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executive assistant

How NOT to Sabotage Your Team

Today’s post is a guest post by Tricia Sciortino, president of eaHELP, one of our partners on the blog and on my Leadership Podcast

By Tricia Sciortino

As pastors, directors of special ministries, worship leaders, educators and administrators in the church, we know the call to serve is paramount. You strive to grow, nurture, provide for and support our communities and congregations.

But you also must do so in ways that demonstrate stewardship and competent leadership.

People believe in you. They depend on you. And your congregants are relying and counting on your steady hand to direct the organization forward. But with so many moving pieces, so many competing and continuous demands, it can become a challenge to manage everything.

It’s not uncommon, though, for leaders to experience some growing pains when they first hire a virtual assistant. They’re so accustomed to managing everything, to being hands-on with very routine tasks, that it can be hard to let go. But as the president of eaHELP, I’ve learned how pastoral and ministerial clients can avoid unintentionally sabotaging their virtual executive assistant. Sometimes this can happen quite accidentally, despite the best-laid plans or good intentions.

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We are only human, after all, and there’s only so much an individual can – or should – do.

There is the day-to-day administration, the calendars and scheduling, the meetings and reporting, and even the special projects, new events and even just the process of getting the word out as you seek to grow and bring others to Christ.

There are weekly preparations, daily commitments and the longer-term planning of what you hope, aim and plan to do in the future.

At eaHELP, we help many leaders and ministers just like you who have recognized they would benefit from some extra support.

In fact, we specialize in matching virtual administrative and executive assistants with leaders and organizations of many types, and we’ve honed in on the unique needs of the church. We have a team of more than 400 home-based administrative assistants who partner with people like you to make life less hectic, projects less monumental and general operations more efficient.

When you have a dedicated expert to manage schedules, arrange travel, update databases, conduct outreach, respond to emails and perform bookkeeping, imagine how much easier your life becomes.

Here are some insights to help you make the most of the dedicated help which companies like ours provides. Following these tips can ensure a satisfying, productive experience for all involved – for you as the leader, for the assistant as your administrative partner and for the service provider who matches both sides of the equation.

Don’t Just Task – Empower

Somewhere along the way, the perception of what executive assistants really offer became too simplistic. Yes, administrative assistants can answer calls and make copies, but the reality is that they do much more than that. Sometimes that work happens behind the scenes and is not always within full view.

Think of a quality executive assistant as the mystery ingredient in an incredible recipe; it’s the one element that brings it all together, but you may not even see it, smell it or taste it.

Plus, executive assistants often bring a level of disciplinary expertise that can be valuable to your efforts. These insights and knowledge could pertain to member outreach, operational organization, research and reporting, or marketing and media.

Churches always have reports to produce, and social media is more of a must than an “if” or “when” these days. Emerging, developing and established ministries alike often have complex calendars to manage, and getting the word out is a consistent concern of churches as they grow. Seek and solicit your assistant’s input where it counts, and you’ll cultivate a professional “right hand” who can help you more than you ever thought possible.

Don’t Infer – Express

Based on their aptitude and experience, executive assistants are often pros in proactively identifying needs and opportunities. But that doesn’t mean that you, as a leader, can go work on other things and leave your assistant operating in isolation. An avoidable error in the administrative assistant-client relationship is a gulf in clarifying needs and expectations.

Even if your assistant is performing according to expectations, it never hurts to offer constructive feedback. Be sure to volunteer your guidance about her ideas on how to execute an existing or new task.

Offer specifics about key contacts she may interact with, bringing beneficial context to her conversations and interactions. Executive assistants need to hear from you to ensure you’re not only singing from the same hymnal but that you are synced to same song and verse.

Don’t Conceal Your Quirks

Quite naturally, over time your virtual assistant learns more about you as the client, picking up on your verbal cues and gestures. Everyone has quirks – let’s call them pet peeves or preferences. If we take just a few minutes to do some self-reflection, each of us could probably name at least three work-related deal breakers of our own based on personal ideals or specific ways of being.

On occasion, these unknown quirks can emerge at inopportune times. For example, let’s say you ask your virtual assistant to create a new report about a developing program. She creates the report, but as you review it, you see that it’s not color-coded in a way you would prefer and even features a shade you absolutely never use in documents. There’s nothing wrong with the report itself; however, your preferences represent an affinity that she could not have known unless you informed her.

Miscommunication, bruised feelings and instances like these can be minimized through honest, clear conversations and fuller disclosure on the front end.

Don’t Be a Closed Book

Of course, you must establish and preserve professional boundaries at all times with your executive assistant. But that doesn’t mean you should erect a fortress between you and your administrative support partner.

The truth is that our private life does affect work life. You don’t have to completely “spill the beans,” but it may strengthen your virtual assistant’s performance and perspective if she knows about your kids’ demanding schedule of extracurricular activities, that you’re traveling overseas with your spouse for three weeks in the spring or that you have an upcoming medical procedure that’s been weighing heavily on your mind.

Want More?

Communication, continuity and consistency are some key ingredients in the successful recipe of an executive assistant-leader relationship. When both sides understand each other and are vested in the benefits of an effectively shared partnership, what materializes can be absolutely game changing for you, your ministry and your highest calling.

Trust me. We see the results every day.

Want more information on getting help with your team? Contact us free of charge.

In the meantime, what have you found helpful in working with an EA? Scroll down and leave a comment.

top leaders

5 Things Every Leader Should Tell Their Top Leaders

If you could only tell your top leaders a few things, what would you tell them?

That’s not an easy question to answer, but it’s one I was asked recently as I spoke to the senior leadership team and staff at Next Level Church in Florida.

It was a good challenge to distill years of leadership experience, mistakes and insights into five key learnings.

Here’s what I came up with.

I’d love for you to add your suggestions and top learnings to the mix in the comments below.

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1. Your competency will take you only as far as your character will sustain you

As a young leader, I was 100% convinced that competency was the key to effectiveness in leadership.

I no longer believe that’s true.

Sure, competency is important. Incompetence doesn’t get you or your mission very far.

But competency isn’t the ceiling many leaders hit. Character is.

Why is that?

Well, all of us can name highly gifted pastors, politicians, athletes and other public figures who failed not because they weren’t competent, but because they weren’t up for the job morally. An addiction, an affair, embezzlement or honestly sometimes just being a jerk caused them to lose their job or lose their influence.

This is why I’ve come to believe your competency will take you only as far as your character will sustain you.

So what do you need to do to ensure you character doesn’t undermine your talent?

Work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.

I know that’s difficult to do but do it.

Cultivate a daily habit of prayer and scripture reading. Go see a counsellor before you need to. Have great people around you who have permission to tell you the truth. Do the soul work you need to do to animate your other work.

It doesn’t matter how talented or gifted you are if you disqualify yourself from leadership.

2. Abandon balance and embrace passion

Almost everyone in leadership would advise you to lead a balanced life.

I’m not so sure.

What if that’s the wrong goal?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think everyone should work 80 hours a week.

But here’s my struggle.

I think we find many circles in our culture where balance has become a synonym for mediocrity. Don’t work too hard. Don’t be intentional about your time. Just be balanced.

Here’s what I’ve seen.

Most people who accomplish significant things aren’t balanced people. They’re passionate people.

They are passionate about:

Their job.

Their family.

Their hobby.

In fact, they’re often even passionate about their nutrition and their rest.

They never see work as a job…they see it as a calling. As a quest. As a mission.

They can’t wait to get up in the morning and attack the day.

When they engage relationally, they’re fully present.

When they’re with their family, they’re with their family. They give everything they have to everything that’s important to them.

So do a variety of things (work, play, family), but allocate your energy so you can do everything you do, including rest and relaxation, with passion.

I love what John Wesley said:

“Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

I never want to lose my passion. In fact, I’m praying that it intensifies as I grow older in everything I pursue.

Don’t let balance become a synonym for mediocrity. Balance is a retreat. Passion is an advance. So passionately pursue all you do.

If you’re intrigued by how to better manage your time, energy and priorities, I’m launching a new resource this fall called the High Impact Leader. It’s a 10-unit video course designed to help you get time, energy and priorities working in your favour.

If you want to get on the inside track of the launch of the High Impact Leader, sign up here.

3. Pursue your health

So many leaders struggle with staying healthy in leadership… spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally and financially.

One way to look at leadership is to see it as a series of deposits and withdrawals.

All day long as a leader, people and the mission make a series of withdrawals from you: someone needs to meet with you, another person needs counselling, a third needs advice, a fourth wants to get that report done asap.

If you think of your life as a leader like a bank account, the problem eventually becomes the ratio of deposits to withdrawals. Over the long run, if you make more withdrawals than deposits, you go bankrupt.

That’s exactly what happens to far too many leaders.

The withdrawals that happen to you in life and leadership are inevitable. You can manage them well or poorly (which is something we’ll help you master in the High Impact Leader course).

Here’s the thing, though: the withdrawals never go away.

It’s your responsibility to make the deposits.

This means applying the spiritual disciplines, physical disciplines, financial disciplines and the discipline to get the help you need to resolve your emotional and personal issues.

Here’s a question I’ve learned to ask myself and I would love every top leader to ask themselves daily: am I living today in a way that will help me thrive tomorrow? Spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, and financially?

If not, why not?

Since I started asking that question, I’m far healthier. It’s a recipe that works. Start using it.

4. Understand that attendance no longer drives engagement, engagement drives attendance

It’s interesting to me that we didn’t get to a strategy insight until the fourth insight. The top three pieces of advice are all heart and character issues, which is exactly as it should be.

But in the church, the strategy you apply also matters. So here we go.

As North American culture becomes more and more post-Christian, declining attendance has become a universal phenomenon (here are 10 reasons why that’s happening).

The current approach to church has largely been driven by getting people to attend. The idea is this: get them in the door and hopefully at some point, they’ll engage in the mission.

But in an age where fewer and fewer people are motivated to attend church at all, that’s a bad strategy.

Instead, if you want to see your church grow, stop trying to attract people and start working on engaging people.

Why? Because engaged people attend.

The more engaged you are in the mission, the more likely you’ll want to be part of the church.

In the future church, only the engaged will attend. So do what you can to drive engagement.

Want more? Here are 7 ways to drive engagement.

5.  Play favourites

My guess is you spend 80% of your time trying to help your struggling leaders get better.

They’re producing maybe 20% of your results, but you’re devoting 80% of your time trying to motivate them, get them to show up on time and get them to do what they said they were going to do when they said they were going to do it.

What if that’s a colossal mistake?

What if you spent 80% of your time with the leaders who give you 80% of your organization’s results?

That’s what the best leaders do: they spend 80% of their time with the people who give them 80% of their results.

What do you do with the bottom 20%? Let them go or let them figure it out on their own. Or limit your involvement to 20% of your time.

Your best leaders get better with time and attention. Poor leaders never do.

So try it…spend 80% of your time on the people that produce 80% of your results.

I know… I know… you’re pushing back. I get that. You think this isn’t a Christian thing to do. I’m not sure sure you’re right.

You’re afraid that playing favourites isn’t biblical.

Just the opposite. Not playing favorites makes you unfaithful.

I know, I know….what?????

Moses tried to treat everyone the same, and it almost killed him and wore out the people he led (just read Exodus 18).

The solution? Moses had to learn not to treat everyone the same.

He appointed leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. The result was that the people’s needs were met and Moses got to lead for the rest of his life. His leadership (finally) scaled.

If you start to look for it as you read, you’ll see organizational principles throughout Scripture (how did Israel become a great nation after all?)

For example, even in the New Testament, Jesus and early Christian leaders didn’t treat everyone alike.

Jesus actually walked away from people who needed to be healed in order to get food and rest.

Jesus organized his disciples into circles according to potential impact…groups of 70, 12, 3 (Peter, James and John) and 1 (Peter) and intentionally spent the most time with those inner circles.

The early church reorganized and mmoved their key teachers and preachers away from daily tasks and appointed new leaders, which fuelled new growth.

Loving everyone the same does not mean treating everyone the same way.

So if you want to be more biblically faithful, start treating different people differently.

What do you think?

Those are my top 5. What are yours?

Scroll down and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

And if you want more, I outlined 7 critical issues every church needs to deal with in my latest book.

bad day

7 Simple but Effective Strategies to Get You Through a Bad Day

Ever have a bad day?

Of course you do. You’re human.

As much as you don’t like days like that (does anybody?) they’re inevitable in leadership.

Someone sends you an email that sets you off.

A crisis hijacks the day you were going to spend getting a project done.

Unexpected bad news pours in.

You experience conflict with a teammate.

You simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

It happens.

When I began in leadership, days like that often cost me more deeply than they had to.

I would sometimes say things I regretted.

I occasionally took my frustrations out on people around me.

My family suffered if I came home and allowed my mood to ruin the atmosphere.

In fact, when I look around me, I see too many leaders who let bad days undermine their leadership again and again.

When leaders allow their moods to ricochet through the organization, a bad day can lead to several bad days for others. It can foster conflict among team members. And it can jeopardize their home life.

So how do you deal with a bad day?

Here are seven strategies I’ve adopted that can help with a bad day.

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1. Ask yourself: What would an emotionally intelligent person do? 

Emotional intelligence is all about developing a self-awareness of how your attitudes and actions impact others and leveraging that to further the team and others.

As Daniel Goleman points out in his classic book, Emotional Intelligence, emotionally intelligent people rarely let their state of mind bring others down. They’ve developed behaviours that compensate for their emotional state so they don’t drag other people down with them.

So quite literally, on my worst day, I ask myself “What would an emotionally intelligent person do?”

I imagine what they would do, then I do everything I can to do it.

Try it. It works.

2. Don’t act on your emotions

Emotionally intelligent people don’t act on their negative emotions.

Those who lack self-awareness in the moment will.

It’s a mistake.

You’ll say things you regret. You’ll do things you’ll wish you could take back.

So when you’re having a bad day, don’t act on your emotions. Don’t do anything stupid.

Don’t let anyone ‘have it’ because you’re in a bad mood.

If the worst thing that happens on a bad day is that you have some angry thoughts, at least they remained thoughts and refrained from becoming actions.

3. Don’t make any significant decisions

Actions are one thing. Decisions are another.

The worst time to make decisions is when you’re upset or feeling down. Your emotions will lead you to decide things you’ll regret.

So just decide not to decide anything that day.  

Here’s the rule I’ve adopted in life in and leadership when I’m in a bad space: Don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions.

Think about how many stupid decisions you could have avoided. The vows you might have never made. The bridges that would still be intact and burn-free.

Don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions.

4. Divert to accomplish a short term win

Chances are good that you can accomplish something positive, even if you don’t feel like it. Do something mundane like cleaning out your inbox. Organize a drawer. Get some routine work done.

While your head may not be in the right space to slay any big dragons, divert yourself to something manageable so you can find at least one or two short term wins.

You still need to earn your keep on a bad day.

If you’re still struggling, go for a walk or a run or a quick bike ride. The physical change can provoke a mental shift that can also rescue your day.

5. Confide and pray

You should tell somebody about your bad day. But tell the right person. Your emotions will probably lead you to want to tell the wrong person.

Talk to a close friend or your spouse (appropriately). Bottom line: talk to someone who is willing to help you and pray for you.

And pray about it yourself.

My prayer on bad days sometimes is as simple as “God, this is your church. You got me into this. Get me through this. Help me to see my part in all this.” That’s a decent prayer to pray on a bad day.

Bad days get worse on their own. They get better with friends.

6. Call it a day

If you’re having a really bad day, call it a day, early.

Staring at a blinking cursor doesn’t help anybody.

You may have to put a few more hours in later in the week but it’s worth it. If I’m struggling, I’ll often just pack it in and start early the next day. Often, I’ll accomplish far more in two great hours than I would have in four hours on a day when I was struggling.

Feel guilty about leaving early? If you have the freedom to set your own hours, don’t. Often leaders will think of value in terms of the hours they put in. This is a mistake.

Don’t judge your work by the hours you put in, but by the output you produce.

If you can produce a better outcome the next day, do it.

6. Get a great night’s sleep.

Don’t dismiss this. Sleep is so important.

Go to bed early. Shoot for 8 hours. You will feel so much better in the morning.

Watch what happens to your emotions when you sleep for eight hours. They get healthier. 

You’ll be much better positioned to deal with lingering issues when you’re well rested. And chances are your funk will disappear.

Sleep is the secret leadership weapon no one wants to talk about.

Naturally, if your bad day becomes a bad week or a bad season, you may have something else going on. I blogged about getting through bad seasons and burnout here.

What helps you get through a bad day? What doesn’t?

Let me know in the comments.

scared to risk more

7 Easy Risks You Can Take Today If Too Scared to Risk More

The problem with many leaders is that there is a gap between what they want to see happen and what they will do today.

We dream of a radical new future, but then we answer email all day, go to meetings, inhale caffeine and go home before it’s too late with far too much of whatever-we-did-today (what did I do again today?) left over for a boring repeat tomorrow.

To put it as eloquently as possible, this stinks.

To accomplish a radically new future, you will have to do radically different things.

This scares the socks off of most of us. After all, risk is for risk-takers, and many of us are not crazy risk-takers.

But what if you could begin to change that starting… today?

You can get over your fear in leadership by overcoming your fear in other areas of your life.

Small victories over fear can easily become larger ones because like any good muscle, the more you practice overcoming your fears, the more fear you can overcome.

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The End of the Road for the Timid is Not Awesome

Before we get into how to break this pattern of leadership monotony, let’s look at why courage, risk-taking and a willingness to be daring matter in leadership.

It’s simple. This is what can happen if you fail to take risks in your leadership:

Your organization will suffer from few breakthroughs and likely continue a path to decline and irrelevance.

You will likely never leave leadership with any sense of fulfillment or accomplishment.

I completely understand that underneath a lack of courage is often the heart-pounding feeling of fear.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a fearful leader and a lazy leader?  The writer of Proverbs shows us where that line is, proving that fear and laziness are cousins. While the motivation is different, the outcome is often indistinguishable.

I’m not saying you should be a reckless crazy person, but you probably need to be more of one than are you presently.

Let’s face it, when over 90% of churches are plateauing or declining, the church is not suffering from an overabundance of courage or risk-taking.

I believe risk-taking is both a habit and a mindset. Take a few steps toward tackling small challenges, and soon you’ll be up for the bigger ones.

At the same time, if you’re a natural risk taker, you may feel an urge the older you get to rest on your laurels. Don’t.

Even taking risks like the ones below will prime the pump for future change and transformation, which, by the way, is always in season.

After all, the next generation doesn’t care what you did yesterday.

7 Risks Any Leader Can Take Today

So, if you want to flex your risk-muscle for the first time or the 1000th time, here are 7 things you can do today to get started:

1. Start something you don’t know how to finish

This can be truly awesome. Tackling things you know how to do is a sure path to stagnation and eventual boredom.

What’s that project at work that scares the life out of you? Start it. Today. And see where it goes. You will figure it out. You will.

Most people who make a dent in the universe had no idea what they were doing when they started.

Why would it be any different with you?

2. Do what you’ve been thinking of doing but haven’t done yet

We all have things we’ve been thinking of doing for years that might be doable. But we haven’t started yet.

Just do it. Seriously.

True leaders have a bias for great action, not just great thinking.

3. Be generous when you don’t feel like it

Yes, generosity is a risk. Being financially generous when you don’t feel like you have the funds to be generous is a risk.

Being generous with praise when you don’t feel like praising someone is a risk.

In a world where there are a thousand reasons to be stingy, generosity is a risk.

But generosity is the key to developing an abundance mentality. And people with an abundance mentality often end up taking more risks.

So start by thanking someone who deserves some thanks even if you don’t feel like giving it. Or give some money away. You may surprise yourself at what you get back.

4. Set a goal you think is impossible to reach

The reason you won’t set a daring goal is because you think it’s impossible. Which is exactly why you should set it.

It can be small. When I began seriously and consistently blogging 4 years ago, I set a crazy traffic goal of reaching 100,000 page views a year. I thought it would be impossible. But that goal motivated me to write three times a week, week in and week out.

I had no idea that in my first year full year of dedicated blogging, I would realize 7x that goal…reaching over 700,000 page views. That was in 2013.

Three years later, this blog sees 3-4 million pages views a year and reaches over 2 million leaders each year.

If someone had told me that when I started, I would have laughed. The thought still astonishes and humbles me.

But here’s some truth for you: People who set goals accomplish more than people who don’t.

5. Be vulnerable

Yes, vulnerability is also a risk.

Bring a close friend in on a struggle you haven’t talked to anyone about yet.

Get over your fear of telling your team you don’t know the answer (I promise you they already know).

Being vulnerable sets you up for accepting the failure that inevitably accompanies risk…that failure you’re so scared of.

Being vulnerable today will prepare you for a bit of failure tomorrow on your way to greater accomplishments.

6. Give someone else an opportunity you were going to take for yourself

It’s a risk to trust others with something you care about, isn’t it? Which is why you need to do it.

Pick an opportunity you were personally going to do and invite someone else to do it. This will not only help you be more generous with your leadership but this will also position you to create a stronger team moving forward.

As the saying goes when it comes to accomplishment, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go further, go with a team.

7. Take quitting off the table

When you’re afraid, you think about quitting, don’t you?

So take it off the table. Just decide you’re in for the long haul and get moving.

It’s riskier to stay and try than it is to quit and leave.

In the same way that couples who take divorce off the table usually find a way to work through their issues, you will find a way to work through your issues if you move quitting off the table.

These are 7 risks you can take today that will set you up for greater risks tomorrow.

Oh…and by the way…all of this will grow your faith.

You will have to stop trusting yourself and what you know and start trusting God more than you ever have before.

After all, did you ever know God to call anyone in the scripture to something that was easy? Didn’t think so.

If you take more risks and trust far more, both you and your organization will be in a far better position because of it.

What do you think?

If you want more, I wrote a book on leading change you can read here, and I included a chapter on change in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, what other risks do you think leaders can take that will set us up for the future?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

jerk leader

10 Signs You’re Just a Jerk…Not A Leader

So you lead. You’re in charge…at least you’re in charge of something or hope to be one day.

But how do you know you’re leading effectively…and that you’re not, well, a jerk?

I mean we’ve all been around leaders who are extremely difficult to be around.

Think about how badly leaders are often viewed.

Over the years, boss has even become a bad word. If you’re a pushy kid, you get labeled as bossy and people stay away. Hollywood simply needs to put the word “horrible” in front of the word “bosses” in a movie title and everyone smiles because they can relate. Who hasn’t had a horrible boss?

And yet, sometimes there’s a fine line between being an effective leader and being a jerk. The strength required to be a leader can sometimes push you up against the hard edges of your personality.

When you reach that point you fail. You not only destroy others, you ultimately destroy yourself.

Here are ten signs you’re actually being a jerk, not a leader.

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1. You’ve made the organization all about you

Hey, there’s no doubt your leadership gift probably brings something to the organization or church in which you serve—maybe even a lot.

Leaders, after all, make things happen.

If you want to be a jerk, make the organization about you.

Make sure you’re front and center all the time. Think about how grateful people should be to have you.

Be incredulous at why more people don’t thank you for your leadership. Imagine that you should be paid more.

Just think of  yourself as undervalued and indispensable. Jerks, after all, think it’s all about them.

2. You think that people work for  you

If you’re a jerk and not a true leader, you’ll believe people work for you. 

Contrast that with what the best bosses do. The best bosses think of themselves as working for the people around them.

They prefer to serve rather than be served.

If you keep thinking people work for you, few people will want to work for you.

3. You never say thank you

Jerk leaders rarely say thank you. After all, why would you say thank you when people are just doing their jobs?

Jerk leaders rarely take the time to tap someone on the shoulder and tell them they noticed the difference that team member made today.

And why thank the employee who worked late to get the project done? After all, shouldn’t they just be grateful to get a paycheck?

Great bosses often take the time to hand-write a thank you note.

They high five people.

They look team members in the eye and tell them how much they appreciate them.

They put their arm around people and say thanks.

Great leaders realize nobody has to work for them. Which is why people do.

4. You’re demanding

One sure way to be a jerk is to demand things of people.

It’s one thing to have high standards (great leaders have high standards), but to remain a jerk, make sure you always communicate those standards in a way that demeans people.

Always focus on what you want from people. Never think about what you want for people.

5. You keep the perks of leadership to yourself

Leadership does have perks. Maybe you know some people other folks would love to connect with.

Maybe you get the nicer office or have a slightly bigger budget than others. Or people send you gift cards once in a while because you’re the boss man. Or you have a nice parking space (which you shouldn’t by the way… here’s why).

To stay a jerk, just make sure you never share anything with anyone. Keep it all to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t be generous.

6. You keep yourself front and center

If you’re a jerk leader, you think you’re so valuable to the organization (see point 1) that you do whatever it takes to be at the center of everything at all times.

You don’t develop young talent. You’re too insecure to share your platform with others. You never push other people into the spotlight. (Insecurity causes a lot of leadership problems by the way. Here are 5.)

You’re never going to retire anyway, or even if you do, it doesn’t really matter if the organization crumbles when you go, does it?

Besides, no one else on your team has dreams, gifts or hopes. Why would you pay attention to that?

Think about it: Great leaders don’t build platforms; they build people.

7. You take the credit and assign the blame

If you’re a jerk leader, there are two surefire ways to anger your team.

First, take all of the credit for anything good that happens in your organization.

Make sure you mention how it was your idea and whatever you do, don’t mention your team or how hard they worked on the project.

Second, when things go off the rails, wash your hands of it. Look surprised and then appear concerned.

Blame something else.

Blame someone else.

Blame anything else.

You weren’t responsible anyway. Except for all of the good things, of course.

8. You never have your team’s back

Is there really any value in public loyalty? Didn’t think so.

If you want to alienate your team, speak poorly of them when they’re not in the room.

For example, when you disagree with a decision a team member made, make sure you tell anyone who will listen how much you disagreed with it.

And when someone complains to you about what a team member did, make sure you pull them aside and in hushed tones tell them how disappointed you were with their decision too, and that you don’t understand why they would do that.

For bonus points, never privately speak to the person with whom you disagree. Just smile when you see them.

Great leaders don’t always agree, but they always disagree privately behind closed doors and they support you publicly, no matter what. That builds a team.

As Andy Stanley says, great leaders realize that public loyalty buys you private leverage.

9. You make all the decisions

One sure sign of a jerk leader is that you infuriate other leaders on your team by personally making as many decisions as possible.

You never let them exercise their leadership gifts or become thinkers in their own right.

And when they do make decisions on their own, you meddle frequently.

You even pull out your pocket veto regularly. Especially if you’re acting on partial information and don’t have the whole story.

10. You act like a martyr

When your team is angry with you (as they should be), one sure sign you’ve moved to the jerk column is that you pull out the martyr card.

Nobody has it as hard as you do. True?

Nobody is as misunderstood.

I mean, who puts in as many hours for a thankless job? And who really understands you?

Nobody. Of course.

To keep jerk status, make sure you tell everyone how hard you work, how lonely leadership is and how you haven’t taken a vacation in X years.

Great leaders realize leadership has a cost, but they don’t expect others to share it. This is exactly why many people are willing to share the cost with a great leader.

The Jerk Inside Me

How do I know jerk leadership so well?

Because I have a jerk inside of me I need to suppress every day. My guess is you might too.

Fortunately, Jesus introduces a completely different paradigm for leadership.

If you want to be a Christ-like leader, just do the opposite of these ten things. You’ll be well on your way.

And Christ promises to help you.

If you’re like me, it takes supernatural strength to lead in a Christ-like manner. But there’s no better way to lead a team (or your family).

Include Your Team on Decision Making

If you want to include your team on decision making and help them own the challenges before you, my last book (Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow) is 100% designed to facilitate team discussion and problem-solving on the biggest issues facing church leaders today.

Plus there’s even a full chapter on creating a healthy team.

You can buy the book and/or the team edition video series (for team discussion) here.

Want to see a sample? Download a free chapter here.

What Do You Think?

What other characteristics of jerk leaders have you seen?

How is this battle at work in your life?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

new assistant

5 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership Working With A New Assistant

If you’re like most leaders, you’re almost always adding someone new to your team, whether that’s a new volunteer, a new board member or a new staff member.

In a growing organization, a changing team is an organizational constant.

I had this experience recently. As some of you may know, I recently transitioned to working with a new assistant after 7 (great) years with my former assistant.

Few people impact you more directly than an assistant. That’s why I knew finding a replacement for Sarah Piercy would be a tough challenge. (Sarah and I talk about what made our working relationship amazing in this interview.)

When I found out Sarah would be heading out on maternity leave, I immediately turned to eaHELP, and I’m so glad I did.

I knew eaHELP provides virtual assistant services based in the U.S. They immediately matched me with a highly competent and smart new assistant, also named Sara (Sara Horn, with no ‘h’ though!). Sara also writes, speaks and has a blog. It’s actually a pretty amazing pairing because Sara understands my world well and can help me navigate the dynamics in my world as an author, speaker and leader.

What I didn’t realize is how in-depth eaHELP’s infrastructure and system is designed to support both me and Sara throughout the process. That has proven to be such a bonus as we’ve navigated the first 90 days.

Their help and expertise have been invaluable.

But even with all the support in the world, there are new things to learn and new adjustments to make.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned about leadership (and especially about myself) working with my new EA.

new assistant

1. You have to let go of the past to embrace the future

Sometimes you’re really glad to see a team member go. Other times, you’re actually really sad to see the team member step away. The second scenario describes how I felt about losing Sarah Piercy, even for a year.

Even though I was really happy that Sarah and her husband were going to become parents for the first time, I felt a pretty deep sense of loss. Sarah and I had worked together for 7 years and she was fantastic at what she did. Plus, we had a ton of fun working together.

I realize as much as I prepared myself for Sarah’s departure, I actually felt the loss more after she left than before.

That’s natural, but I had to be very careful not to project that on my new assistant (or others).

I actually felt quite a bit of internal resistance to all the changes that were taking place during the first month or two. (The irony was not lost on me since I wrote a book about overcoming opposition to organizational change.)

But I soon saw that not letting go of the past is the first, sad step toward living in the past. And I’ve seen so many leaders do that, to everyone’s detriment.

If you want to embrace the future, you’ve got to let go of the past, no matter how much you may have enjoyed it.

And ironically, once you do, you’ll see how awesome the present is and how good the future can be.

2. Ambiguity is a terrible training manual

One key to an easy transition is to have your systems and methodology written down.

I’ve done a decent job of writing down the mission, vision, strategy and culture of Connexus Church, where I serve.  (I outline how I did that here.)

My new assistant Sara’s main job is not to help me with the church side of my life, but with this blog, with my leadership podcast, with my speaking engagements and the rest of my life. Those things have grown exponentially over the last few years, but I’d never made the time to write down the mission, vision, strategy or even culture I’m trying to embody in those areas.

That makes training someone new much more difficult. Ambiguity is a terrible training manual.

This kind of ambiguity almost always results in a leader telling a new team member what’s wrong, not what’s right. The dialogue can almost end up sounding like this:

No, I don’t think that’s right.

Okay, well let me try it this way, is this better?

No, that’s not it either.

How about this?

Um…not really.

Well, can you help me understand what you’re shooting for?

I’m not 100% sure actually.

Fortunately for me, my new assistant Sara is sharp and we avoided countless rounds and rounds of this.

We actually found a groove on culture, communication and process faster than we might have largely because she is really good at reading between the lines and is highly motivated to get there fast.

But the process has taught me I need to codify as much as I can quickly.

You can’t scale ambiguity.

3. Reasonable expectations are your friend

Like many leaders, I am an optimist.

And so I regularly underestimate how much time things take, how many bumps there will be and I often assume everything that’s unreasonable is reasonable.

In many ways, that’s a strength, but it’s also far healthier to have reasonable expectations and timeframes in place.

Underestimating the challenges in front of you only creates new challenges.

There will be a transition period with any change. And as a leader, you need to make time for it.

If I was guilty of anything in the first 60 days, it was probably that I kept assuming the transition was ending, when in fact, it was perfectly normal to still be in transition.

Ironically, if you plan on a transition, the transition period will end sooner than if you pretend there’s no transition.

4. Relationship managers are a GREAT idea

Usually, when you hire a new person, it’s 100% up to you and them to figure out how to make the relationship ideal.

eaHELP does something unique: they assign a Relationship Manager to assist both you and your assistant to work through all the dynamics of the transition.

The Relationship Manager’s job is to check in, help identify and find solutions for any bumps and challenges that come up as your working relationship develops, and make sure the leader and the assistant succeed. This has proved tremendously helpful to both Sara and me.

And this isn’t an elite package; everyone who uses eaHELP gets one. Brilliant.

I think if more companies and churches did this, you would see far greater success in both team member retention and satisfaction.

eaHELP founder Bryan Miles and I talk about what relationship managers do and cover the story of the rise of eaHELP in Episode 45 of my leadership podcast (an interview which happened long before I became a client. :))

5. Lead yourself, not just the new team member

It’s easy to assume that in a transition, you need to lead the new team member. That’s true. You do.

But it’s easy to forget that you also need to lead yourself.

When you’re in a transition, everything changes. This means you have to change. Your systems, expectations, and even the chemistry is going to be different.

One of the best ways to lead yourself is to set time aside to work on it, not just in it. Most of us run hard enough that there’s not a lot of extra time to think, reflect, and work on the system.

Change that and make the time.

You’ll be glad you did. So will your assistant.

Need An Assistant?

I’ve always said I couldn’t do what I do without a fantastic assistant.

That has become even more apparent to me in the last few months. Man, am I thankful! I realize how valuable a great assistant is, and how helpful it is to be matched up with a highly competent person straight out of the gate.

Whether you’re looking for very part time help  (say 5 or 10 hours a week) or full time help in either the church world or corporate world, I highly recommend eaHELP.

You can learn more here.

What Have You Learned About Leading Team Members ?

What have you learned about on-boarding new team members?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

people pleasing

How People-Pleasing Crushes Your Leadership Potential

Ever wonder how your leadership potential gets crushed? How you end up stalling out as a leader with your dreams stifled and your future looking far less exciting than you hoped for?

It happens more easily than you think.

And it often happens despite a leader’s best intentions.

In fact, there’s a good chance that even today, you’re wrestling with the very dynamics that ultimately thwart your leadership potential.

What kills your leadership potential more than just about anything?

I’ll walk you through a downward spiral many leaders have encountered. It starts innocently enough but ends rather tragically.

How does it happen?

You’d be surprised. Because you come by it so honestly.

shutterstock_373148281We’re All Afraid of Rejection

So let me guess, you’re almost always working hard on a new idea. You:

Sweat over it.

Pray over it.

Revise it.

Perfect it.

And you hope—really hope—that when your idea is unveiled, people will like it.

Before you dismiss that as a trivial observation, ask yourself: Have you ever unveiled an idea or project you sincerely hoped people wouldn’t like?

I didn’t think so.

The desire to have your proposal accepted is pretty universal, isn’t it?

Almost every leader is afraid of one thing: rejection.

And not just personal rejection, but the rejection of your ideas as well.

Your hopes. Your strategies. Your dreams.

So you do what you can to make people happy… to get them to buy in.

And therein lies the trap.

So This is What You Do

Because we’re all afraid of rejection, you and I revise our ideas until we think they have the greatest chance of acceptance.

And in principle, that’s a good idea. Who wants to introduce something that ultimately only 5 people on planet earth are going to find helpful?

But often, in the process of trying to get people to buy into your initiative, you take the edges off of it.

You dilute it.

You compromise.

You talk about what’s possible, not about what’s best.

And then you die a little inside.

Then This Happens

So… you introduce your slightly watered-down idea/product/change/innovation hoping people will applaud wildly.

Except they don’t. People still don’t like it.

You hear from the critics.

A few people leave.

More people threaten to leave.

You grow more scared.

So you retreat.

You revise your plan. You sand more of the edges off. You compromise more. You try to offend as few people as possible.

And then you die a little more inside.

Except now, your product becomes, literally, unremarkable.

Criticism, remember, is a remark, and a remark indicates you might have a truly remarkable idea.

Can you imagine what might have happened had you gone with your original stellar idea you were afraid to even say out loud???

Do you see what you often do when you water down your bold changes as a result of criticism? You change a remarkable initiative into an unremarkable one.

Being inoffensive ultimately makes you ineffective.

And Suddenly You’re on the Fastest Path To Irrelevance

That’s why far too many leaders end in a place where they are too afraid to be bold. Too afraid to try something new. Too afraid to even dream.

They reduce potentially great initiatives to the least offensive form they can find, hoping everyone will buy in.

Except your ability to attract new people just went out the window.

The only people who really like your new idea are a small core of the people who already liked your old idea…and any growth potential is jettisoned.

Here’s the lesson far too many leaders never learn about trying to offend as few people as possible:

If you attempt to offend no one, you will eventually become irrelevant to everyone.

Where does this land you as a leader?

With worship services that are bland enough to inspire no one, including the 40 or 400 people who are there but who strangely want to keep it that way.

Adopting mission statements so drab they could have been lifted from an HR manual.

With a vision for the future that looks far too much like the past.

It’s not that difficult to head down the path to irrelevance.

When your vision for the future looks too much like the past, you need a new vision. And that’s where you’ll end up if people-pleasing causes you to lose your courage.

Lead Boldly

So what do you do?

Four things can help a leader usher in bolder change and avoid irrelevance without becoming a brash, arrogant leader.

1. Be bold

Don’t stop dreaming. Introduce some bolder changes. The problem with incremental change is that it brings incremental results.

So be bold. Bolder change will bring bolder results.

2. Lead with humility

No one likes an arrogant person; even fewer people like an arrogant leader. Being bold is not a licence to offend.

Leading from a place of humility can help you broker change far better than leading from a place of arrogance.

3. Take the long view

A key difference between leaders who successfully navigate change and those who don’t is the ability to stick out the initial waves of criticism.

The fact that some people don’t like your change is natural. Take the long view and realize this too shall pass.

Think about it: surprisingly, your insistence on pleasing people will ultimately cause you to disappoint people.

4. Focus on who you want to reach, not who you want to keep

If you focus on the 10% of people who don’t like the change, you will lose the thousands of people you can reach by making the change.

Again, this is not an excuse to be stubborn, arrogant or bullying.

But it is permission to be courageous.

To be true to your convictions, and to lead with conviction and even some occasional daring, I share more specific strategies on how to effectively lead change here.

If your mission is as important as you say it is, it deserves your best leadership and courage.

My Guess Is…

…that you are not trying to be ineffective.

It’s just that the gravitational pull we all feel in leadership to please everybody is almost always counterproductive.

Sometimes, you even end up being nothing to nobody.

So what’s keeping you back from acting on your best strategy?

What’s keeping you back from being more daring?

Is it the desire to be liked? The fear of being rejected? The unwillingness to offend?

I understand that…but just know what’s at stake.

To be inoffensive is to be ineffective.

Sometimes, you need to push through a controversial proposal to get to the other side.

In your attempt to offend no one, you just might become irrelevant to everyone.

Want More?

I wrote about three powerful truths about likability and leadership in this post.

If you’re wondering what issues the church needs to tackle to be effective and reach people, I devoted my most recent book, Lasting Impact, to 7 pivotal issues every church leader needs to address. You can learn more about Lasting Impact here.

What do you think?

Scroll down and leave a comment.

insecure leaders

5 Things Insecure Leaders Wrongly Believe

Ever notice that so many of the challenges you face as a leader happen in your mind?

Me too.

Why is that?

Well, so much of leadership is actually not a battle with others, it’s a battle with yourself.

And a good portion of that battle arises out of insecurity.

Barnabas Piper and Todd Adkins interview me this week for their 5 Leadership Questions podcast. You can listen here. This week’s release is Episode 113 (I was also a guest previously on Episode 80).

Barnabas and Todd asked me to comment on 5 lies leaders believe (especially church leaders).

The conversation was fascinating…as it mostly goes back to insecurity. And I thought it was worth a blog post.

Here are 5 lies leaders wrongly believe.

insecure leaders

1. I must know everything about everything

This trips up so many leaders, and it was a tough one for me when I was starting out.

Most leaders who think they need to know everything feel that way because they know they don’t.

That insecurity can be paralyzing.

The funny thing is…when you fake an answer, people can tell you don’t know. Rather than gaining confidence in your leadership, your guesses, fake answers and ‘covering’ actually causes people to lose confidence in you.

One of the most glorious answers a leader can give is “I don’t know.”

Period.

You don’t need to be defensive.

Just look them in the eye, securely, and admit you don’t know. You don’t even need to go the uber-achiever route and say, “But I’ll find out.”

You might say “I don’t know, but what do you think?” Or “I don’t know, but I’m sure we have someone here who might. Let’s see.” Or you might just say “I don’t know.”

When you do that, you elevate the team. You actually build up the ability of others to contribute.

Frankly, I trust people who tell me the truth far more than people who cover their insecurity with guesses and partial knowledge.

2. I must be prominent and lead from the front

I think in the early days of leadership, most of us instinctively want to lead from the front.

Frankly, during the first decade of my leadership, I was too insecure not to.

But over the last decade, as I’ve become more comfortable with who I am and who I’m not, I’ve been able to do a better job leading more people than ever with less ‘up front’ time than ever.

In fact, in the last few years, I’ve been thinking constantly about what John the Baptist said:  “He must become greater. I must become less.” Naturally, this applies to Christ, but I think it also applies to others.

That’s why I’m fixated on handing off our ministry at Connexus to the next generation… and that my role doesn’t always have to be front and centre.

Every church planter needs to ask this question: “Is what started with me going to end with me?”

The more secure you are, the easier that becomes to answer that with a no. I’m working on it. Hard.

So…if you want to build a ministry that endures, don’t build it around someone who will die.

3. I must prove myself constantly

Ask yourself this: to whom are you trying to prove yourself? To God? To others?

If it’s God, you’re already approved. That had something to do with a cross on a hillside out of Jerusalem two thousand years ago.

And we all know leaders (even Christian leaders) who are constantly trying to prove themselves.

You know what happens?

Leaders who try to prove themselves lose themselves. You actually never discover who you are because you’re not comfortable enough to look inside and discover what’s already there.

My favourite leaders are those who have developed a quiet confidence. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not, but they’re not loud about it. They consistently and humbly play to their strengths and have no difficulty admitting their weaknesses (see point 1).

If you can’t admit you’re wrong because you’re always trying to prove yourself, remember: People admire your strengths but resonate with your weaknesses.

When you can accurately (and even quietly) lead well and admit your mistakes, people trust you.

4. My follower’s success is a threat to me

So many leaders feel threatened by the success of the people around them—even the people they lead.

Big mistake.

You shouldn’t feel threatened by the success of your followers. You should celebrate it.

A leader’s success is ultimately tied to the success of their followers.

Great leaders don’t build great platforms; they build great people.

So how do you do that?

Well, start by murdering your insecurity.

Brian Houston had one of the best answers I’ve heard on this subject. When I interviewed him on my leadership podcast (you can listen to it here), I asked Brian how he’s managed to keep so much talent around him over the years.

I loved his response. He said, “You raise the ceilings.”

Raise the ceilings, and you’ll eventually be surrounded by giants.

If you want to learn more about developing a great leadership pipeline, the team at LifeWay Leadership (where Todd and Barnabas serve) has developed a number of resources to help you begin developing a generation of new leaders at your church.

  • Free E-BookletDeveloping Your Leadership Pipeline
  • Free Leadership App – featuring blogs, podcasts, training videos, and more
  • Pipeline – A Conference for Church Leaders – October 13-14 in Nashville, TN

I’ll be delivering one of the keynotes at the Pipeline Conference in October in Nashville. Join me and 6,000 other leaders this October.

5. I emphasize mission, vision and values enough

On the podcast, I said this one is perhaps the only statement of the five lies that doesn’t arise out of insecurity.

As I’ve thought about it further, now I’m not so sure.

You know what insecure people are? They’re self-focused.

Their needs end up trumping the needs of the organization.

And here’s the truth: you will get tired of casting vision, talking about the mission and celebrating values.

So the question becomes, do you do what you feel like doing or do you do what’s best for the mission?

Great leaders never only do what they feel like doing: they do what furthers the mission of the people they lead.

An insecure leader will flit from feeling to feeling. A secure leader will wake up and do what’s best, even if she thinks she’s done it 1000 times.

Secure leaders can focus on something bigger than themselves because they’re over themselves.

What Do You Think?

I’m a huge podcast fan. I hope you listen to the 5 Leadership Podcast Questions podcast.

I also host a weekly leadership podcast you can listen to for free every week. In fact, if you subscribe for free, you’ll never miss an episode and have access to my back catalogue at your fingertips.

I interview today’s top leaders like Brian Houston, Craig Groeschel, Andy Stanley, Jenni Catron, Mark Batterson, Louie Giglio, Ravi Zacharias, Kara Powell, Chris Brown, Jon Acuff, Lewis Howes and many more. You can subscribe here.

On Episode 61 of my podcast, Josh Gagnon, pastor of one of the fastest growing and largest churches in the history of New England, and I have a gut-honest conversation about how even successful leaders struggle with insecurity.

I’d love to know if there are other lies you’ve noticed that insecure leaders believe.

Just scroll down and leave a comment!

are you actually a leader?

So Are You Actually a Leader? A Simple Way to Tell In Less Than Two Minutes

One of the most difficult aspects of leadership is to know how you’re doing as a leader.

Add a little insecurity into the mix, and it makes things even more complex.

Naturally, you’ll get feedback from your peers and probably get an occassional 360 review (both great practices).

But beyond that, how can you tell how you’re doing as a leader?

There’s a way to check that’s much simpler than you might think. By asking yourself three simple questions, you can not only get an accurate gauge of how you’re doing, but where you need to improve.

shutterstock_365846192

Why This Matters (Leadership and Self-Delusion)

I find a lot of leaders are not clear on how well they’re leading.

This falls into two categories:

Leaders who overestimate how well they’re doing.

Leaders who underestimate how well they’re doing.

Both are problematic for different reasons.

If you think you’re doing better than you are, you’re the last person to realize you need to improve.

And if you think you’re not doing as well as you actually are, then you likely have potential you have not yet tapped into.

So getting a reasonably accurate check in on the quality of your leadership is critical to help you lead with all diligence.

3 Easy Ways to Check Your Leadership Effectiveness

The following three questions form three quick shoulder checks you can do.

As with all self-assessment, there are limits on how accurate it will be. But my guess is as you work through these questions in the next few minutes you’ll know a lot more about your leadership than you might predict.

And, lastly, a quick note. This post (like almost all posts on this blog) assumes you want to lead better now and steward the leadership gift that God has given you. If you don’t, you’ll push back against these questions. I get that. But if you care about leadership, as difficult as the answers to these questions might be, you will want to answer and act.

So, to gauge your leadership, as honestly as you can, answer these three questions:

1. Is anyone following you?

One of the best ways to tell whether you’re a leader is simple this: Look over your should to see if anyone’s following.

If no one’s following (or only a few are), you’re really not leading.

It doesn’t matter how many leadership books you read, how many webinars you do or how grandiose your vision might be, a leader without followers is not actually a leader.

While we all get touchy about this in leadership, the reality is leaders lead people. (This post explains why some leaders have a higher number of followers than others.)

So whoís following you? Be honest.

2 Who’s following you?

That you have followers is one thing, but the next thing to check is the kind of person following you.

High capacity leaders will attract other high capacity people.

The caliber of the people around you points to the caliber of  leader you are.

Again, this isn’t always a fun question to answer, but it can become a spring board to progress.

If you don’t like what you find, ask yourself why higher capacity leaders don’t follow your lead.

And then take the steps you need to take to change that.

Here are a few posts that will help you better lead high capacity people.

6 Reasons You’re Losing High Capacity Leaders

7 Questions Every Volunteer Asks But Never Says Out Loud

How to Tell If You’re An Organizational Or Relational Leader

I also wrote about developing a high capacity team in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

 

3. Who are you following?

It’s not just a question of who follows you, but also a question of who you’re following.

I’m not talking about the podcasts you listen to, the blogs or books you read or the conferences you attend. Our celebrity culture has created a mass following mentality that allows many people to follow influential leaders almost effortlessly. I’m not slamming this.

I read and listen to leading voices all the time and love going to great events. I’m in when it comes to that.

But I think it’s easy to develop a false intimacy with these influential leaders, thinking we know them when in fact we’ve never met them and in all likelihood never will. S

While you can learn from people you read or listen to, even more important are the people you actually hang out with.

On that note, ask yourself:

With whom do I spend the most time personally?

Who’s building into me, personally?

Who’s mentoring me?

Do the people I spend the most time with represent the kind of leader I want to be in 5 years?

Are the people closest to me helping me grow into the leader God has called me to be?

If the answers to these questions bother you, change the circle of people you hang out with.

Find some leaders and mentors who can help you realize your potential. Seriously, send an email today to someone who can do these things for you before you close this blog post.

Know why this is so important?

As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

What Questions Would You Ask?

I find that by asking myself these three questions on a semi-regular basis, I get a fairly accurate assessment of where I am.

How about you? What questions would you add to this list?

Leave a comment.

mistakes churches make

5 Basic Mistakes Churches Make Over and Over Again

It’s one thing to make mistakes in leadership.

It’s another to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Any idea what your frequent mistakes might be?

And if you have mistakes that you make, why do you keep making the same ones over and over again?

One of the reasons many leaders and organizations repeatedly make the same mistakes is because our actions spring from our viewpoint, viewpoints that in fact may be wrong.

Get the viewpoint wrong and the actions follow.

As you’ll see from the list below, the mistakes I see church leaders make repeatedly spring from a view point that can best be described this way:

What we do in the church doesn’t really matter.

The reality is nothing could be further from the truth. What we do in the church matters incredibly, because the church actually is, as Bill Hybels says, the hope of the world.

If the church has the most important mission on earth, behave like it.

But so many churches don’t.

Here are 5 mistakes I see over and over again.

mistakes churches make

1. Thinking cheap

Too often in church, leaders carry a dollar store mindset. Get as much as you can for as little as you can and you win.

But do you?

What leaders miss is that cheap has a cost. In fact, in the long run, it’s actually more expensive.

First, you end up with inferior products, whether that’s furniture, technology or even ministry (Here, leader…do world class children’s ministry on $140 a year).  Cheap things break earlier and more easily, and you end up replacing them frequently. So often, you don’t even save much money.

Cheap even translates to team.

Paying church staff poorly is not only unbiblical, it’s stupid. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Do I think you should pay outrageous salaries to church leaders? Absolutely not. But you should pay people a living wage.

If you want a radically different view on why non-profits shouldn’t be cheap on salaries, Dan Pallotta makes a powerful case for decent pay in the non-profit sector.

Why do some church leaders want to underfund the most important ministry on earth?

2. Starting late

I’ve been to numerous church services and events that regularly start late, after the published start time.

Why?

Maybe it’s just me, but that just oozes “Hey, what we’re doing doesn’t matter much…and we don’t really value your time.”

Some people got their kids up early, made breakfast, showered quickly and fought traffic to show up on time. When you start late, you dishonour all their effort.

I know some church leaders think they want to wait until ‘everyone is here.’ Well guess what? No matter what time you begin, people will always wander in late.

We had an ‘everyone shows up ten minutes late’ problem a few years ago. Rather than start late, we actually told people to arrive on time and then put some of the best, most creative elements in the first 5 minutes of the service.

When people showed up late, we told them “Man, it’s too bad you missed it.” That was it. We never apologized.

Guess what happened? We went from 30% of people being present when the service started to about 70% of people being present when the service started.

It’s amazing what happens when you provide great value on time. People show up.

The other 30%? Too bad they missed it….

3. Deciding it’s good enough

Even if you invest some money in ministry, too many church leaders behave as though a moderate effort is good enough.

As Jim Collins has famously pointed out, bad is not the enemy of great (because that’s obvious). Good is the enemy of great.

A ‘good enough’ attitude can create a false sense of satisfaction, leaving a meaningful part of both your mission and potential unfulfilled.

That’s why I love that at Connexus Church, where I serve, one of our stated values is ‘Battle Mediocrity.’

I love that phrase because first of all, ‘mediocrity’ names ‘good enough’ for what it is—massively unsatisfying mediocrity. Second, ‘battle’ is a call to arms. This is a fight, and mediocre has to die. (I teach on battling mediocrity in this talk.)

God didn’t decide his work was good enough, so why should the church? He gave his best. His all. He threw the full force of his majesty not just into creation, but into redemption.

Strangely, many people will give 100% to the marketplace, a hobby or their family, and then give 60% when they serve God. Makes no sense. At all.

4. Choosing easy over effective

Being effective as a leader is difficult. Which is why it’s so easy for leaders to settle when so much more is possible.

Being effective means you dig in when others retreat. It means you ask the 11th question when everyone else stopped at ten. It means you wake up early and sometimes stay up late trying to figure out how to do better.

It means you call out the best in people and ask them to bring their best energy, focus and skill to advancing the mission of the church.

That’s effective.

And it’s not easy. But it’s worth it.

5. Thinking that conversations like these are  unspiritual

Some leaders understand why conversations like these matter to the church. But there are always some who don’t.

In some circles, talking strategy is seen as ‘unspiritual.’ Instead, the goal is to not get too concerned with strategy and just try to keep everybody happy. Or to pray about things and maybe they’ll just get better.

The best prayer is rooted in action. Praying about forgiveness when you’re unwilling to forgive is pointless.

Praying for your church if you’re unwilling to act on it doesn’t make any sense either.

If we believe God is the author of our hearts, minds, souls, strength and gifts, then we should be willing to lend all of the above to further the mission.

What Mistakes Do You See?

I outline 7 other key issues the church needs to tackle in my latest book, Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow.

In the meantime, I’d love to know some of the mistakes you see churches make again and again.

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