Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “assessment”

Groundhog’s Day Syndrome

Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.                        Albert Einstein

German settlers in Pennsylvania brought with them a superstition that on 2 February (halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox) they were able to predict the length of winter yet to come.  A bright day meant cold, wintry weather for another six weeks.  A cloudy day meant a less severe few weeks ahead and the winter was ending.  This superstition was attached to a tradition of a groundhog emerging from his hole and seeing or not seeing his shadow.  Actor Bill Murray solidified the day with his portrayal of a TV weatherman doomed to repeat the same day over and over again in the movie Groundhog Day (1993).

Since the popular movie release many have used the metaphor, “It’s like Groundhog’s Day over and over again” or some variation thereof.  Meaning, here we go again, same process with the same results.

Here’s the connection to leadership.  Many established works can get stuck in repetitive cycles, processes, traditions, etc. that have been around for a long time.  No one ever stops to think about why we do such things, we just do them because we always have done them.  They yield predictable outcomes, but we don’t stop to assess whether we could change or discontinue some things.  We just keep on doing what we have always done.

Good leaders will have a discerning eye on items in their environment that we assume are good, but are rarely evaluated.  Critically evaluating the ‘givens’ are a good way to find new creativity, improvement, and energy for  future change.  Just doing what we have always done will give us the same outcomes.  It’s crazy to think that we will see anything other that what we have seen in the past, no matter how hard or efficient we work.

In their book titled, Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, Kriegel and Brandt suggest that it is not the expert or the pioneer who usually brings lasting change or innovation.  Rather, it is a new leader, often from outside the context, who acts like a beginner.  Beginners ask lots of questions and have few assumptions other than they don’t yet understand the context.  They are not afraid to question anything.

What things in your leadership world are so entrenched that you haven’t taken a hard look at them in a long time?  What assumptions are you making that need to be re-evaluated because it’s been a long time since they were created and times have changed?  Have the courage to take the hard look!

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?

Good Leaders Assess!

A year ago (12 Aug 2013) in this blog I discussed in principle the concept of assessment for Kingdom leaders.  This week we will address that same subject of assessment, but with much more detail.

Assessment is a Kingdom Value

a. God Will Assess

Mat. 25:14-30 – the master of those servants returned and settled accounts
Lk. 19:11-27 – the master called each servant to see what they had gained
1 Cor. 3:10-15 – the fire will test the quality of each man’s work
Heb. 13:17 – your leaders…men who must give an account
Jam. 3:1 – we who teach will be judged more strictly

b. Spiritual Leaders Must Assess

1 Kgs. 3:9-12 – give your servant a discerning heart to govern the people
1 Cor. 5:12 – Are you not to judge those inside [the church]?
Heb. 13:17 – your leaders…they keep watch over you
Paul’s letters to Timothy were based upon assessment of Timothy’s needs

 

What Three Things Do Kingdom Leaders Assess?

a.  The Staff and Co-laborers
• Personal walk with God – basics; Are they continuing to pursue Christ wholeheartedly?
• Family – talk with the spouse; spend time with their children
• Christlike character;  Are there obvious flaws / trends that need to be addressed?
• Spend time with them in their mission responsibility; Ask God for discernment and ability to see root issues.
• Funding;  Are they raising sufficient funds to meet their family needs at this season of life?

b.  The Ministry / Mission
We want to assess using the same calling, vision, and strategy that we have agreed to as our purpose, outcomes, and direction.

• Preparation Phase
a. Seeking God
b. Determining and clarifying their mission focus
c. Choosing an identity for the context
d. Determining resources needed to accomplish the launch and move to sustainability

• Launch Phase
a. Evangelism and relating to the lost
b. Establishing young Christians
c. Broad-base methods and networking
d. Recruiting, not just inviting
e. Creating your identity

• Building Phase
a. Equipping laborers for the harvest
b. Selection of those who demonstrate heart and commitment to the calling and vision
c. Teams and teamwork – building teams towards a common vision

Essential Building Blocks
a. One-to-one
b. Small groups
c. Large groups
d. Training in vision and skills for producing spiritual generations
e. Leading

Leadership Skills
• Communication Skills – public and interpersonal
• Organizational Skills

c. The Key People
• Personal walk with God – basics; Are they continuing to pursue Christ wholeheartedly?
• Do they have a vision for spiritual generations of laborers?
• Do they have a heart for and are they personally laboring?

 

Leaders and Love

In March 2003 I had the opportunity to interview Lorne Sanny regarding the topic of Leaders and Love.  The following are my notes from that insightful conversation.

Love means we freely accept others just as they are

o Acceptance is a matter of the heart
o People know whether you love / accept them or not

Love means we always seek their highest good

o This does not mean we tolerate sin
o It does mean we speak the truth to them – Jn. 8 (woman caught in adultery)

Love means we think of others before we think of ourselves

o When returning from a trip, take a walk around the office; not to tell them about your experiences, but to find out how they are doing

Love means we always seek to affirm and encourage others

o Public affirmation goes a long way
o “Praise in public, correct in private”
o “God never gives a hard message to a hard heart to deliver.”
o Affirmation is like making deposits into a bank account, for we know that we will have to make withdrawals (corrections, rebuke) in the future

Love means we give people feedback on how they are doing

o Progress reviews, not performance reviews
o Performance means the work is already finished
o Progress implies work is in progress and we can still affect the outcome
o With my own team sought to do progress review every 3 months
o With international leaders it was once a year
o Based upon agreed upon goals, outcomes, or “focus items”
• Some personalities don’t like goals – use “focus items”
o Have them evaluate themselves by asking questions
• Many are harder on themselves than we would be, so we can affirm them and bring true perspective to them
• “The imagination is often worse than the realization”
o “Is there anything I can do to help you accomplish your goals?”
• “What do you need to accomplish this?”
o End the reviews by asking, “Is there anything you want to say to me?”
o On difficult issues, help them think by asking questions
o Don’t use progress reviews to correct problems!  Do that on day-to-day basis.
o Evaluation – Romans 14:17-18 – outline for progress reviews

Leaders and Assessment

Is assessment a Kingdom principle?  Does God want His leadership to assess others?  What’s the difference between assessment and judgment?  How can we give assessment to those we lead in a positive, developmental way?

Jesus sent out the Twelve and then upon their return they reported what they had done (Mark 6:30-31).  The parables of the Talents (Matthew 25) and the 10 Minas (Luke 19) teach that we will give an account to God for our stewardship.  Hebrews 13:17 reminds us that leaders will give an account for their leadership.  Paul gave feedback to the churches through his letters.  Assessment is a Kingdom principle.

But we must not cross over from assessment to judgment.  Jesus commands us not to judge others (Matthew 7) and Paul reminds us of the same (1 Corinthians 4).  Judgment is passing a final, negative opinion on another.  It focuses on final results and motives.  It often involves assessing someone’s motives or matters of the heart that we cannot know for certain.  It implies making personal standards normative for others.  Only God can judge!

But as leaders who must give an account to God for our leadership, we are told to know well the condition of our flock.  We must evaluate our flock to know if they are doing well or not.  Assessment of those we lead focuses on their faithfulness to labor, not the results which are determined by God.  Assessment is given to encourage growth and help measure progress and development.  It has a desired positive impact on another with a willingness to be involved in helping to correct any shortcomings.

Assessment is more formal than feedback.  It relates to mutually agreed upon standards or desired outcomes, deals with a process, involves a commitment to help, and provides accountability.  Feedback in informal, does not need mutual goals, deals with an event, does not necessarily involve a commitment to help, and provides perspective.  Leaders assess; facilitators give feedback.

For assessment to be positive, we must begin with agreed upon measuring marks.  The one being assessed must know from the outset what will be evaluated at the end of the process.  The leader bringing the assessment should seek to point out the positive outcomes initially.  Negative assessment should be limited to one or two items at the most, focusing on those areas that are most important.  As a leader you should offer to help them correct these in the future.  Ask how you as a leader can help them succeed in their efforts.  Get involved!  Bring resources to help them become a success.

Remember to assess, not judge.  Seek to apply the Golden Rule of Leadership in your assessment of others, “Lead others the way you want to be led” (Luke 6:31).

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