There is a stretch of highway that I love to drive. The mountains are on one side and a skyline on the other. The drive between Seattle and Olympia Washington can be a beautiful drive.
But not on this day.
I saw was appeared to me to be extreme fog. But the more I drove, the more I realized it was smoke.
It turns out the wildfires in British Columbia Canada had effected visibility in the entire Pacific Northwest. I could see well enough to keep moving, but it took so much focus and energy.
Sometimes what we cannot see slows us down and impacts us in ways that create fatigue. We can be driving in a leadership fog.
What is unseen or even invisible in your world?
I sat across from Dan as he excitedly talked through the plan for healthy, exponential growth in his church. There was a clear vision of reaching people and impacting the community. The plan was in place and the execution of the plan was in high gear. But Dan is a smart, intuitive leader and he knew that something was off. He said, “Everything that we are doing looks great. Finances, people, systems; everything that we can see is on target. But what are we missing? What can’t I see?”
Have you ever noticed that just asking the right question can get you on the right path?
One great leadership lesson is that practical, tangible steps forward are not enough. Don’t get me wrong, we need clarity and the right people. Financial resources and the right systems are crucial. But by themselves they may produce only short-term success. We can operate as if what we can see is enough to move us forward, yet it can take so much energy and focus, that we are left with leadership fatigue. Why? The hard reality is there are invisible necessities that often go unaddressed as we move forward into a desired future.
Over the course of the next four articles, I want to look at invisible necessities that, when addressed, bring health, energy and exponential growth.
Before we look at these unseen requirements, it is important to pay attention to three distinct factors to your leadership culture. These components, when examined, can lead us to begin to see what has previously been invisible.
- Notice the way people make decisions. What are the choices people are making? As Dan examined what might be missing, he looked at the engagement of people with the vision and plan that he had laid out. There were enough people giving financially, there was excitement in the core of his church. Some (about 20%) of the people seemed to be leaning in to the movement towards the future. About 40% seemed to be neutral and in many ways unchanged by the plan. That is to be expected. But about 40% of the people were missing in action. They appeared to be leaning out. What we need to pay attention to are the choices other people are making. Are they leaning in or are they leaning out? If too many people are leaning out, we will have a long-term problem. We can get by in the short-term, but our efforts may not be sustainable.
- A second factor deals with what people care about. The tangible, visible components of leadership can bring various responses from people. The question that is important to ask is, do the people care about the WHY? Or do they only seem concerned about the What?Much has been emphasized of the importance of why, and I do not disagree with that prioritization. But what we continue to see, over and over, are large groups of people that get on board with the what and don’t really care about the why. This results in short-term success and long-term disengagement. What do your people care about? If it’s only the what, then there may be something missing.
- A third component to pay attention to deals with pace … and fear. Have you ever noticed that sometimes speed and fear go hand in hand? Not just with moving objects but with change. Often leaders will ask how their people deal with change. Are they okay with moving forward? Can people adjust to the new? All good questions. But a critical, often neglected question is “Are people afraid of how fast I want to move?” If the answer is yes there is an invisible necessity that needs to be addressed.
For now, my encouragement to you is to pay attention to these three factors and to keep reading. We will not only address these factors but begin to see invisible necessities that will create long-term health and growth. Maybe for now it is enough to take heart in the promises that God makes.
Want to be more prepared for what is up ahead – and get clarity on what is now invisible, yet necessary to your successful growth? Let’s talk. Intentional Impact is ready to help.
What experiences have you had stumbling ahead into the invisible obstacles? Let me know below in the comments below.