One Thing Every Leader Needs – Right Now

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

There is one thing every leader needs to figure out – and they need to do so right now. Immediately.

I have been leading for over 35 years in some capacity. Having led in multiple contexts – in business, government, nonprofit and the church – I can say I’ve never seen a time quite like the world of leadership today. It’s not just the pandemic or the changing culture. Everything has changed about the landscape of leadership.

Well, not everything. Actually much has stayed the same. People ultimately want to the same things out of life. They want to find happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of accomplishment and value in life. A great part of leadership is helping people discover those realities – even when the odds seem stacked against them.

But most the parameters in which we lead have changed. The challenges we face in leading people today – that’s all changed.

We simply can’t expect to do the same things we’ve always done and get the same results. New skills of leadership are needed. More patience (often with people) is required. The ways we communicate with people we are trying to lead – that’s all changed. Pressures on leaders to address every social issue are greater than ever. The divisiveness of people and the quick changes in the “rules” are more real than previous times in my leadership.

Frankly, I’m having to learn (or re-learn) good leadership principles every single day.

So, that leads me to the one thing every leader needs – right now.

It’s the one I’m trying to figure out myself as I attempt to lead today.

Every leader today needs RHYTHM.

While we tend to think of rhythm mostly in terms of music or the arts, one definition of rhythm that caught my attention is movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements. (Merriam-Webster)

In the midst of what may seem chaotic around us, when it seems impossible some days to lead well in all areas of life, all leaders need to find a rhythm for their life.

Rhythm in professional life. I chose the word rhythm rather than balance, because I seldom feel truly balanced in my work. Some days it takes all I’ve got to get done what I need to do. And other days I have margin in my time and could work or go home early. I’m trying to find the right rhythm that allows me to complete certain realistic goals and objectives, but doesn’t overly consume me or place undue burdens on my family or me.

Honestly, this is a challenge for me. I’ve been working close to full-time since I was 12-years-old. All I know to do some days is work. But I’m learning (it took me a long time) that there is more to life than work. I still want to be as productive – even more so in these years as an empty-nester – so, I’m trying to develop a healthy rhythm.

Rhythm in relational/social life. Social media hasn’t made this easier. Just last night I saw a Facebook post from a dozen or so high school friends (all girls) who recently got together for a social. I haven’t seen some of them in close to 40 years, but instantly I was a teenager again. I wanted to “stalk” each of them. Where are they today? What are they doing? It was fun. But while I was interested in their life I was visiting my son and his family that live across country from us. Now, which of these should have had my greater attention? (Duh!)

I have a friend who says, “Be fully present wherever you are at the time.” I’m not the best at remembering that, but it’s a great discipline and could be part of creating a healthy rhythm. You can’t be everywhere with everyone. But you can’t be fully with the people with you right now.

Rhythm in our spiritual, emotional and physical life. Frankly, the past year with a pandemic, new pressures in leadership, moving cross country, and changes in my work flow, it’s been more difficult to exercise, eat well, and stay physically fit. I’m fairly disciplined in my daily routine quiet times, but even those have suffered some.

One struggle for me is that for the first time in years, I don’t have a gym in the building where I work. I used to slip away during the day for a needed workout. I’m having to reestablish new rhythms to keep myself healthy in all areas of my life. And it is a work in progress.

In fact, in this new season of leadership, all of these are continuous works in progress.

But every leader I know needs rhythm right now more than ever.

Where in your life do you need a new rhythm in order to be successful in that area?

Something No One Will Tell You About Leadership

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

There is something no one is going to tell you about leadership.

You will have to learn this one on your own. It is not that they do not want you to know. No one is trying to keep this from you. It isn’t a secret. But it simply comes to you by experience as a leader.

Here’s a nugget of wisdom you may need:

If you’re a leader, you’ll never get to a point of really being satisfied.

No one will tell you that about leadership.

You’ll always want more. Bigger. Better. Next.

You’ll want more growth. More leaders. And you’ll want more from you and your team.

And if you don’t know it you may falsely assume something is wrong with you.

The reality is you can be content without being satisfied. I have defined contentment as “being satisfied right now with where God has allowed you to be right now.” Be content with that. He has you where you need to be for now. And He’s using this season in you. (That’s a sermon for another day.)

Satisfaction is achieving all you can.

It’s being at your best all the time. In every area of the organization.

No leader I know has done that yet. 

Leadership is all about going somewhere new. Doing something better. Achieving more than we have currently – ultimately for the people and organizations we are trying to lead. And your lack of complete satisfaction is what keeps you leading.

And now you know.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. We are always looking for new content, so if there are leadership issues you would like us to cover, please let me know. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

(NOTE: If you are looking for a leadership/organizational coach or consultant, keep me in mind. My schedule is opening to more opportunities. You can easily email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.)

10 Ways to Know You’re Managing More Than Leading

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | One Comment

I’ve written a fair amount about management versus leadership. I have a chapter about the subject in my book The Mythical Leader. I won’t make you go read the book to know I believe both are valuable to any organization. We need good leadership and good management. But this is a leadership blog. And if you want to be a leader, you can’t focus more on managing the organization than you do on leading the organization forward.

How do you know when you are?

I have learned by experience some ways to tell when my leadership has turned to management – and when it is happening in our organization.

10 ways to know you’re managing more than leading:

You no longer take risks.

Management is about guiding healthy systems. Again, we need good management to support leadership. Leadership, however, is about moving things forward into unknown territory. That always involves a risk at some level.

Failure has been virtually eliminated by rules and procedures.

In a perfectly managed structure you can keep most mistakes from happening. Whenever a mistake happens, you simply create a new rule or tweak the systems to keep it from happening again. Leadership always stretches systems. You will make many mistakes along the way. It’s part of leading.

You have a system already in place for everything you are going to do.

If everything in the organization is clearly defined then you don’t need leadership. Management will work fine for this.

You no longer need or seek outside advice.

This is not always a fool-proof determinant. You may have enough leadership of new growth within your own organization. But often it means you simply aren’t  looking for anything that is going to stretch what you are currently doing. In my experience, that is often found outside those who can only see what they see in their current context.

Things are comfortable.

There is often miscommunication and the awkwardness of change occurring in leadership. Which makes leadership frustrating, messy, and uncomfortable

Change is always initially resisted – even by those in leadership.

In a management culture change is rarer. But in a leadership culture, there is a continual stream of change. You can almost guess the difference as soon as you suggest a way of doing something that’s different from how you are doing things now.

The way you do things is valued more than what you are trying to do.

I have a friend who worked for a very management cultured organization. He exceeded every expectation set for him – by far. All the goals set for him were achieved. But he didn’t follow the processes to get there. He hadn’t done anything immoral, illegal, or even unethical. He simply didn’t follow all the rules. They let him go.

In a culture dominated by management the “process” is valued even more than the future reality of an unrealized vision.

Resources are no longer being stretched.

I talked with a pastor recently whose church has taken on 38 partners during COVID. And they aren’t a huge church. They simply saw needs and felt led of God to try and meet them. But talking about stretching an organization. Leadership cultures stretch the organization beyond its current capacities.

You have no horses that need to be reined in.

This phrase was said to me by a pastor friend recently in regards to a new staff person on his team. He’s hit the ground running faster than current structures will allow. But my friend likes it that way. In a leadership culture, you know you can stretch the structure as needed in time. But you want horses that are raring to gallop without the control of a bit in the mouth.

You rebel against a post like this.

There are those more wired for management and those more wired for leadership. I’ve worked with both, and do I need to say again I think we need both? But good leadership will frustrate good management in some form, simply for the reasons previously stated. In a strictly management culture talk about “stretching” and “running” and “changing” is often faced with hearty resistance.

And if you think you are in a management culture, just float this post around the office and see how it is received.

I’m curious, which of these are currently true of your organization? In your assessment, are you more of a leadership culture in need of good management? Or, are you in a managed culture that often rebels against leadership?

RELP – Episode 23 – Bad Decisions Leaders Make in Decline or Plateau

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | One Comment

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Bad Decisions Leaders Make in times of Decline or Plateau in the organization.

Some statistics reported have said about 75-80% of churches (even as high as 90 I’ve read) are in decline or plateau.

I’m thankful to have served in churches and business in fast growth mode.

But, equally important in the formation of me as a leader, is that I’ve had experience in leading through difficult days also. Most of my times leading with periods of decline were in the business world, although I have entered a couple churches in the midst of difficult days. So, I’ve led through periods of decline; and faced many plateaus in business and in the church. Of course, those times are less fun than in the growth periods.

Much of what I’ve learned in this podcast though I learned through suffering through my own bad decisions as a leader during periods of decline or plateau.

In this episode, we discuss bad decisions leaders make in times of decline or plateau.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

5 Things I Naturally Control as a Senior Leader

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership | No Comments

There are some things the senior leader will naturally control – whether intentional or unintentional. 

Having planted two churches and two revitalization churches I am frequently asked about what things do I try to control and which did I release to others.

I love the question. It is one all leaders need to ask themselves – frequently.

The leadership lid you create will be in whatever area you choose to control.

I believe this strongly and it’s why I often discipline myself not to have an answer. I purposively choose to give things away to others on our team – things they can’t do better than me and things I simply shouldn’t be doing.

As much as I love delegation, however, there are some things a senior leader will naturally control.

5 things I naturally control as a senior leader:

Vision

Senior leadership should make sure the vision of the organization is always in the minds of people. If they don’t, no one will embrace the vision. In fact, there will likely be competing visions within the organization.

Staff culture

Senior leadership plays the primary role in setting the staff culture. Things such as staff morale, organizational structure, and the working atmosphere are greatly embedded and formed by the senior leader – good or bad.

The organization’s pursuit of excellence

People will never push for more excellence than the level expected, led, and lived by senior leadership.

The moral value of the organization 

The character and integrity of the organization will reflect senior leadership’s character and integrity. Period.

The velocity of change

Senior leadership sets the speed in which change and innovation is welcome in the organization. If they are slow to make decisions, the organization will run slowly. And vice-versa.

There are things, which by default senior leadership will naturally control.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 22 – Unseen Leadership Traits of Great Leaders

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about 7 Unspoken, Unseen Leadership Traits That Make Leaders Great.

There are parts of leadership you won’t read on a job description when they are telling you about the place you will work. There are traits of a leader which are unseen – often unknown. These traits have to be tested and you won’t know the traits are there until the test is complete, but these traits are what prove a leader to be a great leader.

I like to call it the “backside of leadership.”

In this episode, we discuss unseen leadership traits of great leaders.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

7 High Costs of Leadership Every Leader Should Pay

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

Leadership can be expensive. If we desire to be leaders it will likely cost us something – maybe even something we value greatly. There are high costs of leadership that every leader should be willing to pay. 

The reality is that leadership is a stewardship. It’s the keeping of a valuable trust others place in you. Therefore, cheap leadership is never good leadership.

What high costs are you paying for leadership? 

Let me give you a few examples.

7 high costs of leadership:

Personal agenda

Good leaders give up their personal desires for the good of others, the team or the organization. 

Control

What you control you limit. Good leaders give freedom and flexibility to others in how they accomplish the predetermined goals and objectives.

Popularity

Leading well is no guarantee a leader will be popular. In fact, there will be times where the opposite is more true. Leaders take people through change. Change is almost never initially popular. I wrote a whole chapter about this principle in my book The Mythical Leader.

Comfort

If you are leading well you don’t often get to lead “comfortably”. You get to wrestle with messiness and awkwardness and push through conflict and difficulty. It’s for a noble purpose, but it isn’t easy.

Fear

Good leadership leads into the unknown. That’s often scary. Even the best leaders are anxious at times about what is next.

Loneliness

I believe every leader should surround themselves with other leaders. We should be vulnerable enough to let others speak into our life. But there will be days when a leader has to stand alone. Others won’t immediately understand. On those days the quality of strength in a leader is revealed. This one should never be intentional, but when you are leading change – when it involves risk and unknowns – this will often be for a season a significant cost.

Outcomes

People follow worthy visions. Of course, we should create measurable goals and objectives. We should discipline for the tasks ahead. We don’t, however, get to script the way people respond, how times change, or the future unfolds.

As leaders, we should consider whether we are willing to pay the price for the high costs of leadership. Good leadership is not cheap!

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

You Must Do THIS if You Want to Attract Leaders

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

If you want to attract leaders to your team there is one thing you must do – above everything else. It’s a philosophy of leadership, but it is HUGE.

One of the most frequent concerns I receive from young leaders about their organizations is they aren’t being given adequate responsibly or authority. Instead, they are handed a set of tasks to complete. They don’t feel they have a part in creating the big picture for the organization.

Since most of the young leaders I talk to are in ministry, this means it’s happening in the church too.

The other side of this dilemma is most the pastors I hear from are looking for leaders. They want someone to take the reigns of leadership and actually do something.

How do we solve the problem?

Can we attract leaders for our churches? How do we allow younger team members to feel included? And how do other successful organizations (churches) attracts leaders?

If you want to attract leaders, here is one thing you must do:

Hand out visions more than you assign tasks.

In order for the organization to be successful, you’ll need to attract leaders. You know that, right? You need to know something about leaders and potential leaders.

  • Leaders want to work towards a vision – a big vision, more than they want complete a set of tasks.
  • They don’t get excited about checklists and assignments.
  • Leaders want to join an adventure, then help develop their own tasks to accomplish it.
  • Real leaders get excited about faith-stretching, bigger-than-life, jaw-dropping acts of courage.

An organization that “gets it” attracts leaders.

“To do” lists often get in the way of that kind of fun. Visions excite people. The details to complete them don’t.

So, if you want to create a successful organization and recruit leaders hand people a big vision with lots of room for them to choose on the implementation side.

Of course, they may indeed need to create checklists. I would even suggest they do if I were coaching them. They will need measurable action plans. They need to have a list of assignments in order to complete a project successfully. All those are necessary to accomplish a worthy vision. A vision is simply an idea until someone puts legs to it so it can walk.

But start with the vision. Start with the big idea. Help people see what you hope to accomplish some day. Make sure you’re real clear about illustrating the problem to be solved or the opportunity to be seized.

Then get out of the way and let people figure out how they will accomplish the vision.

This doesn’t mean your work is over though. People will need your help along the way. They’ll still need your help to develop structure, discipline and follow through. But that’s way different than handing them a set of tasks in the beginning. And it’s practicing good leadership and delegation skills.

I realize this is especially hard for some leaders who may want to control the desired outcome. (Leaders often like me – just being honest.) You’ll have to take a risk on the people you’ve recruited to lead and discipline yourself to let them work in their own way.

And you will get burned a few times, but overall, you’ll find more success and attract leaders when you: 

Paint big visions – rather than give out specific tasks.

When you do this you’ll attract leaders and a more successful organization will be built and sustained.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 21 – 5 Steps When You’re Overwhelmed as a Leader

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about steps to take when you’re overwhelmed as a leader.

What do you do when you find yourself in that situation where you are overwhelmed with the changes needed? When the leadership challenges are overwhelming – and you don’t know if you can do all expected of you – what do you do?

I hope you can learn from my experience. Here we explore some steps I take when in a similar situation. (Which is often in leadership.)

In this episode, we discuss steps when you’re overwhelmed as a leader.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

RELP – Episode 20 – Roadblock Warnings Leaders Who Want to Grow

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about some warnings for leaders who want to grow.

I (Ron) often hear from pastors who want to grow as leaders. They feel pressure to steer the church on a healthy course. Most of these leaders are humble, knowing ultimately Christ is the head of the church. Part of my ministry is trying to help them avoid some of the mistakes I have made or seen in leadership.

These are some warnings I’ve observed first hand in leadership positions I’ve held. We hope they help.

In this episode, we discuss warnings for leaders who want to grow.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.