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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.

03 Dec '10

Three Kinds of Work for Leaders

Posted by T.J. Addington in Healthy leaders, Intentional living, Time Management
Because leaders are by nature "busy" and always have a boatload of things that need to get done it is easy to fall into the trap of activity that does not actually drive the ministry or team forward. One of the ways to avoid this common tendency is to think of leadership work in three categories - and to pay attention to how much time we spend in each of these categories.

The first and easiest category is "routine work." Routine work includes those things that we pay attention to all the time. The hundred plus emails I receive every day requires my attention - it is routine. This applies to many of the meetings we have, reports we may fill out, and those activities that are a part of one's normal work.

The second and more challenging category is "management work." This is the work required to manage staff and processes including check in meetings, walking around and actually seeing what is happening, paying attention to metrics and finances. It is work that keeps current people and processes moving in the right direction.

The third and most difficult work leaders do is "directional work." It is the thinking, brain storming and evaluation of where we are and where we ought to be going as well as developing ideas as to how to get there. Directional work is actually the most important work a leader does although all three categories of work are necessary.

Here is the challenge for every leader. It is very easy to default toward routine work because it is ever present, blinks at us on our screen in the form of email and is natural for us to do. We all tend to default toward the easy and the immediate. While more challenging, management is a given for us and requires our attention. Management ensures that the status quo is healthy. What often gets lost, however, because our schedules are full with the routine and management is charting a course for the future which requires uninterrupted time, thinking, study, evaluation and prayer. We know it is important but the immediate often takes us from thinking about the future.

An helpful exercise is to color code one's calendar for a month or two according to the kind of work each obligation represents - routine, management and directional. Often one finds that the routine and day to day management leaves little time for the directional. Yet it is the directional that helps the organization move forward. While the routine, management and directional are all important, what is most important is not to neglect any of the three and not to default toward the easy (routine) at the expense of the hard (directional). Ask yourself on a monthly basis whether these three kinds of work are in balance in your schedule.

A way to prevent this from happening is to block schedule time for the directional before each month starts for thinking, planning, evaluating and praying about the future. That way the most important is not driven out by the urgent!