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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.

02 Oct '12

Leaders who live in a fantasy world!

Posted by T.J. Addington in unhealthy leaders
Leaders run a significant risk of living in a fantasy world that all is well when it is actually not. It is a risk because we want to believe that we lead well and we want to justify our leadership. Those on the outside often see what we cannot see on the inside. All leaders are susceptible to believing we are doing better than we actually are.

Some leaders want to live in their world where all is well - whether it is or not. But for those who want to live in reality, who want to lead from health and continue to grow their leadership there are a number of critical choices they can make to help them lead well.

First, the best leaders create cultures within their organizations where people can openly and candidly share their opinions, observations and opinions. People will not go where they know their leader does not want them to go. Thus leaders either encourage or discourage the very feedback they need from their sharpest people. All leaders make a choice on how much they want candid feedback from within their organization.

Second, the best leaders seek feedback from knowledgeable people outside of their organization as to how they are doing. Bringing in outside facilitators from time to time helps us to think more clearly and to see things we may not see. We need questions that help us sharpen our focus and which challenge our assumptions. One ministry recently asked me for my perception from the outside looking in. They didn't necessarily like what I said but it caused them to think and dialogue.

Third, the best leaders have clearly defined "ends" as to what they are going after in their ministry. The lack of objective results we are after allow us to believe we are doing well when in fact we don't know because we have not defined success. Charlie Brown used to practice archery without a target. When Lucy asked why, he said "because that way I hit it every time." Not knowing what we are after allows us to believe we are hitting the target when we may or may not be.

Fourth, the best leaders create strong boards of thoughtful, healthy members who ask the right questions, question the right things, help us think clearly and never let the missional agenda move away from our central focus. Great boards are not a hassle. They help us lead better by the dialogue, questions, and group wisdom. Good leaders want to know what their boards think and willingly make them accountable to their board. 

Fifth, the best leaders spend a great amount of time thinking about what they are doing and how they are doing and whether we are accomplishing the mission of the organization. Great leaders are honest with themselves about the real results of their leadership and the real results of the missional agenda. They don't gloss or ignore reality. In fact, they are frank with their staff on what is reality in order to keep the organization focused on areas of weakness in order to become stronger. 

Sixth, the best leaders look at all their practices and processes to evaluate them for effectiveness. We actually use a simple tool to improve our practices and processes. We identify them all and then rate them with a red, green or yellow. Green means all is well, yellow means that we could do better and red means that we have a lot of opportunity to improve. Yellows and reds are good colors because they indicate that we can improve. If we have nothing to improve we cannot get better. It is actually a way to do continuous improvement.

I know a group of leaders who will never practice these six suggestions because the truth is that they don't want to be challenged and are threatened by truth. I also know that truly good leaders are willing to go there because they are not threatened by reality. Rather, they want to know areas of weakness so that they can improve and grow!