How many people report to you as their supervisor? There is usually a core group with whom you interact on some regular basis and these people you clearly influence with leadership (hopefully for good). If there are others whom you technically supervise without much interaction (you are their supervisor in name only) they may not be led well. Everyone deserves to have a leader who is committed to helping him or her succeed.
An old saying may apply to this topic—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Are you being served well by your leader/supervisor? If so, why; if not, why not? Even if you cannot conclude that you are being led well you can break this pattern and serve well those you lead.
From a study of Jesus, a master leader-developer, we learn that He intentionally influenced 12 Disciples the most; and of the 12 there were three whom He especially influenced. I suspect that it is not inappropriate to compare our scope of responsibility with that of Jesus—if we have more than 12 people looking to us as their primary leader we have chosen or allowed ourselves to be spread too thin.
A concept that is far easier to affirm than apply is leading with a developmental bias. When a leader is committed to ensuring that all those she or he leads are growing into their fullest potential and aligned so to serve with both joy and competence, some hard choices must be made. Having a manageable scope of responsibility should be a first priority. Only then can we reflect on how to best serve the people entrusted to our stewardship.
Who are the few people whom you are responsible to lead? Who is most eager to learn and grow where you can immediately bless? Who will need more time to make their development a priority where you can wait?
In Philippians 3:13 we read: Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. The context is all about living with focus: for followers of Jesus, knowing Christ is in a category all by itself but, every good leader is next of all known by the quality of those being led. To say it another way, you show me a developing leader and I will show you a great supervisor. So, who are you focusing on?
Leadership expert Robert (Bobby) Clinton defines a focused life this way: “A focused life is a life dedicated to exclusively carrying out God’s unique purposes through it, by identifying the focal issues, which then allows an increasing prioritization of life’s activities around the focal issues, and results in a satisfying life of being and doing.” (10.26.2006 Monday Morning Memo) More on this important topic in a future blog.
In the last four blogs I have discussed a few foundational leadership issues of 1) self-awareness; 2) transitioning well; 3) how and where to focus your effort and 4) whom you should develop. Certainly there are other important foundational issues to consider but these will enable us to make progress with fewer regrets. If you were to select four key foundational leadership issues what would they include?
Next Blog: The essence of leading well.