What Got You Here…

…won’t get you there from your Current State to your Dream State.

This is a principle with much wisdom and makes a sticky book cover. At BTL we believe when a leader stops growing, so will the team. For awhile the team may keep growing and push and try to wake up a stagnant leader but sooner or later the best and brightest will leave. It’s too hard and life’s too short to keep working around a leader who isn’t leading anymore.

If you are a BTL client, don’t miss this – it’s huge. The best pains are growing pains, but sooner or later growing pains are going to create a dilemma of their own whether In a business, sports team, church or other non-profit entity.

The dilemma begins with this: Nearly every entrepreneur, founder, pastor, football coach, et al. who built anything successful did it with a few faithful allies who were with them from the beginning, stuck with them through the dark days, and emerged with them to inaugurate an era of glory days. Their legend of faithfulness will be forever carved in history, and their leaders will always look back and say: “I would never have made it without them.”

The dilemma becomes cathartic when at the very time the enterprise must shift to the next level or die slow death, the faithful few who were so necessary in the beginning are now either unable and/or unwilling to play the new leadership support roles essential for expansion. They must decrease so others might increase. Some like John the Baptist and George Washington see it coming and voluntarily step aside. Others are less willing to do so and hang on too long. It’s easy to see it in sports. Until Brett Favre finally retired there was no room for Aaron Rodgers.

Loyalty is an ethereal attribute, but the greatest attribute in a strong core is love. Love recognizes the truth. Love does the hard things at the right time in the right way. A leader who loves their team will honor the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future. The faithful few who love their team and their leader will surrender their posts, embrace the transition, and support the leaders who emerge.

Life is filled with seasons of “kairos” moments. If you are a leader whose faithful few has fulfilled the season for which they were called, your courage and your core is about to be tested before the eyes of your watching team.

Do not wait – INITIATE. Uncomfortable conflict is not a situation to be avoided (it will get worse), it is a difficult conversation to be had. The truest of the faithful few will see it coming and make it easy for you. If they have grown less engaged, your conversation may reveal what their heart has been longing to pursue in their next season of life, and together you can make it “done so.” If in their faithfulness they have worn multiple hats which have outgrown them, it’s time to pass the hats to new leaders who may not exist within the current team, which also means it’s time to inject new leadership spark from the outside. If there is still a hat or two which still makes sense but only in a reduced role, this will take exceptional courage and humility, including adjusting the commensurate pay and reporting structure. This last option can only work if the faithful one and the rest of the team can quickly move past the awkwardness, and ONLY if the faithful one has remained actively engaged. Making a special provision for one who has become disengaged is a failure of nerve which loves neither the person nor the team and will seriously compromise your mission.

Remember, every leader has exactly the team he/she deserves. Leadership is not for the weak-minded or feint-hearted. Be strong, be decisive, be loving, be humble, be courageous, and be generous.

If you KNOW these things, you and your faithful few and your team will all be blessed and prosper….if you DO them.

1 Comment

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One response to “What Got You Here…

  1. Matt Kuchers

    John, great stuff. Very helpful!

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