Most of the time that expression has to do with cleaning the house and opening the windows to let in some fresh spring air. But for our purposes this refers to something that we as leaders can almost be blind to and not notice. We are always being pulled in any number of directions and most of us want to oblige. We want to say “yes” and make people happy or at least decrease their anxiety that we as the leader will take care of it. We’ll do it. We’ll attend that meeting. We’ll look into it. We’ll do it when no one else will. But at some point, usually sooner than we think, we don't have any more margin left to take on anything else. It’s time for some “leadership spring cleaning.” It is time to say “no.” It is time to clean out what we should not be doing and what we should be doing less.
So why don’t we do it? First, perhaps we are just busy and don’t notice. We go on automatic mode and just shrug our shoulders and assume that leaders are busy and so we should be busy. “It goes with the territory” we tell ourselves. Secondly we feel a sense of satisfaction in our busyness. We justify our value and our paycheck by our busyness. But that sounds a little off doesn’t it? Why do we need to justify ourselves if we have already been justified by Christ and are loved by God? A third possibility is that if we are so busy then people won’t get angry at us because we are doing everything we can to make people happy and get off of their angry list. But then again, why do we have to make people happy? Then, why do we have to worry about being on their “list”? Are we afraid of something? Are we scarred by former leadership wars? Perhaps those scars have been self imposed more than others imposed. Perhaps we are just unsure of ourselves and where we are going and where we want to go with the ministry/organization. A fourth reason may be that if we are busy then we have an excuse to say “no” to someone. “Oh, goodness, I wish I could but I’m just too busy. I have to do (blank)!” But where is our conviction about our priorities? How clear is our vision of where we need to go and what we need to do to get there? The first lesson then is the need to be clear on why we don’t say “no” in the first place.
We all need margin in our lives. It is where we maintain our sanity, get refreshed from the grind of work and where we reconnect with family and friends. It is where we can first notice and take advantage of new opportunities! After all, if we are so busy doing “stuff” we’ll just be focussing on that and missing all that God is making available for us. Then even if we do notice new possibilities and opportunities we’ll just let it pass by! We’ll probably get exhausted thinking of having to do one more thing no matter how good it is!
So if you are ready for some “leadership spring cleaning” to resume the margin in your life and ministry, consider the following spring cleaning regimen:
What are you going to say “no” to? Why? Because it does not fit in your strengths, it doesn’t support the vision or the focus of where you are going. It can be done by others and be a means by which they can grow.
What are you going to do less? Something that needs your “touch” but you are intentionally going to put less time and effort into it for many of the reasons in question one.
What are you going to keep the same?
What are you going to do a little more of? Perhaps there are legitimate things that you need to give attention to that you are avoiding. Perhaps there are things that just need more of your “touch” as a leader: encourage others, check in on progress and accountability, etc.
What are you going to do much more of? What are you going to really lean in on that is most important and will make the most difference for the work that you do? What are you avoiding that simply needs intense effort and focus and getting it done - now!
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Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
"Helping leaders be more productive - less controlling"