This article is from my weekly lectures [on the subjects of leadership development, optimization, and productivity] delivered at the Leadership Forum of our church. It is of particular relevance to home church pastors, group leaders, and Christian business leaders.
Average and mediocre leaders are unable to deliver excellent and strategic results even under the most favorable circumstances.
Astute leaders, on the other hand, are those very capable individuals that take very scarce resources in very difficult circumstances and transform them into phenomenal and beneficial results within the least possible time.
Considering the challenges of our times, I believe we need more astute leadership at the most basic levels of our missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses in the Body of Christ.
Astute leadership is all about optimization and strategic thinking. Its being able to align your activities and resources seamlessly with your objectives. This is no easy task, but you can and should do it.
Optimization is not necessarily about changing what you are doing; it’s rather more about upgrading, evolving, taking your most effective efforts to ever increasing levels of productivity and impact. Its about making the most out of the smallest.
God, of course, is the most astute Leader; He made everything out of nothing. That’s ultimate optimization – the zenith of astute leadership!
But we bear His image. We are His children. So we have His capacity to bring forth everything out of nothing in every sphere of our missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses.
The rest of this article shows you how to become an astute leader.
Your efforts vs your intended results
The relativity of the value of activities.
First of all, realize that all actions and activities are not equal. Some actions are far more valuable than others.
The value of any action or activity is measured in terms of the strategic results it yields. Taken from this standpoint, some actions are valuable while others are useless.
Actually, no action or activity is neutral. An activity either supports or sabotages your intended results.
In order to become an astute leader, you definitely need to understand that the value of any activity is relative to your intended result(s).
Optimize your efforts
Results! Results! Results!
In order to optimize your efforts you’ve got to continuously ask yourself, "What are our strategic objectives as a home church [or whatever group]? What key results are we aiming for?"
You need to have the right objectives. These are those fundamental results that, when achieved, enable the achievement of further strategic results.
In other words, you need to know the exact results you NEED to have. But you must be astute enough to recognize the results that will give you the results you need.
Then you need further mental acuity to:
…discern the results that will give you the results that will give you the results you need!
You see, astute leadership demands strategic thinking which at the end of the day is simply a matter of focusing on essential results.
Levels of results:
Commitment… Multiplication… Freedom.
Level 1 – Commitment to personal responsibility, personal development, personal excellence, and personal success.
Your most fundamental result as a leader is to get your people to commit to personal responsibility, personal development, personal excellence, and personal success.
It is this commitment that allows them to make those difficult choices and sacrifices that will be required of them from time to time.
Astute leaders constantly ask the question, "How does this or that activity raise my people’s commitment to personal responsibility, development, excellence and success?"
This demands that you be a coach, mentor, and role model to them in these and other areas.
Then you must create the atmosphere and necessary challenges that make for growth and development.
Also, you must raise their levels of consciousness by getting them to see and hear the same things as you.
You see, it is the achievement of this basic result that enables you to realize a more strategic result – the multiplication of leaders within your home church, missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses.
Level 2 – Multiplication of leaders within your home church, missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses.
There is a world of difference between leaders and mere followers.
Leaders are burden bearers. They are go getters. They are achievers. The more leaders you develop, the more you get done.
As a pastor, for instance, my strategy is to focus on multiplying leaders, not increasing attendance. Leaders are more basic. People follow leaders. So the more quality leaders you have, the more attendance you create.
Now, and here’s the beauty of strategic thinking and optimization, in order to create this second level of results, you don’t need to do anything different than what you are already doing for the basic level. You simply need to UPGRADE your efforts.
In other words, take your most effective actions at the basic level and apply them to those aspects of the basic level that are most relevant to creating the second level of result.
In this instance, it will be to use your most successful activities to get your people to assume greater responsibilities within the vision of the home church, missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses.
So, you see, by focusing on achieving the most essential result, and by optimizing your efforts and resources at that level, you inadvertently create the next level of result!
And it is this second level of result that gives you an even more strategic and high value result – the freedom to pursue higher dimensions of personal development and leadership responsibilities.
Level 3 – Freedom to pursue higher dimensions of personal development and leadership responsibilities.
The crowning genius of astute leaders is that they are not bogged down by those vital day to day chores and duties demanded by their home churches, missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses. They are free to pursue higher dimensions of personal growth and leadership responsibilities.
But this is only because their people are committed to personal responsibility, personal development, personal excellence, and personal success. And also because they’ve multiplied leaders within their home churches, missions, ministries, outreaches, and businesses.
Astute leaders are not bottle-necks. They inspire others by their own personal growth and development.
Applying the principles
Instances from our home churches.
Now we come back to the issue of the relative importance of activities:
Which of your home church activities are contributing the most to the basic results?
Which one of all that you do fires the people the most to commitment and excellence? Is it your bible study session, or the brainstorming for presentation ideas, or the rehearsals, or the presentation itself?
I think we know the answer to that question:
The challenge of the Sunday presentations has gotten more people to participate in our vision than any other thing we’ve ever done. It has become easier and faster to rope new people in and give them a sense of belonging even from their very first visit. So this is something that is clearly working.
The challenge now is to optimize it, to make it work even better, to make it produce even more.
Every home church should now be asking "How do we transform our weekly infotainment business into a leadership development and multiplication program?"
Home churches that find and implement effective answers to that question will create phenomenal results.
In the end its not about efforts, but more about the relevance of your efforts to strategic results.