10 Alignment Problems That Can Stall Your Church

Post by Scott Cochrane

You don’t have to know a lot about cars to be able to tell when your vehicle has an alignment problem.

One of the first signs can be when your car starts to drift to the side.

And you know that, left unattended, this could lead to serious and expensive damage later on.

Similarly, your church can experience misalignment which, left unchecked, can lead to serious problems; lack of momentum, mis-directed leadership energy, lack of unity on the staff or even people leaving the church in a huff.

Instead of moving your church forward, your church can start to drift sideways.

The good news is that, if you catch the symptoms early enough, you can take corrective measures to keep things on course.

In my years as an executive pastor of a large church, and in my years working with hundreds of churches, these are what I have found to be the top 10 alignment problems that can stall your church:

  1. In meetings, lead team members only seem to discuss their own ministries.
  2. Proposed ministry plans and budgets bear little resemblance to the agreed direction of the church.
  3. The look and feel of the branding for various ministries in your church look nothing like the look & feel of the church brand.
  4. The vision statement for your church is strangely absent from any promotional materials for the various ministries.
  5. Each ministry has its own positioning statement.
  6. Increasingly, squabbles seem to be breaking out between ministries over space allocation in the facility.
  7. There are doctrinal inconsistencies among the ministries.
  8. Age-specific ministry events are so randomly scheduled, a family would never be able to be home together during the week.
  9. Ministries collect their own offerings to support their own projects.
  10. Each ministry has its own posted “Vision and Values”, completely disconnected from the church’s vision and values.

Getting your church back into alignment requires constantly reinforcing church-wide vision, values and strategies.

Realignment will take some time, but if you keep at it you will see increased alignment appear.

And you just may avoid a pretty messy wreck down the road.

How do you keep your church ministries aligned?

Scott Cochrane is the Vice President of International at Willow Creek Association. Loves Jesus, Nora, Adam, Amy and John. Football and hockey further down the list. Follow Scott on Twitter: @WScottCochrane

If We Care About Anything

Over twenty years ago, in 1995, Bill Hybels stood in front of a crowd for the first Leadership Summit.

Today, the message is still relevant, and twenty years later, 170,000+ leaders around the world have caught the vision, taken intentional steps, and are developing their leadership annually at The Global Leadership Summit.

“I think the subject matter we are devoting our next few days to, is singularly one of the most important priorities that we could be paying attention to these days. If we care about anything…if we care about our families, if we care about our churches, if we care about our businesses, if we care about our society…

…We Better Care About Leadership.”

-Bill Hybels

 

What Leaders Won’t Do

Post by Patrick Lencioni

In the course of my career, I’ve always been amazed at what leaders will do for their organizations. So many founders and CEOs will spend countless late nights in the office, endure long and grueling business trips, even sacrifice their own financial resources, all to increase the likelihood, even slightly, that their enterprises will succeed. Sadly, these efforts often come at the expense of their health, their families and their sanity.

But the one thing that amazes me more than what leaders will do for their enterprises, is what they so often won’t do – endure emotional discomfort at work.

Though this may sound innocuous or obvious, there is nothing trivial about it. In fact, this determination to avoid emotional discomfort is the single most costly and surprising phenomenon I’ve witnessed in business during my career. And seen in its proper context, it’s pretty ridiculous. Let me explain by using an analogy.

Imagine that someone spilled a large cup of coffee in the lobby of a corporation’s building. The CEO certainly wouldn’t be expected to clean it up, and understandably so, given the value of his or her time and likely skill set. Asking a janitor to do the job would make more sense, and certainly wouldn’t provoke a complaint from that janitor who knows what his job entails.

But when a political or interpersonal mess occurs in an organization, there is no one more suited to clean it up quickly and efficiently, and eliminate the possibility of collateral damage, than the leader. Few would debate this. And yet, unlike the custodian, many leaders complain about having to do this part of their job, and in all too many cases they stand back and wait for the problem to go away, or for someone else to deal with it.

Why does this happen? Part of it has to do with the natural fear of conflict and accountability that I cover in some depth in my books The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage.

But I think some of it is related to a subtle, perhaps even subconscious, sense of entitlement among leaders.

Consider the most egregious example I’ve ever seen.

After a few mergers and acquisitions, the CEO of a large company had two direct reports on his leadership team with the same title. Neither was sure which of them was responsible for what their title indicated, though one of those executives was feeling particularly left out of the decision-making that he had been accustomed to before. For weeks he tried to schedule a meeting with the CEO – his boss – to clarify the situation, but he was turned away by the executive assistant again and again. Finally, he found himself sitting next to the CEO on a flight, determined, if not a little wary, of finally learning the fate of his career.

What happened is almost too strange to believe, but I promise I’m not making it up. The CEO put on headphones, closed his eyes, and spent the entire trip in silence, all to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with one of his direct reports, who eventually just left the organization.

Okay, I admit that this is a particularly preposterous example. But it is indicative of similar behaviors I’ve seen among many reasonable men and women, most of whom work close to the top of those organizations. Why do senior executives tend to avoid uncomfortable situations and conversations more than others? That’s where entitlement seems to come into play.

My sense is that, in addition to simply not enjoying conflict, senior executives often feel that they’ve earned the right to avoid the unpleasant parts of their work, the kind that they had to deal with earlier in their career. They’ve paid their dues on their way up the ladder, and are more than happy to delegate or abdicate parts of their jobs that they don’t enjoy, one of which is almost always having difficult, messy and emotional conversations.

In fact, I’m convinced that if you were to explain to aspiring executives that their job requires them to constantly address messy, uncomfortable interpersonal situations, many would opt out of that career path. Which would actually be a good thing.

The best organizations are the ones where leaders are expected to seek out – yes, seek out! – discomfort at work.

They find opportunities to enter the danger whenever they can, realizing that by doing so, they’ll accomplish three productive things. First, they’ll set an example for others to do the same. Second, they’ll improve their own level of “comfort with discomfort.” And most importantly, they’ll reduce the shelf life and impact of problems in their organizations.

Someday, perhaps the majority of leaders will come to realize that embracing discomfort is one of the key indicators of successful organizations. They’ll be too embarrassed to even consider letting a messy situation fester, knowing that it would be a simple matter of negligence to do so. Until then, for those organizations that teach their leaders to embrace discomfort, it remains an opportunity for differentiation and advantage.

Patrick Lencioni is the Founder and President of The Table Group as well as a Best-selling Author. He leads an organizational consulting firm that advises clients with ideas, products and services to improve teamwork, clarity and employee effectiveness. Continuously one of the most requested speakers, Patrick will be speaking again at The Global Leadership Summit August 8-9. Find out more HERE.

5 Characteristics of a Next-Level Leader

Re-Post by Scott Williams

There are many different thoughts or definitions of what a Next-Level Leader is or what that word-pairing actually means. In this post I will provide my personal definition of what a Next-Level Leader is, in addition to identifying 5 Characteristics of A Next-Level Leader.

The definition of a Next-Level Leader is this- A leader that not only elevates their personal leadership to the Next-Level, but elevates the leadership of their team members, peers and competition to the Next-Level. They challenge those around them to dream BIG. think BIGGER

Below are the 5 Characteristics of A Next-Level Leader, Next-Level Leaders always do these things:

1.) Challenge Things- They challenge things because they are supposed to be challenged. They not only challenge the thoughts/methods of their leaders, but they challenge their own methodology. They realize that their boss puts their pants on just like they do and embrace the fact that just because a person a supervisor doesn’t mean they are necessarily smarter or better leaders, or that they can’t add value to the conversation. Challenging things is not about being combative, but rather raising every-one’s leadership game to the Next-Level. It’s okay to respectfully disagree. Don’t get the willingness to challenge things confused with being obstinate.

2.) Ask The Right Questions- They always ask the right questions… They begin sentences with “What If?, Have You Ever Thought About?, This Might Sound Crazy, but do you think we can…”  Anytime they have the opportunity to sit down with a Next-Level Leader that they desire to learn from, they have a list of questions and not a list of answers. They take their leadership game to the Next-Level by asking the right questions.

3.) dream BIG- They are always dreaming and imagining.  Some of these dreams may seem to be a fairy-tale to some, but not to a Next-Level Leader. A Next-Level Leader will schedule an appointment to dream, they go to Starbucks and dream, they close their office door and dream, they take a vacation alone to do nothing but dream. They take their leadership game to the Next-Level by dreaming BIG, encouraging those around them to dream BIG, writing their dreams down and making those dreams a reality. They dream BIG. think BIGGER.

4.) Learners- They are always learning from: books, blogs, their industry, history, other industries, culture, failures, their followers, other Next-Level Leaders. They have a mantra something like Will Rogers’ Mantra (I never met a man I didn’t like) The Next-Level “I Never Met a Man, Woman or Situation that I didn’t learn from.” They elevate their leadership game to the next-level by realizing that learning is fundamental.

5.) Produce Next-Level Leaders- Next-Level Leaders produce Next-Level Leaders. Next-Level Leaders contribute to the world of leadership by truly caring about those that they lead and always developing Next-Level Leaders. They never confuse Management with Leadership.  Managers manage people and things… Next-Level Leaders produce other Next-Level Leaders.  Simply put: ”If You Are Not Developing and Producing Next-Level Leaders… You Are Not A Next Level Leader.” Next-Level leadership is not about how tall your tree can grow, but rather the type of fruit your tree can produce.

I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.“~Ralph Nader

What has been your experience working with a Next-Level Leaders? Share your thoughts on any of these 5 Characteristics or Share your definition of a Next-Level Leader.

View Scott’s original post HERE

Author, speaker, ideapreneur, international consultant and former LifeChurch.tv Pastor Scott Williams currently serves as the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions; a strategy firm which helps some of the largest churches, non-profits, and Fortune 100 companies with internal and external growth.

Do What He Didn’t Do

Post by: Chris Brown, Co-Senior Pastor and Teaching Pastor, North Coast Church

If anyone deserved to sleep in, he did.  After the long night he had been through, the extra couple hours of sleep would be a welcome relief.  Add to that the stress and constant strain that comes from starting up a new ministry, and I guarantee you that if I was him, I would have hit the snooze alarm repeatedly.  But it is what he did in the quiet of that early morning that screams out to the rest of us, burdened by the demands of ministry.  And it was what he didn’t do that begs us to follow in his wise footsteps.

The first chapter of Mark launches Jesus’ ministry with a flurry of preparation, teaching, miracles, and crowds.  But it is those four quiet verses in the midst of the chaos that resonate loudly into our reality.  Very early in the morning, long before dawn, Jesus sneaks away by himself to pray.  When his disciples eventually find him to let him know the town is looking for him, he tells the boys to pack up; it’s time to hit the road.

Have you ever caught that?  Better yet…have you ever copied that?  No, I’m not talking about the usual guilt trip we get from early bird introvert writers telling the rest of us that we will never lead like Jesus until we habitually wake up before dawn to pray and journal.  But did you get the part where Jesus deliberately turned his back on an entire crowd of people who brought their hurts and needs to him?  Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me, it’s right there in verses 35-38.

Can you imagine the disappointment, bitterness, and frustration of those who carried their sick loved ones through the dark of the night just to see Jesus, only to be told that he had quietly snuck out the back door?  The heartbreak of those who had finally found one hope of being physically, mentally, or spiritually whole again, but were then told that Jesus couldn’t find even one hour to fit them into his schedule?  So did Jesus still have a lot to learn about successful ministry as he began, or have we missed what he wanted to teach those of us in ministry through his own example?

Smack in the middle of the most successful ministry start of all time, Jesus takes four verses to show us the key to having great ministry, while keeping our sanity.  He clearly demonstrates for us that if we don’t set our personal agenda, the crowd will.  And doing what God has called you to do means that there will often be people who are frustrated and disappointed with you.  So we can either find out what we are called to do and do it, or we can set out to meet everyone’s needs.

Many of us fail to follow Jesus’ model of leadership in this area. We end up learning the hard way that we will either disappoint other people’s families, or our own.  Our heart for ministry causes us to see people like sheep without a shepherd, and we run to them, while neglecting the numerous other passages that show us how to run from them. As leaders we have to learn to live with low-level frustrations.  Not our own frustrations, but the reality that there will always be someone frustrated with us because we didn’t meet their needs on their timetable.

Seek to fulfill your calling, not your potential.  It is the only way you can end your chapter by saying “It is finished”, even though it seems like there is a whole lot left undone. Jesus left a lot undone, then departed in the midst of what looked like failure. But Christ knew better. He knew He had followed God’s priorities and accomplished God’s purposes, not the crowd’s.  We should aim our lives in the same direction…your family will praise you for it.

A pastor, passionate about developing communication skills in young leaders, who has the unique ability to bring biblical passages to life through narrative storytelling. As a 2013 Summit Faculty, Chris will share insights on a biblical leader in a way that is both fresh and compelling. Follow him on Twitter: @_chris_brown

6 Questions To Shape A Healthy Organizational Culture

Post by Tony Morgan

One of the three core areas of consultation that I provide to organizations is a staffing and structure review. Because we produce a custom structure for every organization, I don’t have any templates to share with you.

What I can offer, though, are several questions that shape how we arrive at our recommendations. Whether you are operating a church, non-profit or business, these same principles about creating a healthy structure will certainly apply.

  1. What is your strategy to accomplish your vision? We base the structure on the core strategy. One of the most frequent questions I get is can we review the staffing structure first? I never do that, because the ideal structure is always based on a clearly defined strategy. For organizations that have not clarified their strategy, we offer the StratOp process.
  2. What are the strengths of your current team? We review not only the roles people currently fill but also the way each person is wired up. We lean on Leading From Your Strengths for this. What are their gifts and skills? What are their experiences? How does their personality impact their contribution? What are they most passionate about? We try to make sure current staff are in a role that is a best fit for them and the organization.
  3. What’s the leadership capacity of people on the team? We pay attention to the 4 Stages of Leadership to determine who has the capacity to lead tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. There’s no assessment to determine leadership capacity. It’s all based on looking at how a leader has demonstrated leadership capacity in the past — that’s the best predictor of how they’ll live out their leadership role in the future.
  4. Have you developed a senior leadership team? No matter what size the organization, it’s never too early to begin establishing team-based leadership at the top of the organization. I, of course, shared my philosophy on this in my eBook, Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team.
  5. Does every program, service or product connect to the senior leadership team? In other words, nothing stands on its own. Particularly in churches, it’s not uncommon for ministries or programs to be independent and unconnected to the leadership team. Again, this is why we focus on making sure the structure supports the strategy.
  6. Does your structure support future growth? When we complete our staffing and structure review process, we typically recommend a future structure that would support the organization if it was twice its current size. This helps to identify future leadership gaps and begins to help the organization begin to prioritize leadership roles as financial resources become available. We want to help organizations begin to make decisions today that will influence their growth tomorrow.

There are a number of other factors we consider depending on the nature and size of the organization, but these six questions shape the foundation. Let me suggest, as well, that if you are in a high growth situation, you may need to review and adjust your structure every one to two years.

Still not sure where to go from here? Let us help you take your next steps.Let’s talk about how we can help you complete a staffing and structure review for your organization.

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of TonyMorganLive.com. He’s a consultant, leadership coach and writer who helps churches get unstuck and have a bigger impact.

Are Your Dreams Nightmares?

Post by Richard Burkey

Dreaming great dreams is one of the joys of leadership. But, what happens when real life obstacles threaten your dream? Even worse, what if your dream turns into a nightmare?

Every great leader with great dreams will have great obstacles. But the best leaders refuse to go into denial, learn from the challenges and choose to move forward. In fact, they embrace the negative results. Henry Cloud says it this way: “They hug them, fight the natural tendency of fight or flight and learn to flow.”

This is easily said by many and done by very few.

Why? Because it is a heavy task for the hand and the soul. How do you actually embrace nightmares when you feel called to a dream?

I’m learning that it means having the willingness to take the hard road (perhaps the least traveled road all) to the path where God leads. Great leaders with great dreams deal with their problems. It’s one reason why we’re called to lead. We must embrace reality and leverage problem solving by learning from the negative results and challenges we encounter.

We can also eat our problems for breakfast. I find this call to action and the following words from Dr. Henry Cloud encouraging for the least traveled road. Best to my fellow travelers and dreamers!

  1.   The only way out is through.
  2.  Profit comes as a result of facing problems, so doing it is a good thing, not a negative thing
  3.  Blame is the parking brake for improvement
  4.  No problems, no profit
  5. Let the Bad Stuff Go.

Richard Burkey is a lifelong learner and senior pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in La Mesa, California, where he has served since 1997. He is a LIFT course participant and learned about dealing with leadership challenges as part of the Leading for Results course, taught by Dr. Henry Cloud. This course, and others like the Leader’s Soul and Strategy for Transformation, begin next Monday, June 10. Register now.

 

20 Things You Need To STOP Doing…Right Now!

Post by Scott Williams

Below is a list of 20 Things You Need To STOP Doing… Right Now!

  • 1. Stop placing your job above your family.
  • 2. Stop doubting yourself.
  • 3. Stop believing the lies.
  • 4. Stop settling for second best.
  • 5. Stop procrastinating.
  • 6. Stop making excuses.
  • 7. Stop standing paralyzed in awe of the success of others.
  • 8. Stop tippy-toeing on that line of sin.
  • 9. Stop being consumed with what other people think.
  • 10. Stop waiting until tomorrow to do the things you can do today.
  • 11. Stop limiting your dreams. Dream BIG!
  • 12. Stop treating people how you don’t want to be treated.
  • 13. Stop worrying about what people think.
  • 14. Stop being quiet when you know your supposed to speak up.
  • 15. Stop trying to fit in, you were made to stand out.
  • 16. Stop focusing on others. Look in the mirror!
  • 17. Stop asking for permission.
  • 18. Stop giving the least to those that matter the most.
  • 19. Stop being scared of failure.
  • 20. Stop saying “I Can’t!” – Remember: Can’t never could!

Author, speaker, ideapreneur, international consultant and former LifeChurch.tv Pastor Scott Williams currently serves as the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions; a strategy firm which helps some of the largest churches, non-profits, and Fortune 100 companies with internal and external growth.

Is it better to be a Manager or a Leader?

Post by Jenni Catron

As a student of leadership, I’ve been wrestling with a question for some time…

What’s the real difference between management and leadership?

Leadership has become such a glamorized word in our culture.  It feels so much nicer and more inspiring than the often derogatory connotation that comes with the wordmanagement.

But the longer I study great leaders, the more I’m convinced that you can’t be a great leader without being a great manager.

Sometimes I feel like today’s leaders want the glory of being known as a great leader without the hard work of management.

Great leaders are great managers.

Let’s take a minute to look at some definitions:

leadership – an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction

to lead:

  • to go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort
  • to conduct by holding and guiding
  • to influence or induce; cause
  • to guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc.
  • to command or direct (an army or other large organization)
  • to go at the head of or in advance of (a procession, list, body, etc.)
manager:
  • a person who has control or direction of an institution, business, etc., or of a part, division, or phase of it.
  • a person who controls and manipulates resources and expenditures, as of a household.
to manage:
  • to bring about or succeed in accomplishing, sometimes despite difficulty or hardship
  • to take charge or care of
  • to handle, direct, govern, or control in action or use

Do you see the overlap and the complimentary themes?

Management is the method by which great leadership is executed.  The two go hand in hand.  Management is one of several important dimensions of leadership.

If you are trying to lead without the difficult work of management, you are going to find yourself floundering and frustrated.

Management takes a leader’s instincts and inspiration and puts action to it.

We’ve got to quit being afraid of management.  Management is the stewardship engine that drives leadership.

The eloquent use of management as an element of our leadership is a beautiful picture of influence as an art form.

How does the word management make you feel?

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.