THE BURDEN BEARING LEADER

From Michael Hyatt’s excellent blog FORWARD PROGRESS comes this evaluative insight.

BY MICHAEL HYATT

Leadership, whether of an organization or of a Bible study or of a family, is a burden. A joyful burden much of the time, but a burden nonetheless. Oswald Sanders said it like this: “The world is run by tired men. Mediocrity is the result of never getting tired. Fatigue is the price of leadership.” In other words, leading is the willingness to pick up the burden. But most of the time, we think of that burden in “strategic” terms.

If you do a cursory search on “leadership” you’ll find all kinds of resources, most of which have numbers associated with them. You can 5 Ways or 7 Methods or 14 Theories. The vast majority of these resources deal in strategy, and they should. That is one burden of leadership; you are responsible for the overall vision and perspective of the people under your care. But it can’t really stop there. As a leader, whether in the home or in the church, we bear the burden for what we are leading, but we also must bear the burdens of whom we are leading.

In pastoral ministry, for example, the burden you bear cannot be exclusively in terms of the vision of the church. The burden must take on a more personal nature. Same thing is true in a family, or even in a small group or Bible study. The burden is not only the crafting of and guarding of a clear vision; the “burden” has faces. Problems. Sicknesses. Pain. The burden-bearing leader is one who is not isolated from those he or she leads, but instead is checked into the real issues the people under their care are walking through.

It’s this kind of burden-bearing Paul described in Galatians 6:1-2:

“Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This passage is about more than stewarding a compelling vision for an organization or a family; it’s about people, and the willingness to come alongside those people in the day-to-day lifting. It seems to me that this is not just a single moment, but instead a lifestyle of investment. To that end, here are three characteristics of the burden-bearing leader:

1. The burden-bearing leader is available.

Time is a commodity like most other things. As a commodity, it is in limited supply. And the greater the leadership responsibility, the greater demand on the time. It’s tempting, then, to want to have a very insulated leadership kind of style – to focus on the big picture and to not come into the details. Unfortunately, it’s those details that are the most representative of people. The burden-bearing leader must, then, be available. This availability is also a responsibility, and it must have limits. But the leader who is available is the one who is going to err on the side of making accommodation to their time or their schedule if they can.

2. The burden-bearing leader is long-suffering.

One of the tendencies we have in leadership is to desire quick fixes to problems. We want to have the meeting, send the email, or have the drop in conversation and resolve the issue quickly and succinctly. And while that might work in some instances, it rarely does when you consider the people involved. Instead, the burden-bearing leader makes the choice to be long-suffering. They are willing to not just a conversation once, but to actually engage in that conversation and to have it again and again. It’s this kind of long-suffering investment that will mark someone who recognizes they are doing more than leading a nameless and faceless entity, but instead stewarding some part of the lives of those whom God has seen fit to put under their care.

3. The burden-bearing leader is listening.

Nothing makes a person feel less like a person than when someone gives only cursory notice to their issue. Conversely, nothing is quite as uplifting as when you know you have the absolute and undivided attention of the person you are speaking to. For a leader, there are lots of voices, and each one needs to be heard. The tendency for us whether in the home, the workplace, or the church is to try and have as many conversations as possible in a span of time. But many times, less is actually more. The burden-bearing leader does the simplest thing that can make the most difference – they actually listen. They look and concentrate. They are fully engaged in the conversation they are having. And in so doing, they are recognizing the creature before them is created in the image of God.

Leadership is a burden. And many times, it’s a heavy one. But as leaders we can cultivate the kind of habits that will not only make us bearers of the burden of what we are leading, but of whom we are leading.

GREAT LEADERS GIVE MORE THAN THEY TAKE

Reblogged from THE LEADERSHIP FREAK….

You’re a black hole, if all you think about is what you need from others.

Great leaders give more than they take.

great leaders give more than they take

4 things that drain people:

  1. Expectation without appreciation. You aren’t thankful for behaviors you expect. “We don’t thank people for doing their job.”
  2. Direction without respect. “I don’t care what you have to do, just get it done.”
  3. Nit-picking without honoring hard work.
  4. Showing up when there are problems but not celebrating successes. “Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out.” Ken Blanchard.

Energizing goes beyond paychecks and plaques.

7 ways to put in more than you take out:

  1. Make a list of ways you can pour into your teammates. Engage in at least one act of free generosity every day.
  2. Agree on what matters today, tomorrow, and next week. People want to do what matters. In order to succeed at what matters, you must first know what matters.
  3. Learn from others. “What do you think?”
  4. Hold yourself and others to high standards with tenacity and kindness. Define and reach for high standards together.
  5. Lead with heart. Connect results to purpose. Explain how they’re making things better in view of organizational purpose. “When you open a door for a customer, you take us where we want to go,” for example.
  6. Focus on solutions more than problems. Examine problems long enough to understand them, but focus on making things better. When things go wrong, ask:
    • What are we learning?
    • What do we need to stop doing?
    • What will you do differently next time?
  7. Make people feel important. If you don’t know what makes people feel important, ask, “What makes you feel important?”

Bonus: Forgive sincere failure. Confront negligence. Give second chances.

12 REFUELING STRATEGIES THAT WORK TODAY

From one of my favorite bloggers LEADERSHIP FREAK comes these great insights-STEVE.

BY LEADERSHIP FREAK (a.k.a. Dan Rockwell)

Foolish leaders believe they can take more out of life than they put in. Well, maybe it isn’t foolishness. Maybe it’s arrogance. Only God never runs dry.

Normal people know that everyone who pours out more than they pour in goes dry.

 everyone who pours out more than they pour in

Responsibility:

Your energy-tank is your responsibility. Don’t expect teammates to fill it.

12 refueling strategies:

Do you enjoy hanging around someone whose energy-tank is almost empty or almost full?

  1. Schedule two or three refueling times into your day, every day, even if you aren’t exhausted. Keep your energy-tank closer to full than empty.
    • Call someone to say thanks.
    • Make a list of things you enjoy about work.
    • Step outside for a short stroll.
    • Turn the lights off and close your eyes until your heart rate and breathing slows. Sit with your eyes closed for a few minutes.
  2. Become a sprinter. Push yourself in short bursts, then refuel. Refueling is replacing energy, not just doing nothing.
  3. Serve because you want to, not because someone else wants you to.
  4. Stop taking responsibility for other people’s problems. Be available and helpful. Listen without solving. Chronic fixers are frustrated and exhausted.
  5. Evaluate yourself by how well you energize others.
  6. Commit to use only positive language for an hour, a morning, or even a whole day.
  7.  Say, “I’m glad I ______, even if it was difficult.” Give yourself a pat on the back.
  8. Avoid energy vampires as much as you can. Hang with people who fuel your energy-tank. Emulate their behaviors.
  9. Pretend less. Doesn’t it feel energizing to go home and stop pretending?
  10. Serve those who enjoy being served.
  11. Enjoy returns. It feels great to serve in ways that fulfill your purpose.
  12. Start that project that’s hanging over your head.

How do you refuel your energy-tank?

How might leaders energize others?

SLEEP: THE SECRET LEADERSHIP WEAPON NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT

Carey Nieuwhof has a blog that always provides powerful and practical leadership insights and counsel. We are adding it to this blog’s blog roll.

Sleep

If there was a secret weapon in leadership, would you use it?

If there was a secret weapon in leadership, would you use it?

Most of us would say ‘absolutely’—as long as it’s ethical.

So here’s a leadership weapon almost no leader will talk about. In fact, in some circles, it’s embarrassing to talk about.

Sleep.

More specifically, getting enough of it.

In more than a few high octane leadership circles, barely sleeping is seen as a badge of honor (I can run on four hours a night!).

But what if your lack of sleep wasn’t a badge of honor at all?

What if your lack of sleep is undermining your leadership? Making you worse, not better?

And what if it’s not just taking a toll on you at work, but also at home … making you a worse parent, spouse and even friend?

So … What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

The Center for Disease Control recently called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic, arguing it causes industrial accidents, motor vehicle accidents and even medical errors.

1. Lack of sleep can literally kill you.

And the implications are a little more serious than nodding off in a meeting after lunch. According to medical research, chronic lack of sleep can cause weight gain, age your skin, harm your sex drive, impair memory, and contribute to illnesses as serious as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and even premature death.

It’s a little shocking, but it’s not actually an exaggeration to say that a chronic lack of sleep can kill you.

2. Lack of sleep often leads to burnout.

I know for me, chronic lack of sleep was one of the key factors that led to my burnout a number of years back.

Like many leaders, in the name of caring for others, I had stopped caring for myself and my family. I thought I was super human and I only needed four to five hours of sleep a night.

I’m not the only leader who burned out. Perry Noble and I chronicle our stories of burnout in quite a bit of detail here, and the post also contains a lot of resources that Perry and I have put together to help leaders who are burning out.

3. At a minimum, it will make you hard to live with.

Even if you’re not dead, sick or burning out, lack of sleep can turn you into you a bit of a jerk.

Unrested, you’ll snap at the kids more, fight with your spouse more, and even at work, you won’t be fun to hang around.

Or at least all of the above is true for me.

Here’s what I find.

I am at my most kind when I’m the most rested. When I’m tired, I’m just not nearly as nice to be around.

If you can’t identify with that statement, it’s probably because you haven’t been well rested in, well, years.

You’ll be amazed what happens if you ever get enough sleep to finally not be tired any more. Seriously.

Sleep Is Like Money. You Can End Up in Debt.

So what happens if you’re chronically overtired?

The same thing that happens when you’re in debt … that’s what.

One of the key lessons I learned in my burnout back in 2006 is that sleep is like money.

You can run a surplus … or you can run a deficit.

And just like with finances, when you run a deficit over time, you end up with debt that you carry from month to month and year to year. A debt that needs to be paid off. 

This lesson became inescapable for me personally in August 2006. Three months into my burnout, I was having a hard time functioning.

In fact, my fatigue was inescapable. So I decided to sleep every time my body told me I was tired.

I slept a lot that August. Eight to 11 hours a night. I added to that multiple naps a day whenever I could grab them.

By the end of the month, I felt much better.

I could work again. I could breathe again.

While my burnout wasn’t fully over, I felt flickers of hope again.

Soon, I was on the gradual road to recovery.

So What Can You Do? Five Keys to Staying Rested

So how do you stay rested?

Better yet, how do you get rested if you’re reading this article and are quietly saying “oh crap?”

1. Lose the stigma.

I love that a few years ago Michael Hyatt went public by admitting that he takes naps. Thank you Michael!

Not only does Michael take naps, but so, as he pointed out, have many great leaders in history.

I have always been a napper. I even nap at work occasionally. But I feel like if someone caught me, I’d be in trouble.

That’s a bad thing.

For me, a 10-minute nap can be the difference between heading into the afternoon raring to go and dragging my knuckles wishing it was 5:00. It can be the difference between being sharp and being in a fog or being disinterested.

It’s not just the stigma around naps leaders need to lose, it’s the stigma around a good night’s sleep.

I unapologetically go to bed on time when I’m on the road hanging out with other leaders, and when I’m at home.

A rested me is a better me. Just ask my wife. Just ask my kids. Just ask my team.

2. Catch up.

You might be in your equivalent of August 2006 for me. You might need to take a week or two off to sleep.

Do it.

Or maybe you’re just running hard for a season. Catch up.

I realize you might have young kids or be in launch mode for a new project.

But here’s the truth.

You will always have a reason to cheat your sleep.

You will never have a reason to catch up, unless you decide it’s time.

So decide it’s time.

If you have young kids, trade nights for being on call with your spouse until you are both as caught up as you can be.

If you’re a single parent, ask someone to take the kids for a night or two and then sleep.

If you don’t have young kids, you really don’t have a good excuse. Just get disciplined.

3. Develop better sleep routines.

Here are few things that can help you sleep better.

1. Go to bed at the same time every night. Researchers say you will sleep better if you do.

2. Go to bed earlier. This was huge for me. Instead of staying up late to get stuff done, get up earlier to get things done. Sleep in on the front side. I try to be asleep every night by 10:30. Sometimes it’s as early as 9:30. And I’m up between 4:30 and 5:30 every morning. That’s my sweet spot.

3. Sleep in a dark room and turn off electronics. I love my phone, but it’s off (as in powered down) every night. If it’s an emergency, someone will knock at my door and wake me up. If the world ends, well, there’s not much I can do about it anyway when I’m asleep.

4. Get as good a mattress as you can afford. Get as picky about a good mattress as you can with your budget. You’ll spend 1/3 of your life on it. So invest well.

5. Don’t eat much before bed. It helps you sleep better … it really does.

4. Watch for the signs.

Since I burned out, I have paid super close attention to the signals my body tells me about my fatigue level. As soon as I sense I’m running a sleep deficit, I try to pay it off.

Here are some signs that tell me I’m tired:

1. A bad or sullen mood. Someone once said that 70 percent of discipleship is a good night’s sleep. Well, yes it is. I am more of a Christian when I’m well rested. So I watch my mood like a hawk. Being short with people, angry, sad or lacking mercy are all signs I’m tired.

2. I watch my passion level. When I’m rested, I’m excited about work, about life and about seeing people. If everything seems like a chore or an obligation, I’m out of balance. For sure, some things will always seem like a chore, but everything shouldn’t.

3. I watch my creativity. If I have trouble coming up with great ideas or great content, it’s a sign my mind is tired. I probably need more sleep.

4. I find myself nodding off. When I’m tired in meetings, driving or watching TV, it’s a sign I need more sleep. I know that’s obvious, but it’s so easy for this to become ‘normal’ I just thought I’d mention it.

5. React quickly.

I still run hard. We all have busy seasons and busy weeks, and I get tired regularly. Part of my personality is I love to push myself and push limits. I get that.

But now I react quickly when I’m getting tired.

Why don’t you try that this week?

Take a nap.

Cancel your plans for tonight and go to bed early.

Don’t wait.

You’ll be fresher more often, and you’ll have far more energy for your family, for life and for work.

That’s what I’ve been learning about sleep as a leader and as a follower of Christ.

It should be no surprise that God wants us to spend 1/7 of our life resting (Sabbath) and created us to sleep 1/3 of our life away.

Your calling, your family and your life are too important for you not to sleep.

Now you can use your new secret weapon.

What are you learning about sleep?

10 INVITATIONS TO TRANSFORMATION

A superb blog for transformational leaders is LEADERSHIP FREAK. Here is a sample. – STEVE

blackberry

BY THE LEADERSHIP FREAK

Ask people to talk about what they’re good at and their eyes light up. For some, the topic of their strength is so awkward that it takes them time to get their bearings. Eventually, everyone smiles.

People light up when they talk about their power.

Words transform us.

I often ask audiences to gather in the aisles and talk to each other about what they’re good at. It begins quietly and becomes boisterous. Smiles flash. When I ask them to return to their seats – so I can talk – they just keep talking.

4 powers of words:

Words establish focus. Your mind thinks about what you talk about. Whoever controls the topic of conversation controls the mind. Exceptions include those who are disinterested and those who have personal agendas.
Words are magnets. You go where you talk both in attitude and behavior. Negative environments result from constantly talking about problems.
Words are destinations. What you talked about yesterday, in large part, is where you are today.
Words create us. Everything you talk about is part of who you become. At least three religious traditions celebrate the power of words to create, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

10 invitations to transformation:

If you want to change people, change what they talk about.

What are you good at?
How did you get so good at…?
How could I get good at…?
How are we winning?
What’s working?
What do you love about working here?
Tell me a story about someone who made a difference in your life.
Remind me of a time when you went beyond the call of duty to get something done.
What are you doing when you feel most successful?
How can we get you doing more of what you love?

Successful leaders influence what others talk about.

How might leaders use the power of words to transform themselves, others, and their organizations?

WHY LEADERS SHOULD WRITE HAND-WRITTEN NOTES

BY SAM RAINER

Hand-written notes are rare. Electronic communication has all but erased the whimsy of cursive writing. The average adult writes something by hand about every 41 days, much less a hand-written note snail-mailed to a friend. The average home receives a personal letter in the mail every seven weeks. A few luddites still exist because you can purchase disposable fountain pens on Amazon, but you can also buy a UFO detector there. I doubt either product is a mainstream bestseller.

In our wired world, hand-written notes seem to be a waste of time and money. Who would have thought 50 years ago that a postage stamp would cost much more than wireless texting through the sky? You can fling 160 SMS characters through the air in an instant. Why take the time to write a letter or send a card?

I believe every leader—especially pastors—should write hand-written notes. It’s not just for nostalgia. There are good leadership principles found in a hand-written note.

Investment. Hand-written notes take time. Time is money. Money is important. When you take the time to write someone a hand-written note, you are sending a message that is greater than the few sentences contained in the note. A hand-written note demonstrates personal investment in an individual.

Beauty. Even if you have sloppy penmanship, there is a beauty to hand-written notes. The slant and curves of letters give a glimpse into your personality. There is a vulnerable beauty to writing something by hand and giving it to someone.

Memory. People tend to keep hand-written notes. Electronic communication is permanent in a different sort of way. The email masses stay in Internet hinterland even after you hit the delete key. Hand-written notes are memorable to the person, not just contained in the memory of the computer.

Gratitude. Hand-written notes show gratitude in a much greater way than other forms of electronic communication. You don’t typically ask for things in a hand-written note. Hand-written notes usually have thankfulness as their purpose.

When do I use hand-written notes? Our staff sends a signed card to every person we pray for in our weekly staff chapel. I also write notes weekly to church members who minister faithfully. I only do one or two a week, so I cannot write the vast majority of my church. But the notes are as much for maintaining my humility as they are thanking a member. I will also occasionally write a note to a key national leader, especially if I had the opportunity to meet him or her.

Take the time to write a hand-written note. Make it a weekly habit. You might be surprised at the fruit from such a simple discipline. And if you want to use a fountain pen, then just click the link above.

14 THINGS PASTORS AND CHURCH STAFF SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THEIR TOP VOLUNTEERS

From Brian Dodds comes these observations that should be a part of any transforming leader’s understanding:

Recently, a high-capacity volunteer I know declined a meeting invitation to attend a gathering of executive staff and other key volunteer leaders to discuss of all things, developing a volunteer culture at their church.  A proactive staff member called the volunteer and inquired about this person’s scheduled absence.

The volunteer noted, “Everyone in that room hears me all the time.  I think they will just glaze over.  You’ve got new voices in the room.  I just think it will be more successful if I’m not there.

The staff member replied, “Everyone in that room respects your opinion.  You’ve got a lot to add.  And we really need you to deliver a portion of the content.”  To which the volunteer replied, “O.K. I may be a little late but I’ll be there.”

When you dig below the surface, there is some fascinating leadership principles embedded in this conversation.  These principles are critical to your church’s ability to attract, engage and deploy high-capacity volunteers for maximum Kingdom impact in your church.

The following are 14 Things Pastors And Church Staff Must Know About Top Volunteers:

  1. High-Capacity Volunteers Love Their Church – Your church’s top volunteers are not without options.  Yet, they have made the strategic chose to leverage their time and talent to serve at your church.
  2. High-Capacity Volunteers Want Influence.  Not Titles.
  3. High-Capacity Volunteers Steward Their Time, Talent, Money And Influence Well – Top volunteers do not have time to waste.  They want a maximum Kingdom ROI.
  4. High-Capacity Volunteers Are Best Influenced Through Personal Relationships – The relationship with the staff person was the catalyst for the engagement of the volunteer.
  5. High-Capacity Volunteers Love Their Staff – Top volunteers are deeply invested in their church.  Therefore, they desperately want to see their staff flourish.
  6. High-Capacity Volunteers Value The Contributions Of Others – Notice the volunteer acknowledged the contributions which could be made by others.  For your top volunteers, their success is often found in the success of others.
  7. High-Capacity Volunteers Should Frequently Be Shown Appreciation – As should all your volunteers.  Appreciation is your best weapon against burnout.  Do you have an effective appreciative system in place for your volunteers?  The best one I know is Volunteer Rocket.  You can click HERE to sign up for a free trial.
  8. High-Capacity Volunteers Don’t Require Credit – They want organizational success over their personal success.
  9. High-Capacity Volunteers Are Best Engaged One-On-One – You can’t leapfrog your top leaders.  The good news is your top volunteers are highly relational.  However, this can sometimes be high-maintenance as well.
  10. High-Capacity Volunteers Want To Know They Are Making A Difference – Top volunteers are not inspired by maintenance but rather life change.
  11. High-Capacity Volunteers Perform Better When Given Clear Instruction – Clarity is your friend when dealing with top volunteers.  They are most successful when given a clear target and marching orders.
  12. High-Capacity Volunteers Bring Solutions – The answer to every problem is a person.  High-capacity individuals can help solve your toughest challenges.
  13. High-Capacity Volunteers Want To See The Kingdom Advanced – The meeting was then held with much success.  The church was helped.  The volunteer was encouraged.  And most important, the church’s mission and vision was advanced.
  14. The Power Of An Encouraging Staff – In my opinion, the hero of this story is not the high-capacity volunteer.  It is the staff person who recognized their potential, saw something in them, reached out, and encouraged them to use their talent and giftedness to help the church and for the glory of God.

To all pastors and church leaders, what volunteer(s) do you need to reach out to and encourage today?  Take a moment RIGHT NOW, and make a call or send them an encouraging email or text.  You have no idea what you may unleash in their life and the life of your church.