Leadership Limits: The Art of Knowing When You’re Done

877270_52065388 Here is the truth: God created us all with limits.

This is just a simple fact, but one that so many of us don’t realize or accept. In fact, if you read through the creation accounts in early Genesis you’ll start to see that God created Adam and Eve with limits too. Limits remind us of something – that we need each other. We can’t do it alone.

And here is how this relates to leadership.

Leaders are often reluctant to embrace their limits. They push harder, they work longer, and dig deeper. None of this is bad in the short-term, but in the long-term it’s disastrous. To pretend that you can lead and push through and not acknowledge your limits will kill your leadership. It might not today, and it might not tomorrow, but it will happen.

When you refuse to admit you’re tapped out, you are actually denying part of the essence of leadership: relying on and empowering others. Pretending you don’t need anyone or don’t have any limits doesn’t help you, and it certainly doesn’t help your organization, business, or team. Limits are inherent to who we are, and knowing them helps us to lead better and longer.

Of course self-discipline, drive, and a strong work ethic are crucial to leadership. But so too is knowing when you start to run dry.

So here are two questions I ask myself at least once a month. And I think they are good questions for anyone in leadership to ask. It’s this:

  • Have I not asked for help this month when I needed it? 
  • Have I embraced both my limitation and my responsibilities?

These two question help me stay on track and I hope they help you too.

Why Leadership Entails Failing

I think if we want to learn to be leaders, and leadership can be learnt, we have to learn to live with messiness. And I don’t mean just messiness around us, but messiness within us.

Here’s what I mean by that: learning necessitates failing, mistakes, and messiness. 

You can’t become competent at something without trying, and without failing. That’s part of developing competence and ability. You try something, you make mistakes, you grow, you learn and you try again.

And that same principle is true with leadership. We won’t be able to grow as a leader if we are worried about failing, or making a mess. Instead, we should be growing in leadership as the art of learning from our mistakes and our messes.

All leaders fail and flounder. Which means to become a leader we have to learn to be okay with failing.

That almost sounds backwards in the leadership world. In the leadership world the talk is about success, moving forward, and casting vision. And those are all true and good things. The difficulty is that no one can do that perfectly on their first try. It’s something we grow in, and learn through our mistakes.

So all I’m saying is this: if you want to be a leader, you’re going to have to learn to be okay with making mistakes, and decide you are going to learn from your mistakes.

And that also means that if you are going to be raising other leaders around you, you’ll have to be okay with their mistakes too. In all honesty, I think leadership comes down to learning from mistakes, and allowing people to make mistakes.

So my challenge to each of you is this: go out and try to be a leader. Don’t let the worry about making mistakes stop you from trying, because that’s actually a deep part of leadership.

Welcome to Leadership…

Being a leader is a calling. And it is a deep calling. It’s not always easy. But oftentimes the most difficult of paths, are the most worthwhile. But here is the interesting thing about leadership…we’re all leaders.

Yes we are all leaders to some extent. Leadership is influence over others, so the point isn’t whether or not you have it, but how you are using it. My guess is that you have influence with someone in your life whether that be a child, spouse, co-worker, or a friend. So the big question then isn’t if you are a leader but are you leading well?

I bet if you look back on your life some of the biggest leaders in your life we’re regular everyday people who shaped you. They were your parents, your coach, a teacher, a friend, a boss, and maybe even a pastor. So the question I really want to pursue and dive into is, how do we become the type of leaders that leave lasting influence?

That’s really what I want to look at on Monday night here at the church. We are going to be a having a night focusing on building and developing our influence and leadership. Since I believe leadership is something we all do, it’s open to everyone: business people, homemakers, retirees, students, and regular every-bodies. So it’s open to you. Just let me know if you’re interested in coming.  It starts at 7.

And then this week as your interacting with friends, family, and neighbors ask yourself: what kind of legacy am I leaving? What kind of influence and impact?

My guess is…is that if you ask that question you’re on the right path…