7 Issues that Distract a Leader from Success

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I recently wrote 7 ideas which will help you attain more success. It seems a counter post is merited.

Here are 7 issues that will distract you from success as a leader:

Trying to plan every detail – Ecclesiastes says you won’t plant if you watch the wind. Risk is always necessary for meaningful success.

Lack of flexibility – Things change. Have a great vision, but realize the road to accomplish it may change many times along the way.

Shunning or controlling other people – You can’t do it alone. You don’t have the corner on ideas. You need help.

Holding on to a grudge or attempting to get even – The wasted energy of an unforgiving spirit slows you down from meaningful achievement.

Worrying more than you pray – The unknown brings doubt but faith goes without seeing. Take your pick. Only one answer allowed.

Being stingy with your time, money or influence – The more you try to control what you hold in your hand, the stingier your heart becomes. Stingy hearts are burdened by unnecessary distractions. (The one who loved money is never satisfied with his wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10)

Having to do things “your way” – When you limit the input of others you rob the team of expanded imagination and you discourage potential leaders from rising.

What would you add?

Are one of these keeping you from accomplishing all you could?

Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me

Artie Davis is a great friend. I honestly can say I love the guy. He’s the “real deal”. It’s hard to find a true friend as a pastor. Artie’s that kind of friend…to many pastors. Artie’s book, Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases this week. I’ve been a fan of this concept since I first heard about it. I can’t wait for you to read the book.

Here’s an interview with Artie about the book:

QUESTION: Tell us a little about yourself, Artie.

ANSWER: Well, I’m a guy from Orangeburg SC. I planted a church here about 20 years ago. It’s a very diverse and often racially divided town. I saw that and had a heart to change it. God’s been good to us. We have 4 campuses that are extremely diverse and multi-ethnic. A Sunday morning at our church is a lot like heaven. All backgrounds are there worshipping together.

About 4 years ago, I became the director of TheSticks.tv. Since Orangeburg isn’t a large city, my heart is for small town pastors. The Sticks is about encouraging those leaders to lead big even though their in small towns.

All of that is kinda where Craveable came from. We have a problem in Christianity… other people outside of it want no part of it. We’ve got to fix that. Being crave able is something that extends past culture, context, race, size, or background. Jesus was the most crave able person ever to those outside of the kingdom. We have to be the same way. We’ve really dropped the ball.

QUESTION: I’ve heard to craving food, but what does that have to do with Jesus and the church? What is Craveable about?

ANSWER: Craveable is about living in such a way that people want what you want. If you google “why are christians so…” in your search bar, you get a variety of answers. None of them are positive. I don’t see that when I read the Gospels. People wanted to be around Jesus. People would walk for days. People would break rules and bust through roofs to get to him. We’ve lost that. People need to crave what we have.

QUESTION: In the book, you talk about perception. Can you talk more about that?

ANSWER: Sure, perception is a combination of what we see, hear, and experience. People form a perception of us based on those things. Now, it’s easy for us to dismiss it when someone gathers what we think is a wrong perception… Christians have done that too long with the “I don’t care what they think as long as I think I’m right” mentality. The truth is, we have to own that. If we’re giving people far from God the wrong perception, we have to change what they are seeing, hearing, or experiencing. I talk about how we can do that in the book. I think it’s such an important and simple principle.

QUESTION: Where can we get the book and find you?

ANSWER: The book is at your favorite bookstore and Amazon. You can go to craveable.com to read more about the book and places to find it. Me, I’m @ArtieDavis on twitter and blog at artiedavis.com

Artie’s new book called Craveable: The Irresistible Jesus in Me, releases February 5, 2013. Find out more at Craveable.com and on twitter @CraveableChurch

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7 Ideas that May Help You Attain more Success

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You want to achieve more, but for some reason you can never seem to reach your goals.

Is that your story? I hear it often. You’re in good company.

Here are 7 ideas that will help you attain more success:

Clear vision – Where are you leading your life? Many times you don’t get there because you never really decide where you want to eventually be. It’s hard to hit an undefined target.

Discipline – Are you putting in the needed effort? Those who wait for luck to kick in or hope for the easy way to victory, seldom discover what they’re looking for in life.

Embracing other’s help – Do you know you can’t do it all alone? The most successful people do.

Letting go of past hurts – Offering forgiveness frees you from needless bitterness and anger that slows you down and keeps you from being completely emotionally healthy.

Trusting more than you doubt – You can pray or you can worry. You can’t do both equally well. The more you worry, the less likely you are to take a risk. And, you can’t achieve the thrill of victory without a lot of risk.

Becoming an even more generous person – Your level of generosity demonstrates your level of contentment. Generous people naturally feel more successful.

Loving principles and progress more than policies or procedures – Structure is needed and good, but the best structure advances progress not curtails it.

Which of these do you need to consider in order to help you attain more success?

The Leadership Crisis of Belief

Stressed-man

The leadership crisis of belief.

Every leader faces that point…will this work?

Can I do it? Will they follow? Should I give up? Should I keep going?

The crisis of belief period is real. It’s normal. It’s part of leadership.

In every new venture.

With every bold move.

With every meaningful change.

With every act of faith.

With every major change.

With every new risk.

You will question yourself. You will question your team. You will question the idea, the resources, the outcome.

If it’s a move worth pursuing, you’ll face the crisis of belief. Sometime.

Are you there now?

What you do next will likely determine the outcome!

Praying for you.

You can do it!

One Suggestion to Take Stress from the Hiring Process

Handshake and teamwork

There is so much stress involved in hiring the right person for the team. I have a suggestion with may help.

We recently did this with several new staff positions on our team.

Build the job description around the person.

Set the vision for the job, hire the best person you can find (and/or afford as the case may be)…then build the job description…with the person’s help…around that person.

If they excel in administrative tasks…the job description may have more administrative tasks.

If they excel in creative tasks…the job description may have more creative tasks.

Find the right people and you can shape a team around them. This is true whether they are paid or volunteer.

This approach allows you to hire for character, competence, experience and fit with the team, but doesn’t limit you to finding an exact replica of a clearly defined, narrowly focused job description.

Here’s the deal. I ultimately just want a strong team. I want people who share an overall vision with me. But, I don’t want to script how they accomplish their specific part of the vision. This way of hiring allows me to be a leader instead of a manager. It frees people to be leaders instead of employees.

And, I best of all…it makes for a much happier, more productive team.

Find the right people and you can build the right team.

Do you have any hiring tips you could share?

7 Steps to Prepare for a Difficult Conversation

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In a tweet and Facebook post recently I said, “The hardest conversation is often the most needed.”

It was as a result of my counsel to another pastor in a leadership setting. I happen to encourage those type conversations often. Apparently, from the retweets and “likes”, it’s a frequent issue. In relationships, there are consistent needs to have difficult conversations. Often leaders, spouses, and friends avoid them, but it’s often to the detriment of the relationship.

I decided to expand beyond Twitter length encouragement. Do you need to have a difficult conversation?

Here are 7 steps to prepare:

Conviction – There first needs to be some sense of urgency towards having the conversation. People who have frequent hard conversations just to have hard conversations are obnoxious at best. Hard conversations, where you challenge someone, confront a situation or address sensitive issues should be rare, not normal. Make sure you know it’s something you must do in order to improve the situation or protect the relationship.

Prayer – You should pray as a part of the conviction process also, but this is prayer after you know you are moving forward. Pray for God’s favor on the conversation, open hearts for you and the other party, and God’s resolution to be realized.

Notes – Jot down your main points you are trying to make. You might read THIS POST. It’s about how to write a sensitive letter, but the points in it will help you prepare for a face-to-face conversation also. (and there are times a letter is best) You want to be prepared. The main issues (but read the post) are to be factual, to the point, but kind, truthful, and helpful. Be willing to assume blame where needed.

Setting – Time and place are critical in difficult situations. You should never “attack” someone in ways that will embarrass them more or add unnecessary stress to the situation. Be strategic with your when and where.

Rehearsal – Go through your notes and your part of the conversation. Imagine if someone was having this conversation with you and how you would respond. You can’t determine how they will respond, but you can rehearse how you will respond. The more you do this the better you’ll be able to control your emotions when the time comes.

Action – Do it. You need to plan the when, as stated above, but the longer you wait the harder and more awkward it will be. Have the conversation while you’re prepared and in a prayerful mindset about the situation.

Follow up – Most likely the conversation won’t end with the conversation. You will need to check in with the person, send them a follow up email, phone call or even another meeting. You may need to reiterate your care for them personally even after the conversation. If nothing more is needed between you and the person, at least take time to think through how the conversation went so you can learn from it and be better prepared for future difficult conversations. You can be assured of additional opportunities.

What steps or advice would you add?

Creating a Leadership Legacy

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The best example of a person’s leadership is what happens when the leader isn’t leading.

What happens after the leader is gone?

What happens when the leader is absent?

What happens without the leader doing or saying anything?

How does the leader’s influence impact the organization years beyond the leader?

Your reputation and legacy as a leader lasts long after you’ve left the building.

Do they model some of your actions? Do they realize your value to the organization? Do they miss your presence? Does the organization continue to grow and remain healthy? Did you prepare them for your absence? Did you leave them in good hands?

The way you lead now will answer those questions then.

Here’s a sobering question to consider:

What kind of leadership legacy are you leaving?

Now make it even more sobering. Ask some people you lead that same question…about you…and see how they answer.

A Sign You’re On a Healthy Team

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I’ve often said that good leaders never assume silence means that everyone is in agreement.

I still believe that. Leaders and situations can be intimidating. Some team members simply choose not to participate.

There is one caveat to this principle, however.

When a team is healthy, the leader is approachable, and team members are encouraged to participate in discussion:

Silence can be interpreted as agreement.

That’s because:

  • The freedom to challenge is present
  • The fear of retribution is absent
  • The power of unity is prominent
  • The spirit of cooperation is elevated
  • The synergy of differences is celebrated

When you are on a healthy team, people feel freedom to speak up when needed, so if they don’t, you can often safely assume they are in agreement.

I’ll be candid, as i write this, I’m six months into leading a new team. I’m not sure we are there yet, but in the months to come, I’ll be looking to measure progress in this way.

Ask yourself this question: What does silence on the team indicate?

In that answer, if you’re honest, you may find the answer.

Are you serving on a healthy team?

7 Leadership Default Zones

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There are a lot of gray issues in leadership. Having a default zone when things on both sides appear equal or you are uncertain about a decision may help you make better decisions. These aren’t foolproof, as many things in leadership are not, but having a general idea which way you would “default” to in common situations that occur most frequently in leadership may prove to be helpful.

If you consistently have to make the same type decisions as a leader, think through which way has over time proven to be best. That becomes your default zone.

Here are some of my leadership default zones:

In matters of hiring…default to no over yes – If in doubt over whether the person is a good fit, I vote no. It’s not worth taking a chance when adding to the team and when I haven’t followed this one it has usually turned out to be a mistake.

If you think you shouldn’t say it…don’t – I often don’t follow my own advice here, but I’ve learned if my gut is telling me to “keep a tight rein on my tongue”, it’s likely to be a Biblical conviction. The more I discipline myself in this area the more respect I garner as a leader.

If it’s between empower or control…choose empower – Except in cases such as vision or a moral issue, letting go of control and empowering others almost always works out better than expected. Even if the person isn’t successful, I have seen that the learning curve for them and the team is huge and often some of the best discoveries for the team are made when I get out of the way.

My preference or the team’s preference…go with the team – There are times I have to make the hard decision to stand alone, but I try to surround myself with people smarter than me. If I am clearly outnumbered, I tend to lean on the wisdom of the team. You won’t keep respect as a leader if you continually stand opposite your team and keep being proved wrong.

In person or by email…choose in person – By far, email is my most frequent communication tool. It has to be, just because of the sheer number of communications I have in a given week. But, when I can, especially with our staff, I choose the personal touch. Get up from the desk and walk down the hall when it is an available option. Email and text are misunderstood far too many times.

If there’s doubt…ask for clarification – If you aren’t sure you understand what someone is thinking…if it doesn’t appear they understand you…rather than assume…ask. I’m continually asking my team something such as, “When you said _____, can you help me understand what you meant by that?” Misunderstanding leads to strained relationships and unhealthy teams.

Grace or dismissal…choose grace – There are times when you simply have to make the difficult decision. But, when you can….extend grace. Some of my best, more loyal team members became that way only by grace.

Learning some of your leadership default zones may make you a better leader.

Do you have any you would add?

A Personal Conviction About Change

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I had a convicting experience recently. It was one which will actually help me in the current church work I am doing, but also in the future as I implement change.

One Saturday night during December I went to three church Christmas parties. Cheryl was out of town, so I made a quick pass through each of them. I was watching a football game before I left home and didn’t turn off the television. When I returned home I entered to find a Christmas show on that I had never seen.

It was something called “Frosty Returns.” I apologize if that is your Christmas favorite, but in my opinion…it stinks.

Sorry. Not trying to be rude to the people behind the show, but that’s how I saw it.

It wasn’t “Frosty”. It was “Frosty Returns”. Bad, bad, bad idea. Bad sequel to the original.

I immediately thought…

The audacity. They messed with Frosty. Frosty the Snowman. The classic. The one I watch every year. You can’t improve upon that. You make a mistake as soon as you waste time thinking that you can.

And, why did Frosty need to return anyway? Take a chance on melting again. Take a chance on losing that magic hat.

Who would mess with the original? What’s this world coming to?

How could you possibly improve upon the real thing?

Okay, maybe a little over dramatic…but you get the point. I couldn’t understand the need to change from what has worked for so long.

Then, in the middle of my disgust, it hit me.

Conviction. Between the eyes.

I’m pretty sure it may have been a “gentle whisper” moment.

I’m new in my current church. A 100 plus year old church. Some people in this church have been attending the church longer than I’ve been alive.

We are revitalizing. Transitioning. Making changes.

Not all of them are popular. Change is hard. Absolute change is hard absolutely.

We need change. I am convinced we won’t be a vital church body 20 years from now without some change.

I don’t believe in “blowing up DNA” kind of change, so I’m taking things slow. Or, at least, it seems slow to me.

But, the conviction?

The way I felt about Frosty….

That’s the way many seniors in my church feel everyday.

Sure, you sang “Amazing Grace”, but you didn’t sing it my way. The audacity. They messed with Amazing Grace. Who would mess with the original? How could you possibly improve upon the real thing?

What about the committees? What about the policies? What about the way we’ve always done things?

Why would you mess with the originals?

I understand.

They messed with my Frosty.

I’m not trying to be cute or funny. It was conviction. It was a teaching moment for me.

We do have to change. If we only do church the way it’s always been done…we will only reach who we’ve always reached. And, frankly, I want to reach multiple generations. Even people my children’s age.

Frosty had to change. Not sure how well they did, but to reach a younger audience, there needed to be some changes. My boys are okay with Frosty, but they’d rather watch “Elf”. I can wish they liked Frosty more, but if I want to make sure I get to hang out with them…I’m willing to sit down to watch “Elf”.

(Interesting, I shared this with a friend and he polled his twin 16 year old sons. They prefer “Frosty Returns”. I don’t understand kids these days. :) )

Change is a part of life.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy.

I understand that even better now. Understanding how someone feels…or why they feel that way…helps you plan your approach. It helps you respond to their uncertainties, even their disappointments about change. They aren’t necessarily trying to be difficult. We just can’t expect everyone to immediately think the change is good, needed, or welcomed.

Because, did I tell you?

They messed with my Frosty. The audacity.