RELP – Episode 16 – Waiting For Your Next Leadership Position

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

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.

5 Leadership Situations I Tend to Micromanage

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

I like to lead leaders, so I prefer to be a macro-manager. This means I try to cast the vision for a team and get out of the way, releasing each team member to do his or her work in their own individual way. There are times, however, where I tend to micromanage.

In those times as a senior leader,  I am needed for more coaching, encouraging or correction for a season.

5 times I tend to micromanage:

When a team member is new to the organization.

New people to an organization need to learn your culture and way of doing things. They don’t know. This doesn’t mean you don’t allow them to invent, dream and discover, but they also need to know how decisions are made, the unwritten rules, and the internal workings of the environment. It will serve everyone well and they’ll last longer on the team if these are learned early in their tenure.

When a team or team leader has been severely crippled by injury or stress.

I’ve had a few times where a member of our team just wasn’t mentally or emotionally capable of making the right decisions. It could be what they were dealing with in their personal life or with the stress of their work. I have had to step in and help them more than I normally would for a season to help them succeed.

When in a state of uncertainty, transition or change.

I once had a strong leader quit abruptly from his position. His team was devastated. I quickly realized they had relied too much on his leadership and were now lost without him. It required more of my time initially until we could raise up new leadership and better empower everyone on the team.

When tackling a new objective, critical to the organization.

This is especially true when, as the senior leader, I’m the architect of the idea. They need more of my time to make sure things are going the way I envisioned them to go. That doesn’t mean the outcome will look exactly like I planned. In the initial start, the team can waste time and resources trying to figure me out without my input, rather than doing productive work.

When a team member is underperforming in relation to others.

As a leader, I feel it is part of my role to help people perform at their highest level possible. Sometimes this requires coaching, sometimes instruction, and sometimes even discipline. Part of being a leader is recognizing potential in people and helping them realize that potential within the organization. For a season, to help someone get on track for success on our team, (or even to discover they aren’t a fit for our team) I have to manage closer than I normally prefer.

Obviously I wrote this in the context of an organization. While not specific to the church, these principles equally apply in the church. The important thing is that the end goals and objectives need to be reached. So, at certain critical times a leader must step in and ensure the vision is being accomplished.

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.

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.

The Unwritten Rules – The Real of the Organization

By | Leadership, Organizational Leadership | One Comment

The unwritten rules are the real rules.

In any organization, what is maintained and repeated becomes a part of culture. The way people do things, decisions are made, and how people respond to change are a part of tradition.

This is the DNA of an organization.

Unwritten rules may never be recorded, voted on or “put in the minutes”, but they are known by a majority of people.

People will defend and protect them. They are considered law and people will fight to keep them from being changed or bended.

Understanding this will increase a leader’s effectiveness.

Example

In an established church, I realized there were cultural understandings I needed to know. Therefore, I didn’t attempt to change some things the first couple of years. I knew these unwritten rules would possibly derail them.

How do you learn unwritten rules?

First, be aware they exist. So, look for them.

Second, ask questions of people who have been there longer than you. Learn people you can trust to ask questions. Discuss how things are usually done and unpack some of the decisions you are considering.

Third, discover them by experience, as you approach any kind of change. Pay attention to what goes against them.

This is also why you don’t build change in a vacuum. Collaborate with others and strategically introduce change.

Even a genius at creating new ideas must still understand this principle.

Learn the unwritten rules first.

This doesn’t mean you can’t go against unwritten rules. You certainly can. However, if you don’t know them you’ll waste a lot of energy. Consequently, you will wonder why your ideas never gained traction.

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

The 7 Hardest People to Lead

By | Church, Leadership | 2 Comments

Someone once asked me, “Who has been the most difficult person you’ve had to lead?” It’s a great reflection question. You learn a lot about yourself answering it. As a leader for over 35 years, I’ve experienced just about everything you can imagine in leading people. And there are certain people who are the hardest to lead. 

I once had an employee call in sick for several days because her snake was peeling. Apparently, the snake got depressed when he shed. She needed to be home to comfort the snake.

That was a new one – and a story for another time – but she proved to be difficult to lead and reminded me not to be surprised at what people may say or do.

I thought about that question through the years and made a list. These are from my perspective.

7 of the hardest people to lead:

The know it all

It’s difficult to lead someone who won’t listen, because they don’t think they have a need for what you have to say. They think they know more than you and everyone else. In reality that may or may not be true, but it makes them very hard to lead.

I have found at times I have to challenge these people if I’m going to be able to lead them. Sometimes it works. At times it simply doesn’t. 

A gifted leader

Don’t misunderstand this one. I don’t mean they try to be difficult. Someone with lots of prior leadership experience just bring higher expectations for those who try to lead them.

I have had some very successful retired pastors in my churches and on our staff. I love that I’ve served with seasoned people with more experience in ministry than me. But they keep me on my toes! (And this is a good thing.)

Hyper-critical people

When someone is always negative it becomes difficult to lead them. They can zap the motivation from the team. They never have anything positive to add to the team, the glass is always half-empty or the sky is always about to fall. It can be draining.

Again, these are people I will eventually challenge – and hopefully encourage. If this type person is channeled correctly they can actually be valuable on a team. They see holes others don’t see. But they must be willing to be team players when things move forward even against their objections, concerns or fears. 

Wounded people

Wounded people are more resistant to being led well until they heal. They may struggle with trust issues, be reserved with their input or injure others with their words and actions. Hurt people hurt people. 

We have added a number of staff members to our church knowing already they were injured. I actually love this as a Kingdom ministry to give them a place to heal. But knowing where they are currently is key to effectively leading them to a healthier future. I have offered them counseling, giving them clear boundaries (which they often need) and simply say things to them such as, “The sooner you learn to trust again the sooner you can be at your best.”

Insecure people

Those who lack self-confidence are harder to lead. They are hesitant to take a risk. The best leadership involves delegation to people who will assume responsibility for a task. That makes it hard when people have no confidence in their abilities. 

I have learned insecure people will move when they are given specific tasks to complete. They need consistent feedback and assurance, which can be exceptionally time demanding for leaders. But over time it helps them gain confidence to not only follow but lead. 

Overly change-resistant people

Leadership always involve change. Without change there is no need for leadership. So, those who cling so tightly to the past are harder to lead to something new.

There is nothing wrong with tradition or with enjoying the memories of the past. But when someone’s love of their history prevents them from embracing their future it becomes difficult leading them.

I like to try and bring them along by allowing them to celebrate the past. At times, we can rediscover rather than reinvent by building upon the success of the past, rather than simply ignoring it. 

Myself

Without any doubt the hardest person for me to lead has always been me. Truth is I can be guilty of holding others to unrealistic expectations I can’t live up to either.

One way I battle this is to ask myself questions such as, “If I were that person, with their skills and interests, would I feel this is a reasonable expectation?” 

Everyone can be difficult to lead at times and during some seasons. It is what makes leadership fun, right?

To be clear, my goal is not immediately to remove these people from a team. Actually, I think the role of leadership is to learn how to better lead them. The reality is that all of these scenarios and types of people can serve a role. Whether or not they prove to be a good fit for a team might still be a question, but often if handled wisely they can sharpen our skills of leadership and add value to the team. 

On every team I have led I have had a few people that proved to be more difficult to lead. If I can figure out what style of leadership they need and how I can tap into the best of them they have almost always proven to be a good fit in time. If not, I want to make that decision sooner rather than later. 

What type person have you found hardest for you to lead?

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

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

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

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.

7 Indicators of a Weak Leader

By | Church, Leadership | 2 Comments

I have learned there are a few indicators of a weak leader. 

A youth pastor emailed me  frustrated his pastor continually caves into pressures of a few leaders in the church. These individuals are not supportive of the youth ministry, even though it’s the fastest growing area of the church.

The complaint they have? The ministry is costing far more than it brings into the church. Students are coming to the church in growing numbers, but without their parents. Young people don’t usually contribute to the church, so it’s causing an issue with some of the deacons.

The pastor was involved and supportive in the expansion of youth ministries and the church is financially sound, but a few loud objectors consider it an “unprofitable” ministry.

The pastor’s solution? Cut back on the youth ministry expenditures to keep the people happy.

I’d love to tell you this is an isolated issue, but I’ve written about these type situations before. Obviously, I don’t have all the facts, but based on what I do know, it sounds like the pastor is a weak leader.

I hate labeling a pastor weak on anything. Certainly I’ve been weak on many things. Preaching. Shepherding. Staff development. And, yes, leading. You name it – I’ve been weak.

But we have to label the problem before we can hope to find solutions.

Weak leaders are usually easy to spot.

7 indicators of a weak leader:

Runs from conflict.

They avoid it at any cost; usually saying what you want to hear. Weak leaders are passive-aggressive. They cave to the loudest voices and disappear when trouble develops. You’ll never see them in the crowd when there’s a controversy looming. They hide better than they engage when people are upset about something or things aren’t going so well. 

Hides all personal flaws.

Weak leaders have a lot of excuses – and, they often pretend to know it all. They don’t want you to know the “real” them – the them which may be lacking in some area. These leaders will try to make you think they have it together more than they really do – and, you might believe it – for a while. They are often afraid if they appear to be weak (how ironic) you may not respect them – or they might even lose their job. 

(Of course, wise leaders learn to build a team which can bring strength around their weaknesses.)  

Can’t accept criticism.

They don’t take well to correction. Weak leaders pout. They get angry and often even seek revenge. 

Quick to pass blame.

They can never admit a personal mistake. Weak leaders are consummate fault-finders. It’s always someone else’s error. Blame it on the economy, or the culture, or the lack of volunteers. They keep people under their authority by labeling others with the faults of the organization. In fact, according to a weak leader, you probably couldn’t do “it” without them.

Leads by control.

Weak leaders want you to believe they’ve “got this”. They don’t, but it feels better to them than the alternative. Instead, they keep people under their authority, never empower, and seldom delegate, because they are afraid of losing their power position.

Shies away from difficult decisions.

Weak leaders can’t make the hard calls. They can’t lead in a new direction because the opposition will be too strong for them. They stay in the safe zone – sameness is their friend. 

Appeases critics and complainers.

Weak leaders are usually people-pleasers. The louder the complainer the more likely a weak leader will cave to their demands. They don’t want people to be unhappy – especially with them. 

I sound rather harsh towards a weak leader – don’t I? But, as I said, I’ve been – and sometimes can be – that leader. I share this as a check for our own leadership.

We need strong, capable leadership – especially among our people of faith. Let’s lead. Let’s lead well. Let’s “stand firm” and “let nothing move us”. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

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

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

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

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.