Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Simple or Simplistic?

General Colin Powell [Chairman (Ret.), Joint Chiefs of Staff] in his work, “A Leadership Primer” describes the following principle:

“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Complexity and its accompanying confusion are often challenges for good leadership. The more responsibility one has the greater the challenges one must address. These challenges are frequently very complex with multiple consequences both real and imagined. How does a leader lead with simplicity without becoming simplistic?

A leader must listen carefully to all sides of a complex issue, not jumping too quickly to conclusions or solutions and thinking through possible consequences. It is a must to withhold judgment on a matter, especially for the intuitive leader, until others on the team have weighed in with their thoughts or have had time to input their ideas. Bringing the team to a point of decision together is an art form to be developed. Know your team members and their respective styles and lead accordingly.

Practice speaking is short, concise sentences. Try to use fewer words. Think in terms of memorable sounds bites and share accordingly. Speak in terms of word pictures that can create mental images for others to clarify the complex and make it simpler and memorable.

Beware of becoming overly simplistic on an issue. The simple becomes simplistic when we leave out essential points or ignore key factors. Simple is good….simplistic is bad!

It addressing complexity seek to break the issue into more manageable parts. Address some of the easier parts first to create a sense of progress and momentum on the team so that you can have more confidence when dealing with the more difficult pieces. Work off of the 80/20 rule where 80% of a solution can be enough to move forward, rather than spending a lot of time and energy to hammer out the final 20%.

Are you communicating in a way that leads to simplicity or complexity and confusion? Ask your teammates for some feedback on your communication.

A Leader’s Optimism

General Colin Powell [Chairman (Ret.), Joint Chiefs of Staff] in his work, “A Leadership Primer” describes the following principle:

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

People and ‘smell’ a phony a mile away. A leader who is out of touch with reality, denying the obvious, or living in a fantasy is quickly dismissed.

But a leader who acknowledges the real challenges faced and sees a bigger solution is one who builds confidence in those they lead. Romans 8:31 says, “…If God is for us, then who can be against us?”

This was the situation Elisha faced when surrounded by an army whose mission it was to capture him. His servant could not see any resources available to deal with this real threat. Elisha however saw God’s resources and pointed his servant to the answer that was right in front of him. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kgs 6:16)

A leader’s optimism and confidence is God will ripple into the hearts and minds of those around them. It will energize and inspire those who we follow to keep moving forward when we all feel like giving up because of the difficulties we face.

Likewise, pessimism and doubt from a leader is also multiplied as it ripples to those we lead. Those we lead do not necessarily have the experience, maturity, or understanding of the context that we do. Therefore they hear a discouraging word from us their leader and run to the end of their “what if” thinking, spiraling downward as they go. “Well, if this happens, then this… And then this….and this…” Those scenarios almost always are negative and leading us to thinking about the disaster that awaits us.

An optimistic leader is one whose confidence is in God and His resources, not is our own abilities or the resources that we can see. Being confident that God is with us and not forsake us is enough.

What’s the image you are projecting around you? Is is an optimistic tone and environment you are creating?

Recruiting and Retaining the Best

General Colin Powell [Chairman (Ret.), Joint Chiefs of Staff] in his work, “A Leadership Primer” describes the following principle:

“Organization doesn’t accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

How does a leader attract and recruit the best people to accomplish great things? Here are several of my thoughts:

1. Ask God to give you people to help you accomplish what He has asked you to do. People are a gift from Him. John 17:6

2. Have a clear and compelling vision that is big enough to grab someone’s attention, challenge their status quo, and attract them to join you in making that vision a reality.

3. Recruit to vision, not activity!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask busy, competent people to join with you in making this a vision come true. Be bold! James 4:2

5. Promise to lead and care for them well. Deliver on your promise.

6. Promise to develop them for contribution, not role or title. Deliver on your promise.

7. Trust that God will sovereignly bring people across your path to help you. 1 Chron. 12:22

8. Ask people to make a decision – does God want you with us or not? What does God want you to do with this decision?

9. Don’t let the decision linger with not deadline. Don’t rush it, but don’t let it go on forever either.

10. Celebrate the person’s response. If with you – great! If God has said no to this offer –great! We only want what God wants for you!

Are you asking God for the best possible people or are you simple looking for anyone with a pulse? Ask Him to give you His best!

Learning from Your Mistakes

King David had a great idea…let’s bring the ark of God back to Jerusalem to the place it rightfully belonged.  So, he consulted with his leadership and they all agreed that this was a wonderful idea.

They got a new ox cart (this certainly would be God-honoring) to carry the ark and a great procession was planned to bring the ark to its new home.  Things went well until the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark and God struck him dead.  This tended to throw a cloud of gloom over the entire event and David decided to end this procession, being frustrated with God his failure to accomplish his plan (see 1 Chronicles 13).

Sometime later David is now well established as king in Jerusalem and he once again remembers that the ark of God is residing in a tent outside of Jerusalem.  With this idea in mind, he again confers with his leaders, but note the difference.  He acknowledges that previously that had forgotten to ‘inquire of the Lord’ as to their plans.  This time they realize that the ark is to be carried only by the Levites and that it is to be carried with poles inserted along the sides.  This time the procession goes to completion with great rejoicing (see 1 Chronicles 15).

David had learned from his previous mistake.  He acknowledges that they did not consult the Lord on their prior attempt and they ended in failure.  As leaders we all make mistakes, just like David.  The key question is do we learn from them?  Do we adjust and continue to move ahead?  Do we own our mistakes?

How about you?  Made any mistakes recently?  Welcome to humanity!  Now, what are you learning from them?

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