Pre-Planning Your Week For Efficiency

Here’s a quick encouragement to help you have a great week.

Spend the first 30 minutes of your workweek pre-planning for the week.   Follow these steps:

Set goals for the week. – What do you need to and want to accomplish by the week’s end?  Be realistic, but make sure you include some stretch goals.

List the major tasks required to accomplish your goals – Break down each objective into the activities you will need to do to complete them.

Allot time for each activity – Again, be realistic, but determine that you are going to work diligently to meet your goals.

Schedule your week – Calendar each of the activities throughout the week. Be sure and allow for downtime, reflection, prayer and devotion time.  Those times keep you grounded and fresh.  If your schedule fills up before you finish you are probably either planning to do too much or allotting too much time for each activity.

With this pre-planning period you will be better able to enjoy your week with less stress, more productivity, and a better attitude at the end of the week.

Let me know how this works for you.

4 Tasks of the Senior Pastor / CEO

1171403_86953445In an earlier post I wrote about the loneliness of leadership.  One reason leadership can make a person feel isolated is the weight of responsibility on the one who claims to be the senior leader in an organization.  Whether in the business world, in non-profits or churches, there are some things in any organization that must involve the top leadership.

Here are four things the senior pastor or, in a business sense, the “CEO” (Chief Executive Officer) must personally lead or play a major role in accomplishing:

Vision – The senior leader  is the ordained caretaker of the organization’s vision.   The vision may be pre-determined by a board, or in the church’s sense, by Jesus, but all leaders place his or her spin on implementing the vision.  At the end of the day the senior leader is held responsible for seeing that the organization’s vision is attained.

Values – The senior leader must carry out, protect, or shape the culture of the organization. Much of the character of the organization will be determined or maintained by the way this person leads and lives his or her life.

Victories- Senior leader determine what matters to an organization. He or she ultimately defines a win by setting end goals.  An organization cannot do everything and this individual’s leadership determines priorities, initiatives and major objectives to be accomplished.

Velocity –The Senior leader sets the speed by which the organization will operate.  The lead person is in the role of balancing present tasks and future opportunities.  His or her individual pace and expectations of others determines how fast the organization functions, changes, adapts, and responds.

Most organizations will have a board of directors, stakeholders or elders to oversee the organization, hire the senior pastor or CEO and hold title to the organization, but it is ultimately that person’s who daily carries out these four functions.   A senior leader can delegate, form a great team environment, seek wise counsel, or even shirk his or her responsibility, but to fulfill the role of the senior leader effectively there are some responsibilities that rest solely with this position.  Whether or not the senior leader consciously recognizes his or her role in accomplishing these tasks, by sheer position he or she is determining the way the organization performs in these four areas.

Are you a senior leader in your organization?  Do you feel the weight of these responsibilities?  Do you understand your important role in setting these four principles of the organization?

What other responsibilities rest with this position?

What Is Your Leadership Capacity?

What is your leadership capacity?  Do you know when you are in over your head?

I am using the term leadership capacity to describe a leader’s ability to effectively lead his or her organization to accomplish the vision of the organization.  Consequently a leader exceeds his or her leadership capacity when he or she no longer has the ability to effectively manage or lead the organization to reach its potential.  If the organization is growing there will most likely be a time in the leader’s tenure where he or she feels they have reached or exceeded this capacity.

I met with a great leader recently in a new venture that admitted he is overwhelmed with what is happening around him.  He is feeling the weight of leading out of his normal capacity and concerned the organization could get away from him unless he does something now.  I know the feeling and I appreciate this leader recognizing this about his leadership.  That realization is like an insurance policy against his leadership failing.

If you are leading an organization and you feel you are reaching your leadership capacity, consider these steps:

Recognize and admit – Do not be afraid to admit you are over your head. Humility is actually an attractive leadership quality.

Re-evaluate – Are you trying to do too much? Are you standards for yourself too high?  Do you need to reorganize your role or the organization?

Ask for help – Seek wisdom from those who have led longer than you. Find a mentor. Take a class.  Join a network.  One of the values of social media for me has been the insight I have learned from other leaders.

Delegate – Ask yourself what responsibility you could give away or what areas others on your team would be better able to handle. If you are the only team member, seek volunteers to help you bridge the gaps between your leadership ability and the demands of the organization.

Quit if needed
– If you value the organization’s vision enough then be willing to step aside if you are no longer a good fit to lead it. This is not a sign of failure or an indication that you are a bad leader.  Sometimes the organization simply grows in another direction from our passion, skills or strengths as a leader.  (I wrote a similar post about this subject HERE.)

Leaders, is your leadership capacity being stretched?  What are you going to do about it?

Accommodating Versus Ignoring Criticism

In any leadership position the leader will receive criticism at some point.  It is virtually impossible to do everything in a way that pleases everyone.  Even Jesus had critics.  It comes with the territory of leadership.

As a leader, I have learned that there are times with the criticism is dead-on and something I need to hear and other times when I need to dismiss it and continue in the direction I feel God has led me to go.  Knowing when to accommodate the critic and when to ignore the criticism is a careful balance leaders face often.  If I give into every critic I will never complete the mission God has called me to do.  If I never listen to critics I will become arrogant and prideful.

Here are some principles I try to remember so I can balance the two extremes:

Learn something from everything – There is usually something that can be learned even from the harshest criticism, if nothing more than better understanding people.

My ultimate calling is to honor and obey Christ – I try to make sure I am pleasing Him above everyone else.

Find my affirmation in the people to whom God has called me to minister – This is a new principle for me, but one I wrote about HERE.

Consider the person offering criticism – A person with a sincere heart for the Kingdom, my ministry and me personally carries a lot more weight with me.

Be willing to humble myself – The fact is I could be wrong and others could be right.  If criticism is warranted I must be willing to alter my position.

Leaders, how do you handle criticism?

Avoiding Change For Change’s Sake

I love continual improvement. I am one of those who actually enjoy change.  If things stay the same too long I get bored and begin looking for a new challenge.  I even stir things for fun sometimes just to keep life interesting around me.  (Sometimes this characteristic gets me in trouble with my wife.)

Personality aside, however, the truth is that not everything needs to be tweaked.  Some things are probably working okay, achieving great success, and are best left alone for the time being.  Change for the sake of change sake is not always good.  When Momma said “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and the other cliché about “the grass is always greener”, she was speaking from some life experience.

There is a fine line between making things better and messing things up.  One of the great challenges for the leader is carefully considering the balance between instigating change for the good of the organization or team and allowing progress to continue without interference.

There are some indicators that change could be a good thing:

  • When energy is waning in the status quo
  • When needed improvement is planned and purposeful
  • When the change will result in greater efficiency, returns or profit
  • When it is clear a change will be needed soon to remain competitive or relevant

Leaders, how do you determine it is time for change?

Why Was David “A Man After God’s Own Heart”?

An often-confusing term concerning the Biblical character of David is the term “man after God’s own heart”.  Have you ever wondered what that really means? What does that kind of heart even look like? This morning I read a verse from the writings of David that I believe perhaps best captures the meaning behind this phrase.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalms 16:2

David recognized that the only good in him was the God in him.  Great godly leaders are willing to step aside from their own need for ego building and self-confidence and humble themselves before an almighty God.

I have heard before that President Theodore Roosevelt often went outdoors at night, looked up into the vastness of the universe, simply to remind himself of his humanity compared to the vastness of the universe.  I think that is an important principle for all of us that claim a leadership title.

Next time someone asks you why David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, point him or her to Psalm 16:2.

Great Leaders Lead Well First In The Home

One key indicator of good leadership is to look at a leader’s family.  This may be a matter of personal opinion, but I believe a leader is only as good as the success of the followers of the person leading.  I personally believe the greatest leadership calling for any of us is in our home, so if a person desires to be a great leader, he or she must learn first to lead his or her family well.

I have known so many people who claim to be leaders and are hailed as great leaders in their profession or organization, but who have family lives that are a mess.  Sadly this is true in many churches also, which is where most of my leadership focus is aimed.  Again, it is a matter of opinion, but I have a harder time celebrating a person as a great leader if they have no ability to lead in their private life.  Maybe I am wrong, but I often weigh a pastor’s leadership excellence by the countenance on his wife’s face or the relationship he has with his children.  At our church, when we are hiring a staff person, we always consider the person’s spouse and children in the equation.  It is not only Biblical, but it is also practical.

Pastors and other leaders, if you measured your influence and success in ministry or business completely by your immediate family, how are you doing?

I have shared my opinion and I would love to hear yours.  Do you have a harder time following a leader if you find out he or she does not lead well in the home?

Get To The Bottom And The Up Will Be Found

When an organization, relationship, or situation is in trouble, the faster it can get to the bottom the sooner it can begin the climb to the top again. This is often true in marriages, businesses, and economies.

Recovery will not usually come until the bottom is found.  The quicker you find the bottom the sooner you can reverse the slide from down to up or bad to well.   No one enjoys finding the bottom, but it is from there that any positive movement will most likely be found.

In a marriage for example, some people keep bringing up the same issues and repeating same mistakes and so they fail to initiate change.  Sometimes a spouse refuses to tell the whole truth and so bad news keeps coming out, opening new wounds each time.  The marriage never improves until everything is on the table, there are no more secrets and the bottom is found.

Get to the bottom of an issue or problem and its all uphill from there.

Are you nearing the bottom yet?

43 Weird Things Said in Job Interviews

This is hilarious.   CNN put together a story working with Career Builder on the funniest or weird things people said during job interviews.  What’s funny is that during the nervousness of something like an interview most of us are likely to say something we don’t necessarily mean to say.  Hopefully most of us are not this bad.

For example, here are a couple I thought were particularly funny:

Why did you leave your last job?

“I have a problem with authority.”

What kind of computer software have you used?

“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.”

Do you have any questions?

“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?”

What are your hobbies and interests?

“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.’”

Read the complete story HERE.

Orientation By Wilderness Experience (Could It Work For Your Team?)

1078283_58943098Taylor, one of my 18 year-old son Nate’s best friends, is going to Wheaton University this fall. I am excited that he will be an hour away from Nate who will be at Moody Bible College.  I wrote a blog post about their friendship a couple months ago. Read that post HERE. I had coffee this morning with Taylor, because he is leaving this weekend for an extended and unusual college orientation.

Wheaton offers an optional wilderness experience as a preparation for incoming freshman to the university. Students explore a Christian worldview and get college credit in exchange for an extreme outdoor adventure with other students, professors, and experts in wilderness adventures.  Someone at the university told Taylor, “If you can survive 12 days alone with someone in this experience then you can last a lifetime together.”

I love the concept.  I am wondering if it would work in other settings:

  • Incoming staff people…
  • Premarital counseling…
  • Potential leaders…

Do you think this would build healthier teams?

Who in your organization/family would you like to send on a 12-day wilderness experience so they will be a better team player?