078: Key Learnings From Best Practices Conference [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

After going to the Best Practices for Ministry Conference, I realized I need to put my learnings into action. Here are a few key things I learned and that you can put into action as well. BTW, sorry for my voice on this episode :).

On This Episode.

Sorry for my voice, friends.  I picked up a nasty cold but still wanted to get the info to you.

I attended the Best Practices For Ministry conference in Phoenix and loved it!

I learned 10 ways to increase morale and motivation in my organization from Dr. John Reeb of The Colorado Leadership Institute (Crestcom).

I also learned that the 80-20 principle is a PRINCIPLE!  That means if you are a leader in a non-profit, 80 percent of the work gets done by 20 percent of the people and that’s okay!  Not everyone is always in the 20 percent.  Get the 20 percenters to see their role as serving the 80 percent.




062: 5 Leadership Lessons Learned From A King [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

5-leadership-lessons-from-a-king-001The famous story of Daniel in the lion’s den yields many life lessons. But there is another key player in the story through which we can learn good and faithful leadership.


King Darius. 

Leadership one…  His kingdom was too big for him to rule alone so he divided up his land and gave the oversight to 120 high officers.  Daniel 6:1

  • Disperse your leadership.

Leadership two… “The king also chose Daniel and two others as administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests.” Daniel 6:2 

  • Allow others to lead.

Leadership three… Darius was watching for up and coming leaders to whom he could give greater responsibility.    “Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.” Daniel 6:3 

  • Look for up and coming leaders and make a plan to challenge them into leadership.

Leadership four… Even though it was painful, Darius stuck to his decision. Daniel 6:7

  • Be consistent in your leadership.

Leadership five… He executed swift consequences for those who were not team players and threatened the team.  “Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den.” Daniel 6:24 

  • Don’t hesitate to do the right thing.

The only fault… Darius didn’t trust but verify…“We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions.”  Daniel 6:7 


055: How Leaders Set The Tone [Podcast} – Todd Stocker.com

how leaders set the tone podcast.001As a Leader, you set a tone.  Is it a positive, life-giving one or does it make those who follow deflate?  How do leaders set a positive tone?


I answer a question from Tina regarding social media boundaries

Setting the tone.  First let me tell you what that means, then share a story about my wife from whom I got this idea

Setting the tone means creating the environment around you that sets a particular mood.  This is a bit morbid, but when you walk in a funeral home, what is the mood that is usually there?  Somber.  

Counter that with the tone of an amusement park like Disneyland.  Bright colors, happy music, the characters walking the streets and there’s that song… “it’s a small world!”  Again it sets a tone. 

So let me tell you about what my wife does and how it dovetails with setting the tone.

My wife is a flight attendant and sometimes is lead.  She loves it!  Not because she’s the boss.  Not because she gets to hang out in first class.   But because she sets the tone for the flight even before they leave the crew room.   

She’s professional,  fun, and makes everyone feel confident and safe.

So how does she do it and how can we learn from her? 

  • Portrays confidence physically…  Stands tall
  • She has a positive attitude.  
  • Just verbally in the tone of her voice.
  • She’s encouraging to others…  
  • She believes that others have value and can do the job.

Basically, as lead, the other attendants and by extension the passengers trust Kellie because she believes in them.  

So in your leadership situation… At home, work, church, community….  What tone are you setting?   When you walk in the room, are people uplifted or a they brought down?  Do they trust you?

You want to set a positive, life giving tone no matter what your interactions. And it starts with you.  Make sure you stay healthy physically, emotionally spiritually.  Make sure you find time to reflect and recharge.  Make sure you are learning and growing in all areas of life and this will help set a tone that is positive, energetic and leads to success.  


041: CLOUT – A Success Necessity [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

influence-igniteflip-horizontalClout isn’t a word we use much anymore.  But understanding its meaning is critical in your leadership and personal success.  On this episode, I use the letters in ‘CLOUT’ as a checklist to develop influence in people around you.


Quote for today: “Imperfect action is way better than perfect procrastination!”

There are many words in the English language that were common just a generation ago that we really don’t use anymore.

  • – Loathe – a feeling of intense dislike or even hatred toward someone or something.
  • – Groovy – this is more slang.
  • – Clout – influence or power that one has especially in politics or business.

I began thinking, “what does a person need to have clout, to exercise influence in business?

Clout is a good acronym to answer the question, “What personal traits can I develop in order to have influence?”

  • Character – beliefs and convictions that are central to personal and corporate success.  Character is both descriptive (characteristics of something) but also a quality of excellence.
  • Leadership – personal leadership and professionally leadership.
  • Optimism – the unwavering ability to confirm reality and declare successful outcomes.
  • Uniqueness – in this case, not unique for the purpose of selling something.  It is a personal style.  There is a confidence in that person.
  • Tenacity – another word we don’t use all that much but it is the quality of being persistent.  focused.

Do you have clout meaning, influence?  If not, use these as a checklist.


040: Leadership Begins Below Your Waterline [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

ledership waterline.001If I were to ask you to describe someone you know that you thought was a great leader, what would you say? Most likely, you would describe that persons skills, style, personality, drive and a plethora of other characteristics. But leadership is more that what we see a person do. Leadership is who a person is.


There are two realities of leadership. The first has to do with the skills, strategy, and methods of leading or managing. It is what people see us do. Making decisions, casting vision, leading problem solving are all part of doing leadership.  The second has to do with the heart or character of a leader. They must first watch their own life. They must have control over their emotions, have a servant mindset and take time for solitude.

There have been times when I realize that this is what I was missing and what is the most important part of your leadership. In your mind, picture a sailboat. It is floating on the peaceful ocean a few feet from shore with seagulls hovering above it’s white, flowing mast. The shiny wood deck glistens from the soft morning mist and it’s riggings are ready to go. That was the scene me and 15 other men experienced the second morning of a leadership   workshop in Corpus Christi, TX. Part of the workshop was to have an “out of the box” experience, something that we’d normally not do. Our captain had been sailing since he was a kid and gave us basic instructions. Simply put, he said, “listen and do what I say… that’s it.” We headed out across the bay. Suddenly, the boat lurched to a stop cause most of us to instinctively grab hold of whatever or whomever was nearby. We had hit a submerged sandbar a few hundred yards of the coastline. Immediately, our captain began barking orders lest we tip and sink. He had us go to one side of the boat then the other, shifting the weight to pry us free from the underwater sand. He also had us jump on the count of three to force the weight down then up. It worked and we were off into the water.

Later, I spoke to the captain about the experience and he said that often times, sailors get caught up in looking at the sails but forget about the most important part of the ship. That “most-important” part is what they sometimes call the “guts.” That experience illustrates what good leadership is about. Long term effective leadership begins with what is not seen in public. It is what is beneath the waterline. It is the guts. It is what is inside. It can make or break you as a leader. The “guts” of your leadership needs to be weightier than what is on the outside. My captain said that without a good balance under the water, the ship is easily pushed over. In leadership you can take this truth to the bank. History has thousands of illustrations of fallen leaders. Fallen not because of being externally out-pace, but internally weak. Often healthy leadership is hard to see. The boat metaphor makes me think that that is why we call it Leader-ship.

I was reading an article about a great leader named Dee Hock. He is the man who first conceived of a global system for the electronic exchange of value, becoming the founder and CEO of VISA International. In the article, Dee talks about the fatal move of first thinking about those whom you are leading. From many years of successful leadership he states, “The first and paramount responsibility of anyone who purports to manage is to manage self: one’s own integrity, character, ethics, knowledge, wisdom, temperament, words and acts.” He goes on to suggest that good leaders use a certain percentage of their time in leading oneself. “Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 25% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct.

Did you catch that? 25% managing his or herself so that they bring a full heart into their leadership responsibilities. Frank Vandersloot, Founder and CEO of The Melaleuca Wellness Company said, “You need to be a leader on all levels of your life.” Start with what’s beneath your waterline.

How do you do that?

  1. Practice Solitude.
  2. Discover your wiring.
  3. Continually seek to do first the wise thing.





039: Why People Pleasing Is Dangerous To Good Leadership [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

People-Pleaser-Door-Mat-leadershipMost leaders want to serve the best they can.  However, serving others and sacrificing core values, mission and vision is often the result of a people-pleaser mindset.  How do you balance both?


People pleasing is sometimes dangerous to good leadership.

“It’s an emotional trap when you start worrying about what other people think. You don’t have to please everybody any more than you can please everybody. It’s a myth to think that in order to be happy, you must be liked and approved of by everyone you meet.” Rick Warren, Saddleback Church.

Signs you might be a people pleaser from blogger, Jessica Dawson:

  • You crave for compliments. 
  • You want to be noticed.
  • You lie about your opinions.
  • You can never say no.
  • The opinion of others.
  • You sacrifice your own happiness
  • You hate confrontation. (I’ll add – you avoid confrontation. )

So how do you become stronger?  How can you be a servant leader without being a doormat?

  1. Keep the vision in mind.  Why does your organization/business/church exist?  What’s it’s mission?  Do you even know?  
  2. Slow down to make decisions.  Often people will want a snap decision from you and, especially if you’re an I — you’ll make emotional decisions which often are not based on fact. Very rarely do you need to make a decision on the spot.  Slowing down helps you hit a reset button so you can ask the important questions like, “What is the implications if I say yes or no?”  “I’m I making this decision either way because I want to please someone else?”
  3. Say no more than yes.  It helps you focus and clarifies to others what you’re really about.

All in all good leadership is servant leadership.  Your heart should be to serve people but that doesn’t mean that giving everyone everything they want is serving.  


The Great Measure Of A Man – Todd Stocker.com

measure of a manI went to a funeral this week of a wonderful man who fell asleep at 90 years old.  This man was a pillar, literally.  Towering over most of us for most of his life, his stature was second only to his towering love for people.  Kent was all about relationships and would lay down his activities to dig into yours.   He would take his massive hands, envelop yours, look you straight in the eye (down into yours, actually) and ask, “How’s your life going?”

I met him when I first started working in a church.  We had coffee occasionally and talked about leadership, faith, organizational integrity and many other subjects.  Thinking back, I am realizing that while the conversations seemed random — topic du jour, if you will — Kent had an agenda; to make me better.  He did that to everyone, come to find out.

Making others better is a core value of a great life.  Pouring into others on whatever level the relationship allows is the spark plug in the engine of excellence.  Too often we focus solely on our needs and want — appropriate for living, actually.  Yet, we look down and in rather than up and out.  Slowly, we become unaware of the presence of others or unaccustomed to conversing with them.  Some call it the “Wall-E Bubble” syndrome.  (If you haven’t seen the animated movie than forget that last reference).

I learned from Kent and the hundreds of people who celebrated his life that day.  The great measure of a man is not in the size of his boots or the depth of his wallet.  It is in the lives upon which he has a positive impression [tweet that].  That’s the Jesus-way and I, for one, am grateful to have know him.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13


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016: The Best Personal Leadership Question To Ask In Difficult Times – Todd Stocker.com

LeadershipWhat is your first thought when life gets difficult.  When that project fails or you get sick or you run out of month at the end of the money.  This one personal leadership question could completely change your perspective.


How do you deal with sudden loss or failure or frustration. it happens every week if not every day.

For me, often my gut reaction to frustrations in life isn’t my best option.  There have been plenty of times when I was late for an appointment because of traffic, or I started in on a project at home that I thought would take an hour and it took 4 days to complete.

Or if you’re in the work world, your boss piles on an extra project right before the weekend or you get laid off from your job or something changes in your market that forces you to reevaluate how you do business.

A friend of mine was in the jewelry industry, providing the fittings you see for rings and such.  Back in the mid 2000’s that industry started to slip — as did many others — when the economy went down the tubes.  What did they do?  They asked questions.

When trials strike, there are 3 questions we ask in the struggle:

Why, How, What.

  • Why did this happen?  Why did a simple home project take me all day when it should’ve taken an hour?  The why questions seek explanation.
  • How is it affecting me? This hits your emotions.  I just lost my job and it’s affecting my feelings of self worth, it’s affecting my financial situation or its affecting my daily schedule.  E.g. now I have to find a job. The how questions seek clarification.
  • What do I do now?  This isn’t a bad question (in fact none of these are) because this ‘what’ question at least keeps you from getting stuck in a failure and seeks to resolve any problem that has happened. The what question seeks motivation.

But there is a 4th question — a better ‘what’ question, that takes you to the next level as you push through the challenge, failure or frustration you just experience.

Before I tell you what it is I want to tell you where I heard it.

One of the many podcasts I listen to — Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership.  Last year, in passing, he mentioned a question his wife asks whenever frustrations come into her life.  I wanted to remember it back then but forgot until this week’s podcast.

This is the question we all should ask: 

“What does this make possible?”

You see how this is a great question? It changes your mindset and attitude from focussing on why the trial happened and gets you to look forward to get you through the initial shock but on the potential side of the event or the change that you’re experiencing.

While the why questions seek explanation, the how question seek clarification, and the first what question seeks motivation, the “what does this make possible” question give inspiration because you’re inspired to look on the positive or solution side of the event without negating the event itself. 

Listen, you never want to pretend the event, the failure, the frustration never happened — that’s denial.  The best thing to do is acknowledge it happened, quickly as why, how and the first what, but then ask “what does this make possible.”

For my buddies, they didn’t need to know why the industry was changing, they already knew: the economy was bad.  They knew how it was affecting their business as their customer base was dwindling because their customers were hurting, and they knew what they needed to do in terms of making some hard staffing decisions, changing some vendors and the like.  But when they sat down and asked WHAT DOES THIS MAKE POSSIBLE, it opened up a floodgate of focused ideas.  They noticed that the part of their business was still stable and that was dealing with the scrap metal area.  They also noticed a hole in the market for smaller jewelers as the bigger scrap companies gave little customer service to them so they stepped in and embrace the local shops. Now 8 years later, the business is quadruple the revenue as it was before.

The question is reflective of a bible verse in James 1,

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

Even in the troubles of life, God says there is opportunity to grow as a person, to see new opportunities and to thrive.

A danger to this question is asking it at the wrong time.  Let’s say someone had a significant loss in their life.  Don’t ask it at the funeral home.

Whatever that struggle or obstacle you’re facing today might be, try asking yourself the question, “What does this event make possible in my company, in my family, … in my life?”


Go out and Take Back Your Life!


011: One Secret Of Good Leadership – Todd Stocker.com

Leadership is a precious gift to business, home and community. While there are different types of leaders, there is one secret that all good leaders have in common. That’s the topic today on The Take Back Your Life Podcast


I’ve been a leadership junkie for years.  Some of my favorite  Rory Vaden’s ‘Take the Stairs, Malcom Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ and my friend, John Nemo’s ‘Fired Up’.  (See below for links to these books).

Jim collins wrote ‘Good to Great’ and in it, he talks about 5 levels of leadership.  Here is a graphic to describe these levels:
Level 5 leadership — consists of the duality, some would consider to be paradoxical, of 2 key attributes:
  • Professional will —
  1. Creates superb results, a clear catalyst in the transition from good to great.
  2. Demonstrates an unwavering resolve to do whatever must be done to produce the best long-term results, no matter how difficult.
  3. Sets the standard of building an enduring great company; will settle for nothing less.
  4. Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
  • Personal humility —
  1. Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
  2. Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  3. Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even greater success in the next generation.
  4. Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company-to other people, external factors, and good luck.

This one — Personal Humility — I call selflessness.

Selfless doesn’t mean, being a milk toast, non decisive or strong leader.  Selfless means someone who is confident in their abilities, is a competent decision maker, but makes decisions based on what is best for the organization – OR for their family not themselves.

For example, Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffett and the greatest selfless leader of all time,  Jesus Christ.  Even if you’re not a religious person and I know many of you listening aren’t, If you read about what he taught and how he lived and ultimately what he sacrificed for the world…  selfless.  He would put himself in situations where he knew he was going to be ridiculed or his reputation would be scared, but he did it for the cause.  He did it for his mission and that was to find people who were broken and offer hope.  Ultimately, the offered his life so that people could be back in a relationship with God.

Think about your leadership…  I believe everyone is a leader.  And the first person you lead is yourself. Are you adding value to them or are you giving yourself praise?  When you go to work, are you only thinking of how it will benefit you are how you can used your gifts and talents to benefit the mission of your company and organization.

Remember that being a selfless leader is the highest goal of good leadership.  2 ways to begin to become a selfless leader.

  1. Honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses – confirming and admitting both. This will help give you the confidence and humility that selfless leaders exhibit.
  2. Always take the blame and give away the credit.

Remember that this takes time to develop.


What Wisdom Can Do For You

next_level_wisdom.001“What is Wisdom and why is it such a big deal?”

The music dribbles from the small black speakers that hide in the shadows of the exposed rafters of the coffee shop.  One young gal is in the corner, chewing on her pencil as she bounces from scanning the Chemistry 101 book in front of her to squinting at the screen that illuminates her fair-skinned cheeks.

There are several like her here.  Some studying out of duty.  Others seem to possess a deep thirst for mastery.  It forces me to ask, “Am I a learner?”

John Maxwell said that “All Leaders are Learners” and since I believe that everyone leads someone — even if it is only themselves — I hold firm that I must be on a constant hunt for wisdom.

Wisdom is greater than knowledge.  Wisdom takes facts and breathes life into them by adding experience.  Wisdom hides in the dry pages of books, film and local communal observation.  Wisdom is more precious than gold and understanding more desirous than silver (Proverbs 16:16).

So take knowledge, put it into action and wisdom is quick to follow.  Take advice, tips and learnings and apply them to life and understanding will soon appear.  Be a lifelong learner.  Learn, grow and give and wisdom is sure to take your life to the next level.



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Life Lessons from the Dominican Republic

Iphone Dominican 1739Most of the kids ran shoeless through the streets.  Many wore little more than a tattered T-shirt left by past missionaries who happened to stumble through a week of serving outside of their comfort-zones.  Consuelto, Dominican Republic by name,  this was the very tiny, incredibly poor village in which I spent last week trying to build relationships through language-less interactions.  I don’t speak Spanish, other than the obligatory “Gracias,” “Hola” and “Donde es Banios?”  However, one doesn’t need to be a linguist to learn some deep life lessons from this village that isn’t even on Google Maps:

  • People are people, no matter where you are in the world.  Part of my week involved hosting a kids club in which our team played games with the local children, taught them a story via use of a translator and did a craft.  The boys were squirrely, the girls fought for attention and they all smiled – a lot!  On other days, I climbed up on top of the little church that we were helping and worked with the locals to build and install a new roof.  They, like us, were telling jokes and goofing around among the hard work.  I couldn’t understand it all, but some of the jokes were, shall we say, earthy.  I laughed, figured out how I could add to the clean conversations and had an incredible experience!
  • Money isn’t everything.  What if you lived in a culture where there simply wasn’t money, or at the very least, very little of it?  Eventually, you realize that there are other aspects of life that add value in a deeper way than merely the monetary.  I noticed that generally many of the people in the village were happier than many people I know in the States.  Even though what I earn in one day equates to their yearly salary, they often found life more enriching through other venues of fulfillment.  Which brings me to the next life lesson.
  • Being in meaningful relationships brings life to life.  Some of us need many many friends.  Others of us need only a few.  All of us, no matter where we are in the world, were made to intersect with other people.  The conversations our team had via our interpreters highlighted this fact.  People talked about their love and concern for others and their desire to know more and more people.  In essence, people are designed to do life with other people.
  • Knowing you are loved, changes everything.   When people found out that our team paid to visit and work with them, they were utterly amazed.  They felt loved and it changed they way they viewed ‘Americanos’.  When we know we are loved, we are empowered to make positive life changes and then return that love back into the world.  We did a lot of hugging, laughing, and talking about Hope.  It communicated that our team loves this village, which we do.   My heart is still full thinking about the exchange of love.
  • Iphone Dominican 1718To grow, you need to do things in your gifted-zone but push outside your comfort-zone.  Your Creator has designed you in a certain and beautiful way.  You may be handy with a hammer but not so much with a conversation.  You may be great at leading people up front but not so great at lending a hand behind the scenes.  You need to find out your wiring!  That is your gifted zone.  But to feel fulfilled, you need to contribute based on those gifts but push outside what makes you comfortable.  For me, that was an integral life lesson that I’m bringing back to my ‘normal’ life.  (I have an inventory that helps people discover their style.  If you’re interested, click here)

If you’re interested in being involved in changing the world and being changed in the process, there are many organizations through which to do so.  The trip our team went on was through World Servants.  You can check out their opportunities by going to www.WorldServants.org.



What Might Be Happening When Your Leader Does Nothing

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 6.54.31 AMI was sitting at a stoplight waiting to turn right – 3rd in line.  The light turned green but the lead car didn’t move.  It just sat there. My brow furrow, thinking that the large SUV driver was on the phone or daydreaming or flipping radio stations.  However, I was more patient than the young man behind him, in front of me, who laid on the horn – first in short blasts, then in long drones.

Still the SUV didn’t move, green light and all.

As I watched and began to fume, from the front of the SUV, a young mom pushing a stroller that held a sleeping 2yr-old came into view, crossing past the SUV and onto the sidewalk.  The honking stopped.  All of us drivers exhaled and we realized that waiting was the smartest thing for the leader to do.  Had the leader charged ahead, tragedy would ensue.

If you’ve been in leadership, you know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to do nothing.  You can’t make a decision because you are needing to see what the market is going to do.  You have to wait on moving forward with an initiative because you don’t have the right people in place.  You hold back on saying ‘yes’ to one department because you know that it would decimate the goals of another.

Sometimes leaders have to wait.

The problem comes for those who are following – for those who don’t or can’t see the big picture.  We become upset with our leader and think that they are indecisive, lazy or afraid.  We ‘honk our horns’ in frustration and wonder why he or she won’t approve a spending request.  We become myopic in our quest to further that which has been entrusted to us.

If you’re in that situation, here are three questions to ask yourself if your leader seems to be doing nothing:

  1. Is there something that I’m not seeing that he is?  Maybe there is better option coming into view that I can’t see yet.
  2. If my leader moved forward right now, what other departments or people may be affected?  Maybe approving your venture would slow down or stop the off-shore team that is about to launch into a new area.
  3. What else can I do to cast vision about the importance of my initiative?  Maybe my leader doesn’t know what I need.

Of course there are leaders who are lazy or procrastinate unnecessarily, but unless there’s a pattern, always give them the benefit of the doubt.  In other words, lay off your horn.  

Add to the conversation by making a comment below … 



By the way, here is a video of what could have happened if the SUV when forward:  CLICK HERE.

How To Get Things Done Through Your Team

3003010-poster-942-how-official-getting-things-done-app-will-free-your-mind-and-empty-your-inboxesHave you ever been in a team meeting and there is a problem that someone identifies that your team agrees needs to be fixed.  Lot’s of ideas are thrown out and the conversation basically ends with a “yes, let’s work on that” and then nothing happens.  If you’re a leader, especially one that has a team with great ideas, this describes a pitfall that you want to watch for.  It is the lack of assignment to ideas that the team has decided to implement.  If other words, WHO is going to be the point person and WHEN is it going to come into reality.  This is especially true in a ministry setting with very little staff or volunteers.  (By the way, I’m still working on this one – ask my team!)

Let’s say your team thinks its a good idea to reorganize the look of the entry way of your welcome area.  The environment is outdated, cluttered and unorganized.  Everyone on your team says its a great idea and then dives into what should be done.  “I  think the couch should be on the right side wall instead of the left side,” one person says.  “I think if we take down that wall, it will feel more welcoming,” another says.  Again, everyone agrees that something needs to be done and begins to offer ideas.  They’ve jumped into the WHAT and even the HOW.

At this point, you as the leader, need to hijack the conversation and ask or assign the WHO and the WHEN before the conversation continues to spiral.  Who is going to take the lead on the remodel and when can we expect it to be accomplished (or at least a presentation of the next phase)?  You don’t assign the WHAT or HOW.  What needs to happen to the welcome area can then be a brainstorming session to expand the possibilities for the person in charge of that project.  How it happens is dependent upon the point person.  A good leader rarely, if ever, assigns the what and how unless it is critical to the functioning of the organization.

Now, the point person can take the suggestions, build his or her team and present an outline of the what, when and how.  I also suggest that the point person give a why statement that include a ‘so that’.  Using the above example, it could say something like “the purpose of this project is to update our welcome area so that our clients and employees are inspired when they encounter our company during the day.”




2 Lessons Learned From the Popes Resignation

There can be a fine line between a leader and a dictator.  A leader serves others.  A dictator serves themselves.  The former is how I would describe the actions of Pope Benedict XVI who made the historic move to step down from the highest office in the Catholic Church.  His reasons?  He felt his physical limitations kept him from serving in the role to which he was called.
I’m not a Catholic but I do admire the strength of decision in this physically frail man.  Here is what I can learn as a leader from the Popes action.

  1. Good leaders give those He leads advance notice of pending changes.  To the world, it appeared sudden but to the Pope’s leadership circles, they knew that this was coming.  One of the Cardinals a few clicks away from the Pope said that the Pontiff had mentioned several times within the last 6 months that the change was on the horizon.  This “holy heads up” gave the decision makers time to start the process of finding a replacement which should be named before Easter.
  2. Good leaders get out of the way if it is for the betterment of those whom they serve.  Like I said before, dictators serve only themselves.  If the Pope was dictatorial, we wouldn’t be talking about a resignation until funeral plans were being made. Humility is a key attribute in a good leader.

I applaud the Pope.  I honor his wisdom and I’ve learned from his decision and action.



What To Do When Your Lights Go Out

Superbowl 47.  Stellar performances.  Great come backs. Manly squabbles on the field.  And yes, even a “lights out” moment that changes the energy of play.  During those 34 minutes, the coaches on both sides instructed their teams to do four things while they waited in half darkness.  What the coaches told them applies you personally and if you’re leading a team.

Superbowl 2013

  1. Accept that you’re not always control – The opposing coaches (who happen to be brothers) were frantically trying to get information about what was going on but knew that there was nothing they could do to change the situation.  They accepted the reality that sometimes stuff happens but to keep their focus where it needs to be.
  2. Keep your mind straight – Much of life is mental.  The coaches told their players to keep focused on what they were there to do – win the Big Game!  Coach Jim Harbaugh was overheard going from player to player saying, “Keep your mind straight!”  His players knew what that meant and they did whatever they needed to protect their thoughts from wandering off mission.
  3. Keep moving – Both sides of the field had players laying on the turf, stretching, squatting and jogging to keep limber.  The worst thing for any team in the middle of darkness is to let laziness and status quo slip in.
  4. Stay together – They were in groups as they waiting.  Talking.  Processing.  Looking over past plays.  But each team stayed together as they huddled under a half lit dome.  They kept encouraging each other by repeating the above three actions: Accept that you’re not always in control, Keep your mind straight, Keep moving.

That is what good coaching and leadership is about.  That is what teams do.  That is what makes for success in the midst of darkness.