Multiplication Center

How to Understand Your High-Capacity Leaders

August 7, 2017


By Dean Niewolny

Sometimes as leaders we must be the first to do the uncomfortable thing. Whether leading a church, a ministry, a business, or a family, the leader must go out on the limb first.

In my new book, Trade Up: How to Move from Just Making Money to Making a Difference, I share how as a young person I set out to make as much money as possible and by the time I was forty I had done exactly that. And yet, there was something missing, something more that I just couldn’t put my finger on.

As a leader you know that you lead people every day who are in the same bind where I found myself. How does this happen? Let me hazard some guesses.

First, there is work to do and you as a leader need someone—anyone—to do it. It’s as simple as that. If you wait until you find the perfect fit for the role, the job will likely never get finished.

Secondly, helping people find their sweet spot seems to be loaded with danger for you as a leader. What if your quest to help them leads them to a job outside your church, or to another role within that’s a better fit for them? How will you get your work done?

So, here’s what happens. We all settle. We’re just doing stuff and many leaders are fine with that. No one has to complicate things by asking a lot of probing questions and figuring out how we tick. It’s an endless loop: work gets done, we go home and come back tomorrow and more work gets done, and so on, and so on.

It’s not good for any of us to do it this way, but it continues, sometimes for a lifetime without any kind of intervention or change.

Ephesians 2:10 says, in essence, we are uniquely wired by the hand of God to do work that He has already predetermined for us to do. If that’s true, then it seems like at least one of the primary goals of a leader should be to define your specific purpose and then to help your people find that predetermined role, their sweet spot, no matter the cost to us or our organization. What if the process ends with us helping them find a role in our church where they don’t just survive, but thrive?

Thirdly, for the members of your team, it takes a lot of bravery to question all of this. People will have to stop to take stock, to learn what their strengths, weaknesses and gifts really are, along with what that means for them going forward. It’s true that knowledge is power, but it’s also true that knowing the truth requires us to act upon it.

The combination of these three issues have produced what can best be described as a comfortably numb workplace and community where everybody knows it could be better but nobody wants to take the time or risk to fix it.

I was lucky and blessed. Though I had people telling me how “successful” I was, and though I had achieved a great deal, my real calling was, well, calling to me.

To find it meant that I had to leave what I was comfortable with and strike out into the unknown in search of it. I’m sure there were people in my circle of friends and business acquaintances who thought I was crazy.

But a funny thing happened when I stepped out on the limb that day. I found joy and peace and a sense of purpose every day that had eluded me in my previous role.

I am guessing you love your team members. I’m here to tell you that the greatest thing you can do for them is to encourage them to take some time and get to know how God has made them.

Taking on this leadership challenge will require a tremendous amount of trust in God and his plan for your church. It will not be easy, but it will be worthwhile, and He is trustworthy. Just imagine what He can do with a community of believers, each living out his or her calling and using his or her gifts for His purposes.

Bottom line: We’re all better as churches and as individuals when everyone has found their one thing.

To order your copy of Trade Up: How to Move from Just Making Money to Making a Difference

Dean Niewolny is CEO of the Halftime Institute. He spent 23 years in executive roles with three of Wall Street’s largest financial firms, finishing his career in the financial sector as market manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Chicago, where he oversaw a $100mm market.
In 2010, Dean traded his marketplace career for Halftime to help more people who, like him, wanted to expand their own “first half” success and skills into passion and purpose for meeting human needs and making a significant difference. Dean joined Halftime as Managing Director and in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer.
Dean speaks all over the world to marketplace leaders who desire to use their gifts and talents to serve others. His passion is to encourage business leaders to channel first-half achievement into a second half defined by joy, impact and balance. His first book, Trade Up: How to Move From Making Money to Making A Difference, has been published by Baker Publishing and released in July 2017.

Dean and his wife, Lisa have two children and live in Southlake, Texas.

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