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Entries by Dave Kraft (907)

Saturday
Jun252016

7 key issues that will limit your leadership success!

No leader in his right mind wants to do things that will significantly limit his success as a leader. Nonetheless many do exactly that. 

Ron Edmondson shares seven actions that will undoubtedly limit your success as a leader!

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

My heart is for leaders. I have been in leadership roles for over three decades now. I’ve led large and small teams. Through my ministry I’ve worked with hundreds of leaders. A mentor of mine always reminds me the success of whatever is being led always reflects back to leadership.

I guess this is why I continue to share what I believer are simple principles – but often a simple idea is powerful in practice. And, it’s easier for me to think logically in lists.

Do you want to be successful as a leader? Of course, anyone who leads has this as a goal. There are some actions which can limit you.

Here are 7 issues which limit your success as a leader:

Trying to plan every detail – Ecclesiastes says you won’t plant if you watch the wind. Risk is always necessary for meaningful success. Is there something you feel certain you need to do – or there is a passion on your heart – but, for whatever reason you’ve not taken the risk? Leadership by definition involves guiding people into an unknown.

Lack of flexibility – Things change. People change. Times change. Have a great worthy, God-honoring vision – make sure it’s grounded in truth and don’t steer from it – but realize the road to accomplish it may change many times along the way. And, changing the method – admitting the way you always led things – to be more successful is not a bad reflection on leadership. In fact, it’s a characteristic of good leadership. What changes do you currently need to encourage?

Shunning or controlling other people – You can’t do it alone. You don’t have the corner on ideas. You need help. One of the default actions of leaders is to isolate themselves and/or to control the actions of others. Many times this is out of fear, lack of trust, or sometimes even pride. But, leadership involves knowing people. It involves utilizing the knowledge, skills and talents of others – actually people better equipped to do some things than you are. Who on your team is just waiting for you to get to know them, believe in them and let them go?

Holding on to a grudge or attempting to get even – There’s no time for it. The wasted energy of an unforgiving spirit slows you down from meaningful achievement. When people feel you are placing them in the proverbial corner because of something they did or didn’t do they become defensive, bitter, or checkout from trying again. Does this sound like a healthy plan for a team? I’ve learned over the years – leaders should be willing to go first in extending grace if they want to have a healthy team atmosphere.

Worrying more than trusting by faith – The unknown brings doubt. And, leadership is full of it. There will rarely be a major decision where you a hundred percent certain it’s the right decision. When God appears silent as to the next course of action you have to go with your experience, your gut, and the wisdom of others. Faith goes without seeing. Take your pick between worry or faith – but you can’t pick both. In my journey it seems many times God has given me freedom to move and it’s my own fear which keeps me from going forward. Peace often comes through obedience.

Being stingy with your time, money or influence – The more you try to control what you hold in your hand – the stingier your heart becomes. Stingy hearts are burdened by unnecessary distractions. (The one who loved money is never satisfied with his wealth. Ecclesiastes 5:10) Why is this in a leadership post? Because leadership at it’s heart should be improving the lives of others – not just the leader’s life. The real success in leadership will ultimately be measured by how you blessed others with how you led.

Having to do things “your way” – You got into the leadership position – most likely – because you knew how to do some things. But, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to depend on the input of others. When you limit the input of others you rob the team of expanded imagination and you discourage potential leaders from rising. Success flourishes in collaboration.

 

Thursday
Jun232016

Are you a tired & exhausted leader? There's hope!

Through the years I have come to some general conclusions about people, ministry and leaders. One of them is that most people, in general (and leaders in particular) try to do too much, work too many hours and are traveling too fast.

A few years ago the Seattle Times  carried an article by Shirleen Holt in which was the following:

“Nearly ten million Americans worked more than sixty hours a week last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found. We’ve outpaced the famously productive Japanese in hours worked. We’re the only developed nation without mandatory vacation time. And, according to Expedia.com’s annual vacation poll, one in three of us will take no vacation this year.”

The insight of author Fred Smith comes to mind. “Busyness is the new spirituality.”

At times, I greet a fellow leader with, “Good to see you! How ya’ doing?” The response use to be , “Dave, I’m really busy!”  Now, when I ask the same question, the response is, “Dave, I’m really tired!” When I probe a little, it’s clear that this is not the common sort of tiredness which can be handled with a decent night’s sleep, but a deep, deep sense of exhaustion--emotional and spiritual as well as physical.

Leaders are falling out of the race and shipwrecking themselves for a number of reasons and one of them is sheer exhaustion, which leads to frustration, anger, confusion, potential burnout and, eventually, “throwing in the towel.”

What causes this sort of epidemic of bone-deep tiredness? Here are a few things that come to mind:

1.  THE UNWILLINGNESS TO SAY NO

Leaders are often servants at heart.  They feel called to help people and to try to meet  their needs, which are endless and inexhaustible. We have limited capacity, time and gifts and we need to learn to set boundaries, recognize our limits and create margin in our lives.  We cannot, and should not, be at the beck and call of every person with a need. Even Jesus, at times, left people who were in need and disappeared to be by himself (See Luke 5:15,16).

2.  THE UNWILLINGNESS TO SLOW DOWN.

Too many leaders move at an insane pace and work too many hours. They love to work and, in many cases, get their sense of self-worth through their work.  In John Grisham’s novel, The Broker, one of the characters says, “I’ve been there (Washington D.C.). I’ve never seen so many people racing around, going nowhere. I don’t understand the desire for such a hectic life.  Everything has to be so fast—work, food, sex.” That’s us in the good old U.S. of A. …going at breakneck speed and not always sure why. One of the results is that we are slowly, but surely, becoming addicted to speed and busyness and, sometimes, we’re not even capable of slowing down.

3.  THE UNWILLNGNESS  TO THINK STRATEGICALLY.

Frankly, I meet very few leaders who are strategic in how they allocate their time and energy.  Most are reactive rather than proactive. We are all composed of a few themes and need to stick with our unique contribution.

4.  THE UNWILLINGNESS TO SIMPLIFY.

Recently, I’ve been meditating on I Timothy 2:1,2 in The Message, “…pray…especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.”  “…living simply, in humble contemplation.” Now that’s a novel thought for 21st century living.  Isn’t that the essence of Walden Pond? It would seem that most leaders see little value in Henry David Thoreau’s timeless suggestions.

 I believe the solution to the epidemic of tiredness is not all that complicated:

 1. Learn to say no

 2. Intentionally slow down

3. Think strategically when you make decisions as to what you will or will not do

4. Simplify your life by de-cluttering your busy schedule


Charles Swindoll had this observation about our supreme example, Jesus.

“Somehow Jesus mastered the art of maintaining a clear perspective while accomplishing every single one of His objectives (John 17:4). A major reason for His being able to say He finished all the Father had in mind for Him is that He simplified His life.

 “He followed His own agenda instead of everyone else’s. He also set predetermined limits. He chose twelve (not twelve hundred) whom He trained to carry on in His absence. He stayed with his set of priorities without apology, which means He must have said no a score of times every month. He balanced work and rest, accomplishment and refreshment, never feeling the need to ask permission for spending time in quietness and solitude.  He refused to get sidetracked by tempting opportunities that drained energy and time.  He was a servant of His Father, not a slave of the people. Even though misunderstood, maligned, misquoted, and opposed by numerous enemies and even a few friends, He stayed at it. His simplicity kept Him balanced.”

What do you need to start doing, stop doing or do differently before you have your first heart attack or stroke? 

Tuesday
Jun212016

Times when "Micromanaging" is called for!

At times, team members complain that they are being “Micro Managed” and don’t like it or appreciate it.

Sometime what is perceived as micromanaging is simply good leadership that is holding people accountable. There are times, when micromanaging might be called for. Here are some of those times from Eric Geiger

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

In many cases, what is called “micromanagement” is really a wise leader giving direction to someone who has shown they still need direction. According to Ken Blanchard’s famous “situational leadership” model, a person who has not proven to be competent in a specific skill should receive “directing leadership” from the leader. Not to give direction to an underdeveloped team member is to neglect that team member.

So stop saying you are being micromanaged if one of these five things is true about you:

1.  You are in a new role.

If you are in a new role, there are a plethora of things you do not yet know. A loving leader is going to provide direction to you during this season.

2.  Your last boss would say you need direction.

If every leader you have had says you still need development in a specific area, you still need development. Or you can keep telling yourself that everyone but you is wrong.

3.  You keep dropping the ball.

If assignments given to you are not handled well or if deadlines are missed, you still need close oversight and constant direction.

4.  Those you serve alongside do not yet trust you.

A wise leader cares about your impact on the team as a whole. If the leader senses that others do not yet trust your contribution, the leader wisely presses into your area for the sake of the team as a whole.

5.  You have not yet proven yourself to be trustworthy.

If you prove to be trustworthy with what you have been given, your leader is wise to hand more responsibility and freedom to you. If your leader continues to manage you the same way after you have proven to be trustworthy, then your leader is micromanaging you. If you have not yet proven yourself, your leader is not micromanaging you. Your leader is leading you.

 

Sunday
Jun192016

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.

 

Saturday
Jun182016

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.