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Kevin East Christian Blog and Commentary

The Question Every Leader Must Answer

  • Kevin East
    Kevin East
    Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
  • 2012 Mar 21
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I would imagine this scenario is not foreign to you. You have faces staring back at you, eager to follow.  It could be volunteers, staff, or a group of people that have come together for a common reason.  They are looking to you and me for leadership, but unfortunately, we let them down.  Instead of leadership, we merely provide instructions.

As leaders, we must answer this question for our people: Why are we here?

Recently I had a couple hundred college staff in town for part of our leadership training for the summer.  Over the period of the weekend, there is a lot that has to be accomplished.  We are trying to build cohesive teams, brainstorm ideas for the future, and train them on what it means to be a leader within our organization.

As many of you would want to do, my tendency was to want to jump right in to the coaching of how to lead.  I wanted to talk about their countenance, about the importance of setting a good example, about running a "tight ship," etc.  During my preparation for the weekend, I went back to what I consider to be good training.

Months ago in this post I wrote that good training consists of 3 parts:

Setting the mission. Here you want to tell them the story.  People want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves.

Casting the vision. Show them a better future.  If you were to accomplish your mission, what would the world look like?

Giving instruction. Provide them with the tools they need to accomplish their part in the mission.

When I think about training, my mind goes to "how-to" sessions, like when I learned how to type.  It could be training in how to use new programs on the computer, or how to better work out your abs (I might need some of that training).  This type of training is good for learning a new skill, but it isn't the most effective for leading people to embrace a cause.

So even though I wanted to jump right in and give instructions on how to lead, I stopped and backed up.  I began to think about the type of person that I would be speaking to, and the overall goal that we wanted to accomplish over the weekend.  Once I prayed through that, I was ready to begin laying out the plan for the training.

I had 5 total sessions.  The breakdown was as follows:

1. The Foundation for Leadership. This was an overview of the Gospel, the real reason why we exist as an organization.

2. Spiritual Leadership. A look at I Corinthians 4, and our calling as spiritual leaders.

3. Unique Leadership. We looked at different faces of leadership in the New Testament.  Everyone is wired differently, so be who you are in how you lead.

4. Confrontational Leadership. We finally began to get in the nuts & bolts of leadership in this session.  It had much coaching on different scenarios they might face in the near future.

5. The Protection of Leadership.  This last session was about the safe environment we want to maintain, and how they play an integral part of that. Once the question, "Why are you here?" was answered, everything seemed to fall in place.  It's as if the staff wanted the instruction, because they knew the reason behind it.  In those areas you lead, remember to let your people "behind the curtain."  Don't just bark instructions.  Rather, let them fall in love with the cause.  Once that happens, the instructions are all the more vital.

What is one way you answer this question for the people you lead?

If you liked this post, check out Kevin's personal blog, Following to Lead, where he regularly writes on following, leading, fostering and family.