Tag Archives: management

Are You Satisfied with Being an Average Leader?

leadership-iconLeadership comes in all shapes and sizes.  Many different types of leaders have impacted my life: pastors, youth pastors, parents, principals, teachers, coaches, bosses, friends, managers.  Some of these have been great; others…not so much!

What separates good leaders from bad leaders?  You can probably spit out several obvious responses with little effort.  Good leaders treat everyone with respect; they lead by example; and they aren’t hypocrites.

However, if you are a leader, this isn’t the question you should be asking.  Instead, you should be concerned with what makes a great leader.  I have outlined below three ways to guarantee your leadership will be nothing more than average.  By simply doing the opposite, you can ensure your leadership is both exceptional and effective.  These are not necessarily tailored toward ministry, but they certainly are applicable in many contexts, including ministry.

Convince Yourself that Intentions Are What Is Important,
Not Impact

Have you ever been misunderstood? I’ll be the first to admit that the impact of what I say is sometimes divergent from what I intended.  This can present significant challenges in non-verbal communication such as text messages and emails.  Many leaders’ attitude is as follows: “If someone misunderstands me or gets offended, so long as I didn’t intend to offend them, it’s not my problem.”  Great leaders approach communication differently.  Their primary concern is how their message is received, irrespective of what they intended.

Effective leaders understand that how you say something is just as important as what you say.  And they are concerned with their impact, not just their intent.  Have you ever stopped to consider that your message may be perceived in a way that undermines what you intended?

Treat Everyone Exactly the Same

Though it seems obvious, two people can perceive the exact same actions or words occurring in the exact same setting in opposite ways.  If person A is making a presentation and you don’t ask any questions, he may view this as you not supporting him.  Person B, however, may view your asking of questions as an attempt undermine to his authority.  Similarly, if there is a problem that needs to be addressed, a meeting in your office might cause person A to resent you, but this might be exactly what person B needs.

Effective leaders know how to encourage and correct each person in their organization.  They know how to tailor a message to a particular person or audience to obtain the desired result.  Are willing to learn about each person you oversee and impact in order to communicate more effectively?

Don’t Worry about Power Dynamics

When asked to rank their own importance within their organization, most people rank themselves lower than their inferiors do.  If you don’t realize the level of your own authority (or power) and how this should impact your behavior, you cannot effectively lead.  Why?  Because you do not know what impact you have on others.

As an example, imagine you are an associate pastor who has spent a significant number of years at one church.  You must understand that a joke poking fun at someone might be appropriate if directed at a fellow staff member yet could be very inappropriate if directed at a congregant or teen.  The appropriateness of having a one-on-one meeting in your office with someone is likely dependent on factors such as age and gender.  An interaction that leaves a college-aged male intern feeling like you are his friend may make your female secretary very uncomfortable.  Power dynamics are multi-faceted and dynamic.  That is, they change over time.

Effective leaders are cognizant of how factors like age, gender, experience, and title can impact communication.  As their role within an organization changes, great leaders understand they often must modify their approach.  Do you understand your role within your organization and, more importantly, how that should affect your conduct?

Leadership comes with authority and responsibility. Both are important factors in determining how you can and should communicate with members of your organization.  If you want to be an effective leader, keep these three points in mind.  If you are ok with being mediocre, feel free to ignore them.

Read more about LEADERSHIP at P4G…

Article by Bryan Likins



Tug and Not War – Tension on a Team

This is part 1 in the “Tug and Not War – Tension on a Team” series.

When you see the word tension, you usually think about things like conflict, stress, strain, or pressure.  No leader wants these things for his team.  These things will cause a team to self-destruct.  It will implode and destroy anything connected to it.

Leaders spend a great deal of time working on relieving tension from the team.  By the time a leader realizes that tension is present on his team, it is probably already causing trouble.  The results of tension are simply acknowledging the deeper problems that have been missed or left unchecked.

In this opening post dealing with tension, let’s take a closer look at the four words already given that are usually linked to it:

  1. CONFLICT keeps a team from working smoothly and orderly.  It pits people against each other and breeds the wrong kind of competition.  Conflict creates a “look out for #1” mentality.  Instead of working like a team, they will work like individual enemies.
  2. STRESS causes nerves and tempers to flare.  When people are operating under stress they will not act rationally.  Decisions will be made more out of desperation and revenge than logic.  They will operate more in reaction mode than action mode.
  3. STRAIN makes for an unhappy environment.  Creativity is stifled because no one wants to be there.  Team members stop conversing on a personal level.  They begin to highlight only the negative issues they see, and that is all they WILL see.  When strained, teams do not have each other’s back, and will soon start to undercut the others on the team.
  4. PRESSURE is a sign of deeper problems.  Just like a fever is the indicator of an infection or something more serious, pressure affects a team the same way. It reveals that there are problems on the team.  Ask questions like: Who is it affecting? What is causing it? When is it most prevalent? Why has it not been alleviated? How can we solve it and keep the team intact?

In the next posts, I will be dealing with negative and positive tension on a team.  It will require you to be honest with the results you find and willing to do something about it.

To read more material by Dr. Agan, go to www.rodneyagan.com

Article by Rodney Agan


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Are you Leading -or- Manipulating?

Most of us agree – leadership is influence. And there are times when influence morphs into down-right-out manipulation.

At it’s core leadership involves change. After all, what are we leading people to do? To be? Yet there’s a fine line between leadership and manipulation.

Both involve influencing others. Both attempt to persuade people to do what you want them to do. Both leverage vision, passion, and emotion to elicit a desired result.

So how do you know if you are leading or manipulating?

Pro’s and Con’s

To complicate matters, there are positive and negative aspects of manipulation. Manipulation can positively influence by skillfully treating with one’s hands or by mechanical means such as manipulating fragments of a broken bone into correct position.

More commonly, manipulation involves negative influence, especially in an unfair manner such as manipulating one’s feelings.

It’s this negative manipulation which goes beyond influence to controlling people and environments. Many manipulators live in denial never realizing they’ve crossed the fine line from leadership to manipulation.

Everybody’s Doing It!

All leaders, at one time or another, have manipulated those they lead. Many do it regularly. And most find it difficult to admit this tendency.

I’ve learned that healthy leaders regularly consider:

  1. Am I threatened when my team members stray from the vision? How do I respond?
  2. Do I have a tendency to shift things back in my favor?

When leaders acknowledge that negative manipulation is a real threat to their influence, they can take steps to eliminate these behaviors.

The Reason:

To determine if you are leading or manipulating, ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

Are you looking out for yourself or are you serving others? Are you following your own agenda or helping others to realize their potential and fulfill their dreams?

Your underlying motivation reveals whether you are leading or manipulating.

When selfishness or self-preservation are present, it’s easy to become a manipulator. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant. Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer.

So are you leading or just being manipulative?

Here are 4 groups that are negatively impacted by manipulation…

1. The Manipulated

Manipulated people become hurt, disillusioned, and discouraged. As a result, their ability to lead and perform at a high level is damaged.

2. The Witness

When we experience the negative influence of a leader toward a colleague, we become wary of all leaders. Maybe we shouldn’t – but we do.

Those who witness manipulation find it difficult to trust leaders.  They carry self-protective attitudes forward into future relationships. And this painful experience causes them to withdraw from healthy leaders who could positively influence of lives and work.

3. The Organization

It’s not long before the organization suffers. Collaboration, problem solving, and decision-making are all diminished.

The result? Inadequate decisions. Inappropriate behaviors. Poor performance. Over time manipulative leadership will threaten the stability of any organization.

4. The Manipulator

A manipulating leader will never reach their full potential.  They simply cannot grow and will never experience the satisfaction that comes from serving others.

And they deserve it, right?

Not so fast – he may be you! Every leader is naturally self-absorbed. Executive Coach Raymond Gleason said recently:

I’ve never met a leader who couldn’t benefit from more humility.

Question: How have you seen a leader manipulate others? What were the effects? How do you guard against becoming manipulative? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Article by Michael Nichols


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Grow on Purpose

It’s the one piece of advice we all know is true, but don’t necessarily want to hear. If I could say one thing to my generation it would be this – Grow on purpose!

Grow on Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received scores of email with questions and comments about self-development and leadership. And the resulting conversations often involve how to improve priority management and make better decisions.

Leaders and team members are looking for solutions to complex challenges in their life and work. And our conversations inevitably lead back to the same solution – grow on purpose.

When life happens

When your words are misunderstood. When people are criticizing you. When you think you can’t handle any more – grow on purpose.

When you feel discouraged and you want to quit – keep growing.

When you’re not sure if your life or your work is making a difference. When you don’t know if your leadership or influence matters – just grow on purpose.

There is one, and only one, silver bullet solution to breaking through to the next level in your life and work — to becoming the leader you long to be: You must grow!

Whatever you do – don’t stop

So many people struggle when vision or plans are unclear. They don’t know where to start or how to move forward. And they do the absolute worst thing – they stop.

So when you’re feeling unsupported, blocked, or stuck – grow on purpose.

When it doesn’t feel like you and your team are making progress – don’t stop, keep growing.

When your  life and work seems designed to frustrate you and thwart your plans on your journey – grow on purpose.

Don’t stop. Keep going. Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Just keep growing.

Stop and start

No matter where you are on your journey, successful leaders who have gone before you knew one thing – the secret is to keep growing. So keep moving. Keep deciding. Keep learning. Keep leading.

Whatever your fear – grow on purpose.

If you feel like a wannabe – grow on purpose.

If you are waiting for your “big break” (and it feels like you’ve been waiting forever) – grow on purpose.

Grow. Step up. Lead. When you’re done, do it again. There’s no better way to make maximum impact – grow on purpose.

Stop complaining, whining, and questioning yourself. Stop criticizing others. Stop blaming everyone and everything else. And start doing this one very simple (but very difficult) thing – grow on purpose.

Article by Michael Nichols


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Developing a Vision with Your Team

My team had experienced significant change and growth. I realized that the speed of change within our organization was demanding that we focus on keeping up with projects while neglecting strategic planning and development.

While this approach was productive in the short-term, I knew that it was not sustainable. So I began assessing ways to clarify priorities and unify the team around common goals and objectives.

Not enough

Hard work is not enough. Productivity is not enough. Every team needs vision!

Michael Hyatt has a great podcast that details the relationship between vision and productivity. Just as you do, I know that many organizations have detailed core values, mission statements, and vision statements. And most growing organizations review and communicate them regularly.

Our organization has them, too! But the organizational vision could not clarify what our team members belong to, what we will build, and what we will become. And we needed that – we needed a team vision.

While our team was aware of company and institutional vision statements, they had never considered a department vision or a vision for their individual positions. I also knew thatthe vision would fail if I developed it and presented it to them to adopt. I needed to give the team the opportunity to decide if they were ready to develop a vision to take our work to the next level.

Vision process

So I worked together with Building Champions executive coach Raymond Gleason, to develop the following process:

1. We setup a team meeting to discuss vision. Although I invested time and energy in planning for the meeting and assumed that they would decide to move forward, I was determined not to move forward without them. We would proceed together, or we would wait – together.

So we scheduled several hours away from the office at a local community clubhouse – a relaxing setting which facilitated great collaborative discussion of vision.

2. Prior to the meeting I circulated the Harvard Business Review article, Building Your Company’s Vision, by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. I also developed a simple worksheet to help my team think through the article. I asked each team member to review the article and complete the worksheet prior to the meeting and to be prepared to discuss business vision.

3. In the meeting, we reviewed the article and worksheet – focusing on the four components of vision – core convictions, core purpose, goals, and vivid description.

4. We reviewed the organization’s Core Values, Mission, and Vision. This is particularly helpful for younger, inexperienced team members as well as new members who may not have seen them.

5. I then asked them, Does it make sense for our team to have a vision? Every one of them expressed that a team vision would add significant value to our work. Several admitted that they didn’t understand the steps necessary to develop it, but they believed it to be critical if we are to continue to grow.

Several team members readily observed that, while the organizational vision was bold and effective, it was not specific enough for our team. We needed to develop our own.

6. The next step was to set up a vision development meeting. The vision development meeting should be a minimum of a half-day meeting – a full day is better. In this meeting the group works together through the eBook, Creating Your Business Vision, and drafts the vision. You can get a FREE copy of this by clicking here.

7. Following the meeting, our team leaders finalized the vision document and distributed it to the team.

8. Then, most importantly, we’ve been sharing the vision every chance we get!

I can tell you from experience that your work, your team, your influence, your leadership, your energy, will ever be the same! Because of this one purposeful decision.

Article by Michael Nichols


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Time Management

Have you ever been through a season of disorganization and chaos at some point in your life? It may seem that days went by without notice and before you knew it you missed out on an entire week or even longer. Maybe even now you feel as if you are always rushing to be somewhere, rarely have any time to relax at home or cannot enjoy the things in life that matter to you most.

What is worse, as a Christian you may have spent very little time alone with God and possibly none at all. The Bible says, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), but in this fast-paced world we live in, it can be easy to get so caught up in our daily routine that we lose sight of our true purpose in life – to worship and glorify God.

So as we swiftly approach the coming holiday season, there are some biblical principles we can keep in mind that may help us stay more organized, allowing us time at home with our families and more importantly, with God.

First, the Bible tells us to be careful of how we use our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16). We are only given so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, and so many months in a year to accomplish the things in life we are responsible for. Among these things we are expected to put God in first place, putting all of our heart, soul and strength into our commitment to Him (Deuteronomy 6:5). By putting anything else in the place where God should be, we are taking from God the honor He so rightly deserves (Romans 12:1), making an idol of that which we have chosen to put before Him, and robbing ourselves of any spiritual growth. Only after placing God first can we begin to prioritize the rest of our lives in regards to our family, church family and then the rest of the world.

Second, the Bible says that we should use our time serving others rather than serving ourselves (Galatians 5:13, 1 Corinthians 10:24). In this day and age we are offered so much entertainment that we can easily fill our lives with things that distract and not edify us. You have heard it said that idle hands are the devils tools, but the Bible says everything that is in the world, from the desire of the eyes to the boasting of the prideful, comes from the devil who is in charge of the world (1 John 2:15-16). We can get pretty wrapped up in ourselves if we are not careful to put others before ourselves and can easily fill up our schedule with selfishness and greed. Therefore, the Bible says we should put away such things (Romans 6:13, Colossians 3:5) and “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).

Third, the Bible says that we should use our time to focus on things eternal and not what is important in this life only (Matthew 6:19-21). There are many good things that we can get involved in while we are here on this earth but if they distract us from the more important things in life, what good have we done? The Bible says that everything that is permissible is not beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23) and that we should only pursue that which makes for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19). There is no time to live for tomorrow when your eternity could begin right now (James 4:14), for the Bible tells us not to live life for human desires, but rather for the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).

Perhaps even as you read these very words you are struggling to maintain the use of your time for the glory of God, the good of others, or the eternality of your very soul. And although the Bible has much more to say about how we can use our time wisely, it has only one thing to say about retaining life. By surrendering your life to Jesus, the time you spend here on earth will be meaningless contrasted to the eternity you will spend with our Father in heaven.

Are you weak and heavy-laden, are you burdened by a load of care? Remember the promise Jesus has for us: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

If you would like to know how you can begin in a relationship with Jesus Christ, please contact me. I am always glad to hear from my readers. Write me at michael@michaelwaits.com.

Article by Michael Waits


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Bio – Michael Nichols

I serve as Administrative Pastor at FBC Midlothian in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I usually focus on intentional growth and leadership. I believe that if you are going to live and lead well, you must be thoughtful and purposeful about it.

I write on self-development, coaching, productivity, and leadership. I also occasionally write about resources I am discovering as I grow.

I blog with some burning questions and a few ambitions. I want to know:

  • How do successful leaders do it?
  • What makes organizations grow consistently?
  • What does it really take to lead?
  • How am I supposed to lead when I’m not in charge?
  • Why do leaders lead?
  • How do you succeed at leading without driving everyone crazy?

Along the way, I found a community of like-minded people sharing many of the same struggles in these areas. So, this is where we band together to grow and lead with purpose in our lives and work.

I invite you to visit my personal blog: http://www.michaelnichols.org/