Leadership Rules

Beware of the "Used to" Leader

We all know leaders who live in the past. Who dwell on what's already happened. Who believe their best days are behind them. And drag everyone around them into the mosh pit of the past. 

That's not great leadership. 

Honor the past, but dwell on it. Your leadership needs to be all about the present and the future, and not focused on the past. Don't be a "used to" leader! 

"Used to" leaders are inconsistent.

A "used to" leader is someone who lives in the past, and has drifted away from commitments you once made.

"Used to" Leaders are always talking about how..... or when I was around...... or remember that time we.......

I "used to" workout.

I "used to" have a regular prayer time.

I "used to" be a hard worker.

I "used to" date my wife/husband on a regular basis.

I "used to" be a learner and read consistently.

I "used to" read the Scriptures daily.

I "used to" have fun with my kids.

I "used to" be a good friend and carve out quality time. 

I want to be an "I AM" leader. I want to be an "I Will" leader. Making it happen today. Making it happen tomorrow. Focused on today. Being present.

Don't be a "used to" leader.

Push into the "am" and "will" and disregard the "used to!" 

7 Ways to Create Great Customer Service

I've worked on some great teams over the past several years, and seen great customer service in action. One of the places I learned the most about great customer service was Lost Valley Ranch, an incredible guest ranch in Colorado. Serving the guests was part of the DNA of the staff. We took great pride in our ability to create a great experience for our guests through unmatched customer service.

Here are a few of the ways we did that:

1. Treat someone like you would want to be treated- the Golden Rule. It really does work. And it makes sense. Common sense. Use it.

2. Remember someone's name. Always. Especially when you've met them before. And if you don't remember, just ask them. Knowing someone's name and using their name is a form of honor. 

3. Let your actions speak way louder than your words. Don't just talk about it. Make it happen. Without flare and fanfare. Your work can be a great example of your attitude and commitment to service. Love people through serving people. 

4. Anticipate. Stay a step ahead of your clients or guests. Don't wait for them to ask for something. Figure it out before they even need it. You're smart and you're people are smart, so give them the runway to meet the needs of guests. 

5. Make small things big things. In terms of your commitment to excellence. Be great at the insignificant. Put effort and energy into the normal and mundane, and this will set you apart. 

6. Engage in meaningful conversation. Serving creates opportunity for impact- it builds a bridge. So make sure to connect with your guests or clients through conversation when it's appropriate. Understand who they are by understanding what they read, what they watch, where they travel and what their interests are.

7. Interact with purpose. Look people in the eye when saying hi. Don't walk by a guest without engaging in eye contact, regardless of where you are. Speak with honor and dignity. Go first- go first with smiling, with interacting, with saying hello, with engaging them in a conversation.

Leaders should Celebrate your Rivals

Winning. Competition. Rivalry. For all of us who are Type A Leaders, jealousy in the form of competition is always a struggle. You may call it something else (competitive spirit, goal-oriented, fast pace), but at the end of the day, we all struggle with being jealous or envious of others successes, especially when it is in the same industry, or same town, or same circle, or same customer base.

In these cases, it feels like competition, and again for us Type A's, when there is a competition, we ALWAYS want to win. How do you view those you are "competing" against? Whether competing for attendees, or resources, or prestige, or members, or customers, understanding the proper posture towards your rivals is crucial to being a Collaborative Leader. Most leaders I know never get this right.

And in the faith community- whether a non profit ministry leader, pastor, church leader or, or parachurch organization director, this sense of competition and envy is rampant. Instead of jealousy and envy, collaboration and partnership should be the norm in the Church and faith-based community. We should be celebrating the pastor or leader across town, instead of finding ways to make them look bad or talking bad about them to others but making it look like we are bringing it up so as to "pray" for them.

Competition for customers, resources, time and money will always be a reality, but the question is how YOU deal with this. Jealousy is natural, but how you respond to it will prove your maturity as a leader. And as a follower of Christ, jealousy or envy is definitely not one of the fruits of the Spirit!

So, the best solution I've found to combating jealousy/envy and competition is Celebration. When you find yourself tempted to speak ill about a rival or you are secretly wrestling with envy/jealousy over someone else you are competing with, flip that emotion on its head.

Celebrate your competition. Your rivals. Whether the leader or the organization overall. 

Speak positively about them. In public. and in private. 

Encourage the leader or leaders of that "rival" organization. Send them cards or notes, call them, and even visit. 

Look for the good in what they are doing and celebrate that.

Pray for them, both in public and in private. 

Lean into them, and seek opportunities to partner together in your community or industry. 

The question you should be asking is, "how can I help this person win?" Church leaders- we're all on the same team. We're fighting the same fight.

Let's act like it.

A Leadership Challenge to Older Leaders

I love leaders, both young and old. At every level, in every category and in every industry. 

This post, however, is for Older Leaders. I'm categorizing that as 55 and older. Now don't get all technical and age arrogant on me.... There's no magical reason why 55 is the cutoff. The idea is that this post is for those leaders who are "older in general than others around them." So this might apply if you are 45 and you are surrounded by a bunch of leaders 25 and younger. You get the point.

From my vantage point, there are some things those of us that are "younger" want the leaders around us who are older to know. These are just a few of those:

1. Pursue us- We're not in it for the long haul anymore. 35 and under leaders in general are more about projects than they are about careers. More about movements instead of organizations. So if you want to keep us around in your organization, you're going to have to pursue us. Show us you are approachable, and connected to where we are in life.

2. Understand us- make an effort to be in touch with our generation. It doesn't mean you have to dress like us (not all the time anyway!!), but when you make a concerted effort to be in touch with what we are in touch with, it makes a huge difference. We're motivated by making a difference, and being part of something bigger than ourselves.

3. Train us- Once you've got us on your team, pour into us. We may not show it, but we truly desire to be mentored and we need wise sages and mentors who will train us up. Constantly look for ways to pass on your insights to us. We are hungry for mentors, and are open to you passing on your wisdom. And not just your successes and the things you've done right- we want to know what you've failed at, both to make you "human" as well to learn from your experience so we won't make the same mistakes.

4. Inspire us- Cast vision for us. Motivate us through painting a picture of where we are headed. Lead us. But Don't manage us. Managing to you means something completely different than it does to us. You were schooled on the management theories of the 80's. Major generation gap here. And a source of lots of tension that is difficult to manage.

5. Listen to us- We have a lot to offer. Sometimes we're not sure how to best communicate it, but we do bring tremendous raw talent and motivation to the table. We are technically savvy, and understand how to make things happen through completely different systems and processes. Take a posture of listening to us before you dismiss our ideas. Be curious about what we know and what we can offer. Lean in to our wisdom, even though it's void of experience. 

6. Connect us- We are drawn towards community, and relational networks through which we can make an impact and affect change. Community is incredibly important to us, in any context. We want to climb the hill together, not by ourselves.

7. Challenge us- Kick us in the pants. Push us to continually and constantly improve and grow in our leadership capacity. We need to be coached, and great coaches are both inspiring as well as challenging. You won't run us off. 

8. Release us- Literally, kick us out. Not only give us permission to leave, but actually encourage us to leave and pursue other things. Once it's time for us to move on, we might need your encouragement to pursue what God might be stirring up in us. Especially during the last couple of years, when it was much easier to just hang on than to really let go and chase after our dreams. We're not leaving because we're "giving up" on your vision, we just want to make ours a reality.

9 Tips for Your First 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. First time with the new leadership team. Whether your 1st meeting ever as a young intern, a 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. Immediate answer givers can quickly become annoying and overbearing. 

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. Be the most interested. Listen really well. 

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. Write it down. Whether you're the official "note taker" or not, writing things down shows honor to those around you, plus writing it down and taking notes creates accountability for you and helps you remember next steps. 

8. Push for clarity, and move towards execution. Direct the meeting and overall conversation towards execution and completion. The goal of a meeting is to make things happen, so do your part in moving that way. 

9. 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.