#312 Serving Leaders ask those who follow: “What should you start doing?”

October 27, 2021

As we saw in the last issue serving leaders examine their own lives to see where they need to start doing new things. But they also look at Paul’s instructions with their followers in mind.  

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV). Paul calls everyone to “put on the new self” as the final step in becoming who we are created to be. There are new skills that need to be developed, new habits to be formed and new practices that need to be adopted. Serving leaders are continually looking for ways to develop their people. They have already looked at areas which should be “put off” or stopped. When they find things that a follower can stop doing, there is a corresponding freedom to ask what can begin. They desire growth and continued development for those they lead! With this in mind, serving leaders ask those they lead, “What should you start doing?” to encourage this process to happen.  

Serving leaders ask, “What should you start doing?” to develop strengths.   

Serving leaders continually evaluate their teams to maximize the strengths of everyone. They ask each one, “Are there things which you could start doing that are in the areas of your greatest strength?” This may begin with a small step of spending 30 minutes a day in a new area of responsibility that is aligned with the strengths of the individual. Or it may be the assignment of a completely new task or role to maximize those strengths. This new focus brings greater passion and energy to the work and results in greater productivity for the whole team. Serving leaders focus on developing strengths not correcting weaknesses.

Serving leaders ask, “What should you start doing?” to increase leadership.

Serving leaders also look for ways to move those they lead into greater and greater levels of leadership responsibility. Their focus is not on simply moving people up the ‘ladder’ of success for that organization, but increasing the maturity and capacity of those who follow. They sincerely want those they are leading to continue to develop their “new self”. Therefore, serving leaders ask questions like “Are there roles in this organization that you would like to be in someday? What steps can you take that will help prepare you for that role? What new responsibilities could you do in your current role that would prepare you for the next? Are there ways I can help?” By simply asking these questions, the leader challenges the follower to think and reflect, all a part of the growth process. Serving leaders don’t measure their own success by their own leadership capacity, but by the increasing capacity of those they lead.

Serving leaders ask, “What should you start doing?” to accomplish the vision.  

Serving leaders continually connect the role of each person in the organization to the vision for which it exists. And they often ask followers, “What should you start doing that would help us accomplish our great purpose?” By asking the question, new ideas will be produced and the follower will become even more deeply passionate about the vision and the role they play in carrying it out. Serving leaders draw others into the implementation of the vision in ways that increase passion and ownership for the vision.   

For further reflection and discussion:

Focus your answers to these questions – on one or two key persons that you currently lead. Reflect on your answers and then plan for a time to meet with that person (or persons) and ask them questions that will encourage them to begin doing new things.

  • How can I encourage this person to start doing new things that are more closely aligned with his/her strengths? Are there any remaining tasks they are responsible to do which are not in their areas of strength? If so, what will I do to bring better strengths alignment for this person?  
  • In what ways has this person demonstrated leadership capacity? Have I communicated this to them? What potential do I see in this person as a leader? How can I encourage them to start doing new things in their current role that will help them to increase their capacity as a leader?
  • How does this person’s current role align with our vision? Have I communicated this adequately to him/her? Do I believe that this person has fully embraced our vision and will bring helpful new ideas when I ask “What should you start doing that would help us accomplish our vision?” If not, what can I do to help them more fully embrace the vision?             

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another question serving leaders ask themselves: “What am I thinking?”  

#311 Serving Leaders ask themselves: “What should I start doing?”

October 13, 2021 

Leaders often develop plans and strategies for what they could accomplish and they start running towards the goal.  But serving leaders don’t ask what they could start doing, but what they should start doing. They again carefully observe Paul’s instructions.  

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24, NIV). Paul talks first about what needs to be “put off” or stopped. We looked at this with the question, “What should I stop doing?” When progress is made in this area, serving leaders now have some margin in their time and can move to Paul’s instruction to “put on the new self” by asking another question of themselves, “What should I start doing?” Serving leaders should start (or do more in) at least three areas.   

It is always right to ask…and to do more in three areas..  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“ to focus on leading instead of doing.    

All leaders rise to leadership positions because they are effective at accomplishing tasks, they know how to get the work done! But as serving leaders rise in leadership, they recognize that they need to start focusing on leading others instead of doing these tasks. A mental shift is required for them to put down the ‘tools’ they have learned to use so well and focus on leading others well. Paul talks about changing the “attitude of your minds” before he talks about what needs to be “put on”. As serving leaders stop doing the work themselves, they start doing more and more leadership. They spend more time working on the company than in the company. Serving leaders look at their calendar to evaluate how much time they spend leading vs. doing tasks. Then they adjust their calendar until the focus is on leading well.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“  to do what brings greatest return.  

Effective leaders recognize that not all their leadership actions bring equal results to their organization. When they stop doing some things that bring less return, they are able to start doing more of the things that bring maximum impact. A serving leader may recognize that strategic thinking is one of the best things she can do for the organization, so she begins setting aside blocks of time for thinking. Another may determine that their greatest impact is keeping their vision clearly focused and widely understood. As a result, he starts allocating more time to work at communicating the vision to the organization. Serving leaders work hard to determine their priorities and start doing more of what matters most.  

Serving leaders ask “What should I start doing?“ to better develop their gifts.  

As leaders learn to say ‘no’ to the areas in which they are not gifted or which should be delegated to others, they find that they are able to focus more clearly on the areas of their strengths. This means that they will do more of what they are best at doing. Serving leaders also start deliberately developing their gift. This happens as they set aside time, not to exercise their strength, but to sharpen it. They start spending time reading about areas of their strength, talking with a trusted mentor, and learning from others who have excelled in that area. They take time to develop their gift.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Before I look at what I should start, have I stopped the things that I should not be doing so that I have some space for new areas of growth? (If not, review the previous issues!)  
  • What percentage of my current time is spent on leadership actions and what percentage is spent doing the work? What would be ideal for me right now in my position? What will I do to move towards that goal?  
  • Of all the things I do as a leader, what three or four things brings the greatest return to my organization? What can I do to start doing more of these things?  
  • What area of personal strength can I focus on to develop? What steps can I take to develop this strength? When will I begin?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll look at the related question serving leaders ask others: “What should you start doing?”