Navigation
Subscribe

Entries by Dave Kraft (772)

Sunday
Jul262015

Attitude more than aptitude will determine your altitude.  

Before you dismiss this as cute cliché, let me say that after 75 years of life and 47 years of ministry, I am more convinced than ever that this is true. 

There are countless intelligent and capable leaders who never reach their full God-given potential due to a poor, or downright nasty, attitude toward life and people.  They are too brilliant for their own good and the good of the team. In fact, it is often not about the team at all, but about them. This is where their attitude begins to go south.

When my son Dan was on the high school tennis team, I tried to attend all of his home matches.  Sometime during the season he asked me to observe one of the more talented players on the team, which I did.  I was not impressed.  

No, I take that back. I was impressed.  

He left me with the impression that he was an angry, insolent, arrogant young man who was full of himself. He looked like he was emulating the antics of John McEnroe by throwing his racquet, loosing his temper and reaming out everybody within hearing distance. He was long on aptitude (God-given ability) but short on attitude, which in turn negatively affected his game and his teammates.

Zig Zigler use to refer to this kind of attitude as

 

“Stinking Thinking.”

 

I would rather work with a person who has a great attitude and an okay aptitude than a person with a poor attitude and a great aptitude.  As I move into the twilight years of my life and ministry, I am praying more than ever that the Lord Jesus will deliver me from harmful attitudes such as:

Anger, bitterness, whining, fault-finding and blame-shifting. One of my early mentors asked me to pray that he wouldn’t become a bitter old man.  I didn’t understand it then but I do now after meeting many bitter older leaders.

My wife’s grandfather had a sign that read: “The thing to remember, the thing to do is be the construction gang, not the wrecking crew.”  

 

Saturday
Jul252015

Hiring Well!

One of the most important decisions a leader makes is picking the right people to invite to join the team; whether they be volunteers or paid.  What traits do leaders who hire well possess? Here are seven traits from Eric Geiger.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

  Seven traits of leaders who hire well

For a leader, there is not a greater responsibility or a more important task than choosing the people who will serve alongside you in fulfilling the mission of the organization or ministry. Great coaches are known for their masterful and careful recruiting, ensuring the potential player fits both the team’s strategy of play and the culture of the organization. In similar fashion effective leaders care deeply about the people they invite to join their teams. They know, as Jim Collins has stated, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

The only time the Bible records Jesus praying all night long was before He chose His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). He had no plan B. He chose to ensure the gospel would spread through the disciples, and He prayerfully selected those who He would hand the mission to.

In my role, I interact daily with leaders and managers who hire people, who invite others to join the teams they lead. I have observed these seven common traits in leaders who hire well, leaders who seem to excel at attracting the right players to their teams.

1. They own the responsibility.

Here is an excerpt from a recent Harvard Business Review article: “When line managers, rather than HR, are responsible for recruiting, performance management, and retention, companies are 29% more successful at those tasks.” The stat from the recent HBR does not surprise me because I find that the best leaders are deeply concerned with the health of their teams. They don’t want to delegate the hiring or the developing to some other area. While they welcome input and feedback from others, they can’t imagine not owning the people strategy.

2. They believe they can get the best.

Those who excel at hiring the right players are so convinced in the mission of their organization, so excited about what they get to do, that they are convinced key players will want to be on the team. Unlike the leaders who don’t pursue top players, they don’t say “No” for someone they would love to have on the team—they go after him or her.

3. They constantly look to upgrade the team.

When a vacancy occurs, leaders who hire well don’t look for someone to “fill the shoes” of the person who left. They prayerfully and strategically look to upgrade the team. They don’t merely look to get the current work done; they look to expand the capacity of the team.

4. They invite people to join the mission.

Leaders who excel at hiring invite people to join the mission, not merely to fulfill a job or execute a task. They talk with passion about the purpose and the heart of the team. They know that if the organization needs is a few functions fulfilled, it is probably best to outsource those functions. For people who will be on the team, they want arms locked together moving in the same direction.

5. They obsess over value alignment.

Leaders who excel at building great teams know that talent and skill, while important, is woefully inadequate. They are convinced that someone on the team who does not deeply align with the values of the team will do more harm in terms of culture than good in terms of performance. So during the interview phase, they do all they can to expose the potential leader to the heartbeat of the organization to ensure there is a match.

6. They look for “scalers.”

Wise leaders don’t just hire for the needs of today; they are thinking about the future. They look for team members who can scale as the organization scales, can grow as the team grows, and can develop themselves as opportunities come.


When work seems to be piling up, there is a tendency in organizations to quickly look at a slate of candidates who have applied to a posting (often people who are not satisfied in their current jobs), rather than aggressively pursuing people with a deep-seeded commitment to find the absolute right person for the role. Sometimes it may be a person who has applied. Often it will not be. But the best leaders refuse to settle. They would rather have a hole in the org chart than a mediocre player in the role.

 

Thursday
Jul232015

I don’t trust you!

When it comes to business, church and family (just about anything having to do with relationships), trust is critical. Probably one of the worst things anyone can say to another person is,

“I don’t trust you.”

When a husband or wife says this to their spouse, it can be the beginning of the end of the relationship whether they continue married or not. When an employee says this to his employer, or employer to employee, it can be the beginning of the search for a new job.  

In his seminal book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Patrick Lencioni has this at the top of the list. He says this, regarding the practices of trusting teams:

“Trusting teams:

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes
  • Ask for help
  • Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
  • Take risks in offering feedback and assistance
  • Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
  • Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group”

Since building and keeping trust at all levels is so important, how do you actually do it?  What are some practical and doable things that will result in strong bonds of trust?

John Maxwell mentioned in a post that there is a consulting firm in Philadelphia called Manchester, Inc. They did a survey of two hundred companies to discover ways for leaders to build trust with employees. They discovered that people who excel at building trust do the following:

I have added a few personal thoughts for each item.

Maintain integrity

(Be a person of your word, a person of character. Say what you mean, mean what you say and do what you say you would do.)

Openly communicate vision and values 

(Things such as values, purpose, vision and strategy need to be repeated often and in myriad ways. People will forget the “why” behind the “what” over time. If the “why” and the “what” are not connected in their thinking and work, they will loose motivation and interest, with productivity and quality taking a downward turn.)

Show respect for employees as equal partners

(Simple things such as kindness, listening, empathy and genuine concern for others go a long way, as do phrases such as I am sorry, I take full responsibility and it was my fault. Lavish gratitude, appreciation, atta boys, when it is appropriate, on the people you work with and who work for you, whether employee or volunteer. I have never met anyone who complained they were encouraged too much. Respect their time, their need for a degree of freedom and autonomy in their work. Respect their ideas and opinions, even if you don’t agree with them.)

Focus on shared goals rather than personal agendas  

(Pushing personal agendas over group focus and goals will kill trust and engender ill feelings, suspicion and even anger which puts a nail in the heart of trust.)

Listen with an open mind

(A secure person will accept a new idea and concept because it is helpful or better rather than reject it because it is different. Get used to thinking: it is different, not necessarily wrong. We need to move away from the not-invented-here malady. Don’t get into the attitude of: my mind is made up so don’t confuse me with facts. An open mouth is often a sign of a closed mind. Listen well and honestly, consider new and different approaches and ideas.)

 

Tuesday
Jul212015

Factors that stop momentum in a church

Every leader wants to keep momentum going and not lose it. It helps to know some things that can contribute to “Momentum Slippage” so we can take action. Thom Rainer share seven things that can quickly slow or stop good momentum.

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

Seven Factors that stop momentum in a church

I absolutely love conversing with pastors, staff, and lay leaders. I am blessed to have heard from thousands of church leaders over the past several years.

One of the more frequent conversations I have deals with momentum. The discussion typically goes in this direction: “We were doing so well, then it was like the brakes were hit. We have not been able to recover since then.”

I will then ask the obvious question: “What happened?” My question is straightforward because I know most church leaders will identify a singular event that precipitated the momentum reversal. In this article, I identify seven of the most common “momentum stoppers.”

1.  Firing of the pastor.

Unfortunately, this issue is the most common among momentum stoppers. It can take churches years to recover from firing a pastor, especially if significant segments of the membership and the community view the firing as unjustified.

2.  Moral failure of a leader in the church.

This leader could be a pastor, staff person, elder, or lay leader. The impact is immediate and often prolonged.

3.  Unhindered church bullies.

I wrote a recent article about church bullies, and I’ve been surprised at the number of responses we have received. Church bullies are toxic to a church. When church leaders do not confront church bullies, those bullies are even more toxic.

4.  Significant community changes.

The pastor wrote me a forthright email: “Our community is dying.” The major employer in town shut down. Other ancillary businesses closed soon thereafter. In just eight months, the community lost one-third of its population, and many of the remaining residents are unemployed.

5.  Comfort.

When the preferences of the church members become greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is already dying.

6.  Power plays.

The story is sad but true. A church staff member worked with a key group in the church to make some major changes not supported by most of the members. Trust has disappeared and morale is low. Momentum is gone.

7.  Poor pastoral transition.

A change in the senior leadership of the church can be either a time of great opportunity or a time of difficult challenges. When a pastor leaves, and another pastor arrives, great and intentional care must be exercised in making the transition positive. Otherwise momentum can come to a grinding halt.

Certainly there are other factors that can hinder or stop momentum in a church. You readers always have good insights. Let me know what you think of these seven factors, and let me know what you would add to the list.

 

Sunday
Jul192015

Getting "Older" but not getting "Old."

I’ll be 76 at the end of this year!

Older is a biological fact, whereas getter old is an attitude and state of mind, at least in my humble opinion.

Some say you are only as old as you feel so, in actuality I am 35. I have a lot of passion in my spirit, dreams in my heart and more miles left on my “tires” as Jesus continues to show His grace toward me and allows me more years.

Here are three passages of scripture which currently motivate me:

“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.” (One translation has it ‘fresh and flourishing’) Psalm 92:14 (NIV)

By His grace and with the power of the Holy Spirit, I want to continue to be fruitful and flourishing, like an older tree with great fruit on its aging limbs.

“Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.’” Joshua 13:1 (ESV)

Even though I am older, there is much to do for the Kingdom and, like Caleb when he was 80, I want to continue to try impossible things, climb difficult mountains, do what I've never done--all for Jesus.

“So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.” Psalm 71:18 (ESV)

Since an integral part of my calling is leaving footprints in the hearts of God-hungry leaders, this verse has become a ministry life verse for me. Application-wise, I take “forsake me” as not being usable any more. I deeply want to be used in impacting the next generation of leaders through coaching, writing and teaching.

Now that we have camped a bit on the serious side, let me throw in a little humor. As I age, it’s important to keep my sense of humor and not be a dour old fart like some older people. I don’t want to become one.

 You can tell you’re getting older when… (Sources unknown)

  • Everything hurts…and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work!
  • You feel like the morning after and you didn’t go anywhere the night before!
  • You know all the answers, but nobody’s asking you any questions.
  • You sit in a rocking chair and you can’t get the darn thing going!
  • You burn the midnight oil until 9pm!
  • Your back goes out more often than you do!
  • After painting the town red, you have to take a long rest before applying a second coat!
  • You look forward to a dull evening.
  • When you have two choices you choose the one that gets you home earlier.
  • You realize that everyone has a photographic memory, but everyone doesn’t have film.
  • You’ve seen it all, done it all, but can’t remember most of it!
  • You understand that he who laughs last, thinks slowest!

I end with what I want to become as I age:

Lord, you know better than I do that I am growing older and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must have something to say on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody’s life. Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it does seem a pity not to use it all, but I do want a few friends at the end!

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details. Give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. They are increasing and the love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I don’t ask for improved memory, but for growing humility, and a lessened arrogance when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong!

Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint—some of them are so hard to live with. A bitter old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see the good things in unexpected places and gifting in ordinary people, and give me the grace to tell them so.

Amen

Adapted from a 17th century nun’s prayer…Author Unknown