I was asked to throw together some quick questions for leadership discussions. These are not completely smooth yet and, like everything, are in process somewhere in my brain (which is a scary place), yet they may be helpful to someone somewhere…
- “Is this working?”
o The leader’s first question. 100 leadership qualities won’t help if they don’t naturally ask this question first. They also must be on a platform where they could actually effect change (within their capabilities) or frustration will follow.
- Leaders gather information.
o Better info better decisions. Leaders have a voracious desire to learn and often feel like they are only one great resource away from a solution to something. A leader would also rather have bad news than no news. “Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you someone who’s covering mistakes. Real boats rock.” (Frank Herbert. Chapterhouse: Dune)
- Many Canadian organizations say “leader” but really want a manager.
o This is a funny one but mostly true in the organizations I’m familiar with, and especially in church world. A manager’s job is to get THAT system working as smoothly as possible, then pretty much leave it alone. That is a manager’s job. A leader walks in and says “Why are we doing this anyways? Is THAT system doing what it was intended to do?” and there is a level of very uncomfortable and irreverent questioning that begins to take place. If the power brokers aren’t willing to look at changing their “approach” to why the organization does THAT, they certainly will not put someone in place who will upset the apple cart. Leaders ask messy questions.
- Leaders rise in chaos.
o Times of trouble are what leaders were born for. Problems invigorate them. If I want to see if a person has leadership potential, I’ll throw them into a bit of chaos and see if they can figure it out?
- Leaders don’t assume they’re the smartest person in the room.
o Your organization will bottleneck at you if you think you are. You might be good at a few things, but to assume you are the best of everything rolled into one is short sighted. You will only attract followers and not other leaders. One person can only have so many followers.
- Leaders want to break the rules a little.
o Who cares how “True to the Cause” you are if you’re losing badly? Church world: “Great sermon! Chalk full of truth and integrity! Too bad no one was in church to hear it!”. Integrity is great, but is too often the card played by those who find themselves on the wrong seat of the bus. Leadership is results driven (what is your bottom line?) and some people don’t have the guts to get off the horse when it’s dead, or change the method they’re employing when it’s no longer working.