Empower your team

Leaders: one of the key things you must ALWAYS do is empower your team. As I've learned over the years, most leaders at their core are control freaks, which is part of the reason they are successful. But we all must learn and recognize the need to empower those around us to succeed and do what they do well. Most leaders think they can do it all on their own, and many try, but ultimately in order to grow a successful organization that outlives the leader you have to empower those around you. Here are a few thoughts on Empowering your Team:

1. Give them the opportunity to make decisions, and don't second guess them. A lot of us as leaders are willing to allow our team members to make decisions, but want to step in as soon as we see something done differently than we would do. Don't make that mistake. It is totally demoralizing to your team.

2. Assign them responsibility by them owning key projects from START to FINISH. So once we allow team members to make key decisions, now we have to allow them to own projects and feel the responsibility of completion.

3. Fight for them. Whether it's standing up for them to your boss, or standing beside them and supporting them in a disagreement with a vendor, always take the stance of fighting for them and being willing to go to battle for them.

4. Encourage them. This is the one we so often forget. But can go the furthest in creating team chemistry, longevity, and commitment.

5. Counsel, coach and instruct. Not necessarily the same as encouragement. Great coaches do this well. They scream and you and make you better, while also putting their arm around you and giving you "ego biscuits" when needed. Two different parts of empowering, but both equally important. Instruction is key for releasing again and assigning more responsibility.

6. Overwhelm them. Not on a continual basis, but ultimately your team members should constantly feel a bit overwhelmed by the projects or assignments they are working on, not underwhelmed. Many of their projects should cause them to feel like they are not prepared or ready. If they feel underwhelmed, they will probably end up looking elsewhere for greater assignments and more responsibility.

We Be Bowlin

Things were so busy I was not able to post anything all week except for earlier on Monday. But now I'm back! To those of you who might be checking out the blog for the first time, thanks for stopping by! And for those who are part of the regular family here, I''ll be back at it with hopefully value adding posts now that Catalyst week is over. Catalyst was an amazing time this past week. More on that in a post coming in a couple of days.

But we do like to have a little fun at Catalyst..... and one of the things that happened this year at Catalyst was a fun segment on what "bowlin" really looks like. Thanks to friends Tripp Crosby, Tyler Stanton, and Chris Tomlin, we have an even clearer picture on how the bowl cut is making it's way back to the top of the food chain in the hair fashion world.

Watch out America. The Bowl Cut is back. And coming to your city soon!


Catalyst Week- a few Tips

1. Arrive early- plan to arrive early on Thursday morning. around  6:45 am. We'll have lots of festivities happening and the Catalyst pre-show will be in full effect. 2. Attend Labs- There are still a few seats left for LABS on Wednesday. These are smaller and more interactive sessions. If you can come a day early make sure to be part of this labs day. You'll be able to register onsite at the Convention Center. Registration begins at 11:00 am on Wednesday for LABS.

3. Lab session recommendations- There are lots of lab speakers that you will know well. But there might be a few that you don't recognize their names or are not familiar with what they do. A few thoughts on some of the lab sessions that might be "less known" but highly recommended:

**DISCLAIMER**: this doesn't mean that I am NOT recommending other LAB Speakers. Just wanted to highlight a few that you may not know about or be aware of. These are "under the radar."

Chris and Phileena Heuertz- Chris and Phileena are co-directors of Word Made Flesh, and doing amazing work all over the world in taking care and living in community with the poorest of the poor . Jeremy Cowart, Zach Williams, and Laura Waters Hinson- a panel discussion with three influential and talented "storytellers" in film, music, and art. Eric Mason- Eric is co-founder and Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. If you are interested in missional engagement in an urban context, Eric is one of the leading voices in the world. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson- Tyler is leading the Two Futures Project, and will discuss our role as Christians in engaging important issues many of us don't think of normally, like the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Jo Saxton- Jo is a leadership coach with 3DM, and has a great perspective and pulse on missional community and leadership. Plus she's British!

4. Catalyst Backstage- our hosts will be Brian Wurzell, Shauna Niequist, Jon Acuff and Carlos Whittaker. It's gonna be a blast. If you can't be here in Atlanta with us, then make sure to stay up with all that is going on through the Catalyst Backstage Experience. Speaker interviews, live look-ins, experience moments, etc. The Backstage experience will begin at 1:30 pm EST on Wednesday afternoon, and run all day on Thursday and Friday.

5. Stay connected- Follow Catalyst on Twitter, Text CATALYST to 68398 to join the Catalyst mobile community, and download the Catalyst iphone App.

6. Roadtrip- listen to the latest Catalyst podcast Roadtrip edition as you make your way to Atlanta on Wednesday or Thursday morning. Lots of tips, fun, a check-in with Perry Noble, and Tripp, Tyler, Carlos and Ken adding commentary and fun!

Ambition: Right or wrong

Ambition...... Right or wrong?? 1. Ambition, at its core, is a good thing. God wires us with ambition that allows us to achieve and be great.

2. But ambition can quickly become a negative characteristic if not properly channeled and Biblically stewarded.

3. Confident vs Prideful. Pride is never a good thing. It will take on a life of its own if you allow pride to become the way you do what you do. Confidence is positive, and goes along with correct ambition.

4. Above all else, put on humility. Being humble along with ambitious is the right combination. Humility allows you to seek success with a proper mindset.

5. The very way you are wired works against this- Those of us who are wired with a strong sense of ambition fight against our own identity all the time. One of  the keys for properly channeling your ambition is to have people around you who will tell you what you may not want to hear. Trusted friends and advisors who are honest and authentic with you.

6. put up guardrails and boundaries- besides having friends and advisors, we should also create systems that help us control and channel our ambition correctly. For example, many leaders who are ambitious tend to work way too much. So establishing a system for a proper sabbath is crucial for those of us who are overly ambitious.

The Next Christians

My great friend Gabe Lyons has a new book coming out next week, and I want to make sure everyone knows about it.

The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America exposes a whole movement of Christians whom he calls "Restorers"- Evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Orthodox, Pentecostals, Catholics, and others- who desire to be a force for restoration even as they proclaim the Christian Gospel. This group of Next Christians wants the label "Christian" to mean something good, intelligent, authentic, and beautiful.

You need to buy this book. Gabe has a perspective that is fresh and authentic. As another good friend Scot McKnight said "If I had to pick one leader for the next generation for Christians, it would be Gabe Lyons. If I had to pick one chapter from the book, it would be "Relearning Restoration." If I had to pick one sentence it would be this: Christ didn't come only to save us "from something. He wanted to save Christians to something." Gabe Lyons gets it. Restoration is the vision for the Next Christians and I'm cheering them on."

Agreed. I'm excited about this book. I'm excited because I know how much time, energy, sweat and tears Gabe has put into this book. But also because I believe this is a book about hope, and talks specifically of my peers who are living out the Gospel as Christ followers in ways that are truly restoring our place in culture. In a way that is inspiring, engaging, restorative, and Christ-like.

The Next Christians combines current-day models and relevant research with stories of a new generation of Christian leaders. If you are worried by what you see transpiring around you, this book will take you on a surprising social exploration that will restore confidence in your faith and the faith of our generation.

I highly recommend you buy this book, and then buy it for your entire team.

You can hear Gabe next week at Catalyst talking about The Next Christians. I can't wait!

What's Your Standard?

We all have standards. Standards for the way we work, the way we dress, the way we communicate, the way we interact, the way we get things done, the way we lead, etc. So here's a few thoughts on setting your standards:

1. A higher Standard. As leaders, we are called to a higher standard. And as followers of Christ, an even higher standard. Set your standards so high that it may seem impossible to reach them.

2. God demands and expects excellence from us. It drives me crazy when I see something done without excellence but with the excuse of "well its okay because our intentions are good." Nope. Not good enough. Our God deserves our very best. Always. We should never use our faith as an excuse for being average. Our faith should drive us to be excellent in all things.

3. Average is not good enough. Average is easy. But it's a constant battle to be great. It's hard, or otherwise everyone would be great.

4. Learn from the best. Comparing yourself to others just like you won't challenge you or make you improve. Compare yourself to the best. Both inside and outside your industry. Learn from others who are better.

5. Expect to be excellent. Can you say that you or your team are "the best in the world at what you do?" If the answer is no, then why not?

6. Set the tone. If you want your team to reach for the highest level and strive for excellence, you first have to set the example. I hear this from leaders all the time.... "well, my team is just not committed to making things great." The question is are YOU committed to making things great and setting the tone and standard for your team. It has to begin with you.

7. Reality is real. If you can't achieve greatness and the standard you have set, then figure out why. Maybe you just don't have the team to pull it off. Or operationally it's just not possible. Understand your reality, make adjustments, and then execute. Don't get stuck in the blame game. Make adjustments and keep striving.

When You Were 10

When you were 10 years old, what were you dreaming about? What did you want to be? What consumed your thoughts? For me, a few things:

1. I wanted to be able to do a cherry picker on a bmx bike.

2. I wanted to beat Seminole in elementary football.

3. I wanted to marry Robyn Repass when we both turned 18.

4. I wanted to fly in an airplane for the first time.

5. I wanted to get over 100K points on Pitfall on Atari. Remember you had to send a picture in of the TV screen showing your point total to become part of the Pitfall Club.

6. I wanted to go on long vacation road trips with my family in our brown pimped out customized Scooby Doo like Van. Complete with the paneling on the walls and a refrigerator. I'm not kidding! BAM!

7. I wanted our high school football team to win the State Championship because my dad coached and I knew all the players. We made it to the state finals that year.

8. I wanted to someday be as cool as Ricky Shroder on Silver Spoons. In the meantime I would just dress like him and have my hair cut like him.

9. I wanted to not be scared of storms. I was petrified of storms- if there were storm clouds in the sky, I would freak. It was horrible. True story.

10. I wanted to be a weatherman. So I could know exactly what was going on with storms and tornadoes. Just like Don Woods. The most famous weatherman ever in Tulsa, OK.

11. I wanted the Cold War between the US and Russia to end. There always seemed to be the threat of Russia invading, just like they did in the movie Red Dawn.

12. I wanted to win the 4th grade free throw shooting contest and the 4th grade spelling bee. Which I did. Proving my well-roundedness.....

The simplicity of being 10.....How about you?

Interview with Randall Wallace on New Secretariat Movie

I recently had the chance to sit down with Randall Wallace, director of the new film Secretariat. Randall is a highly respected writer, producer and director, having worked on notable films such as Braveheart, We Were Soldiers, and Pearl Harbor. Secretariat is his latest directing role, and we talk at length about the film as well as some of the leadership principles he sees as imperative. [vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/15285587[/vimeo]

In conjunction with Disney and Different Drummer, you can screen the film anytime in the next 10 days before it releases on October 7 through exclusive advance tickets. Here's how:

1. Go Here and click on "register."

2. Register your information.


4. Once you've filled out the information, then Select at top of page: "Find a Screening" and then select Secretariat

5. Choose one of the screening options and number of tickets requested.

Not all metro areas are included, so sorry if your city or regional area is not on the screening list. Regardless, this is a great film for the entire family, and I highly recommend it!

Running the Shelves at Saddleback

I was recently out at Saddleback Church for The Nines Leadership event. While there, I had the privilege of "Running the Library Shelves" in the Office at Saddleback. This is a long time tradition for guests to Saddleback, started by David Chrzan, Chief of Staff at Saddleback and longtime lieutenant to Rick. David is one of the few in the world who have ever made it down and back three times. What is considered "the Triple" among longtime shelf runners.....As you will see, I didn't even come close to that..... It's an amazing experience. Not quite like running with the bulls in Spain, but close!

Thanks to LV Hanson for filming and providing some high quality commentating.



A Few things on Friday

- Guitar Players needed for Catalyst Conference on October 7. Check out the post here with details. Contact Michelle.Hoeft@CatalystSpace.com if you are interested. - I was interviewed recently along with Ken Coleman for one of Focus on the Family's radio podcasts. You can listen here. Or here. It's Episode 137.

- New Catalyst Podcast features Anne Jackson and Scot McKnight. You can listen here or better yet, download from itunes.

- New book out by Steven Furtick: Sun Stand Still. Worth a purchase for sure!

- Amazing Video about iPad light painting.


- Stark County Treasurer. Awkward video clip. This is worth a watch. This guy is really passionate about the Stark County Treasurer position.


It's Not About You

I am always bothered by the person who continually just talks about themselves. The person who thinks that the world literally revolves around them. The person who constantly is worried about how things will affect them personally. They pretend to be interested in others, but really are only concerned with furthering their career or pushing their agenda. It's Not about You. Really. It's Not.

So here are a few thoughts on combating the "You" paradigm:

1. Be Selfless. Being Selfless is Biblical. It's Jesus focused, and Jesus centered. And it's a lifestyle. You can't just turn the selfless button on and off. You have to embrace it fully.

2. Fight against pride constantly. Pride is a Killer. It's a collaboration killer. It will corrupt a team. And it will corrupt your own leadership growth. It is deadly when given the chance to flourish. Many times, pride is induced not by leaders, but more by those around them who feel a burden to make their leader so elevated that they end up furthering the problem instead of helping squelch it.

3. Be generous. This is a great way to combat your tendency to think that you own it, and everything is about you. Especially with money or possessions. When you sense in your life a strong pull towards hoarding, just intentionally be more generous than normal.

4. Honest friends. A crucial component in fighting the "You" paradigm. Surround yourself with friends who will be brutally honest, and will tell you when you are being selfish and too "you" focused. Us is way better than me or you.

4 Traits every leader must have

Reading a new book from James Kouzes and Barry Posner entitled The Truth about Leadership. I recommend you read it. Kouzes and Posner have been studying and doing research on the topic of leadership for the past 30 years. One of their books, The Leadership Challenge, is a classic and must read. They explain in The Truth about Leadership that, based on their research over the last 30 years, there are 4 key traits that every leader must have. These 4 traits continually show up at the top of the list in terms of what people on a team expect and desire from their leaders. Every year these are the top four in their research projects, regardless of economy, recessions, growth of the internet, political landscape, etc.

1. HONESTY- telling the truth. Your team needs to believe you are worthy of their trust. Knowing in your heart that you truly believe what you are saying, and they can believe it too.

2. FORWARD-LOOKING- having a sense of direction and concern for the future of the organization. You must know where you are going if you expect others to willingly join you on the journey. People won't willingly follow you until they can see how they share in the future you envision.

3. INSPIRING- people on your team expect you to be positive, upbeat, and optimistic. Your energy signals your personal level of commitment. Sharing enthusiasm, excitement, and energy. You have to give your team reason to believe that tomorrow will be even better than today.

4. COMPETENT- your ability to get things done. People have to believe you know what you're talking about and you know what you're doing. Competence inspires confidence in the team that you'll be able to guide the enterprise in the direction it needs to go.

Honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent. Traits/qualities that your team is looking for in you.

Ultimately, these four are evidence of the fact that people want to follow leaders who are CREDIBLE. Who do what they say they will do. People want to follow a leader who is believable. Your team wants to believe that your word can be trusted, you are passionate about the work you are doing, you know where you are headed, and you have the necessary knowledge and skill to lead.

College Football - The team of the next decade

Headed to the Georgia/Arkansas football game today, and thought I would create some conversation around my favorite sport at any level- college football. The greatest sport in America. Hands down. One of the first posts I had several years ago when I started blogging was The College Football Team of the Decade. Lots of comments, lots of thoughts, and lots of speculation on who in fact was the #1 college program in the country. Well, the first decade of the 2000's is over, and based on what happened over the last 10 years (and not just the first 7 years based on my blog post), here is who I would say actually WAS the college football team of the last decade: 2000-2010:

1. USC (2 national championships)

2. Florida (2 national championships)

3. LSU (2 national championships)

4. Oklahoma (1 national championship)

5. Ohio State (1 national championship)

Now, in terms of looking at the NEXT 10 years, here are my predictions on who will be the top five programs between now and 2020:

1. Oklahoma (yeah, it's a predictable choice, but deal with it!!!)

2. Michigan

3. Miami

4. Florida

5. Boise State

Who you got?

Initiating vs Responding, Part two

My thoughts on Leaders vs. Followers, and Initiating vs. Responding continues..... If you didn't have a chance to read part one, here it is. Leaders don't let fear or a strong sense of anxiety paralyze them. They attack fear. Head on. And are willing to lean heavily into the rough waters and push through.

Followers stop when things get rough. Rough waters tend to bring about dissension and cynicism among followers.

Leaders are innovators. They try new things. They are willing to fail, but fail trying.

Followers simply want to maintain the status quo. And very rarely are they willing to risk or try anything new.

Leaders embrace change. They invite change in their own lives and in the context of their leadership because they know change many times is the way we grow and improve.

Followers despise change, and do everything possible to resist it.

Leaders accept responsibility, and are motivated by more things on their plate and under their leadership, vs. less.

Followers avoid responsibility, and would much rather that someone else is "responsible" instead of them.

Leaders despise inaction. It drives leaders crazy to not make progress.

Are you a leader or a follower???

Young Influencers List, September Edition

Here you go, the September Edition of the Young Influencers List. You can view past months editions here. 1. Jack Dorsey- Creator and co-founder of Twitter, and CEO of Square.

2. Luma Mufleh- founder and director of The Fugees and Fugees Family, an organization devoted to working with child survivors of war, primarily through soccer and other sports.

3. Jaeson Ma- musician, artist, pastor, and connector in the LA area.

4. Jenny White- director of Art House America in Dallas. Worked previously with the WH First Lady advance team in 2007.

5. Kohl Crecelius- CEO and co-founder of Krochet Kids, helping lift Northern Ugandan women out of poverty through crochet products.

6. Rafael Castillo- Director of Next Generation Min, Christ Tabernacle, Queens, NY.

Interview with Shauna Niequist

Here is Part One of my interview with Shauna Niequist. Shauna is an author, speaker, leader and visionary. She grew up at Willow Creek, literally, since her parents are Bill and Lynne Hybels. After college she worked at Willow Creek for a few years, then spent several years as the creative director at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, and then recently moved back to Chicago where she grew up. She is the author of Cold Tangerines and her most recent book Bittersweet. She knows alot about alot of things, including the church, leadership, and creativity, and is one of the leading young voices under 40 today.


Initiating vs Responding

A short Monday thought on Initiating vs. Responding..... Leaders are initiators. Leaders are willing to step up and take on the task of driving a project. Leaders are intuitive, and once they have a general direction for a project, don't have to be told what to do every step of the way. Leaders push for action, and are not content with simply sitting still. Leaders drive to the finish line.

Followers respond. They wait on someone to give them direction. They don't step up necessarily to drive a project unless forced to by their boss. Followers tend to want direction on a constant basis, so they make sure approval has been given and therefore covering their tracks if something goes wrong. Followers are content with the project sitting still, as long as it's not their responsibility or they're not at fault. Followers are pulled across the finish line.

Make sure you have a team of leaders who initiate at their core. It's much easier to slow down a racehorse by having to pull back on the reins vs. having to spur and kick and get out the whip in order to move forward. Initiators vs. Responders.

Francis Chan, Carlos Whittaker and Bobby Bowden's new book

The latest Catalyst Podcast features an interview with Francis Chan, as well as an interview with Mark Schlabach, ESPN columnist and co-author of Bobby Bowden's new book Called to Coach. Ken Coleman is joined in studio by Carlos Whittaker, with a special offer for podcast listeners.

You can listen on the Catalyst site or download from itunes.

A few things all Leaders should have

We're not necessarily talking know-how, or values, or character traits on this post. This is more about things that are tangible, and help you make ideas happen, and get things done, and manage the chaos and tension of being a leader. - a moleskine notebook to write down your thoughts

- a Google Reader account that lets you track/read tons of blogs and content feeds

- Subscriptions to magazines, industry newsletters, newspapers, etc. Fast Company, Neue, Relevant, Leadership, GOOD and Fortune are a few of my favorites.

- A simple system for getting things done. Recommend you check out Scott Belsky's book Making Ideas Happen and also The Action Method.

Evernote for capturing ideas either on your phone or on your computer. Any time an idea comes up, wherever I am I can capture it on Evernote.

- A Flip cam for capturing great moments on video, or a Smart Phone that has video capability.

- Consistent exercise regiment. Work out, run, lift, hike, etc on a regular basis. You have to have energy to lead.

- A place to think, dream, get away, and refresh. This might be a condo on the beach, or a cabin in the mountains, or a duck blind in the marsh of Arkansas (that's me!). But have somewhere that you can intentionally get away and think/dream without distractions. You don't need to own these places.... Leaders always have friends and connections with folks who are more than willing to let you use them.

Rules of Engagement in our Office

A little more insight into our culture at Catalyst...... 1. If you have something exciting to announce, scream it or make a noise with an instrument. But just be loud if it is worthy of announcing.

2. Open Source policy on the drinks and snacks situation. Replenish the snack area as well as the drinks in the frig if you take something.

3. You are always open to a prank..... and you are always free to provide one..... but if you give out a prank, be ready to receive one in return. It's like the Cold War nuclear policies between the US and USSR....

4. If you're part of the Catalyst team long enough, you WILL have a nickname. Hover, The Body, Lager, etc.

5. Anyone has the freedom to speak into a project, design, layout, or idea. Anyone's ideas can be criticized or built on.

6. Business attire is not allowed.

7. We ring bells CONSTANTLY to celebrate.

8. Your title can really be whatever you want it to be.

9. If at all possible, don't schedule a meeting. We despise meetings, unless it is really needed and leads to action. Or is a collaborative project and requires multiple people speaking into it. But meeting just for meetings sake is lame.

10. Get it done. Always. Execution and the completion of projects is like a drug to us. We take great pride in moving the ball across the finish line.

11. We thrive on competition. None of us like to lose. Fun moments usually involve competition of some sort. Especially cornhole or relay races.

12. We actually like to be around each other. Novel concept I know, but it actually works.