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Leading Absent

How your team does without you says a lot about you

"The test of your leadership is not what happens when you're there, but what happens when you're NOT there." Ken Blanchard

Just reading that quote makes me a bit anxious. How about you? Have you ever found yourself creating exhaustive notes for your team or maybe even your family in preparation to be away for a few days? Have you ever feared what's waiting for you after an unexpected day out of the office?

As a leader, it's sometimes difficult to let go. There's a part of our psyches that feels a need to control–even when we're absent. But eventually our inability to let go will hold us back from continuing to grow as leaders. And not only will our growth be limited but the growth of our team will suffer as well. Leading others to succeed, especially when you are gone, is the mark of a growing leader.

So what do we need to do to pass this test of leadership that Blanchard talks about?

1. Communicate expectations. Too many times we as leaders have expectations that we think are understood when in reality they are not. Before you reprimand someone for something that has gone awry in your absence, be sure you have been clear about your expectations.

2. Praise what's working. Don't withhold a compliment…ever! If someone did something well, tell them. Don't assume they know. They might, but it always feels great to be told and you'll be reinforcing the behavior you want from them even when you're not around.

3. Create a system for feedback. Invite your team to tell you the good and the bad. Whether it's a weekly report, regular meeting, or another method that's effective for you, develop a way for your team to communicate with you.

4. Spend intentional time with your key leaders. Make sure they feel like you are available and listening. Know them. Know their families.

5. Pray for your organization and your team daily. It's all still God's. Give it back to him.

What else do you do to lead your team well, especially when you're absent?

Jenni Catron serves as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN. She loves a fabulous cup of tea, great books, learning the game of tennis and hanging out with her husband and border collie. Jenni's passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage other women to do the same. That passion drove Jenni to start the women's leadership community, Cultivate Her. Jenni blogs there and at www.jennicatron.tv.

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