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Entries by Dave Kraft (1015)

Tuesday
Feb142017

Seven ways to add value to your team!

The point of being on a team is to add value to that team that it might otherwise not have. Every team member you add should increase the ability of the team to achieve goals the team has. Here Ron Edmondson shares seven ways to make yourself  invaluable to your team.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

One of my first managers frequently reminded us no one is irreplaceable. He would use the illustration of placing your hands in a bucket and then pulling them out. The level of the water doesn’t change much when one or two hands is removed. While I agree with him on some levels – even though I’m not quite sure it’s a healthy demonstration for building team morale – I think there are ways a person can make themselves more valuable to a team. Perhaps, even invaluable.

Here are 7 ways to make yourself invaluable to a team:

1.  Be a chief encourager. Be one who helps people feel better about themselves and their contribution to the team. Be a cheerleader – positive-minded – willing to do whatever it takes to build upon what exists.

2.  Support the vision and direction. Be honest about it, but be a verbal proponent of the overall objectives of the team and where things are going. Be a known team player. Have more good to say about the place than you have bad. Everything might not be wonderful – in fact many things may need changing – but, if you can’t love the people with whom you work you’ll have a hard time being seen as valuable by others.

3.  Respect others. In the way you treat and respond to everyone on the team – be respectful. Recognize everyone is not like you. People like different things. People respond differently than you would respond. Other people’s opinions and viewpoints matter.

4.  Give more than required. This doesn’t mean you have to work more hours. It might. But it might mean you work smarter than everyone else. Plan your day better. Be better at setting goals and objectives. Hold yourself accountable.

5.  Be an information hub. Be well read and share what you learn. Information is king. Be the king of it. Without being obnoxious – of course.

6.  Celebrate other people’s success. Send notes or encouragement. Brag on someone else. Tell others what you admire about them. Without being creepy – of course.

7.  Be a good listener. Everyone loves the person they can go to and know they won’t just be heard they will be listened to. A good person to bounce ideas off of his invaluable to the team. Then keep every confidence.

Monday
Feb132017

Hidden Figures...what a movie...what a lesson on leadership!

My wife Susan and I try to go to a movie each week. It can take some time looking at all the options and deciding on one that we would both enjoy.

This past week we saw “Hidden Figures,” a movie about three brave and extremely gifted African American ladies who fought tradition and racism and made some incredible contributions to the United States Space Program. We were both inspired in numerous ways. I highly recommend it for the whole family, especially if you have young daughters who could use some inspiration.

In the past, I’ve said that if I’ve read a book or seen a movie and come away with one great idea it was worth every penny.

During the movie “Hidden Figures” one of the men was saying to another that there was a danger at hand which might make things go a bit slower, to which the other responded,

“I’ll tell you what’s dangerous, inaction and indecision.”

I turned my cell phone to one side so as not to bother Susan and typed that statement into Evernote for future reference.

As I’ve been thinking about this statement, here are a few observations related to leadership:

1.  Inaction and indecision at the top will eventually negatively affect the entire group, church or organization.

2.  One of the marks of a good leader is the ability and the courage to make the tough decisions when they need to be made.

3.  Fear of people’s opinions and fear of failure often hinder leaders from making the tough decisions. (Proverb 29:25)

4.  No matter what decision you make, or don’t make, someone will probably not like it and be reluctant to support it--at least at first. Can you live with being unpopular for a time--maybe a long time?

5.  A leader is a person who makes decisions, some of which are right. No leader (except Jesus) ever makes the perfect decision every time. But we learn from poor decisions and hopefully make better ones in the future.

6.  Refusing to make a decision which is difficult is, in itself, a decision.

7.  You may never have all the information you’d like to have in order to make a difficult decision, but do you have enough?

As a leader may you, by his grace, be bold and courageous in making the tough decisions and not slip into inactivity and indecision!

 

Saturday
Feb112017

4 Leadership behaviors that make the difference between strong and weak leadership!

I have heard it quite a few times, that leaders behave differently than other people. What sort of behaviors do we need to acquire and cultivate to be excellent leaders?  Dan Rockwell shares some light on this.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Mckinsey research* suggests 4 leadership behaviors make the difference between strong and weak leadership.

Top 20 Leadership Behaviors:

  1. Be supportive.
  2. Champion desired change.
  3. Clarify objectives, rewards, and consequences.
  4. Communicate prolifically and enthusiastically.
  5. Develop others.
  6. Develop and share a collective mission.
  7. Differentiate among followers.
  8. Facilitate group collaboration.
  9. Foster mutual respect.
  10. Give praise.
  11. Keep groups organized and on task.
  12. Make quality decisions.
  13. Motivate and bring out the best in others.
  14. Offer a critical perspective.
  15. Operate with a strong results orientation.
  16. Recover positively from failure.
  17. Remain composed and confident in uncertainty.
  18. Role model organizational values.
  19. Seek different perspectives.
  20. Solve problems effectively.

Successful leaders engage in all 20 leadership behaviors, but four make the biggest difference in effectiveness. 

4 Behaviors Account for 89% of Leadership Effectiveness:

#1. Be supportive.

  1. Show authentic interest.
  2. Build trust.
  3. Help team members overcome challenges.

#2. Seek different perspectives.

  1. Monitor trends and patterns.
  2. Invite ideas that could improve performance.
  3. Differentiate between important and unimportant issues.

#3. Operate with strong results orientation.

  1. Follow through.
  2. Emphasize efficiency.
  3. Prioritize work that matters most.

#4. Solve problems effectively.

  1. Gather and analyze information.
  2. Make decisions.
  3. Handle disputes.

You can’t neglect any of the 20 leadership behaviors listed above. However, McKinsey’s research suggests that you would serve your organizations well if you get really good at the four that account for 89% of leadership effectiveness.

Which of the top four do you find most challenging? Why?

How might leaders demonstrate competence in the four behaviors listed above?

 

 

 

Thursday
Feb092017

ESSENTIAL KEYS TO FINISHING YOUR RACE WELL

It’s no secret that finishing well is a huge value for me and led to the book “Leaders Who Last.

Here are some essential keys for the Christian leader to finish well. I regularly teach these and, by His grace, seek to practice them in my own life and work.

(I will use he throughout, but mean both he and she.)

A leader who finishes well is one who…

1. Maintains A Vibrant And Genuine Relationship With Jesus

He is consistent in practicing a set of spiritual disciplines (means of grace) that give the Lord an opportunity to create transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of these include, but are not limited, to:

  • Scripture memory
  • Serious Bible Study
  • Daily Bible reading
  • Repentance and confession
  • Dynamic corporate and private worship
  • A deepening prayer life of adoration/thanksgiving/intercession
  • Community in a group with some likeminded brothers and sisters
  • Personal accountability with a few close people of the same gender

This key, and the next key, set the stage for the rest of what follows!

2. Is A Life-Long Learner

He is willing to learn from anyone, at anytime, on any subject. Leaders are both readers and writers so their followers can drink from running streams and not stagnant pools. I have never met a leader worth his salt who was not a voracious reader…hungry to learn, read, ask questions and keep growing. The person who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks has never met a hungry dog.

3. Displays The “Fruit Of The Spirit”

The fruit of the spirit, more than the gifts of the spirit, will enable a leader to last and significantly impact others. More leaders fall over character issues than competency issues

4. Lives Out Of Personal Convictions, Based On God’s Promises And Character

The leader bases his decisions and actions on the promises and character of God--not on which way the political or organizational winds are blowing.  By God’s grace, he does the right thing--not the expedient thing or the easy thing.

5. Continues To Serve Out Of His Unique Gifting And Calling, Leaving A Lasting Legacy

As Marcus Buckingham says, “The best of your work should be the most of your work.” The leader has good self-awareness and knows his “sweet spot,” spending 80% of his time functioning in his gifting/calling/passion.

You will get tired faster and shorten your ministry life-span if you are spending huge chunks of time where God has not gifted and called you. Say no to lots of things so you can say yes to a few things.

6. Lives A Life Of Integrity, Transparency And Vulnerability

In survey after survey, followers (far and away) state that the number one attribute that they are looking for in their leaders is integrity that leads to a high degree of trust and credibility.

The leader owns his sin and doesn’t make excuses or blame others. He is quick to say things like, “I’m sorry…it was my fault…I take full responsibility…please forgive me…I made a mistake.

Be good for your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Practice under-promising and over-delivering, rather than over-promising and under-delivering.

7. Is Aware Of The Power That Leadership Carries And Stewards It Well

Everywhere you look you see leaders abusing the power entrusted to them. They do this in the way they treat people, the way they communicate and the way they make decisions. Dictatorial, top-down, harsh, mean-spirited and intimidating leaders are not leading according to 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5. They do not follow the example of Jesus. It’s not tough leadership, rather sinful leadership they are exhibiting.

“Power may justly be compared to a great river; while kept within bounds it is both beautiful and useful, but when it overflows its banks, it brings destruction and desolation to all in its way” Andrew Hamilton

8. Remains Physically And Emotionally Faithful To His Spouse

In a day when so many leaders (single and married) disqualify themselves through sexual sin and the use of pornography, this is a gigantic issue for all of us. I am not going to give simplistic answers on this one but simply say that if it is an issue for you, please, please address it with some reliable friends and don’t try to “keep it a secret,” as it says of David in 2 Samuel 12:12.

9. Learns How To Pace Himself And Creates Healthy Boundaries And Margins

The wise leader who wants to live as long as God has in mind for him constantly reminds himself that he is in a marathon, not a 100 meter race. He embraces not only a good work ethic, but also a good Sabbath ethic. He sets finish lines at the end of a day, week or month and has the courage to power off the cell phone and computer to invest in restorative activities and spend time with his family.

So, there you have it fellow leader. How are you doing on these nine? How about picking one or two of them that speak to your current need and get serious about trusting the Lord and cooperating with the Lord for some significant transformation as you make yourself accountable?

Tuesday
Feb072017

Growth or Control? Which will it be? Can't have it both ways!

You can either organize your team or organization for growth or for control, but you can’t have it both ways.

Which are you going to choose?

Steve Graves helps us see the difference and the difference it will make when you choose growth over control.

Originally posted by Steve Graves

Growth or Control? Which Will You Choose?

As an old cowboy once said, “You can’t ride two horses at the same time.”

Sometimes we just have to choose between options and live with the outcome. This reality is very true when it comes to setting the organizing principle for any enterprise. You can’t be headed north and south at the same time. And you can’t be organized for growth and control at the same time. Holding on to both means losing both.

I first heard this idea a couple of decades ago from a mentor who was leading his Fortune 100 team through an explosive growth period. He and his company were on the early track of forging and executing high-level massive global partnerships managing billions of dollars of business each year.

His biggest challenge? Helping the “old timers” loosen their grip on the hyper-control, highly-linear culture that had made them famous. These “old timers” loved the results of growth but were uncomfortable with the looser, more agile approach to partnering. Time and again, my mentor had to preach that you can’t have both and you have to choose—control or growth.

I recently heard this same idea (again) from a colleague in New York who was quoting a pastor friend. In an instant, all the memories of my early mentor flooded my mind. There it was again: you can’t have both. You can’t design for growth and control at the same time with the same energy. I say it all the time and really believe, “Every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” 

Growth

If you want growth, you need to bake it into your design model. One common element some companies utilize is more decentralized operations and, in particular, decision making. This is essentially the idea contained in the old classic The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Ron Beckstrom.

Brafman and Beckstrom look at organizations as diverse as the Apache Nation and Craigslist to make their point that decentralized organizations have tremendous potential for growth. By depending on peer relationships to govern, these organizations dramatically increase the speed of new ideas and growth. Craigslist, for example, had just 40 employees (in comparison, Facebook had 6,500) but managed more than 50 billion posts per month.

Peter Drucker saw this trend coming decades ago: “It isn’t difficult for us to get people into middle management today. But it is going to be, because we shall need thinking people in the middle, not just at the top. The point at which we teach people to think will have to be moved further and further down the line.”

How do you structure for growth? Here are five tips:

1.  Know where to place your best bets. In other words, you need to know what you growth drivers are. Luck is not a growth driver. And you must fuel the growth drivers with adequate resources. No fire burns long without oxygen and some kind of fuel.

2.  Set a growth climate and culture. Talk growth. Set goals. Monitor and measure growth. Reward growth.

3.  Give employees more authority. In everything from customer service to budget creation, but especially in innovation, give employees more authority than you’re immediately comfortable with. In this Forbes article on Chick-Fil-A, notice two things: 1) how quickly it’s growing; and 2) how often the VP mentions the authority that individual operators have.

4.  Encourage meaningful crosstalk. You want your employees talking with each other. When you get a question, help them think about other employees who could help them answer that question. Encourage them to share cell phone numbers. I know this can slide into non-efficiency and must be balanced. But meaningful and healthy crosstalk is essential to spur and sustain growth.

5.  Urge the executive team to do lots of vision casting and road clearing. If they are doing that job they won’t have much time to police the day-to-day operations (the habit of many leaders), which will give those managers more freedom to innovate).

Control

The starfish idea sounds cool and fun, but it’s not always best. And frankly, it doesn’t always work. Companies organized for control are efficient, less volatile and have less short-term risk. Also, they are usually easier to partner with and safer investments.

All organizations eventually have a season of maturity (if they stick around long enough). Their growth slows and they swing back to a control model for a season. They’re the local pizza place that never compromises on its recipe, or the bank that doesn’t grow quickly but is the most financially sound one around.

How do they do it? Here are a few tips for this season:

1.  Use this time to shore up your people and processes. There is usually some wear and tear that happens during all growth spurts. So patch the holes. Mend the nets. And again, those are for both people and processes.

2.  Double down on your culture aspirations. Often, leaders and organizations go the opposite direction. People only buy into control long-term when they believe in the people exerting that control.

3.  Hold quality above everything else. Everything depends on a consistent experience for customers; so do intensive quality control, random product checks, etc.

4.  Make sure you have the right people and an aligned strategic horizon to fit this stage.

5.  Relax and enjoy this period. It might not be the “organizational empty nest” season but it certainly does not carry the weight and chaos of the early stages of explosive growth. And that is OK. I couldn’t disagree more with the old adage that if you are not growing you are dying. 

Decide!

At the end of the day, you simply have to choose. Like my friend in a canoe who was fast approaching a downed tree that had created a fork in the river. “It’s better to be wrong than to be indecisive,” he said later.

You’ve got to structure for one or the other. You cannot organize for growth and at the same time organize for control. And always remember, usually your choice is just for a season.