Six things leaders need to regularly say

In most cases, leaders possess "Word Gifts," and lead by the use of words as they cast vision, make decisions, train additional leaders, motivate the troops and confront difficult issues and people. Here are six things leaders need to say regularly that will improve their leadership immensely:

1. Forgive Me

There is something healing and team-building about asking for forgiveness. Better to err on the side of asking rather than making excuses and conjuring up reasons that it was not really your fault. Good leaders take a little less of the credit and a little more of the blame with their teams.

2. You're Right

Give credit where credit is due. When a team member has a good idea or a solution to a perplexing problem, publically acknowledge and affirm them. I have never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much. The rule of thumb is to praise publically and confront privately.

3. You're Wrong

We need to function as both Jonathans (encourage) and Nathans (confront) with team members. Don’t shy away from the tough conversations. When people have sinned and are clearly out of line, be bold to tell them so in private.  Don’t wimp out. Be a courageous leader and trust God to handle the results and the relationships.

4. Jesus Loves You

The phrase “Jesus loves you and so do I” has run its course and is not taken seriously anymore when uttered by a leader.  It is nevertheless still true that Jesus loves us and we need to regularly remind our people of the Gospel’s central message that they are loved by Jesus Christ, and that amazing and incredible love is demonstrated by a bloody cross and an empty tomb. “What the world needs now is love” is still true for everybody; but, as the song says, “We are looking for love in all the wrong places.” A deeply-held belief that we are loved by Jesus can get us through difficult times and circumstances. When life is tough at home, in the church or in the work place, we need to return to the simple biblical fact that we are loved. Say it often and say it with sincerity.

5. Me Too

Pastors and spiritual leaders are human, like everybody else. We sin, we doubt, we struggle, we get angry, we get envious and we repent. People need to know we can identify with them, whatever they are going through. It doesn’t decrease but, rather, increases your credibility as a leader when you admit to and own your sin and folly. Better to say “me too” than “not me,” insinuating that you are a leader who is above or beyond what others are experiencing.

6. You Can Do This

People tend to underestimate what they can do and have all kinds of doubts about their ability to execute well. They need encouraging words from their leader. They need to hear that you believe in them and have confidence that they can accomplish what they have been given to do. They need to hear that Jesus will accomplish his purposes through them and that they can do all things through him as he strengthens them. (Philippians 4:13)




What followers don't want and do want from their leaders

As leaders, we should know what our followers want and need from us. We should know what is demotivating them in the work assigned them. Dan Rockwell offers some excellent insight on what frustrates followers and what they  really need from their leaders.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Success includes avoiding useless behaviors, paying attention to people, and tending to small things. 

Twelve things we wish our leaders would stop:

  1. Tolerating high performers who act like jerks.
  2. Avoiding tough issues.
  3. Giving themselves special privileges.
  4. Ignoring morale.
  5. Throwing people into situations without preparation.
  6. Pushing, pushing, pushing.
  7. Meddling in everyone’s business.
  8. Throwing tantrums like babies.
  9. Rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off.
  10. Treating people like tools.
  11. Complaining about how tough their job is.
  12. Forgetting what it’s like to worry about paying the bills.

Success is more about people than you think.

Ten things we all want from our leaders:

  1. Please get jazzed about something. I’m tired of long faces on my leaders. You think it makes you look important. In reality, you look depressed.
  2. Tell others about my extraordinary effort, remarkable results, and positive energy.
  3. Say thank you. So what if I’m paid to do the job. Gratitude is cost effective.
  4. The leaders who influence me the most have been in my life the longest. Hang with me when times are tough.
  5. Let me know how I’m doing. Nearly every person I ask says they would like more feedback.
  6. Lead me to do things that matter with other team members. Adopt an orphan as a team. Serve a local non-profit.
  7. Don’t pretend it’s easy, just believe we can find a way forward if we all pull together.
  8. Tell me where we’re going and trust me to make wise decisions to get there.
  9. See life from my point of view, not just yours.
  10. Tell me what I need to get ahead. 

The Devil is in the details, but he's not alone there!

We’ve all heard the statement, “The devil is in the details.”

To start with, in most cases, it’s not true. Success or failure may be in the details, depending on how they are dealt with, but it’s a stretch to say the devil is there.

But, even if he were there, he’s certainly not there alone.

Personal experience, as well as the experience I get from coaching leaders as a professional life and leadership coach, has taught me that leaders are often involved in details which should be delegated to others. As a leader, it’s a matter of strategy, priorities and gifting to be very careful about how much detail you get immersed in.

One leader I worked with a number of years ago called such details, administrivia. He coined a new word which I have used in describing this issue.

Many leaders are doers, but not delegators. They haven’t learned how to train and give responsibilities for making decisions to others. There are leaders who assume they are delegating when they give tasks to others but unless they give away the responsibility for making decisions, they are still involved in (all) the details.

Here are a few reasons for you as a leader to stay out of many of the details of your church, organization or company and give others authority to decide and manage such details:

1.  If you are a gifted high-level leader, chances are you are not especially gifted executing small details. Managing those details yourself is poor stewardship of your time and energy.

2. Others are more gifted at details than you are and would do a much better job at it than you.

3. You rob people who are detail-oriented to serve your organization with excellence, allowing you to move on to more important tasks on which you should be spending the lion’s share of your time.

4. If you are stepping into many details and are not good at it, balls will get dropped and things will be missed which can cost you, perhaps dearly.

5. Being involved in the small details as well as the big-picture things could wear you out contributing to stress and burnout.

6. If you maintain control over many of the small details and continue to try and make all those decisions yourself, you can become the bottleneck that slows everything down.

Why do leaders continue to stay in the details? Here are some reasons I can think of:

1. They don’t have anyone they trust to take care of the details.

2. They have come to believe that they need to do a lot of things they really don’t need to do and shouldn’t do.

3. They want things done exactly as they would do it and since there is no one that does it exactly that way, they default to doing it themselves.

4. They have never hired or trained anyone else to execute the details well. I don’t have time to train anyone else or we can’t afford to pay someone else to do it are two excuses I often hear.

5. Pride keeps them from letting others make decisions regarding details and giving other people credit for handling it well…better than they could!

For you leaders reading this who say, “Yes, I’m guilty of being too much in the details,” I have two words of advice: STOP IT!


Ways to not lead well!

There are lots of ways to lead well and there are ways to NOT lead well. Here are fifteen ways to NOT lead well by Brad Lomenick from Catalyst.

This chock full of great wisdom!

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

Fifteen ways not to lead well!

It’s ultimately up to you to lead well. It’s your responsibility to be the best leader you can be.

We see lists all the time of what makes a great leader, but what are some of the other sides of the equation, in terms of not leading well?

How is your leadership dysfunctional? What stands out as areas to improve?

Here are a few key indicators of the kind of leadership and ultimately a leader that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit. Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change.

So here you go, examples of NOT LEADING well and consistent killers of momentum for leaders, their teams and organizations: 

1. Pointing fingers and blaming others. Blame is getting passed around like a bad virus. Trust is gone. Everyone is cordial but behind closed doors there is deep distrust, driven by fear and insecurity.

2. A focus on the wrong priorities. Not willing to confront the key areas, and a constant default to Sideways Energy. More energy in scheduling lunches than in bringing in new revenue. Spend more time on updating the employee handbook vs getting on the phone and finding new customers. More time on updating headshots on the website than working on the strategic plan for next year.

3. Bad decision making. Making decisions based on whoever pays you the most, whoever screams the loudest, and whoever requires the least amount of effort and pain. Everything starts to become about the lowest common denominator and the lowest barrier to entry.

4. Passing along the decision stick. Counting on someone else to make a decision, other than yourself. Putting things off so that someone else will have to fix them later. Kicking the can down the road as Maxwell says.

5. Allowing bureaucracy to be an excuse for getting nothing done. Here comes the “they” mentality. It becomes about “them” and “us.”

6. Personal entitlement has taken over. Putting your own personal goals ahead of the team, or the greater cause at play. In this case, the good of the organization takes a backseat to you keeping your office or role or title. Your default is “how will this affect me” instead of “how will this affect the organization.”

7. Arguing constantly, vs listening and looking to create collaboration and areas of common ground.

8. No one values each other and silos now exist everywhere. Staff meetings and leadership team meetings start getting cancelled on a regular basis. Lack of communication between key people and teams becomes normal. Cliques and gossip become rampant in the void of communication and trust.

9. Lack of empowerment. No one feels able to do anything about the situation.

10. Same old same ole. The work and environment is mundane. It’s boring. Energy is non existent.

11. There is no accountability. People on your team just feel like they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. Everything is last minute and late. Nothing goes out on time, or gets scheduled on time. No one knows where everyone is and can’t find anyone. This will drive your best team members crazy.

12. Not willing to confront the brutal facts. Loss of reality and not willing to confront what is really going on. The leader is living in hopa, hopa land and suffering from Reality Deprivation. A lack of self awareness is prevalent here as well.

13. Vision is gone. Lots of hype but very little true and authentic hope in the future. Lots of promises made but very few promises kept. The painting of a preferred future has turned into a hype machine that everyone sees through.

14. The buck stops here doesn’t exist. No one is ultimately responsible. The responsibility tree has been chopped and split up so many times you can’t really figure out who is driving what and who has responsibility for what.

15. Safe, secure and stable starts to drive the future instead of innovation, creativity, risk taking and courage. Holding on and control is the posture instead of giving, catch and release, generosity and big picture thinking. “Don’t rock the boat” is the inspiration, which quickly becomes uninspiring.



CEO, CFO and COO I recognize, but what is a CCO?

The gift of discouragement is not listed among the gifts in the Bible, but plenty of people seem to exercise it.

Parents exercise it with their kids. Spouses exercise it with each other. Bosses exercise it with their employees. Coaches exercise it with their players.

I have been around a long time (75 years to be exact) and in leadership for a long time (47 years to be exact) and I have never met a person who complained that they were encouraged too much.

I don’t understand why some leaders have such a difficult time extending (and doing it often) words of encouragement…in a note, in person or in a public meeting where it goes a long way toward building team morale, increasing personal productivity and honors Jesus!

Most of us know that...

CEO stands for Chief Executive Officer

CFO stands for Chief Financial Officer

COO stands for Chief Operating Officer

But here's one you may not have heard of.

CCO stands for Chief Carrot Officer.

Chief Carrot officer? What the heck is that?

Actually CCO doesn’t exist in the company’s list of officers, but stands more for a need that every group/organization has, and a need that any person can intentionally address.

The concept of CCO stems from the idea of motivating people with a carrot (positive), rather than motivating them with a stick (negative.)

The imagery is that of holding a carrot in front of a horse to get him to move instead of hitting the horse with a stick to get him to move.

In actuality, you can divide leaders (business, sports, military, church) into two broad categories: those who use positive means and those who use negative means to motivate their followers. You don’t have to be a genius to know which one is the better of the two. 

A pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the pants.

Now, I’m not saying you never need to have the tough talk with somebody and do a little confrontation when behavior or performance is not what it needs to be.

I am saying that, as a general principle, many, if not most, people need more positive reinforcement than negative confrontation to motivate them.

Recently I ran across Acts 20:2 in The Message: “Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he (Paul) gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.” Paul was functioning as the CCO at this point. These three ideas immediately became a focus for prayer in my leadership:

  • Giving constant encouragement,
  • Lifting spirits,
  • Charging people with fresh hope,

I’ll be the first one to admit, and confess, that I am guilty of spending more time looking for something wrong and confronting, rather than looking for something right and encouraging. With His help, I want to spend more time catching people doing something right--and pointing it out, both privately and publically, rather than trying to catch them doing something wrong!

Check out this book on becoming a Chief Carrot Officer.

Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree

In closing, here are two questions to personally ponder:

  1. Are you a carrot leader or a stick leader?
  2. What would it look like for you to wear the hat of Chief Carrot Officer in your team, organization or church?