Having a Personal Development Plan

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Today, let’s take a moment for some evaluation. That’s right: you need to evaluate some things about yourself before moving forward in your leadership journey.

First, what is your plan for personal leadership development? What are you doing now that has helped you become a better leader?

Look at a calendar, and look back over the last six months. What steps have you taken to become a better leader? Have you had regular meetings with a mentor? Have you read leadership books? Maybe you have attended some conferences, or go to a local network of professionals.

Leadership development for those around you will not take priority until your own personal leadership development takes priority. Let that soak in for a moment. Developing leaders around you will not take place at a rate that is greater than your own development.

You cannot treat your own personal leadership development as a 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, and then expect the people you want to influence to view it as a 9. You set the example for personal leadership development.

If you are taking your development as a leader seriously, then you are starting on the right foot. The reality is that any forward movement is forward movement. You may not be doing anything at this point to develop your leadership, aside from reading this collection of thoughts, but you have started somewhere.

Second, take some time to define what leadership means to you. Very few things will limit the effectiveness of the rest of this blog as much as failing to define leadership. Over time I have realized how important clarity really becomes.

One way to work at defining leadership is with a simple web search for leadership quotes. You do not have to reinvent the wheel as you seek to define leadership, but at the same time it should be personal. Take a few quotes you find inspiring, or you read and something in you shouts “Yes! That’s it!” and use those. See how a dictionary defines leadership. Look at how Jesus defines leadership. Use sources outside of your own capacities, but let it be something with which you wrestle.

I am very wired toward service as a leadership trait. In fact, I tend to emphasize behind the scenes serving more than actually moving a group of people in a certain direction. Without a definition of leadership, my default setting is simply to teach teenagers how to serve. While serving is not a bad thing, I have had to wrestle with whether or not serving equals leadership. I decided the two go hand in hand, but there is a distinction to be made; a distinction of which I have to remind myself regularly.

So, what is your definition of leadership? Find a place to write your definition somewhere. Wrestle with it as you try to write it out. Ask yourself what are the weak areas of the definition? What are the strengths?


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3 Questions to Help You Become a Better Leader (part 1)

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Well, here we go. If you haven’t read the intro to the 3 Questions, click here to do that before reading on. Once you’ve done that, read on.

The 3 Questions are all based around a single starting point: When you walk into a room, ask yourself these 3 questions.

As I mentioned last week, the first two questions really have very little to do with actual hands on, forward moving leadership and immensely more to do with service. Every leader, though, has to start somewhere, so we first lay the foundation for strong servant leadership.

1. What Needs to be Done? (Awareness)

The first question I want to ask when I walk into a room is “what needs to be done.” Before I move or even attempt to serve, I want to look for simple and complex tasks that need to be done. I want to sharpen my awareness before I do anything else.

For the sake of clarity, some exploration of the grander idea needs to take place. Walking into a room is not the steadfast starting point. Sometimes, the first question is asked when coaching a sports team, while sitting in a meeting, at a computer, or even at home. The first question does not have to happen upon an entrance, but it is a mindset.

I am not trying to establish a critical spirit or mindset, but instead trying to look for ways to help. The goal of the first question simply becomes creating an awareness of how things work and what needs to be done.

We cannot, however, move forward until we are able to determine what needs to happen.

2. What Can i do? (Willingness)

The second question moves from a simple assessment into the realm of personal evaluation. After walking into a room and asking what needs to be done, the next question to ask is “What can I do to help?”

The journey to leadership involves self-awareness and a willingness to meet a need. We all know people who excel at pointing out faults or weaknesses in our personal lives or in the organizations we serve and lead. How many times would a conversation move away from criticism if it included the statement: “what can I do to help?”

The second question may be the most important in terms of establishing a relationship. If we are unwilling to put forth effort, how can we expect to see results?

Think about it like this: we cannot accomplish anything without a willingness to do something.

If we want to see results from our leadership, we need to understand the importance of being willing to step in and meet the need. We may not always be an expert in the area, but sticking our head in the sand will not help us make a difference in the lives of those around us.

Sound simple enough?  As I have explored the second question, and even taught it to others, I have realized some people do these things naturally, while others do not. Some people intrinsically look for ways to help.

So, once again, before moving forward, ask yourself honestly if you’re wired to answer the first two questions, or if it is an area in which you need to grow.

Please don’t think I have all of this figured out, because I don’t. But, we have to start somewhere. So why not start by asking what needs to be done and what can I do to help?

Check back on Wednesday where I will post about the third question and a few things I’ve been wrestling with over the past few months specifically.


Click here to read Part 2.

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Don’t Let Someone’s Character Surprise You

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I have a morning routine. I make coffee before I do almost anything else. Sometimes I prep the coffee maker the night before, and sometimes I have to prep and brew in the same motion.

But do you want to know something that has never happened? I have never pushed brew on the coffee maker and watched the coffee pot fill with soda. Why is that? Because the coffee maker does what it is made to do — make coffee.

Over the years I have learned a similar lesson about people — I cannot let myself be surprised when someone does something that lines up with who they have been while I have known them.

Continue reading “Don’t Let Someone’s Character Surprise You”

What is 3 Question Leadership?

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Have you ever stopped to realize there are certain patterns or repetitions in your life? Maybe it has to do with the routines you hold, or the activities in which you participate. For me, I realized one day I have a tendency to develop things in groups of threes.

I learned quite a few years back that when preaching a sermon series, three weeks is the most natural for me. As I develop ideas and prepare to deliver them, two weeks often seems too little, while the fourth week was always the least effective or productive.

Three week series are only the beginning. I can point to the recurring “three” theme in so many places. The basis for this blog is going to be three questions I am teaching a group of student leaders in my ministry, but there are actually several other threes I will discuss from time to time.

Let me give a quick disclaimer: I do not think the number three is magical or the final say on lists. I will not limit myself to posts with only three ideas. But the three questions is the starting point, and we all have to start somewhere, right?

So, what are the 3 Questions?

You’ll have to come back and keep reading to find out.

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