7 Indicators You’re Not Leading Anymore

By | Change, Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership, Team Leadership | 2 Comments

Being in a leadership position is no guarantee we are leading. Holding the title of leader isn’t an indication one actually leads. I have a whole chapter on this topic in my book The Mythical Leader. There are times, for a variety of reasons, when even the best leaders stop leading, but I think we have indicators when we are not leading intentionally.

Leading by definition is an active term. It means we are taking people somewhere.

Even the best leaders have periods when they aren’t necessarily leading anything. Obviously, those periods shouldn’t be long or progress and momentum eventually stalls, but leadership is an exhaustive process. It can be draining. Sometimes we need a break. And I encourage that.

For an obvious example, I try to shut down at the end of every day and most Saturdays. Plus, I periodically stop leading for a more extended period. During those times, I’m intentionally not leading anything. There are other times, such as after we’ve accomplished a major project, where I may intentionally “rest” from leading to catch my breath and rely on our current systems and structures to maintain us.

Again, those times should be intentional and they shouldn’t be too extended. In my experience, leaders get frustrated when they aren’t leading for too long a period.

How do you evaluate if you are leading or simply maintaining? What are the indicators you’re not leading? One way is to look for the results of leading. What happens when you do lead? Then ask yourself if those are occurring.

For example,

Here are 7 indicators you’re not leading anymore:

Nothing is being changed.

Leadership is about something new. It’s taking people somewhere they haven’t been. That always involves change. If nothing is changing you can do without a leader.

You’re not asking questions.

A leader only knows what he or she knows – and nothing more. And, many times, in my experience, the leader is the last to know. A great part of leadership is about discovery. And, you only get answers to questions you ask.

There are competing visions.

Leaders point people to a vision. A VISION. Not many visions. One of the surest ways to derail progress is to have multiple visions. It divides energy and people. It confuses instead of bringing clarity. Competing visions arise and confusion elevates when we fail to lead.

No one is complaining.

This is a hard one, but you can’t lead anything involving worthwhile change where everyone agrees. If no one is complaining someone is almost always settling for less than best.

People aren’t being stretched.

Please understand – a leader should strive for clarity. They certainly shouldn’t aim for chaos. But when things are changing and work becomes challenging there will always be times of confusion. Don’t equate calmness with good leadership. That’s when good leaders get even better at communicating, listening, vision casting, etc.

No paradigms are being challenged.

Many times the best change is a change of mindset – a way we think. Leaders are constantly learning so they can challenge the thinking “inside the box”.

People being “happy” has become a goal.

Everyone likes to be liked. Might we even say “popular”. In fact, some get into leadership for the notoriety. But, the end goal of leadership should be accomplishing a vision – not making sure everyone loves the leader. Progress hopefully makes most people happy, but when the goal begins with happiness, in my experience, no one is ever really made happy.

Leader, have you been sitting idle for too long? Is it time to lead something again?

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

RELP – Episode 25 – 10 Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs

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

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs.

I have done so many transitions in my career. It’s one of the reasons I offer transition and succession coaching. Equally important to my transitions, however, have ben helping Cheryl transition well. It took me a while to learn this, but when I did it made me want to help other leaders.

The way you help your spouse transition to YOUR new job may be equally, if not more, important than how you transition. It certainly will play into your initial (and maybe long-term) success in that position.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss ways to help your spouse transition when you change jobs.

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.

RELP – Episode 24 – 7 Things TO DO When You’re in Decline

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

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Things to Do When an Organization is in Decline.

If you follow this podcast, we last talked about things NOT to do when a church or organization is in decline. We promised a counter post was next. I’m sorry for the delay.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss things to do when an organization is in decline.

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.

The Ineffectiveness of A Team When There Is No Leader

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

I’ve seen many leaders make a common mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge the teams with carrying out a specific mission or an assigned task. The team is part of a accomplishing the greater vision. But their ineffectiveness comes when there is no leader.

Granted, I believe in teams.

I even love the word – TEAM! It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

I think we should always strive to create great teams.

But here’s what often happens. The team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There may have lots of meetings, but there is no real forward movement.

The team flounders.

Why? They had a great team. The team was full of great people. They were part of a great vision and everyone may have known exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

But, this is where the common mistake exists among many teams.

They never had a leader.

I have worked with a number of churches that have well-defined structures with lots of committees. The problem is they are too structured for effectiveness. And, many times, you have to be in the church at least a year before you could serve in leadership. In practice, this often means you have to be there for many years before you are ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process might work well for certain committees – such as finance committee, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. Churches need lots of people in those areas and need to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. Often in these circumstances, churches need more of a team concept than a committee structure.

But even with teams – the ineffectiveness comes when no one is ever appointed a leader.

At some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

Any group of people without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach.

I love leading through teams, but in addition to making sure people know what’s expected of them, we have to make sure every team has a leader.

Personally, I try to never appoint or release a team to do work until we make sure a leader is chosen. They can choose their own leader, we can appoint one for them, or they may even have co-leadership, but there needs to be someone who has the assigned task of steering, motivating and leading the team to accomplish it’s mission.

I love teams. I just make sure every team has a leader.

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

5 Harsh Realities of Leading Change

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

Leading change is a part of leadership. You can’t lead without change, but it can be hard. Along the way of leading change – or attempting to – I’ve discovered some harsh realities.

If you are amid some “heavy-lifting” change leadership, see if some of these apply to you. And you may not know some of them are happening, but likely they are at some level. Knowing them can help you face the harsh reality and hopefully lead better.

5 harsh realities of leading change:

There will be more conversations about you than with you.

When you’re in the thick of leading change, you will likely be upsetting people’s comfort level. And they will talk. Mostly they will talk to other people – about you.

That’s hard. Most of us want to be liked and we’d rather know what people are saying about us. This is not to control conversation, but to steer momentum into a positive direction for the change. Many times, people are sharing reasons for change that simply aren’t true. In the absence of knowledge, people often make up their own version of the story.

Knowing this reality, I try to ask lots of questions during times of change. I make sure I have trusted people around me who will keep me informed of what I need to know. Most importantly, I try to cast vision repeatedly as to why we are making the change and the potential future rewards and realities for doing so.

You will likely be misunderstood more than appreciated.

(Or at least it might feel that way at the time. I’m convinced naysayers have louder vocal cords.) Change can be confusing to people. Many times, people won’t fully understand the rationale behind the change until they are enjoying the new reality. If you’re the leader, you’ve likely, often from collaboration, seen a vision of what’s to come that others simply can’t yet see. Because of this they will not always appreciate the change leader along during the process of change.

This is where trust as a leader comes into play. Leadership is a stewardship of trust. Of course, trust is developed over time and experience of doing what you said you would do as a leader. That makes changing too quickly or too early in your tenure especially difficult. Regardless, the leader must be keenly aware of the need to build and maintain trust along the way of leading change.

You’ll explain it as clearly as you know how – and some will still not understand.

It’s change. It’s personal to them. Change will impact people in an emotional way. Emotions are not always explainable or understandable. Also, people often hear what they want to hear. They translate your explanation for the change through their individual context. This is perfectly natural, but it often leads to confusion during the change process.

Again, this highlights the importance of constant communication as to the why (and the where) of change throughout the change process. You’ll have to share it in different ways, illustrate the change with stories of which people can relate, and make sure some key influencers understand, support and can articulate the need for change.

You might not get to enjoy the results of change.

This is certainly a harsh reality – and one I’ve experienced several times personally. It could be you are the change agent, the one used to bring about change, but someone else will get to experience the benefits of the change. (I think we have a few biblical examples of this principle.)

Others may not even celebrate the role you played – and that’s okay. This is where you’ll have to remind yourself of your calling. You’ll need to seek your affirmation in the purpose behind the change and enjoy the pleasure of knowing you did what you were supposed to do.

The change you lead, as good as it might be, will eventually need to be changed again.

Here’s another harsh reality of leading change. You have blood, sweat and tears attached to the change. But no matter how well as you lead change, it won’t last forever. It too will one day be obsolete. And likely, the harder it was to lead the change, the more difficult it will be for you to let go and see it change.

Again, here’s where you realize you’ve been called to lead. In my experience, God tends to use those most willing to living in the tensions of change – and with the harsh realities of leading change. So, get back up and do it again.

LEADERSHIP PODCAST: Catch up on our leadership podcast. We are recording new episodes this week.

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?

A Major Communication Barrier On Every Team

By | Church Revitalization, Culture, Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

There has been a major communication barrier on every team I have led. It is huge, and yet often overlooked.

Most effective teams at some point will do a personality assessment of team members. I work a lot with Myers Briggs, but there are certainly other great ones. At one time have probably taken most of them, All of them can be helpful at some level.

But this major communication barrier, while it can be picked up some by a personality assessment, is still often overlooked (or misunderstood) on most teams.

And, of course, this barrier involves a difference in people. If you’ve lead teams at all you could probably predict that.

A major communication barrier on all teams:

  • Those who speak with and listen for details.
  • Those who speak with and listen for generalities.

You could call it “big-picture oriented” and “detail-oriented” – and a host of other terms. And, again, this concept is certainly picked up in personality types and assessments, but the nuance of this principal is huge. If you don’t understand that people speak and listen differently you will continually be miscommunicating.

This is true in all relationships. It’s true in my marriage. In fact, it is our biggest source of conflict if we allow it to be. I speak and listen more in generalities. My wife speaks and listens more for details.

For illustration purposes, when I lead a team I rarely tell them exactly how I want something done. I paint a big picture vision, have lofty ideas, and a general concept of what things might look like. Sometimes a person on our team who listens in details misunderstands my point. If they don’t understand this about me, (and I have to continually remind people of our differences) they may think I gave them a specific directive, while I was only sharing a very general concept.

(And if you are wired for more details you’re still waiting for a clearer definition of this principle. But that only further illustrates my point.)

Think about your team for a minute. There will be huge variations of this principle among them. No two people are just alike. But if you had to assess – who are the people who speak and listen for generalities? And who listen and speak for more details?

There might lie a major communication barrier on your team.

Closing note: I have worked with a lot of churches (and several businesses) through mergers, conflict, and team dynamics. If you’d like me to help your team know each other and collaborate better together – and ultimately be healthier – please let me know.

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 | No Comments

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?