Episode 4: Ask Better Questions As Leaders
In this episode Jimmy and Patty sit down to talk about how to ask better questions as leaders. Whether it is your job to be a leader, or you are a volunteer leader: it is your responsibility to learn how to ask better questions.
Being a leader at any stage (paid or unpaid) can feel like a lot of work. However, many leaders make this responsibility harder than it needs to be. Learning to ask better questions of themselves and those they lead is the key to thriving as a leader (not just surviving).
Main Points -
Point One - Don’t Be the Smartest Person in the Room (Vulnerability)
Many leaders unfortunately do not know how to be vulnerable with those that they lead. This is not just about being transparent about what is going on in our lives. This is not about talking about mistakes and regrets in order to reinforce our points. This is a fake sort of vulnerability of sort of being open when it suits our purposes.
No, this is about being open to not being the most talented and gifted member of the team— especially when it comes to the team that you lead. You do not need to be the best preacher, the best bible scholar, or the best at anything. You do not even need to have the best spirituality to be a leader.
Point Two - Lead With Questions Not Solutions
Often leaders bring to their groups plans, strategies, and solutions for various problems that are occurring in their ministry. This is an immature form of leadership. This is what can reasonably be expected from those who first find themselves in positions of authority. However, this is not where the seasoned leader finds themselves for long.
An exceptional leader brings a question to the table: either they give a voice to a problem brought up by someone else, or they see something themselves that needs to be addressed.
Instead of coming to their group with what everyone is going to do to solve this problem, they bring it to the group. They let the group discuss and come up with a solution. A leader’s true responsibility is to create this environment where their teams can thrive. Even if those they lead are not official leaders in any capacity, say for instance someone who leads a small group.
Most immature leaders lead by telling people what to do. They may lie to themselves and say that what they are really doing is casting a vision. But a true leader is there with those he or she leads, making decisions with them not for them.
Unfortunately, in my experience these types of leaders are found more outside of the church, than in the church. My own personal experience is that most leaders in the church act more like they are all alone, and that everything is up to them. (Lonely Warrior Syndrome) The church is in serious need of true leaders that begin with vulnerability (Point One), and who strive to lead with questions not solutions. (Point Two)
Point Three - Be Open to Being Wrong and Expect Those You Lead to Challenge You
This is probably the hardest to achieve. Most leaders assume that those who are under them will be honest with them as a default. Everyone is a Christian right and there is a supposed expectation of honesty as basic to everyone’s spiritual walk. However this is often not the case.
What most leaders do not realize is that it is up to them to foster an environment where people feel comfortable challenging them. While this is not easy to achieve it is not difficult. It simply takes time, and a commitment that you expect people to challenge you as a leader.
A misunderstanding and exaggeration of Hebrews 13:17 has lead many leaders, especially in my tradition, to be left in what I call a Leadership Bubble. Those they lead are often hesitant to challenge them, because they want to be submissive and supportive. Unfortunately this leads to ineffective leaders, who can become blinded by lack of being challenged.
As a leader it is up to you to mine for conflict in your group. Expect them to challenge you, and tell them that. When they challenge you accept it. Do not retaliate or try and change their mind. Instead learn to ask better questions to those you lead, and how to have actual conversations with your team.
Unfortunately, (like I said in Point Two) I have rarely seen these types of teams in a church setting. The best teams I have been a part of is where the leader does not assume they are the smartest person in the room (Point One), they lead with questions not solutions (Point Two), and they cultivate an environment where the group is not afraid to challenge each other and push back (Point Three).
Challenge of the Week (C.O.W.)
Every journey starts with a single step. Our goal is for us to personally share our takeaways and put things into action. Do you want to be held accountable? Or hold us accountable?
Choose one or two of the challenges below.
Welcome to the Life to the Full Community!
Episode Three C.O.W. (Ask Better Questions As Leaders)
The Church is in desperate need for leaders that ask better questions of themselves and those they lead. I believe it is a crisis in my own tradition. Something that has not been adequately named, and has not been dealt with. I believe that most leaders are unaware that there is even an issue.
So the challenge for this week is which of the three points is hardest for you to deal with. Take some time this week to ask yourself what do you struggle with the most. Write it down! Get vulnerable and put it in the comments. It is only when we see the obstacles in our hearts that we are able to step over them.
For me (Jimmy) I can struggle the most with being vulnerable (Point One). I have been a part of teams where it was not okay to be vulnerable. I have to constantly remind myself that any team that cannot handle its people being vulnerable, is not a team I want to be a part of. My experience of being a leader has grown dramatically, by being aware of this. I often force myself to initially be vulnerable with those I lead. After I do it though at least once or twice: I usually find I cannot stop. It is freeing and liberating leading a group you can be vulnerable with. So while it is not my default mode of operation: it is the goal I strive for.
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No books recommended for this week!