Posted in Leadership

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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Micro Shifts for Macro Ministry

Despite writing there were “no silver bullets” for churches, he still had me with the offering that there are “Micro-shifts that have the potential to produce macro-change in your church.”

Even for a guy that struggled through his micro and macro-economic courses, the idea intrigued me. Daniel Im has written a new book titled, No Silver Bullets and I wanted to explore one of his ideas here and I recommend you digging deeper with a full read of his book. For this blog, I try to write “Practical takeaways for everyday church leadership” and I think Daniel does the same in No Silver Bullets. It comes from a place via Daniel of deep experience in the local church and deep love for the local church.

In Im’s first chapter, “From Destination to Direction” he begins to build a case for how churches go about the maturing of disciples. He provides a practical influence matrix and as a part of working through this idea Im describes four different church personas…

  1. The Copy Cat Church
  2. The Silver Bullet Church
  3. The Hippie Church
  4. And the Intentional Church

Just from these persona titles, most of us have already identified which one our church is and which one we’d like to be. As you’d imagine, Im aptly provides habits and cultural ethos for each of these church personas. And truth be told, I see parts of each of these personas in the one I serve. In fact, there were part of Im’s descriptions that were uncomfortable for me to read.

Because Im’s writing is better than mine, and because to fully understand the content, you need the full context (his book). Here, I’m going to simply poach one idea in hopes it will cause you to reflect. Perhaps reflection that leads to a deeper dive of No Silver Bullets.

The Copy Cat Church

While not my proudest season of life, there was a time I “copy catted.” Better said, I cheated. Bottom line, I was convinced others were smarter than me; and there was no reason to have command of content myself when someone smarter already had it and I could just “borrow” it.

I had pretty complex systems for attaining this borrowed content. It involved money, people, dark cafeterias and code words (HBO is considering making a show based on my adolescent enterprise). And you know what, my system allowed me to make the passing grade I needed to begin my baseball season. But when the teacher decided to create two varying tests, well, my enterprise ended, and so did my baseball season.

In churches, our motives are probably not sinful. And in most cases our intentions are to just take our churches further, faster. One justification…we don’t know when Christ will return, and we don’t want to be found investigating or learning our own way when there’s an already developed and proven idea at the church across the city.

“Borrowing” in Church

In fact, our digital world allows us to view and understand content in new ways and this world allows a collaborative approach. Sharing is the new normal and there’s some great benefits to the collaboration and borrowing.

Yet, for churches, we must proceed carefully. No doubt, using the copycat method for your church allows for speed. Which is efficient, but it won’t always be better. It takes away the discovery and discernment that we need to walk through as church leaders when considering shifts in our ministries.

The other church’s version may be prettier and quicker, but what you don’t know is what it took to build their model. You don’t know what shortfalls they’ve experienced. If you pray, ask the hard questions and seek alignment with decision makers, and it still make sense to copy some, or all of another church’s way, then go for it (but no breaking of copyright laws).

But once a copycat, always a copycat? A new borrowed concept works for a while, but then it stalls or we get bored, so we look for the next thing to copycat. We feel we need a new way to provide an injection of growth into our church. Im writes, “They [copycat churches] move from one model to the next…and is convinced they are only one model away from breakthrough.”

So, if you’re tempted to “borrow,” I suggest slowing down and doing your due diligence. And if you need help with some questions and framework to tackle the larger issues of the church, then Im’s book can help, but remember, there’s no silver bullet.

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