It's not hard to get distracted by the the stuff on your to-do list (organizational leadership). So I want to take some time and remind you as a leader, to keep your big rocks as the top priority. Here is one of those lessons; become a short hook leader.
On day 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg, there were two lines drawn just south of Gettysburg. General Meade (Union) set up a short fish hook shaped line while General Lee (Confederate) attempted to surround Meade with a much larger fish-hook shape.
Everything was set up for Lee to surround and defeat Meade, leaving him with a straight shot to Washington, DC and an almost sure defeat for the Union in the Civil War. But this short hook created an advantage for Meade that Lee did not have. Daily, Meade was able to communicate with every single one of his commanding officers. This flow of communication set him up for success over the course of this three-day battle, one of the bloodiest and certainly costliest, in American history.
General Lee on the other hand was at a distinct disadvantage when it came to communicating with his commanding officers. Some historians estimate based on the fish-hook lines each General established, that Lee had to cover up to seven miles to get updates from his officers at any given time. Meade only had to travel an estimated three miles. By the time Lee was getting information from an officer about an area of the battle, that information was already old. For this reason, as well as others, this would prove costly to the Confederate army at Gettysburg.
When it comes to leadership, the ability to communicate well and frequently with your key people is crucial. You may have heard this principle called "run with your runners." But I love the image that is created in my mind for a leader when I think of this short fish hook. Leaders, we must do everything we can to be short hook leaders. Communicating and connecting with your key leaders is crucial for success in whatever you are trying to accomplish.
With that said, here are 4 ways to become a "short hook leader!"
1) Grant Access!
Your key leaders need to know that they have access to you. In ministry your key leaders are likely volunteers. If they have questions, concerns or need guidance, they have to know they can count on you. Can they call you in the middle of the night? Will you always answer your phone if their name shows up on caller ID? They need access to you so that your vision will rub off on them. You must grant them this access by giving them the permission. Many people, simply from a social perspective, may not want to "bother you." Your job is to let them know they aren't a bother, that you want to hear from them and that they have access to you at any time.
2) Gather Your Key People!
Make room in your home. Rent out a local community facility. Find space at a local park. Do whatever it takes to get your key leaders together. I gather my entire team no less than once per year, usually twice per year. As a campus pastor, this is crucial! This big group setting allows you to speak into everyone's lives at once. You have the opportunity to say, "This is where we have been, this is the great stuff happening, but this is where we are going next." Your leaders will get excited and be ready to take the next hill when you are able to gather them and build excitement. Don't neglect getting them all together a couple times per year.
3) Meet Individually!
Nothing says "I value you" more than one-on-one time with a key leader. I grab coffee or lunch with every key leader at least once a month. Staff I will meet with weekly. I want to constantly be aware of what's happening on the front lines. General Meade was able to save crucial time on day 3 of the battle because of his close proximity to his key leaders. If we aren't close to ours, we get disconnected from the front lines of the battle and can lose a significant battle.
4) Low Hanging Fruit!
This principle deserves a blog post of its own. When you are with your key leaders you will begin to see the good that is already happening in their lives. You can easily identify where God is working and what has them most excited and passionate. Don't miss that moment. Explore that excitement and passion. Ask them questions like; how do you see God leading you next in this area? Tell me more good stuff about your area of ministry. How can I help you get to where you see God leading?" Spending time with your key leaders will help you identify the low hanging fruit, but you still have to make the most of the opportunity.
What are some of the best practices you have found for communicating well with your core leaders?