I am becoming a student of Strengths Finder. This personality reviewer gives a person insight into his or her “signature themes” of strengths or behaviors that help drive a person. Over the next few days I will share my individual themes in an afternoon post. Hopefully this will give insight into some of what makes me the way I am and even a clue as to why I may blog about what I blog about.
Before I start to share, however, I need to share that I am also learning there are weaknesses that accompany each of the strengths. For example, one of my strengths is Command. You will read more about it soon, but basically it is a strength, which leads me to take charge. I want progress and I am wired to push for it if no one else does. At times this can cause problems for those around me.
Take for example, if I get to a four-way stop the same time as another car. If the other car hesitates even for a second I am gone. It is not that I mind waiting for the other car or that I mind the other car waiting for me, but I just don’t want the other car waiting for me as I wait for the other car as the other car waits for me… In other words, I want forward progress! Let’s go! Sometimes this trait causes Cheryl to think I am impatient or unkind if she is in the seat next to me.
When I am part of an organization that “strength” shows up as well. If those around me are not leading, get out of the way and I will. I am perfectly fine if another person wants to lead, in fact I strongly encourage people to do something, take a risk, dream a dream, plan big. I will even be okay if your way is different from mine (at times), but my main concern is that the ball is rolling in some direction.
Unfortunately, this trait can at times be overwhelming, annoying, and even seem uncaring. I am realizing that more each day. My thought process now is to figure out how to allow this strength to work for the good of the organization and not allow it to disrupt team spirit, harmony, or morale. I am trying to take COMMAND of my strengths!
I am not a big fan of job titles. We have had some staff additions and changes in the last couple of months and one of the most frequent questions has been “What’s their new title?” Frankly I do not care! I am fine with people picking their own title and would rather spend my time concentrating on the work we need to get done.
I suppose my dislike of titles has to do with one of my philosophies of work. I think when an organization has a vision, operates as a team, and strategically sets out to accomplish it, that everyone’s job on the team is to see that the vision is accomplished, regardless of a person’s title.
Titles to me are too specific. They seem to indicate a defined area of focus. I realize some people need that for clarity and I understand the need for specialization around an area of work or skill sets, but I prefer a job description to a title. I like for a person to understand the goals and objectives for the position, and even more than that, the overall vision of the organization and for them to realize how they are a key part of the organization’s success. That is hard to capture in a specific job title. Job titles tend to lead to the phrase and thought, “That’s not my job.”
I realize job titles are cultural, so we will keep using them, but I do not have to like something just because everyone else is doing it. I almost wish we could start calling everyone “Team Player” and if they need a big title to feel good or to dress up a business card, maybe we could title them “Director of What’s Required”.
Do you like job titles? Does your title truly capture the entire role you play in your organization?
This week in a message called “Hot Seat” we unveiled some of the vision for Grace Community Church this fall. In this message we introduce new staff members and new assignments. Keep up with what Grace is doing next here… You can watch the first 10 minutes without logging in and then Truthcasting forces you to log in. I hope you will take the effort to watch an interview about what God is doing at Grace.
I love being able to respond to opportunities as they present themselves. I am not talking about possibilities. I am referring to legitimate opportunities, things that the organization should and wants to take advantage of when they come available. (Read HERE for a post explaining the difference in possibilities and opportunities.)
The problem for many organizations is that they are not structured in a way that allows them to react quick enough to take advantage of opportunities, before the opportunity window passes.
My advice: Be prepared so you can make quick decisions.
Here are 6 tips to be better prepared for the next great opportunity:
Have margin in the budget for emergency funding, as well as expanse funding. At Grace Community Church we have always operated extremely conservative. Even when cash flow was tight we were never spending all of our resources. We waited to do some things we may have wanted to do so we would have margin for opportunities as they arose.
Network. Some of the best opportunities come quickly and are known to few people before they are gone. Stay connected to others in your particular industry to know when a sweet deal comes available.
Stay current with culture and trends. Many organizations are reactive rather than proactive. Great organizations know the people and society around them and can respond as changes occur.
Have systems and structures in place that welcomes innovation. For example, organizations that have a healthy team environment can more easily shift workloads to accommodate new responsibilities.
Make change a part of the organization’s culture. Resistance is less likely when change is something people are accustomed to experiencing.
Be willing to move by faith. There are times when an organization has to take a risk or it will miss out on the opportunity.
How is your organization taking advantage of opportunities as they come available?
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.
As a part of my Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University I am to conduct a qualitative research project. I wrote about the master’s program in yesterday’s post. Read it HERE. I decided to survey the spiritual health of our church by asking a cross-section of people questions about their own spiritual maturity and growth.
Specifically this research will attempt to measure:
What contributes to a person’s spiritual growth most?
What has caused or will cause them to want to take next steps in their spiritual growth?
I am asking people to answer the following questions:
What do you believe is spiritual growth?
Do you feel you are growing spiritually now? Why?
What has caused your life to improve spiritually in the past? Were there key events/people/times? Can you explain?
How has Grace Community Church influenced your spiritual growth since you began attending?
What would help you grow more spiritually mature?
What changes do you need to make to grow more spiritually?
Are there any comments or thoughts you have about the church and what we are doing to spur people to “become growing followers of Jesus Christ”?
I am getting great responses so far. I will share some of my results in future posts.
Feel free to play along. How would you answer these questions?
I have been asked consistently for the past year why I would subject myself to the discipline of obtaining a second master’s degree. I have a seminary master’s in counseling, but last year I began work on a master’s in organizational leadership from Eastern University in Philadelphia. I should finish this degree in early 2010.
The answer is fairly simple. I am an idiot who loves to torture myself.
Actually, the truth is that I felt the need for more education in a field that I practice most. As a pastor and church planter I need seminary training. Honestly though, I went to seminary later in life also and much of what I learned about the Bible I had studied previously as a layperson. I have been a student of the Bible since I was in my early twenties. What I have found the need for most in my leadership role in the church is insight on leading an organization. The more we have grown the more I have sensed the need to grow personally.
So far in my studies we have looked at organizational leadership, strategic planning, organizational efficiency, human resources, strategic thinking and change management and financial management. All of these are vital to what I do at Grace Community Church and the training has been directly transferable to my work.
There are a few other reasons I am pursuing this degree.
Our church has grown faster than my ability to keep up with it at times. I recently wrote about leadership capacity and, as with many posts, this one had personal implications.
I want to make the organization of the church better. One of the reasons I blog is to help others grow in their leadership with principles I have learned in business, church and through my education.
I am a Kingdom-builder. When God called me into ministry, He called me for who I am. I am not a sit still, detailed, or single-minded person. I think big!
I never want to stop learning. Ever!
It has been a fun, but stretching and expensive venture for Cheryl and me, but I am thankful God has given me the opportunity. I am also thankful to Cheryl for allowing me the time and to spend our money to do this. As an added benefit, I have learned to love Philly cheesesteak. I even have a favorite.
This passage spoke to me this morning…perhaps it will speak to you also:
Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.
The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—”First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them.
These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can. 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 (The Message Version…emphasis mine.)
I consider the world we live in today and it was much like those days in Corinth. There are many options for immoral failure. Finding trouble these days is not hard to do. We must be on guard, because history teaches us that we can easily fall prey to temptation if we allow ourselves to become desensitized. I think Paul is saying to the Corinthians, “You see the immoral culture around you. You don’t have to participate. You can choose to be different. You have the ability to flee temptation.” I believe we can love the people of the culture without falling into the sins of the day. It’s a challenge, one that I struggle with daily, but one that is made possible by Christ’s power working in us.
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?
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.