5 Mistakes that Cause a Slow Leak in your Influence

By Dan Reiland

We all make mistakes, that’s part of leadership. When you’re leading into the unknown and taking new territory it’s impossible to get everything right – all the time.

Some mistakes, however, are those unintended but avoidable missteps that slowly decrease your influence over time.

They are slow, subtle and therefore not as easily noticed. Your leadership isn’t affected right away like a more dramatic mistake, or bad decision might cause, but little by little your influence is eroded.

It’s like a prolonged leak in one of the tires in your car. You can keep driving for a long time, but eventually, the tire goes flat, and your forward progress comes to an end.

If you don’t fix it, you can’t go anywhere. Worse, I’ve seen some people attempt to drive on a flat with that thump, thump, thump thing happening, and we all know how well that goes.

The scary thing is that because these mistakes are usually slow and subtle as I mentioned, they often go unnoticed or unheeded. Even when someone points them out, the leader just keeps going. I’ve had that happen while driving my car.

At a stop light, a guy points at my tire and calls out loudly. “Your tire is low!” I motion back a friendly wave of acknowledgment, and think “yeah, right, maybe later. I’ve got to keep going right now.” Several days later I’m driving with a thump.

Leading with a thump just doesn’t work. When you know what these mistakes are, you can avoid them.

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Together we could list a good number of this specific kind of mistake, but I’m presenting five of the more commonly experienced.

5 leadership mistakes that cause a slow leak in your influence:

1) Allowing speed and pressure to kill your kindness.

More people — more pressure right? We love people, and it’s a privilege to serve, but let’s be honest, it’s not easy to keep up with all the needs and requests.

Then add speed to the mix and leadership really becomes complex. “Faster” seems like a core leadership value these days. It’s not intentional, but just the way it is.

When speed and pressure are added together, simple kindness can get squeezed out of your daily relationships. That doesn’t indicate that you behave in an overtly mean way, it’s more about the absence of kindness. And that is always noticed and felt.

Those you lead will give you grace for a while, but over time this will catch up with you and decrease your influence.

Slowing down is difficult but necessary. Be intentional about expressing kindness to those you serve and lead.

2) Leading from emotion rather than thinking.

It’s always important to communicate with a sense of authentic emotion – straight from the heart. Leading with that kind of authenticity is just as vital.

However, emotionally driven leadership often delivers poor decisions, confusing or last-minute changes, and ideas that are incongruent with your core values.

When emotions such as discouragement, frustration, anger, or jealousy, etc., are allowed to shape your leadership behavior, you will slowly see a decrease in your overall influence.

Your best leadership always starts with your best thinking. Focused, disciplined and mature thinking is required for your best leadership. Demonstrate your leadership with lots of heart, but first, guide it with right thinking.

3) Questioning people rather than asking questions.

Great leaders ask great questions, but there is a significant difference between asking questions and questioning.

Insightful questions seek purposeful information to help someone, but questioning feels like an interrogation seeking to corner, trap, or even hurt someone.

Questions come from a need for understanding, questioning stems from an inherent place of distrust. It’s rare that a leader does this knowingly, but inner battles that result in things like fear and insecurity can flip questions to questioning.

Questions look for something that is there, questioning presumes upon things that are not there. This quickly decreases a leader’s influence.

4) Leveraging authority over empowerment.

Command and control may seem like an ancient leadership style, but it creeps into the mix more often than you might think.

Its more subtle forms are packaged in things like micro-management, using policy over influence, and pushing a personal agenda. These things will slowly erode anyone’s leadership.

Real empowerment is based on the foundation of trust and does not depend on org-chart based formal authority.

Authority may seem fast and efficient, and in the moment that’s true, but over the long run, authoritative leadership will cost you much of your influence.

Empowerment trusts, values and builds people up. Empowerment embraces freedom with guidelines and recognizes results.

5) Failing to do what you say you will do.

Failure to do what you say you’ll do may be one of the biggest and most common leadership mistakes there is, and it’s so easily avoidable.

I rarely recommend that anyone stop using phrases like: “I’ll do it, or “I’ll take care of it, etc.,” but that would be better than failing to do what you say. But the truth is that it wouldn’t address the real problem.

The real problem often originates in something as innocent as being forgetful or overly busy, but can also represent a character issue. Either way, it will eventually diminish your influence.

The people you serve and lead need to know they can count on you. It doesn’t matter if it’s something small like telling someone you’ll call them in the morning, or you’ll email the information they asked for. If you said you would, you absolutely must do it.

Avoid these “slow leak” leadership mistakes at all costs and your leadership will gain a distinct advantage.

 

This article was originally published at: DanReiland.com

Three Things Muslims Can Teach Christians About Prayer

By Sofya Shahab

Just because we believe differently doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention

I knew I would love Afghanistan before I even arrived. As a student of arts, it is easy to romanticize the Middle East, drawn to its exotic mysticism, history and culture.

My first nights in Kabul were spent sleeplessly listening to the helicopters passing overhead, wondering what was happening and where they were going. At 4 a.m., the city would receive its wakeup, every Mosque sounding out the call to prayer, rousing Afghans and expat alike.

In each country, the call to prayer is slightly different, and while Afghanistan is far from the worst, I certainly didn’t welcome the local Muezzin intruding on my sleep.

But it didn’t take long for my body to tune out the nightly chorus of Kabul, much as those living near railways learn to adjust to the noise of passing trains. Ten months later, I now appreciate the intrusion of prayer time throughout my day as I have realized how much there is to learn about my own faith from my Muslim colleagues.

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Christians and Muslims obviously have very different beliefs. As Christians, we need to be firm on that, and not compromise what we know to be true from the Bible. But there has to be a dedication to learning from our neighbor while holding true to our faith.

Think of Malala Yousafzai’s recent statements to Jon Stewart on the importance of turning the other cheek. Or of Eboo Patel’s tremendous work in the area of creating interfaith dialogue. These are Muslims who have lived out something that is beautifully true. And, as is often said, all truth is God’s truth.

In that interest, I’ve seen three things Christians can learn from Muslims about Prayer:

Discipline

A majority of the Christians I know will spend the first part of their day in morning devotions, rising perhaps 30 minutes before the rush to get ready begins in order to spend time with God. But I’m not sure I know many how would wake at dawn, no matter how early it falls, in order to pray.

To me, to get up with the sun each day demonstrates an uncontainable excitement for God. There are far too many mornings where it is all too easy to hit the snooze button and simply relegate God to later in the day.

Utilizing the call to prayer as a reminder to take time out and invest in a relationship with God teaches a discipline that can often be lacking. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you must stop in order to read, worship or reflect. It puts God at the center of your life and physically demonstrates that He is more important than any other concerns you may have as they come second to Him.

Reverence

Seeing the preparations for prayer that Muslims go through can change the way in which we approach God. Removing their shoes and washing their hands, face and feet; they are making themselves clean.

While the blood of Christ has already done that for us, it is a poignant reminder that our God is a Holy God who we should come before with reverence. He may be our Father who loves us, but that does not mean we should come before Him lightly.

One of the beautiful things about the cross is it has removed the barriers between us and God, so that we can raise our voice to Him, sharing our needs and joy whenever it strikes us. But maybe we should also picture who God truly is when we talk to Him. He is the God of Moses who said “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) And the God of Revelation 4, who shines out from His throne like precious stones.

Community

Praying five times a day, whether at the Mosque, in the office or in the home creates a sense of unity amongst Muslims, whether they are literally together or spread throughout the world.

I was raised in an evangelical Baptist church, so it was not until I came to Afghanistan that I first experienced the liturgy. I was surprised by how much I enjoy it.

One friend who has recently been working her way through The Divine Hours explained how praying a prayer that you know someone else somewhere else will be taking up after you feeds into a community that represents the true body of Christ, regardless of denomination or location, creating “a cascade of praise before the throne of God,” as Phyllis Tickle says in her book The Divine Hours.

In some ways, it is easier to be a Christian in Afghanistan than it is in England. There is a value and worth placed on religion that is often dismissed within secular cultures. Although Christians and Muslims obviously disagree about a lot of aspects of who God is and how we relate to Him, there is much we can learn from each other.

 

This article was originally posted at: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/worldview/3-things-muslims-can-teach-christians-about-prayer