If you want to attract leaders for your team

Give them a problem to solve

If the answer is already found, you can hire a manager for that job…and you’ll need a good one. You’ll have other problems to solve and a good manager can free you up to lead.

But, to attract a leader…

Help them see a need…give them some freedom to find a solution…give them support…get out of the way…and let them go.

Leaders seek opportunities to lead

Challenge…opportunity…problems…something everyone says cant be done….

That’s an environment that fuels a leader’s energy. It’s what attracts a leader to your team.

Are you in an environment that attracts leaders? What makes it so?

The Unwritten Rules

Are the real rules

In an organization, what is passed down, maintained over the years, repeated the most, become a part of tradition…that’s what is real.

That’s the DNA

They may have never been written down, voted on or “put in the minutes”, but they are assumed true by the majority.

Those are the rules people will defend and protect the most.

They’ll fight to keep them from being changed or bended.

If you are a new leader or a veteran, understanding this principle will increase your effectiveness.

Trust me in this.

Have you ever learned the principle the hard way?

A Leader in Time of Crisis, Uncertainty or Change

After the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-41)

How did Paul respond?

Read it for yourself:

After the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, and after saying good-bye, departed to go to Macedonia. And when he had passed through those areas and exhorted them at length, he came to Greece. Acts 20:1-2

That’s the role of a leader in times of crisis. In times of uncertainty. In times of change.

The people following you are looking for assurance that everything is going to be okay. They want to know there is a plan. They want to hear things are moving forward with confidence.

Help people process the pain of their circumstances.

Give them hope. Encourage. Challenge them to continue.

Lead.

A Key to Successful Delegation

What is a key to successful delegation?

  • Don’t just delegate responsibility.

  • Delegate authority.

Give people the authority to determine how the work gets completed. In healthy delegation, you have already helped them determine what a win looks like. You helped shape the vision. Now, let them set the tasks to complete the job. Let them determine timing and the players on their team. It’s so much better than simply holding them responsible. When people have authority they take ownership. They assume (partial) liability. They become personally attached to the outcome.

Responsibility without authority only puts pressure on people. When a person is responsible for completion, but has no authority of how to make it happen, it becomes a job more than a mission. It’s frustrating.

Granted, letting go of authority is hard. It won’t always work. The truth is people will disappoint you…they won’t do the job the way you were expecting. Simply releasing responsibility seems freeing. Releasing authority seems risky.

Oh, but when it does work…when delegation takes hold completely…effectively…you, the organization and the entire team benefits. And, the reward is far greater than a project not properly delegated.

Great leaders push through the fear of letting go by trusting people to make decisions, so that ultimately more decisions can be made, leadership development occurs, and the organization grows.

Not to sound contradictory, but this doesn’t mean you are off the hook as the delegating leader. I wrote about that in THIS POST. Successful delegation requires releasing responsibility, and authority over the delegated project, while maintaining a healthy, though distant, oversight until the project is completed. I know, that’s difficult, but it’s part of what makes leading so much fun :) …and so much better.

Be honest, how are you at releasing authority?

7 Of My Biggest Frustrations as a Leader

A few weeks ago, someone asked me what my “biggest frustration” is as a leader. As I thought about it, I have to be honest, I have lots. That may point to another area of struggle for me personally…that I’m seldom satisfied…with me or others. In many ways I am still learning the secret of being content, but I like continual improvement and think there is usually room to get better in all areas of our life. I think that is true in leadership too.

But, the question was my “biggest frustration”, so I opened an Evernote file, titled it “Biggest Frustrations” (since I knew I had more than one) and decided to record some of my actual frustrations over the next few weeks. Some of these are mine from observing people directly and some are from the stories my readers share with me each day. When I reached seven, based on my obvious past love of the number seven, I figured it was time to share my findings.

Here are 7 of my biggest frustrations as a leader:

Pettiness – It bothers me in leadership to argue over things that really, in the large scheme of things, just don’t matter. When it comes to arguing, I can almost always find issues of bigger significance. (If you consider it this way…it may make a case….even a Biblical case…not to even argue.)

Selfishness – I get frustrated when people have to have things “their way”. It destroys any hope of a healthy team when people are only thinking of their personal wishes. (Doesn’t sound very Biblical to me either.)

Rudeness – The way you talk to someone, always determines the way they respond. To me, there is no place for disrespect in an organization or on a team or in any relationship, for that matter. This should be especially true in churches. Even when we don’t agree with one another, we can address one another in kindness. (Remember, kindness is a fruit of the spirit.)

Narrow-mindedness – When someone can’t think beyond the way it’s always been done, it limits the organization from achieving all it could achieve. There are issues…Biblical, foundational, value-driven issues…where narrow-mindedness is a positive, but in the mode of operation, of the way we get things done, or how we accomplish our God-given vision, I think change is not only good…it’s vital for continued growth.

Stubbornness – Equally frustrating, is when people are unwilling to change. When a person refuses to accept what’s best for the good of everyone, and it’s not a Biblical issue, their stubbornness only hurts the organization (and frustrates the leader. :) )

Unforgiveness – When someone has been injured, they have a choice. They can choose to hold a grudge or they can choose to forgive. Holding a grudge keeps the injury alive. Forgiving opens the door for healing. (Doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.)

Recklessness – It is frustrating to observe people who seemingly have no regard for other people. They make decisions without the consideration of others. They say things without thinking how they hurt. They use their influence to disrupt an organization’s progress, rather than enhance it. They derail progress with a disregard for what’s best in favor of what’s personal to them. It’s frustrating.

There is my list. If I kept the Evernote file open, I might find some more. Of course, you can help too.

What are your biggest frustrations in leadership?

4 Tools to Grow People

In my last post, “Do You Want to Grow Leaders?”, I said that experience…good and bad shapes us as a leader. The bigger the experience…the more we grow.

Continuing that thought process, how do we create the environment where leaders can grow? What are some common elements that are necessary in every organization? What tools do we need to help leaders grow?

Here are 4 tools I use to grow people:

Knowledge – It has been said that knowledge is power. That’s certainly true when it comes to developing leadership. I knowI must share information if I want to grow leaders for the church.

Character – Character isn’t taught, but it certainly can be modeled. A leader desiring to grow other leaders of character must display a character worthy of following. I realize my personal character will greatly determine the quality of leaders we attract.

Opportunity – Most aspiring leaders are waiting for a break. They are seeking opportunity. They are screaming “Give me a chance”. I know I must create opportunities for others to explore the process of leading others.

Experience – Opportunity gives experience. As I said in the previous post, it is in the tension of stretching where we learn the most. Leaders give others the opportunity to experience firsthand the stress of leadership. I realize that one of my roles in the church is releasing my right to control an outcome to provide people with their own experience as a leader.

By the way, I used the term people, because these work in other contexts, besides the field of leadership development.

How are you introducing these tools into your leadership development? What other tools do you use?

Sometimes It’s Not a Systems Problem…

In one of my first professional leadership roles, I managed a large retail division of a major department store. The division had several departments within it and each department had a separate department manager. Most of the departments were efficient, profitable, and easy to manage. One department, however, continued to fall behind the others. It was frustrating, because I couldn’t seem to get them to improve.

I was young and inexperienced, so I innocently thought the problem was me. If I could implement the right strategy in working with this department…find the right system…I could improve performance. I tested numerous systems to try to increase their productivity, but nothing seemed to work.

I was wrong. The experience taught me a valuable lesson. 

You can have the best systems…the best strategies…the best programs…and still struggle with the performance of a team. Sometimes it’s not a systems problem.

Sometimes it’s strictly a people problem.

I realized the problem was the leader in this department. This person always said what I wanted to hear. She was nice to me personally. She talked a good game, but she was grossly under-performing and bringing her department down with her. Through due process, and after trying to work with this leader to improve, I eventually had to replace her leadership and the department dramatically improved, almost instantly.

Since then I’ve always tried to remember:

Never try to handle a people problem with a systems approach.

Handle people problems, with people.

This doesn’t mean you’ll always need to replace the people, but you seldom improve people problems with better systems. You improve people problems by improving people.

Many times, in my experience, we try to create systems when the problem isn’t a systems problem, it’s a people problem.

Knowing the difference between a systems problem and a people problem, and being mature enough to handle it, will make you a better leader.

Have you seen organizations and leaders create systems, instead of handling the real problem? 

(Churches are notorious for this, by the way. We try to solve problems in people’s lives, for example, by creating rules, systems, programs, etc, designed to help make them better people. The problem is it’s not a systems problem. It’s not a program or committee problem. It’s a people problem. If their heart doesn’t change, the problem will continue. That’s the subject of another post.)

Where’s the Loyalty? How to get the most out of your team even in the most trying times

This is a guest post by Jeremy Kingsley. Jeremy is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Since 1995 he has spoken to over 500,000 people at live events around the world. He has given over 2000 keynote speeches and his messages have reached millions through radio, television, and the internet. Jeremy holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University. He is the author of four books, his latest: Inspired People Produce Results – (McGraw Hill 2013). Jeremy lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and two sons. Learn more at www.JeremyKingsley.com

Lack of loyalty is a serious problem in organizations everywhere today.

No longer do people join a company and devote the rest of their working lives to it. Companies are, of course, not exactly known for offering up thirty or forty years of employment, a gold watch and pension plan.

Organizations preoccupied with short-term, bottom line thinking often view their employees as little more than resources to be hired, fired, and manipulated as the need arises.

Both sides pay a price for this lack of loyalty. Workers are naturally less happy on the job when they sense little or no loyalty from their employer. I agree with Carmine Coyote about how the negative impacts on productivity are truly alarming:

People expect to be continually under threat of layoff, so they keep their resumes permanently on the market, changing jobs without concern for anything save their own short-term advantage.

Top level emphasis on quick, short-term returns (especially to themselves), permeates the organization as a whole, leading to everyone focusing on what will give them the biggest, quickest return—even if that means elbowing colleagues out of the way, playing the dirty politics, or hyping resumes to leverage a quick move somewhere else that is paying a few bucks more.
Loyalty to colleagues can turn into an us-versus-them attitude toward those higher up.

Worst of all, people feel devalued and see their work as less and less worthwhile. This creates emotional and psychological stresses and problems that go beyond the workplace and may last for some time.

What can you do to avoid this terrifying outcome? Learn from others.

A century ago, Ernest Shackleton was one of the most renowned explorers of his time. Today, however, Shackleton is best known for a failed mission. In January 1915, while trying to be the first to journey across the Antarctica, he and his men aboard the Endurance were trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea and forced to abandon the ship. They floated on icebergs and paddled three small lifeboats to reach a remote, deserted island. From there, Shackleton and five men embarked in one of the lifeboats on an eight-hundred-mile voyage through some of the planet’s stormiest waters, landing more than two weeks later at South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic. After a rest, Shackleton and two of his men hiked and climbed across treacherous mountains to a whaling station, where Shackleton procured a ship and sailed to rescue his comrades. Every member of the twenty-eight-man crew returned home safely.

Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capprell, in their book Shackleton’s Way, list eight principles Shackleton applied to forge unity and loyalty among his team. As a leader, Shackleton was ahead of his time. His principles are just as important in today’s modern workplace as they were in the Antarctic a hundred years ago:

  • Take the time to observe before acting, especially if you are new to the scene. All changes should be aimed at improvements. Don’t make changes just for the sake of leaving your mark.
  • Always keep the door open to your staff members, and be generous with information that affects them. Well-informed employees are more eager and better prepared to participate.
  • Establish order and routine on the job so all workers know where they stand and what is expected of them. The discipline makes the staff feel they’re in capable hands.
  • Break down traditional hierarchies and cliques by training workers to do a number of jobs, from the menial to the challenging.
  • Where possible, have employees work together on certain tasks. It builds trust and respect and even friendship.
  • Be fair and impartial in meting out compensations, workloads, and punishments. Imbalances make everyone feel uncomfortable, even the favored.
  • Lead by example. Chip in sometimes to help with the work you’re having others do. It gives you the opportunity to set a high standard and shows your respect for the job.
  • Have regular gatherings to build esprit de corps. These could be informal lunches that allow workers to speak freely outside the office. Or they could be special holiday or anniversary celebrations that let employees relate to each other as people rather than only as colleagues.

If you demonstrate a strong measure of loyalty to your team, you’ll find that same measure of loyalty being returned to you. In these trying times – inspiring loyalty will help you get the most out of your team and lay the foundation for lasting success.

What do you think?

People are most productive…

When they enjoy their work!

I’ve lived under both styles of management.

One uses coercion, control and intimidation to motivate. 

One uses encouragement, incentives and cheers to motivate.

I prefer the latter.

In fact, I would go as far as to say the long-term success of the orginization is directly proportional to the contentment of the people in the organization. That doesn’t mean work is always fun. Work is work. But, when people feel they are making a difference and believe in the work they are doing, when they work in an environment conducive to enjoyment, the overall potential for success of the organization increases.

Agree or disagree? 

7 Statements Every Leader Needs To Use Often

Recently, I shared 7 questions every leader should use often. It opened some good discussion around the post. It also made me think there was a similar set of 7 phrases leaders should consider using frequently. These are not questions, but statements.

One of the goals of a leader should be to encourage, strengthen and challenge a team to continually improve. Almost as a cheerleader rousing the crowd at a game, the leader uses his or her influence to bring out the best in others.

How do leaders do that? One way is by the questions and statements we make as leaders. This post is an extension of that thought.

Here are 7 phrases leaders should memorize and use often:

I believe in you.

You are an asset to this team.

Let me know how I can help you.

You are doing a great job.

I need your help.

I want to help you reach your personal goals.

You are making a difference here.

You may not be able to use these phrases every day. You shouldn’t overuse them. They need to be genuine, heartfelt and honest. That may not even happen every week. But, as often as you can, slip a few of these into your memory bank and pull them out where appropriate. It will help you build a better team.

What phrases would you add?