10 Ways to Lead Up

How to Influence Those Who Lead You

I recently had a conversation with a young leader who is fairly new to his organization. He is full of vision and ideas, but he also recognizes that he’s the new kid on the block, and his influence is limited. His question was simple: “How do I lead up?”

This is a common question, and frustration, among young leaders and new employees. While it takes time, I believe there are practical steps emerging leaders can take to speed up the process. Here are ten suggestions for leading up.

Lead up

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1. Responsibility: Do what you were hired to do

The first thing your leader wants to know is whether or not you’re getting the job done that he hired you to do. Nothing else matters if you’re not taking care of the basics. Some young leaders are anxious to take on additional assignments, but if you’re not responsible with your job description, why on earth would your leader expand it? This is the starting point to leading up. It’s at the heart of someone who can be trusted.

2. Excellence: Consistently over-deliver

Excellence is a commitment to do more than enough to get by. It’s delivering work that is downright impressive. Responsibility means you can be trusted. Excellence means you can be heard. If you want your leader to hear you, he has to see a level of excellence that gets his attention and makes an impression. Doing what you’re supposed to do doesn’t get noticed. It’s expected. You don’t get a trophy or a bonus for doing what you were supposed to do all along. But when you consistently over-deliver, your leader starts paying attention. This one act will set you apart from the pile, and will immediately give you greater influence to lead up.

Responsibility means you can be trusted. Excellence means you can be heard. Click To Tweet

3. Teachable: Be a curious listener and learner

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Nobody! If your leader feels like he can’t teach you anything because you already know it all, you’ll never lead up. That’s a turn off. No matter how smart you are, try not to make assumptions about what your leader does or doesn’t know. Remember, most of us don’t know what we don’t know. You have to deal with your unconscious incompetence. When you make yourself teachable, you endear yourself to your leader. Be humble, listen more than you talk, and exercise patience. Welcome honest feedback, and don’t get defensive when your leader gives it. In addition, increase your value to the organization by cultivating an aggressive learning posture.

Why Pastors Should Teach on the Topic of “Work”

The Forgotten Topic That Consumes 47 Hours Per Week

Pastors do a great deal of teaching every year. Every seven days a new message is expected – on a new topic, with new content, with fresh, new perspective. We cover a bunch of topics and Scriptures to meet the need. During the course of a year, pastors teach on everything from spiritual formation to marriage and family. We cover topics like prayer, stewardship, purpose, and serving. We teach through books of the Bible and explore the characters that fill its pages. But there’s one topic that I’ve noticed is conspicuously absent from our teaching: work.

I find this somewhat odd. We talk about all of the areas of life that require a few hours, sometimes only a few minutes, per day. But we avoid the topic that consumes on average, according to Gallup’s Work and Education Survey, 47 hours per week. That’s a travesty. Why would we avoid something that requires so much time from our congregations? And 47 hours is the average…18% of workers are clocking 60+ hours per week.

Work is at the top of the mind of most of the people in (and outside of) churches. It consumes most of our energy, produces many of our concerns, provides a great deal of fulfillment, and an even greater measures of frustration. But work, for the most part, is misunderstood. Most people in our churches do not understand the sacredness of work. It’s simply a job. A paycheck. We’ve lost the value of work as a calling. And we’ve failed to teach our people that calling isn’t just for pastors.

Unfortunately the church has elevated “vocational ministry” as the highest way to serve God. It is not. That view is nothing more than an old Greek philosophy that separates the world into “sacred” and “secular.” It is void of any biblical foundation. It is our job as pastors to elevate all of the other callings: business, education, arts, media, science, government, retail, construction, home…the list is endless. All work matters to God.

Our Shortsighted View of Work

Some pastors would argue that they do teach on work by sprinkling it through many of their messages. I get it. And that’s good. And I would encourage you to continue doing so. But for something that requires so much time, I would suggest it deserves more than an occasional mention. I would also suggest that our teaching on work is often very shortsighted and incomplete. Much of the teaching on work that we hear in our churches focuses on three things:

  • Integrity – Do your job honestly and with integrity.
  • Witnessing – Share Jesus with your fellow co-workers.
  • Money – Work so that you can give generously to the church.

Are any of these wrong? No! Are they incomplete? Yes! Work – and the theology of work – goes far beyond these neatly packaged suggestions. Without clearly understanding God’s view of work, his intention in our work, and the extraordinary meaning and purpose we can find and contribute through our work, we may live with disdain of this 47 hour window.

Three Suggestions for Pastors

As pastors, let me make three suggestions to you to help you navigate this essential area with the people God has called you to lead. These suggestions are simply a starting place. They by no means encompass the full range of possibility by which the church can encourage, shape, and influence the value of work. Each of these ideas is simple, yet will have a profound impact on your ability to relate with and encourage people.

1. Validate Work Outside of the Church – Your congregation needs to hear you validate their work outside of the church. So many people have come to view their work as meaningless, unimportant, or insignificant to God. The “sacred/secular” dichotomy of work has done immense harm to the view we take toward work in our culture. Publicly and privately begin raising the value of all forms of work.

2. Do a Message or Series on the Topic of Work – I would challenge you to schedule a message (or preferably a series) on the subject of work in the next six months. Take time to study the topic, understand it from a biblical context, and challenge your congregation.

Several years ago I taught a message titled, “Made for Monday Mornings.” In the months that followed, I had a consultant with a major reputable U.S. based company pull me aside and explain to me the difference that message made in his view and attitude toward work. Suddenly he felt validated, encouraged, and hopeful. His work found new meaning. To this day he tells me what a difference that teaching made in his life. Your congregation wants to hear teaching on this subject. They also need it.

3. Develop a Healthy Theology of Work – As pastors we need to invest considerable time reading and learning about work from a biblical context. Spend time dissecting the first few chapters of Genesis. Explore the forms of work held by so many “heroes” of Scripture. Understand the value work brings to creating and cultivating society.

I would also encourage you to read as much as you can on this subject. There are a number of books and resources available today that are shaping our view of work in a positive direction. I would recommend the following:

Last year we did a four-week series at 7 City Church called “Monday Morning Snooze: How to Awaken Meaning in Your Work.” Again, this series reshaped people’s thinking about work, helping them gain biblical perspective, and offered practical next steps to lead people to a fully engaged life at work.

Question: What tools have you found helpful in developing a biblical framework for work?

4 Reasons to Buy Our New Book Today

Today is the official release of our new book, Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans. To celebrate the book’s release, we’re giving away FOUR FREE BONUSES to everyone who buys the book THIS WEEK and emails me a copy of their receipt. I’ll share all the details in a moment, but first…a bit about the book.

On October 17, 1989, my wife Karen was traumatically robbed when five men broke into her house and dragged her out of the shower at gunpoint. In that debilitating moment of pain, Karen’s peace was stolen from her, and she was forced to walk an unexpected road to recovery.

Unexpected - Book CoverOn March 16, 2014, I suddenly found myself on a road that would lead to a fight for my life. Initially the doctors thought it was Pneumonia, but after an Echocardiogram they quickly discovered my situation was much more critical. After an emergency transport by helicopter to the Heart Center, and thirty-six hours after my battle initially began, three doctors met my wife in the hospital waiting room and said, “Stephen is simultaneously experiencing congestive heart failure and pulmonary failure. He’s between a rock and a hard place.”

Everybody Encounters the Unexpected!

Whether it’s losing a job, receiving a bad report from a doctor, a late-night phone call, a relationship ending, a financial setback, or a dashed dream, “unexpected” shows up in unwelcome ways. Sometimes it feels like it’s raining rocks, and we’re doing our best to dodge a fatal blow. The question is, how do we respond when life unexpectedly disrupts our plans?

In our new book, Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans, Karen and I share our unexpected and personal stories of pain and disruption. The stories are raw, transparent, and honest. We share our fears and the roller coaster of emotions experienced when life disrupted our plans. Most importantly, we share hope, and seven takeaways that we believe will help you navigate your own unexpected disruptions including: Prayer, Trust, Perspective, Family, Community, Purpose, and Legacy.

Each takeaway is loaded with practical wisdom that you can apply to your life today. And every chapter includes honest, authentic, and emotional clips from our journey. Whether you’re navigating an unexpected disruption, or your life is going great, the insights in Unexpected will inspire hope, offer wisdom, and deepen your faith. When you purchase the book THIS WEEK, you’ll have access to FOUR FREE RESOURCES. 

“When life disrupts your plans – and it will – how will you respond? Karen and Stephen Blandino have walked through deep valleys of disruption and emerged with truth that will help you face your own times of pain and loss. Take advantage of their hard-won perspective for facing the unexpected setbacks and traumas in your own life.”Dr. Daniel Allen
Leadership Coach and author of Summoned: Stepping Up to Live and Lead with Jesus.

Four FREE BONUSES When You Purchase the Book THIS WEEK

When you purchase the book this week, you’ll receive a link to four FREE BONUSES including:

1. The Unexpected Study Guide This 5-session guide is perfect for personal reflection or discussion in a small group. When you buy the Unexpected book, you’ll receive a digital PDF copy of the Unexpected Study Guide. The five sessions in this easy-to-use guide includes:

  • Trust: Replace the Question with a PeriodUnexpected Study Guide - Book Cover
  • Perspective: Refined or Defined
  • Community: Family, Friends, and the Power of Love
  • Purpose: Leveraging What Is for What Could Be
  • Legacy: Write It While You’re Living

2. “Conquering Your Fears in the Unexpected” Video Series – Fear is possibly the greatest emotion we encounter when the unexpected disrupts our world. To help you face your fears, you’ll receive access to a 4-part video series called, “Conquering Your Fears in the Unexpected.” This series addresses four fears:

  • The Fear of Inadequacy
  • The Fear of Failure
  • The Fear of Rejection
  • The Fear of the Unknown

3. Overview of the 7 Takeaways – This single-page document provides a quick reminder of the 7 takeaways to help you successfully navigate the unexpected in your own life.

4. GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution – Finally, with your purchase of Unexpected, you’ll receive a digital PDF of my book, GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution. This practical, full-length book uses insightful wisdom, inspiring stories, and practical examples to show you how to:

  • Close the gap between who you are and who you want to become
  • Climb the five levels of personal growthGO
  • Create a customized personal growth plan
  • Maximize your personality type to grow to your full potential
  • Make intentional investments in others by using the six growth deposits
  • Multiply your personal growth for continual impact

GO! equips you to grow to your full potential and help others do the same. Whether you’re a pastor, coach, leader, HR professional, student, or you simply want to take your personal growth to a new level, GO! is your roadmap to get there.

How Do I Receive My Four Bonus Gifts?

1. Purchase the Book This Week – Unexpected is available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

2. Email Me a Copy of Your Receipt – After you purchase the book, simply email your receipt to unexpectedbook (at) gmail (dot) com.

After we receive your receipt, we’ll email you a link to a page where you can download each resource. This offer is only valid through the end of the day, September 20, 2014.

Order Your Copy of Unexpected TODAY on

Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million

“An invaluable, honest and practical look at how we should respond when unexpected disruptions happen in our lives. This affirming message of hope and healing is a must read!”John McKinzie
Lead Pastor, Hope Fellowship, Frisco, Texas

Don’t Miss Out!

Order Unexpected THIS WEEK and Receive 4 Free Bonuses

Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, or Books-A-Million

 

Join Our Book Launch Team and Get 4 Gifts

Karen and I are so excited about the upcoming launch of our new book, Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans, releasing Tuesday, September 16th. But we need your help…and we want to give you four gifts for helping us.

Unexpected - Book CoverWhat is Unexpected About?

Everyone encounters the Unexpected! Whether it’s losing a job, receiving a bad report from a doctor, a late-night phone call, a relationship ending, a financial setback, or a dashed dream, “unexpected” shows up in unwelcome ways. Sometimes it feels like it’s raining rocks, and we’re doing our best to dodge a fatal blow. The question is, how do we respond when life unexpectedly disrupts our plans?

In Unexpected, we share our personal stories of two traumatic disruptions. Karen shares how her peace was stolen during a robbery when five young men broke into her house, and then dragged her out of the shower at gunpoint. I share my journey of simultaneous congestive heart failure and pulmonary failure despite years of annual check-ups with good reports. From our stories of unexpected disruption, we share seven valuable takeaways that we’ve learned along the way: Prayer, Trust, Perspective, Family, Community, Purpose, and Legacy.

Each insight is extremely practical, and each chapter sheds transparent light on the ups and downs of our journey. Whether you’re navigating an unexpected disruption, or your life is going great, these practical insights will inspire hope, offer wisdom, and deepen your faith.

Join The Unexpected Book Launch Team

What You Get

When you join our launch team, you’ll receive the PDF of each of my four books (including the advanced electronic copy of Unexpected and the Unexpected Study Guide). The four books include:

1. Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans

2. Unexpected Study Guide

3. Creating Your Church’s Culture

4. GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution 

What I’m Asking From You

  • Write a Book Review – As soon as the book goes live, take a few minutes to write an honest review of the book on Amazon.com. If you have your own blog, we’d love for you to share a review on your blog with your audience.
  • Spread the Word – Help us spread the word during the week of the book’s release (September 16th). Use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and any other social media platform you use. You can share the book from here, and you can view or share the book trailer.
  • Share Your Ideas – I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can get the word out about the Unexpected book and study guide. I’ll provide you an email address to share your thoughts.

Sign Up for the Launch Team Now

We are only accepting a limited number of members to our launch team. If you’re interested, click the button below.

Join The Unexpected Book Launch Team

“When life disrupts your plans – and it will – how will you respond? Karen and Stephen Blandino have walked through deep valleys of disruption and emerged with truth that will help you face your own times of pain and loss. Take advantage of their hard-won perspective for facing the unexpected setbacks and traumas in your own life.”Daniel Allen
Dr. Daniel Allen, Leadership Coach and author of Summoned: Stepping Up to Live and Lead with Jesus.

Check out the Unexpected book trailer below.

Join The Unexpected Book Launch Team

Our New Book Releases September 16th

My wife Karen and I are incredibly excited to announce that we have recently co-authored a book together. On September 16th, 2014, we are officially releasing Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans.

Unexpected - Book CoverEverybody Encounters the Unexpected! Whether it’s losing a job, receiving a bad report from a doctor, a late-night phone call, a relationship ending, a financial setback, or a dashed dream, “unexpected” shows up in unwelcome ways. Sometimes it feels like it’s raining rocks, and we’re doing our best to dodge a fatal blow. The question is, how do we respond when life unexpectedly disrupts our plans?

“An invaluable, honest and practical look at how we should respond when unexpected disruptions happen in our lives. This affirming message of hope and healing is a must read!”John McKinzie
Lead Pastor, Hope Fellowship, Frisco, Texas

In Unexpected, we share our personal stories of two traumatic disruptions. Karen shares how her peace was stolen during a robbery when five young men broke into her house, and then dragged her out of the shower at gunpoint. I share my journey of simultaneous congestive heart failure and pulmonary failure despite years of annual check-ups with good reports.

From our stories of unexpected disruption, we share seven valuable takeaways that we’ve learned along the way:

  • Prayer
  • Trust
  • Perspective
  • Family
  • Community
  • Purpose
  • Legacy  

Each insight is extremely practical, and each chapter sheds transparent light on the ups and downs of our journey. Whether you’re navigating an unexpected disruption, or your life is going great, these practical insights will inspire hope, offer wisdom, and deepen your faith.

“When life disrupts your plans – and it will – how will you respond? Karen and Stephen Blandino have walked through deep valleys of disruption and emerged with truth that will help you face your own times of pain and loss. Take advantage of their hard-won perspective for facing the unexpected setbacks and traumas in your own life.”Daniel Allen
Dr. Daniel Allen, Leadership Coach and author of Summoned: Stepping Up to Live and Lead with Jesus.

Unexpected will be available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

My Top 13 Posts From 2013

Each year I like to share my top posts of the year. Below you’ll find my top 13 posts written in 2013. Enjoy!

1. 5 Words of Wisdom for Graduates

2. What to Do When You Lose Trust in a Relationship

3. 3 Truths About the Spirit of Truth

4. “I’m Just Not Being Fed”: How to Respond as a Pastor

5. How a Message from God Can Change the Momentum of Your Life

6. Jesus on the Essential Ingredients of Servant Leadership

7. The Five Practices of Personal Growth

8. What Jesus Said About “Hearing God”

9. Humility and Leadership

10. How to Forgive

11. 20 Church Planting Lessons from Year One

12. 7 Characteristics of Wise Words that Satisfy Relationships

13. Four Practices of Culture-Shaping Leaders

 

Four Practices of Culture-Shaping Leaders

What do culture-shaping leaders do? It’s no secret that leaders use their influence to mobilize people toward a vision or a goal. But what exactly do leaders do who want to leverage their influence to shape culture?

The book of Nehemiah describes the devastation of Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile and provides powerful leadership lessons in capturing vision and inspiring people. God prompted Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem to reshape culture by restoring dignity to the city, and removing disgrace, through the rebuilding of its wall and gates. No longer would other leaders or nations be able to ridicule the condition of the city.

As Nehemiah’s story unfolds, we quickly discover that the needs of Jerusalem are deeper than originally anticipated. Not only is the city in ruins, but its leaders are a disgrace. Chapter five describes an extraordinary abuse of power. The leaders are overtaxing the people. Interest rates are out of control. Families are mortgaging their fields, vineyards, and homes just to get enough food to survive the famine. Worse of all, parents are selling their children into slavery to get money to live.

Nehemiah’s response to this situation is remarkable. From his example, we learn four practices of culture-shaping leaders that we can apply today.

1. Culture-Shaping Leaders Wisely Confront Injustice 

When Nehemiah heard the complaints of the people, he was angry. But he didn’t let his anger dictate his response. Nehemiah 5:7 says, “After thinking it over, I spoke out against these nobles and officials.” Careful thought preceded deliberate action. He called a public meeting and said, “‘We are doing all we can to redeem our Jewish relatives who have had to sell themselves to pagan foreigners, but you are selling them back into slavery again. How often must we redeem them?’ And they had nothing to say in their defense” (Nehemiah 5:8).

Nehemiah teaches us a crucial lesson: When leaders see injustice, they act with wisdom rather than react with wrath. Nehemiah was courageous without being careless. Careful contemplation prepares culture-shaping leaders for courageous confrontation.

When leaders see injustice, they act with wisdom rather than react with wrath. Click To Tweet

2. Culture-Shaping Leaders Raise a New Standard

The second thing culture-shaping leaders do is to raise a new standard that rights wrongs. Nehemiah 5:9-11 says:

“Then I pressed further, “What you are doing is not right! Should you not walk in the fear of our God in order to avoid being mocked by enemy nations? I myself, as well as my brothers and my workers, have been lending the people money and grain, but now let us stop this business of charging interest. You must restore their fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes to them this very day. And repay the interest you charged when you lent them money, grain, new wine, and olive oil.”

Nehemiah didn’t allow political favors or personal preferences to define his response to the cries of the people. He didn’t define his standard of right and wrong according to opinion polls. The driving motivation behind Nehemiah’s response was the fear of God. To walk in the fear of God implied reverent commitment to God and upright compassion toward people.

Culture-shaping leaders have a deep, unwavering inward devotion to God that delivers a profound, outward compassion toward people. This “fear of God” shapes the definition of the standard they use for restoring and redeeming culture.

Zach Hunter is a great example of a young leader confronting injustice and raising a new standard. At the age of twelve, Zach was moved with a powerful blend of anger and compassion as he read the stories of abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. But his greatest challenge came when he discovered that slavery was more than a history lesson, but a modern day epidemic affecting more than 27 million people.

Most people in the seventh grade would feel helpless tackling a monster like slavery, but Zach mustered up the courage to face it head on. He launched “Loose Change to Loosen Chains,” a student-led movement to raise awareness and funds to help eliminate slavery. Through his efforts, he supports several abolitionist and human rights organizations.

Today Zach is 21 years old. He says he’s a “painfully normal guy” who refuses to sit on the sidelines and do nothing about the injustice in our world. He’s a culture-shaping leader who used what little influence he had to confront injustice and raise a new standard. As a result, his influence has grown as he challenges others to pursue their passion to make a difference in the world. Zach says, “There’s hurting everywhere, and we can be the solution.”  

Capturing a Dream for Your City

In a recent post, I shared insights from the book of Jeremiah about how to Transform Cities. Cities are amazing hubs of cultural influence. Today I’d like to address the issue of capturing a dream for your city.

There’s perhaps no greater example of capturing a dream for a city than that of Nehemiah. Nehemiah’s story is captured more than 130 years after Jerusalem is destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to a Artaxerxes, the king over the Persian Empire. From Nehemiah’s life, we learn four important lessons about capturing and pursuing a dream for a city.

1. Discover the Needs of the City

Nehemiah began by asking his brother Hanani two things. First, he wanted to know how the thousands of Jews who returned to Jerusalem were doing. Second, he wanted to know about the condition of the city. This is what Hanani and his men said to Nehemiah.

They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” (Nehemiah 1:3)

For a city’s walls and gates to be destroyed meant that the city was open to ridicule and attack. The need was clear, but Nehemiah didn’t stop there.

2. Feel the Weight of the Need

Verse four records Nehemiah’s response to the need: “When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” The reason Nehemiah was so broken over his city was because he, along with all of the Jews, truly loved Jerusalem. Psalm 84:5 says, “What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.” 

When you love something or someone, you are broken when it is broken. It’s not the needs of the city that birth a dream in your heart, but rather the needs of the city that break you. You may be broken when you see:

  • The needs of the homeless or the poor
  • The needs of children in at risk situations
  • The needs of the terminally ill
  • The needs of immigrants
  • The needs of young girls trapped in the sex trade
  • The needs of fatherless boys and girls
  • The needs of the hungry

Some people are broken by the need of, but others are broken by the need for. Perhaps you’re broken by:

  • The need for beauty and art
  • The need for inspiring film
  • The need for impactful education
  • The need for creative music
  • The need for sexual wholeness
  • The need for thriving marriages

The Gospel means “good news.” What would good news look like for the children in your city, the poor in your city, the abused, abandoned, and broken in your city? What would good news look like for business leaders, educators, artists, and families in your city. Catherine Roar had to answer the “good news” question when she came face-to-face with prisoners in a Texas State prison.

Catherine was a successful investor on Wall Street when a friend invited her to tour a prison in Texas. As she entered this new domain, she saw unlimited possibilities in the men behind bars. “Good news” for these men would be for someone to show them how to leverage their entrepreneurial skills for creating businesses rather than dealing drugs.

Not short on initiative or entrepreneurship, Catherine launched a business plan competition in the prison. To her surprise, 55 men enrolled. She recruited 15 business leaders to mentor these prisoners and the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) was born. Nine months later the first group of students graduated. Since 2004, the results of PEP have been staggering: