I enjoyed writing about leaders being inaccessible via my Andy Stanley example yesterday.
Andy emailed and said he liked it too. I was honored.
It’s a helpful, thought provoking discussion, worthy of another installment.
I want to share a powerful leadership secret with all of you who want to take Proverbs 4:7 seriously. Nobody taught me this. I think I learned it on the fly.
Here’s the verse:
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
I have 2 obsessions other than-but not separate from-Jesus and my family:
Leadership and preaching.
I’m a freak, ladies and gentlemen.
I take every chance I get to be around great leaders and preachers and ask them questions about how they do what they do.
I should add that I usually meet with people who are leading organizations that are 1, 2, or 3 steps ahead of where we are.
I ask the most penetrating, analytical questions I can dig up. I try to be specific to the point of annoying them. It’s the specific stuff that helps. The tactical stuff. The how and the when. Nuts and bolts.
But you know what I’ve learned in 10 years of meeting with as many top level leaders (Senior Pastors, CEOs, etc.) as possible?
The people at the top don’t always have the answers I need!
It’s the people a layer or two beneath them organizationally who have their hands on enough of the details to actually help me practically.
It’s odd, because you’d think that the top dog would have the most knowledge to pass on about the organization, or the strategies, or whatever. But usually, the guy at the top (if he’s any good) doesn’t live on that level. He’s 3 phases ahead of where the action is.
And since I often meet with pastors who lead churches bigger and more complex than ours, they’ve often forgotten the answers to the questions I’m asking!
But the mid level managers remember, because they were (and are) so involved in the execution.
So if you want to be inspired, set up a meeting with the #1 guy.
If you want help, meet with assistants, associates, and other executors.
The #2s. Or #3s-or #4s for that matter. Their perspectives are pure gold.
For example, there are 5 pastors who are very close to me who pastor very large churches. I have unlimited access to them. They’re good friends. I can call them about anything, large or small, anytime.
But when I want some help with a decision that’s tactical, I don’t call their cell phones. I call their assistants.
I have spent hours talking with assistants and associates.
Not because I had to. I chose to.
They can give you the real dirt on making the decisions.
The nitty gritty.
Because they handle the dirt!
They can also tell you how the leader really leads.
The leader will tell you how he hopes he leads, or wishes he could lead.
As a lead pastor, I can tell you that the other people in this office are 10 times more helpful in most meetings than I am.
They know “where we ordered those from”, or “how we set that up”, or “why we decided to go with that company”.
I usually don’t.
Sometimes #2 people are #1 when it comes to being helpful.
And #1 people are, well, pretty useless!
I know first hand!
And for that, my heroes of the day are our staff, who are all so much smarter than me.
Love you guys…