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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

29 May '13

Focused Leadership

Posted by T.J. Addington
One of the great sins of leadership today - across the board - is a lack of focus on what is most important with the resulting diffusion of energy, resources and results.

There is a natural human tendency away from focused living which requires more work, greater discipline and better thinking. As Jim Collins says, good is the enemy of great. Great requires focus. Good requires less.

My observation is that team members take their cues regarding focus from their leader. The less focused the leader, the less focused others in the organization. The more focused the leader, the more disciplined and focused those who work on their team. This puts even more responsibility on ministry leaders to model intentional, disciplined and focused lives.

The central practice of focused life and work is one we we often do not like: Discipline. Focus requires discipline and discipline implies bringing our priorities, time, energy and choices into line with what we have been tasked to do.

Lack of focus is really about laziness - the opposite of discipline. We don't like that word either but it describes the root cause of a lack of focus. One can do good work and be relatively lazy. One cannot do great work without discipline.

There are two areas where those who lead need to be constantly vigilant about their focus.

The first is missional focus. It is very easy to forget that our ministry must always be about fulfilling our mission. Mission drift is where we unconsciously drift away from the mission of the organization and it happens all the time.

Focused leaders think about mission every single day and they constantly remind their team that everything they do is both about their mission and must contribute to the mission. The less a leader thinks and talks mission, the less their team will live it.

It is very easy for leaders to move from missional to organizational. To focus on organizational issues instead of missional issues. Why? It is easier. It requires less work and less thinking. Focused leaders do not allow their missional focus to slip into organizational focus.

The second discipline is that of focused choices. The most precious commodity we have is our time - we can never get it back. The choices we make with how we spend our time reveal the level of discipline of our lives.

Truly focused leaders make choices about their activities based on whether that activity is critical in achieving their mission and they often say no to the nice in order to spend time on the critical.

The choices and activities of many leaders are not consistent with a missional focus. They do a lot of stuff, but it is often not the stuff that is most critical to lead them or their team to missional effectiveness. Again it is easy to default to organizational activity rather than the activity that will lead to mission fulfillment.

Focused leaders are always evaluating their choices and activities against the mission of the organization and exercise great personal discipline to focus on what is truly important in the fulfillment of mission.

How focused are you on the mission?
How disciplined are you in your choices and activity?
Are these two in alignment?