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Why a Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

Why a Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

By: Ron Edmondson

My first paid leadership role came to me by default. I was a full-time college student working in the men’s department of a large retail department store. I had been at the store under two years when my boss quit suddenly to pursue other interests. Turnover is often high in the retail world, but it seemed even more so in this department. I was the most tenured person, so they made me the department manager.

At 20 years of age, I had basically “arrived” in the field of leadership.

The store was located close to a university, so it was a great place to attract college students as employees. I remember the first time we had a big sale after I took over the leadership of my department. Popular in the day were “midnight madness” sales. We would close for a couple hours late afternoon, cover all our doors with butcher wrap paper to add suspense, then reopen in the evening with significantly marked-down items throughout the store. People would stand in line for hours prior to the sale and scramble to find the bargains as soon as we opened the doors. These type sales are not as common anymore, because people have come to expect bargains daily – either in the store or online. Although it was not quite midnight – it truly was madness. (We later changed these sales to “moonlight madness”.)

I had added additional staffing for the evening – relying on the advice of others for how many people I should schedule. You can only imagine my disappointment – and embarrassment – when the doors to eager shoppers opened and my department was flooded with customers and grossly understaffed. Two of my employees, both fellow college students, had not shown up to work this night. They did not call. It was before the days of cell phones, email or Facebook. I tried their dorm rooms and got no response. I was mortified – and angry.

The next day I ran into one of my “no-shows” on campus. I asked him where he was the night before and why he never called. He told me he had a test and realized he needed to study. He said he meant to call, but got distracted. It was not his regularly scheduled day to work, so he assumed he would not be missed.

I stood there with him in awe – wondering how he could justify what he was saying to me. It was in this moment I realized he was not seeing me as his boss. In spite of my position of leadership, he saw me as another college student. I was his friend – his colleague – his equal. He seemed to think I would understand – he had a test – and could not seem to grasp my frustration. (Which made me even more frustrated.)

I learned through this experience a title does not make one a leader. There are people like me – who have been in positions for years – who actually believe simply having a title makes them a leader. People will look up to them, do what they request, and show them a higher level of respect. It is what I thought, but I learned the hard way – it simply is not true.

You can take on any title you want – call yourself president, manager, boss – Mr. or Mrs. Boss – regardless of your title it will not necessarily change how people view you.

This is just one of the seven myths addressed in my book “The Mythical Leader”. Over the last 30 years of leading I’ve learned some things we think about leadership simply aren’t true. When we live as if they are our leadership is greatly hindered. I hope people find the book to be very practical. It’s full of real life examples. Some lessons we learn the hard way. Some we learn from others. My hope is to help others learn from my experiences.

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Ron Edmondson is a pastor, teacher and church leadership consultant. Ron has led in two church plants and two revitalizations. He is currently Senior Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. Ron blogs at ronedmondson.com.

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5 Ways to Communicate Like a Leader

5 Ways to Communicate Like a Leader

By: Danielle Mercier

 

I was recently in an interview and the question was asked of me, “Danielle, what kind of people bug you?” I immediately, and perhaps too eagerly, knew how to answer. “People who cannot communicate effectively and people whose lack of communication affects my ability to do my job,” I replied. This might sound harsh; but, for me, communication preludes success.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had supervisors, bosses, and managers whose communication could use a little (or a lot) of work. But how is your own communication? Which facets of your communication need work? You might think, “Well, I don’t lead a team so why does it matter?” In reality, we are all leaders in different ways and to different people whether your title states so specifically or not. As a leader, it is vital to communicate, and communicate effectively, at that. You are meant to be a leader no matter your position.

As an educator, I like to make things easy to understand and remember. So, I want to share five specific ways to begin communicating like the leader we all dream of having and being.

 

  1. Make listening a priority.

It seems odd to tell you to “listen” when we are talking about communicating. But this is the first step to becoming a better leader who communicates well. If you are not listening those around you, you will not respond appropriately to what your team or that individual needs. The other day I was teaching a reading lesson and my third graders and I were discussing the difference between listening and hearing. Listening means we actually think about what we are hearing rather than hearing the information and moving on to other things. One of my students said, “If you are listening, it means you care.” That is something I think we all feel. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you listen well, you show those around that you care and, ultimately, you become a more effective communicator.

 

  1. Respond to people genuinely and with intentionality.

People can tell when you are flippantly responding to their question or concern. This might stem from you, as a leader, not listening to the question in the first place. It is important to recognize the type of response your team or colleagues needs from you. When you sit down to respond to a team member, make sure you have answered any and all questions, you have clarified what concerns the recipient might have, and you have reminded them you are there if they have questions about what you have said.

  1. Always be ready to say you miscommunicated.

Ever been around a leader who refuses to be wrong? There is nothing more obnoxious. Be ready to tell people if you have miscommunicated. It is hard at first, but it will break down walls between you and your team while creating rapport with them. Here is an example: I teach third grade and I also adjunct for a local university. With my students who are eight years old and thirty-eight alike, I am willing and ready to say I miscommunicated. Why? Because as their leader it is important for them to know mistakes are correctable. When you model this, your team will be more ready and willing to acknowledge their miscommunication. Acknowledging miscommunication will help you become more aware of it so it does not happen a second-time around.

 

  1. Do not let your response take days, and days, and days.

I am working on this one myself. Sometimes, it is easy to put people on the backburner because life is busy. You think, “I will get to them.” Instead of thinking that, try asking, “Why aren’t they a priority?” By not responding quickly, your actions are not just implying, but directly expressing this person is not a priority to you. By asking myself this, I find I am more likely to respond sooner and with more intentionality. You can apply this to phone calls, emails, texts, etc.

 

  1. Be willing to take the extra step and explain things you have said further.

For me, it is literally my job to explain things in further detail than anyone really ever needs to know. But guess what? I should do it even if my job title is not “teacher” or “professor.” I should be willing to clarify what I am asking of someone without them having to ask. By taking this extra step, you might even save yourself from miscommunicating.

 

Lastly, as you work on becoming a better communicator, I encourage you to set goals. Start by envisioning the best communicator you have interacted with and aspire to become like them—notice I said, “become like them” not “become them.” You need to keep what is original about you while utilizing the tools that help others communicate effectively. You might want to even ask the person you admire for tips on communicating better. Goal setting is the first step to becoming who you dream of being and unlocking your potential.

 

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Danielle Mercier is a recent graduate from Florida State University where she obtained her Master’s in English. She is a part of the Becomingme.TV team. She teaches third grade at a private school in Ocala, Florida and adjuncts for Southeastern University in the evenings. Danielle is passionate about helping others unlock their potential through education.

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2 Simple Secrets to Long Term Success

2 Simple Secrets to Long Term Success

By: Jenni Catron

 

Success is harder than it’s ever been and actually easier than it’s ever been.

I’m not sure I’ve met a person who doesn’t want to succeed. We might want to succeed at different things but whatever your standard of success may be, you’re desperate to achieve.

And yet many of us live with a gnawing ache of feeling unfulfilled… an angst just below our carefully crafted exterior that torments us with fear of not succeeding. This is compounded by social media’s wonderful ability (insert sarcasm) to point out the success of every other human. It’s for this reason that I think success may be more difficult to achieve than ever before. We cannot focus on our own priorities and purpose because we’re distracted by everyone else’s. As a result we give up on our goals before they’ve ever had a chance.

The reality is that the path to success is not marked with glitter and unicorns. It’s not a delightful display of flashy and fun. Real success emerges from patient and persistent focus. It’s the hard work behind the scenes every day. It’s in the obscure and unseen. The secrets of success are not glamorous. They are relentless.

In the work I do with organizations, I find this to be consistently true. Eager to grow, make a difference, impact their community, launch a new program or product, every team that I have the privilege of working with wrestles with how to actually achieve the outcome they hope for. Many have tried numerous times and failed. Others are plateaued and can’t break through a challenging barrier. Some experienced momentary success only to find themselves back in a familiar frustrating cycle just shy of the breakthrough they long for.

In every case, after a few days of thorough evaluation and strategic discussions I lead them back to a simple phrase and two key ingredients that I’m convinced lead to long-term success.

You have to create a plan and then most importantly, you have to work the plan.

Strategic Planning consultants are a dime a dozen. In a recent conversation with a prospective client he shared with great pain the volumes of strategic planning binders that line the shelves of his office – nearly one for every year of their organization’s history! They can’t in good conscience consider any of them a success because the same issues continue to plague their organization.

It’s the “work the plan” part of the equation where things unravel. We are energized and excited by the new ideas and hopeful opportunities that emerge during strategic planning. That’s the glitter and unicorns stuff. It’s what happens next that makes all the difference and this is where I see leaders misstep time and time again. Working the plan means work. It means focus and requires discipline.

If you want to see your team and your organization build momentum for the long haul, you have to focus on these two simple but essential steps:

1) Be Clear

2) Be Consistent

 

Sounds remarkably boring doesn’t it? And that’s why it’s so essential. This is not the fodder for great Instagram posts. This is the slow, slogging work that leads to extraordinary results.

When I say “Be Clear”, I mean be simple and be focused. For example, when I decided that I wanted to develop my writing skills, I committed to writing a short blog post five days a week focused on leadership. My goal was clear, simple and focused. I needed to write regularly on one topic.

Additionally I committed to “Be Consistent”. I developed routine and discipline to meet my clear goal of writing five days a week. I carved out time in my morning routine to write regularly and I was disciplined to do it even when I was scrambling for something to say.

This clear and consistent approach ultimately led to book deals and to being respected as an authority on the subject of leadership. Most of those early blog posts were horrible, but I would have never developed my ideas and grown as an author without that clear and consistent commitment.

For most of our work, success is just on the other side of clear and consistent commitment to the simple steps of our plans. I don’t believe in magic formulas. Occasionally we may stumble onto something that has extraordinary momentum but this is by far the exception. I believe that God honors faithful and obedient work and most times my faith and obedience best shows up in the simple and routine moments of life. Steady commitment to a driving purpose is where great joy and fulfillment is found.

Glitter is messy anyway.

 

 

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Jenni Catron is the Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group.  Her passion is to equip and inspire leaders to lead from their extraordinary best!

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Leading With Love on the Line

Leading With Love on the Line

By: Jenni Catron

 

I spend a lot of time on airplanes these days.  I love getting to work with amazing organizations across the country but that inevitably means hours and hours in airports.  All these miles I’ve logged have afforded me the opportunity to have “status” on most airlines.  I thoroughly enjoy the perks of better seats and early boarding but I’ve noticed something interesting… my peers with privileges also seem to be the most unhappy and entitled passengers.  It’s a competitive arena where you push and elbow your way to be first among the firsts.

From a leadership perspective I can’t help but wonder what all of this is producing in me… in us?  I see an ever-increasing loss of respect for one another.  The irritability and sometimes outright anger that emerges over sometimes trivial things worries me both in others and especially so when I see it in myself.

Perhaps the stressors of flying, especially for those who travel nearly daily, breeds a disproportionate amount of the ugly I see in our culture.  But I guess I fear that it’s symptom of what is permeating this day and time.  I see it in the news.  I see it in our neighbors.  I see it in our leaders.

Fear.   Anger.   Distrust.   Suspicion.   Competition.   Selfishness.   Greed.

I believe great leaders could change this course.  Every significant moment in history was led by leaders who were committed to another way.  Leaders who acted counter-culturally.  Leaders who selflessly did what was right rather than what was popular or comfortable.

Too many leaders are leading with a short-term, self-focused perspective.  I see it in myself and I’m fighting for a new perspective.  I’m fighting to lead with the longview.  I’m fighting to lead with less attention to my comfort and more commitment to the good of those around me.

Currently I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction and this quote captured a thought I’m grappling with:

Every day I put love on the line.  There is nothing I am less good at than love.  I am far better in competition than in love.  I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark than I am at figuring out how to love another.  I am schooled and trained in acquisitive skills, in getting my own way.  And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily – open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.

That last line wrecks me – daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.

Leaders, I believe this tide in culture would shift if we would go first in choosing to lead like this.

What does this look like for you?

What do you see in the culture around you?

What impact could you have today if you chose to lead with love on the line?

Article originally posted on JenniCatron.com.

 

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Jenni Catron is the Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group.  Her passion is to equip and inspire leaders to lead from their extraordinary best!

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Church Guest Experience Proposal

Church Guest Experience Proposal

By: Danielle Wingate

 

I recently went through a study by Priscilla Shirer, Armor of God. (Highly recommend it!) Early on in the study she commented, “Christianity has become quite comfortable. Coffee shops in church lobbies. Shuttles from the parking lot to the sanctuary on rainy days. Games to entertain our children in Sunday School…”

The content for the day of this study was circling around Satan’s tactics to “distract, discourage, and divide us from others while disabling us from experiencing everything that is rightfully ours as adopted members of God’s family. We as Christians have become lazy—not being alert and on guard for the small distractions and the attacks of the enemy.” I can’t disagree.

While I agree, Shirer’s opening comment rocked me. My focus and passion in the church is the Guest Experience. So if my approach has always been geared toward the guest in the church, yet I agree with the opening statement and the lazy approach and engagement in Christianity, then where does that leave me?

The difference between a church and a business is that people in a church want an excellent, secure, undistracted and welcoming experience, yet they stay for the relationships they have within the church and the vision of it. People in business want the same thing, but they continue coming back because of the next-level service offered as they grow in loyalty to that company.

The challenge is that the audience is the same.

The guest experience still needs to be a priority for the visitors. They need to see excellence modeled in love and a relatable place that they can be part of and grow with. What if our language and approach changed so that the members felt more empowered to be the church, not just spectators and consumers of it?

A lot of change—I know. And no it doesn’t happen overnight and may not even happen in the next six months. But small steps forward will help your guest experience transform and will make all the difference in your church.

Here is what I propose:

  • 1. Have a team member over the first time guest experience—all of it. Everything including website verbiage, parking signage, parking experience, the connection card process, the follow up interaction, membership class, kids first-time guest check-in and follow up experience…all of it. Why? It’s important for one person to have a consistent focus, voice and fluid thought process on everything that touches a first time guest. Our goal is to get them to take the next step and be part of the church family. To be engaged with the vision and mission of the church as they grow in their walk with Christ. Excellence and consistency in all areas speaks more than you know.
  • 2. Identify a second team member to oversee the experience getting guests connected. After a guest has gone through the membership process what happens to them? What is the next best step? How do they get plugged into a small group, volunteer serving team, missions team or anything else? Where do you as a church want their next step to be? Why? People are a big deal and it’s imperative to create focus and intentionality in helping everyone be known and valued as they take the next step in their walk with Christ.

As both team members and their teams start down their path of refining processes and touch points, this is where you can begin to introduce verbiage to define and engage church members at a different level. “You are part of the family and this is your house, wipe down the counters in the bathroom, pick up the trash, take someone a meal in your small group, etc.”

Society and my amazing millennial generation are going to feed the instant gratification in all aspects, but I can’t help but agree with Priscilla. We are the church. We set the example. We respond to a higher calling and more than ever we have to be on alert and engage every single guest and member that this is a place you can belong and that you will find authentic community here, but there is a battle and we can’t get comfortable and remain silent with the way of the world anymore.

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Danielle is passionate about creating and supporting systems that improve the guest experience from beginning to end.  She has been part of some amazing church staff teams and now spends her time supporting churches and leaders through consulting.  She is the founder of Catalyst Women, an online space to share stories and invite women to be the change.
Danielle lives in Seattle with her husband Chris, two kids and giant schnauzer.  She is a fan of any good local coffee shop and enjoys a vanilla latte with coconut milk!
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Six Leadership Lessons from a 3-year-old

Six Leadership Lessons from a 3-year-old

By: Denise McCleese

 

My friend and I met for breakfast in a cute, quaint little town with a village-styled downtown area. The downtown area consists of their main street, which is paved entirely in brick and lined with small stores and restaurants. The restaurant we chose was buzzing with people and was clearly the place to be on this particular Friday morning.  We had some serious things to talk about, which is never easy with a 3 year old around, but thankfully my friend was a good sport and we made the best of it. As we wrapped up our time together after walking around the town, it was pouring down rain. My daughter began playing in the rain, it was pure joy for her. This part of our adventure is what caused me to reflect on our day and learn from the beauty of a toddler.  

Thank God for wherever He has you

Our food came and I said, “let’s pray.”  My three-year-old ALWAYS wants to be the one to pray and it often involves her thanking God for everything she has experienced thus far that morning, and then asking Him to bless our food. This particular morning was no different, but really made me smile. I knew when our food was delivered my daughter wasn’t going to like it–the bacon was thick, the bread was really thick and they only had sausage patties instead of links. As she prayed she thanked God that we came to this yucky place to eat!  

As I reflected on our day and thought of her prayer, I realized that’s what we should all do:  thank God no matter where He takes us.  We tend to make our gratitude contingent upon our circumstances. As leaders, God may have us in a yucky restaurant where we really don’t like the food, but He has called us to still lead, to still thank Him for where we are at. Do you thank God for where you are at even when you don’t like it?

Creatively solve problems

We were sitting in a booth that had a very high back.  My daughter wanted to see over the booth and people watch and she couldn’t–she didn’t like that. I watched as she began to go into problem solving mode. At first she was stepping on my purse, which I moved so she didn’t smash everything in it.  Eventually she took a small bucket that had crayons in it, dumped the crayons, put it upside down on the booth put one foot on top of it and the other foot on top of her first foot, held on to the top of the booth for balance, and suddenly she could see the world around her. She continued to tinker with her solution trying to add things to give her better balance (at one point I looked over and my cell phone was getting ready to get smashed!!).  

Do we look at the problems in our lives and say the, “booth is just too tall,” or do we think creatively and come up with solutions? There were so many nuggets in these moments with my daughter. As leaders, we must think creatively and allow others to watch us wrestle though solutions. Often we tend to share a solution once it is perfected, but how are others learning along the way if we don’t let them see us work through our problems? We also must let those we lead wrestle through their own solutions. As I watched my daughter, I saw her cycle through different ideas that might work to accomplish her goal. I also watched her want to bring some things into her solution, like my purse and phone that could have been destructive. It was my job to let her be creative, but keep her within her boundaries.  

See the best in people

I had taken my daughter to the restroom, which was a single-stall bathroom in a very narrow hallway area. As we were leaving I noticed a mom second in line outside the door with a baby who I guessed to be about 6 months old. I had noticed them on the way to the bathroom because the baby had a large growth or birthmark on her forehead. As we were walking very closely to them I grabbed my daughter’s hand to rush her along quickly because I saw her looking at the baby and could tell she was getting ready to say something. As we got past the mom, she said loudly, “what a cute little baby!”. The mom let out a sweet, “awe,” based on my daughter’s comment. This was a mom who probably had become accustomed to awkward stares or comments, even when nothing was said.  

I was reminded in that moment to look at people through the eyes of a 3-year-old. My daughter didn’t notice her “flaw,” she noticed her beauty. Do we do that in the people we lead? Can we train ourselves to be quick to see what’s right in someone and slow to see what’s wrong? Can we lead in a way that highlights someone’s best and not their worst? I want to see the best, the beauty in everyone in the same way I believe God sees the best in me EVEN when He knows the worst.

Don’t hide your struggles–be vulnerable

My daughter had taken her shoes off and had thrown them under the table. It was time for us to pack up to leave (and with her I literally mean pack up as we had stuff everywhere) and she needed to put her shoes on. She literally sat down in the middle of the floor, with a skirt on and struggled through putting her shoes on. Now, please remember I am NOT allowed to help with such tasks as putting on shoes because she can do it herself. So, there she was, legs spread apart in the middle of the dirty floor putting on her shoes and clearly frustrated with how it was going!

My instinct as a mom was to sweep her up take her in a corner and put her shoes on her. Why? Is it because I don’t want people to judge me with my kid sitting on the dirty floor, panties showing and struggling or because I don’t want them to see her struggle?  Maybe it is simply what the world has told us that it is wrong, but WHY? Why can’t a 3-year-old learning to be independent sit on the floor of a restaurant and put her shoes on? What I realized in that moment was she didn’t care that people were watching her struggle.  She needed to get her shoes on, a task that isn’t easy for a 3-year-old and she didn’t care that people saw that.  We tend to go in our offices, our homes, or our secret spaces to struggle.  We don’t let others see this is part of our reality so we create a false persona of what it is like to lead.  We make it look easier than it is because the easy part is all we let people see.  People see us in our shoes walking, but they never saw the struggle of getting them on!  

Share what you have been given

We stopped at a toy store that was going out of business and my daughter got a pink miner helmet with a light on it.  We also stopped at a cute little ice cream shop where she got a chocolate covered cone with superman ice cream in it.  She LOVED her new hat and her ice cream. She loved them so much she wanted to share, she had me try her yummy ice cream and she went over to another mom and daughter and had them try on her new hat.  

Are we excited to share what we have? If God gives you something new…a new idea, a new leadership opportunity, a new responsibility are you excited to share it or do you keep it for yourself?  The sweetest things in life are only best if others can share with us how good they taste or how fun they are! As leaders, we aren’t meant to keep things to ourselves. We are meant to pass them on and to share them with others around us.  Don’t hoard what God has given you, whether it be your opportunities or your resources. He has created us to be generous.  

Dance in the rain

As I shared earlier, as we were wrapping up our day the rain began to come down hard! My friend and I were standing under an awning staying somewhat dry, but my daughter was going crazy in the rain.  She was soaked and spinning around in circles in the downpour. She was finding puddles and jumping in them. She was truly joyful. I looked up and everyone waiting in the restaurant was pointing at my daughter dancing in the rain. One old man had his camera out and was taking a picture. An older woman walking into the restaurant said, ”watching her has made my day. We all used to be like that”. Her words pierced me…we all USED to be like that.  

Life is joyful, so dance in the rain! Life can be tough and all moments aren’t joyful, but when they are do you let those you lead see you dancing in the rain?  Do you ever just stop caring about how you look or what is next and just dance?  Was my daughter’s car seat soaked? Yes! Did her shoes probably get a little ruined? Yes! Was it a pain that she was soaked when we got home? Yes! But did she have fun? Yes! Probably more important were the many people who got to watch her experience a moment of joy and have their own nostalgia. Do we let life or leadership get so complicated that when we see someone dancing in the rain we say, “I used to be like that”?

On our little adventure in the quaint town with the downpour, a good friend, and a toddler reminded me of a few good lessons. People are always watching; we overcomplicate things, and life is worth living. Find your spots of pure joy, see the best in others, and dance! And don’t forget to dance with those you lead.  

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Denise currently serves on the leadership team for Connection Pointe Christian Church. Her 20+ years combined leadership in the church and market place allows her to see the big picture while still focusing on developing our biggest resource, people! Denise lives in Brownsburg, Indiana with her husband Kevin. They have 3 children, Skyla, Devin and Kiley.

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Leading From Fear

Leading From Fear

By: Taylor Snodgrass

I don’t claim to be a football expert. I never played or coached, but man, have I watched my fair share of games in stadiums and from sports bars, and of course sitting on the couch.

There’s always a moment in the game where it’s about 4th & 3, and I shout at the TV, “Go for it!” Instead, coach sends out the punt team, and I sink into the couch as I huff about the coach’s conservative decision.

“What is he thinking? Why’s he so scared? Don’t punt; they totally could’ve gotten the first down.” Of course, it’s not up to me, and I’m not getting paid millions of dollars to make that call like the coach is.

But every once in a while, the offense stays on the field. The stadium is electric as the fans rise to their feet and hold their breath to see if their team can convert. If the coach’s decision to go for it will pay off. And when it pays off, the whole game changes. The momentum swings in favor of that risky coach, and the crowd is PUMPED.

And while it’s not necessarily the same in the organizations where we work, I think we can relate to the coach that goes for it. We love working for a leader who takes a risk. We enjoy making an aggressive decision instead of the alternative of punting.

Of course, there are times when it’s smart to punt. It’s smart to punt when it’s 4th and 18. It’s smart to punt when you KNOW you’ll lose money or trust. It’s sometimes smart to cut your losses. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can’t listen to that fear of failing. You know there’s an aggressive option that will energize your team. That will get the people you lead excited. That will move the chains for your organization.

Those moments are when your team loves to work for you. When your team doesn’t feel like you’re making a decision out of fear for what could happen but out of an excitement and anticipation for what’s possible. When you say to them, “Stay out there. We’re going for it.” You know that they can succeed, and you show that you trust them to succeed. Empowering your team gives them the chance to be creative and push the envelope and change the momentum of the game. They can electrify the industry if they succeed.

And of course there’s the chance that they don’t succeed. But you lead with confidence and reassurance that there will be another chance. There’s another chance coming down the line where they can take a risk again. You’re going to learn from this failure and next time you’ll know where to be and what to do. Making sure your team knows you still trust them after a failure is the only way you’ll get them to give it their all next time. If you lead them into a risk and then punt every time after that, they’ll lose the drive they felt when you first told them to go for it.

So go for it. Not all the time, but every once in a while…push the envelope. Try something new. Take the “risky” option. Because the only way you’re going to move down the field is by going for it. If you punt away the opportunities that are a little tough all the time, your team will never grow. They’ll never have the chance to prove they can do it. They’ll never make the stadium come alive. And we know there’s nothing like a team that has the momentum of a big conversion on their side.

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Taylor Snodgrass works on the creative team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife, Heather. He is passionate about being a constant learner and leading others to excellence in the church and their every day lives. He also blogs regularly at 1000hourpro.com.

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Culture Speaks

Culture Speaks

By: Danielle Wingate

 

Currently I am reading a great piece by Todd Wilson, Dream Big Plan Smart. Being a leadership learning junkie as well as a ministry enthusiast, I love books like this that are simple, straight to the point and easy application to take and personalize for any team dynamic or culture.

Wilson references the simple breakdown of culture in three simple components:

Core values, Narratives & Behaviors.

Core Values: What we really care about deep down—they shape our thoughts and our actions.

Narratives: Shaped by the language we use—the stories we tell and how frequently we talk and celebrate the things most important to us.

Behaviors: The things we actually do—how and where we invest our time, talent and financial resources entrusted to us.

With our teams it’s imperative to start with the core values to establish culture and re-visit it often to remain true to it. From the core values, we can build outward to the narratives and then the behaviors. Looks good and sounds good from an inward view.

When working with our guests we have to take an outward view and work inward to balance and check on the effectiveness of our internal approach.

Here are some examples of behaviors that speak to the culture of your church or organization:

  • When a line forming or a waiting experience occurs, what is the system? Who interacts with the guest when their time has arrived? What is the verbiage used with the waiting guest?
  • If an entryway into the auditorium has closed, what is the verbiage and mannerism instructed to use to inform guests of another available entry or access point?
  • When the auditorium is filling with guests who need to move to an overflow space, what is their experience with the team, the environment and the verbiage used to get them there?
  • When a volunteer or employee is joining a team, how do you communicate, invest and connect with them?

All of these behaviors say something. Indirectly or directly the actions and approach are the first experience and the loudest messages a guest will ever hear. Behaviors build a narrative with the guest and the volunteers, which in turn build a belief of what your core values are. The good news is that your system of checks & balances exists.

I want to encourage you to take time with your team and over the next few weeks begin to break this down into bite-size pieces:

  • Isolate a specific category to evaluate (ex. Auditorium filling and transition to overflow).
  • Identify peak times this happens, the core teams in place when this happens, and the current team numbers to accommodate this.
  • Share specific coaching, training or communication used to prepare teams for this.
  • Identify areas of confusion, frustration and main pain points.
  • Review the overflow process and timeline. Everything from environment to the point of contact that makes the call to transition to overflow.
  • Share ideal experience based on heart and core values.
  • Cross- reference reality vs./ ideal experience.
  • Formulate a plan to address the pain points and begin to make small tweaks for improvement.

People are walking into churches and businesses everyday for the first time and the last time. We can’t afford to miss key moments of experience that connect them to a message of truth and hope in Jesus or being a part of your company family.

Pray and be excited for your team as you build this out!

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Danielle is passionate about creating and supporting systems that improve the guest experience from beginning to end.  She has been part of some amazing church staff teams and now spends her time supporting churches and leaders through consulting.  She is the founder of Catalyst Women, an online space to share stories and invite women to be the change.
Danielle lives in Seattle with her husband Chris, two kids and giant schnauzer.  She is a fan of any good local coffee shop and enjoys a vanilla latte with coconut milk!
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When Leaders Are Asked to be Coaches

When Leaders Are Asked to be Coaches

By: Krystal Foster

 

Although it was a while ago, I’ll never forget it…

The sting of disappointment.

The feeling of failure.

The subsequent frustration.

The ultimate self-doubt.

 

It was my first experience coaching someone and it didn’t go as I had expected. I had such high hopes for this individual and saw magnificent potential. For them, leadership was second nature and there was a perceived desire to grow both personally and for the success of the organization they were leading. I envisioned them stepping into extremely influential leadership positions and building highly skilled teams of people to accomplish the mission and vision of the organization (which I believed in wholeheartedly). I saw the organization growing along with this leader and becoming significant in our culture, and even spreading nationwide. I was excited to help them be successful through coaching and I was looking forward to an amazing outcome. We were going to change the world. In my mind, there were no limits to what this leader could achieve with just a bit of coaching. Sure, there were some identified barriers and challenges ahead, maybe even some past wounds that needed healing but I was locked and loaded. Let’s do this!!

 

But wait. Why weren’t they with me?

Didn’t they see what I saw?

The barriers we had uncovered weren’t debilitating—they could easily be overcome. Didn’t they see that?

Didn’t they want to grow?

 

I eventually put down my pom-poms as the coaching relationship came to an end. I searched within for answers as to why it didn’t turn out how I had imagined and picked apart each coaching conversation, every meeting and my approach. Something was amiss and I hated feeling the way I did about how things ended. I was losing sleep and that is never a good thing…

 

Where did I go wrong?

What did I miss?

How can I be better next time and achieve better results?

 

More and more we’re hearing of leaders being asked to not only manage folks, but to coach them. So, our role as leaders becomes twofold: we manage and we coach. Managing is about the work itself while coaching is about developing our people. Coaching is an investment for both parties and I believe that contributing to someone’s growth and development is one of the greatest joys of leadership. We love to see our people succeed and step into their potential. This not only elevates them but also improves the organizations they are affiliated with and positively impacts those in their sphere of influence.

 

The challenge in coaching is in knowing that ultimately we are not responsible for someone’s development… they are. We provide them with the best leadership and coaching possible, but we cannot control the outcome. They must choose to put in the effort and do the work. This means that we, the coach and the leader, have to: maintain a certain level of objectivity, hone our emotional intelligence skills and have well-defined boundaries. When a leader needs to also be a coach, there are four major fundamentals to keep in mind:

 

  1. Never be more invested in the goal than the person you are coaching.

Have you ever been more excited and passionate for developing someone else’s potential than they seem to be? I have. Many times, actually. It makes you wonder why they don’t see what you see and why they aren’t responding as you are.

 

We deeply desire our people to flourish under our leadership. We are invested in seeing them grow and evolve and we want to do everything in our power to make it happen. We meet with them regularly, we have coaching conversations, we set specific developmental goals and we encourage them to run hard. We do everything we can to set them up for success and, sometimes, we take it too far.

 

When we become more invested in the goal than the person, the responsibility shifts from them to us, and we become the driver. We brainstorm, find solutions and think for them. Subconsciously, we start to expect results to manifest in the way we have imagined them because of our over-investment.

 

When we take on the responsibility for someone else’s development, it can also demotivate and cause complacency in them. If the goal is achieved by us taking responsibility, then it is likely that it will not be sustained by them and the sense of reward will not be as great because they did not invest adequately and drive it.

 

I allowed my excitement and passion to plant me in the driver’s seat of developing this leader’s potential. I wanted to see the outcomes that I had envisioned come to life so bad that I took on the responsibility of trying to make them happen. Yikes! When we find ourselves in these situations, we have to reign ourselves in and remember to coach, not control.

 

  1. Never mistake hope for certainty.

We want to have hope for others. Hope allows us to see the potential in people. However, we must understand that our hope for another does not equal certainty. It is important that we draw a line between our hope, and what is realistic for them to achieve. We can hope for a certain outcome but the person we are coaching has a choice. Regardless of their potential, they may choose to not develop it as much as we’d like for them to.

 

Having hope for people while also viewing them holistically is a tough balance. We can’t lose hope – we must maintain it in order to coach to someone’s potential. But we also have to use wisdom in managing our expectations and see others for who they are as we consider their strengths, weaknesses, needs, barriers, drivers and motivations.

 

When I envisioned the aforementioned leader tapping into their leadership potential, overcoming barriers and growing the organization to take over the nation, I unknowingly mistook those hopes and desires for growth as certainties. I saw all the possibilities but didn’t see any of the reasons why they couldn’t be achieved. I was certain that together we could make it happen! And that was the problem. My overinvestment and excitement led to me mistaking my hopes for that individual as certainties with their development. When we mistake hope for certainty, it opens the door for self-doubt, disappointment and discouragement to creep in.

 

  1. Know that sometimes people aren’t ready to receive what they’ve asked for.

Yes, you can tell what people are committed to by what they say. But what they say they want, oftentimes, is not something they’re committed to…yet. Part of our role as a leader and a coach is to discern desire versus actual commitment and readiness.

 

Picture an iceberg. What people say they want is the ¼ of the iceberg you see above the water. What people will actually be committed to and are ready for lies in the ¾ of the iceberg under water along with their psychological and philosophical attributes. So, we don our scuba suit, flippers and oxygen mask and dive deep to discover the submerged iceberg of patterns, level of self-awareness and ownership of behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Once uncovered, we have a tough decision to make, to coach or not to coach. It can be difficult to look someone in the eye who does want to grow and tell them they aren’t ready for coaching.

 

This leader said all the right things, read all the right books and listened to all the right podcasts leading me to believe that they were committed to overcoming barriers and developing their leadership. I took what they said and their actions as a green light to coach instead of looking below the surface at the rejection, insecurity and fear they were immersed in. These struggles caused them to be defensive, closed off, resistant to change and shift blame to others. Did they want to grow? Yes! Were they ready? No. What they needed in that moment was healing, maybe further mentoring, but not coaching. Jenni Catron says, “Leadership is a series of tough conversations we must have” and sometimes, this is one of them.

 

  1. Be a coach, not a therapist.

A coach and a therapist are similar in that in order to be effective, they must be open, trusting relationships. They are both typically initiated by a person’s desire to achieve a goal – most often the elimination of some behaviors or feelings that are creating negative consequences. To succeed, both interventions require some degree of emotional intelligence, particularly self-awareness, and candor on the part of the client.

 

A coach and therapist differ in a few ways. The goal in therapy is to find the wound and heal it. Healing takes place over a long period of time by exploring how the wound came about and teaching a person how to self-administer healing. Coaching is a shorter-term solution that acknowledges the wound exists but instead of seeking to heal it, teaches the person to co-exist with the wound and successfully work around it. Coaching and therapy can take place simultaneously but that doesn’t always mean they should. Sometimes we need to take the necessary time to focus solely on healing before we step into a coaching relationship and chase after our goals.

 

We are all broken, wounded and carrying baggage from our past. None of us are perfectly put together and that is okay. Because of God’s grace, we don’t have to be. And everyone say, “Amen!” He has the power to heal us and make our mess, our message. He’s also placed some pretty brilliant therapists on this earth as a resource. Coaches have to know the limits of their oxygen tank and when to resurface. We can – and should – dive to the darkest depths with people and uncover wounds that may be impacting their leadership. But we have to know where our responsibility as a coach ends and where a therapist’s begins.

 

I saw the brokenness and deep cuts this leader had experienced in their recent past – I had empathy for them. I didn’t just try to coach them around it, I also tried to help heal it. I took responsibility for something that I shouldn’t have and in doing so, missed an opportunity to encourage them to seek therapy and the healing they needed. Taking time to focus on their healing would have set them up for even greater success down the road with coaching.

 

So, what can we do to prevent overinvesting, being overly optimistic, misled by intentions and overstepping our boundaries? I’ve found that these three principles will support us in being an effective, more emotionally intelligent coach:

Coaching is not about us. Ever.

What we want for someone and the potential we see in them can never outweigh what the person is committed to changing. As much as we want our vision for them to come to fruition, they must want it for themselves.

Talk less, listen more.

The answer to most of our own problems lies within us. Remember that submerged ¾ of the iceberg? A coach simply serves as a scuba instructor to help others dive down and evaluate their psychological and philosophical needs and bring answers to the surface that are a catalyst for effective change. We don’t impose our resolutions on them or tell them what they should do . We find out what they know, what they are battling beneath the surface and what they are ready to change through strategic communication, motivational interviewing and asking open-ended questions.

See what they see.

When we strive to see things from their perspective and empathize, we build trust and gain closeness. This matters…a lot. This gives us a propensity to see individual’s needs as unique and, by approaching each person differently, we establish a successful coaching relationship based on trust – that will likely result in good outcomes. Creating a safe environment allows them to open up and permits us to be their scuba instructor.

 

People are messy. They can’t always be conformed to a paper outline or process. As much as we want to fit them perfectly into our coaching plans and goal worksheets, sometimes we have to pause and set them aside as we link arms and dive deep together. Putting these fundamentals and principles into practice will help us to coach well and lead even better.

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Krystal is a Leadership Coach and owner of Krystal Gail Leadership Coaching and Consulting. She is devoted to cultivating emotionally intelligent leaders who lead authentically from their very best self.

Krystal lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Brett, and their son Leo. If you see her out, she is likely to be drinking a creamy cup of coffee, reading a book, coloring or kayaking on the nearest body of water with her tribe.

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Leaders Are Known

Leaders Are Known

By: Taylor Snodgrass

Being trusted as a leader isn’t something that happens overnight. Leading a new team requires a lot of time for those team members to trust you. Even when a new member joins your team, it’s going to take some time for that new addition to trust you as a leader.

But it’s not just time that gains their trust. It’s the way you prove you can be trusted. It’s decisions you make that show you’re fighting for them. It’s showing you’re bought-in 100% to the vision of that team. There are many things that happen over time that give your team reasons to trust you as their leader. But there’s also something you can do as a leader to gain trust from your team.

Leaders are trusted when they’re known.

If your team gets to know you, the real you, they’re going to follow your leadership. Learning the reasons for your passion and the life experiences you’ve had that shape who you are today give your team a peace of mind that you can be trusted. As you open up about your life, your team will come to see the “why” behind your decisions, leadership style and vision for the team.

Jesus tells a story in John 10 that ultimately points back to Him being the gate through which we are saved. But He also teaches a leadership lesson:

“…anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

– John 10:1-6, NIV

Jesus dives in by telling us that if we want to be trusted as the shepherd, we have to make ourselves known right away. We have to enter through the gate, where everyone can see us, and then we, as leaders, need to make our voices known. We have to let our followers know us so that we can be a recognizable and trusted voice when we venture out of the safety of the pen.

As a leader, you’re going to lead your team out of the gate. You’re going to have to leave the safety of your “status quo” pen and take risks in the big, scary world outside. In those moments when things get difficult and confusing and chaotic, you want to be a voice that your team can trust. If your team doesn’t know you, Jesus says plainly that “they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away…”

Opening up to our teams is scary because it requires vulnerability. It requires telling our teams some things that are personal and private. It might even mean letting people see parts of your life that you’re not the most proud of. Maybe you’re honest about some of your leadership shortcomings and the areas you’re trying to get better in. But opening up with your team creates a culture of honesty and trust that will make your team willing to run out of the pen right behind you. And maybe more importantly, your team will know your voice when you get scattered in the wilderness. They’ll follow you because they know your voice, your life, and your leadership can be trusted.

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Taylor Snodgrass is the Associate Programming Director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where he lives with his wife, Heather. He is passionate about leading others to excellence in the church and in their everyday lives.