11 New Books I Highly Recommend

Here are a few new leadership books from friends that I highly recommend:

1. Yes or No- by Jeff Shinabarger

2. Unstoppable- by Christine Caine

3. Row for Freedom- by Julia Immonen

4. The Best Yes- by Lysa TerKeurst 

5. Overrated- by Eugene Cho

6. Be the Message- by Kerry Shook 

7. Jesus Prom- by Jon Weece

8. Addicted to Busy- by Brady Boyd

9. Life with a Capital L- by Matt Heard

10. The Sticky Faith Guide For Your Family- by Kara Powell

11. Life on Mission- by Aaron Coe 

Leaders Take the First Step in Relationships

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Reach out First. Take the first step.

Most of us aren’t “experts” at relationships. Whether dealing with family, friends, co-workers, new acquaintances, or team members, we are all guilty of coming up short. It seems like every day I goof up in the way I relate, communicate, and lead.

I’m sure this scenario applies to you right now, or will soon. A business deal gone bad. A conversation that was really tense. A mis-spoken word or hurtful phrase- either directed towards you or from you. Gossip behind your back that you know about, and so does the person who said it. Disagreements turned into frustration and now no communication. A confrontational conversation with a close friend that leaves both hesitant to talk.

Are there folks in your life right now who you are at odds with? Here are two thoughts on how to “restore” healthy and harmonious relationships with those around us.

1. Reach out first- don’t wait on someone else to move toward you. Go ahead and confess, apologize, bring it up, or start the conversation. Even if you are not at fault. You need to lean in and reach out and move across the “center aisle” and intentionally make amends.

2. Move on- Don’t hang on to something just so you can hold it over someone’s head. Let it go. Restore the relationship, and restart the relationship immediately.

3. Get better- continue to work on living and leading at peace with those around you. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Establish a healthy routine of daily reaching out and daily vulnerability. Make sure you are progressing and improving and not allowing relationships to get to points where you have to be intentional about mending them.

10 mid week Thoughts for Leaders

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1. Learn it, relearn it, and then learn it again. Just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you quit learning. Be a lifelong learner.

2. Being an “expert” is quickly fading in the current culture. Everyone is an expert these days because of technology and connectivity. Don’t put your hope in being an expert, since now more than ever there is someone else who knows way more than you do. Just constantly get better. Improve daily.

3. We have to reclaim a sense of Biblical understanding, wisdom and practice. Our Biblical illiteracy as a generation is staggering, sobering and frustrating. Gotta get back in the Word. This starts with pastors and Christian leaders embracing and constantly teaching the Scripture.

4. Humility rules.No explanation needed.

5. As always, making it happen and “shipping” as Seth Godin says is still an incredibly fashionable attribute. If you can execute on a project… if you can get things done…. if you can take an assignment and drive it to completion…. You’re still valued and incredibly needed.

6. Put the Xbox up, turn off facebook, get out a book (or your iPad), and start reading. Seriously.

7. Understand what you are FOR. Don’t be defined by what you are against, but instead by what you are for.

8. Embrace your role. No one said leadership is easy. Your job is to make decisions, including the difficult ones, and carry more responsibility than the rest of your team.

9. Stand on the stage, and take out the trash. Be willing to be the hero, as well as the servant.

10. Risk something today. Step out of your comfort zone, and lead with courage. Have that tough conversation, make that decision, push the team past the normal boundaries.

One of the Key Questions Smart Leaders Obsess Over

Succession Planning- a key area that smart leaders are thinking about and planning for.

One day your church will need a new pastor. One day your organization will need a new president. One day your charity will need a new executive director. Are you ready?

Whether you are a pastor, church staff, CEO or volunteer, you need to be thinking about the most important turning point your church or organization will have to face…who will lead when our current pastor/leader isn’t around anymore?

Many church leaders equate succession planning to retirement planning. However, smart church leaders realize that succession planning is much more than that.

I visited with my friend William Vanderbloemen who just wrote a book on the subject called Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, which is a church leader’s comprehensive guidebook to understanding what you can do now to prepare for the day your church faces a leadership transition.

Brad: Why is pastoral succession such an important issue for churches right now?

William: The big idea that drove writing this book was a single sentence I realized a few years ago: Every pastor is an interim pastor. Few pastors consider this truth, but unless they plan on leading their church after Jesus’ return, everyone in ministry will face the day when a successor takes over their church. But once you consider the inevitability of transition, and the chance a leader has to secure a legacy through a good succession, it quickly becomes the issue that smart leaders obsess over, no matter their age or stage of career.

Brad: I know many people equate succession planning with retirement planning. Is that really what succession planning is?

William: Not at all. Retirement is often only a final step in a series of pastoral successions. We found in our study that the average pastor will transition about three times in their career. Each of those transitions warrants a plan. Succession is when one senior leader intentionally transitions and hands over leadership to another. It is creating a plan for what will happen within the organization once you need a new leader, which every organization will face. Smart leaders realize that succession planning should start with pastors early in their tenure at their church. While retirement planning should be part of a healthy succession plan, a true succession plan encompasses a plan for any leadership transition reason, whether it is the pastor’s own decision, the board’s, or an unfortunate emergency situation.

Brad: What should young leaders, early on in their tenure, be thinking about now to start planning a successful succession?

William: When I was a young pastor, John Maxwell told me, “William, spend your younger years creating options for your later years.” I believe that more now than ever. The sooner you start laying out a succession plan, the more options you create for your future.

I’d particularly point young leaders to Chapter 2 of Next. It lays out “The Ten Commandments of Succession Planning,” which is a checklist of steps that young leaders need to be doing now to prepare themselves and their church for a successful leadership transition.

One of those steps is setting a healthy pace for the long run by establishing regular sabbaticals and being part of an accountability group. Too many successions happen on the heels of a moral or financial failure because the pastors were tired and didn’t have anyone to talk to about their personal fatigue.

Another step is that church leaders need to prepare an emergency envelope for what would happen if an emergency happened and the pastor couldn’t fill the pulpit on Sunday.

Check out chapter 2 of the book for all ten steps of what you should be doing now to prepare your succession plan.

Brad: Tell me more about the hundreds of interviews you and your co-author Warren Bird from Leadership Network did for research on the book. What was the most surprising trend you found?

William: Great question, Brad. It’s one that I’m asked quite a bit. There are a whole lot of surprises that we found, but two trends come to mind. First, I never realized how much of a good succession rises and falls on the outgoing pastor’s spouse. There are a number of great stories in the book that highlight this. Smart churches will pay attention to that dynamic and find ways to address it as they face transitions.

Secondly, I was shocked to see the average ages of the pastors of the largest churches in the country. There are some great infographics and tables in the book with that sort of information. Seeing it laid out in one spot convinced me that succession planning is a looming crisis for the church.

Thanks, William! This is a topic that every leader needs to start thinking, talking, even obsessing about. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

Order Next: Pastoral Succession That Works now at NextPastor.com for you, your church staff, and your church board.

8 Important Roles for your Board of Directors

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Many of us deal with a board of directors, especially in the non-profit arena. I serve on a couple of boards for ministries I am involved with. Being on a board can be a great experience, both for the board member and for the executive director/president. It can also be incredibly frustrating and taxing, especially to the leader in charge of the organization.

So thought I would provide a few points here on the role of a board member, and the overall role and responsibility of a Board of Directors, specifically as it relates to non-profit charities or ministries:

1. Give, get, or get off- give money, go get some money, or get off the bus. You have to help the organization thrive financially.

2. One employee, one customer- sole focus of the board is the role and responsibility of the executive director/president of the organization. Don’t mess with the rest of the team. It’s not the role of  the board.

3. Health and stability- take care of your executive director and make sure they are healthy and stable. Their sense of well being is your responsibility.

4. Be a friend, and advocate- while the board should only focus on the role of the executive director/president, that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with the rest of the staff. Friendship is important, and so is advocacy. Be a cheerleader, and a fan of the team.

5. Carry the vision-  own the vision of the organization. It can’t just be owned by the visionary or founder.

6. Stay in your strengths- make sure the board members are operating in their areas of strength. In their areas of interest and focus. Not just serving on a committee just for the committee’s sake.

7. Make connections- leverage your relationship network and folks you know for the good of the organization. Connect your friends, family and business associates.

8. Replace yourself- find other potential board members who can take your place. Succession and legacy are critical.

Young Influencers List, August edition

Here you go, the August edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.

1. Andy Mineo- NYC based hip hop artist, songwriter, producer and performer; part of the Reach Records family.

2. Heather Stevens- co-leader of “The Church and It’s 20 Somethings” project. And daughter of Tim Stevens…!!

3. Jerry Shen- co-founder of ELEO Conference, entrepreneur, creator of Fantasy Monster, and director of Engineering for Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

4. Thomas Lake- Atlanta based senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

5. Jeff Shaw- director of Out of Darkness, an anti human trafficking ministry, part of the Atlanta Dream Center.

6. Erika Kraus- founder of Haiti Transformed, and relief and development director at Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX, as well as Acts of Mercy International.

7. Brooklyn Lindsey- youth speaker, author, and youth/Saturday night campus pastor at Highland Park Church in Lakeland, FL

Tips for 1st Time in a Meeting

We’ve all been there. First time in a one on one meeting with your boss. First time in a brainstorming session. First time in a staff meeting. Whether your 1st meeting ever as a young intern, newly hired greenie, or seasoned pro who is new to the team, there are some keys to how you should approach the environment of a 1st time meeting.

1. Don’t try to be the expert. Reality is, you’re probably not. Make others in the room around you the expert.

2. Ask lots of questions. This is your entry point for any meeting, at any level. Good questions give you instant credibility. And many times are more strategic than the right answer.

3. Don’t feel like you have to give any answers. While asking good questions, don’t feel the need to provide answers in response.

4. Be curious and engaging. Look people in the eye. Engage with everyone around the table and in the room. Encourage others ideas.

5. Take a posture of learning. Take notes. Act like you’re in class. Be the most interested.

6. Get coffee. Or drinks. Or snacks. This shows you are okay with serving everyone else. Whether young or old, you’ve never too old or young to wait on others.

7. Act like you don’t belong, but work like you do. This is a good rule for any meeting, and your overall leadership in general.

9 Ways Your Leadership Should be Social

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It’s imperative that you are “social” in your leadership and influence today. A new reality exists, and as leaders we have to be not only aware of this, but also willing to jump in and embrace a new reality of Social engagement like never before.

Here are a few thoughts on Social Leadership:

1. Social Media = Influence. Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers, and Social media junkies are now the normal outlets to tap into for getting the word out. I’ve seen this the last few years with everything from new movies to new books to new conferences. These leaders are being sought out not just for their networks, but also for their endorsements. It’s a new era. Exponential influence in ways never seen before is happening through blogging, tweeting, instagramming, facebooking, pinteresting, etc. Digital mavens are shaping what we are listening to, reading, watching, and learning.

2. Social Entrepreneurs= A new wave of leaders has emerged. Leaders who combine business savvy with charitable endeavors and social innovation. Scott HarrisonCharles LeeBlake MycoskieJamie TworkowskiLaura Waters Hinson, Eugene ChoJeff ShinabargerKohl Crecelius and Jason Russell just to name a few.

3. Social Accountability- Leaders are constantly being evaluated in todays culture. You can’t hide anymore behind a position or title. Leaders are being held to a standard never seen before because of constant media- video, flip cameras, blogging, twitter. Your leadership has constant real-time evaluation. Especially well-known leaders. And Authenticity is crucial. Being honest, genuine and real is important for continual influence.

4. Social Good- it’s now in vogue to “do good.” And society in general is taking notice. Celebrities gain more influence because of causes they’re involved in. Businesses are “doing good” and focusing on the triple bottom line, which is now a normal measurement of success in business. Meaning what was our “gift back to society” and how did we “leave the world a better place.” It’s not just about making a profit anymore.

5. Social Politics in organizations is fading- Positional leadership doesn’t really matter anymore. Not about what position or title you hold, but more about what you are delivering. If you are executing and getting things done and creating value for the organization, your influence will have impact.

6. Creating a social “community” is now a norm, not an exception. A great example of this is Zappos, and the kind of culture that Tony Hsieh has created there. Employees enjoy being around each other, and take pride in a sense of family that exists within their company.

7. Flattening of the “social hierarchy of influence.” I can learn from all kinds of great leaders in todays culture, and not know them personally. I can also connect with well known leaders much easier than in the past through technology and social platforms. Information and inspiration has never been so readily available to us. When you follow someone on Twitter, you feel like you know them personally, even if they have hundreds of thousands of other “followers.”

8. Social Justice is not just a fad. Connected to #4, but my opinion is that especially within the Church/faith community, this shift towards the “living out” of the Gospel through justice and mercy is here to stay.

9. A new generation of employees expect a “social workplace.” This is a Reality of a new generation, according to Tim Elmore is his great book Generation iY :

Experiential- all about the 5 senses. Sensory engagement is critical and a reality in terms of what Millenials have grown up with and desire.

Participatory- want an experience to be customized. Millenials have grown up in a participatory culture. They don’t just listen, but actually want to participate. This is very important in terms of creating a work environment/team culture that is attractive to 20 somethings.

Image-Rich- all about pictures, video, large screens, large TV’s, high res pics on your phone, etc. Pictures/video are an incredibly powerful learning medium for Millenials, vs. just text. Especially in terms of memory.

Connected- information is constant for Millenials. Text, facebook, twitter, phone, email. This can be both a positive and a negative.