Raising up the next generation of leaders Part 2

Last Saturday,  I posted Part 1 of “Raising up the next generation of leaders.” If you haven’t already done so, please read that post before reading further.

7.  Communicate regularly in both encouraging and confronting them

My experience is increasingly teaching me that timely, thorough and honest communication is one of the greatest needs that churches have--both corporately and on a personal level. Let me address the personal level. I’ve discovered, for starters, that many leaders have too many direct reports and there is not enough time taken to invest in solid communication with those direct reports.

Try to get your direct reports down to max 3-5 and then make sure that you are communicating regularly with those who report to you.  Let them know when they are doing well and when they are not doing well.  People want to know how they are doing.  A once-a-year progress review won’t cut it. To keep motivation up, people need to hear several times a month if you are happy or not happy with what they are doing. Be open and honest with them, make time for them, listen well and answer their questions.

8.  Don’t be afraid to select a few

I hear from some leaders that it’s not fair to pick certain people…that others will feel bad…that it’s biased and shows prejudice.  That is pure and simple hogwash, without a thread of biblical support. Moses picked a few, Nehemiah picked a few, Jesus picked a few, as did the Apostle Paul.  It’s not a matter of value but of strategy. By picking a few, you are not saying they are more valuable and others are less valuable. Everyone is equally valuable; everyone is not equally strategic. One of the key responsibilities of any leader is to develop other leaders and to do that you need to carefully select a few in whom to invest. It is strategically critical for leaders to hand pick and develop other leaders or get ready for an early grave (See Exodus 18).

9.  Those you select don’t have to be perfect, or older, to lead

It’s not age, but maturity, that matters. Gray hair is over-rated and maturity is under rated. I’ve met very mature 20-year olds and very immature 40-year olds. Paul told Timothy not to let his youth stand in the way of leading (1 Timothy 4:12). At times we tend to dismiss or overlook a potential leader because he is not perfectly ready or old enough. Focus not on perfection but on a hunger to grow and learn.

There are some very mature and gifted leaders who are in their 20’s and 30’s who are being overlooked because existing leaders don’t think they’re old enough or experienced enough to have major responsibilities. Give them a shot and develop them as you go along.

10. Be vulnerable and real with them

Younger leaders highly value authenticity. Share your failures, your mistakes, your fears and your sins. It's not a perfect leader they want to follow but an authentic/ genuine leader. My generation used to think that being vulnerable and sharing your mistakes and sin was showing weakness.  This younger generation sees that kind of openness as a strength. Don’t cover up and hide, but confess your fears, your stupid decisions, and your sin.

Recently I read a great book by Brad Lomenick The Catalyst Leader. Brad founded the Catalyst Movement, which works with the next generation of leaders. The book is amazingly insightful on how to work with, understand and develop young leaders.



You can have better meetings! 

Meetings! The biggest waste of time for most people.

They key is not to have meetings, but to have ones that people actually look forward to and profit from. Here is John Boitnott on suggestions to make meetings all they could and should be.

Originally posted by John Boitnott

Whether you're the top of the professional food chain or an employee running your first meeting, it's important to own the meeting. This will let everyone knows who's in charge and who they can turn to with questions or problems.

Here are 25 ways you can own any meeting and be a better leader for your team.

1. Have an agenda prepared. It's good to have the meeting outlined so you know whether or not you're staying on track.

2. Focus on the goals. Don't concentrate on the budget. Budgetary concerns may hinder your decision making and prevent you from considering great ideas.

3. Do your research. The more you know about the issue at hand, the more your team will respect you as a leader.

4. Establish a clear objective. This will help your team understand what's to come in the meeting.

5. Start the meeting off friendly. Sharing something personal before you get down to business lets your team know you value them as people, not just as employees.

6. Address the most difficult challenges first. This way, you can get those out of the way and make your meeting as productive as possible.

7. Project confidence. Confidence is an important part of being respected as a leader.

8. Read your team's body language. If they're bored or unengaged, know what action to take to fix that.

9. Encourage healthy debate. Healthy debate results in new ideas and progress.

10. Anticipate disagreement. Know how to rein in the conversation when it gets too heated.

11. Foster a creative environment. Out-of-the box thinking is important for coming up with ways to solve problems and grow your company.

12. Brainstorm. Host a brainstorming session to get ideas flowing among the team.

13. Stay open-minded. Don't be too strict or overbearing. This can hinder creativity and prevent your team from bringing forward ideas.

14. Practice humility. Don't set the tone that you're the only one who can speak or propose ideas during the meeting.

15. Keep the conversation on track. It can be easy for a group of people to go off on tangents. Know when and how to steer the conversation back to the matter at hand.

16. Be passionate about the issue at hand. Doing so will inspire your team to help you solve any problem that needs to be solved.

17. Take notes. Or get someone do it for you - so that you have a record of ideas, decisions and actions items.

18. Be positive about the meeting. Don't go in expecting to be disappointed about the outcome. Maintaining a positive outlook will set the tone for the meeting and make it a productive one.

19. Don't expect a final decision. As long as you have actionable takeaways, the meeting was a success.

20. Respect your team's time. Keep an eye on the clock and use verbal cues like "I know we only have a few minutes left" to indicate you respect their time and would like to wrap up the meeting.

21. Challenge your team. Encouraging them to take on new projects and learn new skills will show you have confidence in their abilities and value them as a part of the company.

22. Summarize agreed actions. Ensure everyone knows what was agreed upon so nobody's surprised down the road.

23. Be helpful. Make sure your team knows they can come to you for help with completing any task or goal.

24. End with next steps. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them when they leave the meeting.

25. Be grateful. Thank your team for their time and contribution to the meeting. That will ensure they feel valued and know you appreciate their hard work.  

Running a successful, productive meeting can be difficult. But with a little practice and by following these tips, you'll be a well-oiled meeting machine in no time at all.




Raising up the next generation of Leaders ~ Part 1

When I travel conducting my seminars, I often meet young leaders who are ambitious (in a good way) for leadership responsibilities (I Timothy 3:1.) At the same time, they are frustrated because they don’t get the opportunities they would like. Also, I constantly hear from older leaders that they increasingly realize the need to focus on developing the next generation of leaders before the entire leadership team at their church is 60 and older with not a 20-something in sight. 

Today is the first of a two-part blog on raising up the next generation of leaders. Part two will come on Tuesday of next week.

1.  Pray

We are encouraged by Jesus in Matthew 9:36,37 to pray for workers (leaders) for the harvest.  In Acts 1:24 the eleven prayed, asking the Lord to show them which one he had chosen to take Judas’ place. We need wisdom, and a good dose of God’s guidance, to pick the right people for leadership. Everywhere I’ve gone over my 45 years of ministry I pray to be able to find those to invest in as leaders. Pray earnestly that the Lord of the harvest will raise up leaders in your context.

2.  Look around you

Some of the very leaders you are looking for are right in front of you. Ask the Lord for eyes to see them, to be able to discern potential in those you see every week. Look for faithful, dependable types who have the ability and desire to pass onto others what they get from you (2 Timothy 2:2). Don’t look for perfection, but for hunger and raw talent.

3.  Set them up for success with clarity on responsibilities, authority and expectations

I've discovered through the years that people do much better at any responsibility when they have clarity on what you have asked them to do (a written job description), what authority they have to make different kinds of decisions (spend money, choose curricula and select people), and what expectations you have for them in that particular role. When placing a person in a role, most leaders have something in mind that they're expecting to see, but they often don’t express those expectations up front. Clarity is a huge motivator and morale builder.

4.  Give them small tasks to develop confidence, competence and faithfulness

Luke 16:10 tells us that people who are faithful in small things will also be faithful in bigger things. Bobby Clinton, Professor of Leadership at Fuller Seminar and author of  “The Making of A Leader” (a must-read for all leaders in my opinion), calls this the “Big Little Principle.” Give them a small task or responsibility. If they do well and show good character in doing it, add something more; incremental responsibility. When they consistently do well and exhibit good habits of follow-through, discipline and a positive attitude, you can see how they do in being responsible for another person’s work.  You have now moved them from worker to supervisor. Take them as far as their gifts and capacity will allow. This principle is practiced in business, in sports and it will work in the church. This is better than throwing them in the deep end of the pool and hoping they swim.

5.  Build a small group 

I have found it very productive to take a few promising leaders and have a weekly group with them, working through leadership material and ideas. You get to observe them closely, see how they interface and interact with others, listen to how they pray and get a sense of their hunger to grow, learn and apply what they're receiving. You could consider studying through a book of the Bible, such as 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy or Nehemiah, or reading a leadership book and discussing it. Make sure there is lots of interaction and the group doesn’t become a teaching venue for you.

6.  Help them discover their gifts and passion

We are a body, a family and a team (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12). Different people have different gifting, capacity and passions.  It’s good to help potential leaders discover how God has wired them. Some are very administratively oriented, others are great communicators, and still others have excellent skills in technology. They can learn about who they are by different inventories, through experimentation, and by feedback from others who know them well and have observed them in action.

There is a post on my blog titled “Staying in your gift zone, but getting out of your comfort zone” which is helpful in creating a leadership development pathway that is gift- rather than need-based. This is not to say that a person never does anything outside of their gift zone; but, more, that they spend most of their time doing what they are best suited for. Marcus Buckingham says that “The best of their job should be the most of their job.”


My Twitter Account

To all my friends who follow me on "Twitter:

For seven years I have had the Twitter acount of "Krafto." through a series of unfortunate technical problems I am no longer able to access this account.

From this point forward to follow me on Twitter use: Dave Kraft@davidhkraft.

This is a time consumer because I had over 2,600 followers in my "Krafto" account and am trying to tweet each of them tell them to move to the new Twitter account.

Thanks for your patience as we make the switch.

So, sign up today so you don't miss anything posted on Twitter.


My daugher Anna writing on a secret to good leadership...Wow!

I asked my daughter Anna, a gifted communicator and leader (and yes, I'm biased) to write something on leadership. So here is Anna:

"Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, rule over us … Gideon said to them, I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you. The Lord will rule over you."

Judges 8:22,23 (ESV)

No matter where you lead there is only one true leader.

I am currently sitting at my home desk, having relinquished my full time position, beautiful corner office, mini fridge packed with Starbucks and sparkling Perrier, an assistant, and bathroom breaks unaccompanied by an onlooker (my preschool age son), in my position as the Kids Pastor of a powerful and amazing church in Southern California.

I am home because as I sought the Lord, as I do in every season, and asked "is this still where you want me?" I sensed immediately that I was to relinquish my position and head home and he was going to speak to me about my new direction.

Well, I am home with my four amazing children, washing tons of dishes and being the first on the scene for every fall off a bike or conflict between siblings. And the glorious joy of it all is I sensed the leading of my heavenly Father to do this; so his provision, his peace, his joy are at the helm of my life! I am fully aware that there is one true leader of my life and his voice is the one I want to obey and follow.

My Dad asked me to share on my greatest leadership secret and here it is: He is the vine and I am the branch.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (ESV)

Sometimes I will say out loud "you are the vine and I am the branch, you are the vine and I am the branch!"

I go early most mornings to the desk (in our mudroom!) where I read my Bible and pray and worship. It's early and most everyone is still asleep; the sun rises and this time alone, in the quiet, in the Word and in his presence has opened my heart and my life and my leadership more than anything I have ever done.

Just coming. Inclining my ear to his voice. I say often in those moments of quiet: search me and know me, as Psalm 139:23 says.

From Job 11:13-18, Surrender your heart to God, turn to him in prayer, and give up your sins, even those done in secret. Then you will lift up your face unashamed, you'll be confident and fearless. Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge, your face will shine brighter than the sun at noon, you will rest safe and secure, filled with hope and emptied of worry.

I love the promise after promise in these verses.

That I will be confident and fearless which is the two attributes that have radically helped me lead in situations where I have been in over my head, because I realize that by abiding in the vine and living  daily in the posture of surrender and purging of sin, I can run my race and be full of courage for all that is required!

Whether I am overseeing teams of Kids Church volunteers, ministry leaders, or my own four kids, I am looking to the one true leader to sustain me so I can obtain all he has prepared for me.

I guess it's not really a secret that staying close to the Lord through the disciplines of reading his word and through surrender would lead to this life. It's just that for so long, I did not do it, I ran on my own strength and the pride of presuming I knew what was best. I did not feel the power and my life was not yielding the good fruit for which I had hoped. I can now say that I will only lead by abiding in the vine.

Let your heart be stirred toward the goodness of God and let's desire to dwell in his presence above all else.

Can I pray for you?

Heavenly Father, I pray for leaders who read this that you would strengthen them for what you have initiated and invited them into. If they have strayed from life-giving time in your presence and caring for their souls, I pray for a return to you and to your Word.

I pray that if  busyness has led to bareness that you by your grace would draw them back. Clear their schedules so they can rest in you. I pray a nearness to your heart and clarity of your voice and I also pray that time in your Word and presence would bring confidence, fearlessness, joy, safety, security, hope and worry-free living! In Jesus name, AMEN!