Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.
Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.
I’m a year removed from being on a strategic 4 month sabbatical. This time last year I was in the middle of it. It’s been quite a year. And the last 12 months have provided some incredible learnings.
So looking back, here are 10 reflections and learnings one year later that hopefully will help you in your own leadership journey.
1. I got my smile back. Stepping away allowed me to rediscover the passion. Finding joy in the journey again. At Catalyst Atlanta the first week of October- I was in the “mosh pit” during the evening session on Thursday down on the floor in front of the stage. Matt Redman looked down and almost laughed out loud while singing because he was so surprised to see me! I’m not too cool or too old. Passion and zest for the current season.
2. What I do is not who I am. Who you are is not what you do. My identity is simply a follower of Jesus. I’m okay with that on my business card. My identity is in Jesus. I’m not the “Catalyst guy” anymore, and I thought that would be incredibly difficult. And it has been. My identity and my need to know what is next are the two most difficult things for me to deal with and work on as an ENTJ. But ultimately, I had to answer the question “Who am I, really?” I’m Brad, and I’m a follower of Jesus. Period. End of story. I’m Brad. Not Catalyst Brad. Just Brad.
3. Getting out of the way is part of my responsibility as a leader. There is tremendous power in passing on the power to the next wave of leaders behind you. Getting out of the way and letting other leaders step up is healthy. Removing myself from the equation as the organizational leader gives a chance for other leaders on your team to step up. Stepping out of the way allows others to step up. Others step up when you step out. Pass the baton. Most leaders hold on for too long. Let go before you need to or are forced to. Generation transfer- we are always replacing ourselves. Constantly. Not just when you’re CEO or President or Senior Pastor or Executive Director. Great leaders model succession constantly. At every level in an organization, in every role, at every intersection.
4. Calling is demonstrated and reflected by seasons, and specific assignments within that season. Seasons of assignment gives me freedom and flexibility in how I appropriately view life. My season and assignment of leading Catalyst has ended. Been completed. Driving the Catalyst bus has ended. But that doesn’t change my overall calling- to influence influencers. It just means this chapter of the book is complete. But the story continues! On to the next chapter. The book is not done, just the chapter completed. Just because you’re not driving the bus doesn’t mean you can’t still be on the bus. I’m the kid now in the back of the bus rolling down the bus window and waving at all the people on the sidewalks walking by!
5. Margin matters. Rest and margin and space are crucial for a leader- rhythm is incredibly important. Speed kills. Change the pace. You have to slow down in order to speed up. Don’t avoid or under-estimate the value of this. You won’t realize it till it’s too late. Burnout might be right around the corner. We have to recharge as leaders. And renewed fresh vision requires a renewed fresh mind. Waiting on God is an active thing, not a passive thing. Margin allows for us to hear from God, because the distractions are removed. Many times God is speaking, we just can’t hear because of the speed we’re traveling and the number of songs on repeat in our earbuds that are good, but not the best. Listening intently to God requires connecting intently with God. I’m waiting on God to reveal what is next in my story that is part of His story.
6. I’m not winning if the people closest to me and working with me and for me are not fully flourishing. Wow- this one punched me right in the face. I was allowing the pursuit of the purpose to get in the way of people. The vision and goal and finish line matters, but not at the expense of leaving people in the ditch. I was not a good friend. I’m great with the wider community, but have to work really hard at making sure I’m constantly connecting and in true community with those closest to me. And the people closest to me were getting the worst of me, or none of me. And were suffering the most. While those on the outside still thought I was the cat’s meow.
7. Pruning is not fun, but is required if you want to lead. Being pruned requires getting kicked in the pants, slapped across the face a bit, punched in the stomach, and patted on the back. Pruning is required if you’re going to go to the next level in your leadership and in your life, especially as a follower of Jesus. Being pruned is needed in order to move from one season to the next, as well as part of the process of discipleship of becoming more like Christ. John 15:5, a branch being pruned and cut back in order to bear more fruit in the next season. Pruning was difficult, but very needed. I was the poster boy for the theme of Known. Who you are before what you do, that ultimately will provide the legacy for what you’ll be known for. I didn’t realize I would end up walking through a transition and leadership mile marker on the life road partly due to a conference theme that I helped create!
8. My leadership was stale. I was not a good leader the last few years. I looked the part, but was decaying from the inside out. I had to step back and realize this. It’s important to step back into my true identity- the last couple of years had pushed me into being a leader that is not completely parallel to who I am. Slowly, over time, leadership had become something I was supposed to be an expert on, but not actually doing. Yikes. Dangerous place. I can be having lots of success and growing a movement and making a difference yet disregarding those closest to me. Have to lead myself first. Taking a time out and a break is imperative to be able to stop and notice that you are off course and drifting out to sea. The slow decline and slightly off course can derail you in the long term. Have to stop and look inward. And looking inward is difficult. Dying to a season is hard.
9. Good fruit is required. As a leader, what are you building, vs. who are building into? Your leadership is effective if it’s producing good fruit in others around you. You can build an empire, but if it’s built on sand and a house of cards then it will come crashing down at some point. Focus on good fruit. I had to realize that what I had been building the last 10 + years was stripped away from me, and what was going to last? Who I had built into- that’s what would last.
10. Faithfulness and stewardship is the measure of ultimate success. Stewardship of what is put in front of me. I can let go of Catalyst now with hands open because it’s not mine anyway, and I stewarded it the best I knew how during my season of assignment. Hopefully assignment well done. Now onto the next assignment.
Not sure what that is yet, but right now I’m speaking a ton, finishing up my 2nd book, and also consulting with a handful of organizations, and still an advisor to Catalyst. I guess you could say I’m a professional friend and advisor for this season. Not sure how long it will last, but enjoying every second of it.
I’m committed to leveraging my experience and equity and wisdom for what is next. And not to settle for the easy. I’m really being challenged to do something that is outside my comfort zone.
But right now, I’m proud to look back over the last year, and see a transition that has occurred in a healthy and correct way.
I’m able to help at Catalyst and be an advisor and not in any way for that to feel weird or for me to want to jump back in and be in charge and take over. Part of the reason for I believe a fairly reasonable transition was that there was a point where I killed “Catalyst Brad.” He was put out of his misery. Dying to this season means I’m giving up that title and that business card intro. A title that has been what I’ve done for the last 10 + years. Moving forward I have to say that I led Catalyst for 10 years and am done.
So many transitions and successions happen from one leader to the other without the outgoing leader ever truly releasing that season. So they either try and jump back in at every turn, or just spend all their time bad mouthing and sabotaging their replacement because they’re deep down concerned that someone else is going to be better at the role than they were. Hopefully I’m not doing this.
Step out before you need to. Go out on top. Hand off way before it’s time.
Now onto the next season!
Whether you are a seasoned leader, college student, author, professor, CEO, politician, or pastor, we all have to learn to communicate well. Whether we are speaking to thousands, speaking to our staff, giving a report, making a speech, teaching your kids soccer team, or addressing your company, it’s imperative as leaders we know how to communicate. To make our point. To deliver a message.
And communicating is much easier said than done. Actually it’s the saying part and the doing part that make it difficult.
So here are some tips that might make communicating a bit easier for you and a bit more enjoyable for those listening. To make it stick.
1. Keep it Simple. Stay focused on a few key points. And use common sense. If it sounds confusing, it probably is. If it sounds cheesy, it probably is.
2. Tell great stories to validate your points. Unless you are just an amazing communicator, your points probably won’t hold me. So sprinkle in some great stories, good analogies, personal connections, and current events.
3. Inspire action. Push me towards doing something, not just hearing something.
4. Know your audience. Seems simple, but many miss this one. Make constant connections to your audience. If you’re talking to a group of high school students, don’t use the same jokes and intro as you did with the local Lions Club mens pancake breakfast the day before.
5. Create hooks, repetitions, and memorable phrases. I won’t remember all you said, but I might remember something you said. Our current culture is now built around soundbytes- status updates, tweets, texts, etc. So keep it simple, but also keep it short.
6. Connect personally. Look people in the eye. Recognize individuals in the audience and mention their name. Find people in the crowd and speak directly to them. Make eye contact with the entire room, from side to side. If your audience thinks you care about them, then they’ll care about what you are saying.
7. Be authentic, vulnerable, and funny. The key is to just simply be you. Allow the audience to get to know you. Make yourself vulnerable by talking about a failure or something that gives you instant connection. Be funny and find ways to keep your content light and humorous.
8. Land the plane on time. Not just ending on time, but actually ending with the right timing. Don’t keep circling above the runway- land it now.
What other tips would you add for communicating well?
Here you go, the September edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s editions here.
1. Journey Smollett-Bell- LA based actress, best known for playing Jess on the hit show Friday Night Lights.
3. Trevor Knight- current quarterback of my beloved Oklahoma Sooners!
5. Jeremy Walls- SVP and Chief Revenue Officer for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.
6. Noah Gundersen- Seattle based singer/songwriter.
Here you go, the August edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month’s lists here.
Todd Adkins is the Director of Leadership at LifeWay, and heads up the Ministry Grid team. Todd’s goal, with the rest of the Ministry Grid team, is to provide churches a tool to assist them in training leaders and volunteers at every level from the parking lot to the pulpit.
6 Ways To Lead Staff You Don’t Like
Some of you will be deeply offended and leave this post right after the next sentence. While you should love everyone on your staff, it’s ok if you like some people more.
In fact, its important for you to realize that you are eventually going to end up with someone on your team that you don’t really like. I am not talking about someone who is downright toxic to your culture, those people should be removed from your organization. I am speaking of someone who adds value to your work and team but there’s something about their personality that rubs you the wrong way.
When push comes to shove you are a leader and you are going to have make some adjustments so that your team can continue to function at a high level.
Here are six ways you can lead staff members you don’t like.
1. First, identify what is YOUR problem?
If their performance is satisfactory this is really your issue after all. You owe it to yourself and to them to take a good hard look at what it is that you find so irritating. Are they too negative, too obsessed with a hobby, or they are too aggressive? Is it something superficial? While you cant change a staff members personality, mannerisms, or modus operandi you can choose to change your attitude and how you interact with them. If you don’t it is only a matter of time before it becomes apparent to them or the rest of your team.
2. You don’t have to be personal friends with all of your staff.
There is a natural expectation of separation between work life and personal life in the business world but the lines are much more fuzzy in the church. The smaller the staff the fuzzier it gets. Be sure you manage expectations and establish healthy boundaries when bringing new people on board.
3. Be professional and courteous with them.
The key here is to remembering to be professional and treat them how you would want to be treated. Take a genuine interest in them and margin time for them. Make a conscious effort to engage them in conversation about their life outside of the organization.
4. Knock out a big project shoulder to shoulder.
It gets much harder not to like somebody if you have worked hard side by side to achieve something great. I would also remind you that taking on something particularly difficult together can have an even greater effect. This is much more risky, however, as pressure may also further exacerbate the problem.
5. Don’t make them an inside joke.
If this person has a quirk, mannerism, habit, etc. that is bothersome or downright annoying do not share it with other employees. Just because its funny doesn’t mean you have to share it. It is not funny and will ultimately undermine your leadership with your team. If you have a team like mine there are no holds barred and everyone and everything is fair game…but that’s another post.
6. Focus on their value to the team.
At the end of the day, you have obviously already decided that this employee is adding enough value to keep around so focus on what makes them so valuable to the team.
Todd Adkins is the Director of Leadership at Lifeway Christian Resources. He is passionate about the development of leaders, especially within the church. Todd served in student ministry and as an executive pastor for several years before joining the leadership at Lifeway to head up Ministry Grid, Lifeway’s dynamic new leadership development platform featuring over 3,700 videos and a fully customizable learning management system for churches. Todd’s goal, with the rest of the Ministry Grid team, is to provide churches a tool to assist them in training leaders and volunteers at every level from the parking lot to the pulpit. You can follow him on Twitter @ToddAdkins.
Most of us dread the weekly staff meeting. “Just get me out of there asap so I can get back to actually doing the work and making things happen” is the attitude many of us have. I know from experience….
Reality is, most staff meetings are boring, monotonous, just one person blabbing, and ultimately a waste of time.
When I was leading Catalyst day to day, I’m not sure I would have wanted to attend the staff meetings I was leading. Lots of times they were boring, awkward, and not very inspiring. It’s one of the things I look back on and would definitely give myself a failing grade in.
So after some time to think how I would have created these differently, here are a few thoughts:
1. Let team members tell stories of impact, change, and specific ways they (and you and we) are all accomplishing the mission and vision of the organization, church, non profit or whatever environment you are in.
2. Bring in guest speakers. Whether from the community, other churches, other businesses, locally, or from around the country. Even if just getting people on Skype or on the phone- doesn’t have to be in person. I missed it on this one. With all the relationships Catalyst has, I could have lined up guest speakers for months!
3. Create a regular pattern of reading through a book, studying a curriculum, or topically working through Scripture. Make sure you are all doing it together over a 8-12 week period. This allows everyone to have something to work on and also allows everyone to bring thoughts to share to the staff meeting.
4. Allow everyone to brag on each other. This is crucial. A time of letting staff share about other staff. Peer recognition, not just leader recognition. Something they saw or know that other staff members did that they should be acknowledged for, but probably won’t be because it wasn’t in the “spotlight.” Let the team humble brag about one another. And you as the leader have to lead out on this. Hand out ego biscuits on a regular basis!!
5. Have different team members lead the staff meetings every week or every other week. That way different people feel the responsibility and pressure to bring it and make it awesome. Let them shape it however they want. And with each different staff member leading, part of their responsibility is to share their own personal story in front of the team. This allows for relational equity to be built big time.
6. Focus on a specific leadership topic or area of personal growth that the team is dialed into on a weekly basis and working to improve in. And instead of just sharing information, focus on actually solving a leadership problem that currently exists.
7. Return constantly to your mission, vision and core values. Remind everyone of these on a weekly basis. And as the leader, let your personality shine through in the context of WHY you all are doing what you are doing. Give context for the WHY, not just the WHAT.
8. Create Weekly contests. The weekly staff meeting is a launch for a competition, contest, or game for that particular week- in terms of either individual competition or group contests. Can be goofy and fun, or actually more serious tied to team or individual goals.
9. Provide food. Whether it’s brought in or cooked on the spot. Food makes the meeting feel more like a meal, and anytime you are gathering around a meal, more good things happen.
10. Watch or listen to sermons, talks, leadership lessons from other leaders and pastors. Can be really inspiring and a great way to create conversation around a certain leadership topic or theme.
11. Celebrate! This is so crucial, and something I always forgot to do. Make the staff meeting a time to celebrate what happened the previous week, that month, or even that year. Teams needs to know they are winning, and moving in the right direction. Your job as the leader is to inspire, and make sure people see that you are actually moving from point A to point B.
What have you found to be helpful in making staff meetings a better experience?
Here you go, a brand new July edition of the YOUNG INFLUENCERS LIST. You can see all the past months lists here.