Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Leading Up, Part 2


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Thank you for joining the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast! In this episode, we're going to continue to tackle our listeners' most commonly asked question: "How do I lead when I'm not in charge?" In Part 1, we discussed the first two (honor and timing) of five things that matter when you’re leading up. Today, we’ll discuss three more.

3. Motives matter.

Your only motivation to lead up should be to push the mission forward. If you're leading up, it shouldn’t be to make yourself look better, or to be a hero, or to make someone else look stupid.

Lead up because you want to help your organization win. Don’t just point out problems; bring solutions. Your supervisor would rather hear someone who has potential solutions than hear about problems.

Even if your idea isn’t perfect, it often evolves to a better solution. If you have only a critical spirit, you’ll never have upward influence. There is a massive difference between thinking critically and being critical.

4. Initiative matters.

Want to gain trust and influence? Lighten your leader’s load. Find something that needs to be done and do it. The best team members don’t need to be told what to do because they intuitively find important things to do. If you’re willing to do what others won’t do, you will earn influence others don’t have.

5. Truth matters.

If you’re a yes-man, you will lose credibility. Truth always trumps flattery. The more successful you become, the more difficult it is to find people who will tell you the truth. Those who care enough to tell you the truth are incredibly valuable.

If you are the point leader, you must do everything you can to give opportunities for others within your organization to lead up.

Never penalize them for telling the truth. Instead, give them public credit for bringing good ideas, taking initiative, and putting the organization first. Let go, and let others help raise the ceiling of your organization. Saying you don’t care what your team thinks: unacceptable! If you say you don’t care what your team thinks, either you have the wrong people or you are the wrong leader. Change the people around you or change your mindset. If you don’t listen to them, you will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.

Remember, you don’t have to know it all to be a great leader!


Here's an exercise you can do to grow as a leader—ask your team these questions:

  • What is best idea you have to make your organization better? Put it on paper. Work on focusing your idea into one sentence.
  • How can you lighten your leader’s load?
  • If you are the point leader, what can you do to give others significant and consistent opportunities to influence you?


As a woman in ministry, a wife, a mother of two, a daughter, a friend, and a runner, balancing it all can be very challenging. I want to pour my life into my family and friends. I want to read a million different book. I want to be a better speaker, teaching leader, mother, and wife, but it can all seem very overwhelming. Do you have any words of wisdom?

Balance is an illusion. If you're striving for balance, you'll always be frustrated. Balance isn’t the goal—faithfulness is. Be faithful to do what’s most important in this season of life. You must respect the season you are in. If you have two toddlers, this probably isn’t the time to read every book you want to read. Say no for now, but not forever. Give yourself permission to be a little out of balance. Don’t feel guilty when you are focused on what’s appropriate during this season.

How do you discipline those under your leadership without breaking down their spirit? I know it’s different handling different types of people, but any advice is appreciated.

Let’s first change the word in your question. Instead of saying "How do I discipline?" say "How do I coach?" Coaches may be stern, demanding, and have high standards, but they’re always on side of the player. The authors of Crucial Conversations talk about creating a climate of safety when you're coaching. Use contrasting statements ("I'm not mad," "You didn't disappoint me," "I believe in you") before you coach them. Show them you care about them and how they feel.

If you're truly disciplining, that's different. Your goal should be to make three things clear:

  • What they did wrong.
  • What they must do next time.
  • What happens if they don’t.

If we are having a disciplining conversation, I’m not so worried about how the person feels. They should feel some pressure. I'm more concerned they know these three things.

Have a question for Craig? Email him at leadership@life.church.



§Periscope: @craiggroeschel