Entries by Dave Kraft (730)


Seven Non-Negotiables for good team leading

When it comes to building teams, my favorite quote is by author Jim Collins, “Get the wrong people off the bus, the right people on the bus and in the right seats.”

So, what kinds of people should be on your “Team Bus?” Here is Ron Edmonds answer to that question.


Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Seven Non-Negotiable values for Teams I lead


What do you look for when you bring a person on to your team?

What expectations do you have for people who serve on your team?

I think it’s important to know yourself well enough that you understand the qualities in people with whom you work best.

Several years ago I took time to put together my own list of non-negotiables. I pretty much have to have these characteristics if we are going to work well together long-term. Keep in mind, these aren’t skills. These are values — the principles we use to interact with one another on a team.

I would assume a few of these, maybe most of them, would be non-negotiables on any healthy team. Some of them are things we may have to instill in people over time, but I’ve learned my leadership well enough to know that I’ll struggle with a team member who doesn’t equally value — or at least strive to display – each of these.

Here are 7 non negotiable values for a team I lead:

1.  Responsiveness

It is a personal value, maybe even a pet peeve of mine, but I believe it is imperative to respond to people in a timely manner. Of course, this is a subjective value, but it’s one the entire team soon recognizes — and not with good results — if it is absent.

2.  Honesty

Teams are built on trust. You can’t have trust without honesty. And, therefore, in my opinion, without honesty it’s just a group of people, but not a team.

3.  Respect

A personal value for me is mutual respect on the team. When making a hiring decision — because I try to find leaders — I ask myself if I would respect the person enough to follow them as my leader. If I wouldn’t, it will be hard for me to respect them as a team member. Consequently, I hope they wouldn’t join our team unless they believe they could respect my leadership. I want to respect people I lead and, therefore, I believe it’s only fair they want to respect me.

4.  Openness

I don’t like hidden issues. Drama destroys a team and, frankly, I’ve got little time for it. Gossip is a sign of immaturity. If it’s important to you or the team, let’s talk about it. Let’s certainly not talk about it behind each other’s back.

5.  Work ethic

To the best of your ability, realizing that the best plans sometimes fail, do what you say you will do when you said you will do it. I extend lots of grace in leadership. We all make mistakes and we learn from them, but a value of mine is that each person does their best efforts and pulls their share of the load. It’s one reason I need clear goals and objectives for myself and everyone on our team. Ambiguity in what’s expected leads to frustration for all of us. I protect my family time and try to create an environment that allows that to be a value for everyone on the team, but when we know where we are going and who is responsible for what — when we are at work — let’s get it done.

6.  Limited need for oversight

I can’t stand micro-management. I don’t want to do it nor do I want it done to me. I believe in setting some goals, assigning tasks, and celebrating at the finish line. I’ll even come back and hold your hand across the line if needed, but if you don’t ask, I assume you’re still running on your own. Yes, this is frustrating for some people at times who need lots of detailed directions, and we have to work through the frustration, but one of the previous values is openness. Ask if you don’t know or understand and tell me when I’m moving too fast.

For the continuation of this post, go to Ron Edmondson


Is your church too busy? Perhaps too busy with things that will not get the results you are seeking?

A number of years ago Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger wrote “Simple Church.” These two authors are among my favorite bloggers and are both worth following.  Many churches are simply too busy trying to do too much; just like some leaders. Thom is telling us that If churches were like people they would be in burnout mode. Here are seven things to be mindful of to keep that from happening:

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

If local churches were humans, most of them would experience burnout. Many congregations are too busy to be effective. Many have a hodgepodge of seemingly unrelated activities.

As a consequence, there is no clear plan or process of discipleship in these churches. Members are often confused about what they should do and how active they should be in the disparate ministries and programs. And some members pull back their involvement altogether in a sense of frustration and often guilt.

So how did churches get so busy? How did their calendars fill up so quickly that it left no breathing room for members and staff? There seems to be seven major contributing factors.

  1. Many church leaders fail to ask the “why” questions when starting a new ministry. Why are we starting this ministry? Why should we continue it long-term? Why are we asking people to be involved? When a church has no clear and compelling purpose for a new ministry, it becomes just another activity.
  2. Churches often have no process or plans to eliminate ministries. Thus ministries continue even if they are no longer effective or needed. They become analogous to the clutter we often have in our homes.
  3. Some ministries are started just to please people. Sometimes church leaders take the path of least resistance and allow new ministries to be added just because one or a few church members wanted them. The ministry may not be the best for the church, but church leaders are often reticent to say no.
  4. Some ministries have become sacred cows. Their impact on the church is negligible. Very few people are involved. But any mention of eliminating them is met with stiff resistance.
  5. Ministries in many churches operate in a silo. So the student ministry has its own plans. Adult small group ministry has its own calendar without regard for the church as a whole. And the missions ministry makes extensive plans, but does not ask how they tie in with the rest of the church. So the couple who has teenage children wants to be involved in all three areas, but the calendars and activities conflict with one another.
  6. Some church leaders have a philosophy of always saying “yes” because they desire to see all people unleashed to do ministry. Such a philosophy is admirable in its motives. But it can devolve into confusion and chaos as countless and disconnected ministries are added to the church’s activities.
  7. Most churches have no process to evaluate ministries each year. When ministries continue with no evaluation to their effectiveness, they are likely to be on the church calendar well past the rapture. One of the roles of church leaders is to evaluate ministries every year. There should be some criteria to determine if their continued existence is good stewardship.

I recently met with a pastor whose church is emblematic of the hyper-busy congregation. Morning worship attendance is steady at 350, but Sunday evening worship had declined in a decade from 160 to 40. The pastor suggested the church consider eliminating the Sunday evening service, an act that required a majority vote in a business meeting. Over 300 members came to the business meeting and voted by over 80 percent to continue the activity. Of course, hardly any of those members ever came to Sunday evening service before or after the vote.

Our churches are just too busy. Is your church one of these busy congregations? Let me hear from you. 


Five things I don't want to ever do again!

If you are in anyway like me, you learn from your experiences and decide something like, "Well, I'll never do that again."

Here are five things that, with his help, I don't want to ever do again.

1.  Use my time in such a way that it leads to burnout

In my 20s and 30s I was a complete idiot, over-reaching and over-committing. To keep people happy, I said yes too many times and didn’t say no enough. I over-estimated my capacity and traveled way too fast trying to do too much and fell into “performance leadership.” I was trying too hard and not trusting enough. I don’t want to ever go at an insane pace again and be a poor energy and time steward.

2.  Be in too big of a hurry to select a team member

I made serious mistakes in being in too big of a hurry. I did everything fast. I ate fast, slept fast, worked fast and made decisions fast. There were times I should have just slowed down, especially when picking people. I should have vetted them well, looked at character and not just personality and competency. I should have asked other’s opinion(s) and not just gone with my gut or intuition. I don’t want to ever again be in a hurry in selecting a team member.

3.  Say yes to a request over the phone without taking time to think and pray

You can begin to see a pattern here. Most of the things I don’t want to ever do again have to do with the way I’m wired.  I’m a bottom-line, goal-oriented person and move at a quick pace--too quick! It helps me get things done, but there is a price tag attached to it. I’ve learned my lesson about giving in to a pleading voice over the phone.  I will not say yes to any request over the phone, but instead will buy time to think and pray. I now ask, “When, at the latest, do you need an answer on this?”  If they say right now then the answer is no. But if they give me some time to think and pray, it may (no guarantee) become yes. I don’t want to ever again commit to something over the phone without thinking and praying about it.

4.  Fail to own my sin when it is clear to me

I want to own my sin and not make excuses for myself or blame others when I’m responsible for what happened or because I made a poor decision. This has been referred to as keeping short accounts with God and others. I want to use words like, I’m sorry. It was my fault.  Please forgive me. I’m confessing and repenting about this. How many Christian leaders have you heard about, as well as business and government leaders, who make excuses and blame others instead of simply taking ownership? I don’t want to ever again blame others and make excuses for my sin.

5.  Try to be like somebody else and stop being me

My daughter, Anna, once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Be yourself, Everyone else is taken.”  Gotta love it!  I don’t want to be somebody else. I am tired of trying to be somebody I’m not, or trying to copy someone else I admire or look up to. By His grace, I want to be the best me I can be for His honor. I don’t want to ever again try to be somebody I’m not.



Ten Characteristics of a great team

I would venture a guess that most leaders would want to lead a great team and most team members would want to be on a great team. But what exactly does a great team look like? Here are some fantastic thoughts from Brad Lomenick.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

What actually makes a great team? We’ve all been on teams, whether in school, in athletics, in our churches, organizations, and communities. We’ve watched great teams win championships, we’ve marveled at their ability to create amazing resources, new technology, and jaw-dropping experiences.

There are lots of qualities that make up a great team, but thought I would point out ten that seem to be consistently evident across the board.

1. Humble yet confident leader

Humility and authenticity starts at the top. Confidence and courage starts at the top. Everyone wants to assume that team culture is created bottom up, but at the end of the day, great teams look to a confident leader.

2. Skilled linchpin(s)

Most of the time this is the quarterback for a football team. Or the point guard for a basketball team. Or the project manager on a new technology being released. Or the producer releasing a new movie. Peyton Manning, Magic Johnson, John Lasseter at Pixar. Every great team has to have at least one linchpin who is crucial to the success of the team. Most great teams have several.

3. Clear Vision and Clear Goal

Think about it. Pretty much every sports team we’ve ever played on had a clear goal- win the game, win the division, win the championship. Great teams have vision that inspires and goals that are attainable.

4. A cause greater than themselves

We all desire to be part of something way bigger than us. For the New Orleans Saints, they played several years ago for the city of New Orleans during the aftermath of a hurricane. The 1980 USA Hockey team played in the Olympics for an entire nation.

5. Constantly getting better

Great teams continue to improve on a daily basis. Great teams don’t allow for mediocrity to set in. They push themselves on a daily basis, and that accountability is held by the team, not necessarily just by the leader.

6. Get it done oriented

All about action. Great teams don’t just talk about it. They make it happen. They are relentless in pushing projects across the finish line.

7. Willing to fight

Great teams fight consistently. About ideas. About direction. About strategy. And the best ideas win. Trust is crucial. And everyone on the team trusts each other enough to fight for their ideas, and argue, and debate. And leave it at that. Great teams are competitive, but equally collaborative.

8. A standard of excellence always

Great teams set amazingly high standards and goals. And they aren’t wiling to settle for second best. They never coast. And are always great at the little things, which makes them great at the big things.

9. Nimble yet mature

Regardless of how big or complex teams get, they always stay nimble enough to make decisions quickly and change directions on a moments notice if needed.

10. Actually like each other

Team chemistry is incredibly crucial. They want to serve each other. They believe in each other. There is a cohesive spirit and a sense of unity that others take notice of immediately.

What else would you say makes a great team?



The essense of excellent leadership

Some people are gifted at taking simple issues and making them complicated. I like to try and take complicated issues and make them simple. I have been pondering for a while what leadership is all about. How would I describe leadership in simple and easy-to-understand terms? I know there is danger in over-simplifying anything, but here is my take on it.

Leadership is about people who: 1) Possess certain characteristics; 2) Are heading toward a specific destination; 3) Have the ability to enlist people to join them on the journey. All I have ever learned, experienced, read, studied, heard and observed leads me to this conclusion. Let’s take them one at a time and explore a bit.

1.  Characteristics

A Christian leader possesses specific characteristics and qualities. This leader loves God and people, is growing in Christ-likeness by cultivating the fruit of the spirit, is a humble, God-dependent, team-playing individual who is secure, teachable and deeply cares about the purposes of God. There is more we could add, but these are a few foundational traits.

A few years ago, in an issue of  “Leadership Journal,” three pastors were asked about the characteristics they look for in potential leaders. Their responses were revealing, most notably for what they didn’t list. None mentioned competency or gifting. Two listed character traits and the third mentioned the necessity of these potential leaders having the same vision as the organization they are a part of--being on the same page with the DNA.

2.  Destination

This leader is going someplace, or he/she is not leading. Traveling someplace is inherent in the nature of leading. A leader is a person who is leading people someplace. This means there is a vision, a dream, a preferred future. A leader is a person with a burden, a cause. Something is bothering him that he wants to make right. Something could be better. Something needs to be different. Something desperately needs to be changed, improved, created and he senses a call to do something about it.

In his classic book, “Servant Leadership,” Robert Greenleaf says, “Not much happens without a dream. And for something great to happen, there must be a great dream. Behind every great achievement is a dreamer of great dreams. Much more than a dreamer is required to bring it to reality, but the dream must be there first.”

A true leader has a vision, a dream from God.  He/she  is a “man/woman on a mission.” He/she is going someplace and is excited about it. Moving toward that certain destination will incorporate both the ability to sense it and to seize it and then get there, by setting and achieving specific goals. It is a matter of both identifying that destination and then moving enthusiastically and energetically toward it.

3.  People

This person with certain characteristics traveling toward a specific destination does not travel alone, or he/she is not a leader, but only taking a walk by himself/herself. The very qualities that enable him/her to start out on this journey, strongly and sincerely believe in it and move toward it, are the same qualities that enable him/her to recruit others to join him/her for the trip.  Luke 8:4 (The Message): “As they went from town to town, a lot of people joined in and traveled along.”  That’s it! As you move toward your destination, people desire to join you and to travel along with you.

Think about leaders you know of who have or are leading well. Think of leaders in the Bible: Nehemiah, Moses, Joshua, David, Paul and Jesus. Were they not all people with admirable traits traveling toward a definable destination and did they not have the ability to enlist others for the trip? That’s biblical leadership, pure and simple! Having certain traits or having a specific destination in mind doesn’t make one a leader. Who or where are the people traveling with you?

A leader is always operating in these three areas.  He/she is continuing to grow himself/herself, continuing to travel toward that destination by setting goals, overcoming obstacles, monitoring progress, evaluating, making adjustments and continuing to do it in such a way that he/she is able to attract others to join him/her for the trip.

John Maxwell says that, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”  He’s right! The leader is allowing himself/herself to be influenced by the Lord to grow and mature, influencing the destination and influencing the people who are with him/her.

As a leader, here are three questions you can ask yourself:

 1.  Am I continually growing in becoming a leader with certain characteristics?  Am I more Christ-like in my leadership? What area is God currently working on in my life?

 2.  Do I have a specific destination in mind? Is the destination clear and motivating for me? Does this destination have its source in the Lord? Is there a developing thought-through and prayed-through plan to get us there or is it just a wish--pie in the sky?

 3.  What am I doing to bring others along on the trip? Am I making sure that they are being shepherded, motivated, developed and equipped to be the best they can be for Jesus as they journey with me?

Every major and significant thing you do as a leader will fall into one of these three areas. Leading is not hard to understand. It is quite simple and uncomplicated--at least I think it is easy to understand; but it will take you a lifetime to learn how to do it well. If God has called and gifted you to lead, you can do it, and do it well, with His help!