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Attitude: The Unspoken Asset of Leadership

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One of the greatest moments in the history of the NASA space program began with the statement, “Houston, we have a problem.” An oxygen tank on the spacecraft Apollo 13, piloted by John Swigert, had just exploded. The Director of NASA quipped that this could be the worst disaster in the history of NASA. Gene Kranz, the Flight Director, quickly interrupted the Director by stating, “With all due respect Sir, I think this is going to be our finest hour.” He then clearly, firmly, yet calmly belted out to the staff that was franticly scurrying around, “Work the problem!”

That room was full of very intelligent, very experienced, and very capable people. But what made the difference that day was attitude. When facing a problem, success or failure has more to do with our attitude than our ability.

The greatest moments of any individual or organization always come through our greatest obstacles. And when those obstacles come along, the best leaders always live on the solution side of every issue.

This isn’t just some cute pithy idea that’s been ripped off from the Business World. This is straight out of God’s Word. The book of Proverbs is littered with comments about attitude and the Apostle Paul hits this topic multiple times in the book of Philippians. In Ephesians he writes…

 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”
Ephesians 2:1-10

…in other words…
God made your biggest problem His biggest problem, and then He solved it.

4 Ways Church Leaders Approach Problems

1. Victims: Avoid Problems

These leaders focus on the problem not the solution. Instead of dealing with the problem they ignore it hoping it will magically go away. You’ll often find them complaining and venting. They’re pretty sure that the problem they find themselves in is something that happened to them and they can’t do anything about it.

Move from a Victim to an Owner by taking Personal Responsibility

2. Owners: Own the Problem

These leaders not only identify the problem and what’s not working, but they begin to diagnose why it’s not working even taking ownership for what they’ve done to contribute to the problem by intention or neglect. They’re still not coming up with solutions but they understand the problem. By the way if you’ve been in a ministry for more than 3 years and don’t like what you’ve got then look in the mirror. If you’ve been there less than 3 years, go ahead and blame your predecessor.

Move from an Owner to a Solver by Working the Problem

3. Solvers: Solve the Problem

These leaders not only accurately diagnose problems but they come up with great solutions. They’re not afraid to involve others in the process because they believe the team outperforms the individual.

Move from a Solver to a Creative by Viewing Problems as Opportunities.

4. Creatives: Leverage the Problem

These leaders actually leverage problems because they understand that every problem is an opportunity to build and reinforce the culture that they’re trying to build. They know that big problems breed innovation, resourcefulness, and tenacity in a team. The best leaders actually intentionally create crisis (problems) if things are going too well to keep the organization from drifting towards complacency.

Your attitude matters because it catches. Is your attitude worth catching?


Posted in Leadership

One Response to “Attitude: The Unspoken Asset of Leadership”

  1. Oliver January 7, 2016 at 2:41 am #

    Great article Paul. Your statement “the best leaders always live on the solution side of every issue” has propped up the start of my year. I disagree though that leaders intentionally create crisis just to keep the team from being complacent.

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