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Leading Awesome People

Image Credit: CreationSwap user Drew Palko

I manage a small team of people who report directly to me. By God’s grace I’ve had some phenomenal men & women on my team over the past 3-4 years. 3 of them are church planters, one is about to be,  and one is planting churches across southern asia. All of them I get to count as good friends, and that’s not including the all-star cast I am working with right now. I regularly brag about my team when a conversation allows it. Here are some things I’ve learned about leading high capacity people:

  1. Hire 9s & 10s

    Don’t Settle for just someone to fill a seat. That seat is VERY important. It is reserved for awesomeness. Whenever you catch yourself thinking “well, I’d love to ask that guy or girl, but no way he’d come do this job…” You’ve just encountered the boundary of your vision. Time to grow that vision. Maybe you need to rethink how awesome the job is they would get to do. That Big Fish won’t be excited about a role YOU think is beneath them. But God may strike something in them when they hear the vision for where you and your team are going. Don’t settle.

  2. Give them a big box

    9s & 10s need room to create & execute their own vision. You cannot bring them onto your team and suffocate them with an already completely finished system they are just there to run. They will get bored, and then frustrated, and then embittered, and then hired by someone who knows how to handle 9s & 10s. Church search committees, I’m especially looking at you right now. Don’t think you are going to hire an awesome lead pastor who is going to settle in and keep things from changing. You can’t grow a watermelon in a strawberry pot. Big fruit needs big room to grow. I’m always looking for ways to expand the box for my 9s & 10s. It will only make our organization better!

  3. Keep your door open

    This one is important & has surprised me at how valuable it is. Some of my good friends who’ve been a part of my team joke that “the spence” strategy is to “toss him in the deep end and let’s see if he can swim.” It’s true I want them to feel my trust so I don’t micromanage. BUT, if you aren’t careful somebody could drown (I’ve almost lost a couple of folks this way). So, I’ve given an open door policy to my team. I Tell them regularly that I INSIST they speak up when they are feeling close to maxed on their workload. NOT AFTER THEY ARE ALREADY BURNT OUT, but when they are feeling the stuff pile up. Basically, I trust them in 2 ways: to be awesome enough for me to give them big shoes to fill, and to be smart & humble enough to know when to ask for help. And I earn there trust by responding & helping when they come to me.

  4. Welcome Goodbye.

9s & 10s are probably going to wind up leading organizations some day. Creating a culture that challenges them to grow in leadership, then welcomes their launch into greater leadership roles than you can offer, I believe is critical. This may move into a more spiritual side, but you’ve got to trust God that he will fill the vacuum left by the person you are sending out. I’ve seen it happen many times. 9s & 10s want to be a part of a team that produces top tier leaders.

How about you? What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in leading awesome people?

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