How Leaders Can Stop Hogging the Hero Moments

One-Sentence Summary: Every leader wants to be a hero, but rather than hog the hero moments, great leaders empower others to be heroes. 

As a leader, have you ever been a hero to those who follow you?

Maybe you were the bearer of great news. Or maybe you served or loved them in an unexpected way. Maybe you gave them a job!

Most point leaders have the opportunity to be a hero with their staff from time-to-time, but what about the other “leaders” in the organization?

It’s an important question, because there are lots of people in every establishment leading something or someone. On our church staff, nearly everyone leads a staff team and/or volunteer team. Not everyone, but nearly everyone. There is one point leader, but there are nearly 65 leaders.

What I see too often (and maybe you’ve see this a lot, too), is point leaders hogging the hero moments while lower-level leaders are forced to handle the day-to-day, non-hero stuff. And unfortunately, there’s not too many “hero” moments day-to-day.

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Because Hiring Diverse Strengths Is Not Enough

Every leader knows that a well-rounded staff makes for a better organization. As a leader, you desire to have a diversity of skills, capabilities, and even personalities on the team. You want a leadership team to provide different perspectives. You want a leadership team to contain unique individual abilities. You want an overall staff built upon a healthy diversity of talent.

You want people with financial strengths, administrative strengths, people strengths, and creative strengths. You want leaders around you who are feelers, doers, thinkers, strategist, contemplative, and decisive. You need this as a leader. And your organization needs this to be successful.

That should be easy to accomplish, right? I mean, all you really need to do is hire for strength and personality diversity. Not diversity of chemistry — we all need to love the people we work along side — but diversity of talent. Diversity of abilities. Diversity of personality.

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Does Your Team Really Believe They Belong?

Have you ever felt you needed to prove yourself? Prove your worth? Prove you deserved to be at your company, church, or organization?

I guess that’s more of a rhetorical question, right?

We’ve all felt the sense of performance-based acceptance at play in our heart. It’s part of the human condition. We’ve all wondered if we really belong. If we are worthy of our role.

As leaders, we have to look outside of our own experience to see the bigger problem: The internal battle to belong isn’t isolated to us. If we have felt it, most likely everyone in our organization has felt it — or is currently feeling it. And it’s a problem on several fronts. I know, because like you, I’ve been there.

The Internal Battle to Belong Creates:

1. Sideways energy: When people are trying to prove their worth, their misapplied motivation moves their energy away from the good work and toward a good pat on the back. When people are focused on being noticed, their efforts cannot be fully dedicated to something bigger than themselves.

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The Power of Proximity

Have you ever been passed over simply because you were not around when opportunity came?

Don’t feel bad—it’s the power of proximity, and it’s a normal function of organizational life. Those closest to the point leader often find themselves with the most opportunities. Not necessarily because they are the most talented, or the most capable, or even the best fit, but because they are there.

I’ll go ahead and say it for you: “That doesn’t seem fair.” It’s not, but neither is life, which doesn’t make anyone feel better, but nevertheless is still true.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks to proximity, but for a driven, young leader, the advantages typically far outweigh the disadvantages. Young leaders want new challenges and opportunities. They want to learn through experience and be coached on their performance. They want to better understand and contribute to the bigger picture, and there is no picture bigger than that carried by the point leader. Being near him or her matters.

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How To Ensure Feedback Is Helpful, Not Harmful

Have you ever given great feedback in the wrong way or to the wrong person, virtually negating the feedback in total?

I sure have – like it was my job!

Actually, evaluating and providing feedback IS a huge part of my job. It is an important part of any leader’s job. As a Lead Pastor in a campus location with North Point Ministries, I am constantly evaluating our services, events, and programs. One of our staff covenants is “Make it Better,” so it’s safe to say evaluation and feedback is in our organizational DNA.

While evaluation alone is relatively innocent, the feedback mechanisms that carry our evaluations are ripe for harm – especially if you are a senior leader.

I learned this lesson the hard way a few times (I’m a slow learner). I remember two specifically: Continue reading…

Every Leader Loves a Little Evolution

Every leader loves progress, and driving environment, program, event, or even leadership evolution is part of of the progress loop. Great leaders practice the art of evaluation and evolution. Individually, they are equally important, but without their counterpart, each is purposeless.

Some definitions based on my personal use: Evaluation is the systematic process of analyzing against a standard of expectation. By definition alone, effective evaluate is far from accidental. But evaluation is nearly worthless without evolution. Evolution is the process of change toward the standard of expectation.

If you want to be effective at both evaluation and evolution, make sure you:

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The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy

The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy

I recently read Tony Dungy’s “The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently.” Honestly, my favorite part of the book was getting to peak behind-the-scenes of his time in the NFL. As a sports fan and football fanatic, I’ve always appreciated Tony’s approach to leadership and coaching. This book, while not providing a wealth of new information on leadership (but seriously, what new can be said), was a fun read due to the football side notes and leadership reminders.

That said, here are my highlights:

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