Leading effectively (even if you’re outsmarted)

©Timothy Masters/ Dollar Photo Club

IQ not high enough? Lack a special talent? Can’t woo a room with your command of the English language? Can’t connect all the dots from vision to strategy? If so, you’re not alone – and, these things don’t automatically disqualify you from leadership. You simply have to work more intentionally. Below are eight hints for leading effectively, even if you’re not the most effective person at the leadership table.

I’m one of those guys. I don’t have a specific talent. I’m not all that smart (students who were “under the influence” in high school had higher SAT scores than me).  But, God has still provided me opportunities to lead. And when He has, I’ve had to do my part to use what God has given me, for His glory.

8 tips to help you lead effectively even if you feel ill-equipped

  1. Don’t be intimidated.
    Other leaders smell fear and a sense of inadequacy. You have to want to belong at the (leadership) table. This doesn’t mean pretending you’re better than you are. It just means you don’t proclaim your inadequacies.
  2. Remember God put you in a place of leadership for a reason.
    Listen to God and figure out what that reason is. Humanly speaking, you’re not prepared. But God loves to show His strength in our weakness.
  3. Harness everyone else’s input and knowledge.
    Many smart leaders have input, but don’t have a clue how to put it into action. If you can create synergism amongst multiple people and ideas, you’ll have value at any leadership table.
  4. When you lack IQ, exhibit EQ (Daniel Goldman’s coined Emotional Intelligence).
    Even more so than IQ, emotional or relational intelligence can be learned and developed. The average piece of input, at the right moment, to the right person, is highly valuable. (I’ve previously blogged about Goleman’s idea of emotional intelligence.)
  5. Don’t be afraid to admit when something isn’t your core competence.
    Even when it’s not your area of expertise, a good leader will work hard to figure out solutions by collaborating with others. (Click here for a previous post on collaboration in the workplace.) Not knowing everything doesn’t mean you should leave the conversation. Stay, learn, and collaborate
  6. Learn the culture you’re in.
    Someone that speaks the language of his coworkers and church members can effectively move people to action. Your ability to understand your team’s language and the ethos in the room is a treasure in leadership.
  7. Even if you have a special skill, also develop a generalist mentality that gives you functional knowledge in each area you lead.
    My former executive pastor said he felt he should have a theological, philosophical, and methodological understanding of each area of ministry he supervised (i.e. worship or missions). Having a wide-reaching spectrum of information will prove valuable at all leadership tables.
  8. Don’t fumble the ball.
    You’ll make mistakes, but don’t make careless mistakes that unduly handicap the church or organization. If you’re in over your head, call for help before it’s too late. (Click here for a previous post unpacking this concept.)

If you’ve been given the opportunity to lead, take advantage of it. And when you’re ill-equipped, use these and other methods to add value to others and to your ministry.

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