If you're like me, your leadership might seem to get bogged down sometimes. It can appear stuck in the myriad of things to do.
You're busy and working hard. A couple of weeks, even a month can go by, and nothing seems to have moved forward.
This experience is common because leadership in the local church is an intricate, layered and long-term oriented process.
As a result, it's easy to lose sight of several basic leadership practices that end up underutilized or even buried under the pile of stuff to do, burdens to carry and problems to solve.
The internal consequence is frustration, which nearly always reduces your effectiveness. Frustration sucks the energy and creativity out of you.
You might become consumed with why some things don't work rather than focusing on a little progress every day. In fact, it might seriously hijack your ability to solve problems and move forward. (And the truth is, lots of things are working well, but you lose perspective.) You can miss these simple and basic practices, the very things that help you break loose and get unstuck.
Don't let the following five practices get buried in frustration, or even just stuck in the normal and large list of things to do. Which ones of these five underutilized practices, if used today, would help you move forward and give your leadership the boost it needs?
1. Get the right people in the room. I invest a good amount of effort to get the right people in a room together at the right time for the right reasons. I never cease to be amazed at the power of a wisely and intentionally convened group in contrast to a "regular" meeting.
It's easy to waste time by meeting with five or six people, one-to-one, multiple times! Get them all in a room at the same time. Meet for a purpose and get the job done. It's much faster and so much more productive.
Regular meetings as a foundation are essential, but you can significantly increase the outcomes by adding or deleting the right people and working hard to set a very specific agenda. Avoid at all costs having a regular meeting where you go around the table and each person gives a general update.
2. Pick up the phone. The potential impact of a 10-minute phone call to start something in motion is staggering. It's easy to make the call too complicated because you want to cover all the bases in the first call. So you put it off. I've done that many times. I've waited because I think I need an hour for the call, or I need to do two hours of homework first. Just get it started.
Maybe you want to ask someone if they are interested in a job, starting a new ministry or engaging in a partnership. Pick up the phone. A yes response indicating interest generates the momentum that makes real progress.
3. Make a decision. It's true that some big decisions require significant time to pray, process and percolate. But from years of experience, I've learned that most decisions can be made relatively quickly.
Most of your everyday decisions can be made in 24-48 hours or less. One to two days gives you time to pray, think, make a couple of calls, check the budget and so on. And as your experience increases, some decisions require no more than a few minutes.
And there are many decisions you don't need to make. Ask a few right questions and empower someone else to decide.
Again, if someone else needs to make the decision, get the decision moved to that person today.
4. Have the tough conversation. Hopefully, tough conversations are not required as a daily part of your leadership. If that's the case, something more significant than one conversation needs your attention. Don't put it off. Have the discussion today.
In my experience, most leaders know what to do—they just don't want to do it. They know what to say, but fear of a difficult conversation and what "might" happen shuts down the process.
It rarely goes as poorly as you think, and even if it is rough or doesn't go as well as you hoped, you will move forward because you've had the conversation.
Here's my top coaching tip: When you have the tough conversation, don't waste the moment. It's already awkward, so don't go three-quarters of the way. Go all the way. Get it all said. Don't beat around the bush. That makes it worse, and you must do it again.
5. Take a moment to pray. I've saved the best for last. In dozens of personal conversations, leaders have opened up to me about their prayer lives and overall prayer practices.
Even among the most positive stories where the leader has a robust and consistent prayer life, once they hit the office and are running for the day, the opportunity to stop and pray often gets lost.
There simply is no greater power to help you get unstuck in the moment than prayer.
Not every prayer is about a big deal. But if it's about God's purpose in your church, it's not too small. As long as it comes from your heart, the Holy Spirit takes it from there. He adds the power, not you.
Devise a reminder for yourself. Maybe wear a wristband. Or you can set your phone to chime every couple hours or so to represent a reminder question: "What's the prayer need right now?"
Come up with a technique that works for you, but don't miss out on this great leadership practice.
Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Previously he partnered with John Maxwell, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY. Learn more about his ministry at danreiland.com.
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