A Little Bit About Me...

My photo
I have many hats that I wear. I am a husband and father. I am pastor/teacher at my church. I am part of a team working on a large project at work. I am a friend. I am a budding visionary. I am a writer, an actor, and a director. I am an artist. I am a student of the Bible. I have a brain that comes up with some pretty crazy and interesting ideas, and I have a personality to match. I try to treat all people how I would like to be treated. I strive to be steadfast, immovable in my faith. I seek after the TRUTH, and I believe that it can be found, not just 'from my perspective', but for all people.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Changes in Leadership…

At work we have a tracking system for people to note behavioural skills that they have mastered. One of the lesser noticed ones is Change in Leadership. Although the system is not fool proof, I think it does help people learn what skills they will need to successfully advance in their career. I have heard a few people looking at the list and understand competencies like Effective Interactive Communication, or Teamwork and Cooperation, but they get to Change in Leadership and you can tell they either don’t get it, or don’t get how big this one can really be.

In my life in the church I have seen several changes in leadership. Sometimes it has been due to a bad situation. Sometimes a good situation. Maybe someone had to lead something else. Maybe they had to go across the country. It’s tough. In the best circumstances there is a time like in a relay race where one person runs, then both people run together, the baton is handed off, and the second person runs. From my experience though, most times it is just that one stops and the other runs in their own direction. Sometimes the hand off is not a long enough period. Sometimes the second person has to pick up the baton from the ground.

I think a big problem with the change in leadership, for those that are already in a job, and are the ones being lead, is that often they are pouring their hearts into it. The new leader can come in and change the way things are done… Sometimes with good reason…. Sometimes just because… In Hebrews 13:17, it says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” As things change over, it is best to just try to do what they need, and to talk with them about how they would make changes. In the end, arguing and bickering is not productive, and that just makes things hard for the new leader. They are watching over your soul, and that carries a great weight with it. Help them to do the best job that they can.

I’ve been through so many of these changes in my life that you would think that it would be easier, but it takes effort to make the change in my heart and in my mind every time. Here are a few things that I have learned:

With each leadership change there is a period of time where the leader has to earn the respect of their team. Respect seems earned, and not just handed over like a Metro news paper at Greenboro station. If you are the new leader, spend the time with your team getting to know them, getting to know how they do what they do. Find out where their passions lie, and what makes their eyes sparkle and their mouth water. If you are the one that has had a leader change, do your best to make the transition as easy as possible.

As a leader, I find that I found that I had to sit back and learn about all of what made my team successful prior to my being there. There are always things that work well and there are always things that could be better, and there are things that just don’t work. It takes some time to figure that out. The last thing I wanted to do was try to swoop in like Superman and save the day when the day was going pretty good already. Can you imagine how uneventful the Action Comics would have been if Superman did that? But it didn’t work that way, he really came in and helped people when they earth needed it. The police were still there to do their job too.

In Exodus 18:13-26, Jethro, Moses’ father in law comes to visit Moses, and he observes something that he thinks he can help Moses to solve. “The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"

Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."

Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.”

There are a few keys here. Moses couldn’t do everything himself. He needed to teach people, and know that those that he was working with were of good character, and let them handle the everyday stuff, and then he could deal with the tough stuff. If you are new to a position, it is even greater when you have people that know their job already, so they can do what they have been doing. Once you know things better, then you can lead them towards the goal.

I remember in one of my jobs, a new manager came in with limited experience at the level she was now working at. A decision had to be made and she really made the wrong one. She consulted her team leaders. They all told her it was the wrong way to go based on their experience, but she told them to do it anyway. Let’s just say that a lot of work had to be done to catch up on work that was abandoned. People with experience have a lot to say.

I watched every episode of Star Trek The Next Generation. Captain Picard often asked his senior staff for options and Guidance. When he had gathered the information, he made a decision and they followed what he said. He had earned their respect. In this one two-part episode, Captain Picard was on a mission and another captain was put in command of the Enterprise. It was tough to watch the crew as they adjusted to the new captain’s style of leadership. I found myself saying, “But Captain Picard wouldn’t have done it that way, “ I was right. But Picard wasn’t the leader at that point either.

As Christians, I think we have it even tougher. Most of the time our work in church is with volunteers. People from all walks of life, come together to serve in the church, but people volunteer only when they feel plugged in. If something causes them to feel put off for long enough, some run, some leave, some press through. I guess that is why the diamond analogy works so well. Huge amounts of pressure in the ground makes the diamond form, but it also takes skilled people to find it, refine it and make it shine.

If you’re one stepping into a new leadership position, take the time to lead people and bring them along with you in the direction that you want to go. If you find out what they want to do for God and you help them reach that goal, they will bend over backwards to help you reach yours too. It is all about love, and pouring into people. I use these principles in my job as well. It works.

If you’re the one with a new leader, let your speech always be grace seasoned with salt. Give them time. Love them. Help them learn. Be patient. God isn’t finished with them yet.
If you are the leader or the lead, spend the time really talking things out. Share ideas. Pray for each other. Pray with each other. And in all cases remember that we are all trying to build a Kingdom, and not just our own castle. We need to impact the world for Jesus. That must be our focus.