Personal Structures for Thriving Leaders
Each of us probably has a desire to grow in multiple aspects of our lives. The question is how do we do that and how much time will it take?
Putting some structures in place can be helpful.
Putting some structures in place can be helpful. While they may take more time initially, these structures will eventually free you up to have some margin and allow you to grow in ways not previously possible.
Vital Structures for a Leader's Growth:
1. Spiritual Development
With busy schedules, it is hard to find time with the Lord. However, I have learned over the years that this is one of the last things I can afford to skip. Each person is different so find the time of day that works for you, but block it and hold that time as one of your most important meetings.
I would also encourage you to pray over your schedule daily. Each morning, look at your calendar and pray for every meeting or appointment or child’s ballgame. If it’s important enough to have a chunk of your time, it’s important enough to ask the Lord to be present and help you to do the same.
2. Physical Development
A busy professional life makes it hard to eat right and consistently exercise. I know. I love to eat, and my travel schedule right now has me on the road more than 100 nights this year. The choices we make in this arena will affect how we feel, how we perform, and how we interact with others. Additionally, you need to make sure to get adequate sleep. If you commit to these things for a period of time, you’ll likely find better solutions to issues more quickly and find you are more creative in your work.
Finally, an admonishment to schedule those appointments you have been putting off for months (or likely years). For those of you who are current on your eye doctor, dentist, and annual physical checkups, “Congratulations!” For the rest of us, please get them scheduled.
A hard-working attorney friend went through a serious medical situation last year. His doctor indicated it could have been avoided if my friend had just done routine checkups. The one from 20 years prior didn’t help him. The scare significantly impacted his family and his work. Take care of those around you by taking care of yourself.
3. Professional Development
A routine planning schedule can be extremely helpful. An annual plan flows down to a quarterly plan and then to monthly, weekly, and daily. Daily planning helps you identify windows of time for a task. This focus will allow you to take big projects and break them into manageable and scheduled pieces. This will help you accomplish more because it provides the needed intentionality. Otherwise, your email inbox wins and you simply respond to who asked the most – or most recently. Planning will make you proactive rather than reactive.
To develop professionally, you need to make sure you expose yourself to new thoughts as well. This may be through webinars, podcasts, conferences, books, classes, or even intentional conversations. However, it doesn’t just happen. Find an area you want to develop in professionally and determine a course of action to accomplish it.
4. Personal Development
Remember you are a whole person.
Remember you are a whole person. When I ask people about their roles, they often think of three things – faith, family, and work. That would make life pretty easy. It gets messy because we may have dozens of roles all competing for our time and energy. It may be valuable for you to list every role and then determine if you have time for each, or if you need to put some aside for now.
A coach and/or mentor can also be really valuable. I define a coach as someone who helps you professionally while a mentor is more holistic in his or her approach to helping you both personally and professionally. Having these people in your life is a gift you may not understand until you have one.
Sharing Sustainable Structures
Now consider these same challenges for those you lead. Modeling behaviors is the best way to help others. What structures can you encourage them to develop so they learn these lessons sooner? You won’t regret developing one or more of these structures and helping those you serve with to do the same.
Vonna Laue is a consultant who works with various ministries in roles such as CFO, COO, and Internal Audit Director. She serves as the chair of the World Vision US board as well as a member of two other boards. She is also a member of Christian Leadership Alliance’s national Advisory Council. Vonna can be reached at email@example.com.
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