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Entries by Dave Kraft (1048)

Wednesday
May172017

How to get "Unstuck"

Leaders get stuck and can’t seem to maintain forward momentum.

It happens to all of us at one time or another. How do you get “unstuck?” Here is Brad Lomenick, founder of the Catalyst movement, with some simple solutions.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick.

Sometimes we just feel stuck. Not that anything is really wrong, but more the sense that we’re not going anywhere. That place where you sense that things are okay, but not great. Where it seems like you are just going through the motions. Dependable and reliable, yes. Consistent, absolutely.

But not necessarily bringing your A-game.

I know the feeling. For me, this usually happens after an event is over, or completing a big project. About 10 days-two weeks later. I usually just feel stuck at that point. I have a hard time being creative, being intentional, getting things done, moving the ball forward, and making decisions. I feel like I’m walking in knee deep mud at these points.

Another time of the year many of us feel stuck is mid to late summer, right about now. You feeling it right now?

If so, here are a few things to do:

1.  Get out of your “normal” routine. Break up your schedule. Go on a trip. Visit someone you’ve wanted to see for quite a while. Hang out with people you don’t know but want to learn from. The key on this is break up your “normal” with something that is out of place, out of context, or just simply breaks up the rhythm. Makes you see things from a different vantage point. For me, when I travel, it usually “unsticks” me.

2.  Go back to the Basics. Sports teams will go back to the basics to get out of a rut. In football it’s back to “blocking and tackling” or in basketball it’s back to “passing, dribbling, and shooting.” For you, this could mean a number of things, but in essence, returning to the foundations of what you do, why you do it, and how you are uniquely designed to be doing what you are doing.

3.  Jump on the Inspiration train. When I get stuck, I usually take time to find some stories of inspiration, read some emails, watch some videos, and allow myself to be re-inspired and re-energized.

4.  Talk with someone who motivates you. I also like to make sure I find some time to spend on the phone or in person with people who inspire me, because they usually can pull me out of my funk that I’m in. Make sure you have some people in your life who are motivators and inspiration icons- when you are around them it just fires you up. Could be a friend, a boss, a mentor, or someone you don’t know well. For me, I’ll call Bob Goff. If you know Bob, you know what I mean!

5.  Keep it simple stupid. Kiss. Figuratively, not literally…! Start a new to do list with no more than 5 things on it. Get those done. Then move on to the next 5 things to do. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a to do list that is unachievable and not reachable. Focus on simplicity and clarity.

6.  Hang around kids. Whether your own kids or someone else’s. Children have a way of providing inspiration because of their imagination, childlike faith, and sense of amazement at everything.

7.  Return to the core. What do you love to do? What brings you to life? Maybe it’s reading a good book, or taking a drive in the country, or playing golf, or playing guitar or singing. Reconnecting to our areas of strength and passion usually reignites the momentum.

8.  Exercise. Take a run, go swimming, work out, climb a mountain, jump on a bike, water ski, play basketball, or whatever activity fits you

Sunday
May142017

Far and away, this is always listed as the biggest time waster by most leaders and managers.

Many leaders spend a fair amount of hours sitting in meetings which are always mentioned in surveys as the biggest time waster.

For the most part, meetings I have experienced over 49 years of Christian ministry are poorly prepared, poorly executed, with poor follow-up.

One of the key issues is that we spend too much time discussing and not enough time pulling the trigger and making decisions. We can discuss something to death, but seem afraid to make the necessary decisions.

There are a number of reasons that meetings have a well-deserved bad rap. Here are a few:

1.  There is no clear purpose for why we are having this meeting in the first place. Some are held simply because they have always been held…the first Monday of every month.

2.  There is no agenda so people are not prepared by having thought through some of the issues to be discussed, getting their problem-solving skills cooking and their creative juices flowing. Additionally, it’s easy to go down rabbit trails with no clear pathway for the meeting

3.  Some of the people who need to be there (for whatever reason) are not there and some who are there don’t need to be there.

4.  The meetings start too late and take too long, often eating up more time than is actually necessary and that was originally agreed upon.

5.  No one is taking notes so there is a lack of clarity on what (if anything) was decided, who is responsible for executing the decision(s), what the time-line is for the execution and how this person(s) will be held accountable?

6.  We optimistically think we can accomplish more than is realistic, so go longer or leave with a lot of unfinished items which is always frustrating

Do any of these sound familiar to you? What can you do (whether you lead your meetings or not) to address some of these common reasons for “Poor Meetings?”

In my thinking, there are three kinds of meetings:

1.  Meetings where the ball is moved down the field

The agenda is followed without allowing things to go down rabbit trails. It is clear from the get-go what needs to be discussed and what needs to be decided. It is clear who has authority to make certain decisions. If it is not clear who can and will make the final call, not much will happen, to most everyone’s disappointment.

2.  Meetings where we sit on the ball

In meetings where you are striving for consensus, it takes only one person to hold everyone hostage. I was in a meeting once (as a consultant) where the same topic came up yet again and was voted down by one individual. I was told afterward that this same person has been doing this for a number of years and they have never been able to make this decision because they feel they need to have 100% unanimity. Lord, have mercy!

There is a difference between taking your time and patiently waiting before making a decision and simply procrastinating because you feel you need more time or more information. In many cases you will never have all the information you would like to have, but more than likely have enough to make an intelligent, God-honoring decision.

3.  Meetings where we actually allow the ball to move backward

In some meetings we can actually move the ball backward by second-guessing ourselves and reversing a decision which has already been made because we have thought of more reasons not to make it; among them, caving to the fear of what others may think or the fear of making a wrong decision.

Here are some simple, but helpful, ideas on making decisions in your meetings. These are from the little book “Managing Your Time, by Ted Engstrom, which I purchased for 95 cents in the 1960s.  What follows here is as relevant today as it was when first written in 1967--for sure an oldie-but-goody.

 

  • Don’t make decisions under stress
  • Don’t make snap decisions
  • Don’t drag your feet
  • Consult other people
  • Don’t try to anticipate everything
  • Don’t be afraid of making a wrong decision
  • Once the decision is made, go ahead to something else

 

Readiness to risk failure is probably the one quality that best characterizes the effective leader.  Never vacillate in making a decision.  Indecision at the top breeds lack of confidence and hesitancy throughout an organization.

Indecision ranks high among the time robbers, frequently resulting from fear of failure.  Failure to make timely decisions can result in significant long-run waste of effort and loss of time.

It has often been observed that a less desirable decision made in a timely fashion and implemented with discernment may result in far more progress than the best decision which is first delayed then implemented with hesitancy.

The risk of decision-making is inherent in the executive position.  Those unwilling to take the risks involved do not belong in this position.  Most important, yet perhaps least recognized, is the factor of time allowed for corrective action by a decision made and implemented in a timely way.  Even if it is not the best decision, prompt action often provides the added margin of time for correction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
May102017

Traits of a Faithful Leader from a famous movie!

Great leaders have traits that set them apart and give them that leadershp edge. Here are four such traits shared by Steve Graves.

Originally posted by Steve Graves

Not all individuals in leadership positions are leaders. A title might give you authority and it might place people under your direction, but it doesn’t mean anyone is following you. For that to be true, you have to be a person worth following, and that’s something a title can’t give you. Tom Hanks’ character in Saving Private Ryan, Captain Miller, is a leader I’d follow. Among other things, he earns and gives respect in an authentic way as this scene profoundly illustrates.  

We see another useful and powerful picture of great leadership in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9. In response to the people’s argument about who their leader was, Paul, the first century apostle and super-leader writes the following:

“For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not mere men?  What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (NASB).

Hidden behind the imagery and analogy are four traits of great leadership. Here they are:

          1. Great leaders know that function is more important than titles.

When the pressure is on I want the person who can deliver…regardless of their official title.  I want the guy who cares about the job because he wants to do the job right.  This is the type of leader Mark Sanborn was talking about in his book You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader when he wrote, “Look for people who are as interested in making a difference as they are in making money.”

In similar fashion, David Brooks says great leaders are internally driven. Their outlook was grounded before ambition took hold of them.

Sometimes we get the titles right and sometimes we miss it. But there is no mistaking someone’s contribution, and everyone can be a contributor because contributing is more about fulfilling a function than playing a role with a title.

          2. Great leaders have a healthy sense of selflessness.

“Are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants.”

Keep in mind who Paul was at this time. He was easily one of the two or three most globally recognizable followers of Jesus. But you don’t get that from this reading. Great leaders have a healthy sense of selflessness. It’s what Jim Collins describes as a Level 5 Leader.  

Be warned, though: I have never met a leader with a messiah complex who started out that way. Typically we start slow and take an inch and keep claiming real estate. Our peers or subordinates stop challenging us because it just isn’t worth the grief, drama, or risk. It is just easier to let the messiah complex leader live in his own world. And then he only gets worse.  

          3. Great leaders see their leadership as one piece of a bigger process.

Paul says, “I planted, someone else watered.” It’s like saying, “I framed and someone else came in with the finishers.”

We are all a part of the story. Every story has a backstory and a forward story just like every product is part of a larger supply chain and demand chain. I do my part and you do your part and it all comes together at the end. But often we begin to think we are the full or only story. We see our leadership as a one-man brand model of life, work, and ministry that all story flows from and around.

I have been involved in hundreds of successions in my executive coaching business, and every structure has its unique challenges. But the one-man brand, the messiah complex leader always presents the greatest challenges. Period. I am always amused at leaders who think that there is no life or growth after their tenure. Either they’re wrong or something’s wrong with the company they lead.

On July 2, 1962, Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Ark. In 1988 Mr. Sam become sick and passed the keys to the $16 billon company to David Glass, who served twelve years then handed it over to Lee Scott. Scott cleaned out his desk in 2009 and helped transition Mike Duke into that small efficient office. And then recently Mike handed over the CEO role—a role leading 2.2 million associates worldwide and serving more than 200 million customers each week at more than 11,000 stores in 27 countries generating almost $500 billion in sales—to Doug McMillon.

Who would have ever imagined the results of each “next guy in line”? Some expanded the borders and some firmed up the infrastructure. Some did both. But they all realized they were part of something bigger than themselves.

          4. Great leaders recognize that there is a God component and a people component to all success.

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

On a recent trip to the Tuscan region in Italy I was reminded that the entire grape harvest depends on sun and rain—two qualities outside the role and responsibility of any human.   

Sure, we do the clearing of the land. We do the planting. We do the watering. We might even do the harvesting. But it is God that is causing the growth. Regardless of title, pedigree, wealth, intelligence, and experience, we have clear limits. Only a fool thinks they are controlling the weather.

Rick Warren said it this way: “A pretentious and showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life.” Simply do what is in front of you and trust the results to God.

Conclusion

Maybe you notice a theme here. In each of these four traits, the focus is not on the leader but rather is pointed outward—at the task at hand, at the co-laborers, at the larger story, at God Himself. It was true for Paul, and it was true for Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan.

Ironically, we always want to talk about the leader, but the great leaders always want to talk about something else.

 

 

 

Tuesday
May092017

Add this to your relational skill set and see what happens!

I have never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much.  Maybe those people are out there, but I have never them. Most people are starved for affirmation and encouragement and get little of it.

Many come from families where it was sparse or non-existent; which was the case in my family of origin. Even among workers in churches and those on your team--those who report to you want to know that who they are and what they do, based on who they are, is valuable, significant and that they, and their efforts, are noticed and appreciated.

The renewed emphasis on expressing thanks--acknowledging both privately and publically the person and what they are doing--has been written about and addressed in a myriad of ways over the last few years, both in the business world as well as in the Christian leadership world. 

It may then come as a surprise that a recent Gallup pole (mentioned in an interview with Mattison Grey) uncovered the fact that 65% of workers said they had not received any positive feedback in the previous year. 

There is a good chance that we are missing an important truth related to giving positive feedback.

Mattison Grey, a Houston-based leadership coach and author with consultant Jonathan Manske, wrote a book titled The Motivation Myth.

Ms. Grey speculates that the praise, affirmation, feedback and encouragement people are receiving is perceived as being more about others and the organization  rather than about them.

If we are not careful, the praise can be perceived to be all about making the boss or company look good and not about the work done by the employee. The issue is not that they didn’t get any feedback, but that they didn’t hear it.  What they hear is:  “I really appreciate what you did as it is important to me and has helped the company. It has helped me achieve my goals. It has helped the company be more profitable, etc.”

Grey suggests that the praise be focused on the worker and not over emphasize yourself or the company.  “You did an outstand job of delivering this product on time.”  “You hit a homerun with that new idea you presented at our meeting last week.”

The main issue is that what came across loud and clear was not about them but about the boss and the company.

In a Christian context, let’s take it one step further by focusing on who the person is in Jesus and how Jesus has gifted and graced them to be able to do what they do. “I love the fact that you are gifted in administration by Jesus and that He has enabled you to do the awesome work you did on the project we just finished.  Thank you for your faithfulness and dependability.”

Okay, application time:

Are you too busy to praise people at all?  Do you need to slow down and take time to acknowledge who they are and what they’re doing? Are some of the 65% previously alluded to people who work for you or with you?

Do you have too many people reporting to you so that the greatest need is to develop another level of leadership? When you offer praise, compliments, affirmation and encouragement, are you making it about them and Jesus who has gifted them and not about you as the boss or the church, or organization you both work in?

I do not do a good job at this. I easily fall into the trap of expecting excellence, faithfulness and dependability in people and don’t affirm enough who they are in Jesus and what He is enabling them to do.  I tend to be more focused on what is not right rather than what is right and affirming that. I need to grow in celebrating all wins--small and big.  I need to catch more people doing something right!

God has been changing me to be more of an encourager, but it doesn’t come naturally or easily to me. I’ve got a long way to go.

There is a book on my blog under book notes, “Practicing Affirmation” that deals with this issue.  Check it out.

As you read Paul’s letters to people and to churches, they are filled with thanks and appreciation. Philippians is just one example: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:3-5. 

Paul was a great encourager.

 

 

 

 

Saturday
May062017

Four leadership "Idols" that can really hurt you!

No leader sets out to be an idolater, but it happens anyway, and will seriously hurt your leadership effectiveness. Eric Geiger share four idols to be aware of.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

The fruit of a leader must be another leader as leaders are ultimately the ones responsible for the development of other leaders. From a Christian vantage point, the kingdom of God has multiplied as Christian leaders have developed and deployed others to make disciples and raise up new leaders.

Leaders have been given the holy responsibility of developing and equipping others. Just as in other areas of our lives, our idolatry, our longing for something other than God, keeps us from obeying Him with glad hearts. A leader’s idolatry will prevent a leader from the holy task of developing other leaders.

Tim Keller, David Powlison, and others have thought more deeply and written more eloquently about the idolatry that plagues our hearts. They have identified four common idols beneath the surface, idols that drive sinful and destructive behavior:

Power: a longing for influence or recognition

  •  Control: a longing to have everything go according to my plan
  •  Comfort: a longing for pleasure
  •  Approval:  longing to be accepted or desired

 How do these idols prohibit leadership development? What does a leader with these idols likely think or say about the responsibility to develop others? Below are the four idols with accompanying thoughts or phrases leaders have muttered:

Control

  • I just want to ensure this gets done the right way.
  • I don’t trust another to do it as I can do it.

 If you have thought or said either of the above, your struggle with control is hampering your development of others. A leader with control issues is a leader who fails at a chief leadership task: developing others. A leader who struggles with handing significant responsibility to others fails to provide necessary experiences that aid in development.

Approval

  •  The people need me to be the one who does this.
  •  If someone else does this, people will flock to that person instead of me.

If you have thought or said either of the above, your longing for approval is hurting you and the people you lead. A leader who needs affection and approval from others is reluctant to develop and deploy other leaders because the leader fears the affection and approval could be divided.

Power

  • If someone else does this, I won’t be needed any longer.
  • If someone else does this, people will think I am not doing my job.

 If you have thought or said either of these, you likely love to be a leader so you can be seen as a leader. You love your title (leader) more than your task (developing others). Augustine wrote, “No one can be a good bishop who loves his title and not his task.” A leader whose chief desire is to be perceived as a powerful leader will ignore the greater and more important work of developing others.

Comfort

  •  It would take too much time from other things for me to develop leaders.
  • I would have to adjust my leadership approach to include others.

If you have said or thought either of these about developing others, your desire for comfort or the status quo is keeping you from doing the difficult, messy, and painstakingly slow work of investing in future leaders. A longing for comfort will keep a leader focused on the short-term, the temporary, and the easy. Leadership development is none of these as it takes time, has eternal ramifications, and is hard work.

Are any of these idols stopping you or your team from developing others? We are wise to heed the apostle John’s encouragement: “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” If we don’t, we will neglect one of our chief roles as a leader.