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Underpromising Leadership

Tom Shefchunas
Tom Shefchunas Tuesday July 6, 2010
<? echo $type; ?> Underpromising Leadership

I was once told that a definition of leadership was “letting people down at a rate that they can stand.” In some ways, I get that. I think there is a bit more to it but…here’s my problem…I love saying “yes.” I’m still a people pleaser.

And, though I say “yes” too often, I still say “no” all the time for various reasons.

Most of the time it’s not that the idea wasn’t any good…though that happens.

It’s not that we don’t have the budget…though that happens.

It’s not that I simply don’t want to do that…though that happens too…just ask my staff.

Most of the time when I say “no” it is simply a “trust” issue.

And that is not what you think it is either…It’s not that I don’t “trust” the person or the idea…

It’s that I want to be trusted…

I want to run a ministry that is trusted…

I want to be a person that is trusted.

Here’s my tension – I want to be trustworthy and I want to please people.

Here’s my hard truth – I can’t do both.

I simply have too many people making requests of me. If I say “yes” to all…I’m lying to somebody.

As Andy says all the time…Part of being trustworthy is being worthy of trust. (Sounds simple doesn’t it? You should see how many people get their pen out and write it down when he says it!)

Being trustworthy does not mean your perfect. It does mean that you do what you say your going to do, and when you don’t, you “own it.”

Do you tend to say “yes” and overpromise OR say “no” and underpromise? Do you agree that a good leader underpromises… all the time? In your experience, do you think it’s better to disappoint or to lose trust?

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Tom Shefchunas—better known as Shef—is the Executive Director of Student Strategy at Orange. In this role, he leads the development and strategy for XP3 Middle School and High School curriculum. Previously, Tom was North Point Ministries’ Multi-Campus Director of Transit, their middle school ministry, for 12 years. And before that, he spent 10 years as a high school teacher, coach, and principal. Additionally, he is the co-author of Lead Small with Reggie Joiner. Tom and his wife, Julie, live in Cumming, Georgia, with their three children, Mac, Joey, and Cooper.