Seven Fundamental Behaviors of Successful Leaders

If you are leading a company, a department, a team or a family you know that leadership is challenging.  The key in leadership is that you are growing learning and getting better.  If your not growing you are going backwards.

As a leader there are some key responsibilities and behaviors that are extremely important to long term success.  Here are seven fundamental behaviors that will set you up for success.

  1. Set and Achieve goals – People that take the time to map out an action plan do much better than those that don’t.  Writing down your most important objectives and then listing specific goals to meet that objective is a fundamental leadership behavior.  It’s not only setting goals but it’s also achieving them which means you must act on those goals.  That’s why it’s important to also set up deadlines and have accountability.  Set goals review them regularly and do a progress report every week on how you did last week.
  2. Continually Innovate and Improve – Another key behavior of successful leaders is that they are always exploring and thinking about how to improve on the current way of doing things.  This is a mindset of continuous improvement.  How can we be more efficient?  How can we streamline and improve systems?  Asking those how questions keeps your organization moving forward.  I like to say: what can we improve by 1% this week.  If this is part of your culture then you should be getting lots of ideas and feedback form your team.  Listen, discuss and let the best ideas rise to the top and then make those changes.
  3. Solve Problems and Make Decisions – Every unachieved goal is a problem waiting to be solved.  This is how things get done and keep moving forward.  You don’t want to be the bottle neck on your team.  That is why you can’t be the only one solving problems and making decisions.  Teaching and empowering your team is a key leadership behavior that can accelerate your companies growth and productivity.  Leaders are problem solvers not just problem identifiers.  Define the problem, identify possible solutions, get some feedback and then make a decision and assign it to someone with a deadline.
  4. Take Full Responsibility – A leader takes full responsibility for the their decisions and the success and failure of their team.  As the leader you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your company, department, team or family.  That can be scary but you can’t lead well if your afraid to take responsibility.  Facing your fears and owning mistakes brings credibility and trust to your leadership.
  5. Be a Good Example or Role Model for Others – This is all about character.  Do your actions and your words line up.  Are you doing the things you want your team to do?  Are you treating people the way you want to be treated?  Are you making the difficult decisions and having the difficult conversations?  Are you quick to admit a mistake?  As a leader people are always watching you.  No one is perfect so leading with integrity is not about being perfect it’s about being honest and vulnerable.  If you’re a mess then your team will be a mess.
  6. Persuade and Inspire – A key behavior of successful leaders is the ability to persuade people to buy in to your vision.  That takes a combination of good communication, being intentional and repetition.  When people trust you and you can clearly articulate the vision you can keep moving in the right direction.  Inspiration comes when people have bought into you as the leader and understand the vision and their part in achieving that vision.  This also takes self-confidence and believing in the vision and values you have and the message you are trying to communicate.
  7. Get Results and Don’t make Excuses – If you’re not getting results then you are probably not doing the right things or focused on the right things.  When the results are not there you don’t make excuses, you look at what is not working and make the adjustment.  You admit mistakes and take responsibility.

There is much more to leadership than just these seven things but these are some of the basics that will set you up for success.  Again, the key is that you are growing, learning and changing as a leader.

If your feeling stuck as a leader or organization send me an email and let’s set up a time to discuss next steps in getting unstuck.  Email – castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

A Key Principle that Leads to Success

I recently met with a group of men in their workplace.  I’m part of a leadership development and culture building process with this organization.  The topic for the day was self-control.  A good definition of self-control is disciplining your thoughts, words, actions, and attitude.

The conversation we had was one of the best I’ve been a part of, because most of these guys struggle with self-control.  We talked about both work and home and when it came to self-control at home with their wives and children it got real interesting.

You see these guys are like you and me.  They have relationships at work and at home.  Both are important to them and both take work and effort.  However most of us struggle more at home than at work, because at work we could get fired if we get too out of control.  Of course when we are out of control at home for long enough it leads to getting fired as well.

Why is self-control so important?  There was a study done back in the early 70’s with children.  They put a kid in a room and gave them one marshmallow.  They told them that if they can wait until we return we will give you another marshmallow.  If you eat it before we come back that’s all you get.  They left the room for 15 minutes.  Only a minority of children ate the marshmallow right away, most at least tried to delay.  Of those who attempted to delay, one third deferred gratification long enough to get a second marshmallow.

They followed up with these children several times later in life.  The children that delayed gratification longer were described by parents 10 years later as significantly more competent, the children also scored higher on their SAT scores in high school.  They also went further in education beyond high school and even had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).

So self-control is an important attribute for people to develop in order to do better in all areas of life.  Jan Mckingley Hilado said “Self-control is a key factor in achieving success.  We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.”

To have healthy thriving relationships it’s important to have self-control in these 3 key areas:

  1. Words Our words are incredibly powerful and they can help our hurt.  Words cannot be taken back once spoken so having self-control with our words is vital to healthy relationships.  Don’t allow emotions to drive your words.  Wait until you have calmed down before making a decision or having the difficult conversation.  If you already said hurtful things, humble yourself and go ask for forgiveness.
  2. Thought Life – The things we think about tend to become the most import in our lives.  Our thoughts lead to actions and words so it matters what you think about and what you believe.  If you are believing things that are not true it can lead to negative hurtful words or actions.  If your focused on the wrong things it can lead to wrong actions and words.  Feed your mind things that are true, good and helpful.  Get wise counsel from others for a better perspective.
  3. Attitude – Every day you get to choose your attitude.  You can choose to smile, believe the best and be positive or you can frown, believe the worst and be negative.  Having self-control in our attitude is one of the hardest, but most important things we can do to have a healthy relationship with anyone.  If your attitude toward a person is negative it will adversely affect that relationship.

People that have good self-control with words, thoughts and attitude are much more likely to have healthy thriving relationships and also be more effective and productive at work and home.

My faith in Jesus Christ helps me to have better self-control.  It’s one of the results of my relationship with Jesus, I get help from Him in those moments I need self-control.  I get strength and power in those critical moments when conflict arises or life happens.

So where do you need to have more self-control?

 

Four Things Leaders Think About Every Day

Everyone that’s still breathing is thinking about something.  We think about what to eat, when to eat, what we should wear, what we will watch on TV tonight.  We think about what other people think about us, we think about and make judgements about other people.  We think about losing weight, starting to exercise or eating ice cream.

We all have this dialog going on in our heads.  We have conversations about all kinds of things going on in our lives.  That’s pretty normal, but leaders think about a lot of other things.  Leader’s don’t get stuck in the web of our day to thinking.  Leader’s think about what could be, what should be and how to get there.

So here are four things that most leaders are thinking about:

  1. Leaders think about the future.  Leaders are custodians of the future.  They are thinking about what’s next? What could be our next big challenge? What needs to change to get us there?  Why is this the direction we need to go?  How can we keep moving in that direction?  What steps do we need to take to get there?  They think beyond what is directly in front of them.  Leaders are always thinking about a better future.  Great leaders are optimistic about the future not pessimistic.
  2. Leaders think about their team.  If your a good leader you know you can’t do it alone.  Leaders are always thinking about the people on their team or in their organization.  They think about if they are in the right seat, they think about how to help them get better at what they are doing.  Leaders are constantly thinking about who can help them get to that preferred future.
  3. Leader’s think about goals.  Leaders set goals because they know it will keep them focused.  In order to set good goals you have to know where you want to go and the goals you set help get your there.  So leaders are thinking strategically about what behaviors, actions and initiatives will get us closer to that vision for a better future.  Great leaders not only think about goals but they write them down and require their team to do the same and then holds the team including themselves accountable to achieving those goals.
  4. Leaders think about learning and improving.   The best leaders know they have a lot more to learn and look for opportunities to learn from others.  That’s why most leaders are readers.  They devour books, listen to podcasts, read articles and posts from other leaders and organizations.  All that reading and listening helps the leader to stretch their thinking about the future and discover changes that need to be made in their personal lives and professional lives and in the life of their organization in order to move toward that preferred future.

Of course leaders think about a lot of other things but these four are near the top.  Leaders also set aside time to think.  Leaders that are so busy they can’t sit down and think deeply tend to be pulled to the urgent and can miss great opportunities and make bad decisions.  Schedule time into your calendar to think, read, listen and write.  That time will sharpen you and your organization.

7 Leadership Insights I Learned in Ministry

I’ve been in ministry full time for over 15 years and I’ve learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes.  The church I work at went from single site in a small town to a major relocation to a bigger facility to multi-site now with five locations.  I was involved with leading the relocation of two of the sites from a portable campus to a permanent site.  I’ve been a part of a lot of change and challenges over the years.  I’ve grown as a leader and I’ve struggled as a leader.  I believe there are some basic things that help a lot in ministry, do these basics well and you will lead well.

Here are seven things I’ve learned and believe about leadership.

  1. Relationships are more important than Systems – Effective, well thought out systems are vital to an organizations health, but people are more important.  Every person that attends our church is important, and every person that does not attend our church is important.  Each person matters to God and so they must matter to us.  When going through explosive growth it’s easy to miss the relational part of ministry.  That is when you must work hard to meet with people and listen to them.  I have learned so much by simply meeting with people and listening to them.  listening to their story and sharing parts of yours is so important when building relationships.
  2. Communicate with your team often – Even when there is nothing new to report, it’s important to communicate with your team on a regular basis.  As a leader, I wake up every day thinking about what needs to happen to get us to where we are headed.  The volunteers I am leading have many other things to think about, like their own jobs and families.  The more I can communicate about what is going on, the better my relationship with the people I lead.  Open honest communication builds trust, it also motivates and encourages and allows people to ask clarifying questions.  When you don’t communicate you are communicating and that’s when people start loosing interest, or fill in the blanks themselves.
  3. Trust that God is working in ways you do not see – In ministry, things don’t always line up like you would like them to be.  As a leader, I am responsible for my own actions and to make plans and develop strategy.  It is also my responsibility to be flexible and to include God in everything.  The deeper my trust in God the stronger my faith grows.  If we figure everything out on our own, we don’t need God to show up.  When you take on a big vision, only God can make it happen, we need to trust and obey.
  4. Trust the leaders around you – I must choose to trust and not to be suspicious of the leaders above me and around me.  The more I choose to trust the more my heart remains in the right place.  When I start to fill in the blanks with my own ideas, I begin to head into a downward spiral.  When I believe the best about the people leading me, I can then lead with integrity and passion.  Trust builds a culture of emotional health and stability.  It’s also important that you are trustworthy and lead well in the area entrusted to you.  This becomes even more important and difficult as you add multiple sites.  You are not as close to the leaders as you used to be so trust becomes vital to moving things forward in a healthy way.
  5. Do more than rally the troops – You must do more than talk the talk, you need to walk the walk and make things happen.  That means doing what you say and equipping your volunteers to do what they are asked to do.  It means taking the time to develop people rather than just direct people.  When you build meaningful relationships with people they will follow you through the most difficult of times.  When you pay attention to the details and delegate to people that can get things done your influence goes up.  Don’t just try to pump people up, pour into them and love them.  The only way to do that is by allowing God to pour into you and to keep growing as a leader.
  6. You have to be real – People are looking for real leaders that admit their mistakes and take responsibility.  Be quick to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness and extend the same to others.  Don’t put on the religious mask, where you try to make people think that everything is just perfect.  That is only possible if you are sure of your identity and comfortable with who you are.  I have learned that I need to be me and not someone I think people want.  The more I am the person God created me to be the more influence God gives me.
  7. Be as clear as possible – Clarity is one of the most difficult things to do as a leader.  It is easy to dance around the issues and not give direct answers.  Sometimes there are things that I just cannot share with people, so I need to be honest about that and let them know that I will share details when I can.  To be clear as a leader means taking time to think about what you are going to say.  It means you can’t just shoot from the hip, but take time to aim before delivering the message.  Being clear is a way of honoring people and letting them know you care.  Whether it’s in an email, in a meeting or face to face be honest about what is happening or what happened.  Share as much information as possible.  That will build trust and respect.

When things are changing all around me and the pace seems to be higher than what I can stand, it helps to step back and trust God and obey what he tells me.  When things are busy and hectic I need to make sure that I am praying and communicating with God.  I also need to be reading the Bible to build my intimacy with God and get wisdom and direction.  One thing that has helped me in this area and many others is having people in my life to ask me how I am doing in some of these areas.  Having accountability in my life has brought growth and freedom into my life.

Lead On!