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?

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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?

7 Pillars of Great Leaders

Have you ever considered what the common traits are of great leaders? I call the traits the pillars of leadership.  I think about the question a lot, because I love observing leaders and I strive to be a better leader. I like simple, easy-to-understand answers, so I have asked this type question frequently through Twitter, to see what common agreement exists about what makes a leader great.

Here are 7 pillars of leadership I’ve landed on in my search. You’ll find these among all great leaders.

Vision – In something bigger than the leader…

Commitment - To a cause and/or people…

Decisiveness – To make the hard call others will follow…

Courage – To weather the storms of leadership…

People – Realizing that others matter and there is no leadership without some…

Passion - It’s what gets a leader up in the morning ready to face another day…

Character – It’s what sustains a leader and why others continue to follow…

How did I do?  What would you add to my list?

Make this post better by adding your own thoughts.

7 Traits of Courageous Leadership

Recently I posted 7 Characteristics of Cowardly Lion Leadership. In that post, I discussed the characteristics of leaders who fail to have the courage needed to lead well. I thought it only fair to share the reverse post. There are many courageous leaders in our world today, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.

Here are 7 traits of a courageous leader:

  • Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult…
  • Not afraid to make big requests of others…but willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them…
  • Willing to take the first move into unchartered territory…pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks…
  • Moves forward by faith…even when the outcome is unclear…
  • Makes hard decisions regarding people…trusting responsibilities to others early and acknowledging when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team…
  • Protects the God-given vision in the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks…
  • Implements needed changes even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular…

Thanks to all the courageous leaders who are leading well! You are making a difference!

Make this post better:

When you think of courageous leader, who comes to your mind?

What would you add to this list?

7 Characteristics of Cowardly Lion Leadership

You remember the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz don’t you?  He was supposed to be the king of the jungle but he had no courage.

Sadly I see this missing in much leadership today. Let’s face it.  Leading others is hard. There is often loneliness to leadership. (I wrote about it HERE.)  Leadership takes great courage.

Here are 7 characteristics of cowardly leadership:

  • Says “I’ll think about it” rather than “No”…even no is already the decided answer…
  • Avoids conflict…even when it is necessary for the good of relationships and the organization…
  • Never willing to make the hard decisions…
  • Pretends everything is okay…even when it’s not…
  • Bails on the team when things become difficult…
  • Refuses to back up team members…
  • Caves in to criticism…even if it is unfounded…

What would you add to my list?

Do you find it scary to be a leader sometimes?  What’s the scariest time you face as a leader?

Tomorrow I will share “7 traits of courageous leadership”.

Doodling Leadership Tip – Addressing the Real Problem

I love the White board application on my iPad. I find myself using it to teach, when sitting with someone, think in pictures, and recently, just to scribble out a quick thought. I decided to periodically share some of them with you here:

Let me ask you to consider this question:

Could you be addressing issues, symptoms, reactions…attempting to correct a problem…but the real problem continues to be unaddressed?