Thursday, June 28, 2012

Qualities Of An Effective Leader

I have often been asked the question, “What makes a leader effective?”  While there are many qualities that one must possess to be an effective leader, I find five qualities that are common among effective leaders.

Effective leaders value people.
There are two kinds of leaders.  Those who value others and those who don’t.  Those who use people and those who help people.  Those who power-up over people and those who empower people.  Those that lord over other people and those who serve people.  Effective leaders genuinely care about people. The best leaders are those who people follow because they choose to follow them.

Effective leaders have strong personal convictions.
Effective leaders do not compromise their convictions.  Strong leaders do not doubt.  They know who they are, what they stand for, and where they are going.  They are willing to pay the price because they are driven by their convictions.

Effective leaders recruit other leaders.
Every good leader is a good recruiter of other leaders or potential leaders.  It is one thing to draw a crowd, it takes real leadership to be able to attract other leaders or future leaders.  Effective leaders know what to look for in recruiting potential leaders.

Effective leaders equip others.
Effective leaders make leadership training a priority in their organizations.  They are highly intentional in equipping others to be leaders.  They not only know how to perform well themselves; they also know how to motivate and equip others to reach their full potential as leaders.

Effective leaders have positive attitudes.
Effective leaders understand that one’s attitude really does determine his or her altitude.  Attitude can make a leader or break a leader.  No one wants to follow a person with a sour attitude.  People flock around those who have positive attitudes.

What qualities would you add to this list?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

The Importance of Identifying YOUR Core Values

In the movie, A Few Good Men, two marines stand on trial for killing a fellow marine. Their lawyer attempts to demonstrate that the murder was the result of an order that the two marines had received from a Colonel.  The order ended up causing his death.  When their lawyer begins to investigate, the prosecuting attorney offers to reduce the sentence from 20 years to 6 months.

The Lawyer, played by Tom Cruise, goes to tell his clients the good news.  Harold, one of the marines, refuses the plea bargain and chooses instead to stand on trial.  Cruise is mortified.  If the case went to trial, they could lose and likely spend a lifetime behind bars.  Tom Cruise looks Harold in the eye and asks him why he would refuse a plea bargain of six months.  Harold responds, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Tom Cruise, somewhat confused says, “What?”  He repeats, “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold explains that this is their code.  The center of marine values is “Unit, Core, God, Country.”  Harold had followed the code, and if following the code meant that he would spend the rest of his life in prison, then so be it.  Unit, Core, God, and Country were his core values and they determined everything he did.  He lived by them and he would die by them.

What are your core values?  What is it that you believe in so passionately that it dictates your actions - it’s what you will live by and it’s what you will die by?  Although it may not be stated, every person reading this has a set of core values.  If you were to let me follow you through your day for two weeks, by the end of those weeks I could tell you what your core values are.  Core values determine your actions.  Therefore, it is extremely important to have the right core values.  Wrong values will lead to wrong behavior.  Right values will lead to right behavior.

What is the benefit of identifying your core values?

• Values give meaning to life.
• Values clarify purpose in life.
• Values help set vision and goals.
• Values make decisions easier.
• Values reduce stress.

How do you identify your core values?  Your core values are what is most important to you; not something you want, but something you literally live by and die by.  They are nonnegotiable.

Create a list of character qualities that are important to you.  For example: integrity, faith, excellence, truthfulness, etc.  You can google “Core Values” and find a number of lists of common personal values that will help you to think through this process.  Your first list may be very long.  That’s okay.  You'll narrow it down in the next step.

Revisit each value you listed and eliminate anything that is superficial or temporary.  Ask yourself, “Do I need it in my life to be true to God and myself?  If there's any doubt, delete it.

Repeat this process until you have a list of 6 to 12 values that are absolutely essential for life to be meaningful and fulfilling for you.  Write down your list of values and place it where you can see it every day as a reminder of the principles by which you live and make decisions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Leadership Begins in the Home

Leaders aren’t born, they’re developed and leadership development starts in the home.  Leadership is influence and parents provide the earliest influence on children.  By modeling leadership in their own lives, parents profoundly affect the kind of leaders their children become.  Training children to be leaders takes time and intentionality.  With Father’s Day approaching I want to encourage dads to be leaders at home first.  Men, I am calling you to be a model leader in your family.

Below are some ways you can be a good leader and model good leadership in your home:

Take time to know your children.
Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.  You cannot influence your children if you do not spend time to get to really know them.  Do you know your children’s personalities?  Do you know what moves them, what makes them laugh, what excites them?  Do you know what problems and issues your children are dealing with?  Do you know their strengths and weaknesses?  How can you help your children develop strengths and overcome weaknesses if you don’t know what they are?

Add value to your children.
Love your children unconditionally.  Take the time to praise your children regularly for right choices and gently point out the choice they missed when they go astray.  Give them age-appropriate responsibilities and let them stand or fall on their decisions.  Reward them when they stand, correct them and lift them up when they fall.

Demonstrate a Servant’s Heart
Take the time to involve your children in family activities and work.  Include service projects for those outside your immediate family as well.  This will help kids learn responsibility, teamwork (sharing and considering others) and a good work ethic.  In his essay titled “Three Roles of the Leader in the New Paradigm,” Stephen Covey wrote, “There is no place where [the] spirit of service can be cultivated like the home. . . . People are supposed to serve.  Life is a mission, not a career.”

Have a Teachable Spirit
When you make a mistake be the first to say, “I’m sorry.  I messed up.”  This teaches your children that it’s ok to fail.  Failing does not make one a failure.  We all fail.  Our response to failing determines whether or not we are a failure.  Saying “I’m sorry.  I messed up” shows that we understand that we are wiser today than we were yesterday.

Let your children see you learning, reading, listening to those who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you.  Your children will see that learning is a life long process.  Growth is a process not an event.

Demonstrate Faith
Teach your children how to know God, love God, and serve God.  If you want your children to grow up to serve God, then show them what serving God looks like.  If you want your children to grow up to make a difference in someone’s life for eternity, then show them how to lead a person to faith in Christ.  If you want your children to grow up to be givers, then show them what tithing and giving looks like. Teach them that leaders are givers.

Men, God has called you to be leaders in the home.  Step up!  Take the responsibility!  Lead!  Your children’s future depends on your leadership.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dealing with Distractions

Do you have any unfinished projects lying around collecting dust?  It’s so easy to get sidetracked; isn’t it?  It takes tenacity to finish what we start because there are always so many competing distractions. This became very personal for me this morning when I was working on one of my four messages I needed to prepare for this week.  As I started working and setting my mind to writing, I looked around my desk and saw how cluttered it was.  I said to myself, “Self, this desk needs cleaning off.”  I stopped working on my message to clean off my desk. As I was cleaning off my desk I saw some folders that needed filing.  So, I started filing. One non-essential task led to another and before I knew it, I had spent half the morning cleaning and filing when I should have been studying and writing.  And the sad part about all of this is - I know better.  I teach leadership lessons on how to stay focused and on task.

I was reminded that fighting distractions is a constant battle.  The fact is, sometimes distractions come disguised as harmless options or even good things.  There are many things that can distract us from what’s really important - things like meetings, TV, sports, reading, and even email.

That’s one of my biggest distractions.  I like to get up early so that I can read and pray and jump into sermon prep while I’m still fresh.  Lately however, I have found myself turning my computer on and checking email before anything else.  While that’s not really bad, it does serve as a distraction because it takes time.

What are your greatest distractions?  What are you doing to fight them?  When you walk into your office or place of employment tomorrow look around and ask yourself, “Is my desk and/or office a distraction?”  One commitment I made today is that I will work to keep my desk clear of anything that will distract me from doing what is most important each day.