The Preaching Conference

One of the things that I wasn’t prepared for when I entered ministry was the need to become a more effective communicator.  As an XP, I thought my communication arena would stay limited to conference rooms and one-on-one conversations, but for many of us there are opportunities and situations where we need to learn to communicate to the congregation and on occasion to preach or teach.

If you preach on a regular basis, you don’t want to miss The Preaching Conference put on by The Rocket Company on September 19-20th in Marietta, GA.  Crawford Loritts, Jeff Henderson, and Michael Lukaszewski are going to take two days to teach you a 7-step system that will make you a better preacher who is better prepared and has less stress.  Click for more information and to get signed up.

The Rocket Company guys are personal friends of mine.  I have huge respect for them and have personally been influenced by their teaching.  I know you’ll benefit from this event so be sure to check it out!

Summit Takeaways for Organizational Leaders

This year’s Leadership Summit was another exceptional one.  Once again my brain was mush as I drove away Friday evening.  So many challenges and opportunities to process.

The theme I walked away with this year was the importance of organizational health and more specifically, the wisdom and behavior of the leader in charge of that organization.

Here are the key points from the speakers that spoke to this issue:

Bill Hybels talked about the 4 types of courage that leaders need:

  1. Courage to embrace the vision.
  2. Courage to define reality.
  3. Courage to build a fantastic culture.
  4. Courage to establish and reinforce values.

Colin Powell shared a few important reminders:

  • Leadership is always about followers.  It’s about investing in the people who get it done.
  • Show perpetual optimism.  People look to the leader for confidence.
  • Challenge people or they’ll just sit there and watch.

Patrick Lencioni definied the 3 things that cause job misery:

  1. Anonymity.  To be known.  Good people don’t leave jobs where they are known.
  2. Irrelevance.  If you don’t think your job matters to others, you can’t love your work.
  3. Immeasurement.  We must give people a way to measure their performance.

Liz Wiseman explained the difference between diminishers and multipliers. As a leader you can be a multiplier by using your intelligence to amplify and multiply the capability of people around you.  As a result, the people around you do their best work.


  • Create stress.
  • Rarely ask people to solve problems they don’t know how to do.
  • Delegate small decisions.
  • Are empire builders.


  • Believe people are smart and will figure it out.
  • Invite people into the space of difficulty and challenge.
  • Create owners, not hirelings.
  • Are talent managers.

Joseph Grenny explained that leadership is intentional influence. He defined the six sources of influence explaining that when we understand these sources of influence, we can change behavior and in turn change the world.

Brene Brown (who happens to be one of my favorite authors right now) talked about the two irreducable needs of men, women and children:

  • Love
  • Belonging

Things we need to consider as leaders to allow those we lead to feel loved and belong:

  • A leader models the courage to ask the questions, not have all the answers.
  • We can’t give what we don’t have (courage, belonging, grace, help).
  • The space between professing and practicing is where we lose people.
  • What kills love (shame, blame, betrayal, disrespect, withholding), kills organizations.
  • Feedback is a function of respect.  People feel unseen when we don’t give vulnerable, honest feedback.

Dr. Henry Cloud shared from his book Boundaries for Leaders:

  • Leaders don’t blame.  They take stewardship for what they’ve been given and lead people.  They take ownership of it.
  • Leaders do hard things.
  • Leaders must be ridiculously in charge of yourself first.

There was a such a strong and consistent thread in this year’s summit about the health of our teams and our responsibility as leaders to create a healthy culture.  I would encourage you to check out some of the resources from these speakers and order the DVDs from the Summit to share with your team. (Click here to find all the resources from the Summit.)  Our responsibility to lead others well is a heavy weight that we must recognize for the value it carries.  I encourage you to seize the opportunity to learn and grow!

Mastering the Skill of Influence – Joseph Grenny




Co-Founder, VitalSmarts; Best-selling Business Author


  • Business strategy expert who has developed a proven method for driving sustainable and measurable change in human behavior
  • Founded corporate training company, VitalSmarts—one of the fastest growing companies in America that has taught 300 of the Fortune 500 Companies
  • Utilizing a research-based approach to organizational effectiveness, he is author of four best-selling books including Crucial Conversations and Influencer: The Power to Change Anything


I really enjoyed Joseph’s perspective and research on the power of influence.  I had a little trouble keeping great notes, but here are a few things that I captured:

Leadership is intentional influence.

There are 6 Sources of Influence:

Personal motivation – the influence  of the pain or pleasure of the behavior

Social motivation – the influence of other people – through modeling, praise, helping and enabling.

Structural motivation – the influence of costs, incentives, and accountability.

Personal ability – the influence of skill

Social ability – the influence of other people – through modeling, praise, helping and enabling.

Structural ability – the influence of space, data, cues, tools, processes and other environmental factors.


Don’t just teach principles.  Connect to values.

Help people frame specific daily decisions in Godly ways.

We are so naïve sometimes to the things that shape our choices.

The 6 sources of influence either work for you or against you.


You want to change the world?  Learn how to change behavior.

Diminisher or Multiplier? – Liz Wiseman



President, The Wiseman Group
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Leadership and Strategy Consultant

Session 3: The Multiplier Effect

  • Former executive at Oracle Corporation, a Fortune 100 company, she held positions as Vice President of Oracle University and as the global leader for Human Resource Development for 17 years
  • President of the Wiseman Group, a Silicon Valley leadership development firm
  • Contributor to Harvard Business Review and author of the best-selling leadership strategy book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
  • Liz coined the term “Multipliers” to describe leaders who amplify the intelligence of others utilizing specific practices to deliver twice the performance for their organizations


Are you a diminisher or a multiplier?

Liz Wiseman presented the definition and the case for being a multiplying leader.  So challenging but so good!

Here are my notes:

There is more intelligence in our teams than we can see and are putting to use.

As a leader you can be a multiplier by using your intelligence to amplify and multiply the capability of people around you.  As a result, the people around you do their best work.


  • Create stress.
  • Rarely ask people to solve problems they don’t know how to do.
  • Delegate small decisions.
  • Are empire builders.
  • Tyrants
  • Know-it-alls
  • Decision Makers
  • Micro-managers


  • Believe people are smart and will figure it out.
  • Invite people into the space of difficulty and challenge.
  • Create owners, not hirelings.
  • Are talent managers
  • Liberators
  • Challengers
  • Debate Makers
  • Investors

Some of us are accidental diminishers – have a diminishing effect in spite of good intentions

Types of accidental diminishers:

  • The idea guy
  • Always-on
  • Rescuer
  • Pacesetter
  • Rapid Responder
  • Optimist

Liz’s book, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, is on the top of my reading list.  This conversation is important to our health and influence as leaders.  I encourage you to read it too!

The Courage That Leadership Requires – Bill Hybels

Bill Hybels


Founder and Senior Pastor,
Willow Creek Community Church

  • Founded The Global Leadership Summit, now in 530+ cities and 90 countries
  • Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, a pioneer in contemporary church strategy and one of America’s largest churches with more than 24,000 weekly attendees
  • Committed to developing and mentoring leaders worldwide, including those in some of the most difficult, overlooked and under-resourced countries
  • Best-selling author of more than 20 books including Courageous Leadership and Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs


Once again Bill didn’t disappoint in opening the Summit.  His message of courage was an inspiring and challenging reminder of the responsibility of leadership.  I appreciate his honesty in expressing the difficulties that he has faced as a leader.

Here are my notes from the session:

Leadership requires a non-stop flow of fortitude

Courage “a cause for which I am fully prepared to die” – Nelson Mandela

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid.  For I am with you and will never forsake you.”

1) Courage to embrace the vision.

Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people.

God made you a leader to move people from here to there.

Every significant vision God births in you is going to put your courage to the test.

When fear grips us, we abort the vision secretly.

We lack bravery.

It’s why God made us leaders – to step out in faith and to move something or someone from here to there.

Don’t die a coward.

Visions are holy commodities.  Treat them with the utmost respect.

2) Courage to define current reality.

All leaders are always leading.  Every organization is going one of three directions: down, plateauing or up.

Down – Respond to the fire; code red emergency

Plateau – Start a fire

Up – Pour fuel on the fire

Your whole team knows what reality your organization is in.  They are waiting for you to work up the courage to face it yourself and step up to lead them out of it.

3) Courage to build a fantastic culture.

Best Christian Workplace – tool for assessing staff culture (

People join organizations.  They leave managers.

Be as concerned about building staff culture as you are about building the church.

Staff cultures will only ever be as healthy as the CEO or Senior Pastor wants them to be.

Enormous courage is required to make significant gains in your culture’s health beginning with brave apologies for what contributed to low morale.

We are no longer gonna pay people to bruise and bust our culture.

A flourishing staff is so much more effective than a toxic staff.

4) Courage to establish and reinforce values.

Move from casting vision to establishing an enviable value.

There comes a time when a leader has to throw down the gauntlet and declare that an enviable value is established and the whole organization must embrace it.

Leading over the long haul and finishing strong require enormous courage.

Where Leaders Learn

Tomorrow I will be hanging out with the team at The Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit.

I absolutely love this team and how thoughtfully they craft The Summit every year.  It’s one of my favorite leadership learning environments.

I’ll be blogging some of the sessions and the takeways/applications for leaders, so be sure to subscribe to the blog to follow along.

Also, it’s not too late to register at one of the 230 host sites around the country.  There’s bound to be one in your neighborhood.  Register here.

And as Bill Hybels shared in this video “I’m praying for individual defining moments” for every one who attends!

Dealing With Immaturity

When I get exasperated, I ramble. This particular day I was rambling to my counselor about the frustration I was feeling with my own growth challenges. After patiently waiting for me to finish my blathering, she shared a concept that I had never considered – emotional maturity doesn’t necessarily parallel our physical maturity. Perhaps that should have been obvious, but like many others I had made a false assumption that we naturally grow in emotional maturity, as we get older. My counselor proceeded to explain that while our bodies naturally grow into adulthood, our emotions could stay trapped in childish patterns if we haven’t been given the tools to mature in our emotional health. That explanation provided some relief from the frustration I felt for the immaturity I was recognizing in my life and at the same time made me aware of the amount of work that was ahead of me.

I’m sure your leadership landscape is peppered with the scars of immaturity. The frustrated remark you made to your boss. The snarky comment you said to a co-worker. The door you slammed. The meeting you stormed out of. The cold shoulder you gave someone who didn’t support your initiative.

Not only is your leadership marred with your less than stellar moments, you’ve been on the receiving end of these emotionally unhealthy zingers as well. The scathing email from a volunteer who disagreed with your decision. The passive-aggressive tweet from a staff member following a difficult conversation. The employee who always has an excuse for under-performance.

Continue reading this article at Sunday|Magazine

2 More Spots Left!

Women leaders!  We have two more spots left in the coaching group that begins this fall.

Here are the details.  Submit your application by Aug 15th if you’re interested!

What: Coaching Group for Women in Ministry & Non-profit Leadership
When: October 2013-March 2014
Facilitated by: Jenni Catron


  • Women who serve in a high level leadership role in a church or ministry-related non-profit organization
  • Leaders who are in a season of challenging growth or transition that would benefit from the intensive discussion of a small, focused group
  • Leaders who are committed to the hard work of personal development that will result in growth for yourself and those you lead
  • Leaders who are willing to make the time and financial commitment

What you get:

  • Four days of coaching sessions in Nashville, TN
  • Special guests for relevant topics
  • The opportunity for transparent and honest discussion with other women who think and lead like you
  • Focused attention on your key issues or challenges and a committed group to share that growth journey with you
  • Two one-on-one coaching calls with Jenni
  • Supporting books and curriculum

What you invest:

  • Commit to participate in 2 face-to-face coaching sessions in Nashville, TN
  • $750 per person (includes all materials and books, lunch on training days, special guest costs and more) + travel expenses
  • Time to prepare and participate fully

A few more details:

  • You are responsible for your travel and lodging however we’ll get you info on hotel rates and help carpool as much as possible
  • Dates of coaching sessions in Nashville: Oct 17-18, 2013 & March 6-7, 2014
  • This will require some commitment so I want to challenge you to pray about it and apply as God leads you to
  • You can download the application here.

Valued or Tolerated?

One of my earliest leadership debacles took place when I was just a young twenty-something entrusted to manage my very first official employee.  I was so excited and eager to put my leadership strengths to work but this employee of mine was simply not doing things the way that I wanted them done.  With an air of superiority and visible frustration I shared with my boss the issues I was facing with this employee.  His response to my ranting and raving (or whining depending on your perspective) was, “You are working with people, not widgets, Jenni.  If you want to work with widgets go work in an assembly line.  If you want to work with people, you’ve got to start leading them.”  Instead of running to my rescue and validating my frustration, he reprimanded me for expecting my employee to be just like me.

One of the most dangerous things we can do as leaders is to expect others to be just like us. 

Great leaders understand the unique and individual talents of their team members and seek to develop those strengths and use them for the betterment of the individual and the organization.

But time and time again, I watch conflict arise within teams because we’ve forgotten that we’re all different and that those differences are GOOD!

We get impatient and frustrated with others who think and behave differently than we do.  And many times those differences lead to disrespect and disengagement.

Rather than engage and seek to understand one another, we retreat and avoid each other.

Too often we tolerate each other rather than value the uniqueness and perspective of each other.

Who on your team are you tolerating?

What could you learn to value about their gifts and perspective?

Leaders and Creatives

As a little girl I dreamed of being a superstar.  In my world of make-believe, nightgowns became evening dresses and hairbrushes became microphones.  If a performer was on television – such as my all-time favorite entertainer, Carol Burnett – I could be found decked out in my superstar attire ready to mimic every movement, every word spoken and every note sung.

Unfortunately my talent didn’t keep pace with my drive but I quickly discovered the next best thing.  While I didn’t have the chops to be a performer, I did have the business savvy and marketing instincts to be part of the team that supports them.  That discovery led me to a nine-year career as an artist development manager for some of the top Christian recording artists of that era.

With those years as the foundation for my leadership development, working with creatives was the only type of leadership I knew.  And perhaps because there is still a bit of that little girl superstar somewhere in my heart, I’ve developed a deep love for working with creative types.  I love their passion and perspective.  I love their unwillingness to settle for the status quo.

This week I’ve had the privilege to hang out with the artists, geeks (self-proclaimed) and storytellers that form the tribe of the Echo Conference.  I was privilege to share my thoughts about the importance of leaders and creatives working together.

Too many times we allow misunderstandings and assumptions to create unfortunate divides between our very different personalities and styles.  I believe that divide is a grave disservice to our ministries.  We need each other!

Here are the 4 foundations that I believe are essential to building healthy relationships between leaders and creatives in any culture.

1) Mutual Respect – Any relationship will go sideways in a hurry if it isn’t built on a foundation of respect.  Respect is about being committed to acknowledging and appreciating the unique ways that each of us are gifted.

2) Seek to Understand – Once you’ve learned to respect one another’s unique and different gifts, you have to dedicate the time and energy to truly understand one another’s perspective and priorities.

3) Consistent Communication – Because leaders and creatives will often view things from a different perspective, it will require an extra does of communication to maintain healthy working relationships.

4) No Gaps – Because of the stereotypes of each of these roles, there is a tendency to make assumptions about one another.  “No gaps” is another way to say “no assumptions”.  Don’t leave a gap in understanding that could be filled in with poor assumptions.

Whether you’re a leader or a creative, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Who do I need to have more respect for?

Whose role do  I need to understand better?

Who do I need to improve communication with?

Who have I been making assumptions about?