I loved to practice baseball, tennis and golf.
But when it was time to practice piano, I dreaded every minute. I loved to play piano but greatly disliked practicing. I was in high school when I realized practice needed to become a lifestyle for me.
Practice seems to be a coaching command for all things athletic. The arts demand practice as well. Lawyers and doctors have practices.
So how are leaders to practice? I remember asking a college dean that question about leading in a classroom. He told me to remember what the best professors did in my training and do those things. He added that I should not to do what my poor professors did.
I asked the practice question about pastoring to a mentor many years ago. His sage advice was to start with a small church, mess it up real bad and move to a new city and start over. "We all have to start somewhere," he said.
So is leadership training to be trial and error, error, error, reboot?
Many leaders will offer a wide range of ideas about the practice of leading. I don't pretend to offer anything definitive, but perhaps the suggestions that follow will be useful in the practice of learning to lead.
Here are five tips on how to practice leadership:
1. Don't provide leader talk when distracted. You aren't at your best when multitasking. Be very careful about giving directions when preoccupied with the latest email.
2. Be the first to listen. Listen with your eyes, ears, heart and brain. This is clearly a leadership trait that can be practiced all day, every day.
3. Read leadership books, blogs and ministrytodaymag.com. We publish leadership content—digitally—on a daily basis. Learn from colleagues.
4. Seek counsel from godly leaders. But be sure that the author, speaker or mentor has actually led a team through battle. There are many writers in the leadership field. It's startling how few writers have actually been tested in the blow of a furnace.
5. Seek feedback from followers. I think the best feedback question is: "How can I help you?" Watch for nonverbal feedback and listen to what is said. Receive the feedback and correct what is correctable.
Finally, keep personal integrity in check. The key performance indicator of a leader should always be: Did I do what I said I would do?
Leaders practice leading by maturing in integrity. It's easier than practicing the piano!
"When they came to the crowd, a man came to Him and knelt before Him, saying, 'Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him.' Then Jesus answered, 'O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.' Jesus rebuked the demon, and he came out of him. And the child was healed instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, 'Why could we not cast him out?' Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief. For truly I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. And nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting'" (Matt. 17:14-21).
Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.
Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, Love Leads.
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