Leadership Blind Spot Automation

It beeps. It lights up. It creates awareness that your casual over-the-shoulder can’t achieve. Vehicles have come a long way in blind spot technology.

It use to require a head turn of some seventy-five degrees. Then manufactures made the mini-mirrors to be added to your side view mirror. And now, automated blind spot checkers.

I doubt most of us have kept progressing in our leadership blind spot technology as vehicle manufactures have for their cars. In fact, as we’ve gone further in our leadership, our blind spots may have been ignored and probably even gotten larger.

Because we’re the “leader”, the person riding shotgun with us may feel less freedom to warn us of our blind spots. And because we’re the “boss”, our ego may prohibit us from asking said shotgun rider for their input.

We feel like we have so much experience, we can just sense our blind spots. “Surely I’m self-aware enough, right?” Yep, the more longevity and leadership success means we may have just broadened the width of our blind spots.

For these reasons, we need more sophisticated blind spot checking.

Blind Spot Automation

Awareness

It begins with admitting you have a problem. “Hi, my name is Brian, and I know I have leadership blind spots.” If you struggle to say that, well, you’ve definitely got blind spots. They could be significant blind spots like character or competency. Usually though, they’re areas that didn’t use to be a problem, but over time without intentionality, the blind spot has become a reality. Are you aware you have blind spots? Can your self-awareness skills identify them?

Ask

No matter how self-aware you may be, you’ll still need a second opinion. And that means you’ll have to ask others. And when you do, ask with assumption that these blind spots do in fact exist. Your inquiry shouldn’t be, “Do I have any blind spots?” But should be more like, “I realize I get into my own world, habits, and passionate about my work, and I know that means I have some leadership blind spots. What are a couple areas you’ve seen where I’m most likely to be susceptible?”

Just assuming they exist and framing in a way that gives the person permission to answer candidly without feeling like they’re attacking you will go a long way in getting useful feedback.

Assessments

While I do think personality assessments should always be considered 10% accurate, nor do I see their results as something that should hold a person hostage to behaviors that are “hard wired in.” I do feel like the results can be a tool. A tool that’s printed that can tell you in black and white how your actions and personality may be perceived by others.

In the most recent personality assessment I took, its results reminded me of some areas that are square in my blind spot. But there were some results that were new to me. For example, when note mentioned, “[Brian] may rely too much on past experience.” I’d never considered this before, but because I became aware of this possibility, I was able to investigate. If you haven’t used a personality assessment, I encourage you to find a free or affordable one and see if it will create awareness for you.

Accountability

Who, without you asking for it, can make you aware of your leadership blind spots? Who have you given permission to be a “back seat driver” and let you know when you’re merging into an area that could cause a wreck?

You’re a leader. You get things done. You care about others. But a leader who cares about those they lead will make sure at least one of the things you get done is identifying and eliminating your leadership blind spots.

 

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Pronoun Posturing (for leaders)

It’s been told to me, and I’ve said it. It’s a leadership principle that’s been touted. It’s this, we need to earn our right to lead.

We have to go out and do the hard work, the behind the scenes work, the work that involves leading a couple of people before a couple hundred people. And while there’s some truth in that, the Bible calls us to a different posture.

It’s still about working hard. But what it’s not about is “us”, “me”, or even, “we”.

2 Chronicles records Solomon’s establishment as king and the remarkable conversation where Solomon’s request to God was a request for “wisdom and knowledge.”

But recently, something else stood out to me in that exchange. It’s in the last half of verse eleven. God is speaking and grants Solomon wisdom and knowledge, and then says, “But you have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king.”

Notice the “my” and then “I”?

Whose people will Solomon govern? God’s people.

Who made Solomon king? God did.

It’s as if God was saying, “Look, I’m going to provide you with some exceptional gifts. But remember, I gave those gifts of wisdom and knowledge, and I’m putting you in a place of leadership. And yes, I’m allowing you to lead my people.”

Do we need this same kind of reminder that emphasizes pronouns?

You see, God knows what leader-types are like. We get the opportunity to do something for God’s kingdom and we’re honored. But then all the sudden we either forgot who put us there and/or we begin to think about our newly established leadership opportunity as our own little personal fiefdom.

The church we serve is not ours. The people are not ours. We’re a short-term steward of people and leadership opportunities.

As leaders, our choice of words when describing the who, how and why we lead is important. But even more important, is the heart behind the words. Are we really in a posture that reflects the proper (God-honoring) pronouns?

Here’s to proper pronouns.

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Ministry Magic

Have you ever felt the expectation to create “ministry magic?”

Sometimes this expectation comes from others. And sometimes we’ve talked ourselves into thinking we have to create ministry magic.

After a recent talk at my church, an intern on staff found a picture of me presenting and decided to dress up it a bit. While I thought it was funny, it also reminded me this unspoken expectation I’ve felt before…to create ministry magic.

“You’re paid,” or “You’re called,” and then they say, “You can make this happen, right?” They/us want kids to magically appear in the preschool. They/us want to have a trendy stage area like so and so church. They/us want to be as a large as the church across town. They/us want the financial debt to go away, overnight. And while seminary provided lots of things for me, it didn’t provide magical outcomes.

But the temptation is still there. The temptation to make ministry magic happen. Yet, there’s dangers in pursuing magical mans, and if you actually do have an “Abra cadabra” moment, well, that can be dangerous too (for your ministry).

Dangers of a ministry magic mentality

You spend too much time looking for a silver bullet (I blogged last week about that bullet not existing). At the chance of offending readers…magic isn’t real. It’s sleight of hand. It’s perception. It’s creating a distraction. I’ve been guilty of this in ministry programming before and I’ve blogged about the “dust of perpetual ministry.” Magic is looking to woo people. Ministry is rarely that. And one or two magical moments may woo you into believing it’s something you can repeat. Magical silver bullets rob you of the hard and spiritual discerning work that will create the best long term pathway for effective ministry.

Even if you do create magic, it’s short lived and shallow. Sure, we all stumble on some magical moments (they’re actually probably Holy Spirit moments). But like the smoke in a magic trick or the bunny in the hat, they do go away, and go quickly. And then there’s an expectation you’ll do it again. You’ll have an encore problem. And when you can’t repeat it, you get booed.

It perpetuates a consumer mentality. Who goes to magic shows? That’s right, people who want to be entertained. That is not our job as church and ministry leaders.

You become the center of attention and applause. If you’re good at creating magical ministry moments, you’ll be the one getting all the attention. It won’t be your fellow staff members or the faithful volunteers, and may even takeaway the attention of the actual miracle Worker.

What magic have you been forced into for your ministry lately? What are you doing that isn’t sustainable, but just short-lived magic? What are you doing that’s making you the magician and therefore always in the spotlight?

If your ministry is one big magic show—incrementalize change. Determine one thing you’ll begin to adjust so that ministry becomes sustainable and is substantial to the Gospel message?

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