5 Resources That Are Helping Me Become a Better Leader
One way I’ve tried to challenge myself to grow this past year is to work on my leadership skills and capacity. I have tried to take on new and different responsibilities within my role as well as outside of my specific role. In addition, as someone who loves to learn, I have sought out books and podcasts; resources that could provide me with new insights and thoughts, as well empirical data from the “real world” to help challenge me, and help me grow.
There are five resources in particular that I would point to that were especially helpful for me in 2020. Undoubtable, our world was turned upside-down in many ways throughout the year, and thus I’ll add in a bonus sixth resource at the end for all who read the entirety of the article. But, first things first.
Over the past year, I have consumed the leadership podcasts of two pastors of very large churches and organizations, Andy Stanley and Craig Groschel. Regardless of what you think about either of these people or their theology, it is undeniable that both of these two individuals have led thousands of people well, even in the midst of crises. Thus, I would highly recommend listening to their podcast (Let me also say here that I was not a podcast guy until the end of 2019/early 2020. Now, I’m definitely on the podcast train).
I also set out in 2020 to read twenty books. Unfortunately, and perhaps embarrassingly, I came up about four books shy of that goal (I’ll have you know that my goal for 2021 is to read twenty one books, and I am already 2 1/2 down). Nonetheless, I read three books which I also recommend for leadership that were each fantastic in their own right. These three books were 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, Good to Great by Jim Collins, and Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger.
Perhaps I am late to the game here on each of these books as they have been available for years. But I’ll say this, if you haven’t read them yet, you need to. Lencioni talks about, well, five dysfunctions of a team, diving into what makes teams work, and what doesn’t. I’m not sure about your ministry, but mine is comprised of many teams, and I am on a couple other teams. Thus, this book was valuable and relevant information for my world and for my ministry.
Out of the three books mentioned, Good to Great was probably my favorite. Not only did it confirm my love for the grocery chain Kroger, but it also helped me to gain a glimpse into the business world. I loved his phrasing of “disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action.” Like John Maxwell, I think Collins would say that great organizations rise and fall on great leadership. However, it cannot end there- even organizations with fantastic leaders do not always make the jump from good to great. And his challenge in the final pages of the book to find the opportunity to build something great somewhere, anywhere in one’s life remains a great challenge for the reader.
Tod Bolsinger’s book Canoeing the Mountains compares the expedition of Lewis and Clark to leading churches today. It is a fascinating comparison, and was perhaps even more fascinating to read during 2020- a year in America marked by a pandemic, racial and political tension at a seemingly all-time high, and an election year. I would say if you work in a church right now, or you want to work in a church, or you are in some type of leadership in a church, you should read this book. It is worth it.
There’s my review and recommendations for five great resources on helping leaders grow and get better. You made it to the end, so, as promised, I will give you a bonus phrase that has stuck with me since I was an intern at a church. This isn’t necessarily only fitting for leadership, but I will say it has never been more apparent and needed than ministry this past year. Here it is: “The ‘f’ in ministry stands for flexibility.” One of my long-time mentors said that to me when I was an intern, working for her at her church, and I will never forget it. Like I said, I have dwelt on and been reminded of that simple and funny phrase perhaps this year more than ever before. But it is so true. Adapt, be flexible, keep pushing yourself to grow, and keep leading. It’s worth it, and your people/students/organization need you.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.