How to Lead in Good & Bad Times

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The need for leadership varies according to place and situation. Sometimes, a church is growing and certain style of leadership is needed. Sometimes, things are rougher or just getting started, so another kind of a leader is needed. A good leader is able to know which season is which and how to lead in that moment.

I came across this in Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answersshowing the kind of leadership needed at different moments in a church.

Peacetime CEO knows that proper protocol leads to winning. Wartime CEO violates protocol in order to win.

Peacetime CEO focuses on the big picture and empowers her people to make detailed decisions. Wartime CEO cares about a speck of dust on a gnat’s ass if it interferes with the prime directive.

Peacetime CEO builds scalable, high-volume recruiting machines. Wartime CEO does that, but also builds HR organizations that can execute layoffs.

Peacetime CEO spends time defining the culture. Wartime CEO lets the war define the culture.

Peacetime CEO always has a contingency plan. Wartime CEO knows that sometimes you gotta roll a hard six.

Peacetime CEO knows what to do with a big advantage. Wartime CEO is paranoid.

Peacetime CEO strives not to use profanity. Wartime CEO sometimes uses profanity purposefully.

Peacetime CEO thinks of the competition as other ships in a big ocean that may never engage. Wartime CEO thinks the competition is sneaking into her house and trying to kidnap her children.

Peacetime CEO aims to expand the market. Wartime CEO aims to win the market.

Peacetime CEO strives to tolerate deviations from the plan when coupled with effort and creativity. Wartime CEO is completely intolerant.

Peacetime CEO does not raise her voice. Wartime CEO rarely speaks in a normal tone.

Peacetime CEO works to minimize conflict. Wartime CEO heightens the contradictions.

Peacetime CEO strives for broad-based buy-in. Wartime CEO neither indulges consensus building nor tolerates disagreements.

Peacetime CEO sets big, hairy, audacious goals. Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.

Peacetime CEO trains her employees to ensure satisfaction and career development. Wartime CEO trains her employees so they don’t get their asses shot off in the battle.

Peacetime CEO has rules like “We’re going to exit all businesses where we’re not number one or two.” Wartime CEO often has no businesses that are number one or two and therefore does not have the luxury of following that rule.

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How to Find the Right Boss

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The church I lead is hiring 2 new staff members right now and while I’ve learned a ton about hiring (a post coming soon), I have also learned a lot about how to pick a boss. Often, when someone talks about finding a job or a career, we simply look at the company, the perks, the pay, location and the values and mission of the church or organization and decide on that. Yet, studies show people leave jobs more because of their boss than anything else. In fact, people will take less money to stay with a boss they love. One of the questions I ask each person we interview is this: Tell me about your ideal lead pastor. What can he do to help you succeed? What things can he do to hamper your growth? These questions tell me a few things: do they know what they are looking for in a boss? Do they know themselves well enough to know what they need to succeed?

I believe, one of the reasons we don’t succeed or move forward in life is because we aren’t sure what that looks like.

If I was telling someone looking for a job who would not be the boss, but would have a boss I would tell you a few things:

  1. Know who you are. This means that you need to understand your gifts, talents, personality, strengths, and weaknesses. This may seem like an obvious thing, but many are unsure of how they are wired. If you aren’t sure how you are wired, you won’t know how will you fit with a boss or a culture. Do you like teamwork, working alone? Do you want a strict office or more laid back policies? Each church has a different culture based on its leaders, city and history and you need to understand this. I was on staff at a good church in Wisconsin and it was a terrible cultural fit. They wanted high extroverts who wanted a casual business dress with regular office hours. Doing student ministry at the time, this was not a good fit for me. Others would have loved it.
  2. Know what you need to succeed. This follows closely with the first one, but know what environment and kind of boss you need to succeed. Do you want a micro manager who one who is hands off? How much say do you want in the vision and culture of the church? What things are non-negotiable things for you and what are more open handed issues and beliefs? These questions will help you determine if someone or a church is a good fit. Otherwise, you will choose on location, style and pay and those are not always the best reasons to choose a job.
  3. Find someone worth following. If you are not the CEO, Lead Pastor or lead whatever, one of your main concerns is finding a leader you want to follow. That leader will decide so much about your career, livelihood, excitement, passion and happiness in your life that finding the wrong can be devastating. It adds stress, disappointment, hurt, possibly abuse and pain. I can’t emphasize enough that you need to spend time figuring out the kind of leader you want to follow, if the person you are interviewing with or working for right now is the leader you want to follow and make a choice. I think more leaders who not be the lead pastor need to spend more time thinking about the kind of person they are working for or following instead of judging a job based on salary and perks.

In the end, finding the right boss can be just as important as finding the right job. When you find the right boss, I would encourage you to think hard before you go looking for a new one. They aren’t easy to find, as anyone who has worked for the wrong boss can attest.

If you liked this blog post, be sure to sign up to receive my latest blog post every morning in your inbox, (simply click here). I’d love to help you move forward in your life and leadership.

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Have You Signed Up Yet?

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My blog is moving soon and I don’t want you to miss anything. Be sure to subscribe via email here.

When you do, you will get an email confirmation to make sure it is you.

Why am I moving and why should you subscribe?

First, I’m moving so that I can add things to my blog that will better serve you. Some of the new features (media, video, and ebooks) will make your experience as a reader better and add more content to help you become the person God has called you to be.

Second, subscribing helps you stay up to date. In a busy world, it is easy to miss things and I’d hate for that to happen. Each day (or week if you choose) you will get an email with my latest post. That way, you don’t have to remember to check back here, it will come to you.

Third, sharing becomes easier. I love all my readers and over the last 8 years that number has grown considerably. My wife used to be my only reader and now almost 5,000 of you subscribe to this blog. I would love to see that number grow because I believe there is value in what I post on my blog and clearly you do as well as you continue coming back. My new blog will make sharing so much easier through social media avenues and through email, which is why subscribing is so important.

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Good Leader/Bad Leader

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A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).

Bad product managers have lots of excuses. Not enough funding, the engineering manager is an idiot, Microsoft has ten times as many engineers working on it, I’m overworked, I don’t get enough direction. Our CEO doesn’t make these kinds of excuses and neither should the CEO of a product.

Good product managers don’t get all of their time sucked up by the various organizations that must work together to deliver the right product at the right time. They don’t take all the product team minutes; they don’t project manage the various functions; they are not gofers for engineering. They are not part of the product team; they manage the product team. Engineering teams don’t consider good product managers a “marketing resource.” Good product managers are the marketing counterparts to the engineering manager.

Good product managers crisply define the target, the “what” (as opposed to the “how”), and manage the delivery of the “what.” Bad product managers feel best about themselves when they figure out “how.” Good product managers communicate crisply to engineering in writing as well as verbally. Good product managers don’t give direction informally. Good product managers gather information informally.

Good product managers create collateral, FAQs, presentations, and white papers that can be leveraged by salespeople, marketing people, and executives. Bad product managers complain that they spend all day answering questions for the sales force and are swamped. Good product managers anticipate the serious product flaws and build real solutions. Bad product managers put out fires all day.

Good product managers take written positions on important issues (competitive silver bullets, tough architectural choices, tough product decisions, and markets to attack or yield). Bad product managers voice their opinions verbally and lament that the “powers that be” won’t let it happen. Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.

Good product managers focus the team on revenue and customers. Bad product managers focus the team on how many features competitors are building. Good product managers define good products that can be executed with a strong effort. Bad product managers define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (that is, solve the hardest problem).

Good product managers think in terms of delivering superior value to the marketplace during product planning and achieving market share and revenue goals during the go-to-market phase. Bad product managers get very confused about the differences among delivering value, matching competitive features, pricing, and ubiquity. Good product managers decompose problems. Bad product managers combine all problems into one.

Good product managers think about the story they want written by the press. Bad product managers think about covering every feature and being absolutely technically accurate with the press. Good product managers ask the press questions. Bad product managers answer any press question. Good product managers assume members of the press and the analyst community are really smart. Bad product managers assume that journalists and analysts are dumb because they don’t understand the subtle nuances of their particular technology.

Good product managers err on the side of clarity. Bad product managers never even explain the obvious. Good product managers define their job and their success. Bad product managers constantly want to be told what to do.

Good product managers send their status reports in on time every week, because they are disciplined. Bad product managers forget to send in their status reports on time, because they don’t value discipline.

-Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

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My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

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My Blog is Moving

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My blog is moving on July 7th and I don’t want you to miss anything. Be sure to subscribe via email here.

When you do, you will get an email confirmation to make sure it is you.

Why am I moving and why should you subscribe?

First, I’m moving so that I can add things to my blog that will better serve you. Some of the new features (media, video, and ebooks) will make your experience as a reader better and add more content to help you become the person God has called you to be.

Second, subscribing helps you stay up to date. In a busy world, it is easy to miss things and I’d hate for that to happen. Each day (or week if you choose) you will get an email with my latest post. That way, you don’t have to remember to check back here, it will come to you.

Third, sharing becomes easier. I love all my readers and over the last 8 years that number has grown considerably. My wife used to be my only reader and now almost 5,000 of you subscribe to this blog. I would love to see that number grow because I believe there is value in what I post on my blog and clearly you do as well as you continue coming back. My new blog will make sharing so much easier through social media avenues and through email, which is why subscribing is so important.

I’ll still be posting here for a few more weeks, but I don’t want you to miss anything, so take a minute and subscribe via email so when I move, you are ready!

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Systems Trump Hopes & Intentions

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Everybody has hopes, dreams and good intentions.

Everyone wants to lose weight, get out of debt, get a degree, start a business, or start a hobby.

Churches want to grow, reach new people, see people start following Jesus, see new givers take that first step, see people get connected into community or serve.

W. Edwards Deming said, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.”

Put another way: systems trump hopes and intentions. 

This is true for every system.

The systems you have in place as a church are why you have the number of first time, second time and third time guests that you have. It is why you have as many people giving. Why you have the number of people serving or in community.

None of this is accidental and none of this “just happens.”

For Revolution, this is one reason we transitioned from small groups to missional communities. We found that small groups would give us a certain result and it wasn’t the result we wanted.

Think about it personally. What if you want to lose weight, get out of debt, get a degree or start a business. None of that will just happen. You have to have a system for it. Just hoping to lose weight won’t cut it. You can’t have the intention of getting out of debt without a system for it.

The reality of Deming’s words ring true in our businesses, churches and homes. We are getting the results our systems are designed to give us. It isn’t an issue or hope, wishes, intentions, but of systems and strategy.

At this point, once you realize this, the next step is having the patience for it to take root.

One of the reasons I see people not lose weight or get out of debt is they expect it to happen as quickly as they gained the weight or got into debt. 

That isn’t a reality. In the same way, after 10 years of unhealthy communication in a marriage, it will not change over night. It will take time.

What happens for many people is they put a system in place, that moves slower than they would like, so they give up and settle for the results they don’t want.

And then we are back to square one.

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My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created us to be.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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5 things that won’t make your church start growing.

The trap most leaders fall into is believing that a change in form will be an adequate substitute for a change in substance.

Dan Dumas on 7 reasons you should buy “On Preaching” by H.B. Charles.

H.B. believes in preaching. You’ll put down this book not only informed about preaching but excited about it.

The 12 stages of burnout.

When we push our creativity and productivity to its limits, we can easily find ourselves teetering on brink of burnout. And there’s a fine line between being in the zone and falling down the slippery slope of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. 

How to stop working 7 days a week.

In those moments, remind yourself that what feels like an emergency to them might not actually be an emergency.  Their marriage didn’t get terrible overnight, it’s been sliding for years. Ask one more question, and you might discover that X has been in the hospital for a week and will be there for another week.

How to enter a room like a boss.

In reality, there are many things we all do, unintentionally, when we enter a room or gathering of new people that equates to walking into a room with our fly open. In other words, we’re killing our best chances at success with our own bad habits, mistakes, or simply ignorance. The stakes here are high.

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How to be a Better Author

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Recently, I watched the author platform conference online. This was a series of interviews with authors, bloggers, marketers and other experts to help writers, speakers and bloggers be as effective as possible.

Below are the lessons from each interview that I watched:

Jonah Berger

  1. Create a connection with your book. Give something to people so that they make a concrete connection to what you are saying. At book events, he gave out tissues with the word Contagious: Why Things Catch On on them for his book and made the connection of “wouldn’t your like your ideas to be as contagious as the cold?”

Chris Brogan

  1. Be married to the outcome more than you are to the idea. This will allow you to enjoy the content you create.
  2. When it comes to branding, people think about people. The person sticks in the mind of people if you know who the person is.

Chad Cannon

  1. Books that sell come from authors that hustle.
  2. An author needs to provide value to the audience outside of their book.

Chris Ducker

  1. Writing a book is not like writing a blog post. Editing is by far the hardest part of writing a book.
  2. Just be you. Your readers and listeners will know if you are being real or not.

John Lee Dumas

  1. Failures happen when people don’t listen to their intuition. Successes happen when we do listen to our intuition.

Carmine Gallo

  1. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century and you are only as successful as your ideas.
  2. Most speakers fail because they don’t have their message down, they don’t know their story.
  3. The difference between a great speaker and a good speaker is the great speaker is always looking to improve.
  4. The 3 components to any great presentation: Emotional, novel and memorable.

Jeff Goins

  1. Activity always follows identity.
  2. Offline relationships still do matter in the midst of our social media worlds.

Chris Guillebeau

  1. A lot of people can launch a book well, but successful authors need to think about how to make it successful in 3, 6, and 12 months.

Derek Halpern

  1. The best way to promote yourself is to help others, to give a benefit to someone else.
  2. Content is not just about what you say, but how you say it.

Michael Hyatt

  1. Know your audience, who they are, what their needs are, and what questions they have.

There was some incredibly helpful things in these videos.

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Lazy Pastors

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In his book Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them QuicklyMike Myatt says:

The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.

Many pastors are lazy, overweight, not motivated. They haven’t always been this way, it just happens. Now, swinging the pendulum to the other side and having pastors that compete in the Crossfit games, are workaholics and are legalists when it comes to driving their people and themselves to the point of burnout is not the answer or healthy.

Jared Wilson had a good post on “In praise of fat pastors.” After talking about how self-centered pastors can be and image concious they can be, he tries to save it at the end and say, “But I’m not calling for pastors to be gluttons or slobs.” The problem is, many pastors do not take care of themselves.

Consider these stats:

  • 90% of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
  • 1,700 or so pastors leave the ministry each month.
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.

Back to lazy pastors.

Many pastors struggle to set boundaries around how many hours they work, how many meetings they attend, how much time they spend on their sermon, having adequate family time, adequate time for their own soul, eating well, resting well, and exercising.

How is that being lazy?

As Mike Myatt said: The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.

Saying no, pulling boundaries takes discipline. Watching what you eat, how you sleep, how you exercise is about discipline. Wasting time on facebook or the computer keeps you from being on task, which keeps you working longer and because you are alone, you are probably now lonelier and the likelihood of you looking at something you shouldn’t online just increased.

I believe how we care for our bodies is a spiritual discipline, it is an act of worship. 

On top of that, finishing well as a leader requires energy and energy requires good sleep, good exercise and good eating habits.

When I meet a man who can’t control what he eats, I wonder what other areas of his life he doesn’t have self-control in, where else does he struggle to say no (food is never the only area). When a person can’t stay on task and complete their job in a decent amount of hours is someone I wonder who has the responsibility to lead things.

While this is not always the case, how we handle our health often reveals other things in our hearts and lives.

Now, just because someone has discipline doesn’t mean that is the ideal leader. They can keep people at arms length, care too much about their looks or what others think. Both the over-disciplined and the undisciplined are in sin.

Here is one thing I’ve learned as I’ve grown more disciplined in my life: when every minute is accounted for and given a name, things get done and less time is wasted. 

Which means I have time to do the things I want to do and to be at the things that matter.

So, how do you evaluate this?

I think a pastor needs to ask if they are known for being a workaholic, lazy or if they are known for having a strong work ethic. If you are to lead your church well and model this for the men of your church, you need to be someone others would aspire to. I think we do the name of Christ harm when we are known as lazy, slobs or workaholics.

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Book Notes | Hacking Leadership

bookEvery Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read and one I will go back to on a yearly basis. It’s Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly by Mike Myatt. While it is a business book, the applications for pastors and churches are endless. Pretty much any time he said “business” you could apply it to churches.

I could not agree more that churches have gaps in them and these gaps, if they go untouched, keep the church from fulfilling why God placed the church here.

Here are the gaps and stop me when you feel like it applies to your church or a church you worked at:

  1. Leadership gap – “we don’t have enough leaders or volunteers.”
  2. Purpose gap – “where are we going, why do we exist, why are we doing what we’re doing?”
  3. Future gap – “what is next, how do we reach the next generation, how do we make choices?”
  4. Mediocre gap – “it’s good enough for church.”
  5. Culture gap – “this gets at why things are done without thinking (ie. we’ve always done it this way)”.
  6. Talent gap – “who is being developed, how do you hire people, how do you raise up leaders.”
  7. Knowledge gap – “how do you communicate, do leaders and volunteers know how to make decisions that line up with the vision.”
  8. Innovation gap – “how will your church go to the next level and reach the next generation.”
  9. Expectation gap – “are ministries aligned or are they silos doing their own thing?”
  10. Complexity gap – “how clear is your strategy, how busy is your church, how many layers and committees does it take to get an answer to a question.”
  11. Failure gap – “how does your church or leaders handle failure when it happens?” And it will happen.

As I said, incredibly relevant.

I love his writing style as well. He had one liners all over the book. Here are a few:

  • Holding a position of leadership is not the same thing as being a good leader.
  • The plausibility of impossibility only becomes a probability in the absence of leadership.
  • Businesses don’t fail, projects don’t fail, and products don’t fail—leaders fail.
  • Real leaders don’t limit themselves, but more importantly they refuse to limit those they lead.
  • The seminal question you must ask yourself as a leader is why should anyone be led by you?
  • Leaders who don’t have the trust and respect of their team won’t be able to generate the influence necessary to perform at the expected levels.
  • Leaders simply operate at their best when they understand their ability to influence is much more fruitful than their ability to control.
  • Leaders who are not growing simply cannot lead growing organizations.
  • Not all engagement is necessary or productive.
  • Leaders who are bored, in a rut, or otherwise find themselves anesthetized by the routine have a huge problem—they are not leading
  • People can be rallied around many things, but none more powerful than purpose.
  • I have always believed the gold standard of leadership, the measurement of leadership greatness if you will, is based on a leader’s ability to align talent and outcomes with purpose.
  • Purpose is the foundational cornerstone for great leadership.
  • You cannot attain what you do not pursue.
  • All great leaders are forward thinking and leaning.
  • Leaders deserve the teams they build.
  • Leadership that isn’t transferrable, repeatable, scalable, and sustainable isn’t really leadership at all.
  • Leadership can be boiled down into either owning the responsibility for getting things done or failing to do so.
  • Leadership and loyalty go hand in hand.
  • The number-one reason companies make bad hires is they compromise, they settle, they don’t hire the best person for the job.
  • What most fail to realize is years of solid decision making is oftentimes unwound by a single bad decision.
  • You don’t train leaders; you develop them.
  • Almost universally, the smartest person in the room is not the one doing all the talking—it’s the person asking a few relevant and engaging questions and then doing almost all of the listening.
  • If you’re not willing to embrace change you’re not ready to lead.
  • Few things harm the forward progress of an organization like leaders who fail to understand the value of aligning expectations.
  • The easiest way to judge a leader is by balancing the scorecard between promises made and promises kept.
  • The difference between good and great often comes down to discipline.
  • Complexity is the enemy of the productive.
  • Only way to protect value is to create more of it.
  • The true test of all leaders is not measured by what’s accomplished in their professional life, but rather by what’s accomplished at home.

Every year I think there are a few must read leadership books. Last year I said it was Start with Why. This year, it is Hacking Leadership

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