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Leier Newsletter August 2017 - part 1

Why do leaders struggle with asking forgiveness?

The short answer is pride. Often, we say it's about the principle. But beneath the principle lies the fact that I always want to be right. I won't give an inch, even if it will be to the benefit of all involved. To ask for forgiveness isn't always easy. We're often unsure about who should do the asking! When hurt happens without an accompanying excuse, it always leaves damage in its wake:

  • Marriages suffer

  • Businesses are destroyed

  • Leadership is weakened, etc.

All this because someone wasn't prepared to say the three simple words: "I am sorry". But if you do say these words, you should mean them. Most apologies are private and don't happen in public, but they are always personal. What happens when a leader refuses to apologise?

  • His team is hurt,

  • His influence is decreased;

  • His ministry is threatened.

The moment a leader says: "I'm sorry, I was wrong," the heat and hostility disappears. It leads to restoration and brings freedom. Now the Holy Spirit can do its job.

There is no magic formula for an apology, but there are a few basic principles that must be followed:

  • An honest apology means you mean it – it comes from you heart;

  • An honest apology precedes some kind of change; and

  • An honest apology comes from inner initiative, rather than external encouragement.

What should we do to ensure that we do the right thing at the right time?

1. Be humble rather than proud.

Jesus is our model. Pride is part of our sinful nature. We all experience it, but we don't have to give in to it. If we give in, we abuse the power that was given to us.

2. Submit rather than control.

Leaders have authority. We could even say that leaders have power. But leaders were never called to be overpowering. Anyone who exploits his title, abuses this authority.

3. Build relationships rather than being right.

To prove that I'm right is often less important than maintaining the relationship. If it doesn't hurt the church and even if it means my ego takes a knock, I should simply abandon the argument. A healthy relationship is always a two-way street. How do I react when someone asks me: "Will you forgive me?" after his apology? The Bible gives us very clear guidelines: Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, NIV)

Do you want loyal team members?

What should you do if you want loyal team members?

1. Show that you care.

If you handle people as if they are simply a means to an end, you'll never earn their loyalty. Don't treat them like robots. Show people that you appreciate them. If someone is ill, call them, be sympathetic. Just a simple question: "How are you?" is enough the let them know that you care.

2. Show respect.

"Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress." ~ Richard Branson. Don't impose on their personal time. Respect is an absolute requirement. A good leader doesn't let his team feel inferior. Team members shouldn't feel intimidated if they want to approach you.

3. Connect with your team.

Be visible. People should be aware of your presence. Don't only communicate with team members when you want them to do something. You can't motivate your troops if you aren't visible. Mingle with your team. Eat with them. Get to know them. Build relationships.

4. Be an advocate for you team.

Be loyal to your team. Don't be the judge, jury and corrector. Don't throw your people to the wolves.

"We are interested in others, when they are interested in us." ~ Publius Syrus

5. Give autonomy.

Constantly peeking over people's shoulders discourages them. Sometimes you should stand back and let your team continue with the job. Give people responsibilities and challenges that will encourage them. Let them come up with ideas. If you empower your team mates, it shows them that you trust them and that you won't disappoint them.

6. Be fair and neutral.

We know about office politics and favouritism. Give positive feedback, rather than criticism. Don't favour some team members above others. Everyone thinks and sees more than you might think.

7. Share and give credit.

Be generous with rewards and recognition, give public recognition to good performance, celebrate victories. This doesn't only apply to top performers, but also to those who show improvement. People want to work for 'big' people.

"Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Leadership is a give-and-take relationship – if you want your team members to walk the extra mile, you'll have to do the same. If you want loyal team members, treat them well.

Employees leave leaders, not organisations

Is this statement true? A recent study by Gallup shows that just over 50% of people leave their jobs because they want to get away from their leader. Other studies show that this number may be as high as 75%. It is a significant number. The problem is that the people who leave, are often the best employees – people who have better options elsewhere.

Why do people leave their jobs?

  1. They don't want to work under their current leader.

  2. They want more opportunity for promotion.

  3. They want a better work-live balance.

  4. They want more money.

  5. They are unhappy with their work environment.

The first three reasons are actually just different ways of saying they want better leadership. You can't buy an employee's participation and loyalty – it must be earned. Leadership determines whether talented people will be retained.

How do poor leaders chase good people away?

  1. They aren't humble. They aren't approachable and they don't see the excellent performances of others.

  2. They don't involve people's creativity. People aren't used to their full potential.

  3. They don't develop people skills. They don't appreciate people's abilities and potential.

  4. They appoint and promote the wrong people. They give preference to people who are like them, instead of people who would probably perform well.

  5. They don't value diversity – they underestimate the value of differences.

  6. They don't have a vision that excites people.

If you want good people to stay, you might have to adjust your approach to leadership.

Don't let your loyal people leave.

Many leaders feel all their team members are replaceable. But:

  • Loyalty is not an everyday trait. You have to work hard to earn it.

  • Knowledge of how systems and relationships work, also those with fellow workers, takes time and energy to build up.

  • If your best people leave, it has a domino effect on other loyal team members.

Why don't leaders do more to retain their best people? They are too busy with more important and strategic things. Culture eats strategy for breakfast; loyal people eat other things for lunch.

Loyal people are worth more than their weight in gold. If you think good workers are expensive, try the bad ones! Loyalty is no longer seen as good manners. It is seen as someone who has grown too comfortable with his current job. This is why loyalty isn't appreciated anymore. The result is that team members don't realise the use of loyalty anymore.

Five habits of a healthy congregation.

These are habits that members usually don't notice. Let's have a look at them:

1. Leaders park far away.

If the leaders all park in front of the entrance, it shows that they have no regard for visitors. Leaders who park far away and walk to the building, make a symbolic statement. This attitude slowly spreads through the congregation. People see humility and servantship being practised, even if in a small way.

2. Limited time in the rest room.

Most churches have a room where the leaders can isolate themselves to rest a bit. Of course it is good to use such time to gather your thoughts. But the time should be limited.

3. Thank you letters

These letters are a powerful instrument for leaders. Sending a handwritten note says a lot in our impersonal digital world. These letters are often saved for years.

4. First in/Last out

Leaders are often the first to arrive and the last to leave at the end of a service or event. They want to be part of all that happens; they want to make sure that their presence is known and felt. It shows that you are committed to the calling of the congregation. Show your love and care to the team by being there with them.

5. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

As the congregation grows, the leader cannot continue to give the same individual care and support. The trend is to abandon individual care. In healthy churches, leaders still find a way to care for individuals in a way that they wish they had time to care for everyone. Leaders of healthy congregations seek out places where they can serve people on a personal level. The leader has to stay connected to his people.

The congregation is not a business

Anyone can own and manage a business. Jesus owns the church. He therefore decides how it should be managed.

I started my business, I own it and I manage it. I take all the important decisions.

I didn't start the church. I don't own the church. Of course, there are certain business aspects to a church – the church pays accounts, organises events and has to manage its resources well.

If we run the church like a business, we run the risk of becoming like owners, not custodians. Our energy is diluted, our priorities are confused and our focus is wrong. We should always remember that we are only custodians.

Another aspect that we took from business, is that the leader should come up with a vision and that the congregation should follow. Because the owner owns and manages his business, he can do as he pleases. He can implement his own ideas. This can have both positive and negative consequences. I can do it, but then I will have to accept the consequences.

In the church Jesus determines the vision. He is responsible for the results. The leaders and congregation follow his vision. Unfortunately we don't want to listen to Jesus' vision. In the church we hear the vision when we pray.

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