Tag Archives: vision

4 Signs Your Leadership Isn’t Working

There are ALWAYS warning signs. It hardly ever comes as a complete surprise.

warning-sign-leadership-mistakes

Team members begin backing away. Meetings lose energy and focus. Complaints rise. Morale falls.

Then one day it becomes painfully clear – something isn’t working.

Here are 4 warning signs that your leadership isn’t working

1. Self-preservation

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?

When self-preservation is present, leaders resort to manipulation. Sometimes the behaviors are subtle. Sometimes they’re blatant.

Either way, when leadership evolves into manipulation, relationships and organizations suffer. Because people and teams aren’t interested in following someone who is in it for themselves.

Ask yourself: Why am I doing this?

2. Unhealthy

A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to 4 critical gauges to assess health in my life and workPhysical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional.

You can read more about these gauges here.

How you FEEL about how you are doing does not matter nearly as much as how you’re REALLY doing.

You CAN make the conscious decision to live healthy in these 4 critical areas of life and work, so you have more to offer than a handful of years of frenzied activity.

If we are not holistically healthy, we simply cannot live and lead effectively. We cannot respond to challenges and opportunities calmly and decisively.

Ask yourself: Am I physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally healthy?

3. Lost

There was a huge vision for growth. The organization restructured, launched a new initiative, and began gaining momentum. Then the negative feedback started – and it came from influential people. And that’s when you found out how committed the leader really was – and how committed the team really was.

YOU were doing great – then you weren’t. What happened?!

It’s not that you weren’t committed at all. You were! Maybe you just weren’t as committed as you thought you were.

What causes us to give up on our goals? Why do we so readily abandon our dreams?

Commitment doesn’t mean much anymore. But it still means something to you – you meant it and you’re going to follow through. You’re going to reach your goal!

Ask yourself: What one step can I take today to get back on track?

4. Sign language

Do your team members think you’re deaf?

Let’s face it – you aren’t really in a position to objectively answer that question. And neither am I.

Nobody – absolutely no one – is interested in me sitting across the desk from them waiting for their sentence to end so I can start talking again. They need me to listen – to actually give a rip!

Listening takes time and when you are willing to give your time, people know you care. [Tweet That!]

Ask yourself: Does my team know that I am listening?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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Tug and Not War Part 3 – Positive Tension on a Team

This is part 3 in the “Tug and Not War – Tension on a Team” series. See Part 1 and Part 2.

tug-of-war3In Part 1, we looked at four words associated with tension. They are: conflict, stress, strain, or pressure.  In Part 2 we discussed the word tension and how it can be defined as, “the act of stretching or straining.”  Both are action words and both create a pull in different directions; therefore, we get “tension”.  Note there is a positive side, “stretching”, and a negative side, “straining”.

Negative tension is a strain on a team, but positive tension will stretch a team.  The object is to rid a team of negative tension and foster an environment for positive tension.  How is that done?  The leader must immediately deal with the negative and never allow it to grow.  I call this process the Barney Fife model, “Nip it in the bud.”

Let me share 5 ways to develop positive tension on your team:

  1. Plan proper balance – I believe it is critical to have a diverse team as I have mentioned in Post 2.  Through Personality Assessment tools and personal coaching you can assemble a team that complements each other.  They do their part well, but are cross-trained to help their fellow team member when needed. The balance keeps the boat from turning over.
  2. Promote creativity – Each team member should be qualified and passionate about their area or they shouldn’t be on the team.  If that is the case, allow them to share their passions and goals.  When positive tension is taking place, the entire team will take their ideas and grow them together.
  3. Demand accountability – Once the team is in place and the road toward success has been defined, get ready, negative tension will surface.  It’s not a question of “if”, but of “when” and “how”.  The leader of the team MUST set up a plan of accountability.  A checks and balance system keeps things from going down a wrong road too far.  Don’t be shy as the leader to deal with something quickly and severely.  It may hurt for a moment, but will feel much better in the long run.  It will also set the boundaries for the team.
  4. Allow for personal growth – Every organization should have systems in place that allows everyone to know the rules, objectives, and what a win looks like.  When they are in place the leader begins to lead his leaders.  In turn each leader begins to train a third layer of leadership.  Give each team member opportunity to grow as an individual and the team will grow.
  5. Focus on a goal – When people get their eyes off of a common goal they will soon define their own individual goal and go in separate directions.  Work hard to achieve a team goal then celebrate when it is achieved.  When a goal is defined everyone will walk in the same direction. That way when the destination is reached, the entire team will be there.  You do not want to leave people behind.

Negative tension will kill you, but positive tension will energize you.

Do you have comments about positive tension?

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

Article by Rodney Agan

@rodneyagan

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Postmortem for a Dream

In February 2011, I wrote a series of blog posts for ChurchWorks Network about what has been by far the most acutely painful time of my ministry life. Though nearly two years have passed, I remember everything like it happened yesterday.

I must begin by telling you how things currently stand:

On January 23, 2011, Village Baptist Church, the church I served as pastor for five years, held its last public gathering. About twelve of us gathered in my living room, celebrated Communion, remembered how Jesus has changed our lives together, cried, and hugged each other. And then it was over.

I made the excruciating decision to step away from the church in late December. After that, the membership decided it was best to dissolve. And so I went about the work of conducting final business meetings, transferring real estate, sending off final support checks to missionaries, clearing out chairs and flannel-graphs and plastic communion cups. Every otherwise mundane task reminds me that a church has died – on my watch.

At times, I vacillate between being frustrated at God and being angry with myself. I feel relief, and then I feel guilt for feeling relief. At the last Sunday evening gathering, as everyone enjoyed food and games and being together, I ran upstairs, locked myself in my bathroom, and sobbed for twenty minutes. Already my relationships with my wife and children are better off for my decision, but that just means I was messing it up before, I tell myself.

That’s now, this moment. Five years ago, it was different.

– – –

In 2006, I was thirty years old, and I was hungry. I’d served in my father’s church for eight years, doing everything he asked, including leading the youth group. Through Gospel relationships with formerly unchurched teenagers, God had led me on a thought process about possibilities in expressions of church, and I was anxious to put them to work in a whole-church leadership context.

So I resigned my position at my father’s church, fully confident that I was mere weeks away from landing a pastorate. Then almost twelve months passed, as did some bizarre pulpit committee interviews. I got a call from a church to which I’d submitted my name three months earlier. The three guys ahead of me on the list hadn’t worked out – would I be willing to come candidate?

The whole three-guys-ahead-of-me thing was the first of what I now recognize as red flags. The second came when we pulled into the parking lot of the church facility, and my wife said, without a trace of irony, “This looks like a cult.” Having dry-walled over the windows on the inside, someone had dealt with the openings in the stone exterior wall by boarding them over with plywood, eliciting my wife’s comparison.

The pastor was retiring after almost thirty years serving this congregation. He would mention to others in later conversations that the church had been dying for at least seven years, though he never told this to me. When the time came for the members to ask me questions, there were two: would I be willing to lead the church to sell the property (yes!), and would I make the women wear dresses during the winter (what? who are you again?). I was promised a weekly salary without being shown the church’s financials, and I didn’t know to ask.

But a strange thing happened: I fell in love with the northeast side of Indianapolis. 400,000 people live within a ten-minute drive of this location. We found a house in a development of more than 3,000 homes that hadn’t existed ten years before. Five of our closest neighbors are African-American families, and that diversity holds true through this area. The recent closing of Fort Benjamin Harrison had created a vacuum at the geographic center of the area, and a community was being reshaped before my very eyes. If ever there were a prime place for an expression of the kingdom of God to take shape, this was it.

I had a dream. And that dream made me say yes to a leadership challenge unlike any I had faced in my young life.

Article by Mike Rowell

@redhedrev

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Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make

I just found my notes from Hans Finzel’s book – a must-read for any pastor / church leader.  Just in case you’re like me and already have 3-4 books going at this moment and don’t really have time or energy to add another book to the list – here are the ‘cliff-notes’ version:  (Don’t miss #9 – it’s my favorite!)

1. Top-down Attitude
This is the “mother of all leadership hang-ups.”  Based on the military model, this autocratic model is set to be abused.  It promotes talking instead of listening and often neglects the art of delegation.

2. Putting Paperwork before People-work
People are opportunities – not interruptions.  Need-meeting is at the core of leadership and ministry.

3. The Absence of Affirmation
People thrive on sincere praise and appreciation.  Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘thank-you note.’ Do your best to catch people doing good and be generous with your compliments.  The ratio of positive to negative should be no less than 6:1.

4. Beware of not Making Room for Mavericks
People with different ideas are often pushed to the side by their leaders.  Make room for independent thinkers by creating an atmosphere of innovation.  Creativity has been terribly stifled in today’s churches.

5.  Dictatorship in Decision-making
You can’t delegate philosophy – only procedure.  Don’t think you are the only one who can do it. The one who does the job usually knows best how it’s done and how it might be improved.  The best ideas usually bubble up from the bottom – not from the bureaucrats!

6. Dirty Delegation
One of the most frustrating things to an employee or a volunteer is to be assigned something with no authority to do it.  Sometimes the job given has so many strings attached to it, that the worker is afraid to make a move.  Don’t be afraid of losing your authority – and don’t give into your tendency to micro-manage.  There is nothing that crushes morale and causes resentment quicker than this!

7. Communication Chaos
Never assume – NEVER.  Communicate your vision and repeat your dream.  Do more listening than talking.  The larger the group, the more formal the communication needs to be, and the more methods of communication needed to interact.

8. Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is defined as: the way insiders behave based on the values and traditions they hold.  Theologians call this ‘contextualization.’  Part of establishing credibility is learning to identify with the specifics of your team.  Know them.  Be sensitive to what people think.

9. Success without Successors
Instill your convictions and philosophies deep within your followers.  Pride tightens the grip, humility relaxes and lets go.  A good mentor:

  • sees potential in others
  • tolerates failure and weakness
  • is flexible
  • must have patience
  • looks down the road
  • prays for discernment
  • gives timely advice
  • has the capacity to encourage
  • gives freedom to allow leadership to emerge
  • is willing to risk his own reputation

10. Failure to Focus on the Future
Be pre-occupied by planning.  Don’t settle for long-term dreams — set short-term goals.  Then evaluate your progress.

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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What Does Longevity Have to Do with Leadership?

Longevity is not leadership. Leadership is leadership. And longevity is longevity.

Don’t get me wrong – I love hearing about leaders who launch organizations and serve them for 20, 30, or 40 years. But does tenure make great leaders?

One of my best friends is one of the most loyal people I know. He will likely serve his current organization for the rest of his life. I have learned much about consistency and contentment through our friendship.

My father has been serving the same organization for more than 25 years.

Organizations and teams can benefit significantly from a leader who communicates and implements bold, compelling vision through changing seasons over a long period of time. And Sarah and I are looking forward to investing the most fulfilling and productive years of our lives in a long-term role within an organization.

Yet I’ve learned that although some executives man the helm of an organization for a long period of time, they are not always leading.

Self-preservation

A leader of a large organization once confessed to me, My goal is to survive a presidency.

Is that leadership?

It certainly sounds more like self-preservation than leadership. And self-preservation is a fatally flawed foundation for decision-making – the kind of decision-making that is necessary to lead.

At it’s core leadership involves change. And those leading change embrace the fact that their position will often be in jeopardy.

Leaders care less about position and more about vision. Less about what got them here and more about what will get them there. Less about self-promotion and more about developing people.

Put simply, those not leading change are not leading. Longevity does not equal leadership. If you’ve been leading long, you’ve probably figured this out. And it’s probably personal to you. Because, at some point in your career it’s likely you have already served in a short-term leadership role – an unplanned temporary position.

Short-term roles

Short-term leadership stints are a necessary part of organizational leadership. These unintended interim roles are inherently valuable and can include…

  • Launching an organization or initiative
  • Introducing new vision
  • Facilitating health and growth
  • Guiding through transition
  • Leading through challenging times
  • Rebuilding and restructuring

When the leader’s work is done, they move on.

Make the most of it

I’ve been a short-term leader – though I arrived intending to remain long-term. Short-term leadership can be a bittersweet experience. You planned to spend the rest of your career within the organization building something great together. But that was before you developed a team of leaders and worked yourself out of a job.

Unplanned temporary can also be painful at times. Have you experienced the dysfunction of a poor leader? Had a colleague betray your trust? Have you poured hundred of hours intodeveloping your team members, only to have them walk away from the vision?

Regardless of the reason, short-term leadership is an essential part of organizational growth. When a leader fulfills her purpose within an organization, the best thing she can do is leave.

Question: Have you experienced an unplanned temporary position? Have you ever known someone who stayed too long?

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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If You’re not Mentoring, You’re not Leading

You are not leading if you are not developing new leaders. Simply developing followers who flesh out your ideas and implement your vision won’t cut it.

Having followers is not the defining characteristic of leadership. At its very core, leadership facilitates change. After all, if you are not leading people and teams toward change, what are you leading them to do? To be?

Change is not easy. It’s difficult – not for the faint of heart. And developing people – new leaders – adds more complexity to the mix.

To develop new leaders, you must be willing to invest in people – to mentor them. And mentoring will require more of your time and your resources than you ever thought possible.

 

And it’s worth it. Because leaders mentor new leaders. And those new leaders will change the global marketplace.

There’s no need to worry about your position, your age, your place in life, your limitations. They don’t matter – they’re only excuses!

You’ve walked where someone hasn’t. And you can help them – if you dare.

Last week I received a phone call from a friend. He called to let me know that he began working on creating a personal life plan this week.

For several years I’ve been sharing my life planning experiences with this friend and the dramatic improvements I’ve seen in my life and work.

So he decided last week that it was time for him to get started. If he follows through, his life will be forever changed.

I recently heard Bruce Prindle talk about mentoring – he noted 3 ways that leaders mentor new leaders. Here they are:

1. Fully Committed

Mentor leaders devote themselves selflessly to those they mentor. It’s deeply personal. They fully realize what’s at stake.

Being an only child, our daughter, Madison, learned to entertain herself at a very young age. She would spend hours telling stories to herself as she acted them out. Usually her narratives involved a mother and daughter, teacher and student, doctor and patient, etc. She’s a good mommy and a good teacher – although she gets a little bossy at times.

One afternoon several years ago, I walked past her room and overheard her tell her imaginary daughter, “Honey, I need to finish my work and then I’ll play with you.”

To which the imaginary daughter replied, “But mom, I really want to play now.”

Mommy Madison said, “I can’t play with you right now, I have to finish my work.”

At this point I walked in the room and asked her, “Madison who did you learn that from?”

She responded, “Mommy and you – I want to be just like you guys”

Yikes!

Are you too busy to be fully committed to mentoring new leaders?

2. Model life and work

People will take your example far more seriously than your advice. The last thing the world needs is more noise. Effective mentors talk less and live more.

And it’s not just about job function and performance. Mentor leaders help people improve holistically – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.

3. Pass it on

Mentors challenge future leaders to think creatively and work passionately. And the new leaders know that their mentor is genuinely interested in their success!

I previously wrote a post, Success – When Your Successor Is More Successful Than You, so I won’t include the same information here. But take a few moments to review the post.

If you are not mentoring a future leader, you are wasting your influence. And that’s inexcusable!

If you’ve been mentored, you understand the enormous value of the mentoring relationship. Your life and work were profoundly impacted by your leader. So pass it on to someone else.

If you don’t, well, you’re not really leading.

Question: What mentor had a profound impact on your life and work? Honor them by including their name or, if you’d prefer, a description of their influence in the comments below.

Article by Michael Nichols

@michaelenichols

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God’s Creative Pattern

We have so much to learn from the One who could do it all in one step, yet didn’t!  He forms, then fills.  He saves, then sanctifies.  He purposes, then perfects. Don’t get in too much of a hurry. He loves the process, and so should we.  🙂

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Rose-Colored Glasses

It’s amazing how many people feel Christians look at the world with naïve optimism.  I was fortunate enough to assist with a Christ-centered addictions program for two years.  Week after week I watched people come to the program once or twice and never return.  One man even stood up and said, “You’re not giving these people any real help.  When they are down in the gutter, they need someone they can call on to drag them out.  Sitting here in a church and praying isn’t going to help them in the real world.”

Oh, how wrong he was.  Many of those people came to church on Friday nights hoping to find a magic cure:  “do this, this and that and presto – the gutters of the world will be a distant memory.”  The glorious truth is they were closer to a cure than they ever realized.  I believe addiction is the result of a conscious or unconscious attempt to deal with the sin-riddled world around us.  It starts with a drink, pill, food, etc. that temporarily blurs the vision, numbs the senses and disarms the moral compass within to give some comfort from the harsh reality of the world in which we live.   They make things, at least for a while, more bearable.

Addiction is the result of a conscious or unconscious attempt to deal with the sin-riddled world around us.

Now, here’s the rub.  As Christians we try to help people with these addictions without realizing we do the exact same thing.  John 14:16 says, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”  In John 14:26 Jesus says, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

Why is the Holy Spirit called a Comforter?  Because He is sent to help make things more bearable.  The Comforter sent to us by God clears our vision, heightens our senses and guards our moral compass so we can see beyond the harsh world in which we live and see the world that was intended and will be again.  The rose-colored glasses we wear do not blind us from the reality of the world.  They allow us to look at those who have fallen into the gutters of this world and see children of God.  Our Comforter allows us to reach out to those around us and give them true hope in Jesus Christ and, for the first time, let them see themselves through the eyes of The King.

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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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

@michaelenichols

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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

@michaelenichols

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