Weekly Thought – December 8, 2020
Fred appreciated men and women of vision. He said, “one of a leader’s functions is to coagulate followers around the vision, not around himself or herself.” At this time when planning is being assessed and evaluated, Fred’s thoughts are helpful.
COVID directly impacted the Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute. However, the ripples from years past still demonstrate the effects. The Weekly Thoughts have continued without interruption. In an email we received this week, the influence of the Weekly Thoughts was mentioned: “I truly feel like one of the students that you have graciously mentored through BWFLI. The October 27th weekly thought spoke directly to my heart as I’m processing my transition.” These weekly emails are nearly 16 years in production. May the gifts God gave to Fred continue to be shared as they seek to stretch and bless.
Gather Around the Vision
Genuine leadership gathers people around the purpose of the organization. Toward that end, leaders need to recognize several subtle dynamics.
1) Decisions are not commitments. The first is immediate; the second is the long term working out. For example, in evangelism we see a lot of decisions. It is right to talk about a response to the Gospel and an “on the spot” decision. The commitment comes as part of the maturing process. If a person or an organization never moves from decision to commitment operations look much like New Year’s Resolutions – with a similar outcome. The leader is to envision a way to move from decision to commitment. I have observed that this process needs both the spoken and written forms. Speakers are effective at bringing people to a decision point, but generally it takes the written word to bring people to a long lasting commitment. Wise leaders know when they get a decision (even a group decision) that isn’t equivalent to commitment. A tragic managerial mistake is assuming the first step is enough without securing the second.
2) Recognize the “driving wheels.” There is a difference between people who provide the momentum in a group and those who just go along for the ride. Wise leaders know if they get the driving wheels committed, they can bring the others along. A bumpy ride is ahead for organizations who miss this step. The best way to persuade the driving wheels is not with emotion, but comprehension. My good friend, Jack Turpin, first discussed this with me. He had no lasting respect for short term excellence. “Anybody who can reach excellence should try to sustain it.” He believed the only way people will perform excellently over the long term is if they fully comprehend what they are doing. A decision based on emotional fervor won’t last; a fully comprehended commitment will. The way to motivate the driving wheels is to ask, “Do you agree this is something worth doing? If so, let’s commit to doing it together.”
3) Know when it is time to change the vision. Leaders know that situations don’t stay the same forever. We see this in the church as we study demographic trends. For a local church to maintain its vitality and often its viability, it must look at the makeup of the congregation. To assume a static position on means and methods can result in loss. Sadly, many have lost the promise of future leadership by ignoring shifts and alienating younger congregants. It is critical to measure the vision and see if it is getting the desired results. Churchill is famous for saying, “never, never, never, never give up.” But it is just as important to know that “when the horse is dead, dismount.”
Leaders must be honest about the vision, the effort required, and the reasons for expending it. Lasting motivation is really persuasion by comprehension. If you have to hide the reasons you want a person or an organization to follow, you are probably manipulating and unlikely to find long term commitment or sustained excellence.
This week carefully consider: 1) How well do I communicate my personal and professional visions? 2) What am I doing to be certain I don’t use manipulation? 3) Where do I need to focus as I anticipate next year?
Words of Wisdom: “Wise leaders know when they get a decision (even a group decision) that isn’t equivalent to commitment.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Commit your future to the LORD. Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf.” (Psalm 37:5 NET Bible)