How to Flex Your Leadership Muscles

img_0182This past July was a big deal for me.   I became the President of a nearby Catholic high school and a new chapter in my career began.  With just two months under my belt, the experiences have been nothing less than amazing.

Two things are at play for me as a high school president- getting the job done on behalf of the school AND making sure that I'm keeping healthy on the inside.  I thought I'd spend some time in this post talking about how I'm trying to leverage my leadership on the inside and out.

An Inside Job

It's critical for any leader to remember that he can't give what he doesn't have.  As Blessed Mother Theresa once said, "God doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called."  I try to keep this in mind on the days when I don't feel as if I'm doing a "good enough" job.  Several areas are important for my interior life.

  • Daily journaling: I write nearly every day in a .99 journal, something I've done for probably eight years.  I don't go back and read old entries but journal as a way to stay grounded and ritualize my morning time.

  • Daily Mass readings: The first thing I do each morning (ok, after coffee) is read the daily Mass readings.  I listen to them via the US Catholic Bishops and find the act of listening to be as powerful as reading from a Bible.  On a good morning, I'll listen twice.

  • Monday podcasts: Even though my tradition is Roman Catholic, I've always been an ecumenist at heart.  I try to listen every Monday during my commute to Joel Osteen's Sunday message.  I just subscribe via my iPhone and poof- it's just there on Monday morning.  It sets the tone for the week in a big way.

  • Sunday Mass & Daily Mass if possible: Our family is blessed to have a great parish that feeds us spiritually and serves as a social meeting spot for many of our friends.

  • Monthly fellowship: My wife and I are leaders of a local group that meets each month to discuss our faith and how God is using us to make a difference.  It never fails to inspire us further in our faith.

An Outside Job

As the interior work of being a leader is the foundation, the outside tasks that make up my schedule are just as important.  Here are some of the ways that I work to expand my leadership.

  • Email: Believe it or not, email is a leadership tool. Don't stay on top of it and folks think that you don't care or worse, that you aren't competent.  Better get to inbox zero and often.  I don't use email merely to communicate but to motivate my employees with good news or as a means of sharing insights.

  • Public speaking: As Michael Hyatt of Thomas Nelson Publishing uses public keynotes to address issues of social media, I try to book several public events per year within my own field.  This keeps me on top of my game and is also good for my school as it brings attention to our mission.

  • Published articles: I work for a great editor in Nick Wagner for Today's Parish Minister.  I get to write about everything from Twitter to Facebook and how it can help parishes communicate better.

  • Social networking: Speaking of Twitter, you can follow me via @thedailysaint to gain a backstage pass of my life.  I also use Facebook as a more personal way to interact with friends.

  • Worth ethic: Too many leaders think that once they get to the top, they can take every Friday off and arrive late each morning. Not so fast. Your people are watching you,

  • Project list: David Allen of GTD fame is religious when it comes to a master project list.  I have worked hard to not only maintain my own list but promote it among my colleagues.  As a good teacher should have a lesson plan, a good knowledge worker should always have a quasi-updated project list.  I keep mine on a simple pad of paper.  At the end of the day, it goes back into my desk inbox.

  • Time management: I know, "time management" is just a buzz phrase for self management but you know what I mean.  My legacy may not be a result of IQ, work ethic or good looks (trust me on that one) but just might rest on my ability to make decisions about my own use of time.  Simple as that.

  • Precision: I proof read my own material and double check things.  Mistakes in the education business are a sign of sloppiness.

These are just some of the ways in which I'm trying to flex my leadership muscles on the inside and out.  Remember that great leaders are truly rare and are always extraordinary.  How about in your position of leadership?

Thought for the Road

"The higher you go, the more your problems are behavioral."  Marshall Goldsmith