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Making the Most of a “Teachable Moment”: 7 Steps

While they may not say it out loud, many people feel like they don’t have time for leadership development. This mentality underscores a fundamental misunderstanding that training leaders always necessitates long hours of teaching and instruction.

Each day there are golden opportunities all around us we that can leverage as teachable moments. But if we’re not looking for them we may totally miss them. They come in the form of a conversation in the hallway, someone popping into your office to ask a quick question or a casual conversation in the middle of a ministry event. These “teachable moments” can take place every day if we simply take the time to look for them.

For example, when someone walks into your office frustrated because they can’t seem to complete an important project, their frustration has created the perfect soil to plant a leadership principle. Now all you have to do is speak into that moment. One small principle given at the right time can sink into their thinking and stay forever.

I will never forget the time I was overwhelmed striving to fulfill a portion of the vision God had given me for my ministry. One of my key leaders sat me down and said, “Mac if it were easy to be great, everyone would be doing it.” That simple phrase radically transformed my perspective and gave me the leadership fortitude to push forward despite the challenges and opposition. That phrase comes back to me anytime I’m feeling defeated, and it pushes me forward.

A simple principle, idea or concept spoken at the right moment can give your staffer or volunteer a totally new perspective and change the way they lead.

Here’s a simple formulate for maximizing on this type of leadership development golden opportunities.

  1. Listen closely to their frustration or challenge
  2. Ask questions to get greater understanding of why they’re frustrated and solutions they’ve already tried.
  3. Ask them what options they feel they have to overcome their challenge.
  4. Affirm what they’re doing right
  5. Share insights from your leadership experience that will add value to their leadership skill
  6. Ask them what leadership lesson their learning
  7. Have them write down key next steps that will help them put into practice what they’re learning.

Look for some golden leadership development opportunities this week, you may be surprised by how many you will find.  

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Michael C. Mack founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and served as a small-groups minister for more than 20 years in several churches. He is a writer, editor, trainer, and consultant in the areas of small groups, leadership, and discipleship. He is the author of more than 25 books and small group studies, including his latest, World's Greatest Small Group (pub. January, 2017). He regularly blogs on his ministry website at SmallGroupLeadership.com. His family is a small group that includes his wife Heidi, their four children, and their dog, Lainey. Mike is also an avid mountain biker.