#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?”