Monthly Archives: January 2010

Preparation

Proper preparation prevents poor performance.  I have heard of the 5 P’s for years.  Preparation is one of the fundamentals worthy of a leaders investment.  More specifically, leaders must invest in “proper preparation.”

Preparation is usually an activity stimulated by a need ahead.  When the need is evident, preparation begins.

Spiritually speaking, the Bible is filled with an emphasis on preparation.  Jesus used a parable to teach the urgency of preparation in Matthew 25:1-13.  Why? We do not know the day nor hour of His return. Are we prepared?

With regards to leadership, proper preparation is vital to be a successful leader. Preparation involves learning from past mistakes, counseling with others, and counting the cost before committing.  The following suggestions will also provide assistance in making proper preparation.

1)  Know the destination…in advance. The old adage “flying by the seat of your pants” requires no preparation, but can be destructive to leadership. Leaders need to know where they want to go.  This involves setting goals and it has application in every area of life, especially in preparing lessons.

2)  Establish priorities. Establishing priorities involves organizing what must be done first. Leaders need to develop the ability to determine the right priorities, personally, professionally, and spiritually.

3)  Find a balance between impulsive and procrastination. Patience is a virtue. Look before you leap. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These quotes speak of the need to prepare.  Procrastination will destroy leadership, but being impulsive will also. Finding a balance between the two will aid leadership in preparing to know the right time to act.

4)  Be aware of possible barriers. Fear impacts many efforts to leadership.  People often fear change, uncertainty of the future, the unknown, and an endless list of phobias. Leaders need to prepare for obstacles arising out of fear. Recognizing fear allows a good leader an opportunity to prepare a way out of fear to freedom. Jesus did the same.

5) Acknowledge “every” success. Victory / success helps to develop confidence and strength to move forward. Success is not only important to achieve overall, it is also vital to recognize the small victories along the way. At every opportunity, leaders work to build up followers, encourage and instill confidence.

6)  Set regular times for evaluation. The discussion on goals in the Essentials of Leadership, lays a foundation for the necessity of evaluation. Preparation to meet goals includes a time to examine progress and make necessary adjustments.

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Influence

The power of influence is underestimated more than any area associated with leadership. The tendency is to believe only a few who live or are placed in the “public eye” have influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The words of Charles Barkley still echo concerning the power of influence, “I am not a role model.” What causes men in the public eye, such as Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire, to deny, ignore, excuse, or seek to justify inappropriate behavior in spite of their influence?

Consider the influence of leaders throughout history, such as Hitler or Stalin. From a more positive perspective, maybe consideration would be given to the influence of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr. A range of Biblical examples also stand out, such as Moses, Joshua, Jezebel, Manasseh, Paul or Peter. The influence of Jesus continues to impact millions of people around the world.

Few people realize the power of their influence and even fewer invest in their influence.  John Maxwell has published a number of resources dealing with influence. He claims we individually influence at least four people everyday. This fact alone should move us to learn more about leadership. Every spoken or written word influences others. Every action demonstrated influences others.

Remembering several facts about influence should help us see the need to invest in our leadership influence.

1.  Someone is always watching. Children watch their parents. Employees watch their employers. In general, we all watch our peers. No matter who we are or where we live, someone is always watching. As Christians, this statement takes on even greater application. People watch to make sure our lives are consistent with our message.

2.  People often imitate what is seen in others. Even though every person has influence, the majority of the world is looking for someone to follow. Since this is true, it should make us think. If we want people to do better, they need to see a better way of life. The way you and I live can provide this kind of influence. The very life of Jesus was lived and recorded in light of this purpose.

3.  Teaching right is easier than doing right. Application of truth is the most difficult of tasks. Mark Twain once said, “to be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler–and less trouble.” Generally speaking, most folks know exactly what everyone else should be doing, but rarely make the same application personally. Influence is based on living an example of the teaching.

4.  We can only change ourselves. In reality, we attempt to change others first. We want others to accept the plan, but not the man. “Do what I say and not what I do” is far too often the unspoken law of hypocritical influence. Imagine how different our world would be if we were all busy working to first improve our own influence.

5.  No better gift can be given than a good example. Paul instructed Timothy to be an example of those who believe in five areas, “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” If all parents gave their children an example in these five areas, we could be one generation away from changing the entire “world view.” This is the power of influence!

Potential

The spoken or written word has powerful potential.  The mass media strives to utilize this potential with every post.

Goals and plans have incredible potential when researched, thought out, written down, verbalized and maintained through implementation.

Leadership involves potential.  Recognizing potential relates back to the discussion of character.  When character consists of qualities such as integrity, honesty, decisiveness, and strong work ethic there is a strong foundation for the greatest potential.

Everyone has potential!  However, we must work to develop our abilities to reach our greatest potential.  As leaders, we must also determine a plan by which we can help others reach their greatest potential, utilizing the qualities and skills of each person to achieve the common goal.

Within the realm of spiritual leadership, recognizing potential is a necessity.  Too often potential is hindered by the limitations placed upon self, others, and ultimately God.  How can someone reach their greatest potential?  How can leaders help others reach their greatest potential?

Consider the following:

1)            Do not limit God!!!! Leaders must not allow themselves to think God cannot do it because “I” cannot do it.

2)            Start thinking “BIG” Since God is able to do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” Eph. 3:20, then the question becomes, how big can we think?  Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  For someone who built an empire from the concept of an animated mouse, just what can God accomplish through us in a real way?

3)            Verbalize the possibilities Far more than merely thinking about it, leaders must verbalize the power of potential.

4)            Develop the plan into smaller sections (stages) Doug McNary, former president of Western Union, refers to it as “The Rule Of The Elephant.”  The idea is based upon the question, “how do you eat an elephant?”  The answer is simply, “one bite at a time.”  The analogy emphasizes the need to achieve goals and plans by breaking them down into smaller stages.

5)            Begin NOW! Procrastination must not be a part of the equation. An old African proverb claims “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  The application is true in reaching our potential.  The best time to start was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.