Entries by Dave Kraft (1120)


Dealing with conflict on your team!

As a leader, dealing with and resolving conflict goes with the territory. Here are five helpful suggestions for dealing with conflict on your team, by Ron Edmondson.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

As a leader, one of your primary roles is developing and maintaining the health of the team. What do you do when team members aren’t getting along with each other?  How should you handle conflict on a team?

In my post 10 Tips for Handling Conflict, I primarily address team members individually working together to address conflict. The question I receive is: What happens when conflict escalates to the point where a leader’s input is needed?

First, I would say the leader being involved should be rare. Very rare. Most problems need to be handled individually. If it’s occurring frequently you may have the wrong people on the team or a bigger issue to address.

Here are 5 suggestions:

1.  Don’t ignore

Conflict never goes away on it’s own. It usually only gets worse with time. In fact, conflict is a necessary aspect of a healthy team, so to avoid it keeps the team from discovering the best answers to issues and allows unhealthy tension to remain. I like to give conflict some time to work itself out among team members, but not long enough to disrupt the team’s progress or jeopardize the health of the team. When the team starts choosing team member’s sides of an issue and the conflict begins to be disruptive I know it’s time for me to address it as the leader.

2.  Protect the vision

The vision of the organization or team should be the common ground for everyone on the team and it’s my role as leader to protect it. In times of conflict, I want to make sure everyone is still committed to that vision. I realize that some conflict develops naturally, just because of differing goals, objectives, and personalities. The leader must balance the bigger picture objectives. (Read THIS POST for more on that subject.) If the conflict involves a support of the vision or is disruptive to accomplishing the vision then addressing it becomes more serious. If the vision is fully supported, then conflict can be addressed among the individuals involved.

3.  Talk it out

Once it is obvious issue is not resolving, as difficult as it may be, I like to bring the individuals in conflict together to discuss the matter of conflict. Make sure the conflict is clearly identified. Often there were simple misunderstandings that need clarity or viewpoints that a team member feels the need to express. At this point, don’t make the mistake of being too nice as a leader. (Read THIS POST about that subject.)

Again, healthy teams and relationships involve healthy conflict and when it isn’t resolved or addressed it remains a stumbling block to the future health of the team. For this step, I like all parties to be in the same room when the conflict is discussed. Addressing an issue separately opens the door for misunderstandings and choosing sides and many times the discussion brings communication to the issue which helps solve the conflict.

4.  Establish mutual respect

Sometimes team members have to agree to disagree if it’s not a disagreement at the vision level. The leader, at times, may have to serve as a third party mediator and should remain neutral in issues of conflict in order to maintain organizational health and keep the organization on track towards attaining it’s vision. The bottom line for me is that team members in conflict must be willing to respect each other and continue to work together, even if there isn’t complete agreement on an issue. Ask the question, “Can we move forward without this affecting the team?”

5.  Move forward

After the issue has been addressed, the vision is secure, and mutual respect is established among team members, the leader needs to make sure the team moves forward from the conflict. There are times, especially in key leadership roles, where people can’t push past an issue and continue to work together, but most of the time conflict can make the team better, as team members learn to work together towards a common vision in spite of disagreements.



Good leaders take complicated concepts and make them simple

During last year’s Global Leadership Summit (GLS) Bill Hybels drew two words on a whiteboard with an arrow pointing from “Here to There” and talked about leadership.

I have heard a lot of definitions of leaders and descriptions of what leadership is all about, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard it explained in two words.

He has turned this simple concept into a teaching package with work book and CD.

I'm not  endorsing it or encouraging you to buy it and, frankly, don’t remember anything he said about "Here To There" at the GLS, but I’m a big fan of taking what can be complicated and layered concepts and making them very simple to understand and apply.

I have been doing a fair amount of thinking about leadership explained in “From  Here to There” and would like to share some thoughts. I am not borrowing anything from Bill except the two words, as I have not purchased any material he has developed from this, nor do I remember anything he said at the GLS.

For starters, to lead anything, the first step is to know where we are: where is here?  It’s a matter of defining reality--not where we would like to be, but where we actually are…where we are in our leadership journey or our leadership development plan with an individual or a team.

You won’t be able to go to “There” if you don’t where “Here” is. I have used the illustration of walking into a mall looking for a certain store. It helps to go to the  kiosk that has the map which says “You are here,” then you can locate where you want to go (“There”) and decide the best route to get there. The same principle holds true when driving somewhere. The GPS needs to start with where you are to tell you how long the trip will take and the best route (avoiding traffic) to get to “There”--your desired destination.

Then, step two would be: to be clear about what “There” is. What exactly are you dreaming about, praying about, planning and trusting God for? What is your desired destination? What would you like to see happen? That is your vision!

As a leader I am quite convinced that leadership is all about using your gifts, calling, and vision to move people from “Here to There.” I love Exodus 32:34 in this regard.  God tells Moses: “But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you…” He was instructed to leave Sinai (here) and travel to the promised land (there).

In order to lead people from here to there, three things are necessary and there are a plethora of ways to do it.

1)   You, as He leads and empowers you, will want to help people be dissatisfied with “Here.” Explain why it’s not a good idea (not good for any of us) to stay here

2)   Then you want to paint a picture of what “There” will be like and why we would be crazy not to leave here and go there.

3)   Start the journey from “Here to There.” Day by day and week by week help people take next steps to get there.

I would say that going from here to there is what leadership is all about. Management makes here better, but leadership makes “There” more desirable and “Here” less desirable and helps people be willing to change and travel there.

Marcus Buckingham’s definition of a leader is someone who “Has the ability to rally people to a better future.” It’s the same idea; get people to leave here behind and move toward there.

Too simple? What do you think?


Nine questions to determine if you are truly a Christian leader!

Christian leaders are different than leaders in general. What is it that sets them apart? Chuck Lawless share nine things that are worth thinking about.

Orginally posted by Chuck Lawless

Many of us find ourselves in leadership positions, but we wonder sometimes if we’re really leading. And, frankly, sometimes there are folks around us who also wonder if we’re leading. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you’re really leading as a Christian leader.

1.  If others knew my life intimately, would they want to follow me? This question, of course, covers the “Christian” part of Christian leadership. If you’re not living in such a way that you model Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), you’re not leading as a Christian should.

2.  Am I uncomfortable with the status quo? Even when things are going well, strong leaders are always praying about and seeking the next steps to accomplish God’s best. If you’re comfortable with where you and your church are, you might be in maintenance mode rather than leadership mode.

3.  Do I have a picture of a bright future? This question is the vision question. If you aren’t able to see what God might want to do through your ministry in the future – or if you’ve simply given up on the future – you’re probably reacting more than leading.

4.  Do I see people as God’s gift or as a means to an end? If people are just a means to an end, we will use them rather than lead them – and that’s unchristian. When we see them as God’s gift, we will lead them to walk with Him and experience His best. How do you see your congregation?

5.  Is anyone following me? John Maxwell and others have pointed out that a leader with no followers is only taking a walk. No leader gets everyone to follow (even Jesus didn’t), but somebody will get on board with a genuine Christian leader who captures and casts God’s vision. You’re probably not leading well if nobody’s following.

6.  Am I investing in anyone personally? It’s hard to read the New Testament and not see Jesus and Paul as leaders who intentionally mentored others. Based on their models, good Christian leadership includes pouring your life into a few people. To not do that is to miss one of the best opportunities for genuinely leading.

7.  If I leave, will the ministry carry on well? The true test of our leadership is not when we’re “on the ground”; it’s when God calls us away, and the church must go on without us. If your church’s ministry suffers when you’re gone, you’ve not been the best leader. In fact, it’s possible you’ve built your own kingdom rather than God’s.

8.  Am I continuing to learn? Leaders who already know it all will lead only so far. Inevitably, they will hit the ceiling of their training and knowledge. At that point, all they can do is live in maintenance mode unless they begin learning again. If you’re not continually reading, studying, listening, etc., you may have hit your leadership ceiling.

9.  Am I accountable to somebody for my godliness? This question takes us back to the first one. If you are a genuine Christian leader, you are guaranteed that Satan will attack you (1 Peter 5:8). The best Christian leaders put up accountability safeguards against the enemy’s attacks.





The important question is not “How Many?” but “What Kind?”

I recall the late Dr. Howard Hendricks, professor at Dallas Seminary, sharing an experience he had while visiting the church of one of his former students.

After the service the pastor caught up with Howard and said something along the lines of “Can you believe it, we had 800 today!…800!” To which Howard responded, “800 what?”

Howard was not trying to rain on the pastor’s parade, but rather to put the focus on what kind of people, not just how many people.

I have a friend in Texas who used to say (and still does, after 50 years) that most churches are only interested in “Nickels and Noses,” money and bodies. But, as any serious student of the Bible knows, the emphasis of the New Testament is on the quality in the lives of those under our care, not the number of those under our care.

The goal is not to gather an audience but to equip an army to go to battle for the great commandment and great commission.

So the question is two-fold:

1.  Are you placing too much emphasis on the number of people as you cast vision and lead, because you always talk about more people, or are you giving adequate time and attention to intentionally discipling the people you have?

2.  What is your goal and strategy to genuinely help people become reproducing disciples and not just pew warmers? Are you making the mistake of assuming that if Sunday is fantastic, everything else will fall into place? After 50 years in full-time vocational ministry, let me assure you it won’t.  As good as Sunday is, it is not enough!

I must frankly say that, in my humble opinion, there is way too much emphasis and talk about  size and numbers; how big is your budget, how big is your staff, how big is your facility, how big is your attendance. I fear that in many of our churches in the U.S. we are putting on doing our best to have fantastic experiences on Sunday morning, in order to compete with the bigger churches in town. The truth is that in a good church, more happens between Sundays than on Sundays.  As a pastor or leader at your church, what will you do to help people:

  • Understand the clear and life-changing message of the gospel
  • Create an intimate relationship with Jesus through the consistent practice of spiritual disciplines
  • Experience genuine community in the context of a small group
  • Find a place of service to use their God-given gifts
  • Be on mission with the Gospel in their world in which they live, work and play
  • Give gladly and generously to the work of the gospel in the church they call home

Yes, the key question is not how many, but what kind?


Thick skinned and tender-hearted! Four types of leaders. Which are you?

We have probably all heard the expression "Thick skin and tender heart" to describe a person or a leader. Here Eric Geiger gives us some fresh insight on four types of leaders as to their skin and heart.

Orginally posted by Eric Geiger

Leaders are often applauded for and encouraged to develop “thick skin.” A leader with “thick skin” is not crushed by criticism nor destroyed by disappointing results. The pain, the criticism, the challenges seem to “roll-off” the leader’s skin without seeping into the leader’s heart. While a leader with “thin skin” is often paralyzed by challenges or criticism, a leader with “thick skin” is able to handle adversity, push through challenges, and continue to lead in the midst of a difficult season.

In the same way, people long for and benefit from a leader with a “tender heart.” A leader with a tender heart is sensitive to others, wants the best for them, rejoices when they rejoice, and mourns when they mourn. A leader with a “tender heart” cares deeply for the people he/she serves alongside.

Is it even possible for a leader to have both, to possess thick skin and a tender heart? Those two are often painted as contrary to one another, as if a leader must choose between being “thick-skinned” and “tender-hearted.” But a leader must not choose between the two. The best leaders are both.

With regards to thick skin and tender hearts, here four types of leaders. Which type are you? 

1. Thick skin/ tough heart

Some leaders are able to ignore criticism and push through disappointment because they really don’t care. They don’t care about people at all. They are apathetic to the commitments they have made. They are able to go to sleep through challenges because they have no passion. Some leaders have “thick skin” because their hearts are calloused.

2. Thin skin/ tough heart

Some leaders cannot handle criticism or even godly rebukes from others, and yet they dole it out exponentially more than they receive. They are narcissistic, and a narcissistic leader is easily hurt but never concerned about hurting others. They have thin skin because their worth is connected to their name and renown, but their hearts are cold and calloused to others. They care infinitely more about their reputation than they care about those they want a reputation for serving.

3. Thin skin/ tender heart

A leader with a tender heart is compassionate, loving, and focused on people. Their concern for others’ feelings can, at times, result in thin skin. Because they want the best for people, they can easily move into foolishly thinking everyone can be happy at all times. Leaders with a tender heart and thin skin can become a slave to the opinion of others and ultimately fail to lead with conviction.

4. Thick skin/ tender heart

A leader with both thick skin and a tender heart is one who loves people but does not find his/her identity in what people think of him/her. A leader with thick skin and a tender heart is trustworthy and effective, compassionate and focused. This leader sees no contradiction between conviction and compassion, between thick skin and a tender heart. Such a leader is rare, too rare. We benefit greatly from following leaders with thick skin and tender hearts. Thick skin is a great asset for a leader, unless it is the result of a calloused heart. Thick skin combined with a tender heart results in passionate and compassionate leadership.

How can we have both tender hearts and thick skin? How can we be this type of leader?

Only by following Jesus.

Only by following Jesus can you love people and not be crushed if they don’t love you. For this type of leader, thick skin is the result of security, worth, and identity placed in the Lord and not in people. If our identity is in Him, we are not destroyed when our leadership is questioned, when people we serve don’t appreciate our service. At the same time, we are not aloof or calloused toward people because the Lord has our heart, and loving and trusting Him always results in a tender and compassionate heart for people.

Don’t choose between thick skin and a tender heart. As a leader, you need both. But only by walking daily with the Lord can a leader have thick skin and a tender heart.

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 224 Next 5 Entries »