We > Me

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As leaders, we naturally have a tendency to make it about “me.” In some ways, you deserve it.

As the leader, you’re probably putting in the most time, the most resources, the most energy, and risking way more than anyone else. You’re the one carrying the responsibility and the weight. You have the greatest to risk and the greatest amount to lose.

But, ultimately, it’s not about you. It’s about the mission. It’s about the impact. It’s about a greater cause. 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.

Seven Thoughts on Taking a Risk as a Leader

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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. Seven 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. The power of Stewardship. Courageous leaders understand that 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. And excites 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. If 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. The power of Influence. Leaders lead. And Leaders influence. 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.

7. The power of Change. Healthy things change. Change creates health, and health creates growth, and growth creates fruit. Without change it’s difficult to actually create continual health in an individual, or an organization. Change is good.

7 Keys for Creating a Contagious Leadership Culture

As leaders, we are always looking for ways to create a “great corporate culture.” Whether in a business, ministry, not for profit, or small start up, creating culture is key to a healthy and successful organization.

Tons of books have been written on this issue, and lots of speakers and consultants would consider their theories to be the answer. The reality is, most companies don’t have great corporate culture, based on their employees responses and feedback. Creating the correct culture is a difficult task for any leader.

Organizations work hard over many years to establish a culture that fits their employees, and creates a great place to work.

In my opinion, there are several key ingredients to creating a great culture:

1. Be distinct. Your look/feel/ethos should be yours and yours alone. Make sure your brand, design, and team all are cohesive.

2. Be authentic. Create and live out your values because they are who you ARE, not because they are what or who you want to be, or who or what someone else wants you to be.

3. Believe in your product or offering. 100% belief that what you do is incredibly relevant and helpful and needed. It will drive your atmosphere and the way you make decisions, and create a strong bond with “one purpose” in mind.

4. Be attractive. Is your culture so vibrant and positive that your customers or audience is attracted by it? Do people outside of your walls talk about your culture? Do people want to join your team just to be part of what is happening?

5. Be your own customer. If you won’t buy your product or service or offering, then why would you expect anyone else to? Does a focus group of your core customer require bringing in outsiders, or simply gathering the troops?

6. Be visionary. Be about something bigger than just you and your product and organization. A contagious culture requires a perspective and “end goal” that is broader, bigger and more substantial than the next widget you’re creating.

7. Establish your style and embrace it. Similar to #1, but more specifically toward how you get things done. For example, when I was leading Catalyst, our ethos was “work hard and play hard.” That was our style. We embraced it constantly. Figuring out HOW you accomplish things as a team will help give your team a style to embrace and build.

10 ways to create a Teamwork 101 environment

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I love the book of Philippians in the New Testament. The entire book is one of Paul’s greatest letters.

Specifically, chapter 2 is a gem. Paul lays out some strong language regarding teamwork and working together.

Verse 2-5: “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (New American Standard)

These verses are not just related to your specific team, but also the “team” you work with in impacting your city, your region, country, and the global large C Church. So try these virtues on for size! In your organization, in your neighborhood, in your community, and across the global church.

1. Be like-minded.

2. Be loving.

3. Be united.

4. Be focused (on one purpose).

5. Be generous.

6. Be selfless.

7. Be humble.

8. Look out for others before yourself.

9. Have a great attitude.

10. Be Christ-like.

Teamwork 101.

A simple call to action from Paul but incredibly difficult to put into action.

10 Ways to create a Great Customer Experience

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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 4 diamond 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 excellent customer service.

Here are a few of the ways we did that through great customer service:

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 or talked with them before.

3. Let your actions speak way louder than your words. Don’t just talk about it. Make it happen. Your work can be a great example of your attitude and commitment to service.

4. Anticipate. Stay a step ahead of your clients or guests. Don’t wait for them to ask for something. Be proactive. Figure it out before they even need it.

5. Go the extra step. Have a “+1″ type of attitude and demeanor. Not just anticipating, but actually doing more than what is expected or required of you. Make memories for your client or guest by wowing them with the “above and beyond.”

6. Engage in meaningful conversation. Listen really really well. 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. If you deal with families, learn their kids names and hobbies. Little things add up.

7. Give permission. Make sure your entire staff and everyone in the organization feels empowered to respond immediately to a customer service issue. Empower your employees at every level in the organization to respond and resolve. Especially those on the front line of service. Give them freedom to say yes as often as possible.

8. Own the relationship, and the result. Your answer should never be “that’s not my job.” Take initiative to see the problem or the issue through to the very end. IF you have to hand the relationship off to someone else, make sure you literally walk them to that other person, introduce them, and hand them off well. If over the phone or through email, the same applies. Constantly make sure you are “walking” with that person through the process.

9. Implement the 4 Core Communication Cues. Say “I’m sorry,” “Thankyou,” “My Fault,” and “Great Job” on a regular basis. 

10. Look people in the eye. This one gets forgotten like #2 above. But makes a big difference.

10 Simple Ways to be Great

All of us want to be great. Especially as leaders. All of us want to be part of a great team. Have a great family. A great neighborhood. A great church. A great community. A great legacy.

There are lots of factors that go into being great. But ultimately, being great starts with you. And since you are your greatest coach and advocate for yourself, here are a few things to always think about when it comes to being great.

1. Be responsible. Be on time. Get things done. Finish.

2. Be a learner. Read. Listen. Be curious.

3. Be a hustler. Work hard. Whatever it takes.

4. Be a carrier of the organizational vision. Be a role model of living out the values of your company, church, and staff.

5. Be passionate. Be positive. Live with joy.

6. Be self aware and self regulating. Know who you are. Lead yourself.

7. Be Humble. It’s not about you.

8. Be someone who “leans in.” Be first.

9. Be Disciplined. Stick with it.

10. Be a courageous risk taker. Step out.