Questions to ask for reviewing 2012

I posted this last year, but wanted to go back to it as a very practical resource/application for the end of the year. It's important we take time as leaders to reflect and look back over the last 12 months, as well as looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond. Year End Review Questions:

1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2012 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2012?

3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2012: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2013 and beyond?

5. As I move into 2013, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year?

8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?

A sit down exclusive conversation with Mark Driscoll

My friend Mark Driscoll has a new book out entitled Who Do You Think You Are?   I recommend you check it out. It's practical, real, challenging, and helpful. The new book officially releases on January 8, but you can actually purchase now.

Plus, you can win a copy of the book by tweeting quotes from the website here.

You can also enter to win a signed copy here.

Watch my interview with Mark regarding the new book Who Do You Think You Are? Finding Your True Identity in Christ below


Young Influencers List, December Edition

Here you go, the December edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's editions here.  

1. Matt Crocker- singer, songwriter and worship leader with Hillsong and Hillsong United.

2. Viktoria Harrison- creative director at charity: water.

3. Jason Kennedy- journalist for E! News, and co-anchor of E! News Weekend.

4. Britton Clark- social media manager for Atlanta Mission, org focused on ending homelessness in city of Atlanta.

5. Kim Biddle- founder and CEO of Saving Innocence, rescuing victims of sex trafficking in Los Angeles.

6. Michael Dalton- director, producer, editor and videographer.

7. Rachael Chong- founder and CEO of Catchafire, where talent meets purpose.

8. Kenyon Adams- NYC based collaborative artist, actor and songwriter.


Now is the Time to Reach Out

Okay, this next week is the last full week before Christmas. Time to wrap up those projects, finalize year end plans, and mark some items off the to-do list. While at it, take some time this week to reach out. Make a call or send an email. Text someone. Send a note.

Here are a few ideas:

- call a close friend who lives in another state that you haven't talked to in several months

- send an email to a former employee or work peer who might need some encouragement

- get in touch with an "unreachable" (out of your league) mentor or hero who has greatly inspired or impacted you from afar. Just to say thanks.

- write a note to a coach, teacher or pastor who greatly influenced you during your childhood or teen years.

- call or email your current pastor and tell them how grateful you are for their leadership.

- share with your team a story of impact that happened this past year that will inspire and motivate.

- take a gift to or leave a gift for your neighbor

- reach out to an aunt, uncle, cousin or relative who you haven't talked with in a while. Invite them to your house for Christmas.

- encourage a local civil servant or military member by saying hi and how you are grateful for their service.

Margaret Feinberg new book and special offer

Many of you are probably familiar with my friend Margaret Feinberg. She's a writer, speaker, blogger and author of multiple books. Margaret isn’t just my friend, but she’s a friend of Catalyst.

Plus she's a really good skier, and makes me look lame on the ski slopes!!

Margaret has a new book releasing that I had to share because it’s just too good to keep to myself. It’s called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God  and it releases Christmas Day. In 12 days folks!

If you’ve never read Margaret before, she’s a gifted wordsmith and has a way of painting truths in memorable and beautiful ways. Wonderstruck is no exception.

To date, I believe it’s the best writing she has ever done.

Just listen to this:

“I have a hunch that I’m not the only one who has misplaced the marvel of a life lived with God. Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded. I knew I needed God to reveal himself once again to awaken me from my sleep, to disturb me from my slumber. And so I prayed for wonder.”

Well, she has this killer offer going on right now. Currently the book only costs $7.57 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and if you order before Christmas Day, she’s giving 6 EXCLUSIVE GIFTS (worth over $300) to anyone who pre-orders Wonderstruck from their favorite retailer.

Here’s what you get:

1.   Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Presence of God as an eBook  ($9.99 available on Kindle, Nook, iPad and other formats)

2.     Fourteen Days of Wonder Journal eBook ($19.99 as a download)

3.     How to Hold an Unforgettable Retreat eBook (a $29.99 download)

4.     Pursuing God 14-Day Devotional ($12.99 download)

5.     You will be automatically entered to win a brand new Kindle Fire pre-loaded with a suggested retail value of more than $100 worth of books from Worthy ($259.00)

6.     Ten people will randomly be selected to receive a free audio version of Wonderstruck ($9.99)

So purchase the book between now and December 25, and send her team the receipt at and they’ll send you access to the gifts. This offer is only valid through the end of the day, December 25th. At that point, this offer is gone.

A great deal, and a great book. This is a book you don’t want to miss!

Be a Finisher

I love leaders who execute. Leaders who get it done.

Leaders who can take a project across the finish line.

When it comes to hiring new employees, no other characteristic is more important than someone who can finish. It is the #1 trait related to work ethic that I look for in a new hire.

Anyone can come up with a new idea, a new concept, a new pithy word, a new organization, or a new perspective. What ultimately matters is whether you can take an idea from concept to completion. And to do that, you have to have finishers on your team. The folks who are intrinsically wired to make things happen, and bulldog their way to the finish line. They find joy in checking things off the list. But not just a task machine. Anyone can take an order and then go complete it. What matters is whether you can carry the ball all the way down the field and cross the finish line.

Take a moment and think about who that is on your team. If you don't have someone in this role, go find them immediately. This is incredibly important if you are the leader- you have to have someone on your team in whom you have ultimate confidence that if you hand them a project, they will get it done... and without your constant management of them. The answer can't constantly be "we're still working on it....". That is an excuse for either being lazy or unfocused. You're either moving forward or backwards.

For our team here at Catalyst, it is imperative that everyone plays the finisher role. Now some have to more than others, but no one can only be the "idea" person. Everyone is required to execute and own projects from start to finish. It's a non-negotiable. We take incredible pride in being able to take a concept and turn it into a finished project. This is a distinctive part of our culture here. We're serious about it. It's part of our DNA.

Be a finisher.

Create a Great Experience

It's been a while since I last read Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore's book The Experience Economy. If you haven't read this book, trust me. Go buy it and start reading it right now. If you have a product or service that you offer (we all do, whether in business, church, entrepreneur, or the non profit arena), it is imperative that you grasp the context of the Experience Economy. I am reminded of it because in a conversation recently someone asked me how I would recommend they keep their product from becoming a commodity. From just being lumped in with all the other similar products in their space, and being seen as just an option instead of the only option, the best option, and the option that is always recommended. Where price determines what the consumer chooses vs. other factors like emotionconnection, and memories.

In the book, Pine and Gilmore lay out the four levels of economic value : commoditiesgoodsservices, and experiences. Progression happens by moving from commodity to experience. Think about coffee. Coffee beans are a commodity, ground coffee is a good, a cup of coffee at dinner is a service, and a latte at a trendy cafe in Manhattan is an experience.

Or about birthday parties for kids- a cake is a commodity, a customized cake is a good, a birthday party with friends is a service, and a full fledged laser tag birthday celebration is an experience. Think about Apple stores. Disney World. You get the point.

The question is how are you creating an experience with the product or service that you offer? How are you allowing your customer to be so engaged with your product that they connect emotionally? Does your product or service creates memories for your customer? Do they want to tell their friends? Is your tribe willing to purchase or buy from you above all others?

There is also a fifth level of economic value, which is transformation. Incredibly hard to reach this level, but our goal should be to get there. Which correlates to our personal and spiritual lives, where transformation and being conformed to the image of Christ should be our goal.

Why Risk it Now?

Stepping out. Risking. Taking a chance. It's what we do as leaders. So why risk? Why do we as leaders step out and move into places of the "unknown" when we are in a comfortable niche and established as the dominant force?

Why change if things are going great for you?

Great question. So why do we risk and take courage as leaders? Had to think about my answer. Six things stood out to me on the whole issue of taking a risk:

1. Entrepreneurs and Type A Leaders are never satisfied with the status quo and the "comfortable" niche. They can't stand to sit still. Their DNA won't allow it.

2. Stewardship- because what you are running or leading is temporary, and your responsibility is to steward it correctly because others are counting on you. If this requires changing or risking, then you need to step out and continue to push the envelope with what God has given you.

3. Adventure and the power of the pioneer- many of us are wired to be pioneers. To go on an adventure. Pure and simple. The journey into the unknown actually beckons us.

4. Due diligence suggests it's actually time to move- do your homework, research, talk to people, and take very seriously the idea that you are risking. It's dumb to step out and change/take a risk if you haven't properly prepared and surveyed the landscape. But once you've done your homework and prepared, then go for it. Many people stifle the actual desire to step out because they spent too much time on due diligence. Risking and stepping out can be calculated, planned and strategic.

5. The power of purpose and calling- it God has called you to something in a new season, then you have to be willing to chase after it. Because of the internal pull of God's call. It's a responsibility and an imperative.

6. Leaders are out in front. Being at the head of the pack means you many times end up in the unknown. Where there's no handbook, no guide, no roadmap. But being out in front is where leaders are comfortable, and out front is where leaders separate themselves from the rest.

3 Words to describe your leadership style

There are lots of tests, assessments, seminars, conferences, training centers, and workbooks available today that are supposed to help you accurately identify and determine your leadership style. Many of these are very helpful, and very accurate. I've taken lots of them. But someone asked me the other day, "With only three words, describe your leadership style." I had to think about that one. Tough question.

My answer: passion, excellence, execute.

Obviously there is no right answer to that question, but those were the first three words that came to mind. I've seen this style manifested in all the different places over the last several years where I've had a leadership role.

A phrase that would describe our culture here at Catalyst that we use all the time: "work hard and play hard." Whatever we are doing, we give 110% and always want to deliver- an excellent result. Whether working on a brochure, programming, curriculum, or playing basketball or kickball at our office, we strive to be the best at everything we do. We have tremendous passion for the work. Another phrase I think describes my style is "calm but intensely focused." Especially in environments like producing an event where things can be chaotic and multiple decisions have to be made instantly.

I believe this naturally flows out of my leadership style. Not sure if it is "in style" or not, but that's my style.

Try three words for yourself- it's tough, but will help in identifying the areas of your leadership that matter the most and show up most often.

Young Influencers List, November edition

Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here. Check them out! 1. Promise Tangeman- designer, artist, photographer and blogger.

2. Stacy Spencer- senior pastor of New Direction Christian Church in Memphis, fastest growing church in US in 2012.

3. Jessie Simonson- co-founder & director of sales for 31 Bits, using fashion and design to help women in Uganda rise above poverty.

4. Chrishan Jeyaratnam- youth pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney.

5. Sajan George- founder and CEO, Matchbook Learning, turning around underperforming schools in the US.

6. Brianna Glen- pro athlete, sprinter, Olympic long jumper and model.

7. Josh White- singer, songwriter, and pastor of Door of Hope in Portland.

7 Keys I've learned about Calling

I'm sharing today at the Identity Conference in Orange County CA at Saddleback Church on the topic of identity and calling. So thought I would share my points from the talk here as well. Hope it's helpful!

1. The essence of calling is "Where my greatest strengths and deepest passions intersect."

- Talent and passion, that is the core.

- Calling today is more seasonal, projects instead of a career.

- Two callings on your life- salvation and vocation- no excuses in today's culture for doing something you hate or you are not good at.

2. Discovering your calling may be right in front of you.

- We tend to make vocational calling mysterious and spooky. It shouldn't be.

- Look at your childhood.

- Write it down. My own calling- influence influencers, connect equip and inspire. Saw it early and embraced it.

- Find someone who embodies your calling and learn from them. Your calling SAGE, your calling CLONE.

- take tests to discover your strengths and passions.

3. Very Business, very Bible- V2

- we are ALL called to this.

- as Kingdom entrepreneurs, as corporate leaders, as social innovators, as those who love Jesus and find ourselves on Monday in an office, or a cube, or a boardroom, we have a responsibility.

- we must see ourselves as Pastors. as Kingdom ambassadors in the corporate arena.

4. Excellence- pursue it in every area, starting now. 

- Be GREAT at what you do in your work and vocation.

- Excellence is not just expected, it's required. It's an obligation.

- Excellence starts with you. As the leader you have to model this.

- We serve a God who is great. We should be too.

- Hold yourself to a standard of excellence in every area of life. He who is faithful with little will be faithful with much.

5. Become an expert now. 

- Live and lead and act and create based on the job or role you want next. This is way more demanding!!

- Become an expert NOW, even before you need to be. That way when it's your turn to come off the bench you are ready. When you are asked for your opinion or involvement, give it or do it.

- Demand perfection from yourself before anyone ever demands it of you. You should reach for perfection without being asked. Don't wait for an organization to expect if from you. Expect the best from yourself.

- Experience creates expertise. Obvious, but we too often forget. See yourself as the expert.

- Kill it in the Now. Hustle!!! Humble and Hungry, not arrogant and entitled.

6. Own a vision bigger than what is in front of you. 

- Have a vision and hunger for something bigger. Have a global vision for what's next.

- See where you want to be next. Act like you are already there.

- Managers work on things that are right in front of them. Leaders work on things that are bigger than that. Leaders see further than just what is right in front of them. Looking over the next hill and responding to the work in front of them, but also inventing the future.

- Leaders invent the future, and don't just respond to the present. Leaders initiate.

- Our sense of calling should be like an unfolding epic adventure. Have an expectation for the amazing. For what's next.

7. Ultimately, and always, more like Jesus.

- this is our ultimate call and goal- to be more like Christ. Our identity is rooted in Him.

- Identity and calling is ultimately more about who you are, than necessarily what you do.

- The making of a leader is about the process. The process of living out your calling takes time. It's the mundane and ordinary and insignificant where your calling is rooted.

A Job vs a Responsibility. Which do you have?

I recently re-read Jim Collin's book How the Mighty Fall. A must read for any leader. A must read for any employee. I highly recommend it. Collins lays out five principles for why the mighty fall, based on research done by his amazing team in their Boulder, CO research "bunker." His second principle on why the mighty fall is "the undisciplined pursuit of more." In this chapter, he talks at length about making sure you have the right people on your team, which is crucial to making sure you are staying on track and disciplined as an organization.

As he writes, "any exceptional enterprise depends first and foremost upon having self-managed and self-motivated people- the #1 ingredient for a culture of discipline.... If you have the right people, who accept responsibility, you don't need to have a lot of senseless rules and mindless bureaucracy..... When bureaucratic roles erode an ethic of freedom and responsibility within a framework of core values and demanding standards, you've become infected with the disease of mediocrity."

Wow. The right people on the team vs. the wrong people on the team. And as Collins states, a notable distinction between the wrong person and the right person is the way they view their role in the organization. The wrong person sees their role as a "job," while the right person sees their role as a set of "responsibilities." It is not about your job title, but more about your personal sense of ownership, buy in, discipline, and stewardship of responsibility.

What you hope that your team members are saying is "I'm the one person ultimately responsible for X and Y. When I look to the left, to the right, to the front, and to the back, there is no one ultimately responsible but me. And I accept that responsibility."

This is what you want your key people saying. A crucial ingredient to creating a culture of discipline within your organization.

Leaders must Slow Down when things Speed Up

I've watched the great athletes over the years in times of great intensity go to their "zone" where everything seems to be in slow motion. In watching interviews and hearing them speak about these great moments, whether it's a 9th inning home run, or 50 yard touchdown pass as time expires, or game winning goal in the last seconds of game 7 of the Stanley Cup, they talk about things slowing down in their mind. Even though there may be chaos and bedlam going on around them, they are, as Stuart Scott says, "cool as the other side of the pillow." Same thing with Golfers- Everyone from Phil Mickelson to Tiger Woods always seem more precise and take much more time when the pressure is on, vs the natural tendency to want to speed everything up and get through it.

Heroes like first responders or Emergency Room doctors would probably attest to the same thing. When things are chaotic and out of control, their response is to slow things down.

So what do we do as leaders during times of great intensity, pressure, or the final hour? A couple of thoughts:

1. always over-communicate, and make sure things are clear. 

2. speak clearly, breathe deeply, and move purposefully. 

3. be methodical and calm, not intense and short.

4. list out the priorities so as to not be overwhelmed by the small things that seem to be incredibly urgent, but really aren't.

5. Seek out quiet moments for prayer, reflection and thinking. During times of pressure, that is when we need those quiet moments the most.

6. stay focusedresist the urge to let things slip or just settle for something average because of the pressure to get it done. Keep your standards and levels of excellence at their highest- don't compromise.

You want to speak at a Catalyst event?

**NOTE: this is a Re-Post from back in 2010. I have many folks contact me about speaking, so thought this might be helpful to provide this list again.** We are always looking for new speakers/presenters for all of our Catalyst events, whether in Atlanta, LA, Dallas, (or soon to name other cities...!) or providing articles and interviews online. I wanted to give a bit of perspective on how we find new speakers/communicators.

If you think you might be one of those, or know someone who is, here are a few tips:

1. Be a Powerful and engaging Communicator. Great communicators get moved to the top of the list.

2. Have an amazing story. Inspirational, courageous, tear-jerking, changing the world type stuff. True Catalysts. These also get moved to the top of the list. This one is not as easy to create or work on for you.

3. Content is king. Great content always wins. Especially content that inspires, and moves leaders towards action and application. There are lots of great communicators, but not all of them have great content. Start here. Develop great content first.

4. Be a Catalyst. Closely related to #2. We love finding the leaders who are out making a difference, and actually living out what God has called them to do. They are practitioners. They're not trying to build a platform so they can speak and write books one day. They are just out having an impact and influencing those around them. Inspirational practitioners is what I call these leaders.

5. We start with friends and "Catalyst family" first. If we are friends, that helps alot. Seriously. We feel like Catalyst is a big family, and we rarely invite speakers in without first having a friendship with them and getting to know who they really are. If we are friends that means we actually know each other and have worked on something together or at least connected in person.

6. Not all authors should be speakers. Just because you've written a book, doesn't mean you can communicate. Books give you credibility, but only as a content creator, not as a communicator. I know lots of authors who've sold millions of books and are total sleepers when asked to speak. Writing a book is good, but doesn't automatically qualify you to be speaking.

7. Leadership matters. We have all kinds of different speakers at our Catalyst events, but we are still at our core all about leadership, and all about gathering leaders. So have something to say about leadership.

8. If you contact me and tell me how great YOU are, you get moved to the bottom of the list. Believe me, I (we) know who you are. We spend thousands of hours a year looking for the new voices, researching, asking around, watching videos, reading the blogs, getting feedback from leaders all over the world, etc. If in doubt, have someone else contact me on your behalf.

9. If you contact any of our team after you've contacted me, especially my assistant Michelle, and tell HER as well how great YOU are, you get moved off the list. Feel free to contact us and recommend others you may know, but please don't recommend yourself.

Just to give perspective, I currently have a list of around 700 names who are potential speakers/communicators/articles/interviews at upcoming Catalyst events in 2013-2016!

We vs. Me

As leaders, we naturally have a tendency to make it about "me." As the leader, you're probably putting in the most time, the most resources, the most energy, and risking way more than anyone else. But, ultimately, it's not about you. It's about the mission. It's about the impact. And it's about your team.

It's not just you on your team. There's a team. Besides you. Other incredibly important staff crucial to the success of you accomplishing your mission and vision as an organization.

So next time someone says "How have you all accomplished all of this?..." or "What do you plan to accomplish the rest of this year?...." or "Who is involved in making things happen within your organization?..." "Or talk about the keys to success for you?...." Or "Man you all are killing it. Congratulations on all the success." Make sure you start your answer with "WE" or "US" or "OUR."

Not "ME" or "I" or "MY."

It's easy for us to get comfortable with the notion that "I'm" the reason for the success, or because of "my" willingness to stay late, or that new business deal is because of "me."

But even if it is, honor your team by choosing WE vs. ME, and US vs I.

You can do more together than on your own.

Weekend wrap up and a few things to know

1. Download FREE song from Johnny Swim. Johnny Swim created a theme song for Catalyst Atlanta 2 weeks ago entitled "MAKE." You can download the free song and watch the video of the "Making of" the song. 2. Purchase the Catalyst Experience Kit. Get all the sessions from Catalyst, including main sessions AND all of the LAB sessions. Plus a myriad of new resources from folks like Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Christine Caine, Francis Chan, and others. Also includes the new Catalyst GroupZine curriculum as well as Catalyst Filter. Over $800 in value for $249. Purchase here.

3. We have 3 Catalyst One Days coming up in the next 5 weeks: One Day Seattle this week on Thursday, October 25 (plus Calibrate on Wednesday, October 24); One Day Pennsylvania on Thursday, November 15 (it is sold out, but creating a waiting list for overflow); and One Day Sacramento on Thursday, November 29. You can register here.

4. Watch some great interviews from Catalyst at Catalyst Backstage.

5. New Catalyst podcast features interviews with Andy Stanley and Simon Sinek. Download for FREE here.

6. Check out all the great artists from Catalyst Atlanta here. Including all the worship leaders as well as special guests.

7. Two good leadership articles from Fast Company: How to Make Your Employees Feel Like SuperHeroes, and How Nascar Uses Access to Build the Most Loyal Brand Fans Anywhere.

Young Influencers List, October edition

Here you go, the Young Influencers List for October. You can see all the past month's editions here. 1. Chad Veach- youth pastor at Puyallup Foursqaure Church in Washington.

2. Caitlin Crosby- LA based actress, entertainer, and activist, founder of The Giving Keys.

3. Alex Nifong- Atlanta based songwriter, musician, guitarist, worship leader, and creator of recent album Nothing is Impossible.

4. Pattie Mallette- author of Nowhere But Up, and mother of the Biebs (Justin Bieber)!

5. Dave Lomas- Pastor at Reality San Francisco.

6. Bobby Duran- songwriter, Catalyst DJ, producer and creative consultant for UYWI, Mosaic and more.

7. Josh Kwan- co founder of Praxis, and director of International giving for David Weekley Family Foundation

8. Moriah Peters- 19 yr old singer, songwriter and artist.

Leaders are defined by the insignificant

As Leaders, we live for the moment. The big moments that are memory makers. The home runs. The winning "touchdown." The deal that launches our organizations or business to the next level. The significant benchmarks in life that define us and shape us. The times that people will talk about for years to come. When the adrenaline is dialed up and we step in. But ultimately, faithfulness looks most like being disciplined and faithful to the small things in life and leadership. The making of a leader takes time, and I believe is revealed and refined through the continual steadfastness in the small things. Our character, our sense of who we are, is defined by the insignificant points in life when no one is watching, when no one really cares. The times when it doesn't seem to matter. The points where it is difficult to actually finish the project. The pain points when we wonder is this what God has actually called me to do. The moments when it would be okay to cut corners but we stay committed to excellence. This is where the foundation of faithfulness and our character as leaders is created and solidified. Jesus describes this in Luke 16:10 "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much." Be faithful to the small things.

Perseverance is crucial to being a disciplined leader. Staying true to the process. There is beauty in the process, and we are shaped by the journey. The process defines us. No overnight transformation. No shortcuts. It takes years to be shaped into the leader God has called you to be. The nitty gritty daily grind of walking steadfastly in the mundane and ordinary that shapes the extraordinary. Great leaders are always growing, learning & moving forward. It's a journey, not a destination.

Effective leaders never stop growing and getting better. They are curious, committed, and coachable. Always a student and desperate to learn. And committed to making the small things, the seemingly insignificant projects and assignments that no one seems to care about, the best they can possibly be. Stay committed to the insignificant!

10 New Books worth buying

1. Deep and Wide- by Andy Stanley 2. Unleash!- Perry Noble

3. Undaunted- Christine Caine

4. Glorious Ruin- Tullian Tchividjian

5. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth- John Maxwell

6. Unglued- Lysa TerKeurst

7. Multiply- Francis Chan (not available until November 1)

8. Greater- Steven Furtick

9. Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church- Matt Chandler

10. Soul Detox- Craig Groeschel

Bonus: The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley

7 Ways to 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 you, as 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. I know from experience!!

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. I know I do. I tend to keep pushing without stopping to say thanks. But encouragement can go the furthest in creating team chemistry, longevity, and commitment. Reward them with small gifts, extra unexpected bonuses, cards, etc.

5. Counsel, coach and instruct. Not necessarily the same as encouragement. Great coaches do this well. They scream at 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 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.

7. Give them permission. Permission to take risks, represent your organization to others, take on responsibility and stewardship, and many other things. But ultimately give them permission to push back. Give them permission to call you out as the leader (appropriately, of course). Give them permission to argue and fight for their idea, even when it looks like it's directly competing with your idea as the leader. Permission to push back. This does wonders.