Scope & Leadership Effectiveness

One definition of “scope” is the extent or range of one’s effectiveness.  There is the mistaken notion that anyone can grow into any level of scope as a leader.  I firmly believe that each individual leader has a built in or God given extent or range of effective leading.  Allow me to refine this by thinking about it from two different angles.  The first level is scope defined by how many people one can effectively lead.  The second level is scope defined by your level of leadership.

I believe leaders have a built in scope for the number of people they can effectively lead.  In other words-some are leaders of tens, some are leaders of hundreds and some are leaders of thousands.  And while I will grant that all can grow by degrees into leading more people-I believe that each person has a “sweet spot” of leadership effectiveness.  Often we don’t fully identify this point until we have been over promoted beyond our effective range.

I believe leaders also have a built in scope for the level they should lead.  Some are best at leading locally and up close.  Some are better suited to lead at a regional or national level.  The higher one goes up in organizational leadership the more one has to be effective at thinking about organizational architecture and organizational culture.  They have to be more effective at leading over distance.  Not all are wired to do well at this.  Some are very adept at leading at this level.  Some are best at leading close to the action where they can directly affect change.

How does one best determine their proper scope in leading?  I think this requires opportunity and feedback.  It does take experience to figure out how many people you can effectively lead and your most effective level of leadership.  It also requires feedback from those under you, those around you, and those above you.    Seek out that feedback.  The greatest stumbling block to discerning your best scope is placing too much stock in your current title or position.  We become too vested in what we see as a level of status or prestige.  Yet, deep down we may know we are not leading well at our current role and we are not fulfilled.

This does not mean you cannot leverage your leadership role towards more people from any level.  You can always extend your leadership influence through one simple principle-empower those around you!  Give power away and multiply the leaders.  Some of the most influential people I know have never led more than a handful of people at a time.  They have never led higher than the local level.  Yet, their impact is great because there are hundreds of leaders leading at every level that were spawned through them.  Finding your most effective scope of leadership is critical.  It is critical to maximizing who you are.  It is critical to maximizing the organizational mission.  It is critical to your leadership fulfillment.  Lead well!

Keeping a Leadership Journal

Whenever I can, I encourage leaders to maintain a leadership journal.  While I lived and led in Italy, I served as director of leadership development for our organization.  One of my first budgetary actions was to buy a leather journal for every leader within our organization.  I exhorted them to keep it near them so that they could record leadership gems whenever they came upon them.

I have been doing this for many years now.  This is not the same as a normal journal that chronicles my life or stands as a record of sermon notes.  This is specifically a leadership journal that contains my own thoughts on leadership, the thoughts of others on leadership, observations from a wide variety of stimuli, Scripture references about leadership, quotes–anything I deem worthy of further thought and reflection towards application.  If possible, I always encourage people to purchase a physical journal instead of keeping one virtually on their computer or tablet.  I believe there is something valuable to the reflection and learning process in writing it down-pen in hand, hand to the paper, in a specialized journal.  I offer these four motivations as to why you should do this too:

1. Keeping a leadership journal places you in the posture of a learner.  I firmly believe that the day a leader quits learning is the day that their leadership platform begins to erode.  Stay humble and keep learning.  Your journal at the ready allows you to observe and learn from many different sources all the time.

2. Keeping a leadership journal allows you the rich opportunity to reflect on and process your observations.  I know this is obvious-but maintaining a journal will keep you from forgetting.  And how many times have you and I made a critical observation that we wanted to ponder later, only to forget and never be rewarded again.  Also, I have seen many times how the recording of one seminal thought has led to a flurry of other thoughts, principles and actions.

3. Keeping a leadership journal better insures that you get to true application in your leadership life.  There is something about recording one’s thoughts that paves the way for greater understanding and execution.  A thing written is a thing half done.  If you can work out your thoughts on paper then you are more likely to actually live them out when the opportunity arises.  As long as we are alive we have the opportunity to improve our leadership.  A journal can aid you immensely in getting to change.

4. Keeping a leadership journal begins to build a reservoir of material that you can share with others.  When I have been asked to speak or write about leadership I almost always begin by looking at my leadership journal for material.      This is where I have recorded, processed, and worked out my observations on leading.  My journal is the seedbed of principles that I can pass along to other leaders.  It is my way of being a blessing to others-in a well thought out, coherent manner.  By the way-this recorded material can also serve as great fodder for a leader mentoring relationship-in either direction.

If you have not done so yet-leader, go out and buy a small journal and keep it handy.  Begin to record your regular leadership observations, conversations, thoughts, musings, Scripture-whatever will prompt you to think more deeply and apply more readily the leadership principles that will allow you to lead well.

5 for Leadership (11/28/11)

Here are this week’s “5 for Leadership.”  I am highlighting some blogs I often feed from in my own life (like Michael Hyatt and Ron Emondson) and providing a couple that are new discoveries for me.  I have also included one video interview to keep things interesting.  See what you think of this “fivesome” and give me some feedback.

The One Essential Habit of Every Effective Leader on Michael Hyatt’s blog.  This is a guest post by Jeff Goins.  Jeff makes the strong case for leadership necessitating action.  He argues for effective decision making.  I believe that he is on to a critical component that is often lacking in our leadership today.  Take a look.

7 Things Which Help Me Focus by Ron Edmondson.  This is a very practical post by Ron as he shares key elements for getting things done.  Take some time to read the comments section too for more insight.

Principles of Christian Leadership  This post is from an Australian blog by Dave Quinn.  Dave highlights five principles that he believes are essential to any good Christian leadership.  Peruse other parts of Dave’s web site to find some valuable resources.

How Can Christian Leaders Get Started With Social Media?  This is about a 10 minute interview on video between Scott Brown and Michael Hyatt (yes, I am highlighting Michael twice this week).  This is a really helpful and practical piece as Michael answers  questions from Scott about social media and our need as leaders to be involved.  This is worth the watch.

10 Leadership Styles in 2011 You Need to Know  This comes from Brian Dodd in Atlanta.  Brian is great about providing practical lists on leadership topics.  This particular list provides a mirror to discern what type of leadership you are exhibiting-good and/or bad.

There you have it for this week-lead well!

5 for Leadership (11/18/11)

Here are the links for this week for “5 for Leadership.”

We Blame The 1%, But Still Call Them Our Leaders  This is a guest post on Leading Blog by Dave Ursillo.  It provides an interesting perspective on the real definition of leadership.  He argues for the influence that all people have, even without titles.

What The Colts Can Teach Us About Team Building  This is a post in the HBR by Ndubuisi Ekekwe.  He takes look at sports and how some teams have built their success around one star personality.  He argues that in the organizational world we have to invest in a team approach and develop the talent around us.

Do You Have Moral Overconfidence?  This is a great read also found on Leading Blog.  It makes the case for “good leadership is humble leadership.”  It also argues for the notion that leadership character is a lifelong development process.    Give it a read and see what you think.

An Interview With Pete Hise  This is a post on The Leadership Blog in an interview format.  Pete Hise is the senior pastor at Quest Community Church in Lexington, Kentucky.  I thought I would point you to a leader interview because it is good to hear leaders in their own words.  I appreciate Pete’s humility and focus on Christ.

Seth Godin: Leaders Should Write Their Thoughts Each Day This is a video interview between Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-a and Seth Godin.  It is worth the 4:12 minute listen.

I hope you enjoy this week’s “5 for Leadership.”

5 for Leadership (11/11/11)

Here are the posts I have chosen for this installment of “5 for Leadership.”  I want to continue to offer you practical leadership thinking and expose you to a variety of blogs.

5 Truths to Remember When Your Leader Falls  Michael Hyatt has become a favorite source for me.  He publishes daily and offers very practical insight to life and leadership.  He also offers a number of helpful resources on his web site.  This post is very good in light of the current state of our culture-and how we should respond.

7 Traits of an Insecure Leader  I have highlighted Ron Edmondson before.  This post was on Ron’s blog yesterday and offers a good profile of a leader who is not grounded.  Do a personal character check on your leadership as you look at Ron’s list.

7 Ways God May Bust Up Your Paradigm This is from Michael Warden.  Michael is a leadership coach and author.  He is new to me-but I really enjoyed this post.  It made me rethink leadership “success” from God’s perspective.   See what you think.

Billy Graham and the Modesto Manifesto This comes from Tommy Kiedis who is the senior pastor at Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida.  It is a great reminder of where true greatness comes from in the life of a leader.  This is a little piece of history that was unfamiliar to me-Graham’s life bears out the importance of this commitment.

Rachel Held Evans  I have included Rachel’s blog because Rachel makes me think.  And all leaders need to be provoked to think outside their own perspective.  Rachel is a leader-she has influence through her writing.  She offers a unique perspective on many topics that need to be considered.  I don’t always agree with Rachel, but I am always challenged by Rachel.  Take a look and see how her insights stir you to lead better.

There you have it for this week-I hope you have a blessed weekend!

5 for Leadership (11/2/11)

Here is the 2nd installment of “5 for Leadership.”  Again, my intent is to provide you with five links to good leadership articles that I have enjoyed.  Some will be from a Christian perspective and some will not.  But all of them can be profitable. This week I went for lists.  Enjoy.

The 25 Temptations of Leadership  Dan Rockwell says a lot in 300 words or less.  This list is worth the read and some reflection.  Let these sink in and decide which ones pose the greatest treat to you.

Six Future Trends of Leadership Development  The Lead Change Group is a great website dedicated to “helping leaders grow leaders.”  It is a place where you can read from a variety of authors, and even contribute if you choose.  This list is from Mike Henry and highlights some very worthwhile trends in LD.

Meetings Don’t Have to Suck  Susan Mazza does a great job of making leadership principles practical.  In this post she puts the onus on each one of us to make every meeting and every conversation successful.  There are some great tips here on how to do so.

7 Leadership Benefits of Saying “No”  Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church planter.  But he also has a passion for helping leaders.  If you have never read any of his regular posts-now is the time to start.  This one just might keep you in the game.

10 Signs You Might Be Married to Your Ministry  This is from Doug Fields and posted on Churchleaders.com.  Check out this list and see where you stand.  This has benefit for those leaders who are not in ministry as well.

The Inner Life of a Leader

Here we go again.  Another issue from the past haunts a politico and it is big time news.  Why is that?  Why do we obviously hold our leaders to higher standards than we even hold ourselves?  I think there are two simple reasons we do so: one, deep down we know that character actually matters-at every level of society and certainly in the life of a leader; and two, the very definition of “leader” compels us to hold such people to a higher standard.

A leader is someone who has influence.  Notice that this simple definition excludes the necessity of any organizational title.  But let’s expand the definition just a little bit.  A leader is someone who has influence towards or for a worthwhile cause.  I think we would all agree that the more significant the cause, the greater the influence.  Therefore we tend not to hold small positions to as a high a scrutiny as we do those who have high profile, highly influential positions.  But at the end of the day, all true “followership” is built upon trust (if we are not talking about a dictatorial regime).  And we trust those people who live coherent, consistent lives.  It is those people that earn our trust and our “followership.”  One definition of “influence” is “an emanation of spiritual or moral force.”  Inconsistent lives, lives that lack moral authority, don’t do this.  Character has always mattered and always will.  Someone’s true influence will always be founded upon a person’s inner life-that place where they nurture and draw upon their moral authority.  Lasting leadership must always be sustained by something more than sheer personality or communication skills.  Most people can see beyond a slick persona over time.  We follow those we trust and we trust those who live lives of integrity.  This is true for the politico as well as the pastor.  This is true for the father as well as the CEO.  This is true for the coach as well as the head of a non-profit.  You don’t believe me?  Then you are not following the news and you are not being honest with yourself.  When given a choice, you will always follow the person who engenders your trust and your commitment-and that will not come from a duplicitous lifestyle.  You may not live up to the standard you hold a leader to-but you won’t follow someone who wears the mask and wants to have influence over your life.

The inner life is that place where character is born.  The inner life is where we develop our governing center.  It is that place that chooses.  It chooses right from wrong.  It chooses good over bad.  It is not nurtured in chaos and busyness.  It is born out of a life of reflection that acknowledges something or someone greater than themselves.  The inner life is principled.  The inner life is disciplined.  The inner life shows up in the real world when it is tested.

Here are three ways a strong inner life that leads to consistent character will show up in the life of a leader:  1. They are honest about themselves and honest with others.  It’s not that they are perfect-no one is.  It’s that they can admit mistakes and handle the consequences.  In doing so they can also be honest with other people.  They have nothing to lose.  They don’t have to play games because they are not trying to hide.  What you see is what you get.  I think one reason politics and national trust is at an all time low is because we feel we are being taken for a ride all the time.  It seems that what is most important is getting elected or reelected.  The title has come to stand for dishonesty.  2. They are able to forgive and be forgiven.  A person of good character knows their own flaws and their own need for forgiveness and therefore can readily extend forgiveness to others.  It’s obvious that we are all broken in many ways.  Character takes an honest assessment of itself and sees its own need for grace.  That leads to humility which allows you to readily forgive others.  3. They lead with respect and readily give power away.  Pride leads to fear and fear leads to power hoarding, not power sharing.  Pride lives in fear and therefore dare not truly respect someone else who is equally as gifted.  Humility leads to boldness and the ability to recognize the potential in others.  Humility sees power as a resource to be stewarded and shared, because that is what will raise another person up and enable them.  Humility understands the fragile nature of all positions of power and can lead with great respect.

Look for these people to lead you.  Become one of these people so that you can truly lead others in a way that compels followership.

Jesus said it well, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)  Was there anyone with greater character worth emulating?  Was there anyone with greater influence?