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The Venn Diagram of Leadership

I think every leader feels the same tension.

On the one hand, there’s the things we want to be doing for the organization. Thinking about the horizons, anticipating new obstacles, planning for new opportunities.

On the other hand, there’s the things we need to be doing for the organization. Offering encouragement. Developing new leaders. Having tough conversations.

And…wait, I need a third hand…there’s the things we are actually doing for the organization. A lot of this is just  the whirlwind of day-to-day maintenance. Answering emails. Returning calls. Attending meetings.

The problem is that there’s a depressingly small area where the three circles all overlap, where we’re wanting to do the things that most need doing…and we’re actually doing them.

We’ll never get a perfect overlap of all three. But there are ways to extend that overlap. In the short-term, extending the overlap is mostly a matter of working on that heart-circle, so I find myself praying this a lot:

  • Lord, help my heart long to do what most needs done.
  • Lord, help my heart take satisfaction in what I am required to do today.

Over the longer-haul, extending the overlap is mostly about making sure that the things I am actually doing are really things that need to be done by me. To borrow Andy Stanley’s great teaching on this, it’s about constantly pushing towards doing what only you can do and letting others do the rest of it far better than you ever could.

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