Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Team building”

Helping Others Understand

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” …  Do you still not understand?  Don’t you remember … But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.    Matthew 16:5-12   NIV 1984

The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”  …  Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.    Matthew 17:10-13  NIV 1984

Jesus had multiple times where the Twelve were slow to grasp the meaning of His teaching or their experiences with Him.  He demonstrates amazing patience as they struggle to really understand the meaning of all that was happening.  Sometimes we can see what appears to be a chiding of them or a mild exhortation (“How will you understand any parable?”), but he does wait for them to come to a fuller grasp of the subject.  He does not ‘spoon feed’ them; they have to exercise their own thought process.

In the first example in Matthew 16 the statement from Jesus was about avoiding the yeast of the Pharisees.  Having just come from two miracles of feeding thousands, the context seemed to dictate the subject of literal bread.  This was compounded by the fact that they did have any bread to eat, having forgotten it before they got on board.  So they concluded, perhaps He meant, “When we get off, don’t go purchasing any yeast from certain types of religious bread dealers?”

Note that when Jesus queried them about both miracles they accurately repeated the facts of their experience.  They knew how many were fed and how much was left over.  Though they knew the facts they did not understand the meaning.  After some further reflection, they understood the true meaning was to avoid the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The second instance begins with a question from the disciples about a prophecy regarding the coming of ‘Elijah’ before the coming of the Messiah.  They were growing in their understanding the Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, but then who was this ‘Elijah’ that was to come before Him?  With a little explanation, they came to understand that it was John the Baptist.  Note that Jesus did not tell them this plainly who it was, they had to deduce it from his explanation.

Sometimes those we lead require a little more help from us to ensure that they truly grasp what they are hearing or experiencing.  Don’t assume that just because they know the details that they truly understand the meaning.

Are you discerning or assuming that those around you understand?

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

                                                                    Luke 24:45  NIV 1984

More Practical 1-2-1 Discipling Ideas

The following is a list of very practical ideas that will help you be more effective as well as helping you enjoy discipling another individual. You may want to study the passage listed after each idea.

1. Major on being an encourager. As you listen, ask yourself what you can encourage them about.   Hebrews 10:24-25

2. Realize that you are entering into a life-long friendship. Your relationship will be foundational to all you hope to do.    Proverbs 17:17

3. Make sure you are well prepared. Get organized before you spend time with another. Go over the passages and illustrations you hope to share, making sure you are familiar with them. Know the context of the verses you use.   2 Timothy 2:15

4. Set the pace. You can’t take someone farther than you have gone yourself. You can’t build solidly into someone else what is weak or unfamiliar in your own life.  Philippians 4:9

5. Modeling is the key to reproducing your life. More things are caught than taught. Be transparent with those you are helping.  Share your weaknesses and struggles as well as your strengths and victories.   1 Timothy 3:10-11

6. Repeat all things. Make no apologies for going over familiar ground. The basics are basic; keep hitting the basics.    Philippians 3:1

7. Don’t “dump the truck” (i.e. tell them everything you know). Teach them only what they need to know now.   John 16:1-14

8. Take them with you as much as possible. Many lasting impressions are made during discussions in the car or during recreation together.   Mark 3:14

9. Treat them like an adult. Don’t talk down to them. Share with them as a friend.   1 Peter 5:1-3

10. Fit your follow-up plans to the person, not the person to the program. Be flexible.  Meet their needs as well as build into their life.  Don’t spend all your time “putting out fires.”  Think structured building into another’s life, but beware of the “assembly line mentality”.   1 Corinthians 3:9-10

11. Always focus on Christ and relate all you do together to knowing Him or making Him known.  Point them to Jesus.   Hebrews 12:2

12. Communicate an attitude of acceptance and love. Be their fan.  Be their friend.   John 13:34-35

Discipling another individual is a great privilege and challenge. As we invest in the lives of individuals like Steve, we will see them growing to maturity in the Lord and they in turn helping others. Paul referred to himself as a “fellow worker” with God (1 Corinthians 3:9). He also called himself an “expert builder” (1 Corinthians 3:10) of people. May we all seek to be expert people builders, building others up in the faith to the point where they can in turn help others.

The Power of Affirmation

A friend once reminded me that as a leader I may speak at a volume of 2, but I’m heard at a volume of 9!  This can be very damaging to others if my criticism is too harsh.  But, it can be life-giving if I use my influence for affirmation.

In the book, “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make” by Hans Finzel (Victor Books), we find a section on affirmation.  It has served me well as a good reminder on this important function in my leadership.  Here is his summary points on affirmation for leaders:

Everyone thrives on affirmation and praise
Affirmation encourages and motivates people much more than financial incentives. It does more to keep people fulfilled than fortune or fame could do. He comments that Christian organizations are sometimes the worst, because there is the attitude that: “They are working for the Lord,” or “They should not look to the organization for affirmation, but to the Lord.”

Leadership has as much to do with “caring” as with getting things done
In the gospels, Jesus spent more time touching people and talking to them than in any other action. Jesus was not primarily task-oriented, even though He knew He had only three years to train twelve men to carry on the movement that would change the world. Touching wounds amid the unbearable pressure to perform tasks – that was the model of our Lord Jesus.

We wildly underestimate the power of the tiniest personal touch of kindness
It doesn’t always have to be a “big” event to affirm people. He gives an example from Tom Peters who shares about a former boss who took 15 min. (max) at the end of each day to jot a half-dozen paragraph-long notes to people who’d given him time during the day or who’d made an insightful comment during a meeting, etc.. He was dumbfounded by the number of recipients who subsequently thanked him for thanking them.

Learn to read the varying levels of affirmation your people need
Obviously, different people require different doses and different kinds of affirmation. The key seems to be that it needs to be genuine not “setting me up to get something from me later,” and not canned. (i.e. everyone gets the same affirmation letter without any personal touch).

When was the last time you intentionally affirmed someone?  Is affirmation a regular part of your leadership communication?  Have you created a ‘culture of critique’ or a ‘culture of affirmation’ around your leadership?

 

Leadership is an Art – 3

Here’s a final thought from Max DePree’s classic leadership book, “Leadership is an Art.”

“In addition to all of the ratios and goals and parameters and bottom lines, it is fundamental that leaders endorse a concept of persons. This begins with an understanding of the diversity of people’s gifts and talents and skills.

“Understanding and accepting diversity enables us to see that each of us is needed. It also enables us to begin to think about being abandoned to the strengths of others, of admitting that we cannot know or do everything.

“When we think about leaders and the variety of gifts people bring to corporations and institutions, we see that the art of leadership lies in polishing and liberating and enabling those gifts.”

One of our primary leadership functions is the development of those we lead.  This development must be intentional, seeking to maximize a person’s contribution to the mission.  This development must be individualized, with forethought given to opportunities and personal needs.

Are you developing those you are leading or just hoping that with the passing of time and more experience that they will be developed as better leaders?  It has been said, “Experience is not the best teacher, but it is evaluated experience that truly develops leaders.”  Give feedback to those you lead and they will be better leaders.

 

Jesus’ Way of Developing Leaders

I’ve always loved the Gospel of Mark because of the action oriented narrative.   You’ll remember that Mark’s gospel begins with a one-year gap (Mark 1:13-14) between His baptism and the 18-month ministry in Galilee.  This first year of Jesus’ public ministry is only recorded in John 1-4.

Below is a short outline of some key leader development passages as found in Mark.  While this is not an exhaustive list, it does serve as a reminder of how to be more intentional about developing those leaders we have influence with.

Mark 1:14-18 –  Jesus was on the move and He recruited others to join Him in the movement; note that He recruited busy, industrious people

Mark 1:35 –  Jesus was a pacesetter/model, especially in spending time with His Father

Mark 1:36-39 –  Jesus had a plan for His ministry; He took the risk of disappointing those He was leading by saying ‘no’ to their desires for Him

Mark 3:14 –  the emerging leaders were “with Him” first and then sent out

Mark 3:16-17 –  having nicknames indicates He knew His disciples well; there was a deep, personal relationship with Him

Mark 4:10,34 –  He gave special training and development to a few; He told them “why and what”

Mark 4:35 –  Jesus took the initiative and led out by example

Mark 6:6-9 –  Jesus modeled faith and expected it of His disciples; living by faith was to be a lifestyle

Mark 6:30-31 –  He modeled for them the importance of taking time for reflective evaluation and relaxation

Mark 8:31 –  He sought to keep His disciples informed about upcoming events

Mark 9:14-16 –  Jesus protected His disciples from threats; note how He takes the argument with the teachers of the law onto Himself

Mark 10:28-31 –  Jesus was an encourager; He affirmed good behavior

Mark 11:1-3 –  He emphasized forethought, scenario planning, and training before sending them out on assignments

Mark 14:10 –  Jesus too had one of His leaders who did not do well; not all failures are reflections on the leader and their ability to train others

Reflect on these passages.  Open the bible with those you are developing.  Look carefully at the model of Jesus and how He developed leaders.  Remember to, “Lead from the Scriptures and into the Scriptures!”

Developing More Leaders – REPRODUCE

We continue to reflect upon a good way to organize our understanding of the complex subject of leadership.  Using the simple outline of Know – Be – Do – Reproduce we can categorize the important functions of this vast subject called leadership.  Today we will address the category of “Reproduce – Developing More Leaders.”

An essential part of your leadership is to multiply more leaders.  Yes, we must accomplish mission and task, but don’t overlook the very important task of leaving behind more leaders.  Be intentional about developing those leaders on your team to ensure the are reaching their potential for contribution.

Some leaders are so personally insecure that they avoid developing those on their team.  They see their team member’s development as a threat to their leadership, thinking, “If they reach their potential, they could take my role and then what would I do?”

The reality is that all leadership is temporary.  We lead for a while and then transition our leadership to another.  We can make this transition healthy and positive by intentionally planning our transition.  Or we can ignore it and wait until a crisis occurs and then leave the work ill-prepared for the next leader.

Here’s some practical reminders about developing the leaders on your team.

  1. You don’t personally have to do the development of your team members, just lead your team in their development
  2. Be intentional about your team’s development as a whole and as individual members
  3. Model intentional, individual leader development for your team; set the pace
  4. Make leader development fun and interesting, not a duty!
  5. Make sure that the Scriptures are central in your team’s leader development
  6. Reading a book or and article on leadership together as a team and then discussing how it might be applied in your context is an easy way to lead your team in development
  7. Bring in outside resources (people and tools) to help your team grow and develop
  8. Development is a part of your regular team meetings, but can become a focus for an extended team retreat
  9. Have your team members set 6-month personal development goals related to their development as a leader and then hold them accountable for them
  10. Remember to keep this question before your team – “Development for what?”  Their personal leader development and the development of your team is to help you all accomplish your God-given mission or task.

Are you being intentional about your personal leader development?  Are you leading your team in development?

 

Rewards for Service

The Bible has a lot to say about rewards for faithful and good service.  While salvation is a free gift, Jesus does take note of our service and will reward us for it.  It does appear that rewards can be lost as well due to unfaithfulness.  Again we note that rewards can be lost, not salvation.

The following is a Bible study on the subject of rewards.  Reflect on the passages and seek to find application for your leadership regarding recognizing and rewarding those you are leading.

REWARDS FOR SERVICE

1. Salvation vs. Rewards

Salvation a free gift, not worked for; results in eternal life and forgiveness of sins; through faith – Eph. 2:8-9
available to all – Jn. 3:16
never can be lost – Jn. 10:27-30

Rewards awards given for service to God; distributed in heaven; available only to Christians; can be lost

 

2. Rewards

Matthew 16:27  –  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

• based upon the work we have done

1 Cor. 3:8  –  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.

• based upon our labor (planting and watering)

1 Cor. 3:14  –  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

• based upon the quality of our work

2 Cor. 5:9-10  –  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

• based upon living a life pleasing to God

Col. 3:23-24  –  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

• is an inheritance from the Lord based upon working with a whole heart

Hebrews 11:6  –  And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

• based upon seeking God earnestly

Rev. 11:18  –
The nations were angry;
and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name,
both small and great–
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

• given to the Lord’s servants and prophets

Rev. 22:12  –  “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

• based upon what we have done

 

3. Examples of Work That Will be Rewarded

Matthew 6:1-6  –  for acts of righteousness done with pure motives: giving to the needy and secret prayer

Matthew 6:16-18  –  for righteous acts with pure motives: fasting

Matthew 10:41-42  –  given for showing kindness and hospitality

Luke 6:35  –  for loving your enemies; being kind to the ungrateful and wicked

1 Cor. 3:8  –  for evangelizing (planting) and discipling (watering)

 

4. Rewards Can Be Lost

1 Cor. 3:10-15  –  lost because of poor quality of service

2 John 1:8  –  lost because we are deceived by false teachers who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ

Rev. 3:11  –  lost for not enduring during a time of trial

 

Is there someone you are leading who needs some recognition or reward for a job well done?

Leadership Team Responsibilities

Leadership team members have a unique relationship one to another.  They are often thrown together and told to function as a team because the leader chose them.  But they were chosen individually, most often without much say as to who else joined the team.  We may or may not be “naturally” drawn to our teammates.  Though we are united on our mission and vision, our personalities, backgrounds, or interests may present challenging obstacles to our effectiveness as a leadership team.

How do we relate to one another on a leadership team?  What are our responsibilities to each other?  No doubt you could list several, but let me suggest two that I see in the Word.

In John 13:1-17 Jesus models the attitude of a servant before his leadership team.  After finishing, in vv. 13-14 he says, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  Jesus’ instructions to “wash one another’s feet” were given to explain how the members of His leadership team were to relate to each other.  They were to serve each other, choosing to meet the needs of fellow team members rather than promote or serve one’s own self interests.  As members of a leadership team we have a responsibility to serve one another, helping each other become a success in our individual responsibilities.

In Acts 20:28 we see another responsibility.  Paul had gathered the Ephesian elders together for some final words and he reminds them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”  We often neglect to notice the first part of this passage.  The members of the Ephesian leadership team were to “keep watch over [them]selves.”

Yes, I am my brother’s keeper!  We have a responsibility to one another on our leadership team to make sure we continue to walk with God, fulfill our family responsibilities, and fulfill our leadership calling.  Spiritual leadership requires the utmost in Christlike character and we are to “keep watch” on that as well, as we fulfill our duties.

‘Serving each other’ and ‘keeping watch over each other’ are two of our responsibilities as leadership team members.  Let’s not be so focused on the outward responsibilities related to our leadership roles that we neglect to fulfill the responsibilities to those on our team.

Teams and Teamwork

Leadership Teams

 It is evident that no one individual has all that is necessary to bring the best leadership to any Kingdom enterprise.  Because no one leader can do everything well we must lead with a team.  My experience is that good teams are hard to come by, but when you experience one you will never forget it.  Remember, when talking about leadership and teams we mean a leader and his / her team, not team leadership.

Following are some additional thoughts related to teams and teamwork:

 New Testament Leadership Team Models

  1. Elder model
  2. Apostolic model  –  Jesus and his team    —   a training team
  3. Apostolic model  –  Paul and his team     —   a task/mission oriented team

Team:  a group of people who need each other in order to accomplish the task

Leadership Team Models in the Great Commission

             Apostolic                                     Elder

Go to the nations….               and            …teach them everything

Paul                                                                 Philemon  /  Archippus

mobile                                                             local

sodality                                                           modality

para-local church                                       local church

Team Synergy:  comes from group think concerning individual team member’s portfolio items and group work on specific tasks for a limited time

Team Leaders Must:           1.   Listen    2.  Learn   3.   Love    4.   Lead

 May God give you the special privilege of leading a team of other leaders!

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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