How am I different as a leader?

With year end being a time of reflection for many, I thought I’d share a personal reflection of myself as it relates to characteristics of leadership.  Looking back now close to 10 years ago in my corporate experience versus now one might ask, “How am I different as a leader?”  As a pondered this question, the following came to mind.

First, and likely most importance, prior to 2009 I would offer that I rarely, if ever, considered involving God in my decision making process.  This is a key focus of my book in draft, Whose agenda are you leading? Previously, I generally listened well to man’s wisdom and was someone gifted at putting together strategies to achieve visions and goals associated with man’s agenda.  However, it wasn’t common place to even consider “seeking God’s agenda” and being led by His Spirit in day-to-day decision making.  I’ve discovered that I tend to “over think” circumstances or situations for which God is teaching me to be more comfortable simply walking the path trusting He’ll lead me given my continually seeking of Him.  This particular topic is one which can go pretty deep which is why I hope to offer a book someday to share more of my personal experience.

Second, my heart has been soften for God’s people.  I now recognize people are far more important than the task at hand.  I’m learning that there may be times I need to set aside the “task” to focus on the “relationship”.  This brings to light a tension that often exist in our need to still accomplish the work at hand; yet, I have begun to notice that when I focus on the relationship God uses these times to grow us both.  As a result of this growth, people have a greater desire to accomplish the task at hand as they truly understand you care for them as a person.

Third, I’m much more Kingdom minded in my walk and attuned to where God may be at work.  Over the past decade, I experienced multiple interactions with people that I’ve grown to now see as “God intersections”.  In some cases, I’ve known in the moment, others have been some time evolving; yet, I know others I’m likely not even aware.  For this reason, while I still have to somewhat steward my time, I’m less likely to attempt to evaluate the ROI on the investment of my time meeting with a person and more likely to follow the prompting of the Spirit in my day-to-day interactions.

Fourth, my pride has been stripped away and continues to be stripped away daily.  Humble Confidence is an area of focus for me now.  Humility only comes when we understand our true identity in Christ and confidence only comes with our understanding of His leading in our life.  Once again, this is a huge topic for which Whose agenda are you leading? will spend quality time discussing.

Fifth, family is critically important and I’m committed to not sacrifice these relationships in our efforts to achieve a particular agenda.  This wasn’t something I did well early in my career as I spent considerable time away from home.  Not only is it a priority for me, I also strive to make it a priority with those I lead.  I’ve seen far too many broken relationship along the way in man’s pursuit of his agenda.  On the flip side, I’ve observed when we’re truly focused on God’s agenda, He provides a healthy balance within all our relationships.

Sixth, I’m much more understanding of my personal gifts and talents as well as the need to understand those of the people I’m leading.  For me, my spiritual gifts are administration, faith, and wisdom married with talents of leadership and problem solving.  I am not fulfilled when I don’t operation in these areas of gifting or venture outside these areas of gifting.  As an example, while I do “relational” sales in my role, don’t expect me to do a steady diet of sales oriented functions as it drains me.  Vice versa, give me more opportunities to perform administratively, and you nearly have to pull me away from these opportunities.  I’d also add that it’s important to truly understand the definitions of various characteristics.  As an example, administration is often associated with paperwork and behind the scenes logistics. While this is a part, the definition more fitting for me personally is “to rule, govern, task-oriented, assemble the body moving toward a common vision” with emphasis on “assemble”.  Using the combination of all my gifts and talents, many would call me a “strategic implementer”.  I have a unique ability to see a God inspired vision, assemble a team of uniquely gifted people who pull together a strategy which fulfills the mission and vision in an efficient and effective manner while persevering through challenging time along the way.  That’s a bit different than pushing paperwork behind the scenes.

Seventh, I clearly understand my tendency to need to “control” people and situations and am learning to turn lose of this “control”.  Trust is an area of intense study and teaching for me as a leaders and leadership coach.  It is foundational to any relationship or team.  Where it’s lacking, major breakdowns begin to happen.  As a leader, I’ve discovered one of the best ways of building trust is to give up my need for “control”.  Through my offering of authenticity and vulnerability, I’ve discovered others desire to reciprocate which builds trust.  Once trust is established, were more apt to have those difficult conversations that are sometimes needed in order to turn loose of controlling behaviors.  Beyond this, at a much deeper level, I’ve begun to question what is it I truly do control in life which is minimal.

Eighth, I’ve embrace technology and it’s ability to build an experience of community and bridge distant relationships.  For example, I use to waist hours in a car driving from one manufacturing location to another so that I could connect with the leaders at that particular location.  Today, I video conference multiple times a week with others to include international partners on the other side of the world.  While there is still a need for occasional face-to-face interactions, I find the efficiency and quality of a video conference experience serves most daily needs.  Adding to this the utilization of things like social media, group chats, shared files, etc technology keeps me off the road today much more and provides for a far more efficient and cost effective means for accomplishing the vision and strategies He has laid out.

Finally, I read now which I rarely did before.  You’ve likely heard the saying “leaders are readers” for which I’ve found to be true.  I have many great “mentors” in leadership which I have never met firsthand.  Someone once told me about a conversation they had with a well known author and leader regarding their desire to spend 30 minutes gaining wisdom from such a great leader.  The author/leader said, “I’d be glad to spend 30 minutes with you; however, I’ve put my entire life’s experience in my books.  You’d likely benefit much more greatly by reading my book.”  It’s through application of what I’ve learned from leaders in books that I’ve likely grown the most in leadership.

So, if you knew me then and you know me now, I think you’d agree that I’ve changed greatly as a leader.  I can only hope that the season of preparation I’ve gone through the past decade is preparing me for the season that lies ahead in leading to His agenda.  I also know that I’ve only just begun in my growth and maturity as a leader.  May this be the same for you!

Can I help in your endeavor to grow as a leader?  While my book likely won’t be finalized for some time, much of my writing is in this blog which I encourage you to read.  Also, many don’t recognize that I’m still doing coaching and consulting on a limited basis even through I’m leading Farm 360.  If you’d like to discuss what that might look like, simply reach out via the contact form.  As shared above, I coach anywhere in the world via video (assuming you speak English as I don’t speak anything other).

Have a Merry Christmas and may 2018 be a year of tremendous growth in you as a leader!

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