Here you go, the April edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.
Here you go, the April edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.
As Leaders, we live for the moment.
The big moments that are memory makers. The home runs. The winning “touchdown.” The deal that launches our organizations or business to the next level.
The significant benchmarks in life that define us and shape us. The times that people will talk about for years to come. When the adrenaline is dialed up and we step in.
But ultimately, faithfulness looks most like being disciplined and faithful to the small things in life and leadership.
Great leaders are committed to the Insignificant.
The making of a leader takes time, and I believe is revealed and refined through the continual steadfastness in the small things.
Our character, our sense of who we are, is defined by the insignificant points in life when no one is watching, when no one really cares. The times when it doesn’t seem to matter. The points where it is difficult to actually finish the project. The pain points when we wonder is this what God has actually called me to do. The moments when it would be okay to cut corners but we stay committed to excellence.
This is where the foundation of faithfulness and our character as leaders is created and solidified. Jesus describes this in Luke 16:10 “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” Be faithful to the small things.
Perseverance is crucial to being a disciplined leader. Staying true to the process. There is beauty in the process, and we are shaped by the journey.
The process defines us. No overnight transformation. No shortcuts. It takes years to be shaped into the leader God has called you to be. The nitty gritty daily grind of walking steadfastly in the mundane and ordinary that shapes the extraordinary.
Great leaders are always growing, learning & moving forward. It’s a journey, not a destination. Effective leaders never stop growing and getting better. They are curious, committed, and coachable. Always a student and desperate to learn.
And committed to making the small things, the seemingly insignificant projects and assignments that no one seems to care about, the best they can possibly be.
Stay committed to the insignificant!
POWER. One of the great corruptors of leaders.
We all deny it in public, but struggle with its pull over us in private.
If you recall, it was one of the temptations of Jesus while in the desert for 40 days. Actually the 3rd temptation he faced.
“I will give you all the kingdoms of this world in their splendor,” the demon said to Jesus (Matthew 4:9).
Power is intoxicating. Throughout history, leaders have given in to the temptation of power- whether political, military, economic, or even moral and spiritual power- even though many continued to speak and lead and influence in the name of Jesus.
But when looking at Jesus, we see a different example. Jesus did not cling to power, but instead emptied himself and became as we are.
Henri Nouwen writes so eloquently in his classic leadership book In the Name of Jesus that the reason power is such a strong corruptor is “it seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.” BAM.
We are constantly confronted with the temptation to replace love with power. Ruling over vs. leading forward. Control vs. love.
Leaders are naturally given power when they are in charge of something. It comes with the territory in leadership. So it’s a given that with leadership and responsibility, you are given the power to influence.
The question is “What do you do with it?” Do you leverage it for your own gain, or steward it for the benefit of others?
Leading is not easy. And it’s even more difficult if those on your team aren’t equipped well to follow.
We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.
And especially relevant to young leaders, many of whom are working for leaders who are older than them.
Here are some ways to honor your leaders:
1. Pray - a huge one. Pray for wisdom, for clarity, for compassion and for a clear vision for your leader and leaders.
2. Encourage- lift your leaders up in public, and critique them in private. Tell them how you appreciate them. Consistently. Write them a note. Pour into them.
3. Confront- if you see something out of whack, tell them. Most leaders crave input and feedback, so give it to them. Push back on their ideas and convictions when appropriate. Confrontation works best though when encouragement and service and trust have been given freely for a long time. Confront in moderation.
4. Serve- be willing to carry the load. Get things done. Deliver more than you were asked to do. Be action oriented. Anticipating is a great way to honor. Figure out what needs to get done before your leader has to tell you.
5. Trust- incredibly important. Follow them. Put stock in the fact that they have your best interests in mind. Fight against sarcasm and cynicism.
6. Understand- know what drives them, what motivates them, and also what frustrates them. Lean into the things that motivate them, and avoid the things that frustrate them.
7. Protect- always have their back. Stand up for them. If you hear something negative, fight it. Sometimes we actually find misguided joy in ganging up on our leaders in order to make ourselves look and feel better. Avoid this.
8. Release- give your leader permission to lead you. Lean in. Have a posture of humility, respect, and openness to follow them. Open hearts and open minds, vs closed thoughts, arms crossed, and a made up mind.
Leaders: one of the key things you must ALWAYS do is empower your team. As I’ve learned over the years, most leaders at their core are control freaks, which is part of the reason they are successful. But we all must learn and recognize the need to empower those around us to succeed and do what they do well. Most leaders think they can do it all on their own, and many try, but ultimately in order to grow a successful organization that outlives you, as the leader, you have to empower those around you.
Here are a few thoughts on Empowering your Team:
1. Give them the opportunity to make decisions, and don’t second guess them. A lot of us as leaders are willing to allow our team members to make decisions, but want to step in as soon as we see something done differently than we would do. Don’t make that mistake. It is totally demoralizing to your team. Believe me, I know from experience!!
2. Assign them responsibility by them owning key projects from START to FINISH. So once we allow team members to make key decisions, now we have to allow them to own projects and feel the responsibility of completion.
3. Give them Freedom combined with Accountability. Freedom without accountability can lead to a great place to work with nothing getting done. Accountability without Flexibility can lead to a terrible place to work with things getting done but everyone hating their job. These have to work together.
4. Fight for them. Whether it’s standing up for them to your boss, or standing beside them and supporting them in a disagreement with a vendor, always take the stance of fighting for them and being willing to go to battle for them.
5. Encourage them. This is the one we so often forget. I know I do. I tend to keep pushing without stopping to say thanks. But encouragement can go the furthest in creating team chemistry, longevity, and commitment. Reward them with small gifts, extra unexpected bonuses, cards, etc. Be unexpected in your thankyous. Hand them out without bias. No one has ever been too much of a true encourager!
6. Counsel, coach and instruct. Not necessarily the same as encouragement. Great coaches do this well. They scream at you and make you better, while also putting their arm around you and giving you “ego biscuits” when needed. Two different parts of empowering, but both equally important. Instruction is key for releasing again and again, and assigning more responsibility.
7. Overwhelm them. Not on a continual basis, but ultimately your team members should constantly feel a bit overwhelmed by the projects or assignments they are working on, not underwhelmed. Many of their projects should cause them to feel like they are not prepared or ready. If they feel underwhelmed, they will probably end up looking elsewhere for greater assignments and more responsibility.
8. Give them permission. Permission to take risks, to fail, to represent your organization to others, take on responsibility and stewardship, and many other things. But ultimately give them permission to push back. Give them permission to call you out as the leader (appropriately, of course). Give them permission to argue and fight for their idea, even when it looks like it’s directly competing with your idea as the leader. Permission to push back. This does wonders.
Here you go, the March edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.
4. Andy Birdsong- manager of Basketball operations for the Atlanta Hawks.
For young leaders who are “up and comers,” here are a few things to NOT DO as you continue to gain influence, responsibility and authority.
DON’T DO THESE:
1. Believe that you are “the answer.”
2. Stop honoring those who’ve laid the groundwork before you.
3. Write off all the folks who finally helped you “arrive,” who might suddenly seem insignificant or unimportant.
4. Remove yourself from reality by surrounding yourself with “handlers” and those only interested in being “yes” men and women.
5. Believe the hype and regard yourself as crucial, and ultimately more important than all others, in connection to the success of the organization or project.
6. Adopt a scarcity mindset, believing that everything is a zero sum game.
7. Lose the passion for collaboration and partnership, whether in your community, or industry, or network.
8. Become cynical and pessimistic at every turn.
9. Stop “dating” your spouse and intentionally building into your closest friendships.
10. No longer see learning as a priority since you now know everything.
DON”T DO THESE.
Leaders get things done. They are action oriented and always moving towards the finish line.
As all of us know, when dealing with other people, other organizations, and other teams, many times the project or initiative bogs down because “you haven’t heard back from him” or “she never emailed me to confirm” or “I’m still waiting on them to send over a fax” or “I called and left a message, but don’t want to bother them again.” When other people get involved besides us, things get more complicated.
If you want to truly get things done, you have to become skilled at the follow up. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years:
1. It’s always your responsibility to initiate. Obviously if you are the one asking for something, then you have to initiate. But even if you’re just part of the project or one of the steps in the project, you need to always feel responsibility to initiate.
2. We’re all busy. Never take offense or get your feelings hurt because someone hasn’t responded to your initial invitation or request. Very rarely is a lack of response personal. It’s just because people are busy.
3. Figure out how best to get an answer. Many people don’t return phone calls anymore, but if you text them, they’ll get right back to you. Be smart. Customize your communication if you want a quick response.
4. Make it easy to get a response. Make sure it’s one step to confirm or respond or get you the information you need. Don’t make folks jump through multiple hoops in order to get you what you need. Remove all the barriers.
5. Create a deadline. Make sure you are very clear in your initial request and in your follow up what you are asking for, as well as when you need it. Sometimes we forget to create urgency and expectations alongside the request.
6. Aggressively pursue until you get a yes or no. If it takes 5 emails, then send 5 emails. If it takes 3 phone calls, make 3 phone calls. Get it to the finish line.
What are some of your secrets in regards to following up and getting things done?