Advice for the Leader with a Million “Good” Ideas

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Church Health, Church Leadership, Coaching

I once worked with a guy who said to me, “I don’t think you’ve ever heard an idea you didn’t like”. He was right. I know about myself as a leader that I can be guilty of having a million “good” ideas. I also know that can be dangerous as a leader.

I’m a self-proclaimed idea guy. I can see so much we could or should be doing and I want to do them all now. The problem is I can add too many ideas and the people trying to follow feel they can never keep up. Before they gain traction on what they are currently working on I throw another idea on the table.

 

Can I get any witnesses to that?

 

Unfortunately, I’ve been that way all my career. I’m seasoned enough that I know how it frustrates people. I’m likely not going to be able to shut down the ideas that come in my head. In fact, I don’t want to. but I have learned how to lead through the myriad of ideas.

 

How to navigate as a leader with a million good ideas:

 

Record every idea you have.

 

There’s nothing wrong with having ideas. In fact, every organization needs some new good ideas. Plus, you can’t usually reach one good idea without working through a few bad ones – sometimes many bad ones.

 

Keep the list of ideas.

 

I use Evernote or Google Docs, and I have several such lists. I frequently go to them, add things, take things off, and prioritize them. Most of these lists I share with our team. It’s good “therapy” for me just to get them recorded. As I look at the list repeatedly, some of them flesh themselves out as being good – or not. Or, maybe good ideas but the timing isn’t right now.

 

Limit yourself to chasing a few ideas at a time.

 

This is the hard part, but you can’t do everything and be effective. You know this, but it is still a hard discipline. Elimination of clutter and providing clarity is a necessary part of leadership. That requires a narrowing of focus.

Also, if possible, delegate some of the ideas. It could be you are trying to do things, which are great ideas, but someone else needs to be doing them.

 

Give your team plenty of latitude to push back.

 

Let people tell you when you have a bad idea. Or when you are pushing them too hard. Be humble and approachable. Strive not to be controlling.

I always try to hold others to limit attempting more than a few things at a time also.

That doesn’t mean they can say no to everything. I want all of us to be achieving something new. Part of good leadership is helping people achieve more than they thought they could. That could involve training, encouraging, celebrating wins, or challenging when necessary.

 

Make sure you don’t hold people to an unreasonable pace.

 

Leaders set the pace of the organization. Remember, everyone isn’t wired like you. Don’t be unrealistic. Make sure you are disciplining yourself, as discussed above, but some people will simply remove themselves from the organization if they can’t keep up or feel overworked or under-appreciated. Everyone is not a good fit for every style of leadership, but you can’t lead without people, so don’t wear them out unnecessarily.

 

And here’s another higher principle to keep in mind.

As a leader, and leaders wired like me, can get this one out of order if we aren’t careful, but you have to learn to:

 

Value people over progress.

 

Learning and living that one principle will actually makes for a better leader.

 

Lead forward with the few ideas you believe in most.

 

You can’t stall the organization because of other people’s resistance. Change will always bring resistance from someone. Again, part of leadership is taking people somewhere they couldn’t see or realize on their own. That’s always difficult for someone at first.

At the same time, good leaders don’t intentionally frustrate people. The process of guiding change can (and will be) frustrating at times. Guard your heart, make sure you’re not being unrealistic, don’t attempt too much at one time, help people when they need it, but don’t be afraid to stretch people within reason. It’s the only way people and organizations grow.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss issues of leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

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Ron Edmondson

I am CEO of Leadership Network. I was previously pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, a church leader and the planter of two churches. I am passionate about planting churches but also helping established churches thrive. I love assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy, and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. I have more than 35 years of leadership experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and have been in full-time ministry for over 15 years. I have successfully led the restart of one church and the planting of two churches, and now we are seeing God’s hand tremendously in church revitalization. I have a seminary masters and a master’s in organizational leadership. I also once helped lead (as an elected official) a mid-sized city, where I served as Vice Mayor and Finance Chair. The greatest times for me are with my wife Cheryl and our amazing adult sons, Jeremy, his wife Mary, and our youngest son Nate. Over 20 years ago, I founded a non-profit ministry called Mustard Seed Ministry, which provides devotional resources, conducts family, marriage, and parenting, and church leadership seminars. My INTJ personality on the Myers-Briggs indicator means I have big ideas, I love creative and critical thinking and I love to see progress. I am usually around people but crave downtime. For years I was usually training for either a half or full marathon. Running was my most productive thinking time. Knee problems in recent years have caused me to stop running, but I’m committed to finding the time I need to fuel my mind, body, and spirit. I write several times weekly on leadership, church, and family. To sign up for my blog on a reader or by email, click HERE. I do interact with my readers, so feel free to contact me. You can email me at ron.edmondson@gmail.com.I am also on Google+ at http://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson, Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ronaedmondson. My devotional site is www.mustardseedministry.com