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Posts Tagged "Leadership"

I tried to quit… every Monday

Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, My Life

I tried to quit.

A few times.

Most of the time, I quit in the mirror.

Only once did I verbalize that to my boss.

I tried.

But never successfully. Never seriously.


Because I didn’t want that to be my story. I had to decide at some point that I wouldn’t quit. At least not on Monday. 😉

Jessica Bealer and I share a little here about how we wanted to quit, but refused to give up on what God was doing in and through us in ministry. Find out more in our book Don’t Quit and see how the best things in ministry come over time.

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Leadership Resiliency & why it matters

Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Resiliency is a leadership game-changer. Our ability to recover from critical feedback, unmet expectations & failed outcomes is the difference between thriving and languishing in leadership.

If asked whether you want to win or lose, I think most of us would say we want to win as leaders. No one sets out hoping their leadership declines over time… yet, [bctt tweet=”my leadership influence has been negatively impacted during seasons of low-resiliency.” username=”gina_mcclain”]

What can low resiliency cause? I think it has several ripple effects, but here are 3 easy-to-identify ripples that feed into each other. If you can tackle one of these, you’re set to arrest all three and turn them around.

Ripple #1: Feeds a Negative Perspective One outcome of low-resiliency is your outlook on your circumstances. It’s impossible to have low-resiliency and a positive perspective at the same time. They can’t coexist. In fact, your perspective feeds your resiliency and your resiliency feeds your perspective.

Ask yourself: What leadership challenge are you tempted to sweep under the rug, right now? Why are you tempted to ignore it? Do you have hope for a great outcome? Are you uncertain you can lead toward that outcome? 

These questions can uncover a leadership opportunity that you are ignoring. And though I understand the temptation to ignore it, let me challenge you. Ignoring it never brings resolution. Looking the other way and leaving the opportunity unaddressed will only make it worse.

Ripple #2: Erodes Vision One of the first things to erode with a negative perspective is vision. You can’t embrace a vision for tomorrow when your outlook on today is in the toilet. It’s hard to get excited about what the future holds when you feel like your present situation is impossible.

Ask yourself: How have I communicated vision today? What level of conviction do others feel from me?

You can’t lead others toward a vision you aren’t actively pursuing. And I’m not sure how you can pursue a vision fervently that you don’t believe you can obtain.

Ripple #3: Declining Effectiveness When you see your current situation as impossible and can’t embrace a compelling vision for the future, your ability to lead other is on the ropes. You simply cannot effectively lead others from here to there without these two critical skills: Hope for what can be done in the present & a Vision for what could be in the future.

Ask yourself: Who do I lead that can give me loving feedback on my ability to communicate Hope for today and a Vision for tomorrow?

[bctt tweet=”Willingness to open yourself up to feedback is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. And yet it holds the potential to take your leadership to a new level. It takes courage. But the gain is worth the risk.” username=”gina_mcclain”]

Here’s the thing.  This isn’t a question of whether or not we are resilient. Everyone has a measure of resiliency. The question is, how strong is your resiliency?

Like a muscle in your body, resiliency can weaken or strengthen over time depending on how we exercise it. So, it you’ve discovered your resiliency is low then you can do something about it.

Next week I’ll share 3 steps you can take to build your resiliency muscle.

For a great resource on building resiliency and other leadership skills, check out our new book, Don’t Quit.

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Writing Better Goals Today

Posted by on Nov 18, 2015 in Leadership


‘Tis the season of goal writing.

The annual review of the past 12 months… the wins… the growth… the learning points.

The look ahead to the coming year when you ask yourself, where are we headed, where do we need to grow, and how do we get there?

Goal setting is a non-negotiable for leaders. Like mile-markers set out to guide us on our path, goals help to ensure we are focused on a prescribed destination. Goals ensure we focus on the right outcomes. Goals ensure that we steward our resources successfully.

[bctt tweet=”Goals ensure that we steward our resources successfully.”]

But goals are tricky to write.

I’ve led in ministry for 16 years and I’ve written goals every year.

Personal growth goals.

Professional growth goals.

Fitness goals.

Spiritual-discipline goals.

Leader-development goals.

All for the purpose of posturing myself to grow.

I’ve learned in recent years how to write more effective goals. Ones that are measurable and closely aligned with Organizational values so they truly advance us toward our mission.

[bctt tweet=”Effective goals are measurable & closely aligned w/ Organizational values.”]

But this past year, our team has refined our goal setting to a greater degree.

Like turning the dial up, the format we are using can increase focus and accountability 10-fold.

And it’s uncomfortably exciting.

Taken from the methodology taught by the Studer Group, goals are written in a very specific way.

They include:

  • an intentional action (i.e. Increase, Decrease or Maintain)
  • what you want to measure (i.e. team collaboration)
  • from (current performance; i.e. 5.3)
  • to (target performance; i.e. 7.5)
  • by what time period (i.e. weekly, monthly, annually)
  • by what measuring tool (i.e. Collaboration Survey)

Here’s an example of a completed goal statement:

Increase Employee Engagement from 5.3 to 7.5 by 4th Quarter 2016 as measured by Employee Engagement Survey.

The way in which the goal is stated is specific as to what I want to grow (Employee Engagement), by how much I want to grow (>2 points), when I want to achieve this (4th quarter next year), and how I plan to measure.

Here’s what I like about this format:

It’s so clear what I set out to achieve. There is no ambiguity. Time has taught me the value of clarity. In the past I preferred goals that left a lot of ‘wiggle’ room so I could adjust as the year progressed. But using language that creates ‘wiggle’ room can produce a goal that is so broad, you’re not sure you’ve achieved.

[bctt tweet=”Language that offers ‘wiggle’ room produces a goal so broad, you’re not sure if you achieve it.”]

The goal targets the desired outcome without defining the process. I’m left with the freedom to maneuver and adjust as the year progresses. If one action doesn’t score points on the board, I have the freedom to adjust my tactics and try something different.

In the past, I’ve been known to make a tactic my goal. i.e. Increase brainstorming sessions with Creative Team. Yet tactics are intended to achieve a greater end (i.e. increasing collaboration among the team) which achieves a greater outcome… Engagement. And ultimately, it’s the greater outcome that I want to accomplish, not the tactic.

Understanding the difference between a goal and a tactic is where I’m still deep within the learning curve. But I’ve enjoyed this process, nonetheless.

How do you form your goal statements? And how effective have they been moving you closer to your mission?

Want to know how to turn the up on effectiveness? Check my next post on prioritizing your goals.

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Leading Through Confrontation

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry

In some ministry circles I’ve had the opportunity to lead teaching sessions on the topic of confrontation. Though it’s the worst title you can imagine, I’ve always wanted to write a book titled…

The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation

I thoroughly enjoy this conversation primarily because no matter the context, no matter the size, no matter the organizational structure… leading through conflict is one of the most important things we do.

I believe there are 3 reasons why you would choose to lean into conflict rather than step back from it.  And there are 4 steps I use to lead through conflict.  I believe everyone can be a better leader by applying these simple steps.

But let’s start with the reasons why you would choose to lean in to conflict.

Reason #1:  The Value of Conflict

For years I viewed conflict as something God used to make me a better leader.  So every time I opted to step back or shy away from addressing a quarrel between team members, or poor communication between a parent & volunteer… I would internally berate myself for my lack of courage.  Then one day God lovingly convicted me.  These conflicts weren’t all about me.  But I was fighting hard to make them so.

“Could it be (He so gently tells me) that this conflict has more to do with them and a work I desire to complete in them?  You can join Me in My work or not.  But I am faithful to complete it and will use whomever is willing.”  

**Ouch**  That one hurt.  When I realized that my self-centeredness and tendency toward self-preservation was an active detriment to those around me it was incredibly convicting.  I viewed conflict through the wrong lens and that had to change.

Now the value of conflict all comes down to how I view those around me.  I begin with the belief that the people on my team, the volunteers in my ministry and the parents I serve simply want to be better… better team members, better parents, better volunteers, better Christ-followers, better (fill in the blank).  When I believe that (ultimately) the person in question wants to improve then I can leverage this conflict to help make them better.

Why?  Because scripture is clear:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  
Proverbs 27:17

“…that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”
Philippians 1:6

[bctt tweet=”Conflict holds great value in our life because it sharpens us and those around us.”] When we view conflict through this lens then we are more willing to lean into it.  God has a way of using circumstances to refine and strengthen our faith.  He is faithful this way.

Action Step:  Invest 5 minutes and take inventory of the conflict you currently have in your life.  Assuming that all parties involved (ultimately) want to be better… list positive outcomes that can result from addressing the conflict rather than ignoring it.  

Check out reason #2 for why you should lean into conflict.

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Stranger in the Locker Room

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Ministry

Don’t be a stranger in the locker room.

This piece of wisdom came from my boss, Chuck Carringer. (Chuck blogs here & tweets here. You’d benefit greatly from following his insightful thoughts.)

It’s a bit of wisdom I’m familiar with though never heard it phrased so well. You see, Chuck is a former basketball coach so leadership lessons in the form of coaching analogies are not unusual.

It simply means that by making it a point to be in the locker room, the players grow accustomed to your presence. As a ministry leader, my players are my volunteers. I rely heavily on a volunteer team to do the work of the ministry. And the quality of that work is contingent on the volunteer and their ability to take what I give them and execute.

And the best way for me to know how and if my volunteer is well equipped, is if I’m in the room.

Yet my presence in the room can make volunteers uncomfortable… if it’s unusual.

But if my presence in the room is part of my weekly routine… a routine volunteers are accustomed to… in fact, expecting. Then I have the privilege of seeing how a kidmin room actually runs. Within this reality, I can see where to focus training and equipping. I can see where volunteers are most effective in connecting with the kids. I can experience how engaged volunteers and kids truly are.

It’s easy to judge the effectiveness of the weekend based upon the large group portion of the hour. Yet if you don’t have presence in the small group segment, then you miss out on a significant element of the child’s experience.

I appreciated Chuck’s reminder of the value of our attention to this detail. If I’m a stranger in the locker room, I’m not positioned to speak into all aspects of the team.

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