By Ken Blanchard
I was given this book to read from the company I work for. I like to think that I am an avid reader and try to be disciplined in learning as much as I can about being an effective leader. I procrastinated reading it at first, but after hearing the reviews from fellow co workers, I knew I had to give it a chance. What I found were some great truths from a secular author that can be greatly used to advance the Kingdom of God.
Here are the lessons I highlighted from the book, and will now implement in order to succeed. Enjoy!
Lesson 1: People are not mind readers!
“It became obvious that no one can know and provide the motivation that every individual needs. Each of us has a different motivation for doing what we do, so it’s up to us to take responsibility for creating a work environment that is motivating to us.”
Your boss, pastor, or spouse cannot be expected to read your mind! The first step in growing as a leader is to learn how to express your motivations, fears, and expectations. When we learn what motivates us to do what needs to be done, we can then take the necessary steps to take ownership of the task at hand.
Lesson 2: Elephant Thinking
Circus Elephants begin their training at a young age. The trainer will chain the leg of the young elephant to a poll and he will try to escape. After several attempts, the elephant will give up and stop trying. As the elephant grows into a 6 ton animal, it will never attempt to escape though it could very easily. Circus trainers claim they could tie a string around a full grown elephant, and it will not be broken.
Why? Because of “assumed constraints.”
Assumed constraint is the belief we have that are completely based on past experience. If we have failed, fallen short, or missed the mark, we feel as though there is no chance of succeeding on the next attempt. Assumed constraints limit our current and future experiences.
Lesson 3: Redefining “Power”
Most of us will define power in a negative context. Words like ‘abuse’, ‘corruption’, ‘coercion’, ‘control’, ‘manipulation’, ‘money’, and ‘domination’ all come to mind. The reason is that we have all seen power misused within our lives, and even been used to take advantage of.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Acton
Don’t buy into the assumed constraint that positional power is the only power that works.
There are 5 points of power:
1) Positional power is the authority you have simply because of the position that you hold. The best leadership situation is where you have position power and never have to use it.
2) Knowledge power is the authority you have because you are the subject matter expert in your field.
3) Personal power is knowing that because of your knowledge, you have the ability to help others.
4) Relationship power is using people skills coupled with your knowledge of your product/service to serve the people you deal with. When people are your passion, your service to them is evident. They know you’re interested in helping them!
5) Task power is being able to get things done. Certainly, there are lists of items, or tasks that must be done in order to succeed. Being able to plan, and put your hand to the plow to get the job done is task power.
“Acknowledging the power you have gives you a sense of control over your job and choices.” In other words, you must acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses in order to be a self leader, and be effective at leading others. We must identify our strengths and cultivate them.
Lesson 4: Diagnos Yourself
There are a couple of questions we need to ask ourselves in order to see where we stand.
1) What level of competence am I?
2) What level of commitment am I?
Competency means that you have the knowledge and the skill to complete the task at hand. We cannot be expected or expect ourselves to master something that we have not already accomplished or have the knowledge to accomplish.
Your commitment is measured by your motivation and confidence about the goal. It’s funny how committed and confident we are in completing a task we have never done before. Though we have no competence in how to achieve the goal, we are motivated to take it on blindly. However, once we fall short of the goal, we realize our competence level and now our commitment level waivers.
We will all go through four stages of competence and commitment before we master a skill. It’s called the Development Continuum.
D1the Enthusiastic Beginner Stage: Low competency but High commitment
D2 Disillusioned Learner Stage: Low-some competency and low commitment (gun shy)
D3 the Capable but Cautious Performer Stage: Moderate-High competency and variable commitment (sometimes waivers)
D4 the High Achiever Stage: High competence and high commitment (mastery of skill)
Once we reach the D2 level, we’ll be faced with the option to quit or continue pressing on. This is the level where you must ask yourself, how important is the task at hand to you?! No one else can answer that for you. Whether it is in business, ministry, family, or personal battles this is the defining point of success or failure in reaching your goal.
“When your competence is low, you need direction; when your commitment is low, you need support. If you can learn this, you’ll know what you need to ask for at each development level.” This is why learning how to ask questions over making statements is so vital to leadership. You cannot begin to teach someone that already knows the answers (or thinks they know.)
Lesson 5 Getting What You Need:
D1: needs high direction and low support
D2: needs high direction and high support
D3: needs low direction and high support
D4: needs low direction and low support
Once we have acknowledged what level we truly are, we can then identify what we need in order to grow to the next level. It is important to set your goals along the way. Certainly there is a main goal, the mastery of skill for the task at hand, but we should be sure to set goal along the way in order to successfully reach THE GOAL.
Leadership style needed for each level:
D1: Needs Directing. They must be told what to do, how to do it, and guided along the way.
D2: Needs Coaching. Working with the leader, talking things out, going through the process, but the decision rests on the leader.
D3: Needs Supporting. Working with the leader, talking things out, going through the process, but the decision rests on the learner.
D4: Need Delegating. Given a task with little direction and support and meeting the goal successfully.
We are always at one of these learning stages within our life. There are things that we have mastered, while others we are just getting our feet wet. It is also helpful to understand that where you may have once been at a D4 level, it’s possible to regress to a D3 due to learning stages in other areas of your life. Once your self confidence is shaken in one area of your life, the confidence you had in your D4 stage may waiver as well. Learning how to recognize what level you are at that particular task will help us to advance in our self leadership.
Lesson 6 No Excuses:
When given a task and setting your goal to accomplish the task, you have taken upon the responsibility of leadership. As a self leader, it is you responsibility to get the feedback, direction, and support you need!
If you do not successfully accomplish your goal, whose fault is it? We tend to blame circumstances, people, lack of information, support, and countless other externals. The truth of the matter is that we can all gather exactly what we need in order to be successful.
The two most powerful words to collaborate for success: ” I NEED.”
In the military, when planning to complete a mission, there are times where more information is needed. They call it a RFI, Request for Information. The generals do not tell them to ask for information. They are given as much as they need to get started. It is the initiative of the soldier to execute a RFI, no one tells them when or what to ask for.
It’s the same concept in business and ministry. You do not have all the answers, you certainly can ask, however saying “I need” information, or “I need” feedback demands much more attention that asking for it. Saying “I need” provides a sense of urgency to the one providing assistance. We must learn how to gather what we need to accomplish the goal, and not make excuses for why it can’t be done, or why we failed.
Lesson 7 Teach Others Also:
Once you have challenged your assumed constraints (elephant thinking), celebrated your points of power (acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses), and collaborated for success (gathered the tools you need to accomplish the task), you can now master the art of self leadership.
However, it does not stop with your own success! In order to truly be successful, it is imperative that you teach others to also be successful. I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:1,2 “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Looking at the greatest task we as Christians have been given, the Great Commission, we are given a great responsibility to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. But we cannot do it alone! The most effective, actually the only way we can accomplish this task to train other leaders.
I challenge you, as well as myself, to cultivate your own self leadership. Learning how to succeed and be most effective at accomplishing the task is vital to our personal and spiritual growth. Multiplying yourself by teaching others to become leaders is key to fulfilling our Greatest Task!