I have created this blog as an encouraging resource for leaders that are building organizations, ministries and parishes in pursuit of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). The new evangelization is the most important mission in the world, it is where leadership matters most.
Whether you’re in ministry, business, education, or the non-profit sector – leadership capacity will ultimately determine your effectiveness. Author and speaker, Dr. John C. Maxwell, calls this the Law of the Lid, everything rises and falls on leadership.
Knowing how to grow as a leader is important but it’s just as important to know what holds you back.
Here are 6 things that hack away at leadership and keep you from your full potential:
#1 Leaning on your title or position. Weaker leaders tend to lean on their title or position to establish authority. These propped up kings and queens have power over people, but authentic leaders have power with people. They have no need to lean on their title or position. They earn the trust of their people through the consistent demonstration of character and competence.
Insecure leaders lean on their title to establish authority. These propped up kings and queens have power over people, but authentic leaders have power with people. Click To Tweet
#2 Confusing authority and competency. Most senior organizational leaders have authority over areas in which they have little or no competence. Just because leaders have authority over the departments that report to them, doesn’t mean they should direct the details. The best leaders have the smarts to pick the right people to do the job and the self-restraint to leave them alone while they get it done.
The best leaders have the smarts to pick the right people to do the job and the self-restraint to leave them alone while they get it done. Click To Tweet
#3 Confusing activity with productivity. Anybody can be busy, it takes a leader to make progress and produce results. 20% of the activities you devote time and energy to, will produce 80% of your results. Smart leaders are committed to spending more and more of their energy in the areas that help them produce the best results.
Anybody can be busy, it takes a leader to make progress and produce results. Click To Tweet
#4 Trying to have all the answers. Nothing good happens when a leader tries to have the right answers all the time. It increases stress when you know you don’t have the answer but feel you should. Appearing to have the answer, when in fact you don’t, is demotivating to the people on your team, especially those that DO have the answers. When a problem emerges and you don’t know what to do, simply inquire to the group, “Anybody know the best way forward?” Leadership is about bringing out the best in others. Build up your team members by asking for their help, seeking their wisdom, and enabling their talents.
Appearing to have the answer, when in fact you don’t, is demotivating to people on your team, especially those who DO have the answers. Click To Tweet
#5 Focusing on the short term. When leaders get caught in the thick of thin things, the organization gets bogged down. When you have no time or energy to pay attention to the long-term vision, the organization is blind. The underlying cause of leaders getting too involved in the day-to-day is usually a lack of trust in their people. Great leaders have enough smarts to hire the right people and enough humility to let them do their job without getting in the way.
Great leaders have enough smarts to hire the right people and enough humility to let them do their job without getting in the way. Click To Tweet
#6 Neglecting your interior life. This is more of an erosion of leadership than hacking away at it. It’s a slow fade, often an unnoticeable drift. The daily habit of personal prayer, seeking conversational intimacy with God, cannot be replaced by anything. No amount of vision, passion or giftedness can bring Life to the leader in the way personal prayer can. Unfortunately, talented leaders can go a very long time relying on talent and hard work. Real leadership happens between two prayer times, the longer the gap, the thinner the leadership. Personal prayer brings substance to your leadership.
Talented leaders can go a long time relying on talent and hard work. Real leadership happens between two prayer times, the longer the gap, the thinner the leadership. Click To Tweet
Bad habitual patterns are hacking away or eroding at leadership. I have identified six, do you have any others for us to watch out for?
Build up your team members by asking for their help, seeking their wisdom, and enabling their talents. Click To Tweet
Real leadership happens between two prayer times, the longer the gap, the thinner the leadership. Click To Tweet
No amount of vision, passion or giftedness can bring Life to the leader in the way prayer does. Click To Tweet
Dads have an important job description – to paint an accurate image of God the Father by the brush of their example.
I’m sure most of what I have to say applies equally to moms but today I am thinking about dads in their role as leaders in the home.
The foundation of your kids’ emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity is rooted in the certainty of being your beloved child. One of the ways dads image the Father is by affirming their children as God the Father did for Jesus on the day of His Baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Dads have an important job: Paint an accurate image of God the Father by the brush of your example. Click To Tweet
Here are eight practical ways to affirm your kids.
#1 Spoken Words: At any given moment you can speak a word of encouragement, “Hey, Thomas, I’ve noticed how positive you’ve been with your younger siblings. I really appreciate it and so do they. Well done.” Verbal affirmation doesn’t have to be elaborate, just make sure it’s sincere.
Dads: Verbal affirmation doesn’t have to be elaborate, just make sure it's sincere. Click To Tweet
#2 Quality Time: Busyness is a modern-day-curse. What you do with your free time communicates what matters most to you. Your kids know how busy you are, giving them quality time speaks a loud message of love to their hearts. Kids spell love T.I.M.E. (thank you Steve Wood).
Your kids know how busy you are, giving them quality time speaks a loud message of love to their hearts. Kids spell love T.I.M.E. Thank you Steve Wood. Click To Tweet
#3 Lunch Bag Notes—Take out an index card and write something like, “Five Incredible Qualities I See in You: 1) You always work hard at soccer practice, 2) You clean up after you make a mess in the kitchen, 3) You use your words to bless others, 4) You have a deep peace in your heart when things are stressful, 5) You are generous with your video games.” Full disclosure: I learned this idea from Author, Anthony Parisi.
#4 Surprise Gifts—Pick up a gift for no reason other than to say, “I was thinking of you.” The gift doesn’t have to be expensive. A carton of chocolate milk is one of my favorites which I can pick up at any gas station for less than $2. The art of gift-giving may not come naturally to you, but somebody in your life can probably help.
#5 Honour Them Publicly: This takes a little awareness to recognize an appropriate moment. When your child is within ear shot, speak up to others about some virtue or another that you see in him/her. Some parents withhold praise, especially in public. Proverbs encourages it, “Not with your own mouth, but let others praise you,” Parents are in a great place to praise their kids. Modesty will guard against exaggeration, but simple and sincere words, spoken in public, can build a child’s confidence and sense of dignity.
Simple and sincere words, spoken in public, can build a child's confidence and sense of dignity. Click To Tweet
#6 Express Physical Affection: This is easier when the kids are young but the need to express physical affection never diminishes. Teenagers give the appearance that they aren’t interested and some days it just won’t work but it’s important to keep trying. In the moment, a quick love-tap on the knee with, “You’re awesome,” goes a long way. If hugging makes you squirm (or your child!), a hand on the shoulder can communicate the same message.
#7 Attend Their Heart: It is a powerful experience for children, when someone in authority seeks to understand their feelings. It isn’t what happens to your kids that matters but the meaning they attach to it that makes the most impact. Creating a safe place for your child to process the emotional roller-coaster of life is incredibly validating. You may not agree with their perspective, but understanding how they feel and loving them for their sincere heart deepens the bond between you.
Creating a safe place for your child to process the emotional roller-coaster of life is incredibly validating. Understanding how they feel and loving them for their sincere heart deepens the bond between you. Click To Tweet
#8 Celebrate Good Decisions: Much of parenting is about helping your kids to learn how to make good decisions. In fact, if you succeed in this area, you have given your child one of the best gifts, “a wise and discerning heart.” When your kids make a smart decision, celebrate it! Honour the small decisions in the moment, “Sarah, I saw you outside. The boys wanted you to play basketball but you decided to come in and finish your homework. That was a hard decision, but you made the right choice, well done.” Make a big deal of the bigger decisions. Propose a toast at the family meal or take everyone out for ice-cream to acknowledge their milestone.
Much of parenting is about helping your kids to learn how to make good decisions. Click To Tweet
The less there is of something in the world, the more valuable it becomes. Affirmation is valuable because many of us live without it. Dads let affirmation fill your house and watch your kids soar.
Affirmation is valuable because many of us live without it. Dads, let affirmation fill your house and watch your kids soar. Click To Tweet
It is a powerful experience, especially for children, when someone in authority seeks to understand their feelings. Click To Tweet
The Way of the Heart Podcast is intended for men – husbands, fathers, leaders. But anyone can benefit. In this extended episode Jake and Brett are joined by their good friend Jason Jensen, co-founder of Glass Canvas and discuss living as an orphan/son, three common styles of relating, and ways to foster stronger relationships with other men.
Spiritual orphans believe they do not have a Father who loves them and they have to do life on their own. Orphans are self-protective.
Jesus came to give us his Father as our Father. The Father wants a close, daily, ongoing relationship with us, his sons. When operating in sonship we are relaxed. Sonship has real authority and power.
Three styles of relating are 1) moving toward, 2) moving away, 3) moving against – we can operate in all three either as a son or an orphan.
We need to reject passivity as men. Changing from the orphan to the son requires courage – we need to decide ahead of time who I want to be in future situations. 8 seconds of pain can lead us into a heroic moment of sonship. Engaging in life as a son when it’s hard requires the grace of courage and humility. We need to celebrate the heroic moments when we lean into adversity. Courage doesn’t feel like courage in the moment.
Close male friendship is so valuable. Men’s group without purposeful vulnerability often fails. Men’s groups could benefit from articulating a path toward and the cost of building committed, authentic male friendship.
Brother wounds are just as real as father wounds – we can heal that wound by risking a deep relationship with Jesus. Vulnerability is the same as honesty. We need to be prudent and modest when we choose vulnerability; not everyone can honour our vulnerability or we might need more relationship before we can be more vulnerable. Vulnerability in relationship goes deeper as trust increases. Just purging emotions and emotionally dumping isn’t the point or goal of vulnerability.
Listening is better than advice giving. A good default for men’s groups is presence (moving toward) and very cautiously move against. A good goal for relationships with men is to listen to understand and reflect back.
Our spiritual radar isn’t sensitive enough to detect every movement of God. When looking for daily affection from the Father, we have to be looking and be looking for simple movements in unique ways to you (a love language).
As you grow your ministry or business, remember that team health is more important than team size. Healthy teams, even small teams, bear much fruit but if your team is unhealthy, size actually compounds the problem.
Here are seven areas to work on to ensure your team is healthy.
Healthy Teams Trust Each Other: Trust is the one thing that changes everything within teams and relationships. Trust is to teamwork what the foundation is to your home. The health of your team cannot outgrow the foundation of trust on which it is built. Patrick Lencioni has some wonderful wisdom on building vulnerability-based trust in teams. For more please visit his website here.
Trust is the one thing that changes everything within teams & relationships. The health of your team cannot outgrow the foundation of trust on which it is built. Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams Identify as a Team: Not every group of people working together is a team. Some ‘teams’ are just working groups – an association of individuals that report to the same boss. They meet periodically but getting results requires little or no collaboration. Real teams work together to clarify a singular shared win that is dependent on mutual accountability and – get this – teamwork!
Not every working group is a team. Real teams work together to clarify a singular shared win dependent on mutual accountability and, get this, teamwork! Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams Embrace Shared Values: Shared values clarify three important things. First, they articulate the uniqueness of their mission. Second, they describe what excellence looks like. And third, they clarify how people are treated in the organization. Shared values are like glue, they hold the team together. They are like a compass, they keep you heading in the right direction. They are like a ruler, they serve as a measuring stick. They are like a magnet, attracting the right people.
Shared values are like glue, holding a team together. They are like a compass, guiding you in the right direction. They are like magnets, attracting the right people. Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams Stay on Mission: A clear and compelling mission helps teams stay on track by distinguish between good, better and best. Teams that have a sharp mission statement are empowered to say no to distractions because they have a deeper burning yes inside. Ministry and Church teams are not immune from mission creep. In fact, the Church is more vulnerable because needs and opportunities are everywhere. Jim Schleckser wrote a great article for Inc. magazine on staying true to your mission, here.
Teams that have a sharp mission statement are empowered to handle distractions, “No, we are not going to pursue that” because they have a deeper burning yes inside. Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams Insist on Clearly Defined Roles & Responsibilities: Roles identify who you are within the organization and responsibilities define what you do. Healthy teams assign roles and responsibilities based on sweet spot which is the intersection of three things: gifting from God, passion of the individual and need/opportunity within the organization. When leaders put their people in their sweet spot, management gets easier – just loose them and let them grow the impact of the organization.
When leaders put people in their sweet spot, management gets easier - just loose them and let them grow the impact of the organization. Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams Contain a Mix of Personalities: Different positions on sports teams and various instruments in an orchestra produce positive chemistry. Healthy organizational teams possess the same mosaic. Unique personalities are welcomed and appreciated. Differences are recognized as complimentary not contradictory. In other words there is relational chemistry – people appreciate each other’s uniqueness. Appreciating each other is the foundation for other positive relational dynamics. For example, they enjoy spending time together. Meetings are fun and generate ideological conflict which produces great ideas. There is a high level of empathy, people listen to each other because they sincerely value other perspectives. They share their hearts because they feel free and safe to do so.
Healthy teams possess a mosaic of unique personality types that are welcomed and appreciated. Differences are complimentary not contradictory. Click To Tweet
Healthy Teams have the Ability and the Willingness to Adapt & Change: Methods are many, principles are few; methods always change but principles never do. Healthy teams never do something because, “we’ve always done it that way.” The best teams are loyal to two principles – preserve the core and stimulate progress. Healthy teams are committed to their mission and values but they abhor the status quo. They are motivated by the improvement agenda and committed to getting better together. Jim Collins has a short video (45 secs) on this principle here.
Healthy teams abhor the status quo. They are motivated by the improvement agenda and committed to getting better together. Click To Tweet
Teamwork is the fuel that empowers ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary results when they work together. What struck you about teamwork? What more would you contribute to this post?
Teamwork is the fuel that empowers ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary results when they work together. Click To Tweet
This post begins with a distinction between insecurity and humility because these two qualities often get mistaken for each other. Insecurity is a lack of confidence in one’s abilities. Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less (thanks Clive).
Insecurity is a lack of confidence in one's abilities. Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, it's thinking about yourself less - thanks Clive. Click To Tweet
Insecure people carry a lot of uncertainty even anxiety in their heart. By contrast, humble people are often confident and sure of themselves but their humility gives birth to other qualities like being teachable, gracious and eager to serve others.
Having lots of humility is never a problem in leaders but lots of insecurity is always a problem. If left unchecked, insecurity can become a lid to your leadership.
Insecure leaders often perform their work through the social mirror, fixing their self-worth to the positive praises and constructive criticisms of other people. This inevitably becomes an unhealthy emotional roller coaster.
Insecure leaders perform their work through the social mirror, fixing their self-worth to the positive praises and constructive criticisms of other people, an unhealthy emotional roller coaster. Click To Tweet
Grounded and secure leaders might care what others think of them but final say on their dignity and worth comes from God alone.
Confident, grounded and secure leaders might care what others think of them but final say on their dignity and worth comes from God alone. Click To Tweet
Secure leaders consistently demonstrate meekness. Jesus operated with a meek and humble heart. Meekness doesn’t mean weakness, it means strength under control.
Meekness doesn’t mean weakness, it means strength under control. Jesus operated in perfect meekness. Click To Tweet
Recall the scene when Jesus raised a little girl from the dead in Mark 5:35-43. I inserted it below to make it easy.
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” 36 Overhearing[a] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
If Jesus were looking for an audience, he had one. The entire family and many more were gathered. In those days wealthy families hired additional mourners to attend funeral events, giving the impression the loss had bigger impact.
These hired mourners were the ones that ‘laughed at Jesus’ when he suggested the little girl was only sleeping and not dead. The crowd was on Jairus’ payroll; Jesus could have used them for his own purposes either to congratulate Him for the miracle performed or to spread the word to enhance His fame. Neither motivated Him.
The first thing Jesus did was put everyone out of the room. He took the child’s mother and father into the bedroom where he performed the miracle. Jesus was not looking to be noticed. He wasn’t seeking the congratulations of a crowd or the praises of people.
Jesus was never looking to be noticed. He wasn’t seeking congratulations from the crowd or the praises of people. He came to earth as a servant, meek and humble of heart. Click To Tweet
Jesus’ humility kept Him completely focused on the needs of a mom and dad grieving the loss of their daughter. Dismissing the crowd and the public spectacle, He reserved the fullness of His presence for those in need. Something every leader needs to do regularly. Leader Heart Check: if you ever get invited into the depths of suffering of another person and say to yourself, “I don’t have time for this” you might want to ask yourself why you are leading at all.
Standing by the little bed, Jesus took one of the girl’s cold hands in His and tenderly said in her own Aramaic tongue, “Little girl, arise.” Jesus was quick and to the point.
An insecure leader would have created a lengthy, drawn out show that would have kept the focus on him. An insecure leader would have turned up the volume of his voice to demonstrate his power and authority, even if his heart trembled. Jesus was quiet, barely whispering, but utterly confident and infinitely secure in the Father. Real authority doesn’t need to yell to establish itself.
Insecure leaders turn up the volume of their voice to demonstrate power and authority. But real authority doesn’t need to yell to establish anything. Click To Tweet
Quickened by His word and touch, the dead girl revived, gazed on her Savior, and got out of bed. Jesus commanded that the astonished parents should refrain from publicizing the miracle – another expression of His meek and humble heart. It was also intended to guard them against the temptation to speak unnecessarily about the miraculous event, and thereby lose the full benefit of the blessing they had received. He was inviting them to humility and meekness too.
When Jesus requested that food be given to the resurrected girl, He revealed how practical He was, and how He fully recognized and honoured natural law. In a concrete manner, He subjected His miracle to something less miraculous – food. Jesus was deflecting attention on His supernatural power to the biological need for food. “I have no food for her, but you do. Feed her.” He who created natural law and could live outside of it, subjected Himself to it. Humility again. Leaders should never live above the law.
What does all this have to do with leadership? Here are three principles we can learn and apply to our own leadership:
Meekness matters. Meekness doesn’t mean weakness, it means strength under control. Jesus was always in control of the situation, even when the crowds were laughing at him. Insecure leaders need others to acknowledge their authority. Jesus did not. Make it your goal to demonstrate your authority through quiet, impactful leadership.
Humility helps. Jesus models for us what it means to be entirely focused on the needs of others, not personal benefit from emerging situations. Insecure leaders leverage circumstances for their benefit, usually to highlight something of themselves – their skill, gifting, and power. Jesus led for the sake of others – the young girl and her family. Use your authority every day to meet the needs of those around you.
Submit to authority. Authentic leadership means living under authority and natural law. Deflecting the attention from his miracle to the simple need for food shows that Jesus led under authority. Insecure leaders attempt to demonstrate their leadership by operating outside policy, protocol, and law. Jesus was secure enough in His leadership to live under authority.
Jesus’ example of leadership is the most inspiring and informative source from which we can ever learn. The more time you spend reflecting on His life and leadership by prayerfully reading the Gospels, the better you will become at leading others. The surest way to find security as a leader is in relational intimacy with Jesus.
Every second week Jake Khym and I produce a new Podcast. It’s called The Way of the Heart. It’s a Podcast about the journey through life with a heart fully alive. It’s intended for men who are engaged and committed to leadership where it matters most – the home. Although it’s recorded for men, anyone can benefit.
We heard a lot of great feedback this week. The latest episode is the second session on “maturity” within the five-part series on Security, Maturity, Purity. You can find the latest episode here.
Thanks to everyone for writing reviews and engaging with us online. What we see the Lord doing through the Podcast is deeply encouraging.
As for me, I listened this week with my youngest son, Benjamin (11) driving in the mini-van. In addition to the usual pooking fun at his dad, he said, “Wow, that was 30 minutes, it felt like you guys were talking for only 5 minutes.” Thanks Ben!
If you find the Podcast helpful, can I ask you to go in ITunes and write a review. It will help others find the show. Thanks!
Key Points form the Latest Episode: – We can’t seek validation while attempting to grow in maturity
– Asking for help in the everyday situations of life helps us learn and mature
– Humility is essential to a mature the masculine heart
– A key aspect of maturation is learning to rely on the capacity and goodness of God
– To depend on God requires me to let go of my expected outcomes
– The story of Joseph in the Old Testament reminds us that we can trust that God is writing on a much bigger canvas
– Jesus is brilliant and relevant
– The interactions between Abba Father and Jesus in the Paschal mystery (Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection, ascension) offer important insights into trust and relationship in adversity
– God the Father will ask something to die in us so something much greater can come to life
– If we want new life, there’s no detour around the cross
– Although it’s hard to see in the moment, the truth is that adversity is actually a gift
– God has a kingdom for us to rule but we can’t rush to rule
– “The primary work of God is finding men in whom He can entrust His Power” (Dallas Willard)
– We are called to have influence with people, not power over people.
– Leadership is not about more power or privilege, it’s about having more feet to wash
– It is dangerous to grasp after power
– Take heart. The adversity is an important part of the process of maturity.
Enjoy the Podcast and please consider leaving a review.
Dear Readers and Subscribers – thank you for making 2018 a great year for this site. In the past year 11,267 readers from 91 countries have engaged with this blog. You guys are leading where it matters most and I consider it a great privilege to come along side you and offer a little learning and support through this weekly blog.
I’d love to hear all about your leadership successes and challenges this year and what is coming up for you in 2019.
Today I am sending the top ten most viewed posts from 2018. I hope you will check out a few of them and please consider sending me a question or topic to write about on this site in 2019.
Here are the top ten most viewed posts from 2018 …
Many leaders are beginning to recognize the deficiencies in conducting annual performance reviews. Here are three problems that I see in this common practice:
A once-a-year approach delays real-time feedback until the situation is forgotten and the input is no longer constructive. Result: Performance reviews become assessments that provide little if any specific guidance for improvement.
Most managers don’t want to deal with the tension of a negative performance review, so they provide mostly positive (and inaccurate) assessments. Result: a paper trail of poor performers suggesting they are performing well.
Annual performance reviews are often not rooted in the employee’s job description or statement of deliverables. Result: it can feel like an ambush when an employee is being held to a standard they had not seen or thought relevant to their job.
Once-a-year performance reviews delay real-time feedback until the situation is forgotten & the input no longer constructive. Click To Tweet
When managers don’t want to give negative performance reviews, they give positive & inaccurate assessments leaving a paper trail of poor performers suggesting they are performing well. Click To Tweet
Some think more frequent reviews are the answer but unless the methodology changes, increasing frequency only compounds the problem.
Some managers are embracing a new strategy to more effectivley encourage continual growth and development of their employees – coaching conversations.
Here are Five Ways Coaching Conversations Can Make a Difference
#1: Keep it Real. Coaching conversations are rooted in the actual experiences of employees rather than theoretical constructs. Trainers bring knowledge and information, but coaches bring curiosity and questions.
Trainers bring knowledge and information, but coaches bring curiosity and questions. Click To Tweet
#2: Focus on future potential not current performance. The best coaches tolerate some failure for the sake of learning and higher performance in the future. Mistakes are tolerated as they are a key element to learning. Employees need to be encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and into the discomfort zone where the best learning takes place.
Dear managers: please tolerate mistakes, they are key elements of learning. Click To Tweet
#3: Inner reflection. A coaching manager will ask simple, open-ended questions to foster inner reflection, “What is the most important conversation we can have today?” or “What do you want to explore together?” Reflection is a missing piece in employee growth and development. Deep reflection allows individual learners to pursue what is important to them, not just what matters to the manager.
#4: Ownership. Staff, not the managers, must own the learning process. Too many managers take responsibility for their staff’s growth and development. Coaches keep the monkey on their back for their benefit.
#5: Create a coaching friendly context. Coaching conversations should have little to do with appraisal and evaluation. Managers create a healthy coaching context as they help their staff reflect on their daily actions, discuss their problems and explore opportunities. Fostering trust is the most important part of creating a coaching friendly context.
The best coaches manage the tension between the needs of the organization and the unique needs of the individual. To understand what the employee wants, you must ask, and you must be willing to listen in the context of a coaching conversation.
The highest calling of a coaching manager is to see their staff become the best version of themselves. That is, to see them step into the fullness of their potential, dignity and worth.
Coaching conversations should be rooted in the actual experiences of employees. Click To Tweet
For 15 years our kids have been active in elite sports. It can feel like an unbearable grind but it’s provided valuable lessons and faith building experiences as well. Here are 10 messages we have repeated to the kids over the years. I hope that parents will be encouraged to support their kid’s passion for sport while keeping Christ at the centre of their lives.
Athletic ability is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift to Him. Honour the Lord by humbly deflecting praise and point to the contributions of your teammates. Always demonstrate appreciation for your family and former coaches who have contributed significantly to your development as an athlete and as a person.
Young Athletes: Athletic ability is God's gift to you, what you do with it is your gift to Him. Honour the Lord by humbly deflecting praise & point to the contributions of your teammates. Click To Tweet
You don’t have to like your coach but you must respect him or her. After training sessions and games, shake hands and say, “Thanks for your time, coach.” Jesus spoke about honouring God by respecting the authorities placed over us, this includes coaches and managers.
Young Athletes: Shake hands with your coaches and say - thanks for your time today, coach. Honour God by respecting the authorities placed over you, this includes coaches and managers. Click To Tweet
Keep Sunday sacred. Elite sport involves going on road trips. Missing mass is never an option. Lead your life by planning ahead. If you have a team meeting at 10am on Sunday morning and a competition later that afternoon, plan to get to Mass early in the morning or when you return home. Never make an excuse for missing, find a way to get there as if it’s the most important part of your day – it is!
Young Athletes: Keep Sunday sacred. Missing mass is never an option. Plan ahead and lead your life. Plan Mass as if it's the most important part of your day - it is! Click To Tweet
Never forget who you are and Who’s you are. Road trips will take you to cities and hotels where nobody knows you. Teams can create environments that promote a, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas mentality.” Be who you are, no matter where you are or who you are with. You have an audience of One. The call and the challenge is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, not just a kid who goes to Church or attends youth group.
Young Athletes: Be who you are, no matter where you are or who you are with. You have an audience of One. Be a disciple of Jesus, not just a kid who goes to Church or attends youth group. Click To Tweet
Focus on Things You can Control. Many things will grab your attention during a game or training session. Fixating on things you can’t control will foster a victim mentality. Focus on things you can control – your preparation (especially getting a good night sleep); your work ethic; your attitude and concentration. Don’t focus on bad calls from an official, the behavior of the other team, the weather or unfavorable playing conditions.
Learn to Lead by Learning to Encourage. Witness to your faith by using encouraging words with your teammates. Your buddies may not remember all that you accomplished as an athlete, they may not remember all the things you said or didn’t say. But they will remember how you made them feel. Use your words to encourage the heart of your teammates and build their confidence. People that feel good about themselves, produce good results. Jesus was the ultimate encourager, following Him means encouraging others.
Young Athletes: Your teammates may not remember all you accomplished but they will remember how you made them feel. Encourage the heart of your teammates & build their confidence. Click To Tweet
Learn to Interpret the Right Meaning. It’s not what happens to you that matters but the meaning you attach to it. Teenage athletes can exaggerate negative interpretations of their performance or situation. When I was growing up, a young athlete took his life because he didn’t get the scholarship he thought he should. What a horrible tragedy. A bad game doesn’t make you a bad player. A poor performance doesn’t make you a failure for life. Even the best athletes in the world have bad days. What separates champions, is that they don’t let the bad days define them. Remember, this too shall pass. You will have a better day tomorrow.
Young Athletes: A bad game doesn't make you a bad player. Even the best athletes have bad days. What separates champions, is that they don't let the bad days define them. Click To Tweet
Let Others Praise You. Proverbs 27:2 says it clearly, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” I have repeated this so many times with my own kids that now they often give it back to me. Recently I was driving one of my boys to his soccer game. We narrowly avoided an accident en-route to the game. After gaining my composure, I joked, “Well, that was a fine piece of driving right there,” to which my son replied, “Let others praise you, dad.”
Character has its own reward. There will be times when you’re tempted to cheat or take a short cut. Don’t do it, expect the greater reward for staying true to yourself and God’s laws. Even with something as simple as running a set of lines, go all the eway to the end line, don’t take a short-cut even if your teammates do. Your commitment to character will pay off big-time down the road. What is it called when you try to run from home base to third base without going past first or second? Little league! It’s cute when little kids try to take a short-cut but it’s not cute when an 18 year young adult tries to cheat or take a short cut. The long-term impact of cheating and short cuts is a shallow and shaky character that will not sustain you over the long haul of a career or family life.
Young Athletes: Character has its own reward. The long-term impact of cheating and short cuts is a shallow and shaky character that will not sustain you over the long haul of a career or family life. Click To Tweet
Never Give Your Question to Sport. The burning question every young athlete needs to answer is this: who am I? If you give that question to sport, it won’t end well. Eventually it will tell you, “your nothing, your done, it’s time to move on.” Consider the powerful perspective from Trevor Linden the day after his last game in the NHL. He said, “I went from being an old hockey player to a young man over night.” If sport doesn’t leave you stronger, more resilient and ready to take on much bigger and more important challenges, it has failed you.
Young Athletes: If sport doesn't leave you stronger, more resilient and ready to take on much bigger and more important challenges, it has failed you. Click To Tweet
There is a place for serious disciples to play seriously high-level sports. It will require that you make some important decisions on the front end and then manage those decisions all the way through your playing career. Elite sport can give you a powerful platform to witness to your faith in Jesus Christ. Stay true to your relationship with Him. Honour Him in word and deed and watch the doors open all the more.
Organizational culture is a popular topic these days. Google it and 13,400,000 hits pop up (in .94 seconds!).
If the sheer volume of content on the subject won’t convince you of its importance, consider the words of management guru Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
Organizational leaders do well when they make it a priority to cultivate a strong and healthy culture. If leaders neglect this important area, the culture will be determined only by what is tolerated until. It’s. Too. Late.
Great organizational leaders make it a priority to cultivate a strong and healthy culture. If leaders neglect this, the culture will be determined by what is tolerated. Click To Tweet
Consider these unfortunate realities when culture is neglected:
When the majority of staff aren’t emotionally committed to the purpose of the organization, apathy sets in and culture weakens with it.
When the corporate values are not espoused by the people promoted to leadership roles, disengagement prevails and culture suffers.
When staff can’t see the link between what they do every day and the bigger vision of the organization, motivation tanks and culture atrophies.
When the culture chooses tension over conflict, mutual accountability for results begins to fade and the culture will have no roots.
When the organizational structure hinders productivity rather than empowering it, morale crumbles and culture along with it.
When staff aren't emotionally committed to the purpose of the organization, apathy sets in and culture weakens with it. Click To Tweet
When staff can't see the link between what they do every day and the bigger vision of the organization, motivation tanks and culture atrophies. Click To Tweet
When the organizational structure hinders productivity rather than empowering it, morale crumbles and culture along with it. Click To Tweet
The best organizational cultures have two defining characteristics: strength and health. Leaders need to take these two dimensions very seriously.
A strong culture means there is radical and consistent commitment to the mission, values, strategy and structure throughout the entire organization.
Here are five practical ways you can strengthen culture:
Hire the right people. Every hire at the leadership level should be carefully evaluated for cultural fit. Do organizational values resonate with the potential hire? Are they emotionally invested in the mission? Make sure.
Teaching for Commitment. When you bring staff onboard, take the time to educate them on the mission statement, corporate values, strategic plan and the organizational structure. As soon as possible get them teaching others.
Honour and promote cultural heroes. Catch people doing the right thing – living your corporate values, accomplishing the mission and honour them for it.
Develop the skill of creative redundancy. Champion culture by over-communicating. Develop the skill of repeating the same thing in fresh and inspiring ways. Consider your culture a brand and market well. You are the chief reminding officer.
Incorporate culture into performance reviews at every level. Regardless of frequency or methodology, evaluate staff based on their contribution to the culture of the organization. What gets measured gets done.
A healthy culture means there are quality relationships in every team, at every level, and across all divisions.
Here are five practical ways you can foster a healthy culture:
Build trust every day. In relationships the little things are the big things. Make and keep promises. Refrain from saying the negative or unkind thing. Hold people accountable to their goals and allow others to hold you accountable. Listen to understand, not to respond.
Be an encourager. When it comes to believing in themselves, most people are agnostic. People that feel good about themselves, produce good results.
Engage in difficult conversations. Much is lost when leaders fail to engage, avoid the topic, change the subject, or use humour as a diversion. Enter in and engage. Explore reality together – pause during a crucial conversation and look at it from the other person’s point of view, then be open to learning. Create a safe space – talk with gentle eye contact, have an open disposition and posture, use a soft but confident tone.
Facilitate healthy conflict. Mine for conflict during meetings, “Gail, I noticed you’ve been quiet for the last little while, is their something you need to say?” Affirm your staff when healthy conflict does happen.
Decide how you decide. Sometimes leaders need to decide without involving others. That should be the exception, not the rule. Consult those who will be responsible for executing the decision. Build consensus – no involvement, no commitment.
I have a growing conviction that organizational culture has become clouded in complexity. Most leaders I’m speaking with are looking for simple models to understand organizational culture and practical tips for making it better.
What are your ideas for shaping a positive corporate culture?
A strong culture means there is commitment to the mission, values, strategy and structure throughout the entire organization. A healthy culture means there are edifying relationships at every level and across divisions. Click To Tweet
Every leadership hire should be carefully evaluated for cultural fit. Do your organizational values resonate with the potential hire? Are they emotionally invested in the mission? Make sure. Click To Tweet
Leaders champion culture by communicating it over and over. Develop the skill and habit of creatively repeating the same thing in fresh and inspiring ways. Think of yourself as chief reminding officer. Click To Tweet