Part 1 of 7 on Leadership: Where Eagles Dare: Spreading Your Wings

26 Jul

Romans 12:6-8 (NIV) 6We have different gifts,according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

This blog is dedicated to all of the men and women who have to lead from within a team. It is dedicated to the men and women who have to kick, scratch, claw, and fight to lead their team within the confines of an organization with multiple teams. We have heard it said that, “Eagles don’t flock”, however, within many organizations eagles are made to co-exist and nest on the same cliff. Eagles are solitary creatures who do not like to share territory. This blog will take a look at the challenges one faces as one attempts to lead from within the team. One of the toughest things to do is to gather twelve leaders in one room and vision cast or ask opinions concerning the direction of the organization. This can be frustrating for all the leaders. Working in a multiple staff setting fighting for finances, support, staff, volunteers, calendar dates, and facilities can take away from the purpose of the team universal. In this blog we will attempt to recognize the challenges and provide solutions to help better both the individual team and the team universal.

New Leaders Spreading Their Wings

“Eagles don’t flock” is a true statement. However, they are made to flock within the confines of a team. Most organizations are full of departments and each department must have leadership. One of the hardest things to do is find your place on a team. New leaders are not always welcome onto the team. Their ideas are not always received with the same enthusiasm that they are given. A new member trying to spread his or her wings within the flock of an organization can find the airspace crowded. They tend to hear things like, “We have tried that before”, “That will never work”, “We don’t that here”, or “He or she is still young or green give them time and they will settle down”. Unfortunately, many of the other leaders have gotten comfortable with their air space and they are not willing to make room for a new person trying to spread his or her wings. Many times the other leaders perceive the new leader’s ideas and enthusiasm as an attempt to take over and not share the air space. The new leader must not give up! No matter how many times or how crowded the air space gets he or she must battle for the air space and the right to spread his or her wings or he or she will never soar with the eagles. The ideas and enthusiasm that is brought to the team by a new team member will eventually be received by the team especially if the leader puts together a track record of success upon success. No one is going to give their air space willingly. A new leader must carve out his or her airspace within the organization. One of the best ways for a new leader to carve out air space among the organization is to run his or her team with skill and precision. Air space for a new leader to spread his or her wings can not be denied within the organization if his or her team is benefiting the organization. It is no easy task to take air space from other leaders however it is necessary. The organization is counting on the new leaders to spread their wings and take their rightful place soaring within the organization. Current leaders are not going to be around forever and if new leaders do not earn the right to soar with them they will not get the wisdom and mentoring needed to lead the organization one day.

New Leaders are not always welcome into the Flock

On one occasion a new team member and leader, the author of this blog, was told in no uncertain terms that the organization, or team he was looking at joining, was “not looking for any superstars”. That is not exactly the kind of welcome a new team member and leader expects. That is the kind of welcome they will face by current leaders who have worked hard to make the organization all that it is. The current leadership has placed their life’s work into the organization and a new leader can not expect the current leaders to just move over and make room. They are going to have to prove themselves to the organization. A new team member trying to spread his or her wings should not spread their wings at the expense of the other members of the organization. While they are not always welcomed with open arms they must not let that deter then from attempting to spread their wings. Once the new team member has shown his or her intentions through adding value to the organization by contributing ideas, helping others succeed, and general participation then he or she can begin to spread their wings and soar within the organization. These actions still do not guarantee a warm reception. The fact is it does not matter whether he or she is welcomed. The fact of the matter is that the head leader and leader of the organization has chosen him or her and that should be good enough.

A New Leader Must Not Give Up

Whether the new leader receives a warm reception or not is irrelevant. In a perfect world one could paint a picture of complete and utter acceptance and unconditional love; however, this is not a perfect world! Sharing air space is not a top priority in the minds of the current leaders. They are used to doing things a certain way. Many of the current leaders will have grown comfortable and await the time when they can fly south and stay there. A new team member coming in trying to spread his or her wings can throw them into a tailspin and mess up their picture perfect world. The new leader who comes in and does not expect to be challenged for air space is sadly mistaken. A good idea for the new leader would be to ask one or more the current leaders to mentor him or her. Either way the new team member or leader must be consistent, confident, and committed to spreading his or her wings. Giving up is not an option! When is the last time you have seen an eagle walking? Eagles are meant to soar!

The Key to Soaring is Building on Success

A major way that a new leader can be encouraged not to give up is to focus on the success of the team he or she has been entrusted with. Success that builds both the new leader’s team and the organization will be the key to getting the air space needed to spread one’s wings. By skillful and precise leadership the new leader can lead his or her team to success after success building the organization and gaining recognition with the organization. Success no matter how small or how large is still success and no one can argue with results. If the new team member wants to get the attention of the head leadership he or she must show the ability to lead his or her team successfully. Through success the new leader carves out his or her air space within the organization. Air space can not be denied to the leader that will use it most effectively. It is not easy to gain air space and the right to soar with the eagles but it is possible. New leaders and team members around the country are carving out air space through success and as a result their spreading the wings and soaring within their organizations.

Young Leaders and New leaders are the Head Leaders of the Future

Through flying within the organization new leaders gain the experience and skills needed to lead the future. New leaders should take full advantage of the time they have soaring with the current leadership and organization. The current leadership will not going to be around forever and they must have successors. While it was tremendously hard to carve out airspace and earn the right the spread their wings it will not be hard for current leaders, who have soared with young eagles, to hand over the organization to capable, skilled, and commit committed leaders. Every leader knows there is a time when they must surrender their airspace and allow the next generation of leaders to soar to their fullest potential. Remember, older leaders were once new leaders who had to do the same thing that you are doing to earn the right to soar. A new leader who has shown consistent, confident, and committed leadership is what the current leaders are looking for. A teachable spirit and a willingness to learn is what they are looking for so that they can invest time and effort in something bigger than they are. Gaining wisdom while it is available is wisdom. Seeking quality mentors while quality mentors can be found is what new leaders should be doing if they want to spread the wings.

Soaring at Full Wing Span

After carving out the air space needed to soar the new leader can only do one thing, soar! But they will not just soar they will soar at full wing span. They will soar and their potential will be seen and used to the highest degree. New leaders who have fought, scratched, kicked, and clawed their way into the flock universals air space should fly loud and proud. Once a new leader has gained the respect of the organization he or she can help other new leaders soar at full wing span. They will find that their team will soar and their success will continue throughout their career. When a leader is flying at full wing span he or she is the happiest and healthiest. If you are not flying at full wing span then carve out enough air space through success to be sure that you can. It can be crowded up there if it gets too crowded soar higher!

Life Lessons

When this author was invited to join his first multi-staffed team it was in a unique time. I was inexperienced and green concerning the task I had been called to do. I was to lead a group of twenty-one people, 15 teenagers and 6 adults, on a trip toBelize in Central America. However, there was a huge catch. You see the team had not been trained in street evangelism, puppetry, mime, or human video. There was also another big problem they needed to raise close to $11,000 to make the trip. I took the position in April and the trip was to take place in June. So here I am with a group of ill-equipped team members and an $11,000 dollar budget to raise. If there was ever a time for a new leader to show that he or she could soar it was now! I took one step at a time under the watchful eye of the other staff members and leaders. Step one was to get my people trained in street evangelism, puppetry, and human video. I personally taught the evangelism course and puppetry course. I brought in a special team to teach human video and drama to my team every week. Within three weeks my team had five new dramas memorized, three puppet songs memorized, and possessed the ability to evangelize on a cold call on the street. I new people were watching and I knew I had showed myself a worthy leader. Now came the big deal, fundraising. We did dinners, took donations, had a car wash, and then I put together the big deal, an auction. It was a mammoth undertaking and it took blood, sweat, and tears but it was a huge success. People donated pianos, services, sports memorabilia, clothing, and the like. In one night we raised $5,000! By June we had raised all but $2,000 and the church came through for us. Now with the team trained the finances raised and the trip planned we were ready to set sail. Then trouble hit! When we arrived in Miami, FL we found out that the guy who was supposed to lead our team through customs and to the vocational school were not going to make it. That left your truly back in the hot seat. With 6 adults and 15 teenagers counting on me I stepped up to the plate and got my team through customs. The trip was a great success we poured numerous concrete slabs and saw over 2,300 school children in a five day span. When I returned state-side I had earned the respect from my team, my leaders, and my organization. I had successfully carved out my air space. You can better believe that there were a lot of people watching carefully to see if I had the right stuff. You see my leader had taken a chance on a young green kid fresh out of college. I wanted him to know he had not made a mistake. I wanted him to know he had made the right choice. I also wanted everyone else in the organization to know I was a capable and willing team member. Needless to say I flew at full wing span the rest of my stay in that organization. Even when my head leader resigned I was asked to stay on board because I had showed my ability to soar and my loyalty to both the leader and the organization. For the rest of my stay I was not denied air space because everyone knew I would use what was given to me or carved out by me. Through consistent and capable leadership I was able to soar and elevate others within the organization.

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Posted by on July 26, 2011 in COAH


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