As I write this, I’m listening to our dryer run. It’s a new dryer we had to buy because the old one met a bitter, smoke-filled, smelly end. The old one had given us plenty of trouble over the last few years, but the new one didn’t fix everything like we had hoped. It required too many cycles to completely dry a big load, and we knew part of the issue was the vent.
I went up in the attic and had to take apart the vent in order to clean it out. As you might imagine, the primary issue was birds deciding it would make a great home. There were no birds or eggs in there, fortunately, but there was enough birds nest material in there for a large hawk I imagine. It was quite the endeavor to clean it out. Note to self, pay attention the next time the soffit vent comes off.
Cleaning out the vent helped, but it still hasn’t completely solved the issue. I’d love to tell you it’s fixed and we figured it all out, but there’s clearly something else that’s negatively impacting the performance. Something we haven’t accounted for yet.
The same thing can happen in our leadership. We can be leading well and even growing as a leader, but there are always factors at play that can negatively impact our leadership and keep us from having the influence we desire. Sometimes, we know what it is, but other times it’s a blind spot. In order to help us assess our leadership and identify any negative influences, I’ve included some possibilities here.
Are any of these restricting your leadership effectiveness?
Character is the first place to look as we assess our leadership and try to identify negative influences. I’ll never forget a great quote Erwin McManus gave at a conference during a Q&A portion. He said you should, “run as fast as your character goes deep, not as fast as your talent goes wide.” The reality is, we can run pretty far on talent. We can even run for a while before we see evidence of the impact on our leadership. It’s impacting it the whole time, but it can be overlooked or hidden. Eventually, however, it surfaces.
Are you compromising in some way?
Are you not following privately what you’re saying publicly?
Do you have a safe place where you can talk about your struggles?
Answering those questions honestly can help reveal whether or not our character is the foundation or the foothold of our leadership.
As our leadership responsibilities grow, I find that how we work matters more. You can call it time management, productivity, or something else, but whatever you call it, it either supports our leadership or it is a barrier to it. A few questions to help assess your leadership in this area include:
Do you work mostly by reacting to things that need done or planning in advance?
More often than not, do you find yourself wondering where all your time went?
Do you feel like you work just as hard, but don’t get the same results?
If the answer is yes to any of those, your productivity and time management might be an issue. In my leadership, I found I had to overhaul how I worked every time there was a big shift in the scope of my responsibility. The old system just didn’t work anymore. If you want to dive into more about productivity, I wrote a guide here with all the best principles, tools and tips I’ve learned over the years from highly productive people.
You may evaluate your productivity and realize you are just as productive as you have always been, there’s just more to produce! You have more responsibilities and the same amount of time to get everything done, it’s just simply not possible on your own. As leaders, I tend to believe most of us are already delegating well and we can always delegate more.
One way to evaluate if you need to delegate more is to categorize your time. If you audited a week or a month of your time, what percentage of the time spent would go in each of these categories:
Working IN the ministry
Work ON the ministry
Working in the ministry would include anything you do that is necessary to make it happen that week or that month. Working on the ministry would include time spent on things that are important, but not critical to the execution of the areas you lead. Sure, there’s some nuance there, but you probably get the point. I always want to strive to work in the ministry 20 percent of the time and work on it 80 percent of the time, so even a 50-50 balance would lead me to believe I could delegate more.
Bill Hybels says, “The best thing you can bring to your team as a leader is your energy.” If you don’t bring energy to your team the team will not create it themselves. It’s possible for us to not even realize that our energy has waned and not see the negative impact that has on our leadership.
Are you excited before you spend time with those you lead each week?
Are you in a good place in terms of health, so you have energy to bring?
Do you need to take steps in some area of your life in order to gain more energy?
Without energy, I know I’m less open to ideas, more easily frustrated, less creative and far less inspiring. Energy might be the influence that can negatively impact my leadership the fastest. Having good energy, on the other hand, helps our leadership reach further and sustain longer. Whatever it will take for us to have the energy we need, it’s worth it.
It would be great if I knew the specific problem that was affecting our dryer. I could attack it and know it would most likely improve how it functions. At this point, however, I don’t know the problem. I just have to start somewhere. I already did start, of course, and it’s making things better. I still need to identify what else is negatively impacting it.
I would encourage you to do the same. Maybe you’re not sure what is negatively impacting your leadership. Start somewhere. Use this list and make one of your own and start analyzing. Ask the right questions, get wise counsel, and take the necessary steps to remove any negative influences on your leadership.
The work you do is too important to ignore it.