10 Hard Things to Say…5 Ways to Say Them as a Leader

In any relationship, there comes a time where it’s necessary to say things which are difficult to keep the relationship strong and make it better. This is also true in a healthy team environment.

For me personally, that often involves having a hard and challenging conversation with a team member…someone I love being on the team, but know they need correction in an area that is affecting the team. These are always discussions I’d rather not have, but I know are necessary for the continued health of the relationship, the team, and the individual.

Over the years, I have had many of these issues which required “tough love” to address them, but dealing with problems like this have included me having to say things such as:

  • You’re too controlling as a leader…
  • You can be perceived as a jerk to people…
  • Your personal life is dragging down the team…
  • You have body odor…
  • You’re making unwise decisions…
  • You are non-responsive…
  • You don’t know how to take constructive criticism…
  • You are moving too fast…
  • You are moving too slow…
  • You are uncooperative…

I should note that not all of these have been said with my current team…for example, to my knowledge no one on my team has body odor…thankfully, but through my years in leadership, I have had to say each one of these statements to someone I was supposed to be leading. Those conversations, as awkward and uncomfortable as they were, always proved to be good for the team and the team member. There have been times when someone needed to have similar “tough love” conversations with me and those discussions always made me better, as difficult as they were to receive at the time.

I have learned 5 principles for dealing with those times as a leader:

4 Ways Leaders Create Capacity

Leaders create capacity in an organization so the organization and people can grow…

That’s what leaders do…

Great leaders:

Paint the void – Allow others to see what could be accomplished…

Empower the team – Give the tools, resources and power to accomplish the task…

Release – Let go of the control so others can lead…

Repeat – As often as possible…

If you are always the doer and never the enabler then you are not a leader. More than likely you are simply an obstacle of all your team could accomplish if you got out of the way.

When the leader leads the way for others to lead, the organization and the people in the organization increase their capacity to grow.

Are you leading or are you in the way?

The Life of an Idea on a Healthy Team

Healthy teams allow every idea a chance to live…

The healthiest teams don’t contain an idea killer…

Healthy teams:

  • Brainstorm
  • Analyze
  • Test drive
  • Push back
  • Critique
  • Debate
  • Challenge

Every idea…

But healthy teams remain open-minded about an idea until it’s proven to be a bad idea…

It could be a short process or a long process…

But healthy teams give every idea a chance to live…

Knowing that…

There is value in the collection of ideas on a healthy team…

And…

Some of the best ideas are killed before they have a chance to shine…

Have you ever worked with an idea killer?

Are you one?

(This post contains a main idea…feel free to Brainstorm, Analyze, Test drive, Push back, Critique, Debate, or Challenge.)

10 Ways a Team Performs as a Team

I think we use the word team too casually these days. A team…at least a healthy team…is not just a group of people who perform a common task. That may be a group, but it shouldn’t be called a team. I’ve written on healthy teams before:

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Team

Signs of an Emotionally Healthy Team

You can tell a healthy team by how it responds to each other and how it performs as a team.

A healthy team:

  • Encourages other team members regularly…
  • Cares for the team member personal life outside the team…
  • Assists other team members during crunch periods…
  • Cross trains one another for different roles on the team…
  • Challenges each other when needed, working towards the best solution for the team…
  • Ensures everyone on the team gets credit for a win…
  • Applauds other team member’s success…
  • Values input from everyone on the team…
  • Defends one another from outside attacks…
  • Protects the integrity and vision of the team, even over personal interests…

The word “team” comes with a certain expectation that is more than people simply performing a function together. If you want people to feel and play as a team, then they must perform as a team.

What would you add to my list?

Have you served on a healthy team?

Have you served with a group who thought they were a team, but were really just a group of people?

Do you recognize the difference?

To Change or Not to Change…That is A Good Question

Determining when to make change and when to leave things the same is one of the most delicate decisions of leadership, but I know one thing for sure:

“It’s working” should never be the primary reason to avoid change.

It could be a reason. Not everything needs changing. Some things are timeless. Change for change sake sounds good but isn’t always the best idea. (I wrote about it HERE.)

But organizations and teams need change…

Change keeps momentum going. It builds a culture of change. It keeps leaders on the team motivated. And, sometimes, you discover something wonderful you would have never discovered without change. (I wrote more about that concept HERE.)

So while change isn’t always necessary, “it’s working” shouldn’t keep you from considering change either.

Which makes the decision of when to change that much more difficult…doesn’t it?

One rule of thumb for me…

If there hasn’t been any change recently…

Chances are it’s time…

I am always reminded that leaders want to be in environments of change. Leaders are most comfortable when they can explore, take risks, and keep things stirring. There’s a reason marketers are always changing things…it’s not just leaders who want change…people tend to like change too.

Sometimes leaders need to create change before change is needed…even though things are working.

Are you a fan of change, or do you resist it?

What change do you need to make just because you can?

3 Places to Find New Leaders

I was working with a church recently that is facing a growth barrier. They have experienced rapid growth and now the staff is stretched beyond what they can do. There are holes of responsibilities not being filled. My opinion…and they agree…is that they can’t continue growing unless something changes.

The “genius” suggestion I gave them is that they must rise up new leaders, empower them with authority, and spread the load of responsibility. The obvious question: Where do we find these people?

Great question!

I suggested they look for three types of people:

People who are currently “doing” who need to be leading. These are people who are consistently serving. They are the reliable ones you couldn’t do without. They have been given responsibility, but never been tapped for authority. Not all “doers” have the capability of being leaders, but many do if given the opportunity.

People serving in one area, who could lead in another area. These are people who are serving in the children’s ministry, for example, who could be leading in the parking ministry…or vice-versa. Many times people are serving in one area, because there is a need, but they could easily be stellar leaders in another area.

People leading outside the church. There are often people in the church who are tremendous leaders in the secular world, but they’ve never been given an opportunity to lead in the church.

People come to your church and see things working. They don’t know you need help, because everything appears to be working. There doesn’t seem to be a place for them. In my experience, you’ll have to ask the best leaders to join your team.

How do you find new leaders?  What would you add to my list?

Silence Can Be Deadly

You’ve heard silence is golden…and that’s true…

…but sometimes silence can also be deadly…

Especially in a team environment…organizational structure…relationship setting…

When working on a project, implementing change, planning for the future…

Keep people updated with what you know…

Even if you don’t have all the answers…

When people don’t have information, they tend to invent their own scenarios…

Silence can fuel rumors…

Fear, tension, and frustrations rise…

Those invested often become discouraged…

Morale is injured and enthusiasm wanes…

All emotionally driven reactions fueled by the unknown…

People will be more patient if they receive adequate communication while they wait for the final details…

If you want to keep progress moving forward…

Break the silence and share information, as you know it…

Have you experienced the pain of silence in a team, organizational, or relationship setting?

Share your story to improve this post.

7 Things Healthy Teams Check at the Door

After a staff meeting once at Grace Community Church the realization occurred to me that I served on a healthy team. I got to pondering, however, what made it that way. I think healthy teams are intentionally created, so wherever I serve I’m consistently trying to make our environment better.

I’ve written about healthy teams before:

10 Characteristics of a Healthy Organization or Team

7 Traits of a Great Team Member

Signs of an Emotionally Healthy Team

Elements of a Healthy Team

My current thoughts have led me to believe that in our case, it’s as much about what we don’t have on our team as what we do have.  I think our team works well together because we get along well with each other. (Most of the time.)  It may have to do, however, as much with what we don’t bring to the time we spend time together, as it does what we bring to the that time.

Here are 7 things healthy teams check at the door:

  • Egos
  • Closed minds
  • Domination
  • Selfishness
  • Negativity
  • Personal criticism
  • Stubbornness

As I’ve said before, we aren’t a perfect team, but we work well together, we accomplish a great deal, and we enjoy what we do.  (Most of the time.)

Do you currently serve on a healthy or an unhealthy team?

What would you add to my list?

Help Me Address Organizational Fear


 

We have a healthy team. It’s full of grace, which works well, since that word is in our name. We consistently laugh together. We encourage each other to accomplish our goals. As a leader, I solicit feedback consistently. (I even allow the staff to anonymously evaluate me each year. Read about that process HERE.) We are generally flexible and laid back as an organization, yet we accomplish much towards our mission. I’ve worked in lots of environments and this is a good one…a healthy place to work. I’ve written articles about healthy teams, many of them based on the team on which I serve. (Read some of them HERE, HERE, or HERE.) I think our team would agree we are a healthy environment.

With that being said, I’m not sure we have eliminated what I call organizational fear. I’m not sure there is 100% freedom to share what’s on a person’s heart. I consistently address this concern. I’ve even said that sometimes we are too “nice” as an organization. We need to challenge more, even enter into healthy conflict, but sometimes it seems we are timid towards sharing our true feelings; especially some on the team. Problems exist…people see them…they continue for months…everyone recognizes something is wrong….yet no ones brings them to the surface. This is not a huge problem, or we wouldn’t be as healthy or successful as we are, but for whatever reason, some I may not understand, team members at times shy away from sharing what’s really on their mind. I know this is not something unique to our organization.

Why is that? Have you ever been afraid to share what you were thinking in an organizational setting? What caused that fear in your mind? Help me figure out why organizational fear exists, especially why it exists in a church or ministry setting.

Is it because of:

  • A team member’s fear of making a mistake?
  • Controlling leadership?
  • Fear of taking a risk?
  • Apathy?
  • A false notion that conflict shouldn’t exist in a Christian organization?
  • Other?

Also, help me understand how to address this issue.

What does it take to remove this fear from an team or organization?

Let’s discuss organizational fear today.

7 Attributes of Success as an Organization

Great organizations don’t just appear. There is a method to the madness.  I wonder sometimes, however, if we make it seem more difficult than it is to create success in an organization.  While nothing worth doing well is ever easy, certain attributes seem to exist that successful organizations share with one another.

From my observation, here are 7 attributes of success as an organization:

  • Have a clear vision
  • Set clear goals
  • Recruit a great team
  • Divide tasks equitably
  • Hold people accountable
  • Stay the course
  • Have fun!

I’m not trying to be overly simplistic if your organization is struggling, because it’s much more complicated than this in practice, but look over the list again. Upon which of these attributes does your organization most need to improve? Perhaps spending time on that area will bring you some progress.

What would you add to my list?