of it because it seems impossible, outlandish, or unattainable.

Vision casting is both an art and a science. What to share when talking of our vision is the science of vision casting. It must include enough information to answer anticipated questions before they are asked. It must not include so much detail that it bores those who are interested. How leaders share their vision for the future is an art in that sharing too much too soon can overwhelm some, while understating the vision can lack sufficient motivation or inspiration to attract the necessary resources.

Jesus cast vision when recruiting His initial four disciples – Andrew, Peter, James, and John. He had already spent a year with them (John 1-4) getting to know them and they getting to know Him. They had visited His home, seen him change water into wine, talk with a Samaritan woman at a well, and engage Nicodemus in conversation about eternal life. Now He comes to them and asks them to leave their vocation (fishing) and join Him. He lays out for them a vision of a future state. He says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:14ff).

Did these men fully understand this vision? Probably not. But they did have enough of a context and an understanding to make a very important decision. They left their home and vocation in order to pursue Jesus and this vision together.

How’s the clarity of your vision? Can you share it in such a way that it is clear, succinct, and compelling to others around you?

Foolish Leadership

It was Lorne Sanny who said, “Leaders bring vision, faith, and courage to coordinated effort.” There is a fine line between faith and foolishness and the consequences for one’s leadership can be devastating.

Leading out of foolishness has several origins. Foolish leaders lead out of presumption. They assume that since it worked before then it will work now. Or they assume that because God was with us in a similar endeavor before, then surely He will be with us in this current situation.

Foolish leadership plans and acts according to what is seen instead of what is unseen. We fix our eyes on the visible instead of trusting in the invisible God to guide and direct our leadership (see 2 Cor. 4:18). We plan according to known resources instead of seeking God’s will for us and then trusting Him to provide the resources needed to accomplish what He is asking us to do.

Foolish strategic plans do not have any faith goals or “stretch” that will require the hand of God in order to be accomplished. They look at needs and apply people to fill jobs instead of seeking to align people to best fit opportunities according to their God-given design.

Foolish leaders trust in themselves too much and want to control the outcomes of their leadership. Now control again is not bad in and of itself. But we must answer the question why do we want control. Is it to insure the best we can be for Jesus or is it so that I can insure that I look good to others or perhaps am on some kind of power trip and just want to “micro-manage” others.

Foolish leaders seek the approval of man. They want to be well thought of and liked by others. They do what is expedient for their career moves and cultivate relationships that will pay back dividends for their future.

Leaders who lead from faith can do many of the same things that a foolish leader does, so when viewed superficially they may seem similar. Leaders of faith lead out of presumption, but their presumption is that unless God intervenes and blessing then all of their leadership is of naught. They place themselves in dependent relationship to God as they lead, knowing how absolutely essential He is to their ability to lead well.

Leaders of faith also plan, but their strategies are held in an open hand letting God direct and guide them as He see fit. They plan according to faith, seeking to see what God sees for them in the time horizon they are planning for. They are not limited by what they have, for they trust Him to provide all that they need to finish the work He assigns.

Leaders of faith also want to have some control over outcomes, but this arises from a sense of stewardship of their leadership responsibility before God. They don’t micro-manage others out of a need for power or ego, but rather they set others up for success and trust them to accomplish what they have agreed to.

Finally, leaders of faith seek the approval of God, not man. Their reputation is entrusted to Him who placed them into their leadership role. Relationships are about what can be accomplished together for the glory of God, not what I can personally gain from them.

Foolish leadership or faith leadership…which one best describes yours?

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