Basic Training

Last week in our staff meeting, Rachel called attention to the marker board. John Maxwell’s “5 Levels of Leadership” were on there. I had used them in a teaching session I did that past week with our Young Adult ministry leader. About half of the group said they had never seen it before. I was stunned. I walked up to the board and proceeded to teach them through those basic principles. About 15 minutes into it, my tech guy says, “Gosh, I wish I was taping this!” They were all fully engaged and wonderfully excited. I was amazed that something so basic was so exhilarating for them. It’s a common leadership oversight.

The “curse of knowledge” is the illusion that things that are so familiar to us are familiar to everyone. I’ve taught the Levels of Leadership concept dozens of times. I refer to it often in conversations with leaders. I’ve taught it to my staff. Just not THIS staff! As I reflected on this experience, I realized there are some things that are too important to NOT teach. There are some concepts, ideas or training EVERY team needs to have. It’s basic training stuff. And it’s sometimes the stuff that we’re so familiar with we don’t realize they don’t really know it! Here are a few key pieces I don’t think we can leave to chance:

Leadership 101 – When’s the last time your team went through the Levels of Leadership? When’s the last time you covered basic concepts such as Taking Responsibility, Recruiting, Delegating, or Working By Priority rather than urgency? It’s stuff many of us do now by habit, but I’ll bet some of your team doesn’t!

Emotional Intelligence – If you’re a leader who is a high “I” on the DISC then relationships come easy for you. But what about your team? When is the last time you taught them skills like “Emotional Responding” or “Active Listening” or “The Power of Appreciation?” My guess is most of your organizational problems are relational in nature, yet we often forget to equip our team to manage those relationships.

Teamwork – We expect our crew to work together as a team, but we forget to tell them what that looks like. When’s the last time your group reviewed “The Five Dysfunctions of A Team” or talked openly about how things are going among you as a group? Sometimes we get stuck because we slip into dysfunctional ways of operating, and we don’t even realize it.

Vision – Vision leaks. Every good leader knows that. But even good leaders sometimes forget that it leaks faster the further down the ladder you go! When’s the last time you reviewed your vision in detail and asked each department to share how they were doing with fulfilling the vision by citing specific examples? I’ll bet you’d be surprised how some are doing. Or not doing!

Great leaders don’t forget that EVERYONE needs to know these things…and be REMINDED of them from time to time.

The lesson for me that day was that these are things I can’t leave to chance. It may be Basic Training stuff, but it’s also MISSION CRITICAL stuff! Great leaders don’t forget that EVERYONE needs to know these things…and be REMINDED of them from time to time. Vince Lombardi, the great former coach of the Minnesota Vikings, used to start every season by calling his players together and saying, “Gentlemen, THIS is a football.” For you and your staff, what is your football?

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