8 Strategies to Improve Your Leadership Skills

8 Strategies.. Blogpost
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:24 PM

8 Strategies.. Blogpost

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:24 PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:24 PM

You've read the right books, attended the right leadership conferences, made strategic career moves yet something is missing.

You're a good leader but you know you can be a great one.

What will it take to broaden your bandwidth so that your capacity to lead is exponentially increased? 

Leadership is an art. Practicing it is a skill. Getting great at it takes strategy.

Here are eight practical and essential strategies that every servant leader must know, own and practice to become the leader that makes a mark.

Good leaders leave. Great leaders leave their mark. Incorporate these and so will you.

Own the mistakes of your past  

No one can hold over your head, blackmail you or threaten to expose something they know about you if you've already acknowledged it; or, has been made known.

If you are a public leader, don't deceive. Don't lie. Don't deny. It's too easy these days to check.

None of us are perfect. We all have done things that if we could have a do-over, we wouldn't do or say again.

Great leaders own their mistakes. The initial sting may hurt, but it will never be able to sting again.

Don’t ever let your past get in front of you. Always stay in front of it. People are more apt to forgive a confessed mistake than a covered up lie. Own it. Own up to it. Make right what you can and keep pressing ahead.

There was only one perfect man, Jesus Christ. And by that measure, none of us can ever measure up.

Know what you bring to the table

Too many of us underestimate our worth, work, talent and power. When we don’t know our worth we will give others the power to place their value on us. And they will always undervalue you.  

Great leaders never give anyone that much power or opportunity. Be willing to walk away when others try to take away your power or devalue you.

Never give away your power and know that people can’t take what you are unwilling to give. 

Give enough, but be willing to walk away when you’ve had enough!

If you’re not ready to walk you’re not ready to fly.

Great leaders are always prepared to walk.

Be a risk-taker

Great leaders are willing to risk it all. There are no more “safe” jobs, “safe” relationships, or safe havens. Every out-of-the-box successful person at one time took a seemingly out-of-the-box risk. 

Those who don't remain boxed in.

A good number of people have great ideas for great businesses but would rather die than try. An equally number of potentially great leaders back away from running for office or going for the promotion because they over-think the negatives.

Great leaders never waste time over-thinking negatives.

The degree of your success will be determined by the degree of risk you are willing to take. Anybody can swim in shallow water but big fish are only found in the deep. And only risk takers win big in the end.

If you are unwilling to take a risk, you may as well take a seat and watch life pass you by.

Pray. Take a risk and work it. No pain no gain. No risk no reward.

Owe none, be owned by none

The borrower becomes the lender’s slave (Proverbs 22:7). The rich man’s wealth is his fortress and the ruin of the poor is their poverty (Proverbs 10:15).

You can only deal from a place of strength when you are beholding to no one.  It’s hard to be bold when you’re broke and debt is always a deal breaker.

Successful people gratefully accepts a hand up, but never a hand out. Welcome those who want to invest in you, but view their help as an investment, never a crutch.

Great leaders own but are never owned nor owe for very long.

Always stay a step ahead

It takes less brawn and more brain to take on a fight, especially when your enemies are many and many thought to be friends.

Don’t be fooled by “nice people." If you enjoy positional success and/or financial success know that people are likely not nice to you because they like you, but you have something they want or need. 

Great leaders are intentional about who they spend time with and have small inner circles for a reason. Too many people in the boat will at some point rock it or sink it.

Be nice, be self-aware and lead with your head, not your heart.

These are critical and are key to how great leaders stay ahead of the pack and the "also ran."

Be a great communicator

Great leaders can communicate with an hourly blue collar worker as easily as they can a top executive.

They develop through practice and experience the rare ability to make people feel as though they care about what they care about.

Former President Bill Clinton for all of his faults was a great communicator and actually made many believe he could, "feel their pain."

Great leaders learn to give voice to the fears, phobias and frustrations of the masses; while making the masses believe he or she is one of “them.” 

They learn that in order to effectively lead people where they want them to go, they must first make them believe they understand them, can identify with them; even more, that they are for them.

If you want people to be for you, you first must make them believe you are for them. You can’t speak to a need and certainly not meet it if you never take the time to find out what that need is – real or perceived. 

Great leaders understand that people act on perceived need as readily as they would a genuine one.

Throughout history, every great leader's appeal has been his or her ability to appear real – whether it is real or not, as long as people perceive it to be.

Fight for your name and reputation

Never allow anyone to re-brand or redefine you.

In today’s social media world, silence is consent. Be quick to respond to any threat to your hard-earned reputation, distinct brand and most important of all; your name.

Great leaders generally do not give critics the time of day because they're too busy. However, when it comes to their name and brand, the fight is on.

Answer lies with truth and confront those who misrepresent you with facts.

As Christians we sometimes feel we should always turn the other cheek – not always so. As a servant leader you not only represent the people on your team and under your charge, but God.

Great leaders are adept at picking the right battles and the one fight they never shy away from is the fight for their identity.

Never let a lie or misrepresentation about any of these go by unaddressed and unchallenged. If so, they will cast a long shadow over who you are, who you say you are, what you represent; and, will damage you in the long run.

Great leaders are pit bulls when it comes to protecting their hard-earned name, brand and reputation. And rightly so because they are foundations upon which success is built and maintained.

Leave room for grace

None of us can live so good that we never need grace or so well that we never need forgiveness.

Great leaders are generous with praise, even more with grace. Great coaches understand that even their best player has a bad day every once in a while.

Don't be a fault finder and publicly praise your team. Praise in public but correct in private. Why? Because it preserves dignity.

Once you strip away a person's dignity, they have little else to lose. And that makes for a powerful and sometimes lifelong enemy.

Great leaders are gracious leaders.They take seriously their work, but not themselves. They are quick to give grace to others because they have learned two important secrets about grace.

Grace allows for mistakes and gives permission to enjoy the journey - all the way to the top.

Greatness always demands graciousness.

Dorothy Burton is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Christians in Public Service, Inc. and the author of the book, "Why We Fall"    @1dorothyburton dburton@cipsinc.org


Politics, Principalities and God - What Every Engaged Christian Should Know
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 11:38 PM

Politics, Principalities and God - What Every Engaged Christian Should Know

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 11:38 PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 11:38 PM

I Gotta Be Me
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 2:25 PM

I Gotta Be Me

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 2:25 PM
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 2:25 PM

I find myself often in precarious predicaments.

God has given me an impossible assignment. But for Him I don't know most days what I would do. And It.Is.Hard.

My own temptations, my own thoughts, my own background as with us all, if we allow it, all of our "stuff" will get in the way.

Friends unknowingly will get in the way. Family unknowingly will get in the way. Memories will get in the way.

When God calls you to a task, you have to be willing to wipe clean the slate and turn away from many things and many people.

You have to become almost that which is impossible to become. I love my friends. I love my family. I loved my political career. I loved my political friends. I loved a life that God showed me while successful in my eyes and others, I was a complete failure in His.

When God calls you to a task, you have to be willing to wipe clean the slate and turn away from many things and many people.

That's a harsh reality to face. I was sitting in an event the other night and it all seemed so surreal. I had been invited by a friend and as I was sitting there and listening to so many voices, it hit me like a ton of bricks (I hate cliches).

Surrounded by many who on the outside shared the same likeness as me, I felt like the ugly duckling in the room.

Our skin color doesn't make us who we are. Our political views don't make us who we are. Heck, our "religion" doesn't even make us who we are. It's so much more complicated than that.

It is increasingly difficult for me to check a box and call it a day.

Some call it identity politics. I call it identity crisis. As Christians we for the most part identify as the world does - afraid to cross party lines for fear of being called a name, ostracized and outcast.

On the other hand, afraid to cross racial lines for fear of being called names, ostracized and outcast. It's "holy bullying."

I have to be who God created me to be and bring forth the expression of  fruit He placed inside of me.

God wired me the way I am. He did the same for others.Though many have succumbed to the lie of the Adversary who always seeks to redefine who God created us to be.

There is no safety in numbers. Mobs don't rule and the mob mentality is damaging and damages relationships and good will.

God allowed me experiences good and bad that have shaped who I am today. The same with all of us.

He wired me this way. I am conservative in my views because He is. Has nothing to do with screwy politics. God is a God of order. The universe is conservatively ordered with everything in its place. Maturing as ordered and designed. Not just anything goes with God and He accepts it. I'm like my Father.

I am loving because He is loving. Accepting of others because He created them as He did me. No one is beneath another human being. No one.

I'm kind because He's kind. I care because He cared enough to wrap Himself in confining humanity, be subjected to all kinds of unholy acts from holy bullies and gave His life for me.

I try my best to be gracious and show mercy because He is filled with grace and mercy.

I am cautious because my Savior was cautious. He just didn't let everybody step to him and He was very exacting in selecting people with whom He would surround Himself with.

I have faced the reality that I am not like so many others in the pond. Not that it makes me any better or worse or vice versa, just unique. We all are.

And that's the atrocity of identity politics and checking the boxes.

All whites and Republicans aren't wholesale racists and all blacks aren't wholesale dope dealers and welfare kings and queens.

Someone at some point (you, me and others who love our Father) is going to have to say enough is enough.

All whites and Republicans aren't wholesale racists and all blacks aren't wholesale dope dealers and welfare kings and queens.

I don't want to be looked at as "another black woman." Each of us are uniquely and wonderfully made by an orderly, kind, caring and loving Father that made each of us unique and uniquely gifted to do what He has purposed us to do in our generation.

There are no "typical" white people or "typical" black people. Or "typical" brown people.

I'm not like everybody else in the pond and neither are they like me. And that's good. That's God.

We each were created by the same loving, gracious God who made us as He needed to use us for His divine purpose. Putting people in our path to help us accomplish His will, plan and purpose.

The great tragedy is and the reason why so many of us will die miserable failures is because we looked at appearance, politics and skin color and allowed those to distract us from what God had put those people in our life to help us do --- for Him.

I'm not supposed to be like others. Nor them me. I don't fit in some environments and that's ok. I'm not supposed to. But I know what I am supposed to do and be and where I DO fit.

I’m that swan who has figured out who she is, what I am to be and do. How to swim like the swan I am. I don’t have to learn how to quack like a duck. I don’t have to learn from others who God created me to be, He's already shown me that.

But I kept wanting the ducks to accept me. "Please ducks," I would cry out silently, "please accept me! After all, don't we kinda look alike? Swim alike? Have feathers and tails and all the rest?"

Nope. Wasn't happening. Then I began to grow and change and figured out I was different than the ducks I tried to be.

God created me the same as He did you who are reading this. For Him and for the benefit of others.

My goal is to live as I was created. To live and grow and swim gracefully like the swan I am. Never again depending on those who don’t get me to understand me or help me.

God has other swans like me who may not look like me but sent to help me accomplish His will - and the same me for them. THOSE are the people I'm going to swim with - not drown trying to swim in a pond that I was never intended to be in.

I am living my purpose for my life gracefully and independently with other swans instead of trying to get in where I don't fit in - and never will.

As I was writing this, and old school song popped into my head "I Gotta Be Me." I couldn't remember who sang it, so I checked YouTube. Sure enough it was Mr. Showman himself, Sammy Davis Jr. It has become my theme song.

I gotta be me - the dream that I see makes me who I am. I can't be right for somebody else if I'm not right for me "- Sammy Davis, Jr. from the song "I Gotta Be Me"

Join Me!
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 10:26 AM

Join Me!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 10:26 AM
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 10:26 AM

Stay Focused on What's Real
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:40 AM

Stay Focused on What's Real

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:40 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:40 AM

We can't put our hope in people, in a movement, in a political party, or race. Each will turn on you if it comes down between you and them.

And if you ever become a threat, they or those in their camp won't hesitate to take you out.

They may not murder you, but they will murder your name, your reputation, and won't think twice about murdering your livelihood.

Our only hope is in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

As a Christian serving a self-absorbed public that will turn on you in a heartbeat, I implore you to not lose focus and sight of the fact that God raises up and puts down.

God alone not party loyalty is your protector and very present help (He has you always covered always on every side) in time of trouble.

If you abandon a position favored by people, those people will abandon you. Ask God for favor and never compromise to obtain the same from people.

If you're going to be loyal to anyone it should be to Jesus Christ, and to any thing, the Kingdom of God.

Given time a party, platform or people will disappoint you, destroy you, or sink your ship. 


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