Thursday, October 14, 2010

Guest Blogger: Brian Burgess- Making Hard Choices

Making the Hard Choices by Guest Blogger- Brian Burgess

Simply put, leadership is about constantly making hard choices. Rarely do we find ourselves in situations where absolutely everyone is on the same page as we are. The task of leadership positions us in the midst of various scenarios in which we are the final voice that decides the overall direction of our organizations.

I’ve heard it said that your level of leadership is directly proportionate to your threshold for pain. That is a truth that a leader will never fully know until they have experienced the body blows of being out front. Leadership brings with it a degree of pain and heartache, but we cannot let the pain of leadership stop us from the pleasure of progress.
The ability to make hard choices will be what separates you from the rest of the pack. In a time when strong leadership seems to be vanishing daily it is up to us to stand up for our vision and lead the charge into the future.
Vision is the driving factor giving leaders the strength and stability to make hard choices. Vision acts as an anchor to hold your leadership during the many storms that you will face.
Of course, this element of vision presupposes that you have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish as a leader. If you know what you want to accomplish you will conversely know what you don’t want to accomplish. If you find the direction of your organization drifting away from your vision then you will have a guiding light to draw you back to your goals and desires.
Your vision helps identify what is really important to the health of your organization. Most of the hard choices you will have to make as a leader will deal with people and their response to the vision of your group.
Some people flat out will never get your vision. These are the people that rarely have anything positive to say. They are always attacking the changes that are being made around your organization. Unfortunately many times these people refuse to leave your organization. With this people group you have a few options: 1) you can ignore them and lead anyway or 2) you can address the issue up front and deal with it completely.
If you ignore them and lead anyway you must be prepared to constantly deal with their antagonism. There is a restaurant in my city that is interesting to me because when they built the building they intentionally built around a live tree. Now when my wife and I eat there we always sit next to the tree and comment on how amazing the construction is. If you ignore this people group you must be willing to build around the trees!

If you address the issue up front and deal with it completely you must be prepared to have a catfight. Know that this is a drastic measure and not recommended as the first option. This should only be considered if the person is so vehemently against your vision that they are causing extreme division among your organization. If the situation has gotten that bad it has become a cancer…cancer must be cut out.

Some people will get your vision but have their own interpretation of it. These are the people that like where you are ultimately trying to take the organization, but want to do it their way. Many times this people group is the champion of your causes as long as the causes pass by their front door first. Their motto is: your vision done my way.
Dealing with these people can be more challenging than dealing with any of the other people groups. They are the people that leverage their leadership talents and abilities for negative purposes. They are always having unofficial “meetings” and creating their own momentum in favor of their personal agenda.

Once again you must have a discussion of your vision with these people. Take the time to sit with them over lunch and share your vision and values. Let them know where they fit in, but have the courage necessary to stick with your core values. It will be difficult because many times these are the people that you feel a connection with and genuinely care about. Don’t hesitate. Stick with your vision.
I do want to point out that these people may not necessarily by “evil.” They may see something that you don’t see. These people are valuable to the fulfillment of your vision. Listen to them carefully because you never know what you may learn.
Always seek to understand before you seek to be understood. Don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
Some people will get your vision but not know how they fit in. These are the people that like where you are going but are generally clueless as to how they can be involved. Leadership in general is the task of motivating people to tie into the vision of the group. Show them where they can be involved and how they can offer their uniqueness to the overall goals of the team.

This people group is in great need of a leader. They understand the vision just not what they can do to make it happen. Once again you can sit with them over coffee and talk about the opportunities in which they can involve themselves. Create opportunities and greatly encourage them to avail themselves to them.

Over the course of your leadership you will face many great victories as well as defeats but the common denominator is the ability to make hard choices. You are the change agent that has been strategically placed in your organization to make the hard choices. In the end you must rely on your vision and constantly point the people back to what ultimately matters. Your vision will guide you and sustain you in the good times and the bad times. Learn what you exist for and be prepared to deal with interpersonal conflict. It takes time and effort and is emotionally exhausting, but dealing with interpersonal conflict effectively is the small bricks used to build the house of your ultimate vision.

Brian Burgess is the lead pastor at Carrollton Pentecostal Holiness Church in Carrollton, GA. He is married to April Burgess and they have a beautiful dog named Reno.
Follow Brian on twitter: @brian_burgess

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