How is Your Organization Handling Conflict?

Conflict can be healthy for an organization if handled appropriately and effectively.  It may even be necessary to keep an organization healthy.

Recently the staff at Grace Community Church talked through conflict and its benefit for us. Sometimes an organization can become too polite with each other and conflict is avoided or ignored in an effort to protect the relationship or to avoid the tension conflict creates. Other times one person tends to control a situation without allowing other people’s input, either for selfish reasons or to keep conflict from developing.   The problem with these approaches is that some of the best ideas are never implemented because we don’t push through the messiness of conflict to get to the right answers.

If your organization needs to learn to use conflict for good, HERE is an assessment I would recommend to you.  There are times for each of these approaches to conflict. Some issues are not worth the fight and other times the relationship is more important than risking the tension conflict can create, but many times the goal you are attempting to achieve and the relationship of the people on the team are both too important not to push through the conflict to get to the best answer. (Just so you know, in my experience, most people will score as a Collaborator, but as you talk through it, that may or may not be their first response to conflict.)

Just as in family relationships, organizational relationships involve conflict.  Learning to handle them in a healthy way is one key to creating organizations that thrive.

How do you tend to handle/view conflict?

How does your organization/organization’s leader view conflict?

For some tips on handling conflict, see THIS POST.

The Emotional Health of the Leader Impacts the Organization

Are you an empty leader?

Be honest.

It’s hard to lead others when you are getting your butt kicked. (Excuse the word, but I think it is needed here if that is how you are feeling.) When your world is crashing in around you, you’ll be less prepared to lead well.  When the stress and anxiety of your world is heavier than the strength you have to lead, you will find yourself treading backward more than forward.

Empty leaders begin to shut others out of decision making, for fear of being discovered as being empty.  Has that started happening to you?

The empty leader rarely sees much progress.  Is that your story these days?

The emotional health of a leader is of utmost importance to the health of the organization.

If you are an empty leader, get yourself together…rebuild your confidence, rediscover your purpose, renew your relationship with Christ, and then lead with everything you’ve got…the healthy side of you!

Please know that if you need a prayer, a suggestion, or some help thinking, that’s one of the purposes of this blog. If I can’t help, I’ll try to point you to someone who can.

Have you had times when you knew you were unhealthy emotionally while leading? What did you do to regain your health?

Have you worked for an unhealthy leader? How was (or is) the organization impacted?

10 Questions with Mr. Leadership: John Maxwell


Whenever a discussion about leadership comes up in conversation, someone is always going to bring up the name John Maxwell. Maxwell, who is a trained and experienced pastor who passionately loves Christ and Kingdom work, has also greatly impacted the secular world with his leadership principles.

John has sold more than 18 million books and has trained more than 5 million leaders around the world with his non-profit organization called EQUIP. His latest book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, shares John’s five principles and five practices for breaking the invisible barrier to leadership and personal success. You can follow John on Twitter HERE or join him on Facebook HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader John Maxwell:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

From my earliest memory, I’ve known that I was going to be a pastor. My brother and I even played church together when we were little. I was a senior pastor leading churches for 26 years. During that time, I felt God call me to teach leadership, which I began doing with fellow pastors. As time went by, more and business people came to learn leadership from me. I left the full-time pastorate in 1995 to teach leadership, now not only to pastors and business people, but also to educators, government leaders, and others. And through my nonprofit organization, EQUIP, we’ve been able to train millions of leaders worldwide.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

One of my first jobs was in a meat packing plant. And being the high-energy, curious person that I was, I wanted to learn everything I could about what we did. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the general attitude at the plant. They actually told me to slow down at my work and stop asking questions. As one worker told me, “Look, I just kill the cows and go home.”

From that experience, I realized that I wanted to be in work that was mentally stimulating and engaging with people.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

My father, definitely. I grew up in a leader’s household. He modeled good leadership and taught me and my brother how to lead. His influence has impacted everything I do. He’s my hero.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders. That’s the book that really made me aware that everything rises and falls on leadership.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Energy, passion, encouragement.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Understanding people and caring about them. That’s really at the heart of leadership, isn’t it? If you don’t care about people, you shouldn’t try to lead them.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Hiring. I’ve made some messes there. That’s because I believe so much in people that I tend to see only the best in them. I believe anyone CAN grow, so I can make a mistake in thinking that everyone WILL grow.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

This goes with the last question. The hardest thing for me is to realize that not everyone continues on the journey with you. Saying goodbye as I move forward and others stay behind is very sad for me. But it’s important for every leader to learn that sometimes people either can’t, won’t or shouldn’t go the whole distance with us.

What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

Of course, I’m not senior pastor anymore. I still preach several times a year for my friend Tom Mullins at Christ Fellowship in West Palm Beach, but I don’t lead anything there. But from my years of experience, I’d say that people seem to think that being the top leader in an organization means you have ultimate freedom. The reality is that if you’re doing leadership the right way, then the higher you go, the less freedom and more responsibilities you have. The path gets narrower.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders, from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Pay the price for growth. People won’t give you credit when you’re early in the journey, but keep growing, learning, leading. The return doesn’t often come till years later, but it’s worth the price.


Wow, did you get the education I just received from John? Has John Maxwell had the impact on you that he has had and continues to have on me as a leader?

I happen to know some from the Maxwell team will be reading this…maybe even Mr. Maxwell himself…take a couple minutes to pay tribute to him here if he has helped your leadership grow.

7 Questions I Have About Leadership


I am a student of leadership. It’s one of my favorite subjects.  I believe principles of leadership are throughout the Bible. God seemed to look for qualities in people He sought for leadership positions. God primarily sought obedience, but He often used a person’s experience also.  Consider David, for example, his field experience protecting the sheep gave him the courage to step into a leadership of battling Goliath. God seemed to single out certain people with the ability to lead.

While I believe the Bible is full of leadership principles and the church today needs better leaders, there are still questions I have about the subject. Perhaps you can help:

Questions:

  • Can leadership be clearly defined and is it important to define it?
  • Is a person who leads people towards corruption or destruction still considered a leader, or does leadership always head people in a positive direction?
  • Is there a difference in leadership and management?
  • Can leadership be taught or is it innate?
  • Is there a certain aptitude or personality more suited for leadership?
  • Is everyone a leader in some area of his or her life?
  • Can someone choose to be a leader or does one become a leader only when people choose to follow him or her?

What do you think?

A Little Change (Drama) Can Spur a Team to Victory

It’s a classic example. You’ve seen it happen many times. Your ball team is behind in the game. The referee makes what you and the rest of your team’s fans believe is a bad call. It energizes the crowd and the team and helps spur your team on to victory.

That example illustrates a principle of organizational dynamics also:

Sometimes a little change, even a little drama, will motivate a team into action.

If things are becoming dull or routine in your organization, as the leader you may need to stir up some change, even if it seems disruptive at the time. There are times to change just for the sake of creating more energy. This doesn’t mean you change your overall vision and your attempt should be to make a positive change, but if things are stagnating some change may be needed. It would almost be better to have a change that didn’t work than to allow things continue at a standstill.

I fully believe this principle is true. Knowing when to use it is obviously critical, but don’t allow fear of making a mistake keep you from doing the right thing. Ask yourself this question: If nothing changes in your organization, where will the momentum on your team be a year or two from now? If the answer isn’t what you want it to be, it may be time for some change.

Is this a hard principle for you or are you a lover of change?

10 Questions with Leader Gerry True – Oak Hills Church


Gerry True is someone I know only online, his leadership resume is intense and he’s worked with some great leaders. Gerry is a Minister of Communication Arts leading four teams; Worship Arts, Production Arts, Creative Arts, and Technical Arts at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. You can read more about him HERE.  You can follow Gerry on Twitter HERE. Just reading Gerry’s answers, I hope we bump into each other at a conference soon!

Here are 10 questions with leader Gerry True:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I had little direction in my life growing up… I simply wanted my own way. Never dreamed I would be a minister.

What’s the most different job you’ve had… how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Making donuts – Lesson learned:
Hold on to opinions loosely and be teachable

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Richard Crotts, a pastor of a small church and now a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He taught me to sacrifice and what it was to care deeply for others. He was Authentic.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Orbiting the Giant Hairball

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Believe in others

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Valuing people more than the end product by inspiring team members to allow God to accomplish through them more than they ever dreamed possible.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

My passion for achieving can be interpreted as pushy and sometimes leads to intimidation.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Allow people to learn through their failures.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

People may think that I love saying “no” or killing an “Idea”

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Intentionally invest in those you lead because God is preparing them for something He already has prepared for them. The really cool thing is that the leader gets to be part of helping equip other leaders for what God will use them to accomplish. Empower and then encourage.

Gerry sounds like an awesome relational leader.  What impresses you about his answers?

Thank You to Church Volunteers! (My experience at church today)


(Diana Sumpter)

Cheryl and I love to visit with other churches. We always learn something that can help us at Grace Community Church. Today, after attending the first service at our church, we visited Cross Point Church’s Dickson campus and it was a great experience. We enjoyed the music, heard a wonderful message by Justin Davis, and we were truly ministered to this morning. I encourage all pastors to find times to experience worship without the responsibility of leadership occasionally.

Perhaps the part that most helped make it a successful visit was our first impression welcome from a volunteer. Diana Sumpter met us shortly after we walked through the front door with a smile and a handshake. With a welcoming spirit, Diana quickly made us feel at ease in a strange setting. She gave us a quick tour, introduced us to other people, and made sure we were comfortable. We learned that Diana has been with the Dickson campus since they launched and is apparently just as passionate about her volunteer position as she was the day she started.

The experience with Diana reminded Cheryl and me how thankful we are for the volunteers we have at Grace Community Church. Each Sunday at least 150 to 200 people give of their time so that others can experience life change through the ministry of the church. The truth is that the structure and workings of a church are only as good as the church’s volunteers. We serve an incredibly amazing God, but He builds His church with people who are willing to love and serve others. The staff can and should do much to lead this, but regardless of the size of the church, paid staff is never enough to accomplish the mission.

Please allow me to say thank you for those who sacrifice each week to make the church work!

I’d love to hear from you. Do you serve the church in some capacity? Where are you currently serving?

If you are a staff member, feel free to give a thank you to those who serve!

The Value of Unstructured Growth/When Growth Outpaces Structure

Here is a principle of organizational leadership that I have begun to understand and process in recent years:

Your structure shouldn’t limit your growth. Your growth should help define your structure.

Since we started Grace Community Church our growth has been outside our structure. We have continually had instances occur where there was no policy or procedure in place to handle the situation. Often we have not been able to afford to completely fund all the needs of the growing organization. We have usually been stretched as paid staff and key volunteers. This diagram shows a visual of how our growth looks on paper:

(As I’ve said before, I’m not the king of graphics, but this is what it might look like if I were sketching this out for you.)

The tendency as we get larger is to reign that growth into a manageable structure. It would be nice to have all the policies and procedures in place to handle every situation that may arise in the future. I’m concerned, however, that doing so may limit future growth. We are adding more structure (I wrote about that HERE previously), but we will also continue to allow unstructured growth to occur.

From our experience, my advice to organizations is:

Don’t be afraid of growth you cannot understand. It’s messier, harder to contain, even uncomfortable at times, but it also keeps leaders energized, maintains momentum, and helps spur exponential growth. You will need to continually update your structure, but as much as you can, let growth dictate those additions.

Are you in an organization afraid of unstructured growth?

10 Questions with Leader (and my co-pastor) Chad Rowland – Grace Community Church


Chad Rowland is my co-pastor. Some day I may write more about that, but, basically as the title indicates, it means we share leadership responsibilities at Grace Community Church. Chad is younger, more into creative arts, and more relational than me, so he balances well with my strategic wiring. I was delighted when Chad chose to answer my ten leadership questions. (Honestly, it helped me know he actually reads my blog!)

You can follow Chad on Twitter HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Chad Rowland:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Before 8th grade, I wanted to be a professional football player. During 8th grade, I decided I wanted to do ministry.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Worked construction in college and at a factory in grad school. It caused me to fall in love with the idea of reaching blue-collar guys.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

My two student pastors, Scott Stevens (currently at Lifeway in Nashville, TN) and Todd Brady (currently at FBC Paducah, KY), both sought me out and mentored me. They then led me to mentor other peers. It kept me focused throughout my teenage years.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Real. Authentic. Unfinished. Amazing.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

Calm. Creative. Thoughtful.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

I love people!

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

I keep a lot of what I’m thinking to myself which greatly hinders the team process.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Set aside time to think and dream.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

That when I’m quiet, it’s due to a lack of concern or interest. Sometimes I’m just thinking.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

There is not one model of leadership. Courageously do what God wants you to do and people will follow you.

Thanks Chad!  Have you ever been accused of not having an idea because you were quiet…thinking?  How did you make your voice heard?

10 Questions with Leader Lantz Howard


Apparently, Lantz Howard just became a new dad.  Check out some great baby pictures on his blog.  Lantz is also a frequent Twitter friend (You can follow him HERE) and today I’m featuring his 10 question leadership interview.  Lantz is a youth and family minister.  I’m impressed with what I see in Lantz and you’ll be impressed with his answers.

Here are 10 questions with leader Lantz Howard:

When you were growing up, are you doing what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

I dreamed of being a pilot since Jr High. Actually went to Lubbock Christian University with intentions of getting out and pursuing aviation school or military. During that time I had the chance to start working on my pilot’s license and realize it was fun hobby, but I enjoyed being with people. I came alive after I was with people. However, sometimes I wonder what if…

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

Working the summers in the oil field out in West Texas. My father wanted to teach me the value of true honest, hard work and the value of higher education. Well, needless to say after many days of sun up till sun down I am thankful for hardwork and believe that this is missing from many young males lives today.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

Leadership…I would say my grandfather. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in the late 70’s and lived until 2000. He valued relationships and connecting with people. Without those qualities one cannot be a leader.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. I read this book in 2001 and it has impacted my life in many ways to this day. In fact I ordered a copy earlier this week to pass on to someone.

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

I try to have focus, discipline, and perseverance.

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Connecting.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Working through conflict.

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Connecting others.

What is one misconception about your leadership position you think people may have?

That I am young and don’t know a hill of beans. Well, he is in charge of the youth ministry…that is not the “real” ministry.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Stick it out longer than what your emotions tell you. Early on in leadership you will want to run and avoid the conflict, but the one who is able to dig down and fight for what matters will overcome.

Thanks Lantz. 

For those of you who are young leaders, have you, like Lance, ever felt as though your voice wasn’t heard because of your age? How did you deal with that time?