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!

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!

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.


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.


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.


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.


The Power of Learning. 9 Ways to get Better.

The Power of Learning. 9 Ways to get Better.

By: Stephen Brewster


We only get better when we stay committed to learning. As a creative, your work can be one of the biggest lessons to learn from. Too often we’re so busy we see right past our lessons in hopes of completing the task. Here are a few lessons your work is trying to teach you this week:


Do The Work – Show up, start working, don’t quit. No matter if you subscribe the the 10,000 hour rule, the belief that you have to get the first 100 bad songs out before you write your first good one, or the concept of repetition, they’re all the same concept. Come to work. Start working. Do it everyday. Trust the process and then, show up again the next day. The more you do anything the better you will get at it. And success doesn’t change that. “Arriving” is the biggest opportunity to lose your edge. Tenacious persistency will allow you to be amazingly good.

Tell Your Story – How do you see things? Use that filter. Tell what you know, what you see, what you are learning, and what you are filtering. Don’t fall into the trap of telling the story someone else sees or experiences. Use what you are seeing and experiencing to tell the story your way.

Work With Others – Work in community. It will make you so much better. Feed off of the creative people around you. Creating in community allows us to build ideas on ideas as opposed to trying to stretch one idea to be the absolute best. Community matters most in creating. Sharing is caring and working in groups promotes sharing ideas. Your best stuff will happen when you work with others.

Stay Out Of The Way – Always put the success of the project and the organization above your idea, desire, or ego. You might believe you have the best ideas but remember the momentum of what we’re building matters so much more than our idea or being recognized for an idea. You are not what you do, so stay out of the way and keep your ego in check.

Keep The Goal In Front – Everyone has to know the mission. When you know the mission, you can do your part in making it succeed. Stay invested and remember the WHY. For most of us that’s life change – and that is huge! Vision is fuel for amazing creativity. When everyone truly cares about the work they’re producing, it shows in the final creation.

Practice The Law Of Attention – Where we put attention creates motion. Make sure you’re putting your attention on the things that matter and create momentum. Details are HUGE and matter because they make things “go.”

Surround Yourself With Rock Stars – Find the people you admire and work with them. You might not be on a team together but surround yourself with people you care about, people you like, and people who will push you. If you’re afraid to be pushed, you probably aren’t really desiring the best for you or the organization. You will become like the people you’re around so if you want to be your best, surround yourself with people who are better than you!

Help Others – Always look for ways to serve others. Serving removes entitlement. When we humble ourselves and go out of the way for others, we actually help build more than art…we build culture and relationship!

*Stay Coachable! – Remember there is more to learn. You can always get better. Look for opportunities to grow, develop, stretch, and learn. Maybe seek out some coaching, a mentor, or a relationship that challenges you.

*If you are really hungry, you could sign up for coaching with Jenni Catron and I this fall! Here is a link. I am so excited about this opportunity and think it could be a game changer for you!

What would you add to this list?


Stephen wants to encourage people to be brave enough to be their creative best. He serves as the Creative Pastor at Real Life Church in Orlando, Florida. He has spent the past 15 years in professional creative environments including church, music business, marketing, management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing. He lives in Orlando, FL with his wife Jackie and their four amazing kids.


4 Key Leadership Skills for Career Success

4 Key Leadership Skills for Career Success

By: Robert Dickie

I’ve been in the military and the business world in various forms of leadership for the past 19 years. Although senior leaders of organizations share a great deal with their teams, one thing that is rarely – if ever – talked about is the frank behind-the-doors analysis of people that happens in every organization. Those are “make it or break it” conversations for most people’s careers. These conversations come in many forms, but especially during annual performance reviews and budget preparation for the new fiscal year.

Leaders are forced to look at cold, hard facts. Who is performing and who isn’t? Who is achieving results and who is coasting? Who is a rising star we can’t live without versus who is causing drama and problems that are sidetracking the organization? These are tough conversations. From the military to the private sector, I have seen people get promotions and fast-track their careers because of these conversations, while others have had their careers come to an unceremonious end because of them.

If you prepare and are doing the right things, these conversations will propel you to new opportunities. This is not about having nice conversations in the hallway or performing well at the annual Christmas party. You need to be a top performer, getting results, and helping the organization win. In short, you need to be seen as a developing leader who is growing and ready to take on more responsibility. Companies don’t downsize, automate, or offshore leaders getting results!

To be seen as a developing leader in your organization, you need to demonstrate the following four critical characteristics of leadership as you perform your duties.

1. Leaders leverage failure.

One thing is certain… Failure is part of the journey. I don’t know any great leader who has not had multiple failures in their career. However, when discussing these failures, they are quick to talk about what they have learned. Instead of having a fatalistic view of failure, they seek it as part of their journey.

Once they have learned from failure, it is no longer a failure – it is a learning experience. With that outlook, failures can be seen as tuition paid for a real-life education. I have learned that our greatest victories are often given birth through what we perceive as failure.

2. Leaders are problem solvers.

Leaders solve problems that others can’t. Managers are paid to manage processes, systems, and people. There is a big difference between managing and leading something. Managers are easily replaced. Leaders are not. Leaders see the big picture and understand how the entire process works, how value is created, and what is most important. It has been said that the people who know HOW will always work for the people who know WHY. Leaders always know the why and are generally very competent with the how as well.

Become a problem solver for your organization who understands the big picture and the why for your firm, and you will quickly rise to the top and have much greater opportunities.

3. Leaders are lifelong learners.

A Harvard Business School professor in the Executive Education Program recently said, “You CEOs in decades past came to this program to gain an edge. Today you come to this program just so you can stay current and not fall behind in the quickly changing global economy.” Leaders are always seeking an edge, which traditionally has come from education and experiences. Today the best leaders are able to see the world differently from the rest. They see the world at an angle, and thus see opportunities before the rest of the pack.

This vision, which comes from education and real-world experience, is more important than ever. Leaders attend executive education courses and conferences and leverage MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) by websites like EdX.org, Coursera.org, and Udacity.org to obtain an edge. By definition, leaders are expected to lead the way. A lack of education and skill is the quickest way to fall out of a leadership position you worked hard to earn.

4. Leaders live in their design.

There is no “best type” of leader for every organization. There are different types of leaders that have different skill sets and abilities. The best one for you to be is the leader God designed you to be. No one would put a Corvette in a farm field or a tractor in the Indy 500. Each machine has been uniquely designed for a specific function. We get the best results when we use it as it was designed. So too, God has designed each of us with our own unique skills, values, interests, and passions. If we build our career around those skills, we open up the doors of opportunity to perform at our best.

Finding our design takes time and introspection. Many leaders need a lifetime of trial and error to develop their self-awareness that allows them to achieve peak performance. I recommend taking a career shortcut to discover this by taking a Career Direct assessment (CareerDirect-ge.org). This report will help you gain the self-awareness you need to operate at your best and live within your God-given design.

Finally, I encourage you to aspire to leadership in your career for the right reasons. Executives who crashed companies like Enron, WorldCom, Bear Stearns, and others, many times aspired to leadership positions for personal reasons like wealth, fame, power, and prestige. When those are your motivators, you are led to taking risk and leading in ways that can cause you to make poor decisions.
I encourage you to aspire to leadership positions in your career to make a positive impact in the world and help those around you. When you lead with that mindset, you will lead with heart and soul. That will help you stay centered and grounded to make the right decisions. In doing so, always remember to seek God’s will for your career. There is a big difference between Him leading the way, and us crafting our own plans and inviting him to join us. The leadership journey is hard and full of obstacles, but the reward of making the world a better place is worth it. Enjoy the process!


About Robert: Robert Dickie is the author of Love Your Work: 4 Practical Ways You Can Pivot to Your Best Career. As president of Crown, he is dedicated to helping people create long-term plans for financial, career, and business success. Bob serves on multiple nonprofit boards, and is an avid Spartan racer and mountain climber. He and his wife, Brandi, have been happily married for 21 years and have been blessed with six children.


Leading Together

Leading Together

By: Heather Snodgrass


Leadership doesn’t always look like what we expect. Sometimes being a leader means leading a team from the top-down, but sometimes it means leading side-to-side, and sometimes it means leading from the bottom-up. I’ve lead well from the top-down and I’ve lead well from the bottom-up, but leading side-to-side is a whole different story. And for me, it’s not a story I’m proud of.

Recently, I co-directed a big event with a co-worker of mine. We started planning for the event six months in advance and everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly, that is until about a month and a half before D-day. Things started heating up, tempers quietly flared, and tensions built. Three days before the event, we had a…conversation about how we’d been feeling toward each other. It was respectful, but it was filled with the frustrations we’d built up toward each other over the past six months.

Hearing the things my co-director had to say about how I’d acted as a partner hurt me. When I heard things like, “You’ve acted like I couldn’t do anything” and “I feel like you haven’t been trusting me,” I instantly thought of every reason why I was right in acting the way that I had. Because I was right. She was wrong.

I allowed myself those few minutes of anger, but then I forced myself to calm down and really think about what she was saying. Were those things true? Had I done them? Is that how I wanted to be known? During our whole journey I kept thinking to myself how much easier it was to lead from the top-down or from the bottom-up, but if I can’t lead side-to-side, am I really a leader?

Instead of wallowing in self-pity and mourning the death of the leader in me, I decided to be proactive about it. Yeah, I failed as a partner this time around, but I’m going to have a thousand more chances to partner with people, and I’m going to learn from my mistakes and do better next time.

Here are three things I learned about how to lead well with others:


1) Learn each other’s strengths up front.

If you’re going to be successful in leading alongside others, you have to know and be honest about your strengths, so you can play to those and have the best possible outcome. I’m organized and good at communication. I’m not very creative without someone giving me a boost, and I can’t visualize spaces well at all. I would be a terrible interior designer. So naturally, I wouldn’t play the role of decorator in planning an event. Next time I co-lead with someone I’ll make sure that we have this conversation up-front so it’s clear what parts of the job I’ll do well, and what parts they’ll do well.


2) Have “last 10%” conversations early and often.

At Cross Point, we have a staff value that says, “Lean into the last 10%”. It’s not hard to be 90% honest in conversations and conveniently leave out the tough parts—the frustrations and tensions, or even the thanks and appreciation. In the above situation, if my co-director and I had had last 10% conversations early on when we started feeling frustrated with each other, instead of saving it until three days before the event, then we would have had a much more enjoyable planning experience than we did. Last 10% conversations are not easy to have, but they’re necessary if you want to be successful as a leader.


3) Trust. Trust. Trust.

If you’re a type-A control freak like me, trusting others to do things well is hard. However, after learning each other’s strengths up front, all you can do is trust that your partner is the best one for that role and can get the job done well. Sneakily taking tasks from him/her isn’t going to do anything except erode trust and burn the bridge between you.


I wish my co-director and I had done these three things at the beginning of and throughout our partnership rather than waiting until the end, but I’m still glad we had the conversation we did. During those final three days before the event, I worked hard to implement the things she had told me I’d failed at. I went out of my way to show her I trusted her, I thanked her often, and I celebrated our success with her. It ended up being an incredible event and, while it definitely wasn’t a smooth process, she made me a better leader.

Leading with others is one of the hardest parts of being a leader, but if you can learn to lead well in those situations, you’ll be combining the best of many people into one team or event, and what ends up happening will be magical.



Heather Snodgrass works at Cross Point Church as the Bellevue Dream Center Coordinator, where she oversees the DCS Safe Room and the adult special needs ministry. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, Taylor.


3 Tips for Leading Great Team Meetings

Meaningless Meetings or Intentional Conversations? – 3 Tips for Leading Great Team Meetings

By: Jenni Catron

I was recently talking with a new client in preparation for our first consulting visit. This was a routine call that I typically do with the leader to ask some basic questions about how they interact with their team. It’s a quick way for me to get insight to how the leader leads and how their team operates. Usually it’s a quick peak into their culture which helps me prepare for working with them.


As with most of the clients we serve, this was a young organization that had grown rapidly and found themselves frustrated with the difficulty and complexity they were facing. Not uncommon at all.

But after asking just a few questions, I discovered a significant trouble spot that was incredibly easy to fix.

This leader and his team had no structure or rhythm for meeting together.

“How do you get anything done?” I asked.

“Well, it’s getting more and more difficult.” Mike replied. “When there were just a handful of us on staff we just kind of figured out how to get the information we needed. We were constantly together so it was never a problem. Now, there are dozens of us at different office locations with varying work schedules, and it seems like it’s harder than ever to get even the simplest things done. Let alone actually hold anyone accountable for their work.”


What Mike expressed to me is something I’ve heard from too many leaders. It’s a common reality especially for organizations that start small and grow rapidly. Creating meeting structures feels bureaucratic. We fear we’ll lose the relational culture and spontaneous spirit that helped us get to where we’ve gotten so far. We resist it rather than recognize that without it we could actually begin to lose the very thing we’re clinging to.

Most of us resist creating weekly staff meetings and regular one-on-one meetings with our team because we’re afraid of boring meetings that everyone hates. I get it.

But I believe that we have to reframe our perspective on this, because as a leader you need regular time with your team in order to lead from your extraordinary best.

Personally, I believe you need to establish this rhythm as soon as you have someone else you’re working with to accomplish a shared goal. Whether there are two of you or 2,000, regular gatherings for connecting and communicating are essential for your effectiveness as a team. I like to think of meetings as “intentional conversations around a shared goal.”


1) Determine the Purpose

Why are you meeting? The reason so many of us are resistant to creating regular meetings is because we fear the boredom of monotonous information that doesn’t help us actually get our work done. As a leader, you’ve got to own this and be committed to creating meetings that unite the team and equip each person to do their job better. If a meeting doesn’t move the mission forward, cut it. If the mission isn’t moving forward, start gathering the troops for a regular meeting.

2) Be Prepared

Another reason we have meeting-phobia is that people (including the leader) often show up unprepared. This is why most meetings feel like a waste of time. Set an agenda ahead of time. If you’re leading the meeting, send the agenda as well as any prep work the team needs to do in adequate time for them to be prepared as well. If you’re naturally a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants leader, you will falsely assume that everyone else can do this too. They can’t. Your team will be more prepared and contribute more confidently if they have had time to think about the topic or prepare necessary information for the meeting.

3) Establish a Regular Schedule

Your team needs predictable rhythms of work. Most of us face enough surprises and curve balls in our regular work. Sporadic meeting schedules don’t need to add to the chaos. Determine how frequently you need to meet to effectively accomplish your shared goals and then commit to that schedule.

None of us want to be victims of “death by meetings” but we also don’t want to experience organization death because of not meeting. Gather your team and get stuff done!


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!


Building A Good Creative Culture

Building A Good Creative Culture

By: Stephen Brewster

Leadership can be tricky. Expectations creep in stronger while vision continually leaks. It’s not easy to create engaging, creative, and collaborative environments. Further, leaders are human, which means we’re 100% guaranteed to make mistakes, mess up, and fail from time to time.

But don’t give up hope – great creative cultures can be built. It takes very intentional work and remembering a few important behaviors:

  • The gift of not always being right. – As a leader, we don’t have to know everything. The illusion of control will kill us if that is our goal. We have teammates for a reason – use them. Allow teammates to do what they do and shine and accept that we’re not going to be always right. That is what makes our team strength not a personal weakness.
  • Willingness to admit and own mistakes. – Own that our personal mistakes will happen. It will set a tone for teammates to do the same and not try to hide errors, but be willing to share them so teams can adjust.
  • Grace to coach. – When things go wrong, use the moment to coach, but don’t hold on to the issue personally. Remember to extend grace to the level you would want grace extended to you…all the while holding people accountable for their responsibilities and for getting better.
  • Protection from the haters. – Protect our artists. As a leader, we are responsible to buffer for our teams. Let them create passionately without the fear of haters.
  • Hustle from the top down. – Simply: the pace of the leader is the pace of the team. It’s not about 80-hour workweeks, but about how we approach the hours we do work.
  • Tell the truth. – Leaders have to make hard decisions at times. Be upfront and honest at all times.
  • Set expectations. – Staying on the same page as the rest of your team is crucial. Set the stage for success by being clear on what is expected and what roles are required to be filled. When team members fail to meet these expectations, be willing to coach and create a path to their success.
  • Value people – People are not widgets. Treat them like people. Think about them as people – not spots on an Org chart. Engage them and relationships with them so you know WHO they are not just what they do.
  • Treat everyone fair, but not the same. – People are different and need to be approached differently. Everyone will not be treated the same, but everyone should be treated fair. Make sure to not play favorites.
  • Deflect & Own. – Deflect praise to team members and the teams work. Own blame and error individually as the leader, then coach and correct the team. Throwing people under the bus never builds good culture.

Continue working hard to create amazing creative environments. When we do, we set up our teams to win, create the ability to bring in the best talent, and build cultures where we actually LIKE to do what we love with people we enjoy working with.


Stephen wants to encourage people to be brave enough to be their creative best. He serves as the Creative Pastor at Real Life Church in Orlando, Florida. He has spent the past 15 years in professional creative environments including church, music business, marketing, management, artist development, creative team leading and art directing. He lives in Orlando, FL with his wife Jackie and their four amazing kids.


4 Ways You Can Lead Without the “Leader” Title

You’re here to learn about leadership. You follow this blog to learn ways to become a better leader, read the newest Patrick Lencioni book to become a better leader, and took the StrengthsFinder test for the umpteenth time to become a better leader. And for that I commend you. You should want to lead better.

But I would bet that some of you reading this don’t have the “leader” title. You aren’t the “Director” or “Manager” or whatever that title is at your organization. More of you aren’t what some of my friends and I jokingly call the “boss-boss.” You know, the ultimate boss of your team. The “President” or “Senior Pastor” or whoever is ultimately at the tippy-top of the org chart. Just because you aren’t a “leader” on the org chart doesn’t mean you can’t lead in your role, though.

Being only 24, I have yet to be “boss-boss” or even just “the boss,” but that doesn’t mean I haven’t worked at being a leader. Being a leader in today’s workspace has a lot more to do with the relationships people have with you and the trust you’re given by your superiors and peers alike. Here are four things I’ve learned earn big leadership and trust points as you continue to grow as a leader and continue to be trusted as a leader in your role:

1. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

This one seems simple, but you’d be surprised how jarring this is for some people. One of the key elements of leading is being someone that people can trust. Not trust in an “I know something you don’t know” kind of way, but be someone that can be trusted to follow through. If you come through on everything you say you will, people are going to recognize it. It may not be right away, but over time you’ll become a “go-to player” when important projects, decisions, etc. come down the line. If you’re crushing it in the everyday tasks, your peers and leaders will notice and trust that you’re a person who keeps their word.

2. Live the (ideal) culture.

Part of your leader’s role is to set the tone for the organization. They work hard to come up with a mission, values, vision, whatever you want to call it, and then they implement that culture in the organization. If you want to grow as a leader, hop on board. As you lean in to and live the culture that’s being created, you’ll grow into an ambassador for the exemplary employee and teammate. Culture is created for the benefit of the brand and team, so if you lead the way in owning that culture, everyone around you will benefit and follow your lead.

3. Fill the gaps.

Part of leading is finding ways to improve your organization. That doesn’t just need to come from the top, down, though. Save your leader some stress by going ahead and filling those gaps. Don’t go around bragging about how great you are because you went above and beyond to cover a glaring hole, though. Filling gaps for the recognition isn’t leading; it’s sucking up. Lead your team by making it the best it can be. Make yourself an integral and go-to member of the team that leads the way in making the machine go.

4. Ask.

This is one of the easiest and most difficult ways to lead. By simply asking your leader what you can do to lead from your current spot, you show a lot of courage and responsibility that comes with being a leader. However, be prepared that everything you hear may not be what you want to hear. What you hear might require more effort or difficult conversation. But all of that is part of being a leader. Sometimes you’ll ask how you can grow as a leader, and you’ll find out about some blind spots that you didn’t know you had. Sometimes you’ll find out that you aren’t doing as great of a job at following through as you thought. That’s ok, though. Because you asked, you now know and can show your leadership by owning your shortcomings and starting to correct them. Leaders can’t be above reproach, and when you admit that, you begin to truly lead yourself as well as those around you.

There are plenty of other things that you can do to lead when you aren’t in charge, but these are four that I’ve tried really hard to practice in my roles. I’ve also had these things asked of me as I asked ways that I could lead from my seat, and they aren’t always easy things to do. However, if you want to grow as a leader, it’s not always easy. It requires humility, a posture of learning and the willingness to earn your stripes on the bottom of the totem pole before you can become the “boss-boss.”


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 every day lives.


Organized for Chaos

Organized for Chaos

By: Jenni Catron


“Most companies organize around personalities rather than around functions. That is, around people rather than accountabilities or responsibilities. The result is almost always chaos.”

-Michael E. Gerber – The E Myth Revisited (p167)


If this statement is true for businesses it seems to be equally true for churches and non-profit organizations. When I’m working with a new client, one of the first things I request is a copy of their organizational chart. I want to get a sense for what people do and how they work. But more often than not, even if they can produce an organizational chart (which often doesn’t exist at all), they have to call me to explain it. The nuances, dotted lines, exceptions and uniqueness to their structure can’t be clearly outlined on paper.

In a word: CHAOS!

There are always good reasons for these messy organizational structures.


“Bob is really passionate about men’s ministry so he oversees the men’s monthly breakfast even though his primary responsibility is I.T.”

“We can’t afford to hire someone for connections, so Suzy oversees it in addition to her role as Kid’s Director.”

“I can’t find a qualified candidate that I trust so I do the bookkeeping in addition to my role as Executive Director.”

“The receptionist quit and we couldn’t find a replacement, so Carrie just moved her office to the front desk and answers phones while also coordinating events.”


These explanations and the challenges they represent are very common for many organizations, particularly if your organization is small and growing fast. It’s quite understandable.

The problem surfaces when you convince yourself there is nothing you can do about it. When your convoluted structure becomes the norm, I guarantee confusion, morale decline and culture erosion are on the horizon.

Confusion hinders momentum.

When your staff do not understand who does what or how to work together to get things done, they will get bogged down and become less effective.

Unclear structure unintentionally creates bureaucracy. When it’s not clear who does what or who to go to for answers, your staff either quit trying to figure it out or they expend an exorbitant amount of energy working it out. Either way, you’re not getting the best from them and they are likely frustrated and less motivated.

Leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to fight for clarity.

An important part of clarity is providing your team with clearly written job descriptions and an understandable organizational chart.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Does each member of your staff have a written job description?
  • Do you have an updated organizational chart and does every staff member have a copy?
  • Does each staff person know whom he or she report to?
  • Are staff members evaluated regularly according to their job description and key objectives?

If you answered no to any of these questions, I encourage you to begin providing this clarity today.

Remember, clarity is critical to accomplishing extraordinary outcomes!

Need help getting clarity?


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!