Why You Need to Say It Again

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This week I encountered a scary scenario. Do you ever begin reading a sentence and try to finish the thought in your head before finishing the…sandwich?

Well, that happened to me. I was reading something, and I honestly don’t remember the end of the sentence, but I remember where my thoughts went, and it was somewhat alarming.

The idea was simply this: if you want to know how you’re doing at casting vision (or clarifying the win), ask your leaders what they’re aiming for.

This bothered me for two reasons. First, I tend to constantly run different scenarios through my head, and I generally try to bounce them off people to see what the response may be. I do that without the intent of being committed to the direction or thought, but as a way of helping me process or see roadblocks. But the by-product is a pasture full of ideas. They all have room to graze and grow, but they’re not easily accessible.

Second, I don’t know that I’ve cast a clear and concise vision for the incredible volunteers I get to lead. In part because I’ve not built a clear and concise vision capable of being cast. That’s something that needs correction.

So, take a moment right now and ask yourself this question: If you were going to ask someone you lead what their goal is, how would they answer? More importantly, would their answer match yours?

That’s where the redundancy of leadership comes into play. As leaders, we have to continually repeat ourselves, but with purpose. Repeat your vision so clearly and concisely that everyone will know why you exist. If you think you’ve repeated enough, keep repeating. Trust me.

The moment we as leaders stop casting vision, we stop communicating a clear direction.

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself today, but make sure it’s something worth repeating.

What’s Wrong With a Temporary Fence?

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We have a great house and an even better backyard. We were fortunate to find it and made an offer the day it was listed, as did quite a few others.

But as with any house, there were a few downsides. One of them: only 3 sides of our back yard have a fence. It wasn’t a problem for the first year we lived here, because our dog was accustomed to not having a fence at our previous houses.

But then COVID hit and we decided we might be interested in adding a dog. But we needed a fence to close off our back yard.

But we also knew we had some work coming up soon. So this good ole farm boy did what he knows best–buy some T posts and get to work.

My fence is far from glorious, but it gets the job done for the time being. And best of all, it leaves our backyard accessible for work.

It was a temporary fix, not a permanent one. The permanent fence will come after the work is finished.

Leadership presents a similar issue. If you’re like me, I struggle to get started because I want permanent from the get-go. But sometimes temporary gets the ball rolling, and we add structure down the road.

Sometimes, however, your temporary fix ages out and you need to trash it completely or finish the job.

So, where are you today? Pick one area and ask yourself: do I need to just get the ball rolling and find a temporary approach? Or has my temporary approach outlived its usefulness and now needs to be rebuilt?

Whatever the answer, act on it today.

Two Repeating Threads for Leadership

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I’ve got two pivotal leadership thoughts bouncing around in my head today, so I thought I would try something a little different. Instead of trying to rewrite the thoughts I’m having, I’m going to intro the concept and link to posts where I wrote a little more in depth.

  1. The Redundancy of Leadership – I’ve come to realize leading is less casting the vision and moving forward and more casting the vision followed by casting the vision and casting more vision. This can be disheartening, but there’s something about embracing the redundancy of it all. You can read more about redundancy here or here.
  2. Communicate Expectations – I wrestle inwardly with this concept more than most (thus the 5 links below). Learning to not hold people to a standard I only have in my head has allowed me to extend grace to those I lead, and honestly helps limit self-generated frustrations along the way. You can read some of my thoughts on this topic here, here, here, here and here.

If you have time today, go check those out, but go ahead and brace yourself: you may see a fresh post on them before too long, talking specifically about how to put these concepts into practice.

Do You Ever Forget Things?

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Sometimes I forget. During the 2020 calendar year, I’ve been working with a group of students to help them grow as leaders.

One of my favorite things to do to help students grow is to evaluate regularly. We do this a couple of ways, one of which is having a quick follow up meeting after our midweek program.

We had a workshop back in September, and ever since, I would start our meetings by asking how they made the room better. And the answers I was getting were not what I was hoping.

Don’t get me wrong, they were trying to make a difference, I was just asking a bad question. A question that put them on a path other than I wanted them to evaluate.

Then it hit me: what if there were some questions I could teach them to ask and answer each week? Questions that would almost instinctually walk them through what it looks like to be a leader?

Oh. I have those. And I’ve trained them on those. But I stopped at the training. And that was my first mistake.

The 3 questions are a great training piece. They are remarkable to consider. But their true worth isn’t in the theory or intellect behind them. The power of the 3 questions is when they are put into practice.

So I made a change. I started asking how they answered the 3 questions because I want them to start to ingrain those questions into their minds and let them become who they are and what they do. Not because I developed the questions, but because I think the power they provide to influence a room is remarkable.

Sometimes, the tools we need are at our disposal. It’s just a matter of not forgetting.

Let me challenge you today, point blank. If you lead a group of people: teach them the 3 questions and then hold them accountable to answer them on a regular basis. No shame. No guilt. Only accountability to make a difference around them. Then, let me know how it goes!

Willingness Matters

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I feel like there are a few topics I come back to often here on the blog. But, my habit is to process what leadership lesson is on my mind, and today it’s what follows:

I would rather have a potential leader who is incredibly willing and somewhat talented than a potential leader who is incredibly talented and somewhat willing. Here’s why.

Willingness matters.

Someone, when asked to help or participate, who responds with trepidation, will move forward with trepidation. Someone who responds with enthusiasm, will move forward with enthusiasm.

So would you rather work with a hesitant person or an enthusiastic person?

The same goes for developing leaders. Enthusiasm is contagious, in a good way. Skepticism is contagious in a bad way.

This is true for students and for adults. Someone who is willing to serve will make a greater impact than someone who is hesitant.

Because willingness matters.

So what does this mean for you? Are you surrounding yourself with enthusiastic people? Are you looking for students to empower as leaders who are willing?

Do you agree with my initial thought? Is willingness more important than skill? How have you seen this play out in your life and experience?

One last thought, the ultimate jackpot is willingness AND talent. They are rare, but when you get to that point, leadership gets way more fun.

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