Five Essential Leadership Investments

THE FIVE DIRECTIONS OF LEADERSHIP 

Juba, South Sudan 09/2019Training indigenous church planters.  Contact owm.org/streams to be a part.
Written By: Roy King  updated: July 27, 2020803-269-1453 // roymking@gmail.com  // royking.org

LINK TO 11 MIN. VIDEO OVERVIEW – Five Directions Overview.mp4 

ARTICLE – IN DEPTH ON THE FIVE DIRECTIONS AND QUESTIONS TO USE TO APPLY

Let me introduce you to a practical framework for  your leadership investment that will improve your own leadership and the leadership of those serving with you.   This simple framework reflects biblical teaching and not only guides your daily leadership decisions but has proven over years of my leadership to help me develop others.

The five directions of relational leadership helps you defuse explosions and the train wrecks derailing a team, work group, or the whole organization.  The five directions define how to make deposits of trust.  The five directions will help navigate times of conflict so they can be more constructive than destructive.

Most people who talk about the Five Directions refer to Dee Hock as the seminal thinker. For his work search by “chaordic leadership”.  He uses slightly different language than the five directions I have included here. Here is the definition found in The Business Dictionary.

The distinction I make is that the horizontal includes those doing the same kind of work that you do, within or outside of your organization.

In Dee Hock’s training he stresses two foundational truths:

  1. Always start with self-leadership.  It is the core of every leadership investment or withdrawal you make.  Those who fail in self-leadership implode and take out others and even damage or destroy the organization.
  2. The reason downward leadership is addressed last is that the core responsibility of the leader is to train all those under his/her influence to do the five directions well. Direct reports are held accountable to transfer it and be sure their people are also living well in the five directions.  I would call this the “secret sauce” of leadership.  It provides a simple grid and common language for every leadership conversation and decision.

FIRST BASE – SELF LEADERSHIP

Hock estimates 50% of the leadership investment is in SELF LEADERSHIP. 

  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?

I heard Geri Scazzero say in a leadership training session, “Do we see our feelings as prophets?”  Our feelings should always alert us to look in a deeper well of our soul to our motives and values to see what in us triggered that specific emotional response.  An example is, “When my boss responded to my request why was I angry and suddenly on the verge of exploding all over the room?”  What is with that?  What goal or expectation was blocked that was connected to the anger?  In what way had I tied my rope of identity and significance to the request?  What should change IN me to diffuse what is coming OUT of me?

  1. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?  If there is one dominant theme in many books of the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Letters of the New Testament, it would be to live with a constant awareness of how much God loves, values, and treasures us.  He grants perfect unconditional love to all who will receive it.  But it is so easy to lose focus and jump back into turning God into the scorekeeper and we become all about performing and earning his approval.  You cannot earn a gift.  A gift is from the heart of the giver apart from the worthiness of the receiver.
  2. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
    1. Faith in the Bible always involves choice.  Very often the choice that involves trusting God is the more challenging one but also reveals a character of integrity.  Taking the “path of least resistance” is usually the choice fueled by FEAR instead of FAITH.
    2. Hope in the Bible always involves two words, endurance and potential.  When I make the choice to persevere instead of quitting it is made in light of a longer term reward.  I am enduring the pain or loss of the moment in light of glorious reward promised in the future.  But hope also includes seeing potential.  “I hope to see this young person grow into a caring productive adult!” So — we see growth and development that  is not yet reality.  Much like a farmer looking over a field that has just been planted and can see the fall harvest.
    3. The Bible says, “God is love.”  It also says God’s plan is to make us more and more like Jesus who modeled the generous, sacrificial, joyful love of God.  Jesus affirmed to his followers that God’s will for them was clearly revealed in the Old Testament and had not changed, “Love God with all you are and have and love others as you love yourself.”   The receiving and giving of God-like love is a refreshing life giving experience.  For us to open our hearts to being loved by God and at the same time opening our hearts for that love to flow return to God and be lavished on others is at the center of mature leadership.
  1. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?

We live in a world of noise, distraction and attempts to engage in multitasking.  But the most effective leaders know the freedom, peace and fruitfulness of “mono-tasking”.  It is noticed when a leader takes his/her phone and cuts it off and moves it off the table as the meeting begins.  It is noticed when a leader takes notes as others share.  It is noticed when a leader listens well and asks a question to draw out more from the person sharing.  It is noticed when a leader is quick to splice together several different strands of ideas from those around the table and connect them into framing a solution or strategy that is needed.  

We worship a God who is fully present.  We can pray at any time knowing we have his full attention.  As we stated above LOVE is at the core of being a good person and we can only love when we are fully present.

God created time.  He created work time and rest time.  He created a daily rhythm (day and night) and a weekly rhythm (work and Sabbath).  When we order our choices within his created design we experience life more abundantly.

SECOND BASE — UPWARD LEADERSHIP

Upward leadership is providing those over me with what they need to lead me. Many senior leaders or boards have very little training or experience of leading down in a way that encourages healthy leading up. Top leadership often assumes, incorrectly, that if they hire good, competent people, it will just happen. Wrong. Leadership relationships, like a good marriage, require focus and intentional effort.

Leading up is taking the initiative to share with those over you whom God has created you to be, what you can contribute to the mission, and how you can be most productive over the long term. Leading up is offering encouragement, influence, creativity, and assistance to the person or persons placed over you, so they know what you need to be empowered to be effective.

  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
  1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
  2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
  3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)

Many leaders leave meetings with a supervisor or leadership team and are frustrated.  They went in seeking partnership or provision and instead felt they were patted on the shoulder and given permission to go out and tackle the world.  Permission can be a cheap way out for those over you.  They do not have to face or solve the resource challenge.  They preserve their authority over you by holding the power to approve or stop your movement.  So they have a sense of control and leave the meeting thinking the issue has been solved and yet they do not have to invest further in it.  They simply need to wait for the results to come rolling in.  

  1. How do those over me need me to communicate with them? 

You may be a verbal processor who enjoys the leisurely discussion of all of the options and the case for each but perhaps your supervisor would prefer one paragraph on introducing the process you went through to come to a solution and then the rest of the page outlines the solution and what will it require to implement it.  

They may prefer voicemail and you prefer text messages.  They may prefer working off an appointment schedule except in rare emergencies or they may prefer a daily walk around and taking questions on the fly.  They may prefer an open door or insist on a closed door.  

The ground rule is — Ask questions.  Listen to what they prefer.  Honor their preferences by adapting yourself to it. Here are some examples of questions that uncover work language or style: 

1. How do you prefer to communicate? (Face-to-face planned meetings, as you walk by, email, text, phone, etc.)

2. How do you prefer to address conflict? (Write up a summary and then ask to meet to follow-up, over lunch, etc.) 

3. How do you prefer to evaluate results? (Standard reports of benchmarks, surveys, daily tasks accomplished, etc.) 

4. How do you prefer to handle personal non-work issues in my life? (Leave it at home, let’s have coffee, at weekly meetings, etc.)

  1. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? 

Do I expect those over me to be mind readers and know what I need?  Do I expect them to have that skill simply because they are in the position over me?  From over 40 years of experience let me assure you, your supervisor or board did not get a special mind reading gift when they accepted the oversight role.  

Bottom Line — We are ALL developing competence in leading UP to those over us and DOWN to those under us. Stay humble and ask this question, “What am I doing that is making your job more challenging or difficult?” Listen and act on what you hear and follow up in a few weeks to see if you have improved.  By the way good active listening often begins with taking notes!

THIRD BASE — PEERS INSIDE / PEERS OUTSIDE

  1. Peers — Inside

I find this is often the most challenging group to identify.  You may be full time but some of your peers may be among the part time or volunteer ranks.  Think more in terms of comparable levels of authority or circles of responsibility.  One danger to avoid with peers.  Do not complain to them about those over you.  Good rule of thumb is to only express concerns or challenges to those with authority to do something about it.  Once a culture is polluted with complaining about those who are not in the room, it is very difficult to clear the air, rebuild trust, and engage in positive conflict or relationship reconciliation.  My motto is “The Absent are Safe With Us”.

  1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?

Spend time with peers reviewing the overall mission of the organization and how each person or department makes a valuable contribution to it.  Share and support one another in openly laying out problems or challenges each of you are facing.  Don’t be quick to offer advice.  Be quick to listen and then ask, “Would it be helpful for me to share how we have handled a similar issue?”  Respect a boundary that honors their authority over their area or people, but be willing to assist if invited.

  1. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?

The more I see peers as God sees them the more I can value, esteem and encourage.  Encouragement is a gift that keeps on giving.  I have known it to help reverse a person who is headed out the door because they feel they are making a meaningful contribution.

  1. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?

Do not always show up at meetings with peers asking for their help with your work.  Leave your agenda on your desk and instead find ways to use your resources to help them win.  There will be an opening later to share some of your needs they may be able to assist you in addressing.

  1. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?

One of the descriptions of Jesus is that he was full of grace and truth.  Both are valuable gifts God wants us to be able to offer as well.  Take either of these by itself and it becomes more destructive than helpful.  Blended together they can be restoring and empowering.  But to mix them properly requires wisdom and discernment often gained through prayer

  1. Peers — Outside

Those doing similar work to us in other places are a great gift.  These peer networks can go far beyond professional development to a deep network of friends who can share wisdom and struggles together.  Years ago I had the opportunity to serve a race car team and be in the pits with them for some of their races.  Here they are parked in a  row with the competing race teams yet there was a sense of community on so many levels.  I was invited to a baby shower for one member of a different team and then later saw the teams offering tools and equipment so their competition could have what they needed to race.  They shared common challenges and lifestyles.  In the competition they had forged friendships.

  1. Who  are the people and where are the places for me to explore and discover how I can be more effective?

You may have to visit a few different conferences and networks to connect to the ones helpful to you.

  1. Who shares best practices with me?

Be alert to retired leaders or those who used to serve in an area similar to yours.  

  1. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?

A confidential small circle outside your organization may be a safe place to share struggles and gain wisdom and avoid polluting the culture of your organization.

HOME BASE — DOWNWARD LEADERSHIP

I BELIEVE A LIFE GIVING JESUS LEADER WILL ALWAYS BE MULTIPLYING OTHER LEADERS.  Just as Jesus passed the baton he has sent us to not only be contributing to His cause but to be spotting, encouraging and transferring leadership to others.

  1. How have I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?

If those downstream from my leadership are practicing the five directions well many of my leadership struggles are greatly reduced.  It also gives clarity when I engage in supervision.  We can identify together whether this is a self leadership, peer leadership, or downward leadership issue.  OR even own that the problem is their supervisor; ME.  I can ask forgiveness if needed and surely listen and learn to lead them more effectively.  

It also clearly positions me as the coach to assist them with challenges they are facing at the peer or downward leadership without me taking the responsibility  out of their hands. 

  1. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?

One question I have asked hundreds of times over the years to those under my leadership is, “What am I doing or not doing that is making your job more difficult”?  It also works with those over you or peers around you.  I have been surprised many times by the things they do not bring up that I see as shortcomings in my leadership.  They did not perceive, what I consider weaknesses, as a roadblock for them.  But I am also surprised by what they bring up.  I was totally blind to its impact.  

  1. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

In study after study job satisfaction is linked to positive and helpful feedback.  To let the other person see that you appreciate the investment they are making and the impact it is making will often bring as much or more motivation than a raise.  Not in every case — but with a good employee or volunteer you really want to keep on the team correcting mistakes and bringing clarity to their confusion is deeply appreciated.  We all thrive when we are corrected but not attacked.  Instead  the choices, words or attitudes of the person  are honestly addressed.

WAYS TO APPROACH NEEDED CORRECTION:

“Dear associate, I love you enough to risk wounding our relationship by telling the truth as I see it.”

“Help me understand more about this choice you made.”

“What in your work for the past three months do you celebrate and feel good about?”  Listen closely and seek to add to their list.

“What in your work over the past 3 months do you feel could be improved and what did you learn from the disappointment?”  Again — listen well and be ready to offer your input.

How do you begin to implement the Five Directions?  

Download the Questions below

Begin to improve your investments in each direction and then begin to have conversations with those in each of the directions seeking ways you can grow.

RUNNING THE BASES 

Questions to Reflect on the Five Directions

FIRST BASE – SELF LEADERSHIP

  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?
  2. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?
  3. How do I sense God being with me and for me?
  4. Can I reflect and discover what is going on inside of me to prompt certain feelings?
  5. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
  6. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?
  7. Am I living consistently out of a rhythm of daily and weekly life?

SECOND BASE — UPWARD LEADERSHIP

  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
    1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
    2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
    3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)
  2. How do those over me need me to communicate with them?  
  3. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? (Do I expect them to be mind readers?)

THIRD BASE — PEERS INSIDE / PEERS OUTSIDE

  1. Peers — Inside
    1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?
    2. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?
    3. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?
    4. Do I choose to complement instead of compete?
    5. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?
  2. Peers — Outside
    1. What are people and places I could go to and explore and discover so I am more effective?
    2. Who shares best practices with me?
    3. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?

HOME BASE — DOWNWARD LEADERSHIP

  1. How have  I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?
  2. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?
  3. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

How would congregational and not for profit ministry and mission structures be different if we intentionally embrace them as “chaordic”?

“What do the Internet, Alcoholics Anonymous, and VISA International, the organization that brings us the VISA card, all have in common?

You can find them just about anywhere on earth, that’s one common thing.  They have not spread through unrelenting market push, like Coca Cola.  Rather they are pulled by demand, because they meet real needs very effectively.  They serve their purposes successfully year after year without any obvious headquarters, no glittering center of power, no centralized command.  No one owns any of them.  VISA does $1.25 trillion worth of business a year, but you can’t buy a share of it.

Dee Hock, who founded VISA, would say these are all chaordic organizations.  He made up that word by combining “chaos” and “order.”  Chaordic organizations are self-organizing and self-governing.  They operate not through hierarchies of authority, but through networks of equals.  It isn’t power or coercion that makes them effective, rather it’s clear shared purpose, ethical operating principles, and responsibility distributed through every node.”

SEE: http://donellameadows.org/archives/a-new-kind-of-organization-based-on-purpose-and-principle/

Donella Meadows – A NEW KIND OF ORGANIZATION BASED ON PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLE

December, 1999.

Matthew 20:25But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NLT

Among you (followers of Jesus) it will be different (Life giving Jesus leadership will always be counter cultural).  Using the Bible to shape our world view and our leadership framework we cut a new path from the way leadership operates in our culture.

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