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Pride in Leadership: The world’s perspective or God’s perspective?

Pride is an ever-present temptation for leaders.

In the world’s eyes pride in leadership may actually seem beneficial. Today, prideful leaders are often celebrated because they seem “successful.” By mere force of their seemingly self-assured personalities, they shake up the status quo and make change happen. But their temporary “success” comes at a profound cost. What seems like success in the world’s eyes is actually failure from God’s perspective. Pride’s tidal wave always leaves behind a devastating wake of damage to both organizations and people.

Scripture offers us many warnings on pride:

The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted  (and they will be humbled) … (Isaiah 2:12)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Prov. 11:2)

A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. (Prov. 14:3)

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)

Pride leads to a fall. Much like the mythical flight of Icarus, the leader who soars in self-adulatory egotism will inevitably crash to earth.

Today, we see political leaders reveling in Tweet-fueled hubris and self-serving hyperbole. Ministry leaders too can obsess over building their personal brand. This may garner momentary acclaim, but it does not protect those leaders from the inevitable outcomes of pride. That’s why we must remain vigilant in watching for pride in leadership.

Five Markers of Pride in Leadership

BLAME

Leaders who operate from a reservoir of pride are often unable to admit mistakes. There is always someone else to blame. Genuine apologies are rare.

CHAOS

Prideful leaders often create dysfunctional cultures of chaos. Their organizations exhibit an inevitable churn of staff members who are routinely denied credit yet assigned blame.

DECEIT

Pride, being a root sin, may bear the forbidden fruit of other hidden sins in a leader’s life. That might be a lack of fidelity in marriage or an array of other temporarily hidden sins.

DEFENSIVENESS

The prideful leader is often unable to take criticism well. Such leaders lack self-confidence, and at times will seek to build themselves up by tearing others down.

FOOLISHNESS

In the end, prideful leaders lack wisdom. They make poor decisions because their falsely perceived self-sufficiency keeps them from following wise counsel. “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” (Prov. 12:15)

Character ultimately tells out. Pride in leadership may secure short-term “success,” but it always guarantees long-term failure.

The Path of Humility

There is a better way – the path of humility. We see this in the Apostle Paul’s description of Jesus:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:6-8)

 We too are exhorted to follow that path:

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

The late Rev. Billy Graham is a great example of humble Christ-honoring leadership. In an article for Outcomes magazine entitled “Billy Graham’s Leadership: Humble Availability to God,” A. Larry Ross, who served as Graham’s principal media spokesperson for more than half of his six decades of public ministry, shared this telling quote:

“Former crusade director Rick Marshall said that, at the height of his career, the evangelist ‘had extraordinary gifts. He had a presence; he was great with people; he had a wonderful personality and great skills as an orator. But there was a humility despite all of those outward appearances that you couldn’t explain.’

Marshall further observed that while Billy Graham recognized and appreciated his giftings, he had no desire to use them for self-promotion or personal gain.”

What a refreshing example of leading with Christ-like humility. May we too resist the temptation to pride in leadership, and follow the path of humility. It’s what the world needs to see today, more than ever.

  • Do you see markers of pride in your own leadership?
  • Do you judge the success of leaders from a worldly or biblical perspective?
  • How can we better follow the humble way of Jesus’ leadership?

####

Scott Brown is vice president for leadership experiences and resources for Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), and editor-in-chief of the Alliance’s Outcomesmagazine. He holds master’s degrees in Communications: Journalism and Public Affairs from The American University and in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, as well as a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Liberty University.

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 Modeling –  What You See and What You Do

In his book, Urban Apologetics, Christopher Brooks recounts the following story on the importance of modeling.

On May 6, 1954, on the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England, Bannister did what was previously assumed to be impossible, and, by physiologists of his era, even dangerous. He ran a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. What is even more significant is the event that took place just forty-six days later. For nearly two millennia no human being was able to run an entire mile in under four minutes; but after Bannister showed the world it was possible, John Landry completed the same feat in Finland just forty-six days later, breaking Bannister’s record. Today, it is very common for professional runners to complete the mile in less than 4 minutes. Many credited this advancement in running to the power that seeing a visual example can have on a group of people.

As an apologist, it is equally important for me to provide concrete facts and evidence as it is to help people integrate that information into their lives in a practical way. Likewise, leaders in every arena should be focused both on giving a clear vision to those they lead and modeling the actions necessary to collectively accomplish that vision.

Oftentimes, we, like Landry, don’t really know what we’re capable of until we are pushed beyond our self-prescribed limits. Once we get a glimpse of what could be done or what is being done, our mind seems to shift and those boundaries that were once so set in stone now seem to be stepping stones as opposed to unscalable walls. Who has come into your life and shown by example that what you thought was impossible was in fact achievable? Leaders, are you leading the charge or only ordering others into the fight while you watch from afar? It has been said that perception is reality…but perceptions can change. 

PROXIMITY

I have some mentors who have mentored me from afar, but the most impactful mentors were those who have mentored me up close and personal. They discipled me, which means they were in my life and I was in theirs. A parent raising a child will have more teachable moments with them than a camp counselor because they are closer to that child for longer periods of time. It is impossible to model good behavior if whomever you are modeling for is never or seldom around. This seems obvious but what is plain is not always practiced. How many leaders have given a directive but were seldom present to demonstrate the correct implementation of that directive? I recently read a story of a woman who went to Europe for 12 days and left her 4 children (all under 12) at home alone. This is an extreme example but it does illustrate the inability to lead those who you aren’t around. Proximity increases influence and influence is a primary component for great leadership.

PERCEPTION

Before Roger Bannister ran a sub-4-minute mile, John Landry likely had a very different perspective on whether or not it could be done. However, his perspective changed once he witnessed this accomplishment. In reality, seeing Sir Bannister complete this feat didn’t give John Landry super powers that he didn’t have forty-six days prior. He was still the same man and most likely still trained the same way. What changed was his perspective of what was possible. Thoughts precipitate actions. As a leader the best way to advance your company, ministry, organization, team or family is to get those around you to elevate their thoughts. A parent that gets a promotion or starts a new business or writes a book changes their child’s perception of what’s possible without saying anything. A leader who believes their organization can achieve greater success and then increases their own productivity to that end inspires their employees, teammates, or volunteers to expect greater without saying a word. Perceptions are not static. They can be buoyed or crushed.

PRESENTATION

Once someone is close enough to learn or see something that changes their perception, their ultimate presentation of the fulfillment of their purpose becomes that much more spectacular. Every Olympics, some athlete in some sport breaks someone else’s World record. This means that athletes, who just four years ago did what had never been done, are routinely outdone by other athletes. In fact, modeling is so effective that sometimes athletes break their own World records. Sometimes we get too focused on what we haven’t accomplished. But what have you done that you never thought you could do? What has someone else done after watching you that they never thought they could do? What are you modeling that will have a lasting impact on the world and in the lives of those around you? The mark of a great leader is not in what you build but in what those who follow you are able to sustain.

####

Alex McElroy is an international speaker who has taught thousands of people how to lead and live out their purpose in life. He is a passionate speaker, teacher, leader, business owner, author, as well as a faithful husband and a devoted father.

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Steward Leader Heart Health

I am a big fan of the Schumpeter column in The Economist. Several years back, the 2 August 2014 column, Decluttering the Company hit a nerve for me….hard.

Two brief quotes from the article made the point, quoting Peter Drucker,

“Much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”

“The most debilitating form of clutter is organizational complexity.”

The editorial goes on to define where such complexity occurs:

  • structure
  • meetings
  • e-mail (the editorial calls any e-mail a time tax for people at either end of the communication)

Think of this as organizational artery clogging — globs of fat clinging to the production lines that produce revenue. Arteries need to be there so that what is needed can flow to the parts of the system that need it. Impediments need to be removed without delay. If not, management tasks shift from managing the flow to managing around the clogged artery.

Companies grow in a rhythm of surging forward, stabilizing, retrenchment and then surging ahead again. Each subsequent cycle happens in tighter time-frames and with more impediments threatening the arterial flow.

Leaders, becoming managers, are sorely tempted to add policy, internal processes, layers of communication and more meetings. Leaders, remaining leaders, choose something necessary to add, but matched by the courage to end something else—working diligently for an ever freer capacity for the arterial flow so that mission gets the resources instead of administration consuming them.

At the time this article poked me hard, I was also noticing I needed to do the same thing personally. When my life is clogged I have difficulty paying attention to the clogs that threaten the company. If I am overweight, sedentary and not eating well, the arteries of my body become clogged. So does my mind. If I  do not pay attention to my body, how can I have the capacity to care for my life?

Since then, having given specific attention to arterial health in every form, I am 50 pounds lighter, eating more consciously, working less in the business and far more on it, and guiding the steward leadership of a growing company that now has fewer meetings and less complexity.

####

Mark L. Vincent Ph.D, CCNL is CEO of Design Group International, an organizational development company he co-founded in 2001 to help organizations and their leaders transform for a vibrant future.

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Do I Own My Work?

“He worketh”.  Those were the words that greeted me in my devotion this morning.  The author goes on to say, “He shall perform the cause which I have in hand…my own particular work today… This is what I may ask Him to do for me and rest assured that He will perform it.” (Streams in the Desert,  Letty Cowman, May 22nd).

He worketh.  Do I really believe that statement?  Do I believe that in the daily decisions and tasks of ministry management – strategic plans, metrics, measurable inputs and outcomes – that God will work?  Do I believe that He will “instruct and guide me with His strong right hand”?

Do I even want Him to work in the specific tasks of leadership and management?  Well, not really.   More often than I want to admit, I believe I have this covered!  After all, leaders have natural gifts, multiple educational degrees and years of ministry experience.  Many are natural born leaders who have been “leading” since they mastered the politics and personalities of the elementary school playground!

No, I often think I own my gifts, abilities and what God has given me to do.  Yes, I pray for God to guide and bless the ministry and our plans.  However, it is my job to make the strategic plans and measurable outcomes happen.  I own the work.  It is up to me.

I do not think I am alone in these thoughts.

Yet, this life of owning the work of Kingdom ministry is not producing the results I expected to see.  Leadership burn-out, ministry fatigue and moral failure are all too familiar experiences in ministry work.  The pressure to succeed, or at least look like we are succeeding, is great.

God wants our life testimony to be that “He worketh” in everything He has given us.  That life of peace, joy and freedom that Jesus describes, the life of the Vine and the branches, is what He longs to provide for us.  He wants us to have that joy and peace in ministry. We can change.  He will perform all He has given us to do.

Some of God’s most productive servants, such as Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor have all written often on this topic.  Here are three simple steps to a new kind of life in ministry taken from their books and journals.

Surrender

Each morning be still before God and let go of the plans, strategies and ideas we have prepared for the day.  Let Him infuse His life into the work of our day.

Pray and Listen

Make room for silent meditation and then bring our requests to Him. Believe that God will actually provide instruction and direction for the specific work today.

Invite Our Team

Bring our ministry team into the experience of trusting God for the work. Let God transform our ministry culture.  What an encouragement this will be for them and those we serve.

These are only simple beginning steps for moving into a life of stewardship (not ownership) of our lives and work. The steps will look different for each of us, but our life desire will be the same.  We all want that life of peace and joy in serving Jesus.  We want our work to be a testimony of Him.  He will encourage us.   God knows us and will bring us into this life.  He worketh!

####

Melinda Delahoyde is a lifelong leader in the pregnancy center movement, she is the former President of Care Net. She has worked with Care Net from its inception, serving in various roles both on staff and on the Board of Directors.

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Outcomes Academy Online –  Summer 2018

The Outcomes Academy is Christian Leadership Alliance’s most in-depth professional learning experience. You can register and access it wherever your ministry travels take you this summer!

The Academy is designed by subject matter experts to equip Christian leaders for operational excellence in eight core functional areas. Practical and full of best practices, this learning experience offers critical insights and instruction that will advance the effectiveness of leaders and the organizations they serve.

The Outcomes Academy Online offers in-depth leadership training on a state-of-the-art online platform. These interactive and innovative 10-hour modules are developed by some of America’s top thought leaders in Christian leadership, and group discussions are facilitated by experts with hands-on experience.

Christian Leadership Alliance has a vast library of dynamic online modules, and chooses the best mix of options to meet the needs of today’s Christian leader.

Each quarter Christian Leadership Alliance features one “CCNL” multi-disciplinary module (required for CCNL participants) as well. This summer we offer two CCNL required courses!

You may also want to learn more about earning your CCNL and having it count for more through York College’s masters program. This is a excellent way to keep on learning and growing as a nonprofit leader.

Mark Your Calendar

Registration Deadline: June 18, 2018
Modules Begin: June 25, 2018

Outcomes Academy Summer 2018 Offering

(Click each module title to register!)

CCNL Relationship

Faculty: Georgia Joseph, Owner and Founder, Content Strategy Solutions, LLC

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the fundamentals of brand development
  • Understand the components of an engaging brand
  • Identify all the channels and methods to connect your brand with your target audience
  • Discover the core ways to inspire donor support
  • Learn the keys to steward lifelong donors
CCNL Stewardship

Faculty: Lisa Cooper, CCNL, Director of Operations, @ the Crossing, Denver Rescue Mission

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn the fundamentals of internal controls, policies and procedures that help a leader of a ministry to better steward its finances
  • Comprehend the budget and financial reporting process and how it is an integral part of financial stewardship
  • Review the significance of liability, employment laws and tax compliance in an organization and why the right counsel can be the difference maker
  • Understand why the stewardship of talent acquisition; employee performance management, team development, and leadership alignment are foundational for a Christ-centered organization
  • Develop a working knowledge of human resource administration, compensation, benefits, legal compliance, and the value of strong employee communications, engagement and satisfaction
Managing the CEO/Board Relationship Well

Faculty: Mark L. Vincent, Ph.D., CCNL, Founder, Design Group International

Learning Objectives:

  • Equip the executive to map and utilize the assets available within the board
  • Provide an up-to-date understanding of the complementariness of the board and executive roles
  • Establish the importance of, and methods for, board recruitment, board development and board succession
  • Define and put boundaries around fundraising responsibilities for the board and executive
  • Demonstrate the value of well-executed executive transition and succession
Protect Your Ministry’s Finances

Faculty: Vonna Laue, CCNL, Executive Vice President, ECFA

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn from examples of fraud that have taken place in ministries and recognize the warning signs that can be monitored in your organization
  • Understand ways that you can try to prevent fraud from occurring in your organization
  • Recognize importance of risk management, learning how to identify risk and who should be involved in the process
  • Provide wisdom on oversight and monitoring of internal controls and how that can be done in your ministry
  • Know how to establish necessary internal controls for cash receipts, cash disbursements, payroll, and information technology areas

Today is a great day to invest in your leadership!

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The Tyranny of Time

Remember the last time you faced a day with back-to-back meetings, and then someone cancelled? It was as if you were given a gift of an hour, a precious 60 minute oasis in the middle of the fast moving stream of life. Perhaps you paused to consider the things you could do with that gift. Go on a walk? Call that friend that you’d forgotten about? Read that article that’s been on your desk for a month? Take a nap? Regardless of how you spent it, for one moment you relished the possibilities afforded you by this precious offering.

The truth from a kingdom perspective is that the 24 hours of every day are just such precious gifts. Here’s another kingdom truth, we have enough of it. The enemy always wants to convince us that God is a miser, doling out an increasing volume of work to be crammed into what he has granted us. The comment, “I just don’t have enough” is an admission that we have bought the lie.

 This distortion is the cause of one of the greatest afflictions of Christian leaders; we are so busy working for God that we have no time left for God to work in us. Listening for and waiting on God gets sacrificed on the altar of human productivity.

So here’s the question, would God call us into a position only to require of us an amount of work that forces us to sacrifice being with him in order to succeed in it? If not, perhaps the problem is not the lack of time but a deeper drive that convinces us that we have not achieved enough, earned enough, experienced enough…

Time, work, relationships, worship and rest are all gifts from God. In God’s economy, they are supplied in full and adequate portions. They never steal from each other. It’s only when we live as owners seeking to control that they appear to be at war.

If you never seem to have enough time for all you’re trying to get done, let me offer three brief suggestions.

(1.) Surrender your time back to God; every hour, every minute, every second. Lay aside the temptation to play the owner and ask God how he would have you invest His gift of time for His kingdom. And then obey!

(2.) Start each day with this prayer, “Lord, you have given me enough time to complete everything today that you’ve called me to do. Guide me every step of the way and help me invest your time today with anticipation and joy.”

(3.) Ask God to give you the ability to value quiet time with Him more highly than any other time in your day. This is a spiritual battle that can only be won through the power of the Holy Spirit.

It’s time for Christian leaders to stop believing the lie, to cease being controlled by time, to no longer model the same anxiety and frenetic pace of the world around us. Every minute is a gift of God, given to us to steward according to His desires, to accomplish His work, done His way for His glory.

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

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Dr. Scott Rodin as been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for twenty-five years. He has served as counsel to over 100 organizations across the country and in Canada and Great Britain including colleges, seminaries, schools, churches, para-church ministries and other not-for-profit organizations. Visit his blog at Kingdom Life Publishing. This post in an excerpt from his latest book, Steward Leader Meditations: Fifty devotions for the Leadership Journey.

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Transformed leaders, transform. Learn to lead like Jesus.

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The Four Basic Components of Transformational Leadership

While Paul wrote of spiritual transformation 2,000 years ago, the conception of Transformational Leadership Theory is fairly new. James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his book Leadership (Harper Torchbooks, 1978). Originally this was in the context of his research into political leadership, but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well.

There are four basic components of the Transformational Leadership Theory:

  1. Charisma or idealized influence is the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways and displays convictions and takes stands that cause followers to identify with the leader who has a clear set of values and acts as a role model for the followers. Jesus asks for us to follow his example of humility of taking the form of a servant, in order to truly be a blessed and great.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. – John 13:12-15

  1. Inspirational motivation is the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that appeals to and inspires the followers with optimism about future goals, and offers meaning for the current tasks in hand. Jesus shared the vision and goals for his followers in John 14.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. … John 14:1-4

  1. Intellectual stimulation shows the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, and stimulates and encourages creativity by providing a framework for followers to see that when they connect [to the leader, the organization, each other and the goal] they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission. Jesus clearly gives a framework for followers to creatively overcome the obstacles rendered by our enemies by invoking a loving approach of response.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  – Matt. 5:43-46

  1. Personal and individual attention is the degree to which the leader attends to each individual follower’s needs and acts as a mentor or coach and gives respect to and appreciation of the individual’s contribution to the team. This fulfills and enhances each individual team members’ need for self-fulfillment, and self-worth. In so doing it inspires followers to further achievement and growth. Jesus speaks on an individual basis to inspire us for further spiritual growth and maturity, as he once did for the Apostle Philip.

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. – John 14:9-10

Transformational Leadership is a style of leadership where the leader works with employees to identify the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of the group.

These four elements are seen in successful leaders. If a leader only focuses on one aspect, such as charisma, then the important facets of an organization cannot thrive and develop. In other words, leaders cannot stand on charisma alone. They must also implement and provide inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and personal attention to transform an organization or individuals. Without all four components, leaders will struggle with true transformation of those he or she is leading.

The transformational leader knows that others are observing them and learning how to impact others. It’s about serving, holding to convictions, and providing encouragement and inspiration, while stimulating other to think through their own convictions and beliefs as they work, serve and live. True leadership that transforms becomes a personal interaction with those around you and in your network. Never underestimate the power of your influence and especially the power of Christ who guides you and makes all things possible.“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2) as you lead others through your day.

####

Monty McNair, Ph.D., currently serves York College in York, Nebraska as the Director of the Masters of Arts in Global and Organizational Leadership Studies and is an Associate Professor of Business and Leadership. He has taught as an online professor for York College Nebraska, Indiana Wesleyan University, William Woods University, and Harding University.

Kirk Mallette, Ed.D., has served as an Associate Professor of Education and Dean of Graduate and Online Studies the past five years at York College in York, Nebraska. He is also Director of Master of Arts in Curriculum Instruction for York. He has also served in public education as a teacher, principal and superintendent. This post is an excerpt from the 2018 Spring Edition of Outcomes Magazine.

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 Learn why compelling images matter in your ministry communication.

The impact that compelling images have on us is undeniable. We are innately visual creatures, and God has blessed us with intricate beauty all around us. The plethora of messages we receive on a daily basis—both positive and negative—are increasingly visual because research tells us that words coupled with an image are more likely to stick. That’s why using high-quality, emotive visuals in your communication are key to inviting your audience to join your mission. And they are worth the investment.

High quality images have the power to:
  • transport your audience to where the work is happening
  • connect with them emotionally
  • get them excited about your mission
  • help them tangibly feel the need
  • communicate the credibility of your organization

In contrast, low quality images shift the focus of your audience from the impact you are making to negative perceptions:

  • understaffed
  • poorly funded/operated
  • unclear impact
  • dull or lackluster mission

I counsel small to mid-size ministries that a successful image library looks like:

  • 300+ professional-grade images shot with a DSLR camera by a professional or experienced hobbyist. They should feature natural lighting, shallow depth of field, compelling composition, and high resolution.
  • Content (subject matter) that aligns with your brand strategy. Your library should depict images of your “Promise” (the impact of your ministry, or lives changed) and “Proof” of that impact (what gives you credibility).
  • A library that remains fresh. Regularly update your images to reflect your most recent work.

But don’t worry—quality is more valuable than quantity. Take your time and build up to the ideal.

So, how do you assess the quality of your organization’s image library?

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are any of the images in our library shot by a professional or experienced hobbyist?
  2. If I lay out a random selection of our images next to those of best-in-class nonprofits (charity:water, Care for Aids, IMB), how do they compare?
  3. Do we have images that capture each of our Brand Strategy Promise and Proofs?
  4. How many images do we have that meet these three criterion?
Practical next steps:
  1. Archive any image that isn’t high quality and compelling.
  2. Organize your library—use categories that align with your brand Promise and Proofs.
  3. Budget to grow your library ongoing. Are there professional photographers in your network who would donate their time or give you a nonprofit discount? Commission them to capture strategic and compelling images on location of your impact at least annually—ideally several times per year (various locations, milestones, facets of your ministry). Not connected to a photographer? We highly recommend our partner, Silent Images.
  4. Identify a person in your organization responsible for maintaining your image library.

Building a high quality, compelling library takes investment and commitment. But the reward is great. You will be able to say less and communicate more. And your audience will be captivated by—and want to join with—what God is doing in and through your ministry.

####

Autumn Lunsford is Creative Director at Kumveka, a nonprofit branding and marketing agency serving Christ-focused ministries around the world. She lives in Zeeland, Michigan, with her husband and four children.

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Techniques for Contact Centers to Reduce High Turnovers

Staff turnover is one of the biggest problems that contact centers face today. It has a huge impact on the costs and the quality of service. According to the 2016 US Contact Center Decision Makers’ Guide from ContactBabel.com – the Average annual turnover rate for a customer service representative (CSR) was 29% – an “average lifespan” for a call center worker in the USA was approximately 3.3 years – with quit rates representing 60% of Total Turnover.

Regardless of size or industry sector – over time it is a statistically inevitable reality that the demands of call center work causes exhaustion and apathy – and turnover.

Reasons Why Contact Center Agents Quit or Get Terminated

What are the reasons behind the high turnover rate? Like most situations, the answer cannot be reduced to a single factor, but is instead a combination of workplace environmental influences. Here are the top drivers of turnover:

  1. Wrong Candidate for the Job
  2. Incomplete or Minimal Training
  3. Narrow Chances of Career Advancement
  4. Non-Competitive Compensation
  5. Overworked and Burnout of More Experienced Agents
  6. Unpleasant Physical or Interpersonal Working Conditions
  7. Exhaustion from Monotony
  8. Poor Leadership & Direct Supervision
  9. Working with Outmoded Technology
  10. Poor Analysis of Call Center Statistics
Employee Engagement Techniques to Reduce Turnover

Through employee engagement, companies can boost their employees’ motivation, build confidence in their work, and ultimately lead them to deliver exceptional customer service for long-term customer loyalty. With the onset of the new millennial generation, old and rusty work cultures are rapidly breaking down. This is a cue for businesses that they need to get real insights from their workforce through employee engagement tools and techniques that can motivate and drive workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Gamification– Gamification is proving to be an effective tool for identifying and recognizing agents and other employees for a job well done. Even better, it is also a self service tool, which means that agents control their own destiny when it comes to recognition and rewards, which frees supervisors and managers from this essential but time-consuming task. Gamification solutions actively engage agents in their own success, which is characteristic of leading contact centers.

Compensation– Creating a compensation plan that rewards top employees is an excellent way to drive performance. In the large majority of the employee engagement surveys conducted by TalentMap, compensation receives one of the least favorable ratings among all of the dimensions of employee engagement. An analysis published by Harvard Business Review showed that performance-related pay was positively associated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and trust in management. Compensation also serves as recognition in the absence of other cues, messages or signals.

Assessing Cultural Fit – Call centers are used to assessing employee performance through hard metrics. This is a key mistake, as academics have noted that employees who fit in well with their job, team and organization have greater job satisfaction, are more likely to remain in their organization, and show superior job performance.

Competent Technology, Tools and Training – To deliver their best, agents should be given the latest technology for excellent omnichannel customer service and receive the proper training required to master these tools. Using a contact center software solution with advanced features ensures quicker and more efficient service, and thorough training will help agents feel prepared for each interaction.

Experiment with Team Structure– We increasingly need to recruit people to integrate into a fast-paced team: according to McKinsey, 40% of jobs in developed economies involve a high degree of collaboration. Switch your agents tasks on occasion, encourage collaboration, and create team- building exercises. It will facilitate agent enthusiasm and interest, while keeping them on their toes.

Go Beyond the Metrics– While it is extremely important, if not essential, to monitor agent performance metrics (service level, agent schedule adherence, call resolution, average handle time, customer satisfaction) it shouldn’t never be the sole means by which to define an employee’s capabilities and potential. In fact, many call center employees site the narrow grading metrics contact centers generally adhere to as a key cause of in-office stress and lack of productivity.

Communication – Effective communication can increase employee engagement, boost workplace productivity, and drive business growth. Specifically, communicating strategies about career development and management can be essential to retaining an existing work force, and engaging employees to perform at their peak ability.

Allowing Downtime – Your workers are people, and people need downtime. There’s a growing trend of companies looking to utilize their employees’ downtime for good, or at least to not let their employees’ inevitable breaks go completely to waste. Rather than forcing employees to take very short breaks, and logging those breaks fastidiously, managers should encourage groups of employees to take breaks at the same times. By doing this, employees will spend more time together, encouraging social bonding.

Optimize the Workspace– Given the intense nature of a contact center, a workspace optimized for comfort and productivity is absolutely necessary. A lounge is a great way to show appreciation for agents’ well-being and to encourage employees to socialize during their downtime. For training and meeting purposes, open and collaborative spaces are ideal. Ergonomic chairs and supplies and even standing desks can increase comfort, as well as natural lighting, warm colors, and plants which are proven to boost people’s moods and creativity.

Provide Meaningful Rewards and Recognition– Encourage individual management recognition but also develop organizational recognition vehicles. Simple recognition of jobs well done in the quarterly newsletter, pictures on the bulletin board, dinner gift certificates, and other small rewards provide a high return on investment. Companies with employee recognition programs experience a 22% lower turnover rate than organizations without one.

Promoting Good Leadership – Being an empathetic manager that is willing to get to know their people beyond work have more engaged teams.

Establish Growth Opportunities – An astounding 32% of contact center employees cite “lack of career development opportunities” as a reason for terminating their employment. Ensure development opportunities are clearly established and communicated to agents on a continuous basis. It will encourage them to remain with the company while striving to reach for those elevated opportunities.

Covet Community Service As Much As Customer Service – People are inspired by and want to work for companies that care about all human beings – not just customers and employees. Give agents a few paid days off each year to volunteer for their favorite charity/non-profit organization; the time off the phones will help to minimize their whining about back pain and Carpal Tunnel flare ups.

Contact centers are challenging but highly rewarding departments in which to work. The influx of Millennials is driving companies to assess and re-evaluate their people engagement approaches and practices. Many companies are realizing that they need to make changes and investments if they want to have a contact center with highly motivated and engaged employees, and become an employer of choice.

####

Sarah Hall is a Customer Success Manager at Tenfold, a CTI software company that’s eliminating manual data entry into CRMs in order to boost productivity for a number of departments. This an excerpt of an article that originally published at Tenfold.

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The Importance of Communication Concepts in a Leader-Follow Relationship

Communication concepts in the leader-follower relationship are important because they provide a clear presentation of some helpful techniques about how individuals can evaluate their own communication abilities.

Most importantly, one can improve his or her own communication skills by adhering to developing and earning trust by acting, thinking, and decision making in the right manner, learning how to gather information, being open to dialogues, developing effective skills, and being able to read between the lines.

These are essential, fundamental tools that are necessary in global environments and cross-cultural communication, because of the roles they help leaders develop as they are striving to become more successful as they embark on a journey of effective leadership.

WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION?

 In order to improve communication with respect to the leader-follower relationship, one should observe the following prerequisites:

Maintaining Trust

One should be aware that people are likely to forgive many things where trust exists as opposed to where there is no trust. In addition, great leaders also demonstrate the need to get personal as far as communication is concerned.

The essence of getting personal is to help an individual be truthful as much as he or she can. Getting specific is another rule of thumb if one is to improve his or her communication because it removes ambiguity (Myatt, 2012). This calls for the need for one to learn to communicate with clarity based on simplicity and conciseness.

Learning Techniques to Gather Information

Learning how to gather information while transferring ideas, aligning expectations, inspiring action, and spreading the vision is another significant aspect to improving one’s communication. An individual can improve his or her communication by developing a ‘servant’s heart’ through focusing on contributing to the overall communication matter than just receiving.

It is apparent that one is able to improve his or her communication when he or she seeks to contribute to the overall communication subject more than just receiving information from other parties. In addition to this, one has to have an open mind in order to improve his or her communication. An inflexible mind is a toxic factor of new opportunities for leaders and thus a leader-follower relationship must ensure that individuals are open to dissenting and opposing positions (Myatt, 2012).

An individual who wants to improve his or her communication must also be open to new ideas and dialogue to demonstrate the willingness to engage in a discussion with an open mind. The foundation of morality is through empathetic engagement in all aspects while influencing followers towards the attainment of common goals.

Developing Effective Listening Skills

Listening is very important in the process of improving communication since through active listening actual understanding of what has been said is achieved by leaders and their followers. Listening also plays a vital role in ensuring that the leader gives effective and the right feedback in response to what has been heard and understood. Besides, listening ensures that the leader is put in the mindset of serving his or her followers.

Thus, the author of this popular press magazine is convinced that developing effective listening skills is an important technique for helping an individual to improve his or her communication (Myatt, 2012). In addition to effective listening, empathy is another fundamental communication technique in the leader-follower relationship.

Effective leaders must demonstrate that they care about their followers by avoiding prideful arrogance and ego. Also, they must demonstrate emotional intelligence by being in a position to diagnose, understand, and manage emotional cues based on self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skill. This should be coupled with the ability to possess a personal understanding which includes the ability to deal with emotions, general performance, as well as the ability to demonstrate self-control, trustworthiness, adaptability and ability to lead others (Patterson et al., 2007). Hence, an individual can improve his or her communication by taking responsibility and accountability as a virtue that connects ethics and integrity.

Reading Between the Lines

The ability to read between the lines is another essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship. This allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers.

Ultimately, this ensures they become aware of the implications of their ideas, opinions, and thoughts to their followers. As such, an individual can evaluate his or her communication by determining whether he or she reflects upon their communication content before conveying it to their followers. An individual must be reflective of their thoughts and ideas in order to challenge assumptions (Lokhorst, 2016). This is an imperative initiative since it allows leaders to think strategically by conducting an evaluation of their business model, organizational and staff structure, and customer base.

THE ROLE OF A LEADER IN GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTS AND CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

All these communication strategies are essential in global environments and cross-cultural communication in the following ways:

First, effective communication entails the ability to communicate across cultures through appropriate ethical language while respecting others. Ethical concerns also contribute to the challenge of leadership in global working environments. Managers are expected to possess the ability to communicate effectively across cultures through using appropriate ethical language. This should be accompanied with respecting viewpoints of people from different cultural groups in the workplace. The shifting scope of businesses’ operation from local and regional contexts to increasingly global contexts requires successful leaders to possess attributes such as cultural flexibility, emotional intelligence and economic competence, collaboration and control, and effective control (Myatt, 2012)

Employing ethical principles in global working environments also includes the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment, navigating cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, operating in an insightful manner at a personal level, and providing honest information to all stakeholders in the leadership context. This, therefore, makes the leader communication styles imperative.

These communication strategies also enhance co-existence and positive relationships. This is by ensuring that leaders develop emotional intelligence and cultural flexibility, as well as fostering an environment that motivates followers by providing incentives and other necessities to achieve a desired goal (Lokhorst, 2016).

The global working environments require the practice of embracing multiplicity or a mixture of individuals from a wide range of cultures, ethnic groups, religions, genders, and sexual orientations among others. Leaders are also expected to meet technological, economic conditions, labor conditions, and social and cultural standards.

This is through understanding ethical concerns, customer needs and motivations, information, and choice available to the workforce, addressing globalization, and corporate governance concerns (Patterson et al., 2007). Those who want to improve their communication with respect to leader-follower relationship need to maintain continuous leadership skill development. This is vital in global working environments and cross-cultural communication.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

The communication strategies discussed provide invaluable lessons about leadership with respect to leader-follower communication relationships.

To begin with, the changing nature of business operations from local to global environments has led to the evolution of the concept of leadership. The speed of change in all spheres of life demands an entirely different leader to lead in global environments and cross-cultural communication contexts.

The leader must strive to adapt rapidly to change and be engaging in constant skill development to lead others to the desired direction. In all these, cultural flexibility is a fundamental leadership competency in global environments. It entails the need for one to demonstrate the ability to be willing to submit to another cultural way of life without feeling anxious or alien-like feelings. In the leader-follower relationship, emotional intelligence is one of the communication imperatives.

One must, therefore, demonstrate a deeper understanding of their emotions, weaknesses, strengths, drives, and reactions to problems to know how to handle themselves in different situations. This is particularly important when interacting with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds. Of ultimate importance in improving communication with regard to the leader-follower relationship is the ability to read between the lines.

This is an essential communication technique in the leader-follower relationship because it allows an individual to reflect upon their ideas and thoughts in the conception stage before they present them to their followers. This is the most important stage for if the leader does not get it right here it will not carry over well to the followers.

How you start a project could very well be how you end one.

In essence, the beginning is the end.

####

Priscilla J. DuBose served in the U.S. Navy for 14 years and now pursuing my Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership at Regent University.

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