Developing Kingdom Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Management”

Strategic Supervision

Leader vs Manager – A False Dichotomy *

Below are some general thoughts regarding the important function of leadership – managing the work of others.

  • Managing the work of others = supervision of their work
  • Leading people in mission and supervision of their work are essential –  “two wings on same plane” – we may have strengths in one or the other; good leaders must be able to manage some level of detail/operations; good managers must be able to lead people to accomplish agreed upon outcomes
  • Managing the work of others (not managing the people) includes:
    • Organizational competency, legal aspects, safe and healthy workers, awareness of implications of being an employee – i.e. policies are for individual and organizational protection
    • Emphasize that workers are a part of something larger than themselves, “going rogue” is not wise or helpful when resources are available to inform, help, and protect workers

Strategic Supervision is for Ensuring Execution

Below are some very practical aspects of how to supervise others:

  • Be proactive, not just reactive in your supervision!
    • Thinking ahead – scenario planning / What will we do if….?
    • Hope for the best and plan for the worst!
  • Be both Macro- and Micro-focused
    • Big picture, systems thinking, but also attentive to an appropriate level of detail
  • Provide oversight of the person and the task
    • Attention to the ‘leadership wake’ of people and task
    • Success is thriving people and mission accomplished
  • Ensure the execution and the completion of a task –  stewardship and ownership of the task
    • What are we doing; Why are we doing it?
    • Bring accountability for completion of a task
      • No 3-foot holes, when we intend to dig 10-foot holes!
    • Create a healthy, safe working environment where people can flourish
  • Give feedback (correction, improvement/affirmation) related to responsibilities and desired outcomes – i.e. annual progress reviews, personal improvement plans, personal goals, annual plans and budgets
  • Ensure alignment of people, resources, and task (doing the right things) to our mission statement
    • Aligning up, down, and laterally within the organization
    • Help create collaboration (working partnerships) with other people or functions in the organization
  • Empower people to accomplish their responsibilities and make their contribution (giving authority, providing the needed resources) – having clearly defined, agreed upon outcomes
  • Enable people to accomplish their responsibilities and make their contribution (removing obstacles, solving problems that people are not able to do themselves)
    • Not micro-managing, meddling or doing someone’s job for them
  • Provide excellent stewardship of God’s resources
    • Optimization of process, budgeting, positioning people to succeed, time management
    • Accountability for how and when decisions are made and how resources are used
  • Create healthy team dynamics
    • Ensure that team members are working well together as a team
    • Helping team members contribute in their strengths and protect each other’s weaknesses
  • Bring clarity when needed regarding purpose, process, or outcomes
    • Secure commitment to a common (shared) goal and purpose
  • Create a succession mentality – raise up your replacement from within your team, if possible

You must be doing both – leading people and managing their work!

*   These thoughts were compiled with the helpful input of Ken Hendren

Timing is Everything!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…    Ecclesiastes 3:1  (NIV  1984)

Any gardener knows that you plant your vegetable seeds in the spring and early summer, not mid-winter!  There is a right time and a wrong time for certain activities.  And so it is in your leadership.  Timing is everything!

When Jesus went to the wedding in Cana, the wedding party ran out of wine.  Mary turned to her Son and told Him to please do something about this socially awkward embarrassment (perhaps this was an extended family member’s wedding, thus Mary’s insistence that Jesus help).  Jesus replied, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” John 2:4  (NIV  1984)  Note Jesus’s sense of timing (regardless of the timing, He did help solve the problem).

We observe some three years later at the end of His public ministry, Jesus is praying the night before His crucifixion.  He says, “Father, the time has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”  John 17:1  (NIV  1984)  Now, the time was right for the completion of what He came to earth to do.  Timing is everything!

The Ecclesiastes passage above says that there is a time to laugh and a time to cry, a time to plant and a time to uproot.  There is a time and a season for everything under heaven.  As Kingdom leaders, it’s our job to know what time and season we are in and lead accordingly.

Leading change processes are a part of good leadership.  No leader wants to maintain the status quo.  But, those we lead can only take so much change and a certain rate of change.  Push too hard and they will dig in their heels and refuse to move further.  Move too slowly and they will not embrace the change process, for they see no need to truly change.  It’s a matter of timing – going too fast or too slow can bring trouble.  Timing the rate of change is an art form, not a science.

Strategic leadership sees into the future time horizon by faith and seeks to implement new initiatives to move from current reality to the desired future state.  But the sequence on the steps to move from here to there and the timing of the “travel” is key to accomplishing the mission.  Great plans can come to naught due to a lack of careful attention to the timing of implementation.

What time is it?  Do you know?


Managing the Work of Others

Perhaps you have heard it said, “I’m a leader, not a manager.”  This suggests that these are two distinctive people types and implying (sometimes not so subtly) that there is a value difference between the two and that leader types are better than manager types.

While there are ‘type’ or design differences, this is really a false dichotomy.  Yes, there are gifting and design differences and individual strengths, but there is no difference in individual worth or value and both functions are necessary to accomplish mission.

Leading and managing are two wings of the same airplane.  We need both to fly or the plane will crash.  The ‘plane’ in this metaphor is the mission of God and those Kingdom people assigned to accomplish it.

We lead people into an agreed upon mission or task by clearly communicating vision for the mission, setting clear directions and outcomes.  Part of this leading function is then recruiting others and assigning responsibilities and resources to those who join up with us in the mission.

But once people are in place and moving, we now must manage their work.  Note, we are managing the work of people, not the people themselves.  We lead people and manage their work, all to accomplish our agreed upon mission or task.

Another synonym for managing is supervising.  We supervise the work of people by providing accountability, feedback – both affirmation and correction, review and reward related to their work.   Supervision seeks to ensure that the work done is the best possible and those working are contributing to the best of their ability and potential.

Some of us will have God-given designs that allow us to more naturally to function in the lead mode.  Some others will be more naturally gifted in the managing or supervising function.  Both are necessary to accomplish mission.  One can’t say, “Well, I’m just a leader and I delegate the managing side of things to others.”

While you may have a strength in one, you are ultimately responsible for both functions – leading and managing.  Yes, we do seek to operate in our strengths and delegate or staff to our weaknesses.  But we seek to delegate, not abdicate!  ‘Big picture’ types must be well-informed on details, policies, finances, operations, etc.  ‘Detail’ types must be able to band people together to accomplish task.

Self-awareness of your design is the beginning of a healthy, balanced impact.  Knowing your design can help you maximize your strengths and shore up any crippling weaknesses that are preventing you from operating in your strengths.

Leaders Who Have No Time

The management of our time as leaders is truly a management of ourselves.  Time is one of the most precious commodities a leader has and using it wisely is essential to accomplishing all that Jesus intends for us.  Effective and efficient use of our time can increase our influence for Christ.

Yes, efficiency and time management emphasis may be seen and dismissed as a Western culture value and not broadly applicable.  But, Kingdom leaders must address what the bible says about time use.  We want our leadership to be biblically rooted, culturally relevant, and practically effective.  We don’t want to export Western time management methodology (i.e. suggesting all leaders should use MS Outlook software, breaking each day into 15 minute appointment segments).  Rather, we want to export a biblical view of time management that allows freedom for the local context to create or adapt methods that fit the context.

Below are some important principles related to the wise use of time for leaders and an introductory bible study on the subject of time management for leaders.

Principles of Time Management

  1. Plan your time  –  Psalms 90:10,12
  1. Don’t waste time  –  Ephesians 5:15-17
  1. Respect other’s time use –  Philippians 2:4
  1. We have enough time for what God wants  –  Ecclesiastes 3:1
  1. Work by priorities  –  Proverbs 24:27
  1. Plan your time with a margin  –  Proverbs 19:2

Time Management  –  Bible Study

Genesis 26:25  –  always based on priorities as illustrated by Isaac

Proverbs 24:27  –  work by priorities

Jeremiah 31:21 – our guideposts are our goals

Ecclesiastes 3:1  –  there is time for everything

Psalm 90:12  –  plan your time

Proverbs 16:9 – plan, but leave the out working to God

Proverbs 19:2 – zeal without a plan is wasted energy

Proverbs 21:5  –  planning and hard work lead to success

Luke 14:28-30 –  planning is part of being a disciple

Romans 15:23-29 – Paul planned his ministry

1 Corinthians 9:26 – Paul did not run his life aimlessly

1 Corinthians 14:40  –  do all things in an orderly way

Ephesians 5:10,15 – planning pleases God as it allows us to make the most of our time

Colossians 4:5  –  we are commanded to manage our time wisely

Leadership Jazz – 2

Max DePree in his great leadership book, “Leadership Jazz” has some excellent thoughts regarding a leader’s promises.

“Though I’m still learning things about being a leader, I can tell you at least two requirements of such a position:  The need to give one’s witness as a leader—to make your promises to the people who allow you to lead; and the necessity of carrying out your promises.

“Followers can’t afford leaders who make casual promises.  Someone is likely to take them seriously.

“For no leader has the luxury of making a promise in a vacuum.

“A leader who backs away from her promises under duress irreparably damages the organization and plants the seeds of suspicion among her followers.

“The best leaders promise only what’s worth defending.

“It’s important to understand that leadership is a posture of indebtedness.  The process of leading is the process of fulfilling commitments made both to persons and to the organization.

“Knowing what not to do is fully as important as knowing what to do.

“Remember to think of followers as volunteers.  Remember, too, that the goals of the organization are best met when the goals of people in the organization are met at the same time.

“Here are several questions that leaders should expect to hear.  The answers to these questions, you see, are some of the promises leaders will make.

  • What may I expect from you?
  • Can I achieve my own goals by following you?
  • Will I reach my potential by working with you?
  • Can I entrust my future to you?
  • Have you bothered to prepare yourself for leadership?
  • Are you ready to be ruthlessly honest?
  • Do you have the self-confidence and trust to let me do my job?
  • What do you believe?”

If you are a verbal processor you can unintentionally make promises that you never intended.  As a leader your words carry extra weight and your thoughts expressed are assumed to be decisions.  You did not intend your words as final, just talking and thinking aloud, but others remember and will quote you in the future.  Beware of communicating what to you are just thoughts in a process but others hear as final decisions.

Are you a faithful leader?  Are you faithful to your word?  Can you be counted on to do what you say you will do?

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

Leverage Points

Given that all resources are finite and that there are always more opportunities and demands for resources than we have available, leaders must choose to say ‘yes’ to some and ‘no’ to others.  But how to choose?  What are the considerations when allocating precious, limited resources when there are many, seemingly equally important choices?  Choosing opportunities that are leverage points can be one way to help make these choices.

A leverage point is where a small difference can make a large impact.  Leverage points provide kernel ideas and procedures for formulating solutions.

Identifying a leverage point helps us:
1.  Create new courses of action

2.  Develop increased awareness of those things that may cause a difficulty before there are any obvious signs of trouble, and figure out what is causing a difficulty.

Identifying the “leverage point” is skill #1 and is identified as “the one thing that, if changed, makes changing everything else easier.  It should be the number one priority on everyone’s agenda.”

Leaders are change agents and leaders of change processes.  Identifying and implementing leverage points will facilitate this change process moving ahead more quickly and efficiently than otherwise intended.  It will also allow you to effectively use your limited resources for the biggest impact.

What are you facing today that needs change?  What are the key leverage points needing to be addressed to get this process moving?

Who is Responsible for My Development?

The heights of great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night.

The Ladder of St. Augustine,  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My conversation with this 30-year-old leader had come to a point of discussing his ongoing development as a leader.  “But my organization is not even thinking about my development,” he explained in exasperation.  “When will I be developed as a leader so that I can truly make my contribution?”

I’ve reflected on that conversation many times.  Who is responsible for our development as leaders?  I ‘d suggest 3 sources who are very interested in you reaching your potential for influence in the Kingdom.

First of all God Himself is very interested in your leader development.  While both competency and character are needed to lead well, God chooses to focus our development on the character side.  The obvious reason is that He will certainly take care of competency issues through His help as we depend upon Him.  This does not mean that leadership competency is not so important for Kingdom leaders, but God places a priority on character for His leaders.

He is committed to seeing Christlike character shaped within us all, especially His leaders.  He is constantly arranging the circumstances of our life and leadership in order to help us grow into the person He desires.  We can embrace these opportunities for character growth or seek to run from them.  But should we choose to run, He will again raise up new circumstances to once again move us towards Christlikeness.

Our second source of development should be our organization, corporation, business, or workplace.  Businesses and organization that purposefully invest in developing their leadership communities tend to do well over time.  These organizational opportunities can be formal (academic credentialing through study. i.e. secondary degrees in organizational leadership) or semi-formal (certification, continuing education days,  or seminars around areas of leadership competency).  Some workplaces are better than others about providing this type of intentional development.  And even those who are committed to this intentional development of leaders will often greatly cut the budget or staffing for it when there is an overall budget tightening.

The third source of our develop comes from within ourselves.  We must own our own development as leaders.  Rather than waiting or complaining about not being developed, take the responsibility upon yourself to be the best leader you can be.  Seek out opportunities for growth in competency and character.  Pursue it wholeheartedly!  Start today!

One of the most helpful development opportunities is having a mentor for your leadership. Many emerging leaders tell me that they can’t find a mentor willing to meet with them.  Here’s my suggestion.  Find a leader who you think can be of some help.  Approach them with this question, “Could we begin to meet together for me to ask you questions about how I can be a better leader?”  Note that you’re not asking them to mentor you.  Many busy leaders will immediately decline this offer…too many things to do!  But they all have to eat sometime, so invite them to a meal (you pay!) and come with specific questions that they can respond to.  Take good notes and reflect on their answers for your own growth and development.

Be the best leader you can be for Jesus sake and embrace your own development!

Your First Leadership Team Meeting – Make it a Good One!

There is only one “first meeting” when forming your leadership team–you won’t be able to have a “do-over.”   Therefore, you will want to ensure that it is a success.  It will set the tone and pattern for future team meetings and if done well will create an environment for great teamwork.  Here are some practical ideas for launching your team well at that first meeting.  Some ideas are obviously applicable at any stage of team formation.  Some may fit your team and some not.  Take these ideas like you would eat fish  –  enjoy the meat and discard the bones!

1)  First meetings are important as they set tone, expectations, patterns, and first impressions that are lasting.  So, giving good thought to ensure that it’s a hit is essential.  Come prepared and plan the time well.

2)  As a general outline for all leadership team meetings (especially your first one) think of 3 parts:  business, development, and relationships!  There is not equal time spent for all three, but try to insure that every time together you address these three areas.  The business will always get the most attention for teams form to accomplish a task.  The business items often come with deadlines that demand our attention.  The development and relationship pieces (building community and esprit de corps) are easy to shortcut or minimize their importance.  But to ignore these will be detrimental to your effectiveness and impact as a team in the long-term.

3)  The development part of team meetings should be related to an aspect of leadership and can be varied – from interacting over a bible passage, article, book, or even an entire movie you watch together and then talk about leadership lessons demonstrated, etc.  If leading a team of busy leaders be wise in how much prep beforehand you can expect of the team as all are very busy (i.e. instead of reading and discussing an entire book together, choose one chapter from the book to read and discuss).

4)  Relationships –  for those of us who are more task oriented, this aspect of our meetings can seem like a “waste of time.”  Remember, just because you meet together does not mean that you are building trust relationships on the team!  I’ve done everything from using team building exercises, to having an annual golf tournament with a revolving trophy, to playing board games, party games, going out for a movie (not necessarily leadership oriented), fishing, visiting historical sites, visiting other ministries, etc.  It is only by building deep friendships that go beyond just being on a task-oriented team, building trust through shared experience, that we will be able to create a safe place where we can be real with one another.  The transparency and vulnerability that you model before the team as a team leader will help create this for others on the team.

5)  When you think about these three aspects of every meeting, you realize that you will need to have enough time scheduled for this, in order to have a relaxed pace.  The tendency is just to schedule the business agenda for the meeting and neglect time for development and relationships.  With multi-day meetings I would try to begin by sharing the Word and praying together for an extended time each day.  I would sometimes lead this time or ask others to lead, trying to make the time in the Word interactive.  It can help to begin the first part of our times together with each giving a personal update on life and family – seeking to model the idea that we are important as people, not just the task that we do.  We would often pray for each other during these times.

6)  You are wise to define the purpose of the team as well as expectations.  What will this team accomplish if we all contribute well?  Be sure you don’t have a “hidden agenda” with the answers already decided upon.  No doubt you’ll have some ideas in these areas, but if the team as a whole helps shape this, they will all own it together and will be highly motivated to carry it out.

7)  One thing to discuss is how you will make decisions on the team.  There are several standard decision-making models (a subject for another blog) and you’ll want to clarify how the team will make decisions as you go forward.  I personally believe in “a leader and their team” as opposed to “team leadership” with a participative decision-making style for most daily leadership decisions.  But realize that all decision-making models are appropriate for different times and situations.  This subject can be a development piece for your team members to help them as they lead their own teams in the future.

8)  As you think about setting future goals and plans, you want to insure that the goals are balanced between being realistic, given where you are now, but also faith influenced, having enough growth that they will require the hand of God and His blessing in order to see them accomplished.  Having both aspects and holding them in a dynamic tension will enable you to recruit others to ‘lay down their nets and come with you.’

You only have one ‘first team meeting’ – make it a good one!  And remember, don’t eat the bones!

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