Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter
Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter does a great job of identifying six common times that leadership makes a difference. Indeed, leaders are often born in those moments. Being able to recognize them, and then navigate them effectively, will help anyone become a more effective leader.
I’ve seen all of those times in church life; I suspect they are common to every organization, and are moments every leader will experience. But there were two items in particular that stuck out to me.
The first related to leveraging pessimism. Dealing with pessimists is one of the most challenging tasks for any leader. Learning how to take advantage of their pessimism and seeing the organization benefit from their perspective is leadership gold.
Pessimists see problems that others, especially optimists, may not see, or would tend to gloss over. That means that having their input on issues and topics can be invaluable—any plans that are made are more likely to be realistic and stand a better chance of succeeding.
But especially in church life, that tendency and ability to see problems can be easily dismissed as a lack of faith, and thus disregarded. I don’t think it (necessarily) has anything to do with faith. It is simply how that person is wired. Making place for that can be hugely helpful. I want to be a man like Abraham was described as, in the 4th chapter of the book of Romans: someone who faced the facts, but still acted in faith. Pessimists can help us honestly face the facts.
At the same time, the authors note that those pessimists shouldn’t be in leadership. Their ability to see the problems can paralyze an organization when they are the ones making the decisions. They need to have a voice, but not necessarily the deciding one.
Connected to that idea is this one: The leaders in an organization are the people who habitually move from stating problems to finding solutions.
Effective leadership is always solution-focused. Ultimately, anyone can identify a problem, just as anyone can hold a leadership position. Neither one makes you a leader. Leaders solve problems, period.
Too often in church life “leaders” are assumed to be the people with the position, or just the loudest voice. That assumption paralyzes many churches from having the impact they could be having, or just from moving forward the way they could be. They are held hostage by non-leaders who are controlling what is happening.
I wonder what would happen if a church defined a leader as someone who solves problems, or makes things happen. I suspect we would see more healthy churches! And I know that there are some leadership roles where productivity isn’t the issue. For example, in many churches Small Group Leaders are responsible for the pastoral care of the people in their group. That’s difficult to measure in terms of productivity. But even there, when problems in the groups arise, some leaders deal with them, and others call the pastor to do it.
The key word here is habitual. Leaders habitually solve problems. That doesn’t mean they always solve every problem, but they have that bias. That is their default reaction when a problem arises. Sometimes they can’t, and have to get help or hand it off. But their habit is to try and deal with it.
As I read through the book, I could see every one of the six moments at some point in my life. How about you? Which of those have you experienced, and how did it go? Please share your experience with the rest of us.