Reproductive Leadership: Seven Essential Behaviors
My wife and I often joke with each other about the random things that pop into our minds. While the thoughts are random, the timing of such thoughts are equally random and many times more funny. I wonder if you've said this yourself at some point, "Why am I thinking that now...in this place...at this time? Weird!" I have and I had one of those moments the other day. While it was random and definitely an unusual time, the thought carries value and I want to share it with you.
"Managers produce. Leaders RE-produce."
I know. It's not a new concept, but it hit me with such force that I could not ignore it. I have been involved in "leadership" for 20+ years, but this random, yet common thought, was an alarm clock of clarity. I realized that for years I had been a manager, all the while using a "leadership" title. I was productive. I managed my time well. I delegated. I was efficient. I was a good communicator. However, I WAS NOT REPRODUCING OTHER LEADERS.
I had a friend tell me once, "Lance, leaders do not reproduce what they do, they reproduce who they are."
I had two reactions.
First, BEING A CONTROLLING LEADER SEEMS EASIER THAN BEING AN EMPOWERING LEADER.
I did not like it when I heard that statement because, honestly, I wanted to tell people what to do. It felt easier. It was easier to control people, control circumstances and control projects. Also, I was able to keep a safe distance from people. Intimacy, connection or community was not required when all I wanted to do was tell people what to do. I could sit in my "lofty office", get lots of things done, look productive and look good on the outside, but slowly burnout because I was not reproducing myself.
Second, WHY WOULD I WANT TO REPRODUCE WHAT I DID NOT LIKE OR LOVE? I fundamentally believed that I was not worth reproducing. I was keenly aware of my faults, failures, fears and shortcomings. Why would I want to reproduce that kind of "leader?" It all turned around one day when a friend of mine looked at me and said, "Your anxiety is killing your team and limiting your potential. Until you learn to manage your anxiety, get off your own back and love yourself the way God loves you, you will never lead in a way that inspires, empowers and reproduces." Yeah, that one stung. In that moment the air thickened with frustration and powerlessness. These two feelings combined, were a heavy fog blinding my ability to see what my friend saw. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to tell my friend, "Hey, you don't know me! You don't know what I am dealing with! You don't know how hard......." The excuses could have gone on and on. I had no defense because I was guilty. I knew it. I had to trust my friend more than I could trust myself. The potential reality that he was correct was worth my time and energy. I am glad I listened to him that day.
So what changed? In hindsight I have observed seven behaviors that have helped me become a more reproductive leader. They are:
Behavior #1 PURSUIT
- I pursued consistent encounters with God's love.
- My fear decreased.
- My personal value emerged and my life values became clear.
- I chose to live as a "son in God's family" first and before anything else.
- I discovered heaven's values.
Behavior #2 FEEDBACK
- I sought feedback from others and from wise leaders. I positioned myself as a student.
- Humility is a key to teachability.
- If I am not teachable then in essence I am saying I have nothing to learn. That is a form of pride and God resists it. Therefore I have no grace to reproduce myself.
- I did a 360 profile and solicited feedback from 6 friends.
- I gave a leadership survey to my team every 6 months asking for feedback on the quality and effectiveness of my leadership.
- I acted upon my team's feedback and made appropriate changes.
Behavior #3 DELEGATE
- I delegated consistently.
- Delegation is not simply telling someone what to do.
- I read "If you want it done right you don't have to do it yourself." This helpful little book made delegation easier.
- I learned how to delegate in a way that empowered others and provided clarity.
Behavior #4 EMPOWER
- I empowered people. I took risks with others and trusted that, through messy situations, we would learn and accomplish great things.
- I gave people authority to make decisions without the fear of criticism or punishment if a bad decision was made.
- I clarified the boundaries of responsibility.
- I asked questions to assess competency.
- When necessary I trained my team.
Behavior #5 PRACTICE HEALTHY CONFRONTATION
- I learned "Win / Win" Conflict Resolution through adopting good listening skills and fostering a caring heart.
- I stopped making "you" statements which can make people defensive.
- I started making "I" statements because I learned that the only person I can control is me.
- I learned how to ask good, open ended questions seeking understanding and people's values.
- I related to people based upon their heavenly persona, not simply human behavior.
- Giving honor to others did not depend upon their "moral excellence" but upon my awareness that I am honorable therefore I have honor to give away.
- I avoid conflict when one of the 3 F's are present (fatigue, frustration or famine).
Behavior #6 CONNECT
- I lived in community.
- I needed people who would not let me shrink back from identity and from the courage needed to lead.
- I sought out those who wanted to be leaders and began to pour into them the 5 C's of leadership (Champion, Challenge, Coach, Care and Content Contribution).
- I recognized that I am a child of God before I am a leader.
- The resources needed to lead, does not come to leaders, but comes to children of God with a leadership responsibility.
Behavior #7 LEARN
- I read books on leadership.
- I asked leaders (people with a proven track record of reproducing themselves) questions.
- I applied what I was learning.
- I observed people, such as how did they communicate, body language, self awareness, non-verbal communication, etc.
Creation is, by instinct, reproductive Therefore, we should not be surprised that leaders want to reproduce. Is it always for the right reasons or with the right motives? I don't know. We can probably save that for a later discussion. But what I do know is that Managers are looking to get things done, follow systems, be efficient, manage costs and be profitable. Leaders are looking to reproduce, to franchise, to start new initiatives. This may be the single, most obvious distinction between leaders and mangers. Leaders & Managers need courage. Leaders & Managers need to be good communicators. Leaders & Managers need time management skills. Leaders & Managers need to be strong, competent people. But leaders think about reproduction while managers simply think about production. That's ok. We need people focused on production. But we need leaders to be focused on reproduction.
Jesus called reproduction, discipleship and family/community is the original means by which reproduction should take place.
Find your tribe and start utilizing these applications and I believe you will be a more loving, effective and reproductive leader.
Anchored in Christ,