Leadership is a balancing act, right now I feel like I’m on the tightrope halfway between “the old way” and “a new future”.
An organization has a tendency to fixate on a period of time and gauge all other events, epochs and metrics against that one period. In a church it is often the “Good ole days,” or as a friend from Carlisle once told me, “Back when the church had 4 busses and a bowling team.”
There can also be the dreamers and visionaries who are fully engrossed with the future. The future becomes the period they are fixated on. Earlier this month I resigned from the Executive Board of an organization whose vision was to unite the church in the greater area to work together for poverty (at least I think that was their vision at one point). They decided that vision wasn’t going to work anymore they want to build/renovate houses. They were paralyzed by an over focus on the future they couldn’t do any good right now in the present.
In the last week I have been focusing on leadership and I have come to a few conclusions that I wanted to share.
- The past is almost always romanticized. The church in Carlisle never had more than 2 busses–and yet the Good Ole Days claim was that they had 4. Or a church who always had over 400 people when the sanctuary only sits 350 (and definitely not 350 people built like me!) Often our attendance, sales, giving, participation–whatever your metric–is more fondly remembered than historically accurate.
- We have to know who we are NOW. One of the greatest retail blunders of our times is the Sears demise. Forever, Sears was known for their catalog–you could buy ANYTHING in it–from an Ice Cream maker to a suit to a house. (Seriously, my mom’s neighbor lives in a Sears house–you ordered it, they delivered the materials and you built it.) Sears was never able to settle the needle on life after the catalog. They didn’t know who there present customers were and what their shopping styles and preferences would be. Take Walmart–they KNOW their customer. They build everything around who they are NOW. Leaders need to know who they are leading RIGHT now. The church needs to know the community it was planted in as it stands right now. Maugansville 2017 is heads and tails a different population than Maugansville in 1987–trust me, I was here then and am here now.
- The future must be in view. The other morning I was trying to navigate the bedroom and get ready for work. The difficulty was that it was dark and I couldn’t see what I was doing. I was noisy, I woke everyone up, I stubbed my toe and it took me three times as long to get ready. To lead, we must have a future in sight, an end destination we are taking our organization to, one that folks can see. It also needs to be attainable. It cannot be so far out, so long away, so beyond the scope of understanding that we cannot see it.
Balance. We need balance as we lead our folks. As I move forward and attempt to lead it will be with the balanced model of Know, Understand, Look Forward.
Know the History of the organization, where they have come from, what they went through. Honor the legacy and how God has used the past.
Understand the Present. We are not who we were, nor are we who we will be. The old ways may not be tried and true with a new group. Identify who you are working with TODAY.
Look Forward. There is no way to make any organization move without giving them a target they can see, and work toward.
Leadership is a balancing act, right now I feel like I’m on the tightrope halfway between “the old way” and “a new future”. Thankfully, this is God’s, and no one can accelerate, slowdown or thwart His plans.