A few years ago when I first started installing reticulation I planned every job carefully, measured up, costed materials and stuck to the plan. It was a good way to begin as it kept me from making costly mistakes, but I don’t operate that way any more.
Now when I roll up to install a new system I simply make it up as I go, mapping out sprinkler location, the number of solenoids and working around any obstacles. Four years of practice has taken me to a place of automation and confidence in my own sense of ‘what will work’.
I have a feeling I am in a similar place with leadership these days. I remember when we started in youth ministry that I operated largely from a plan, with goals and strategies in place to get to where I wanted to get to. Its a good place to start and a relatively ‘safe’ way to ensure you don’t waste your time. But after 20 years, much like a working in a trade, you have a fair idea of what needs to be done when, what is important and what is inconsequential, issues to fight for and issues to let slide.
It was only today that I was reflecting on the difference in my approach to leadership within a local church and how it is now significantly more intuitive than planned. I think in a past life I would have described it as lazy and disorganised… because it can appear that way, only its not.
The things that once needed long periods of thought seem to come more naturally. The issues I once would have spent days pondering are now more easily resolved and the whole task feels much easier and natural than it once did. Its been said that the best athletes ‘make it look easy’ and while I wouldn’t want to compare myself with the best leaders I do think the same is true for leadership.
I have a hunch that good leaders ‘just know’ what to do and when and how to do it, while less apt leaders are still reading books on the subject and figuring out their plan. Even if a person is a ‘gifted’ leader I still believe there is a competence that comes with experience that simply isn’t there in a younger leader (yes there are a few freaky exceptions to this).
Anyway that’s nothing more than a bit of personal learning and reflection from my time in prayer and work today… Make of it what you will, but I have a feeling I am less likely to be spending days in strategic planning over the next 10 years and more likely to be applying the intuition gained from the previous 20 years to whatever may be the challenge at the time.
i’m still getting used to leading in a different way and occasionally feel the need to justify my existence with some hefty documentation and long meetings… but I think I’ll get over it…