Problem Solvers Need Not Apply

We don’t need more problem solvers. What we do need are more problem avoiders.

As a leader, what if you were effective enough to solve problems before they even presented themselves?

Like many leaders, in an interview for my current position, I remarked that I was a “problem solver.” I thought this was a good skill. However, I’ve come to find out that my supervisor (Jim Baker @sacredstructure) believes that problem avoiders are more valuable than problem solvers. And I’ve come to that same belief.

Problem-avoidance begins with asking the what, where, when, why, who, and how questions (5 W’s) in advance of initiatives.

Doing the five things below, in a systematic, strategic, and preventive way, will lead to problem-avoidance:

  1. Get perspective from others.
  2. Consider possible problems in the planning stage.
  3. Consider the pitfall possibilities in the initiative’s implementation.
  4. Ask the “5 W” interrogative questions at each stage of initiative roll-out.
  5. Always evaluate (post-mortem autopsy) your work and ministries.

Regularly engaging these five simple exercises will lessen the amount of time you spend problem-solving and improve your leadership skills in problem-avoidance.

 

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The Best Kind of Encouragement

“I was talking to Nancy the other day, and she was bragging about how well you’ve been ministering to the Smith family through their crisis. Well done!”

Third-party encouragement can be the best kind of encouragement.

Typically, triangulation has a negative connotation. But when you can triangulate someone in encouragement, you can actually multiply the compliment.

As a leader, this requires you to listen for those times when people are bragging on others. This can happen by waiting on coffee in the break room, skimming social media updates, or asking your direct supervisors who’s doing exceptional work.

Then, it takes some personal initiative. Make a point to send those people notes, or stop by their offices and compliment them.  Telling them you’ve heard others complimenting their work is a central part of the third-party encouragement only you can provide.

To the recipients, it communicates that their bosses (or others) are proud enough of their work to discuss it openly, and that the “big boss” thought it was important enough to repeat back to them.

Multiply the blessing.

Praise with collateral impact.

Third-party encouragement will make your employees’ or volunteers’ day, and maybe even their week.

Long live encouragement-triangulation.

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Hard Lessons Learned the Hard Way

He’s been the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church for over 20 years. He’s been a part of a lot of awesome things God has done here and he’s also taken the opportunity to learn along the way. Below is his description of a hard lesson learned that has freed him up to be the pastor God called him to be. I’m thankful for @MikeGlenn‘s guest post on my blog. You can read Mike’s blog here.

Hard Lessons Learned the Hard Way

“Mike, it’s not that you don’t help us when you’re in these meetings. You hurt us.”

Yes, that was said to me. And believe it or not, it was a friend who said that to me. Even more, he’s still my friend. He’s my friend because he loved me enough to tell me the truth. And even though I didn’t like hearing it, I knew my friend was right.

I don’t have the gifts of administration—none of them. I’m creative, visionary, and future-oriented. I can see where the culture and church are going to intersect in the future and how the church needs to prepare for the coming realities.

Now, what else have I told you about myself? I don’t have a clue how to actually get any of this done. If I don’t have someone around me to work through the details, then nothing gets done.

What’s more, when I try to attend to details, I grow bored and frustrated very quickly. In fact, if I’m trapped in the minutiae of working out the implementation of an idea, I quit. My house, my office, my whole life are full of great, but unfinished ideas.

Here’s what this means. I have a person, or rather people, around me who have the gifts I don’t. I need these people around me—those who know me, those I can trust—to break down my ideas into doable next steps.

Not only do I have to have them around me, I have to let them do their work. Once the idea has been handed off, I have to have the self-discipline, indeed the humility, to realize that if my idea is going to happen, someone else will make it successful.

This isn’t all bad. People who have the gifts of administration love meetings, setting budgets, and aligning strategies. I’m glad they’re happy. It gives me more time to think about the future.

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