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.

Lessons from the Farm: Learn the Hacks

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I was very fortunate growing up working on the farm. Our tractors always had air conditioners. The A/C may not have always functioned perfectly, but the tractors were equipped.

They also had cabs. They may not sound like an important distinction, but it is. That means our tractors were relatively new. Emphasis on relatively.

But we had one tractor that would transition between what we called the farm and the ranch. It was a John Deere 4020, and it was a bear to start.

Until one day someone gave my dad a tip: as you try to start, turn the steering wheel. Guess what? It worked.

In fact, it worked on all of our John Deere tractors. As you turn the key, put your hand on the steering wheel, turn it left to right repeatedly, and it will crank a lot easier.

Hacks make life easier. But here’s the thing: hacks are never written into the original owner’s manual. Why? Because hacks develop out of necessity and frustration. Sometimes you develop it on your own (adapt and innovate), and sometimes an old farmer shares a tip.

That’s what the 3 Questions have become for me. They are a hack to help move student leaders (and adults) into an attitude of leadership.

Chances are you have a leadership hack or two in your arsenal as well. Or if you don’t, you know people around you who do. And that’s the beauty of what we do: we don’t have to do things alone.

My challenge to you today is to think about the thing that frustrates you on a regular basis, then think of someone in your life who might just have a hack for that situation. And ask.

You never know what information is out that there that might make things easier, until you ask.

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The Leadership Current

The Leadership Current

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I was scrolling through Facebook this weekend and saw a post that made me raise my eyebrows. It was a picture of a group of seniors and the statement was something along the lines of “these seniors are ready to be the leaders of their school.”

I think the sentiment behind the posting of the photo was right, but I would push back a little.

Leadership doesn’t show up when the title shows up. Leadership runs like a current beneath the surface, and a title helps bring the current to the surface.

Those students aren’t leaders because they are seniors in high school. They are seniors in high school. Granted, being a senior puts you in positions to lead. Being a senior gives you a level of gravitas to step up and lead. Being a senior allows you the potential to have more influence. But being alive longer (than younger students) doesn’t automatically mean you’re a leader. It just means you’ve been alive longer.

Maybe what I push back on the most is the idea that you have to be a senior to lead. I didn’t believe that when I was in school. In fact, I was not taught that. I was taught the opposite.

At my home church, starting my freshman year, we had a vacancy of leadership, so I found ways to step up. I didn’t wait to have the title. I was given the opportunity and did the best I could.

I’ve seen this play out in the lives of other students. The strongest leaders are the ones who, in the absence of leadership, step up. Perpetuating the thought that “now you’re a senior, you’re a leader” communicates to juniors that they have not yet arrived. Or that a freshman doesn’t stand a chance.

Here’s what I would say: senior year provides a sense of urgency to lead, and that’s completely natural. But, if we aren’t teaching students to step up and lead as middle school students, as freshmen or sophomores or juniors, then when the title of senior arrives, they will be in a sink or swim situation.

If you work with students, find ways to provide opportunities for them to expand their leadership influence. Let’s help students learn to take a stand regardless of their age. Then, when they become seniors, they will have been trained to make the most of their title.

But if you are alive, let me challenge you: If you’re waiting for your “senior year” (literally or figuratively), stop waiting and find a way to step up and lead today.

Communicating Expectations

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There are a few things ideas that keep popping up for me as I ponder leadership ideas and principles. Today, on the back end of a trip and the front end of an event, I wanted to share a couple posts that are on the forefront of my mind.

First, learning to communicate expectations proves a continual struggle. In this post, I share how I came to the realization on a trip.

Second, as with anything, learning to communicate expectations well goes a long ways to further your leadership influence.

Whether you’re new here or have been with me for a while, take some time to check these posts out today.

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