Leaders as Curators

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Have you ever had one of those experiences where you’ve offered advice to someone and for whatever reason they just didn’t listen to you?   And then someone else comes along, says the same thing and this person who you’ve been spending time with, pouring your heart and soul into, offering advice that you think is important for them to hear… heeds the advice of someone much less connected to them?  Basically the new voice gets the credit for what you’ve been telling them all along.

It happens all the time.  With our families.  With our friends.  With our staff.

For much of my leadership life I’ve been irritated by this dynamic.  I can give direction over and over but it’s often an outside voice that breaks through.

As leaders, we can either fight this dynamic or embrace it.  Embracing it doesn’t mean we give up on giving the direction we need to give.  It just means we need to look at our roles in a different way.  While we need to both speak and model the way, we can also embrace outside voices to reinforce the principles we’re trying to cultivate in our teams.

Your role as the day-to-day leader in an organization is to be the curator of content.  You must bring other voices to speak to the issues your team needs to hear.  You can’t say it all and they won’t listen to you all the time anyway.

Rather than feel the need to be the one with every brilliant idea, bring voices you trust to say what your team needs to hear.

This is an act of humility because it means acknowledging that outside voices will often be stronger than yours.  It’s a willingness to let go of the need to be the “know-it-all” and trust that your job is really to bring the information to the table in whatever form will actually get through to your team and influence change and growth.

You are the curator of content.

When you embrace this role, you can relinquish the need to be the one developing all the ideas and instead direct your energy to finding voices who can help say it for you.  Scour DVD teaching series, YouTube, training resources from subject experts, Podcasts, business leaders in your community.  Look around you for people who are saying what you need to say but perhaps in a different way.

And when you see that “ah ha” look in the eyes of your team, rather than get frustrated or jealous that someone else said it, be proud of the fact that you made the connection.

Being the leader doesn’t mean being the only voice.  It means knowing how to curate the voices that will bring the right ideas to help your team effectively carry out the mission.

Be the curator!

5 Steps for Leading Change

Steps

Whether you’re leading an entire organization through change or coaching a staff person through a transition, leading through change is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as a leader.

In leading through various seasons of change, here are 5 steps I encourage you to consider whatever change you’re facing.

1) Listen Well

When change is imminent we can be tempted to either operate in denial until we’re forced to change or rush to make changes to get it over with as soon as possible.  Either extreme robs you of the opportunity to listen well.  When you need to lead through change, take time to listen.  Listen for lessons from history.  Listen to fears and concerns.  Listen for the reason behind emotions.

2) Question Thoroughly

After you’ve listened well, begin to ask questions…. lots of them.  Particularly if you’re leading change through an issue that is new to you.  Whether it be an organization you recently joined or a project that you weren’t intimately involved with.  Asking questions will help you uncover valuable information about sensitivities, key players, historical nuances, etc.  Questions will help you better understand the landscape and make more thoughtful decisions.

3) Evaluate Rigorously

Change is challenging.  It’s tempting to make snap judgments or jump to quick fixes.  Take the time and mental energy to evaluate the situation from all angles before hurrying to a decision.  As part of your evaluating, seek wise counsel from others who have either led through something similar or who can add helpful perspective.

4) Decide Prayerfully

Once you’ve listened, questioned and evaluated it’s time to make a decision about what to change and how to lead through it.  Consider everything you’ve gleaned in the process so far and prayerfully decide how to move forward.

5) Direct Confidently

Finally, you need to provide strong, confident direction for change.  Your confidence is drawn from the intentional process you’ve followed and the prayerful decision you’ve arrived at.  Now you must direct change with strength of vision and decisive action.

Leading change is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly.  But this is exactly why you are in a position of leadership – to help set the course and lead others in the direction God is calling you.  Taking the proper time to listen, question, and evaluate before you decide and direct is critical to leading through change in a way that honors those you’re leading.  Change is emotional and stressful.  Taking time for process equips you to be aware and sensitive while earning trust with those you lead.  Additionally, the process builds courage for everyone involved.

What change are you facing?  What step do you need to take today?

 

 

Enough to Be Dangerous

I’m not old.

Neither am I young.

In this stage of life I want to be both.  I want the maturity and wisdom of age and experience but I want to cling to the energy and idealism of youth.  I want to believe my ideas are still new and innovative.  In fact perhaps the greatest danger of this season is in both believing I still have great ideas but also the wisdom of experience.

A recipe for dangerous pride.

It’s not impossible to both have great ideas and the wisdom of experience.  It’s just dangerous to assume you have both because of this stage of life.

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This is the “I know enough to be dangerous” stage of leadership.  I’ve circled the leadership block enough times for the scenery to be familiar.  I know this block well.  I know the twists and turns of the road.  I know where the potholes are.  I’m confident to direct others who join me.

But at this stage of life and leadership, it’s time for my territory to expand.  Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention to the new construction and how it’s changing traffic patterns.  Are there new roadways that now connect to my block that I haven’t been exploring?

Before I exhaust the metaphor completely…

What I’m learning about this season of leadership is that it’s easy to get comfortable with where we grew up as leaders.  We have ideas, systems, and filters for decision-making that are common and comfortable.  If we choose to stay only with this set of experiences we will limit ourselves.  We will be inclined to reject new or different ideas.  We will pridefully rely on what we know.  It worked for us in the past so we’re convinced it will work in the future.

The danger is that the landscape is changing whether you’re exploring it or not.  You must listen to new voices.  You must challenge yourself to consider new ideas.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s stretching.  It batters your confidence.

But our ability to continue to grow as leaders is contingent on our ability to keep ourselves slightly uncomfortable.  It’s in the discomfort where we continue to learn and grow.

Are you in an uncomfortable season of leadership?  What are you learning from it?

 

Ever Have Leadership Questions?

When CLOUT released I had the privilege of connecting with Bob Tiede. Bob has been on the staff of CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) for 43-years. He serves as the Director of Global Operations Leadership Development, and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness.  Bob just released a free ebook in which he shares 103 quotes that have inspired his leadership.  I thought you would enjoy checking it out!  Here’s more from Bob about it:

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I love questions!

That’s certainly no surprise.  By asking questions and really listening to the responses, I’ve learned a lot as a leader and as a person.

I love quotes!

In my quest to learn and lead with questions, I’ve come across hundreds – 103 to be exact – quotes that really inspire me to continue asking and listening.

These quotes offer me daily inspiration.  I thought they might do the same for you.  So, I’ve compiled my favorite quotes about seeking and listening and put them in an E-Book for you.  It’s my gift to you.  I hope it brings you joy and inspiration.

Here is a sampling of:

 103 Quotes Your Mentor Will Share With You Sooner or Later

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”  Henry David Thoreau

“No one ever listened himself out of a job.”  President Calvin Coolidge

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in sharing his own opinions.”   King Solomon

To request your free E-Book – please click “HERE” to go to my Blog:  LeadingWithQuestions.com

Don’t Ignore the Ops

Why did you get into ministry leadership?

Was it to process 501 (c) (3) paperwork?  Maybe create budgets?  Build organizational charts?  Fix broken computers?

Yeah, probably not.

In fact, when you considered getting into ministry leadership, these things probably didn’t enter your mind.  You didn’t study accounting, HR or IT.  But while operational issues aren’t the most compelling reason to be a leader, paying attention to operations is essential for any great leader.

Operations are like the oil to the ministry engine.  Without effective operations, the ministry engine is not going to run well and eventually poor operations will burn a ministry engine up.

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That’s why it’s critical for us as leaders to value the operational needs of our organization.

Operational issues don’t get me up in the morning but they will keep me up at night.

While you’ll probably never be an expert on operations, here are some things that you can do to make sure operations are properly supported.

  1. Invest in qualified staff.  It’s tempting to put off hiring operational roles when there are pressing ministry needs, however good operations staff will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.
  2. Reinforce operational systems.  Most of your staff are not going to be excited about filling out the proper paperwork for a check request or creating their annual budget, but as the leader you must reinforce the value of these processes.  The easiest way to reinforce it, is to model it.  Meet deadlines and turn in the proper paperwork.  Don’t expect to be given exceptions because you’re the leader.  What you value, others will value too.
  3. Keep your nose in it.  Even though you hire qualified people who understand it better than you, don’t allow yourself to become too disconnected.  I personally sign every check that our accounting team processes.  This takes a couple of hours of my week but it helps me see in real time how we’re spending our ministry dollars.
  4. Meet regularly with your operations staff.  Create a regular meeting time to check in with this team to hear their needs, frustrations or concerns.  By creating time for them, you convey the value of operations to the overall ministry needs.  It will also create an opportunity for you to hear of concerns before they become crisis.
  5. Don’t underestimate the value of your Board.  Enlist a Board of Directors with proven competency in operational issues and fiduciary responsibility.  Be accountable to this team and heed their advice.

Ministry leadership is a great honor and privilege.  While operational issues will rarely be the motivator to get you up in the morning, poor operations will be the thing that keep you up at night.  Too many ministries have floundered because a leader took their eye off of this important element of leadership.

 

Balancing Conflict & Confidence – Guest Post by Chris Rivers

Today, Chris Rivers is sharing his thoughts on balancing conflict and confidence.  I connected with Chris recently to learn more about CultureBus, the new organization that he has launched “to help ministry leaders create a culture development model that helps increase their leadership pipeline and accomplish their vision”.  If you need help getting your team to embrace the vision and DNA of your organization, you should check out what Chris is doing with CultureBus.

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Conflict is everywhere. We all face it. Some call it opposition, others call it tension, but you can guarantee that if God’s calling you into greatness, you’re going to meet conflict. I’ve found that conflict is like a close neighbor- you are bound to run into it at some point. Conflict can trip you up, cause you to lose focus, and also forget about another neighbor that you may not have seen lately- confidence. Confidence is a very different neighbor from conflict. It is always ready to encourage and lend a hand whenever you are in need. You never want to avoid confidence, as a matter of fact, you love when it’s around.

When I think about people in the Bible who had confidence in the midst of conflict- Joseph always comes to mind. From Genesis 37-41 we watch Joseph ride a conflict rollercoaster. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of raping his boss’s wife, thrown into prison, and forgotten by someone who could have helped him. When the time comes for him to be brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to prove himself or a moment to escape his circumstances, he stands in confidence. When asked by Pharoah if he could interpret dreams, his response is: “I can’t, but God can.” Joseph found confidence in God’s abilities, not his own. He realized that God was orchestrating all his circumstances, which included conflict.

In the face of conflict a confident leader:

  • responds in faith
  • accuses no one
  • accepts his/her circumstances
  • is patient with others
  • doesn’t complain
  • is not afraid of the outcome
  • has focus
  • embraces seasons of unknown because he/she knows who makes the seasons in the first place

When we are faced with circumstances full of conflict, we have an opportunity to find confidence in God’s ability to see us through it. By embracing conflict as part of our process, and facing it head-on, we have the chance to grow our confidence in who God says He is. When you know that God stands with you, you are able to face conflict with a different mentality and strategy.

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It’s not what I know, but who I know that helps me move from conflict to confidence. Focusing on my identity in Christ will lead to confidence. For those of us that call ourselves Christ followers, we should expect that while conflict is inevitable, it is an opportunity to become more confident in our identity. Conflict should always accompany confidence, because we have the help of the one who knows the end of the story.

Propel Women

“Yes! Yes! Yes! YESSSSS!

Was my exclamation when Chris Caine began sharing her heart for Propel Women.

Propel believes in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman every where. Propel exists to honor the calling of every woman, empower her to lead, equip her for success and develop a sense of God given purpose.

Whether you are leading one or one thousand, we hear you. Whether you stumbled into leading or were called into leading, we see you. Whether you want to lead or are trying to find your way in leadership, we are here for you. Propel wants to launch you forward.

Check out this video from Chris to learn a bit more…

Propel Women Trailer from Propel on Vimeo.

If this sounds like you, if it’s something your heart resonates with jump over to PropelWomen.org to download our free digital magazine.  Propel will launch in full force in 2015 and I can’t wait to see what God has in store!

Great days are ahead for women who lead!

 

The Dark Side of Change

The thing about major life transitions is that they expose all the junk in your life that you’ve found a way to cover up.  Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve covered up… it could be insecurities, fears, weaknesses, habitual sins.  We find a way to cope with our inadequacies and in seasons where we’re comfortably living and leading we don’t even realize there are areas of our lives that could use some refining.

It was just about a year ago that a major season of transition began for me.  New job opportunity… cross country move… leaving longtime friends and community… embracing the unknown… joining a new team… selling our beloved home… settling into a new one…

Transitions stretch us.  Transitions change us.  Transitions expose us.

It seems that God keeps prompting me to dig deeper into the inadequacies that surface from the discomfort of change.  It’s been good.  It’s been healthy.  It’s been hard… and I’m certain it’s not over.

One of the resources that I’ve devoured in this season of change is Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima’s book Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership: How to Become an Effective Leader by Confronting Potential Failures

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The unsettling feeling of all the unknown over the last year has prompted me to recognize there are areas of my leadership that need a deeper dive.  My emotional and spiritual health need evaluation if I want to lead with greater strength and more conviction in this next season.

Here are a few quotes from the book:

“Because ambition is easily disguised in Christian circles and couched in spiritual language (the need to fulfill the Great Commission and expand the church), the dysfunctions that drive Christian leaders often go undetected and unchallenged until it is too late.”

“There comes a point in all leaders’ lives – if they remain in leadership long enough – when they will begin to experience the relational friction, organizational blow-ups, and personal pain that result from unidentified and unresolved inner-life issues.”

“The aspects of life that push us in a positive way toward success can also exert a negative pull, destroying our effectiveness.”

“Leaders that we perceive to be exceptionally confident and in command are often compensating for a deeply rooted sense of inferiority and insecurity.”

“Leaders who face their dark side and redeem it accomplish the most over the long run.”

Whatever season of leadership you’re in, I encourage you to read this one.  While it can feel a bit foreboding, the truth in this book is critical to your long term health as a leader.

Our great legacy as leaders will come from stewarding our personal and spiritual health.

 

 

 

The Sacred Work of Hiring

HR

Many of us consider our Human Resource departments necessary evils.  Those “rule makers” who hold us back with all their bureaucratic red tape.

Don’t they know we have more important things to do?!

Actually, yes they do.  They know exactly how important what you do is and therefore they are unwilling to let you get swallowed up by your own chaos.

I’m sure there are some ghastly HR terrors out there who have made your life as a leader a living hell.  Let’s pretend they are the exception and consider for a minute what great HR Directors might be trying to protect us from.

Human resources are sacred.

Humans – living flesh and blood, children of God – are sacred.

Resources – the gifts, talents, abilities and experiences of these humans – are sacred.

And you as a leader have the incredibly divine opportunity to marry human resources with the vision and purpose that God has called your organization to fulfill.

This is sacred work.

It’s holy.

It’s significant.

And therefore it should not be taken lightly.  It should not be hurried paper pushing.

It should be thoughtful, reflective, prayerful toiling.

Every human resource that you employ needs your great care, concern and shepherding.

They need your thoughtful consideration of the marriage of their gifts with your needs.  They need you to understand the significance of how their employment impacts every area of their lives – their sense of value, their family safety and health, their circle of community.

These human resources – these human beings – are not human widgets to be mashed into your frantic assembly line of progress.  They are more than simply moving parts of whatever great machine you’ve created.

So as you consider your human resources…

Slow down.

Consider carefully.

Pray discerningly.

And recognize the sacredness of the decision you face.

Because it matters.

HR is sacred because it is the stewardship of God’s holy work in fragile humans.

The Question Every Church Leader Should Ask Now

“What will happen when I’m no longer serving in my position at my church?”

This is a question that I had to think through recently as I transitioned from Cross Point to Menlo Park. It’s a hard question to ask, especially when you’ve been a part of growing something from the ground up. However, I now know more than ever how important this question is, no matter which position you serve on staff.

Every church leader is an interim leader. Why? Because unless you plan on pastoring our church after Jesus returns, every church will have to face the reality of a leadership transition. Are you ready?

Smart leaders realize that succession planning should start with leaders early in their tenure. From the moment you fill a position, you should start thinking about how you can prepare for the next person who fills your role, whether it’s 2, 10, or 25 years from now. A true succession plan encompasses a plan for any leadership transition reason, whether it is the pastor’s own decision, the board’s, or an unfortunate emergency situation.

My friend William Vanderbloemen, former pastor and President of Vanderbloemen Search Group, has spent the last year researching hundreds of pastoral succession plans along with his co-author Warren Bird, Research Director at Leadership Network, to help pastors answer the question, “What’s next?”

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Next: Pastoral Succession That Works is a culmination of hundreds of case studies, interviews, and insider stories of succession failures and successes to help you ask the right questions to prepare for the future. It is intended for pastors, board members, and any church staff member who desires their church to have a lasting legacy.

I’ll be doing a full interview with William soon, but a few highlights from the book are:

  • Every pastor is an interim pastor.
  • There is no cookie cutter approach to succession planning.
  • The lack of emergency succession plans is staggering.
  • Pastors and boards have done a poor job of creating options for a pastor’s future identity.
  • Churches should revisit their succession plan each year.
  • A successful succession plan is the best legacy you can leave your church.

Next: Pastoral Succession That Works releases today!  Go check it out!