In a recent podcast, virtual mentor Michael Hyatt revealed that as he became increasingly successful, he discovered more and more layers isolating and detaching him from the people he was trying to help. This is a scary reality that no effective leader wants to discover in his or her life. How can leaders keep the pulse of the people they are serving, no matter how high up they are? Here are a few ideas I have tried to put into practice in my own life.
The 3 R’s
Read. I have reading time built into my morning schedule. After spending time in God’s Word and prayer, I skim a handful of credible news outlets, a few great blogs, and books on leadership or topics aligned with my day-to-day. I find that when I share what I’m reading, others do too and meetings and conversations are that much more efficient when we’re on the same page!
Write. I’ve been blogging for 3 years and doing doctoral work at the same time. My calendar is riddled with blocks marked “study/writing.” But I’ve found that writing not only helps me organize my thoughts more quickly, but it has also helped improve my public speaking as well.
Research. In 1960, American writer John Steinbeck took to the road with his poodle Charley to reacquaint himself with the culture he was famous for writing about. I’d love take my Sherman on an extended road trip, but I think immersive research is a little more realistic and enlightening.
We’ve done our own massive studies, like our 2012 Attitudes and Behavior of Youth study, and regularly participate in studies like the 2016 State of Children’s Ministry to better understand and serve the current needs of our partners.
The 3 Randoms
Listen. It’s a noisy, cluttered world out there. In meetings I multitask to keep up with emails, texts, and more often than not am interrupted by a phone call. Listening has become a lost art. I’m the best at listening on an airplane when I have to turn my phone off and am trapped 30,000 feet above the hustle and bustle below. There’s something to proximity, eye contact, and focus that we’ve got to be better at despite the dings, buzzes, screens and rings that clamor for our attention.
Hang out with 20 year olds. They have more wisdom than teenagers and are inherently in tune with the culture. They’ll give you the scoop…and talk you into using Snapchat.