When You Don’t Need a Leader

People follow the leader…

Because…

One of the key aspects of being a leader is leading…

Leaders have a vision that includes other people…

Leaders are typically the ones who are willing to think bigger…

Leaders will usually take greater risks…

Leaders dream bigger than they can complete without others…

Leaders take people where they are afraid to go…

Leaders strategize plans they can never accomplish alone…

Leaders aren’t just talking about it…

Leaders are actually going somewhere…

If the goal is not bigger, further, more difficult and risky than today…

Then you don’t need a leader…

Doing a Stakeholder Analysis

The longer I lead and manage people, the more I realize that the most important element in leading and managing people is….

Have you forgotten that principle?

Leadership is about people. It’s relational. It depends on learning how to interact with people, how to encourage them, how to have healthy conflict, how to recruit them, and how to keep them informed.

You get the idea.

That’s not new information, but the problem is that every decision a leader makes impacts people. Some make the leader popular. Other decisions make the leader unpopular. Therefore, it’s easy for many leaders to become people-pleasers, trying to make sure everyone is happy. Other leaders go to another extreme and become a controlling leader; never allowing anyone input into the leader’s life or the decision making process.

One solution for me has been to do a stakeholder analysis of the situation. When I consider the person’s interest and power or influence in the organization, it can help the way I respond in making the decision, who’s involved in that process, and help us stay focussed towards the mission, while still valuing people.

This diagram shows a typical stakeholder analysis model:

Thanks to MindTools.com for this diagram. You can ever read more about how to use this tool HERE.

If you have an individual on your team with high interest and high power, such as a passionate key leader, you may react differently to their concern over an issue than someone who has little interest in your church and never intends to be a part of the church. As an example, the one-time guest who criticizes your music program may not be the voice you listen to most, but you probably should consider the voice of an elder.

I realize some may see this process as cold or even uncaring, but actually, I see it as a paradigm by which to apply wisdom to a circumstance. Ultimately I think our goal as a leader should be to bring the best people to the table, eliminate obstacles involving people, value people, and yet protect the mission of the organization. Doing a stakeholder analysis may help with that.

What do you think?  Could this be a helpful tool?

Have you seen the need to analyze the stakeholders in making decisions?

7 Questions about the Way People Approach a Leader

A couple of young guys made an appointment and came to my office recently to pitch me an idea for a new ministry they hope to start. They had been told I have a passion to empower people to follow their dreams and callings. I instantly loved their heart and the new ministry, but what intrigued me was how nervous they were making the presentation. I understand, because any kind of presentation like can be nerve-racking, and we are a large church, but I’m also their pastor. It made me wonder if I had ever done anything to make them nervous about approaching me. I concluded that it was just the situation, and not our relationship, but it caused a healthy reflection for me for other areas of my leadership.

It forced me to ask how the people on our staff…the people I work with everyday…the ones I call a “team” feel about approaching me with an idea, an issue, or even a criticism or concern. That’s one reason I periodically ask our team this question as part of an annual evaluation process. (Read about that process HERE.)

In my opinion, if you are a leader, the way the people you lead approach you says much about the quality of that leadership.

Here are 7 questions to consider about the way people approach you as a leader:

  • Do they feel the need to gather support from others before they approach you?
  • Have they begun to expect an immediate “no” answer?
  • Are they overly and obviously nervous during the approach?
  • Do they lose sleep the night before talking to you?
  • Do they make a dozen disclaimers before they tell you what they have to say?
  • Do they only tell you part of the story?
  • Do they think they have to barter with you for your support?

Granted, there will always be tension when approaching “the boss”, but one of our roles as leaders should be to level the playing field enough and build healthy relationships with the people we lead so they are comfortable approaching us when needed. It provides accountability, healthy environments, and keeps us from becoming egotistical.

Reminder: That type relationship doesn’t develop overnight or simply by telling people not to be nervous. It develops over a season where trust is earned and respect is warranted.

Are there any other questions you would add to my list?

(Don’t be afraid or nervous to add to my questions…)

7 Characteristics in Arbitrary and Calculated Decision-Making

As a leader, or even as a team member, we constantly have to make decisions. Great leaders understand the power of decision-making and learn to use this power wisely.

In simple terms, leaders should consider two methods of decision-making. Some decisions can be arbitrary decisions and others need to be calculated decisions. Knowing which type of decision making to use at a given time will help you be a better leader.

I know leaders who make very quick, instant decisions only to grow to regret them. (This leader being one.)

Here are 7 characteristics of each type decision-making process: (Behind each word is a definition of that word compliments of dictionary.com)

Arbitrary – based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system

  • Few people affected
  • Limited life to the decision
  • Low cost or impact expected
  • When the decision-maker is the implementer
  • Requires less thought
  • Has been made many times
  • Only one person needed to make decision

Calculated – done with full awareness of the likely consequences; carefully planned or intended

  • More people affected
  • Long-term implications
  • Higher cost and impact potential
  • When other people are the implementers
  • Requires more thought
  • Has been made few times, if ever
  • May require the wisdom and counsel of others

Next time you have to make a decision, consider which method you should use for the occasion.

Do you see the difference?

Have you been guilty of making a arbitrary decision when you should have made a calculated decision? Please share an example.

Some of the Best Leaders…

Some of the best leaders on your team…

  • Have yet to be recruited…
  •  

  • Will have to be asked…
  •  

  • Are anxious to serve…
  •  

  • Need this in their life as much as you need them…
  •  

  • And they may not even know it…

It’s your move…

Go get ’em…

(Not sure where to look? Read THIS POST.)

Different People…Different Expectations

Recently I gave our staff this exercise. This is a preference assessment. Basically, if you could only choose one option, which would you choose from the four figures shown?

So you can understand the diagram…

There are four different options…indicated by the number 1 through 4. The solid lines represent “structured” and the dashed lines represent “unstructured.” The outer square represents the organization and the inner circle represents the individual team member. A solid line indicates a desire for more structure and less flexibility in an organizational environment or in the way a member personally responds in his or her role.  A dashed line would indicate the opposite preferences. For example, a solid-lined square and a solid-lined circle, that would be an individual who prefers to be structured personally and prefers to be in a structured environment. A dash-lined square with a solid-lined circle would represent an individual preferring to be personally structured, but work within a less structured, organization.

Make sense?

The Team Evaluates the Leader, 2011 Edition

(Update: You can read the results of this post HERE.)

If you have read my blog for more than a year, then you know that one of the personal leadership development tools that I use is the process of allowing our team…that I lead…to anonymously evaluate my performance as a leader. You can read the post on last year’s evaluation HERE. In the related posts, you can see some of the previous year’s posts on this process. I share this process here to encourage this step of leadership development and for accountability and transparency purposes as a leader.

Well, it’s that time of year again. The team is currently evaluating me. I always get nervous about the responses, but perhaps this year more than ever. It’s been a crazy year personally and professionally, so I’m anxious about what they may say, but we have a great team and so I know they will be gentle.  (Hopefully they read this blog! HA!) My only encouragement to them is that they consider the differences of those on the team and how that alters my leadership and that they are helpful, not vindictive, in their answers. I do it anonymously through Survey Monkey to help them be more honest in their answers.

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?