98. What could you stop doing?

Think back to when you started to learn to drive.  There were so many things to learn and remember.  Then as soon as you began to get the moves down, you started a bad habit like crossing your hands over the wheel and the instructor would say – no please don’t do that as you will fail the exam (at least in the UK).  Sometimes we focus so much on things we should do, that we don’t realise the things we are doing that we shouldn’t!  It’s important to stop the behaviours that can cause ineffectiveness or hindrance to the members on the team.

If you have read the account of Jesus proclaiming woes over the Pharisees you will know he was very clear with them and basically said – if you are going to lead, don’t lead like this!  It is so easy for us as leaders to cause hurt to those we lead.  We have to be very careful in our attitudes, behaviours and communications as people are watching and listening.  Here are 12 simple ‘not to do’s’ in my personal list.

  1. Expecting others to do things you are not prepared to do.
    The reasoning goes like this – as a leader, my time is important, I am responsible for the outcomes, I need to involve myself in the most important tasks and delegate the mundane and everyday things to others.  However, as servant leaders, we need to accept some of those mundane things like meeting people at airports, being there to welcome people, serving them with something to drink or eat and being relational. These are basics of a leader’s role.
  1. Speaking on topics that you have little experience in.
    People said of Jesus – he speaks with such authority.  Authority comes from a life that is congruent – what you say is what you do and what you speak about is lived out in your life for people to see.  It means that for every principle you share, there is a story to back it up in your own life.  In this way we can give people a picture of what living out this principle or value looks like.
  1. Only share weaknesses that you have victory in.
    It’s always encouraging to be able to share ways that we have grown and developed and how God has changed our lives.  The challenge is that if we only share areas that we have overcome, we appear to have our lives ‘all together’ and in some ways cease to be able to really relate with those on our teams.  ‘Mr or Miss almost perfect’ don’t encourage vulnerability and being real.
  1. Over scheduling your time.
    Leaders are busy people with many tasks and calls on their time.  There always seems to be more to do than the time we have to do it.  However one of the mistakes we can make is to so tightly schedule our time, we always appear busy to those we lead.  We become so busy that there is no time for the person who just needs to have a word with us, or for that unexpected visitor, or for simply hanging out with team members who need to relate to us.
  1. Working through your days off
    I am probably not really qualified to write about this as it has been one of those challenges as a leader of a retreat centre with something happening every second.  However, I do know the necessity of taking breaks, personal retreats, catching up with yourself, debriefing the day, week or season with the Lord and generally creating space to be able to be at peace.
  1. Mixing up the marriage and team hat that your spouse is wearing.
    Relating to your spouse in the team with a marriage hat and at home with a team hat will cause difficulties.  If you treat your spouse differently from other team members, it will appear as favouritism and if at home you relate with your spouse as a team member you lose intimacy and the uniqueness of your own relationship.  So let’s be careful to not use the wrong hat in the wrong place.
  1. Do things on your own without involving others.
    It might feel easier at the time to just do things yourself but in the long run every issue will lead back to you and the danger is that you become a lone ranger, with a high turnover of people.  Another consequence is that staff experience frustration in not getting trained and have little sense of team.
  2. Micromanaging your staff. Do you jump from sharing the vision to getting into the nitty gritty detail?  Do you feel the need to tell people what to do and how to do it and then look over the shoulders of your team members to make sure they are doing it right?  Do you feel that the team would fall apart without you?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are probably micromanaging.  Allow your team members to have the freedom to make their own decisions about how best to do their work, rather than have them always follow your approach.
  3. Take everything personally.
    To be a leader you need to develop an inner resilience.  Resilience means that you are not easily upset or offended by criticism. To survive in politics, as a salesperson and as a leader you need resilience to deal with the potential rejection.  As a leader you won’t be able to please all the people all the time and so not everyone will be happy with you. This is a big challenge in leadership.
  4. Avoid the following phrases:

– It’s not my fault.  (putting blame on someone else for the problem)

– She does it better than you, or why can’t you do it like him!

– Leave it to me, I will do it. (you are obviously incapable!)

– Failure is not an option (in other words – mistakes aren’t tolerated)

– We’ve always done it this way (new idea stopper)

– Because I am the boss!  (you don’t need to understand, just obey)

  1. Fail to set action steps or goals:
    Your staff need to know what the team objectives and goals are, what you are aiming at, what you want to achieve by when and how you will know when you get there.    If staff are confused about what their assignments are, team life becomes frustrating and the morale becomes low.  We all want to see good fruit from our work.
  2. Become task only teams. Living in a visionary movement can be tough because the work is never done.  There’s always a new task, vision, plan to be thinking about and often a pressure to get it done yesterday!  The words of Moses come to mind – If you don’t go with us, we won’t go.  We are in missions because of Jesus and a vital relationship with him is foundational.  We are also part of a team that requires time and relationship.  If we narrow down our team agenda to just the task, we lose our reason for being, our sense of community and our love for Jesus.

So as well as developing positive values, it’s also good to think through what not to do, so I encourage you to work on your own list or things to stop doing.

Until next month,


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