Right now emergencies override visionary priorities. Distractions demand our attention and pull us away from creative thinking. They bury us in the whirlwind of tasks and daily responsibilities
So as a leader, how do we deal with these “right now” emergencies while leading our team into the future? Watch out for these 7 Avoidable Causes of Leadership Emergencies.
1. Lack of Discipline
In an urgent situation, it is even more important to stick to the disciplines of refuelling. For me, it's praying, reading the Word and feeding myself with podcasts and books because nothing drains a leader faster than a crisis. Jim Rohn said, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day”. The natural tendency for most of us is to prioritize work and the urgent matters and to become too busy for reading and our other re-creation activities, but this can be a fatal mistake for leaders. We make a lot more mistakes when we are tired or battling weariness so, it is most important to stay refreshed and strong. It has to be the priority
2. Poor Planning
Sometimes poor planning, procrastination or neglect of duties by another team player can appear as a leader’s “right now” emergency. But poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency yours. As leaders, we often need to allow our team members to dig themselves out of the hole they dug and not come to their rescue all of the time. Sometimes, this is the only way they will learn. The only exception is if their poor planning and procrastination will hurt the organization or people within it. This is when it is necessary to intervene.
3. Not Asking The Tough Questions
We need to learn to ask the right questions. Like Solomon said, “A wise man sees trouble coming and avoids it.” But, I am always careful how I see and respond to what I think I saw. I can easily misread people and situations, and reacting or overreacting to a perception is a deadly sin for a leader that can cause irreparable damage. So, I was taught by a mentor the art of “pulling threads.” Sometimes it’s just a small thread and is no big deal. Other times when we pull it, it unravels the whole sleeve and destroys the sweater.
4. Always Having An Open Door
On an average day, I know I will be regularly interrupted just by being physically present in the office. I mentally prepare for that in advance and always try to make myself fully available for my team and congregation when I am present. That is also why I work from my home office on Mondays to prepare messages and other specific tasks that require my full, uninterrupted attention. It helps me be more available for the team when I am in the office, but being away helps me be more focused on the big picture and less distracted with the daily whirlwind.
5. Focusing on Problems
With the constant interruptions of “right now” moments, it can be difficult to turn your focus to ‘creative thinking’ for the future rather than ‘problem-solving thinking’ for the immediate. The best way to battle this is to schedule it. I schedule a yearly week away where I retreat to an isolated location to just dream, plan and get creative. I also schedule a day in my week to think and work on what I call “big picture” tasks or projects. Put it on your calendar - if you don’t, the whirlwind will eat up all of your time and you will become problem-solving focused.
6. Cheating Your Home Time
Things happen and they rarely happen at convenient times, so it is inevitable that sometimes the urgent will interrupt your home time. You need to clearly define what constitutes an emergency. If someone is in a serious accident and is barely holding on to life in the hospital, or if someone’s family member dies suddenly, then these are unavoidable emergencies and warrant interrupting my family time. If someone calls me because their wife just stormed out the door in a fit of rage and left them and they are wanting me to come right now and fix the situation for them, that — in my mind — doesn’t. And here’s why. That marital crisis didn’t get created overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight. It will still be there in the morning and I can address it then. My family is my priority and I determined a long time ago that I was not willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of the ministry. So, unless it is a dire emergency — a life and death situation — I prioritize my family time and do my best to leave the office at the office when I am home with them.
7. Not Investing In Yourself
As church leaders, we are not above our own “right now” emotional or spiritual urgencies. I would recommend that every church leader have someone they can talk to, outside of their congregation. Someone who is mature enough to handle your humanity and speak into your life. It could be a counsellor or a mentor, but every leader needs someone they can talk to. And again, schedule into your calendar a regular time to talk with that person. We are all human and we all hurt, there is no shame in that. We all need ministry and we all need to allow ourselves to be ministered to. It is so important.
If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.