Permission to Multiply

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Today, instead of sharing an old post, here’s a fresh one.

Each week, following our Wednesday night program, I sit down with our student leadership team to evaluate the night. My wife usually hangs around until we finish to make sure kids are getting picked up and other assorted duties.

We’ve recently added a new volunteer, a young man who is excited to help where he can. In addition, I have our summer intern who lives in town and helps on Wednesdays nights as well, and someone I’ve been meeting with weekly for the past year.

A few weeks back, while I was meeting with student leaders, my wife shared this observation. My former intern was putting things up, making trips to and from our “base of operations” (we are essentially a portable ministry within our building for this current season). After he finished about two of the steps, he realized our new volunteer was nearby, and a light bulb went off. He showed the new guy how to do what he was doing, so the next time either of them would be equipped to do the job.

Actually, the conversation was more like this: “Shoot, has Wes taught you the three questions yet? No? Okay, he will, but until then, let me show you what I’m doing.”

And that’s the power of the third question. It’s an excuse to invite someone to join you. If you (or the people you lead) are not naturally gifted at asking for help, the three questions give a framework for expanding leadership influence.

That influence expansion begins with cleanup after a program, but very quickly, as the muscle is developed, it grows into leveraging influence to lead others in accomplishing a goal.

Someone around you needs permission to ask others for help. Teach them the three questions and see what happens!

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How Do Leaders Grow?

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Surprise! Here’s a bonus (real time) post for this week! (And the crowd goes wild!!! Okay, maybe not.)

Yesterday’s post had the following line: Leaders who never grow, never last.

The irony of that sentence, written four years ago, is my journey over the past four years has validated that statement. I have grown so much from writing and reflecting on the real-time leadership principles I’ve been walking through, but that hasn’t been enough.

Growth occasionally happens by accident. But exponential growth happens when we are intentional. That means if I truly believe leaders who never grow, never last, then I have to make an intentional effort to grow, or I can already predict my longevity.

So, how do you grow intentionally? Here are three things I’ve picked up along the way:

  1. Dream Big. Where do I want to be 5, 10, 20 years from now? Or, maybe even more importantly, who do I want to be moving forward? Jot down a few thoughts and ideas.
  2. Write It Out. Raise your hand if you have ever walked into the kitchen and forgot why you’re there. Your memory isn’t quite the lock box that you think it is. So, write out your dreams. Don’t trap them in the spaghetti strainer of your mind. Plus, writing them out gives definition and clarity to your dreams.
  3. Act On It. Last year I read through a leadership book with a few friends. Next week, I’m starting the process over again. Additionally, I’m pouring into and investing in people around me. I’m setting goals for the information I want to consume. I’m moving and working and trying to make sure I’m developing a habit of growth. Your actions may look different, and that’s okay. But the key factor is this: don’t just dream, act.

If you want to last as a leader, you have to grow. Period. You have no other choice.

So, what actions are you taking to grow?

Take Responsibility and Grow

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Nobody carries the burden for your leadership more than you. And rightfully so.

I love writing these posts, I really do. I’m even more grateful for those of you who read them.

But if we’re being honest, this blog is largely a mutually selfish exchange. I write because I think I have something worth sharing and something that will be a great benefit to you, but at the same time it gives me a place to process what I’m going through.

You read these posts for a combination of two reasons: you find them helpful and beneficial to your setting OR you see it as a way to show support and encouragement to me.

But at the end of the day, I carry the burden for my leadership and you carry yours.

That’s why it’s so important to find ways to expand your leadership influence. Read about and implement the three questions. Remind people why you do what you do, and then remind them again. Look for inspiration in the most unlikely places.

But take your leadership growth seriously. Make a plan, execute, and adjust accordingly. When you step up and take ownership of your burden for leadership, you’ll begin to see some pretty amazing results.

You'll Figure it Out

You’ll Figure It Out

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Did you know I play bass guitar?

I got my first guitar in junior high and learned to play over the following few years. Who am I kidding, I’m still learning to play.

But for Christmas my senior year of high school, my dad bought me a bass guitar. Ever a pragmatist, he decided to buy me a “real” bass so that when/if/when I decided to give up on it, since I was a guitar player, the bass would have a good resale value. That meant my first bass was a Fender Jazz Bass.

But there was something he didn’t expect: I’m a pack rat, so I never get rid of anything. So I kept my bass. I learned one 8 bar blues bass line that made me sound like I knew what I was doing, but never really had occasion to play bass.

Fast forward a couple years. I was serving at my first church as the youth minister. Even though I was in charge of youth, I helped with music where I could. Then, with the arrival of a new music minister, something changed.

Our new music minister was incredibly gifted musically, but had cut his teeth playing bass guitar. So, he started teaching me how to play. But his approach was different.

I generally have a pretty poor memory, but I’m pretty certain we never sat down for a formal “lesson”. It was always learning “on the fly”.

I still have a picture in my head of one morning. He was on guitar. I was on bass. It was the opening song for the morning. Right before he started playing, I remember telling him I didn’t know the song. And his words continue to ring true: you’ll figure it out.

And that’s what I had to do. Sink or swim. And I sank, a lot. Until I learned to swim.

Playing with him I learned to anticipate the changes, to play with the rhythm, to find the groove, and so much more.

His leadership approach is something I occasionally employ today. Sometimes the best tool for growth is immersion.

Does that mean it’s going to be perfect? Nope.

Does that means it’s going to be flawless? Nope.

Does that mean it’s going to be memorable? Very likely, one way or the other.

There is someone in your sphere of influence who needs an opportunity to sink or swim. There is someone you are leading who needs a challenge they feel they cannot meet.

So I have two questions for you today: 1) who is it? and 2) are you willing to step back for the sake of their growth?

Multiplication vs Addition

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Open your text books chapter 2 section 1. Today we are going to talk about multiplication.

Just kidding, kind of. The math concepts that come to mind apply to leadership as well. Would you rather be given $100 plus $100 or be given $100 times 100?

As we seek to develop leaders, we’re not looking to just add leaders. We are looking to add leaders who add leaders. I want to develop students who in turn develop students.

If developing students who develop students is my goal, then my approach is different. My training doesn’t only center on the tasks of a leader, but on the tasks of a leader and how to train others to fulfill the tasks of a leader.

So how do we do this?

  1. Begin with multiplication in mind. Sure, some of the best development comes from places we never anticipated, but if we know we want to multiply in the end, how we begin changes. We don’t accept just anyone. We set a higher bar. We encourage commitment. We encourage but don’t coerce.
  2. Keep multiplication in mind. Relational investment plays such an integral part in multiplication. We cannot expect someone to grow if we do not understand where they need to grow. That’s where relationship comes in. Get to know those you lead.
  3. Model multiplication. Continue to invest in and grow leaders. Do not stop with one or two. When it gets difficult, push through. When it becomes a challenge, keep going. Model the behavior you want to see repeated, and it will be repeated.

I love investing in students. I love the conversations we get to have as a result of the time we spend together. But, at the end of the day, my influence is greater as I learn to multiply. Yours will be as well.

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