October 20, 2019 • Life for Leaders
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Have you ever heard this phrase? Although there is no real way to trace the exact origin of this saying, it is widely attributed to Bert Lance in 1977. As the Director of the Office of Management and Budget for President Jimmy Carter, Lance was referring to the sometimes-inefficient way that the Federal government touched what was fine, but neglected what was broken. While Lance’s point is understandable, I wonder if this mindset of not changing what is fine has hindered the growth of some organizations. The vision that you lead is not merely meant to exist, nor to maintain the status quo. Instead, it is meant to improve the quality of life for everyone in your sphere of influence. As leaders, we must learn to adopt a mindset that seeks to turn bad things good, and to make good things better, until perfection is reached. Even if perfection isn’t reached in your lifetime, what’s the harm in striving for it?
In today’s scripture passage, Paul is expounding to the church in Corinth on the responsibilities of liberty and freedom through Christ. He admonishes these believers to consider the differences between lawfulness and expediency—in other words “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should, nor that it is the best course of action.” As leaders, we often have the right and the ability to do whatever we choose. However, when a team is involved, our actions affect every member of our team.
I think we can all agree on the obvious threat that overt transgressions like fornication, greed, and pride can impose on a team if these transgressions are committed by leaders. But what about the other character flaws that we deem more personal or private—disorganization, insecurity, and selfishness? These seemingly innocuous traits have actually burdened teams with frustration and, in some cases, have led to good help going out the door. Too many leaders lead by crisis—making last minute decisions and just barely surviving the self-created chaos. In these cases, you not only frustrate your talented team members, but you also waste a valuable commodity that you all share—time.
Here are a few suggestions to aid you in valuing the time of your team members, while also improving the sanctity of your vision.
1. Work with your team to construct a mission statement and core values.
Figuring out what the mission of your organization is and establishing core values will go a long way in helping you frame your outreach, public engagement, and even partnerships. It will also provide clarity to your talented team as they consider how they can best help you.
2. Give your team buy-in by conducting strategy sessions early on.
Your team is talented, but they are not magicians. Every campaign, product roll out, or event should be preceded by strategy sessions to work out the “how.” As much as possible, these sessions should happen months (not weeks) in advance. The leader should ensure that all voices are at the table and that all parties feel like they can contribute constructively.
3. Debrief! Debrief! Debrief!
No matter how well your event or campaign went, there is always room for improvement and better methods to increase efficiency. Don’t put the onus on your team to demand debriefs. Lead by proactively convening these sessions. It is best to start these sessions by highlighting what went right. Then you should give every team member the chance to discuss how they viewed the event (both publicly and behind the scenes). Finally, ask them to provide you with ways in which you can better support them in the future.
God, you require us to redeem the time and to do all things for your good pleasure. Show us how to better lead our teams so that your vision in us will bring you ultimate glory. We pray this in Jesus’s name, Amen.