1. Thinking Strategically

As it regards people and tasks, leaders need to be thinking about the present and about the future at the same time —not either/or but both/and. Some leaders are so focused on the daily, short-range issues that little time is spent peering into the future and determining what needs to be done. Good leaders keep an eye on the current issues and details as they simultaneously keep watch over where things are headed. History is replete in the market place and in the church with examples of organizations and leaders who got left behind.

  • Kodak
  • Blockbusters
  • Circuit City
  • K-Mart

You don’t have to look far to find churches with a nice piece of property and money in the bank but hardly any people under 75 and no forward-thinking leaders. 

As one observer put it, “We continue to operate like we did in the 50s and when the 50s come back we will be ready.” Aside from music from the 50s and Ruby’s and Johnny Rockets, the 50’s are long gone! 

2. Acting decisively 

Leaders make decisions—that’s what leaders do. Bad leaders refuse to decide out of fear. They over-think and take too long. Here are some practical principles to help all of us in acting decisively.

Understand that’s what you are getting paid to do. Making decisions as a leader is normal, ordinary and required. It’s why you are a leader. Embrace it!

Don’t be in too big of a hurry. For big decisions, always sleep on them. The extra time will allow your decision to be made without the spontaneous emotion that comes with a spontaneous response.

Know what’s important to you—what you truly value. As Roy Disney stated, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Many times indecision occurs because of lack of clarity on vision and values. Values are foundational and must be in place in order to move the organization forward.

Do your homework.  Make sure you’re informed. Plus, be aware of the situation. In the case of a good/bad decision, those are pretty easy. In the case of a better/best decision, those take a bit more time to push forward and get to a final decision. Different decisions require different levels of involvement, awareness and information.

Just do it. Have a bias for action.  Execute consistently with excellence and in a timely fashion. Many leaders quickly become overwhelmed with several decisions in front of them and then fall prey to paralysis of analysis. 

3.  Communicating effectively 

When I read a book or watch a movie and get one good idea, it was well worth the price. Years ago I saw “Cool Hand Luke” with Paul Newman in the lead role. He’s in prison on a work crew. He tries to escape over and over and, each time, gets caught,  beat up and thrown into solitary confinement. 

At one point in the movie the frustrated prison guard says to Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” I laugh every time I think about that line. I often bring it up in meetings when it’s clear we are totally misunderstanding and/or not truly listening to one another. My team-mates will look at me knowing it’s coming, Dave’s going to quote that line from “Cool Hand Luke” again: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  

Just last week I was on the phone with a leader who is part of a pretty large organization. He personally oversees five leaders, each of whom over-sees about eight each. In his organization there are a dozen or so who have similar responsibilities as he does. He told me that the biggest single issue they are faced with is communication. Most simply don’t know what’s going on. I have seen this over and over in my years as a leader. 

Communication needs to be:

  • Persuasive 
  • Consistent
  • Thorough
  • Honest
  • Understandable
  • Brief and to the point

I have experienced my share of:

  • No communication
  • Inaccurate communication
  • Late communication
  • Inadequate communication
  • Insensitive communication
  • Untimely communication
  • Sloppy and unprofessional communication
  • Boring communication

So, my fellow leader, how are you doing at:

  • Thinking strategically
  • Acting decisively
  • Communicating effectively

What is one thing you could start doing to improve? How about asking those who look to you for leadership!