High effort but poor performance. How to address it?

It’s always painful to see people working hard but with not-so-good results.

What are some things that can contribute to poor performance when the person in question seems to be trying and working hard?

Dan Rockwell shares some excellent insights.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Feedback is the issue when effort is high but performance is low.

Poor performance persists until feedback – awareness and development – confronts it.

Feedback protects people from spinning their wheels. Effort, apart from feedback, digs ruts for potential.

Performance is leadership’s responsibility.

Performance begins with hiring the right people and includes relationships, environments, and feedback.

10 causes of poor performance:

  1. Inept management.
  2. Low skill.
  3. Deficient desire.
  4. Limited opportunity.
  5. Insufficient instruction.
  6. Red tape.
  7. Inadequate resources.
  8. Poor time management.
  9. Unrealistic workload.
  10. Interpersonal conflict.

Poor feedback is another key reason people persistently perform poorly.

4 symptoms of poor feedback:

  1. Personal attack.
  2. Long after the fact.
  3. Problem-centric.
  4. One sided. Manager does all the talking.

A coaching approach to feedback:

The purpose of feedback is joyful performance.

Telling people what’s wrong and what to do doesn’t strengthen performance or increase joy, over the long-term.

The three objectives of feedback:

  1. Participation. Asking, not telling, invites participation.
  2. Insight. Describing, not judging, opens minds to insight.
  3. Energy. Purpose, not compliance, ignites energy.

The secret to giving feedback as a coach:

Traditional feedback typically begins with behaviors. Coaching feedback begins with purpose.

Purpose gives meaning to feedback.

  1. What were you trying to accomplish?
  2. Why does it matter? Feedback, apart from shared purpose, is one person imposing their opinion on another.
  3. What did you do to achieve your purpose? Introduce behaviors after identifying shared purpose, not before.
  4. What went well?
  5. What went poorly?
  6. What would you like to avoid next time?
  7. What would you like to try next time?
    1. How?
    2. When?
    3. How often?
  8. What else?
  9. Who might have expertise in this area?
  10. What aspects of this conversation should we discuss next time?

Descriptive feedback:

I noticed you (describe behavior).

  1. What were you trying to accomplish? (Purpose.)
  2. How did it work?
  3. What behavior might take you to the next level?

Successful feedback maximizes potential and increases fulfillment.

What characterizes feedback that helps you?

What is essential for successful feedback?




3 Mistakes leaders can make when embarking on a new year!


Many of us (hopefully most of us) are excited about a new year of ministry; new ideas, new initiatives, new enthusiasm and optimism after the Christmas holidays. It’s a brand new year, brand new opportunities, brand new direction from the Lord of 

But, as leaders,  there are some mistakes we can make as we set sail for 2017. Eric Geiger shares three of them with us.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

Three mistakes leaders make when starting a new year

Here is a typical scene the week after Christmas…

A leader gets some rest, feels rejuvenated, and the burden to lead the team better in the New Year starts to grow. The leader reads a book, favorites a dozen blogs, listens to some leadership training on a variety of topics, and is fired up for the first meeting with the team he/she leads. In the midst of the enthusiasm, here are 3 common mistakes leaders make as a new year begins:

1. Too many goals

A common mistake when a leader re-emerges from rest or when a leader feels the need to give new direction (as a calendar year turns this is common) is to bring too many goals to the team. Too many goals means none of them receives adequate attention.

2. Yet another new statement

When writing about leaders forming values and mission statements, Jim Collins articulated that leaders spend far too much time crafting language and far too little time aligning actions to the language in place. Are there times to bring a new mission and value statement to the team? Absolutely. But most often what is needed is not a new statement but an actual commitment to the one already in place. Most of the time executing what has already been declared is the bigger deficiency. Typically it is not the mission statement that needs work but the commitment to it and execution against it.

3. What before Why

Leaders will often read and listen, as we should, to others in the field. A common mistake, though, is to grab tactics from a plethora of places without understanding the heart and philosophy behind the tactics. Thus a mix of tactics can easily be a mix of different philosophies and approaches. A wise leader frames the “what” in the sacred “why” of the team’s mission. All learning should be contextualized to the team. The “why” must go before the “what,” and every “what” should be rooted in the “why.”

It is a blessing to start a new year as a leader, to be able to lead a group of people in a direction, to be privileged to steward resources for a great mission. The newness of a new year causes leaders to have much hope and optimism. But these mistakes can derail you.



Learning Leadership From the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! "

Those of you who are regulars at Leadership from the Heart will recall me saying that if I get one good idea from a book or a movie it was well worth the investment.

Over Thanksgiving catching a bit of the Macy’s Parade, I heard three ideas mentioned as goals for education:

  • Curious minds
  • Compassionate hearts
  • Courageous spirits

I jotted those down knowing that I had three key elements for effective leadership. So, let’s take them one at a time.

Curious Minds

It may be true that “curiosity killed the cat,” but it’s also true that lack of curiosity “kills” the leader. If there is one thing that marks the true leader it’s a spirit of curiosity. Always asking, always, probing, always learning, always exploring, always thinking of a better way to do something, always praying for God to do what only he can do in and through the individual.

The ineffective leader keeps doing the same thing(s) he/she has always done hoping for better and/or different results. Sort of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. As you roll into 2017, I trust you will experience a curious mind before the Lord and not rest on your laurels as it were.

Compassionate Hearts

 The verse which supports everything I put in “Leadership from the Heart” is Psalm 78:72 (ESV) which describes King David’s leadership:

“With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”

Good and God-honoring leadership is always a healthy combination and balance between heart and hand; compassion and work. I confess that it’s easier for me to get things done than to love the people I do it with and for.

If I’ve learned one thing through the years (and need to continue to learn) it is that loving people is the most valuable thing I can do. People want to know (and have a right to know) that their leader genuinely cares about them and loves them for who they are--not just for what they can do.

Paul expresses this in I Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV):  “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Quite simply, Paul loved (not used) the people he ministered to and with.

Every day I pray for the ministry he has for me--that it would increasingly be characterized by genuine love and care for people. Recently I memorize Luke 9:48 in the (old) Living Bible:

“And he said to them, anyone who takes care of a little child like this is caring for me! And whoever cares for me is caring for God who sent me. Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.” (Underlining is mine!)

I took notice of what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t  say: your biblical insight, your high productivity, your time-management, the size of your ministry is the measure of your greatness, but your care (compassion, love, concern) for others is the measure of your greatness. I want to be a great leader by His standards, and it begins and ends with love.

Courageous Spirits

I love what Mark Twain said in this regard:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships were built for. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to shy away from taking risks.

I don’t like to fail, or look like a fool. But over the last several years He has been nudging (sometime kicking) me out of my comfort zone into uncharted waters.

As Twain says, “Explore. Dream. Discover.” I turned 77 a few days ago, and have no desire or plans to retire. Tired is a biblical concept, but not retired. Some of my best years might still be ahead of me. I am claiming Joshua 13:1 (ESV) as I look down the road: “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, you are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.” 

He has more for me to be and do, and as fearful as I may be, I’m going for it. I want to leave it all on the field as I am led by him, empowered by him and seek to honor him.

By his grace, what can you do in 2017 to develop…

A more curious mind

A more compassionate heart

A more courageous spirit!




Are you heading toward burnout? Four signs to look for!

No leader plans on or wants burnout, but it’s increasingly happening to a lot of us.

As you begin 2017  I will assume you want to stay healthy; emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually.

But without knowing it, you may be on the road to burnout.

How would you know if you're moving toward burnout or not?

Eric Geiger offers four clues to tip you off.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

The pressure, responsibilities, and pace placed on leaders can be immense. If leaders don’t care for themselves, burnout is inevitable. Sadly, many leaders struggle with reading the signs that they are approaching burnout. Despite all the advice, books, and sessions calling leaders to care for themselves, many leaders struggle with slowing down. Many fail to listen continually to their bodies, their friends, and their emotions.

I am not a medical doctor or counselor, but I have learned the rhythms in my own life and have sought counsel continually from leaders I respect. I have seen and also learned the hard way that pushing through seasons of exhaustion can backfire. Here are signs I look for and encourage other leaders to look for in their own lives.

1. Frustration with people

If you feel you are continually mad or frustrated with people, you are quickly approaching burnout. You are in this for people. It is foolish to knock out tasks in perpetual frustration with the people you are ultimately here to serve.

2. Difficulty focusing

If you sense you are mentally having a difficult time focusing or are slowing mentally, you are likely exhausted. One day several years ago, while serving as an executive pastor, I was unable to focus on a simple report. I had been attempting to push through the exhaustion, and it was backfiring. I called Kaye (my wife), and she quickly set me up at a friend’s house out of town for several days of rest.

3. Physical signs

Several doctor friends have told me that intense stress will often manifest itself in your body somehow. From random eye twitches, to neck pain, to something else, stress will impact your body. Listen to your body.

4. Feeling exhausted

If you are a pastor and you used to feel rested from preaching by Monday afternoon, but now it is Wednesday or later (or never) before you feel rested, you are spiraling into burnout. If you lead a team and you used to feel tired on Thursday evenings from an intense week of leading, but that feeling is settling in earlier and earlier in the week, you are approaching burnout.

When I sense these reappearing in my life, I know it is time to evaluate quickly. I may need to get away for a day, adjust my sleeping, or double-check my eating and exercise routine. I have learned that if I can catch these early, I can address them much more quickly and easily than if I foolishly attempt to push through the approaching burnout. Attempting to push through burnout is poor and stupid self-leadership. Leaders, lead yourself first. You and those you lead will benefit.




How Big Is The God You Serve?

Tomorrow, we begin a new year. Do you gaze into this new year with fear or faith? Are you thinking big or thinking small?

"Thou art coming to a king. Large petitions with thee bring. For his grace and pow’r are such. None can ever ask too much."  ~John Newton

"And he said,  ‘Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’ "Exodus 34:10 (ESV)

Jesus, do some awesome things in me and through me in 2017 that will help people see your work plainly and obviously.

Now I know that Exodus 34:10 applies to Moses and what the Lord promised to do for him and through him.

But I also know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and that he wants to do similar things through me. So I can apply the principles in this verse to my own life:

God loves to enter covenant relationships with those who are his and he promises certain things that he wants to do, and will do

  1. God wants people to see his obvious work through his leaders
  2. God still wants to do awesome things today…not ordinary things…not what we expected…not what he did last year or five years ago, but new and amazing things that he wants to do right now…today!

I want my prayer life to reflect this kind of a God whom I serve and walk with…a marvel working God…a God who promises and enters covenant with me…a God who will do awesome things in and through my life.

 “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a ‘what’s next papa?’ ”

-Romans 8:15 The Message

I am tired of ordinary and want to see extraordinary. I am tired of business as usual and want to see unusual business. I am tired of seeing what I (we) expected and want to see what he is expecting. Jesus, protect me from operating out of a view that sees you as small or safe! As the song says, “Our God is an awesome God, he reigns in heaven and earth.”

Welcome the new year with a sense of excitement, joy, enthusiasm and expectation as you are lead by him, empowed by him, and seek to honor him.

Will there be problems in 2017? Absolutely! Will there be his faithful promises for 2017? Absolutely!

Do I hear an Amen out there?