7 Of My Biggest Frustrations as a Leader

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

Someone once asked me what my “biggest frustrations” as a leader. As I thought about it, I have lots. That may point to another area of struggle for me personally – and a character flaw – I’m seldom satisfied with me or where we are as a team. In many ways, I am still learning “the secret of being content”. Basically, I like continual improvement and think there is usually room to get better in all areas of our life. I think it is true in leadership too.

So, as I often do in these cases, I opened an Evernote file, titled it “Biggest Frustrations as a Leader” and began to record some of my actual frustrations over the next few weeks. Often I was putting them on the list in “real time” as they actually occurred.

Some of these are mine from observing people directly and some are from the stories my readers share with me each day. When I reached seven, based on my obvious love of the number seven, I figured it was time to share my them with you.

Here are 7 of my biggest frustrations as a leader:

Pettiness

It bothers to argue about or focus on things which really, in the large scheme of things, simply don’t matter. Things like personal preferences or different ways of accomplishing the same agreed upon vision only takes time from getting actual work done. I can almost always find issues of bigger significance.

Selfishness

I get frustrated when people have to have things “their way”. It destroys any hope of a healthy team when people are only thinking of their personal wishes. (Doesn’t sound very Biblical to me either.)

Disrespect 

The way you talk to someone always determines the way they respond. To me, there is no place for disrespect in an organization or on a team or in any relationship, for that matter. This should be especially true in churches. And it applies to how we respond to the world on social media also.

Even when we don’t agree with one another, we can address one another in kindness. (Remember, kindness is a fruit of the spirit.)

Narrow-mindedness

It limits the organization from achieving all it could achieve when someone can’t think beyond the way it’s always been done. There are issues – Biblical, foundational, value-driven issues – where narrow-mindedness is a positive. But in the mode of operation of the way we get things done, or how we accomplish our God-given vision, I think change is not only good – it’s vital for continued growth.

Stubbornness

Equally frustrating is when people are unwilling to embrace change – simply because they are being stubborn. It wasn’t their idea, or it threatens their power, or they just don’t want to be uncomfortable – so they lock their arms and refuse to participate. When a person ignores what’s best for the good of everyone, and it’s not a Biblical issue, their stubbornness only hurts the organization (and frustrates the leader.)

Unforgiveness

When someone has been injured they have a choice. They can choose to hold a grudge or they can choose to forgive. Holding a grudge keeps the injury alive. Forgiving opens the door for healing. (Doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.)

Recklessness

It is frustrating to observe people who seemingly have no regard for other people. Some leaders make decisions without the consideration of others. They say things without thinking how they hurt. They use their influence to disrupt an organization’s progress – rather than enhance it. And they derail progress with a disregard for what’s best in favor of what’s personal to them. It’s frustrating.

There is my list. Frankly, I feel better just sharing it with  you. I can now get on with my day towards more positive things. But if I kept the Evernote file open, I might find some more, so I’ll close it for now.

What are your biggest frustrations in leadership?

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

RELP – Episode 17 – How Leaders Create Capacity

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In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast with Ron and Nate, Ron shares how leaders create capacity.

Capacity can be defined as the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something.

We all need more capacity. A leader can only do so much. The team can only do so much. Capacity helps us do more.

Great leaders know the more capacity the organization has the more potential it has to accomplish its mission. When the organization begins to exceed its capacity for too long things eventually stall. If you want to spur growth you have to increase capacity.

Therefore, one of the best ways a leader can impact an organization is to create capacity so the organization and its people can grow.

In this episode, we discuss how leaders create capacity on their team.

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 – 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 me 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.

I’d Prefer To Say “No” Than “I Don’t Know”

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As a leader, I’d almost always rather say “No” than “I don’t know”.

Don’t misunderstand. I love when a leader admits they don’t know something. I believe every leader has something to learn and one of the best places to learn is from the people we lead. So, say “I don’t know” when you want your team to share insights and ideas.

And do that often. Collaboration is key to a healthy team culture. 

What I’m referring to here is saying “I don’t know” when the real answer has already been decided. When the answer is already No.

When I know the answer is no I prefer to say no

Weak leaders use phrases like:

“Let me think about it” – which often means I don’t have the guts right now to let you know how I really feel.

“We might consider this” – which often means we will never, ever consider this, but I feel better telling you we will rather than look you in the face with the real answer.

“Let me pray about that” – which often means I have no intention of praying at all, but I sound so much more spiritual when I act like I will.

“We’ll see” – which often means I’ve already “seen” and the future does not look promising for your idea.

“It could be an option down the road” – which often means it will be so far down the road neither of us will ever be here.

Afraid of potential conflict or in an attempt to please people, weak leaders make you believe there’s a chance for your idea even when they’ve already decided there is not a chance.

What’s the damage in saying “I don’t know” if the real answer is “no”?

  • Unanswered questions bring confusion to the team.
  • Energy is wasted dreaming about something that will never happen.
  • Disappointment is bigger when the person learns the real answer (Or never receives one).
  • The team loses confidence in the leader.

Strong leaders, even though they know “no” is not what you want to hear, tell you the truth up front. They eliminate the guesswork.

Hopefully if you follow this blog you know I believe the answer shouldn’t always be no. I’ve written numerous posts about how good leaders empower rather than control. I prefer to say yes to people’s ideas far more than to say no

In fact, I’d be in favor of letting people mistakes before I would be in favor of telling them no – even when I sense no is the right answer. We learn best from mistakes.

If, however, you’ve made up your mind, stop people from guessing, stop building false hope, and say what you’re really thinking.

Leader, what door have you kept open even though you know you’ve already closed it?

Nate and I have launched a new season of the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, so subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Necessary Ingredients In Healthy Delegation

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

I have seen dumping responsibilities on people and calling it delegation. This form of delegation does more harm than good for an organization. It leaves projects undone or completed mediocre at best. It kills employee morale and motivation and it keeps the mission of the organization from reaching its full potential. Healthy delegation achieves the opposite results. 

Delegation involves more than ridding oneself of responsibility. Healthy delegation is an international, methodical and important part of leadership. Therefore, you can’t “dump and run” and call it delegation.

In my book Mythical Leader, I share stories of delegation gone wrong with me as the leader. Likewise, this post originates from things I have learned the hard way.

Here are 5 necessary ingredients in healthy delegation:

Expectations fully set

A person receiving an assignment must know the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve. 

  • “Why are we doing this?”
  • “What are we trying to accomplish?”
  • What will a “win” look like? 

Those type questions should be clearly answered.

Knowledge fully given

Proper training needs to be given before the person is held responsible to achieve full results. Of course, part of training could be doing the work the first time, but the delegator should remain available throughout the process. As questions or uncertainties of details arise, there should be an understood freedom to ask for help. 

Resources fully provided

Healthy delegation provides adequate resources and money to accomplish the task assigned. Nothing is more frustrating than being asked to complete a project without the tools with which to do it.

If the goal is to be creative on a limited budget, solving the “how” should not be dumped solely on the delegate. 

Accountability fully in place

Proper delegation involves follow up and evaluation of the delegated assignment.

  • Did we achieve the objectives?
  • What could we have done better?
  • What did we learn from this process?

This process isn’t meant to be threatening. Done well it is healthy for the delegator, the person receiving delegation, and the organization.

Appreciation fully acknowledged 

Healthy delegation recognizes the accomplishment of the one who completed the task. Consequently, people are more likely to want more responsibility if they feel appreciated for the work they have done.

Delegation may be one of a leader’s most effective methods of success. Leaders who are productive long-term continue to grow and develop as a delegator.

Listen to my son Nate and I discuss leadership issues on the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. Subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 16 – Waiting For Your Next Leadership Position

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In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast with Ron and Nate, Ron shares suggestions of what to do when you are waiting for your next leadership position.

There are some youth pastors who will some day be senior pastors. When’s the right time to make the jump and when should they stay in their current position? Some entry-level managers in large organizations could move to a higher position in a smaller organization. When should they jump? That was the idea behind this episode.

Whenever I (Ron) talk about this issue it stirs a repeated question:

How does one manage the tension well while in a learning position until the transition to a leading position takes place?

I would first say make sure there is a tension. These suggestions are intended for those who sense they are being called to a senior or higher leadership position – someday – but haven’t made the jump for whatever reason. They are living in the “tension”.

But also know that you’re asking the right question. You should never waste a wait. God is doing something where you are right now. He’s working behind the scenes in ways you cannot see. So, you do your part. It’s good if you’re in a waiting position to be asking these type questions.

In this episode, we discuss what to do when you’re waiting for your next leadership position.

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.

Also, we will be recording more episodes soon. Let me know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

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

7 Unwritten Rules which Determine an Organizational DNA

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The unwritten organizational rules are just as, if not more, important than the written rules. I wrote about this idea HERE.

If you are considering making changes, implementing something new, adding staff, for example, you need to also consider these unwritten organizational rules.

7 examples of unwritten rules:

The culture

How does it responds to change? In what ways does it addresses problems? How does it plans for the future? Is leadership trusted? These are all unique to any organization.

The leader’s accessibility and temperament

Every senior leader is different. If you change the leader you change some of the unwritten rules. Is he or she considered approachable? Does he or she participate with the team normally? Would he or she know if there was a perceived problem in the organization? Do team members trust leadership?

These answers shape responses to change.

The relationships of team members to each other

Is there a friendship or just a working relationship among team members? Is conflict acceptable and healthy? Do team members feel freedom to speak freely when in disagreement? Is respect o given to everyone? Do silos exist or is there a common vision everyone is working to achieve?

The healthiest organizations have people working together who genuinely like one another. Therefore, if that isn’t there, change will be more difficult.

The sense of work satisfaction

Are there long-term team members? Are team members generally happy with the organization? Is there any unrest among team members? Are there unspoken concerns within the organization?

Many times this has been formed over the years, sometimes even before a leader has been in the position. So, this is valuable information for any leader.

The natural reaction to change

Is the “way it’s always been done” changeable? Has change usually been accepted or resisted? Who has to initiate change? What is the anticipated speed of change? Who needs to know about it?

The success of change will be directly related to the answers to these questions and the way a leader responds to them.

The way information flows

How does communication really happen? What are the circles of influence? Who drives discussion? Who has influence with peers? What are the expectations regarding the “need to know”?

Communication is key in any organization so, as leaders, we must understand the way it occurs.

The real power structure

Who really makes the decisions? Is it a board? A few key people? A consensus of the largest percentage of people? Power structures are rarely as purely formed as what is written on a piece of paper. Knowing this is critical to navigating change.

As a leader, it’s important to not solely concentrate on what is easily measured, written in a policy manual, or even spoken as a value. Other considerations may be more important, even though they may have never been expressed formally.

Consequently, when change is to be implemented, paying attention to unwritten rules is necessary for success.

By the way leaders, most likely you helped write (or are helping to write) these unwritten rules.

What are some of the unwritten rules of your organization?

Nate and I have launched a new season of the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, so subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 15 – 5 Guarantees For Your First Year In Senior Leadership

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In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast with Ron and Nate, Ron shares some things he guarantees leaders will experience in their first year of senior leadership.

I have transitioned into a senior leadership position numerous times in my career. When I was in my mid-twenties, I began leading a large division for a major retailer. In my early thirties, we purchased and I began leading a small (large to us) manufacturing company. I took over as a vice-mayor of a medium-sized city when there were other more qualified people around me. And, since surrendering to vocational ministry, I have been the new senior leader in several churches and a nonprofit.

I am not always an emphatic speaker, unless I’m quoting a Biblical truth. Yet, in every one of these scenarios as a new senior leader, these guarantees have come true.

And many of these will remain true throughout your leadership career.

In this episode, we discuss 5 guarantees for a new leadership first year in senior leadership.

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.

Also, we will be recording more episodes soon. Let me know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

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

A Leadership Pet Peeve – People Doing the Work

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

I must admit I have a good number of pet peeves in leadership. If I had to name my top leadership pet peeve – it would have to be the one I share with you here. 

Like many of my leadership principles, this one starts with a personal story. 

Early in my career, I led a small sales division for a company. My boss told me who to place on my team, how to conduct sales meetings (even writing out my meeting agenda), and what each person’s assignment would be on the team. Understand, he lived in another state, so he wasn’t at the meetings. In fact, he didn’t know the people on my team.

I was held accountable for results in sales, yet he gave me a script for how to do my job. 

It only lasted a season (I eventually quit), but it was one of the most hated seasons of my career. In fairness, I was young and probably not trusted, but I felt so controlled. My team was frustrated. My team and I had ideas we couldn’t even incorporate. And, when I could, I secretly altered things and scripted my own way.

Even as a young leader, I thought he was practicing poor leadership. 

The pet peeve that developed from this experience:

If you aren’t doing the work, don’t script how the work is done.

As a leader, cast vision of what you want accomplished. 

  • Fuel creativity by giving people reasonable boundaries.
  • Share thoughts and ideas.
  • Monitor activity. 
  • Check-in to see how you can help. 
  • Set accountability for progress.

But let people doing the work:

  • Those working the plans 
  • Getting their hands dirty 
  • Being held responsible

Determine how the work gets completed.

That’s my number one leadership pet peeve. 

Nate and I have launched a new season of the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, so subscribe now. You don’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 14 – How I Lead Meetings

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In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast with Ron and Nate, Ron shares how he likes to lead meetings.

I am frequently asked about how I conduct staff meetings with teams I lead. They are looking for some sort of basic meeting structure to incorporate with their team. 

But I have always had a difficult time answering the question for two reasons: 

1. I don’t always lead staff meetings for the teams I lead. Typically, I let other staff members lead them. In previous churches, I usually let the bulk of staff meetings be led by the executive or associate pastor. I even like to float some leadership in meetings between different team members. It adds a fresh perspective and gives other people experience. 

2. I don’t like doing the same thing every time. Just as I like to see variety in our worship services, I like to see changes in the way we conduct meetings. I get bored easily. It could be that we move rooms. We might change up the setting and go off campus. Sometimes we start with prayer/devotion and sometimes we close with that time. We eat together at times and other times we get right to business. I never want to keep the same pattern long or things get stale. 

So, I want to change things up frequently. Different locations. Even different people in the room. 

But, as I have been asked the question so many times, I reflected on an answer. Regardless of the size of the room – whether it is leadership team meeting or an entire staff, there are some things I’m trying to accomplish every time we meet.

In this episode, we discuss how I like to lead meetings.

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.

Also, we will be recording more episodes soon. Let me know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

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