Push or Pull

Experience has led me to believe that the success of any organization, church, or group is having high morale because people are motivated and glad to be working there. One of the skill sets that every leader needs to develop is motivating people to perform at their highest level of competency.

Many of us have done business with unmotivated people in low-morale organizations who were only there for the paycheck and cared neither about the company nor the customer.

In the 50’s then-president Eisenhower, sharing his philosophy of leadership with a subordinate, put a small piece of string on his desk. He then pushed it as the listener watched the string get bunched up and move nowhere. Then he pulled the piece of string and it moved quite easily.  There are two main ways to motivate those whom you lead:

The Push Method:  This method is designed to stimulate action through fear, threats and harassment. You manipulate. This method begins with the premise that people are lazy, unmotivated and need a swift kick in the rear to get them moving and performing up to expectations. So we bribe and verbally “beat” them into action. The fact is that a pat on the back goes a lot further than a kick in the rear. Which bring us to the second method.

The Pull Method:  The Pull Method assumes the best about people--that they really want to work, contribute and make a difference. If those we lead are properly shepherded, affirmed, listened to and verbally and tangibly appreciated for their efforts, they can persevere and perform well even the most difficult and challenging of tasks and responsibilities. We pull people along by caring and holding up a vibrant vision to which they can contribute.
Are you a push or pull leader? Do you lead through motivation or manipulation?



Hi, my name is Dave and I am a “Mediaholic”

Just recently I heard about a person who had  700 Facebook friends but knew none of the neighbors. It seems that an increasing number of leaders are spending insane amounts of time on any number of social media venues (Twitter, Facebook, My Space, to name a few). 

Add to this that the creating, responding to and filing of hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of daily emails composes a huge part of the average leader’s day.  Has it gone too far? Are we spending too much time at our computers and too little time connecting with real people in real time? Some of us can’t let the phone alone when we are aware that a voice message or email has just arrived.

I have watched leaders at a dinner, in a home with a few people, or in a meeting, respond and begin emailing or twittering and ignore the people they are sitting with. When that happens regularly, you know you have a serious addiction.

I know I have work to do on this as I am a workaholic and love to see things get done and wrapped up.

Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. have become a social addiction of enormous proportions among leaders.

If it is your intention to do the real work of producing and “shipping” things that really matter, whether it is a product or a service, you are going to have to be honest with your screen time (social media and email) and ask yourself if it is truly helping you lead well and impact people.

When the time has come (and for some of us it has already arrived) that social media is a significant (perhaps approaching dangerous?) portion of each day, it may be time to take charge of your time and your addiction and pull some plugs.

You are the steward of your time and your days before the Lord. Are you being proactive or reactive in how you lead and use your time?

Are you using social media wisely and proportionately, as a tool, or have you become its bond-slave?



Lower The Bar

Some of you might be thinking that the last person you can think of that would encourage somebody to lower the bar would be me. Now before you overreact and think that I’ve gone soft in the noggin in my old age, hang with me for a few paragraphs. This might sound counterintuitive, but it is true.

One of the contributing factors for people underachieving is that the expectations, the desired result, the goal is too big; the bar is too high. They can’t get their head, heart or hands around it so are not motivated to go for it.

You shouldn't expect a new music student to play a flawless piece after one or two lessons.  A kid trying out for the basketball team is not going to be motivated in being a 90% free-throw shooter at the start of his first season. Okay, I will admit that there are a few (and very few) exceptions here, but this is not the norm.

Here is the principle: 

"Lower the bar" in the short term so you can raise it in the long term. 

It works with raising children, training pets, becoming good at anything you do. How did the trainer get that monkey, elephant or seal  to do all those tricks? One step at a time!

A fledging high jumper doesn’t have a goal to break the world record in the first few years. But it might be his longer-term goal.  So he starts out with a lower (challenging, but accomplishable) bar and then incrementally work his way up.

No new coach in his right mind would try to motivate a team with a five year loosing record to go for the National Championship in his first year. If he does, the team will be de-motivated and achieve another loosing season. This coach sets a challenging, but realistic, goal and then another and another until, voila, they have won the the big prize!

It’s like climbing a tall ladder and focusing on the next step rather than gawking up at the top and giving up all hope.

If the people you lead are facing a daunting task and their instinct is to avoid it with grave doubts eating away at them, the bar may be too high. Lower the bar by breaking down the desired end into smaller steps. Make the steps achievable so that they can’t help but score victory after victory; and be sure to profusely celebrate each and every win, however small!




Wandering Around or “Wondering” Around

A number of years ago author and business consultant Tom Peters coined the phrase “Management by wandering around.” The idea was to get managers out of their comfy chairs and air-conditioned offices, mixing and mingling with their employees.

Recently, someone had a typo (rich with meaning) that mentioned somebody wondering around instead of wandering around.

As a leader we should definitely be wandering around, but also wondering while we’re wandering.

For starters, wonder about:

  1. As a team, group or organization, trying a totally new way of doing something you do all the time instead of doing it the way you’ve always done it. You might discover ways that are more fruitful and productive.

  2. Turning current thinking about an idea or problem on its head (upside down or inside out) and looking at it from an entirely different angle. What if we tried this or that?

  3. How can we empower our people to dream more, take bigger risks? 

  4. The single most important thing we can proactively do in the next three months that would  have the best chance of making the biggest difference instead of just staying  busy reacting to what comes to us.

As a leader are you:

  1. Spending too much time in your office and not enough time wandering among your people?

  2. If you have taken the first step and are out wandering, are you wondering (as you watch and listen to your people) what their problems, dreams, frustrations and concerns might be and asking good questions? What would it take to have them fully engaged and truly loving what they do?

  3. If you are wondering, listening and learning, are you going from thinking about something to doing something about it?

For the glory of Jesus, wander, wonder and implement new ideas because if you keep doing what you’ve always done you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten and the train of change will pass you by leaving you standing in the station
wondering what happened. That’s not the kind of wondering we’re talking about!


Beyond the Cross

Every year, thousands of people climb a mountain in the Italian Alps, passing the "stations of the cross" to stand at an outdoor crucifix. One tourist noticed a little trail that led beyond the cross. He fought thorugh the rough thicket and-to his surprise-came upon another shrine, a shrine that symbolized the Empty Tomb of Jesus Christ. It was neglected and run down. The brush had grown up around it. Almost everyone had gone as far as the cross, but there they had stopped.

Far too many people have gotten to the cross and have known the death and heartbreak the seems to be there. But far fewer have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter. He is risen! He is risen indeed! That is the rest of the story.

Taken from "The Grapevine"-Pastor Mike Coppersmith lead pastor of Our Savior's Community Church in Palm Springs, California.