Tag Archive: development

Who Should Own Your Self-Development?

“No one cares more about your personal development than you do.” —Jenni Catron

It is your responsibility to develop yourself. God created you a pretty spectacular person, but in all areas of life, we need to grow. Some of this growth will occur organically. But it’s the other part that I’m talking about—the part that requires a purposeful effort.

Some of you (though not this writer) were born with helpful leadership genetics (tall, attractive, intelligent). However, no matter what was passed along to you genetically, or what your nurturing environment was like growing up, all high functioning leaders must focus on developing throughout their time of leadership.

Ah…self-development. Some loathe the phrase and its requirements, while others thrive on the concept.

Self-development is a significant part of the staff culture where I serve. There’s a high expectation to do it, and in order to help people grow, we provide resources of time and money to help them get it done.

I’ve written previously on our goal templates, our required leadership course, and the cost of “arriving in ministry” (thus, not pursuing improvement). But a recent chapter in Jenni Catron’s latest book, The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership, spurred me to think more about who needs to own the responsibility of self-development (or self-leadership).

In my role as executive pastor, many of the things related to self-development are things I pass along to staff. Some are suggested, while others are required. I can offer lunch and learns, seminary courses, trainings, books, and more, but ultimately, it’s the person’s decision to take advantage of them or not. If they don’t purposefully take advantage of them, then there will be nominal self-development.

There’s a responsibility on leaders to offer compelling self-development opportunities and at some level, the supportive margin and resources. But there’s also a responsibility on the learner.

Do you desire to develop who you are?

Catron’s words reminded me, “Your [our] leadership development is your [our] responsibility. Seize it.” She goes on to say, “Leadership development is not a right. It’s an opportunity and a privilege.”

A privilege? What?

Do you see self-development as a privilege? Do you talk about it that way? Or do you see it as another task someone is giving to you? How do those you lead interpret your view of self-development? Do they think you’re checking boxes and completing an obligation, or do they see you wholeheartedly behind it?

Let’s say you’re pro-development. Does your calendar show that you value self-development?

Many of us assume our development will happen organically—that through pure experience, we’ll develop. And that’s a fair assumption, but it’s not complete. A lack of purposeful self-development will equate to a lackluster leader.

We put a lid on our leadership capacity when we choose not to pursue development opportunities. Further, those we lead who are intentionally developing will close the leadership gap. And it won’t be long until we no longer have the leadership IQ to lead them to next level.

How will you get 3% better in leadership this year?

Do you have at least one predetermined goal? Or better yet, a fully fleshed out self-development plan? (If so, I’d love to see it. Email me.)

Take small, but purposeful steps to self-development.

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Essential Items For Your Meetings

©volff/ Dollar Photo Club

You know you need to bring your team together. There are several important things you need to accomplish in the meeting, but the bad news is you know the meeting will take at least two hours. Based on the meeting culture you have, people will loathe this. So, what can you do?

The answer: Have a great meeting. How do you do that? Mix it up. A meeting longer than 45 minutes needs to have 3-5 components within in to be rendered successful to the skeptics. (Sometimes meeting content is high value for you as team leader, but not valued the same way for others. You need to be okay with that, and occasionally so do they.  But you can’t systematically have meetings that are of a low value to your team.)

Not every meeting requires all of this content – but if you plan to keep people’s attention, develop, inspire, and make decisions that help everyone, make sure to include three of these content types in each of your longer meetings:

  1. Development
    What competency can be taught in your meeting that improves those in it? How can you challenge their thinking, habits, or interpersonal interactions in order for them to be better developed for their life or job role? This takes sacrifice because it’s going to take up time in your meeting – and also before it. . It takes preparedness. Adding development items into your agenda isn’t something you think of while walking to the meeting, or pull from some other leader’s website that morning. This requires you to plan and prepare to develop others.  For example: during my regular senior leadership meeting which is 2.5 hours in length, we typically set aside 25-30 minutes for development. If you value development as a leader, prove it.
  1. The “why”
    You’ve got to ensure your team knows the why for several things: the meeting itself, any significant agenda items, and the bigger why of them being required to work hard all the time.  Sometimes you’ll need to give context by telling a story or giving history on how we got here. Other times, just a simple statement like this will be sufficient:  “We have this meeting to ensure we make collaborative and well-informed decisions on matters that influence our… ”
  1. Buy-in
    Let them participate and have influence. Some meetings are simply a download of information – but those need to be short. Longer meetings need to have interaction – and participants need to have a stake in the outcome. You as a leader need to communicate what’s up for debate and consensus, versus what’s simply them speaking into a decision you or someone else will ultimately make. I’ve blogged before about the importance of establishing clarity regarding consensus versus input.
  1. Strategy
    I blogged recently about the importance of designing your meeting agenda with strategic discussion given the highest priority. There need to be times when you have discussions at higher levels of strategy, rather than getting caught in the weeds of operational details.
  1. Operational
    There are also times when you need to get in the weeds. Certain team members are going to want to always rush to the operational stuff. If they don’t see time on the agenda to discuss calendar items or details that allow them to do their work, you’ll lose them.  Don’t be afraid of doing this, but do assess its value and timing correctly in the overall meeting agenda.
  1. Laughter
    Don’t force this with a stand-up routine, but do allow margin for it. Most every team has that guy or gal who’s just funny. Let them be funny.  Don’t talk over everyone’s laughter by announcing the next agenda item. Live in the laughter for a moment. Sometimes it’ll need to be corralled, but do that sparingly.
  1. Bonus for those in ministry settings: Prayer
    Not just because you should, but because you want the meeting and its decisions to be dependent on wisdom from God. Praying not only reminds those in attendance who is ultimately in charge, but also allows for the Divine in an otherwise effort-driven- cause. I also like to leave room for spontaneous prayers. Sometimes a need or tense subject will come up, and fairly often, I’ll stop the meeting, and ask some to pray about the matter. It’s not given an agenda slot, and I do have to make up for the lost time elsewhere in the meeting, but I’ve never regretted it.

Not every great meeting requires all of these. But when you do include them, make sure to mix it up and engage those with differing learning styles. Don’t always do the ones easiest for you. I hope you have some great meetings.

(As an example of a meeting with these components, I’ve attached one of our recent meeting agendas for you to review. You can view it in my resources page, by clicking on this Sample meeting agenda.)

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When You're an Inadequate Leader

holding boulder

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®

There are some days you’ll feel like an inadequate leader. Some days, it’s just something you feel – and other days, it’s a reality.

In my library, I have just shy of 100 books on leadership. So, I know (or at least have read about) what it means to be an effective leader. I know what an effective leader looks like.

And I also know when I don’t measure up.

On days when you’re not as good of a leader as your job requires, responding to that well is, in fact, a leadership opportunity. So how does this play out?

In a recent work day, I acquiesced. I wasn’t trying to be a great leader anymore, but was simply trying to control the rate at which I was disappointing people. It was clear I couldn’t be all I needed to be for others, so I was trying to regulate the disappointment factor.

I’ve been doing the church-leader role for 18 years, and I know when the issues pressing me are beyond my ministry intelligence or my capacity as a leader. This happens enough that I’ve developed some responses for when I experience those situations.

When you’re not the leader everyone needs you to be or your job requires, consider the following:

  1. Take a deep breath. You’ll likely be better tomorrow.
  2. Vent to an appropriate person. (I don’t recommend venting on a blog, as I’m doing.)
  3. Call for help. Just because it’s beyond your capability doesn’t mean it’s beyond another’s.
  4. Look to Scripture. There are numerous leaders in the Bible who were overwhelmed, and yet God saw them through.
  5. Realize not everyone noticed your leadership shortfall.
  6. Realize most people will give you grace.
  7. Think gray – you don’t have to solve all your leadership issues in one day.
  8. Pray, and be reminded that your identity comes from God – not how well you perform your leadership tasks.
  9. Evaluate. If your shortcomings seem to be consistent in one area, determine what that is, and work on a self-development plan.
  10. Show up the next day, and strive to be the best you can.



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