You can't manage your way to a better 2023.
Breaking free in 2023 demands leaders lead, not manage. And there’s a difference.
I saw this statistic recently. Do you agree?
When asked, 97% of leaders identified strategic thinking as a key to their organization’s success.
Yet, 96% of leaders claim they don’t have time to think strategically.
The first metric makes perfect sense. And I agree. I love strategy and can’t imagine an organization attempting to function without intention.
But it’s that second metric that really caught my eye. Nearly every leader believes strategy matters and nearly every leader can’t find time to do what they all believe is necessary.
That’s incredible. And frustrating.
I Thought This Was About Balancing Leadership and Management?
We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, we must acknowledge a critical difference exists between managing and leading. If you don’t know the difference, you’ll end up managing by default.
It’s not your fault, though. That’s what organizations do best.
Let’s talk about the difference before we learn to find a better balance.
Management is the process of orchestrating what exists. Managers are particularly adept at ensuring what exists functions effectively and efficiently. For example, managers set and monitor budgets, implement HR processes, and generally ensure all the organizational systems run well. Managers are mandatory for organizational success.
While managers orchestrate what currently exists; leaders create what will exist.
Creation and orchestration. Both are necessary, but they are different.
Strategic Thinking Isn’t Optional
And strategic thinking is a leadership activity.
Not that managers can’t and won’t contribute because they can and should, but at its core, leaders create, and strategies are creations.
But there’s a strategic problem with strategies. By default, strategies are designed for current realities. Leaders create strategies by evaluating the present reality and devising plans for the future. This means every model and plan carries a timestamp. These plans may remain relevant for a while, or even decades, but no strategy lasts forever. Because no current reality lasts forever.
When culture, customer styles, or community demographics change, your approach must change. Your other option is fading into irrelevance and closing your doors.
Finding Time to Lead, Not Just Manage
And our problem surfaces. Most leaders are so busy orchestrating what currently exists that they can’t find time to evaluate what’s changed and design new approaches to meet new demands. That’s what 96% of leaders suggested, saying they need more time to think strategically.
Managing what currently exists is a time suck.
If you feel like the 96%, I suspect it’s all the orchestration squeezing out the innovation and creation. You cannot work on it when 100% of your time is spent working in it.
Just like the urgent tyrannizes the important, management squeezes out leadership. It’s just what organizations do.
If you want to lead, you’ve got to prioritize time. Here are 8 Strategies To Better Balance Managing and Leading:
1. Delineate Between Leadership and Management in Your Role
Our first step is to decide what tasks and responsibilities in our role are orchestration versus creation. Let me give you some examples from my recent role as a lead pastor:
- Setting and monitoring budgets
- Aligning current staff members to current demands
- Executing church services
- Preaching (preparing, practicing, and delivering)
- Performing annual reviews and one-on-one meetings
- Writing weekly emails and newsletters
- Responding to email. And more emails. And some more emails.
- Attending meetings (in my case, most meetings leaned more toward management than leadership)
- Talking key volunteers to coffee
- Designing new fund-raising approaches
- Envisioning new volunteer roles and recruiting strategies
- Creating new versions of small groups and discipleship pathways
- Rethinking the organizational chart to meet changing demands
- Building new ministry models
Take some time and divide your responsibilities into each category. Make sure to review your calendar to identify all your meetings – we want to include everything on this list. If necessary, create a “hybrid” category if you have distinct responsibilities that contain a bit of both.
2. Run a Time Audit
You can’t change what you don’t name. The first step to better balance leadership and management is to discover how much time you spend on leadership versus management. Now, if you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to label some management activities as leadership endeavors. Fight that temptation. That’s why we began with our management versus leadership activity list.
How much of your time is dedicated to management?
How much of your time must be reallocated to leadership?
3. Delegate Management Activities
There are things within your role that only you should do. But there are also plenty of things you could, and should, delegate. Most things in the delegation category tend to be management in nature.
When you spend time doing things others could do for you and for the organization, you’re robbing yourself and your organization of time for leadership activities.
I’ve written extensively on delegation. It’s one of my favorite topics to teach. I’ve included a one-hour module on delegation in the Your Leadership Toolbox Course.
Delegation Article: The Four Levels of Delegation
4. Calendar Leadership Time
Most calendars are full of unnecessary but regularly scheduled meetings and unimportant tasks. One of the best things you can do is intentionally block time for leadership.
When I worked at Woodstock City Church, I intentionally blocked time on my schedule to think, write, innovate, and create. Don’t assume you’ll do these leadership-oriented tasks during calendar gaps or “open” time. That never happens. If you schedule time to manage, you must block time to lead.
5. Institute a Leadership Think Tank
I know – this means another meeting, but it’s not an unnecessary or wasted meeting.
Consider gathering four to eight people who naturally think creatively or strategically for a monthly future-focused meeting. Set the agenda a week in advance and introduce the group to the problem in focus or opportunity to capture. This meeting is not a “how” planning session but a “wow” conversation.
Creativity and innovation cannot be forced (or managed). Making time for it creates a conducive environment for it.
6. Capture Leadership Ideas
I use Evernote to capture my ideas. The system you choose is irrelevant so long as you have a system always available to you when you are ready to lead.
As I write this post, my Evernote contains nearly 100 sermon ideas. I have 4 new courses I hope to create and record. I have a new take on a subscription concept for church leaders. I have a website redesign idea.
My Evernote folders have plenty of orchestration systems, but it’s my repository for leadership ideas.
8. Get Away
I don’t understand the psychology of a retreat, but it’s clear new spaces open our minds to new ideas.
I am in the process of writing my first book. I wrote nearly half of it while traveling internationally on a plane. I’m unsure why the content flowed so quickly in that airplane seat, but I suspect it was the uninterrupted time in a different setting. I ideated and wrote the best volunteer recruitment sermon I ever delivered while at a cabin for a few days. I don’t know if this post is helpful (I sure hope so, though), but I’m crafting it on a plane right now.
If you’re planning to block leadership time in your calendar, leave your standard setting for a new environment.
Don’t dismiss the power of management. There is always so much to do that getting it done takes precedence. If you allow things to happen as they happen, the management aspects of your position will consistently dominate any leadership efforts. And that doesn’t end well – for you or the organization you’re leading.
Seriously, they increased
GIVING by 206% in 6 months…
Today’s POST is just below, but just for a second… Meet CENTERPOINT CHURCH in Tampa, Florida. I LOVE supporting Bryant and his Centerpoint Church team. In June, we began working specifically on generating a generosity movement.
HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED:
This can happen in your church, too. Join my next Funding Funnel Masterclass Experience to learn the system and implement the movement.
Our first masterclass session isThursday, 2/2!
Don’t miss this opportunity to fund your church and grow disciples.