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Posts Tagged "Leadership"

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.

Goals ensure that we steward our resources successfully. Click To Tweet

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.

Effective goals are measurable & closely aligned w/ Organizational values. Click To Tweet

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.

Language that offers 'wiggle' room produces a goal so broad, you're not sure if you achieve it. Click To Tweet

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

Conflict holds great value in our life because it sharpens us and those around us. Click To Tweet 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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Rules of Engagement for the Non-Confrontational

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry


I would argue that the most consistent skill that can make you or break you in any industry is your ability to work through conflict. In today’s market success hinges on your ability to work through conflict. Thsoe who fear it will avoid confrontation at all cost. While others are energized by it and therefore seek it out. Neither of these are the winning camps.

Although I might argue the benefits of a leader that generates a little conflict among their team, this conversation is centered around our natural tendencies toward or away from conflict.  Whether you find yourself in the former or that latter category, your willingness and ability to work through conflict is the very thing that can hold you back or propel you forward.  The direction is entirely up to you.


I believe every person CAN lead well through conflict by embracing the value of confrontation, the gift of collaboration and the price of humility.


The Value of Confrontation

Last week I was sitting in a meeting with a member of my team.  As we talked through some different ideas regarding our Preschool ministry and how we engage kids in our weekly Storytime I found myself getting more and more energized as we challenged each other’s thoughts.  It was an open dialog with agreements and disagreements.  I was challenged to think differently in some areas and more resolved in my stance in other areas.


My days are filled with conversations like this.  And I’m grateful for them.  They make me a better leader and they keep the ministry moving forward.  But I remember a day when I would avoid these conversations.  I didn’t want to be challenged in my thoughts and ideas.  I received them as personal digs on my ability or dissent of my vision.  I had this warped sense that if I was placed in charge then I should divinely have all the answers.  It wasn’t that I believed no one else should contribute ideas.  But that mine (of all of them) should not be dismissed.  If they were…. then what was I good for?  It wasn’t that I thought everyone should agree with me.  I just didn’t want them to tell me!


Needless to say, this is a poor way to lead a team.  And I paid dearly for it.  I could give multiple examples of conflict avoidance over the past decade. The longer I avoided conflict within my team, the more trust eroded.  It’s like skating on thin ice.  The ice will finally give and everyone standing on it gets soaked.


The thing that never changes about hard conversations is that they’re hard.  Plain and simple.  I don’t think they ever cease to be hard.  Whether you’re pitching and idea, producing a solution or offering up guidance we’re relatively attached to our own thoughts.  We like them.  Which is why we present them.  To have them shot down or dismissed can sting.  But you can get accustomed to the sting over time.  In fact, I believe you can learn to embrace the sting.


Because the benefit of confrontation far outweighs the negatives.  When people are free to express their thoughts in the safety of a collaborative environment you get more contributions.  When you have more thoughts contributed you find better solutions.  When you find better solutions the teamwork mentality increases.  The momentum you gain is like a drug… and you can’t get enough of it.


Here’s a great exercise.  Ask yourself this question…

What stops me from embracing confrontation?


Take a minute and write out the words, phrases/thoughts that come to mind.  Don’t attempt to structure.  Just write.  This is strictly for your benefit.  When the thoughts stop you stop.  Then put it away for 24 hours.  At the end of 24 hours, pull out that piece of paper and read it again.  Look for common themes/words.


Then ask yourself this question…

What could happen if I embrace confrontation?


Again, scribble out your thoughts.  Single words or complete phrases… doesn’t matter.  Just write.  When you’re done compare the two pages.


As you lead over time your team will reflect your leadership.  Which page do want to be the testimony of your team?


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Discernment vs Skepticism – my leadership snare

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Leadership


Sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. And my skeptical attitude is almost always the culprit.

I’m the first to confess… I can be more of a skeptic than a discerner.  And that’s a humbling truth.

The act of discernment is simply recognizing something by sight or other sense. And since discernment is not my greatest strength, I’ve learned that I need to surround myself with those that have stronger discernment than me. Doing so has proven to be extremely beneficial in my leadership.

But I’ve learned over the years that there is a difference between discernment and skepticism. Discernment is a valuable filter. Skepticism is a dangerous snare.

Discernment reveals facts.

Skepticism reveals opinion.

Discernment questions to discover truth.

Skepticism questions to prove fallibility.


Discernment is motivated by truth. Skepticism is motivated by self-preservation. Click To Tweet

I confess that I can be a skeptic. And I see how it hinders my ability to lead myself and those around me. But how do I break free of my skeptic tendencies and allow the more valuable gift of discernment to surface?

I think it begins with a healthy self-inventory. Am I willing to…

Focus on Facts
Skepticism is based upon unrelated or incomplete facts. Am I willing to withhold judgment until all facts are revealed? Am I willing to assume the best in the absence of all the facts? Am I willing to refrain from filling in the gaps with opinion or conjecture? I’m better served and a better leader when I choose to focus only on the facts as they reveal themselves and refrain from clinging to my own opinion.

Trust First
I’m better when I choose to trust until someone has proven themselves not to be trustworthy. There’s no reason to assume ill-intent unless the facts reveal it. That’s the interesting thing about discernment. It reveals motives.

Elevate Someone Else
I can't fully support someone when my goal is to be better than they are. Click To Tweet

I want to truly help those around me win. If that’s the case, I have to set aside my own self-preserving desire to beat them to the punch. I have to be willing to elevate their needs above my own. I have to remember that when I help them win, I win too.

Walking that fine line between discernment and skepticism isn’t always clear. But I’ve found that when I cross the line toward skepticism, it always boils down to my own motivations. When I keep my self-serving motives in check, skepticism is held at bay. When I don’t… skepticism takes over and my leadership is hindered.

What about you? How does skepticism creep into your leadership?

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