Beware of a Shortcut Leadership strategy

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I admit, I get a bit impatient at times….. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration…..I get very impatient at times!

Lately, I’ve noticed a ton of impatience in my driving. Now it’s not road rage (not yet!), but getting close. It’s not just that slow drivers get in the left lane, but more that I seem to think I now know every shortcut in the greater metro Atlanta area. So my solution for impatience on the roads is that I get frustrated and try to find shortcuts or alternate routes to get somewhere. Only to find that these shortcuts end up taking longer and actually don’t get me to my destination at all.

We’re all like this at certain times in life. We look for shortcuts, for alternate routes, for the easy road, the road less traveled but quicker to the destination. Or so we think.

So here are a few thoughts on Shortcuts that hopefully are helpful.

1. Shortcuts aren’t bad. Most shortcuts are valuable and helpful. But beware of constantly looking for them.

2. Little (or at least less) strategy goes into shortcuts. as so many times shortcuts haven’t been planned out, and actually lead you to a different destination, or worse off, just get you lost and late to your final destination.

3. Being impatient is not a good thing. Patience is a virtue. Shortcuts are usually due to impatience and frustration, vs. relying on a system that has proved worthwhile over time.

4. There’s value in the journey. the longer route may be better for you in the end. You’ll see or hear or learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. And maybe see more scenery, and find that it’s intentional and on purpose.

5. The quality may suffer. In organizational life, shortcuts may end up leading to a lack of excellence.

6. Short term gain vs long term rewards. Shortcuts are usually tied to short term gain. Again, not bad, but long term perspective and long term goals are what vision and legacy are built on.

7. Staying in your lane. Be committed to the lane and current assignment you have. Switching lanes and switching roads and switching routes leads to anxiety and lack of contentment. Be diligent and faithful to the road you’re on.

So next time you think you see a shortcut, and you’re convinced it’s the better road to take, beware.

10 Keys for a Great Team

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What actually makes a great team? We’ve all been on teams, whether in school, in athletics, in our churches, organizations, and communities. We’ve watched great teams win championships, we’ve marveled at their ability to create amazing resources, new technology, and jaw-dropping experiences.

There are lots of qualities that make up a great team, but thought I would point out ten that seem to be consistently evident across the board.

1. Humble yet confident leader- Humility and authenticity starts at the top. Confidence and courage starts at the top. Everyone wants to assume that team culture is created bottom up, but at the end of the day, great teams look to a confident leader.

2. Skilled linchpin (s)- Most of the time this is the quarterback for a football team. Or the point guard for a basketball team. Or the project manager on a new technology being released. Or the producer releasing a new movie. Peyton Manning, Magic Johnson, John Lasseter at Pixar. Every great team has to have at least one linchpin who is crucial to the success of the team. Most great teams have several.

3. Clear Vision and Clear Goal- think about it. Pretty much every sports team we’ve ever played on had a clear goal- win the game, win the division, win the championship. Great teams have vision that inspires and goals that are attainable.

4. A cause greater than themselves- We all desire to be part of something way bigger than us. For the New Orleans Saints, they played several years ago for the city of New Orleans during the aftermath of a hurricane. The 1980 USA Hockey team played in the Olympics for an entire nation.

5. Constantly getting better- great teams continue to improve on a daily basis. Great teams don’t allow for mediocrity to set in. They push themselves on a daily basis, and that accountability is held by the team, not necessarily just by the leader.

6. Get it done oriented- all about action. Great teams don’t just talk about it. They make it happen. They are relentless in pushing projects across the finish line.

7. Willing to fight- Great teams fight consistently. About ideas. About direction. About strategy. And the best ideas win. Trust is crucial. And everyone on the team trusts each other enough to fight for their ideas, and argue, and debate. And leave it at that. Great teams are competitive, but equally collaborative.

8. A standard of excellence always- great teams set amazingly high standards and goals. And they aren’t wiling to settle for second best. They never coast. And are always great at the little things, which makes them great at the big things.

9. Nimble yet mature- regardless of how big or complex teams get, they always stay nimble enough to make decisions quickly and change directions on a moments notice if needed.

10. Actually like each other- team chemistry is incredibly crucial. They want to serve each other. They believe in each other. There is a cohesive spirit and a sense of unity that others take notice of immediately.

What else would you say makes a great team?

12 Keys for Attracting Young Leaders to Your Team

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Let’s face it- young leaders are the future of your organization. Whether you like it or not, they will soon take over and be running the show. Your show. My show. If you aren’t attracting young talent, then the days are numbered for your influence and the legacy of your organization.

So why are there certain organizations and certain leaders who always seem to attract younger leaders to their team? Whether a pastor, entrepreneur, CEO or non-profit Executive Director, there are certain leaders, certain teams and certain organizations that EVERY young and ambitious leader wants to be a part of.

What is it about THIS leader and the organization they lead that attracts young leaders? Such a draw that young guns are willing to jump on board with them and storm the castle. Regardless of pay, structure, environment, city, setting, or future opportunities, young leaders want to be around these types of leaders and be a part of what they are doing.

You want young leaders on your team? Here are a few KEYS I think young leaders are drawn to:

1. Humility, combined with incredible passion and skill. Realizing it’s not about you. Jim Collins writes about this as the key characteristic of a level 5 leader.

2. Unwavering commitment to reaching their desired audience and accomplishing the mission. Know the hill they are climbing and willing to fight to get to the top.

3. The IT factor- hard to explain, but easy to spot. Young leaders can sense it and want to be tied to leaders with IT.

4. Collaboration and not competition. A leader who celebrates others’ victories along with their own.

5. Willing to give over responsibility and authority, vs. a “wait your turn” mentality. This kind of perspective and organizational culture will allow young leaders to lead – given they are qualified and can handle it.

6. Authenticity. They keep it real. Young leaders clamor towards authentic and honest leaders.

7. Open to change. This is a big deal. If you as a leader are not open to change, no one worth their salt will probably be willing to follow you, especially younger leaders. (thanks to Shinabarger on this one)

8. Can have at least a little fun. Like attracts like. It’s a reality= regardless of age, demographic, and style. The next generation wants a family environment that is fun and experiential.

9. Confident risk taking. Passionately create a culture that takes risks, allows for failure, and thinks outside the box.

10. BIG vision. Young leaders want to change the world, and want to follow leaders who think BIG and dream big.

11. Hustle and Hungry. The next generation expects you to be beside them in the trenches, not in the corner office sipping on Spritzers. Hustle and hungry, not arrogant and entitled. Besides your team, not out in front of them.

12. BEST at what they do. Regardless of industry or profession or organization, young leaders want to be part of a culture and organization built on excellence with a desire to be great. This is why Google and Facebook and Apple have hundreds of thousands of college graduates clamoring for a chance to be on the team.

What else would you add to the list of those leaders who are drawing young leaders to be part of their teams?

Are you a follower or a fan?

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Follower vs. Fan. Is there a difference?

1. Followers are committed. Fans can be fickle.

2. Followers trust their leader. Fans trust in their leader only when it benefits them.

3. Followers want a vision. Fans want a show.

4. Followers ask “what have i done for you lately?” Fans ask “what have you done for me lately?”

5. Followers are in for the long term. Fans are in for the short term.

6. Followers have an intrinsic connection; it’s not about wearing a t-shirt. Fans have an extrinsic connection; it’s ALL about wearing a t-shirt.

7. Followers don’t care who gets the credit. Fans draw attention to themselves.

8. Followers want connection and community. Fans want an autograph and a selfie.

9. Followers believe that what they are part of is truly making a difference. Fans believe that what they are part of is simply making a memory.

Are you a follower or a fan?

7 Keys to Celebrate your Rivals and Partner with your Competition

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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.

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

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

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

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

5. Pray for them, both in public and in private.

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

7. 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.

7 Characteristics of Good Employees

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Here you go, 7 keys on Monday to help you be a better employee, partner, or peer to others in your organization.

1. write everything down- never show up to a meeting without something to write with and something to write on. And write it down. Everything. Otherwise you’ll forget. I don’t care who you are.

2. honor people’s time- show up early and finish on time. Actually finish early if at all possible.

3. come with solutions, not just ideas- this is crucial. move towards completion, not away from it.

4. learn how to anticipate- always be one step ahead. Do something every day you weren’t “asked” or “told” to do, but know you should do.

5. be a disciplined learner- understand it’s your role to be an expert, no matter what level or role you play in an organization. Don’t just be one step ahead of your boss in being skilled at your job…. be an expert.

6. create corporate culture, don’t just consume it- help set the standard in your organization, don’t just reflect it. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.

7. be a servant- much harder said than done. Much of this perspective comes from having a great attitude.