5 for Leadership (1/19/13)

images-2Here is a fresh 5 for your leadership consumption. As your wait staff would say at your favorite upscale eatery-Enjoy!

How To Find Your Passion And Change Your Life  This is a classic post from the Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell. He helps us think through our passions by pointing us towards our pain and our strengths. Discontent can be the key to discovering your passion. Read on.

Whole Foods’ John McKay on Capitalism’s Moral Code  McKay has been in the news this week with the release of his new book, Conscious Capitalism. This is a podcast interview with McKay on the theme of his book. I have not read it yet-but I am intrigued with where he is coming from in light of the Whole Foods model. The podcast is from the HBR blog and provides some great insight that has biblical overtones. This is about leadership ethics-worth the hearing.

Three Elements of Great Communication, According to Aristotle  In one sense, there is nothing new here if you are familiar with the categories of ethos, pathos and logos related to communication. But Scott Edinger on the HBR blog does a great job elucidating these core concepts again from Aristotle. Every leader needs to be a constant learner in good communication. Take a look.

If You Want To Be A Leader  This post is by Bill Elliff, who was my pastor when I lived in Norman, Oklahoma. He is now directional pastor at Summit Church in Little Rock. I have benefitted greatly from Bill’s teaching over the years and he models well the character and function of leadership. This post provides a solid, straightforward paradigm for leading.

What’s It For  This is Seth Godin at his best again. In this post, Seth challenges us as to why we do what we do, as leaders, as organizations. This is a thought provoking article about true intent. A must read.

There are the 5 for this week-and don’t forget to take a look at my latest post on Leading Sustainability. Have a great weekend!

5 for Leadership (1/12/13)

UnknownHere is a fresh 5 for January 12th! I hope you are off to a great start for the new year-people are depending on you!

3 Words To Encourage Fallen Pastors  Ron Edmondson notes that 1500 pastors leave the ministry every month in America due to uncontrollable circumstances or personal failure. He offers sage advice about how to move ahead.

Work Smarter With Evernote in 2013  This highly practical post is from Alexandra Samuel in the HBR blog. She lays out a month by month game plan for going digital with your notebook in the year ahead. And she even offers you her latest ebook by the same name for only $3.99!

Management Is (Still) Not Leadership  This is a great post by John Kotter in response to a BBC radio interview, and was also found on the HBR blog. Kotter lays out three common mistakes when talking about leadership, and goes on to define well what true leadership looks like.

Doing The Most Important Things First  I have highlighted Kevin Eikenberry before. In this post, Kevin uses an analogy from growing up on a farm to make the case for leaders staying focused on what matters most. You  wont forget this metaphor, and therefore it may really help you in leadership effectiveness for 2013.

Redefining Practical  The final link is from Dan Rockwell. Dan wrote a post based on the answer to a profound question, “If you were starting over, knowing what you know today, what would you do differently?” The answers will challenge and inspire you.

Lead with intentionality!

The 10 Most Popular Posts of 2012

images-1Here are the most popular posts from this blog over the past year.

Delegation vs Empowerment  Month in and month out this post has had staying power. This topic is an important one.

4 Priorities of a Spiritual Leader  These thoughts shared by a friend of mine are foundational to leading spiritually.

My Golden Retriever and the Nature of Loss  This post was written early in 2012 and reflects on life in a broken world.

Self Evaluation in Leadership  This post provides you with seven questions to evaluate your daily leadership. As we begin a new year, this could be a helpful starting place.

Experiential Leadership Development  Here are four aspects to experiential leadership development that I observed recently and I think are worth considering for any developmental effort.

How Not to Lead-Five Principles for Failure  The title gives you the substance. This can be a back door to leadership excellence.

Leading Young  Here are five principles on how to lead the younger generation, towards their development and your effectiveness.

Leading The Difficult  There are always difficult people to lead in any organization. Here are four principles to consider in leading them effectively.

The Posture of a Spiritual Leader  Here are three principles from John 8 that are critical to how we think about our spiritual leadership.

Young Leaders-Be Easy To Lead  This post is from the other vantage point of Leading Young. This is addressed to the leaders within the Millennial generation.

There are the ten most popular posts for 2012. Thanks for reading my blog and interacting over the various topics. I trust 2013 will bring new thinking and fresh learning for all of us.

5 for Leadership (11/30/12)

UnknownHere is 5 for Leadership for the the end of November, 2012. In this edition I am highlighting Donald Miller for the first time-and turning to some tried and true leadership bloggers. Enjoy!

The Best Way to Implode Your Leadership  This first post is from Donald Miller. He gleans some good principles from the college football coaching world. Manipulation, shame, and guilt will not take you where you want to go as a leader. This will challenge you.

Leading The Generations? Really?? I was intrigued by this post on the Linked 2 Leadership blog because I have linked several posts in the past focused on the Millennial generation. But Robert Isbell makes a good case for some basic leadership principles that can compel followership with any generation.

Fatigue Is Your Enemy This post is on the HBR blog and is by Tony Schwartz. He addresses the unavoidable relentless rising demand of leadership with the sustainable idea of renewal. Tony argues that we must practice this as leaders and extend it to those we lead.  Take a look.

Does Your Leadership Build Others Up? I found this post really interesting. A leader and blogger purposefully decided to not blog so that he could promote the content of others. This comes from William Powell on the Leadership Advisor blog. This is about the value of development–and William cries out for personal leadership reflection in 2012 to discern whether we are leaders who truly develop and empower others.

Making Dreams Matter This final post comes from the Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell. Dan makes the point that all people have the same basic dream–they long to matter. Good leaders bring passion to other’s dreams. We must learn to ignite others and not be dream killers. This is a great read–as always.

There are the 5 for this final week of November. Tomorrow I will post my top 5 for November.

5 for Leadership (10/13/12)

IUnknownn this edition of 5 for Leadership I am only focusing on two authors: Mike Myatt and his N2Growth blog, and Dan Rockwell and his Leadership Freak blog.  I really admire both of these bloggers because they provide such grounded and practical leadership insight.  They also consistently focus on issues of character which I believe is absolutely foundational to good leadership.  Take a look at some of their recent posts and consider how the principles revealed can take your leadership to the next level.

Why Your Leadership Is Overrated  It has been awhile since I have highlighted Mike Myatt.  But it is not from a lack of great content by Mike.  This post hits at the heart of self leadership, being self aware.  Mike provides eight ways to improve your leadership and not live and lead in ignorance.

Leadership, Influence, and Relationships  In this post Mike Myatt highlights ten steps toward building your influence.  He makes a strong case for investing in people as your greatest resource.  Influence and relationships go hand in hand.

9/11 Inforgraphic-The Destiny of a Nation  This final post that I am highlighting by Mike Myatt is a profound info graphic on the differences between our nation’s response to WWII and 9/11.  So in case you missed this back in September, take a look.  It will stir your thinking about our nation and leadership.

Overcoming The Reason People Resist Change  Dan Rockwell makes a great case for how change can be led.  He illustrates some ways in which it cannot be received well and ways in which you must view and lead change.  He uses four categories for clarity of thinking: The Wrong Picture, The Right Picture, Warnings, and Suggestions.  This is worth a look.

How To Make A Difference That Matters  This post from Dan hits at the heart of leadership, making a difference.  Dan lifts up the key tasks of developing internally and exploring externally.  I really like how he sets this up and argues that both tasks are necessary for making a difference.  He adds some very practical insights as to how this can be pursued.  Dan does some amazing things in 300 words or less.

I hope you enjoy these two authors and continue to learn from them by following their respective blogs.  Have a great weekend.


5 for Leadership (10/6/12)

imagesHere is 5 for Leadership for the first week in October.  I have included some new authors and posts from friends.  I think you will find something of interest for you.  Click away!

Your Facebook Fans Are Hiding Your Posts At An Alarming Rate  This comes from Fast Company and is an excellent article on managing your Facebook fan page.  Everyone looks at their numbers (likes, etc.) but should you be paying more attention to staying true to a quality fan base.  Take a look.

Forgot The Power Cord?!  This is from my friend Andrea Buczynski on her blog AB Reflections.  This post is about life plugged in–connected to Christ through the Holy Spirit.  This is strong reminder that we cannot live unplugged when it comes to our main source of power.

Leaders, Remember Where You Came From and How You Got Here  This is from a new author for me.  Her name is Barbara Jordan and was published on the About Leaders blog.  Barbara recently had to step back into a front line staffing position within her organization.  It was a great refresher on perspective of what the frontline people face day in and day out.  This post will apply to any leader–to remind us of our roots and make us understanding, more caring leaders.

Feedback: Getting Great Insights From People Who Matter  I found this to be a very helpful post, not only on motivation for feedback on one’s leadership life, but also for some practical steps in obtaining that feedback.  This is from Karin Hurt on the Let’s Grow Leaders blog.  In particular, Karin offers some great informal approaches to getting regular feedback from those around you and those you lead.

What Is Christian Leadership?  This comes from Kim Martinez on the Deep Imprints blog and makes the distinction between church leadership and christian leadership that could and should be expressed wherever a Christian leads.  Kim provides three practical points of intersection as we lead by seeing our people and our setting as God does.

Hope you enjoy this edition of 5 for Leadership.  Have a great weekend!


5 for Leadership (9/28/12)

Unknown5 for Leadership this week includes a couple of new authors and some tried and true thought leaders.  Take a look at what grabs your attention and be challenged.

16 Things Successful Leaders Never Do  Here is another great post from the leadership freak, Dan Rockwell.  This post is a quick read, but will cause you to reflect, as Dan provides a great list of things worthy of your consideration.  These are character issues!

Leadership Perspectives: Inspiring Others  This comes from the Lead Change Group blog.  This post will also cause you to think carefully about character based leadership.  Georgia Feiste provides eight great qualities that she admires in others and bring inspiration to others.  You will see things that you are already doing (but could maybe do better) and things that you may not be doing, but would like to master.

Leadership Lessons From The NFL Replacement Officials  OK, the regular NFL referees are back–finally.  But this post is worth reading before you forget the craziness of the replacement refs.  This comes from Kevin Eikenberry on the Leadership & Learning blog.  Kevin has noted several overlap principles between the NFL referee debacle and other facets of leadership.  Take a look and draw your own conclusions.

7 Thoughts On Creating Unity  I found this on the ChurchLeaders.com blog.  This is vintage Ron Edmondson and I wanted to give you the link because I recently wrote on team unity as well.  This will give you another perspective on the subject and keep your thinking stimulated on this important topic.

Advice For Writers  This coms from Tim Stevens who is the Executive Pastor at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN.  Tim, as an author himself, provides 10 “Do Not’s” when it comes to writing a book.  I know many Christian leaders consider writing–this will give you some very practical tips as you do so.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

Problem Solving-Tips & Traps (Part 2)

Unknown-1Yesterday I made some comments about the primary reasons a leader would use a problem solving process with a team.  The two reasons I listed were the need for strong ownership and/or the need for great creativity.  I also mentioned that a problem solving process should never be used as abdication for good leadership analysis and thinking.  As a leader, you should use problem solving processes sparingly and when absolutely necessary for one of the reasons listed above.  In this post I want to talk a little bit about some practical pointers when utilizing a problem solving process with a team.

1. Think again–is this an issue that requires strong ownership and/or great creativity?  If so, then this could be a great tool to help engage the best thinking your team has to offer.

2. Place a set time in the schedule for how long this process will run.  You will wear out your people if you facilitate a processes that lasts over two hours–and do so on a regular basis.  I would actually suggest that you aim for an hour long process.  If something is too complex for a single hour, then take a break and set a second time (less than an hour this time) for getting to execution.  Too often teams get stuck in endless analysis and do not maintain the focus necessary to arrive at good solutions.  Limiting the time frame will help you maintain focus.

3. The team leaders should feel the freedom and necessity to come to the table with the problem clearly defined.  This is the perogative of the leader and the team is depending on it.  Don’t waste time in the team setting to try and define the problem.  Arrive with a clear problem statement in hand and even a few of the solution criteria that will help form the grid for choosing good solutions.

4. Have a set time for each part of the problem solving process and empower a time keeper to maintain the schedule.  Usually a process will include several steps, and each step, while important, must be limited to a certain time frame to ensure you get through the whole process in the desired time.  The team needs to see progress and have a sense of hope that you will actually get to an executable stage.

5. Be sure you actually get to the execution phase of problem solving.  Often, teams will do some great brainstorming and then never execute what they have decided.  If you don’t get to good execution then you have not really solved anything.  Be sure that the execution includes clear roles, deadlines, and goals.  This will help to ensure a measurable, effective learning opportunity–and keep you from just talk.

6. Consider empowering others on the team to actually lead the process.  Sometimes the team leader is not the best one to lead the team through a formal process.  You might consider another team member who is more gifted in the art of facilitation and empower them.  This will also help to develop their future leadership.

There are a few of my tips and traps on this topic.  What have you learned in your experience of leading teams?

Problem Solving-Tips & Traps (Part 1)

Unknown-1There are many templates for how to engage a team in problem solving.  Some are better than others.  But often I see teams abandon a problem solving technique or process out of tiredness and boredom, rather that ineffectiveness.  When I hear the anecdotal evidence for why it was abandon it usually lies at the feet of the leader for facilitating poorly.  No matter what process or technique you use, here are some tips and traps about engaging a team in the problem solving process.

1. Use a problem solving process when you need strong ownership of an idea or an effort.  Some leaders want to use a problem solving process for every issue they see.  They wear out their teams with this type of thinking.  Not every issue, opportunity, or problem calls for a formal team process to solve it.  There are really only two criteria in my mind when you should use a formal process.  The first is when you need strong ownership from every team member around an issue or obstacle.  When you need everyone’s best effort on something then you better engage them in getting their arms around the problem at hand and how it might be solved.  If you don’t need every team member’s best effort or ownership–then don’t use a formal process.  You may only need some advice from a person or two on the team.  Maybe the issue can be delegated out to others more suited for solving the problem.  But just because you have a “hammer” does not make every problem a “nail.”  Be wise in knowing how to steward problem solving processes with the right people over the right issues.

2. Use a problem solving process when you need great creativity.  The 2nd criteria for using a formal problem solving process is when you need great creativity.  The challenge is so big or complex that it is best to tap into all the minds on the team to get to the best solution.  Sometimes you need a breakthrough idea or newness around an issue.  Then a formal process involving a whole team could be a great way to go.

3. Do not use a problem solving process as a pass for good leadership analysis and thinking.  Sometimes I see leaders use formal processes as a crutch for a lack of good leadership analysis.  As a leader, don’t abdicate your role as an analytical thinker.  Much of your role is about looking into the future and providing direction.  To some degree you have to be able to peer into the future and anticipate possible roadblocks to the vision.  Or you need to foresee possible opportunities that can be leveraged by the whole team.  This takes think time on the part of the leader.  This takes wisdom in knowing what issues are important enough to involve a whole team.  The problem solving process is just one tool in your arsenal to help you lead.  It is not leadership itself.  Knowing how, when and with whom is critical to utilizing good problem solving processes in your leadership.

What are your thoughts?  What has helped or hurt you in facilitating a process like this?  What have you learned?

Tomorrow we will look at some very practical tips and traps in effectively leading a problem solving process.


6 Common Errors in Strategic Planning

chess-strategic-planningThis is the final post in a series on the leader and planning. I originally studied these common errors and wrote about them several years ago. Here is an abbreviated and updated version on this important topic. You can find the complete article under my Print Resources tab.

Most strategic planning processes include at least six elements. I will highlight each element and the common mistake I see made when teams work on this particular element.

Vision-There is no common direction or passion among the team.  Vision, in my mind, comes from the intersection of four things—passions, dissatisfactions, a strong knowledge of your situation, and calling. As I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of a well honed team vision statement. Most organizations already have a succinct mission statement. Vision has to come from the heart. Have different members of the team share their personal vision for the organization on a regular basis. Let each person’s vision contribution seep into the team mentality and  become the corporate heart of the team.

Current Reality-The situational analysis lacks a brutal assessment of the facts.  The knowledge a team possesses is often way too vague to make good, strategic decisions. Instead a team will rely on a “sense” of what is true about the organization or the intended customer/audience. Teams need quality statistical data and good soft people data to make sound decisions. This is leading through information. Do the hard work of gathering key facts before deciding on what is broken.

Critical Mass-There is low priority given to increasing organizational capacity.  Critical mass typically includes leaders, money, tools and good will. This is your resource pool to accomplish your vision. You have to take an honest look at what is and what you will need in these resource areas. The continual growth of key resources has to be a central focus for any team. You can’t out grow your resource base.

Critical Path Steps-There is a lack of specificity in defining CPS.  Critical Path Steps are the team recognized current problems or opportunities that, if solved, move the team significantly toward the vision. These can’t be limitless. They are usually few in number-but always high leverage and well defined.  If they are not well defined you will never know when they have really been solved. Be as specific as you can. State them as a solution. Use action oriented verbs when you do so.

Resource Release-There is no true team execution to solve the identified problems.  I have stated before that a plan without execution is a total waste of time. But this is where most teams fail. To get to execution you have to include roles, goals, tools and time. You have to clearly state who is the point person to see a strategy or tactic through. You have to state the measurable goal of success. You must allocate a certain amount of your resource pool towards this strategy and you must get the tactic into the calendar-either as an event or as a marked duration of time. Without agreed upon, clear execution you will never see your vision realized.

Evaluation and Learning-Evaluation is only seasonal and therefore learning is lost in time.  The current business or ministry environment is one of constant change. Teams have to be adaptable if they are to be effective. That requires nimble, in time learning. Evaluation and learning should be captured every time a strategy or tactic is completed. This enables speedy changes if necessary. Of course a leader could and should conduct periodic, seasonal evaluations with their teams. But ongoing evaluation and learning is a must in todays world.

There is obviously much more that could be said. But hopefully this gets you thinking. What else have you found to aid you and your teams in the planning process?

(photo credit)