6 Ways to Lead Staff You Don’t Like :: Guest Post

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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.

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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.

11 Ways to Make Your Staff Meetings Better

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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? 

 

Whose Attention are You After?

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Who’s Watching you? Who are you watching? Whose attention are you after?

Really.

Whose attention do you crave?

Too many of us crave the attention of the wrong crowd.

Are you chasing the attention and approval of friends, or peers, or those who have “arrived” already? Are you seeking the attention of “celebrities” in your circle? Would it make your day to be noticed by someone? Your boss? The CEO? The Senior Pastor? Founder? That artist or musician? If a certain someone commented on your instagram pic or followed you on Twitter, would that totally make your day and immediately change your attitude?

Or are you content with the attention of your Heavenly Father?

Leaders must be cautious of chasing after the things of this world. Chasing after the attention of others, jumping in on the latest fad, saying yes because of who you are saying yes to, and seeking the approval of the crowd is not acceptable.

Romans 12: 2 warns us against this: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Our attention and focus should be on things that are Eternal, and we should crave the attention of God, not man.

Don’t get caught up in trying to be “noticed by man.” Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Seek the attention and approval of One.

7 Ways to be a Bridge Builder

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Building a bridge is an art. Not literal bridges that you drive over, although those are incredibly important….

I’m referring to building bridges in business, friendships, co-workers, mentors, and key partnerships. I’m referring to building a new relationship with your neighbor. I’m referring to connecting with someone that you’ve wanted to meet with for a long time and only having 15 minutes for a meeting. How do you turn that meeting into an hour or more, and then eventually into a friend?

Many folks just think that showing up is half the battle. Well, sort of. But there’s more. When it comes to winning a client, or inking a new partnership, or developing a new friendship, there are some key things I’ve learned over the years that might be helpful.

A few thoughts:

1. Love people until they ask why. Let your actions speak so loud that people can not help but pay attention. Let them see your authenticity, and ultimately demand an explanation for the reason you do what you do.

2. Prove your craft before asking for something. Excellence, skill and know how is key on this. Show that you are competent before you demand that they should partner with you.

3. Ask more questions than they do. I love this one. Many times asking great questions is way more strategic than giving great answers.

4. Spend lots of time listening. Once you’ve asked a great question, listen. And listen more. And listen more.

5. Find points of connection and shared interests, and be intentional. A crucial part of great bridge building. Find out what motivates someone, what their interests are, what they enjoy. Is it sports? rock climbing? history? Whatever it is, find out and then build on those areas of shared interests.

6. Connect them to others. Great connectors and bridge builders are always figuring out ways to introduce their friends within their circle. Claire at Twitter does this amazingly well. And here’s the key on this- the ultimate value for the connection is not for you, it’s more for others.

7. Follow up. This is the #1 step that everyone seems to forget. We have to follow up. Never assume that because you haven’t heard from someone, it means they are not interested. They’re busy, just like you. Take the first step and reach out. And then reach out again. And then again.

9 Tips for those “Newbies” entering the Workforce

We always have a bunch of interns at Catalyst. And most folks on the Catalyst team have cut their teeth in their “first job” here at Catalyst. They are all really talented, really sharp, and really hungry to learn.

Having young early 20 somethings around reminds me of the days when I started my first “real” job just after college. And while that wasn’t that long ago, I feel like there are a few things I’ve learned since then that might be good reminders for recent college graduates, or those just entering the “workforce.”

1. Show up on time (early). As I tell our team all the time: If you are on time, you’re late. If you are early, you’re on time.

2. Always have something to write with and write on. This is crucial. Don’t go strolling off to a meeting without pen and paper, unless you are planning to take notes on your phone, on your iPad, or on your laptop.

3. Be informed. Regardless of what you are doing, be informed before you get there- whether that’s a new job, or a meeting, or a lunch appointment. Do some research and show up educated about the topic, about the person, or about the context.

4. Be intentional. Start your first day by asking great questions and being inquisitive.

5. Request the tough assignments. Take initiative and request the tough assignment that no one else really wants. Not as a brown noser, but as a go getter.

6. Relentlessly get things done. When given responsibility and a task to get done, make it happen and try your best to get it done early. Then anticipate what else needs to get done beyond what you were assigned, and get that done. Under promise and over deliver.

7. Remember names. If you are new in a large office with hundreds of staff, this one can be especially difficult. But it’s your responsibility. Know everyone by their first and last name within your first week. If that means studying the staff directory at night, so be it.

8. Know what your leader/boss appreciates. If your boss appreciates humor, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates staying late, then lean into that. If your boss appreciates constant feedback, lean into that. If your boss appreciates Chipotle, lean heavily into that….!!

9. Figure out the team culture, embrace it, and add to it. Our team culture at Catalyst includes several key elements- food, hard work, loud, fun, young, etc. Whatever the key elements of a team culture where you are coming in as the newbie, try to add to it. So, for example, if your team’s culture is built around food, then add to that and bring in some snacks without being asked. If it’s celebration, then add a new way to celebrate. If it’s being loud, add a new loud instrument to the team breakroom.

10 Keys to being a Great Employee

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Being a leader doesn’t exempt you from being a good employee. Matter of fact, as leaders, we should strive to be the best in all we do, not just being “good” or “better.”

“Good” is doing what is expected of you. This typically falls in the slightly above-average range and is relatively easy to achieve with a bit of focus and determination. “Better” is rising a little higher than good and typically means you are comparing yourself to the next one in line.

But best is where you should want to live. It is greatness and doesn’t mean you are better than everyone else but that you’re working to your maximum capability.

Whether the one in charge, or just simply part of the team, our goal should be to create an environment that thrives on excellence and always strives to be the best.

This can be a challenge but I’ve discovered 10 ways to be the best employee there is:

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.

3. Come with solutions, not just ideas. This is crucial. Move towards completion, not away from it. Ideas are great, but always have to lead towards the finish line.

4. Learn how to anticipate. 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 is 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. Listen well. Listen when in a conversation; don’t just think about what you are going to say in response. Listen for next steps, not current realities- this has to do with anticipating.

7. Reflect most of the credit; take all the blame. This is more for leaders, but still a great principle to put into practice no matter what level you are in the organization. Be a reflector of praise, not an absorber. Absorb the blame if at all possible.

8. Never speak negatively of your peers for personal gain. This is a hard one for everyone, especially when your boss or superior wants to pit you against that peer and see how you respond. Don’t give in to that. Stay above it.

9. Push back. Almost every organizational leader I know wants their team members to challenge the process, question assumptions, bring new ideas to the table, and push back when they don’t agree. Don’t be afraid to do this. If your leader is not mature enough to take this, then they probably shouldn’t be in the position they are in. If unsure on whether you truly have “permission” to push back, ask for permission on the front end.

10. Take on more responsibility. Ask for more power and involvement, and you’ll be lifting the load of your employer or boss. That is always a welcomed conversation. Always. Help by taking on more.

Quit Being a Wimpy Leader

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I have great respect for professional baseball players; they are anything but wimpy. To stand in front of home plate with a ball heading toward your head at 95 miles per hour with nothing but a piece of wood to bat it away takes guts.

Life and leadership are a lot like baseball. Even the best batters strike out sometimes. But a true athlete, and courageous leaders, can never run away from the pitch.

I may not play baseball, but I do snow ski, and the analogy is much the same. The first time I faced the challenge of a mogul run on a black diamond slope that was steep and overwhelming, it was tough for me to muster the energy to get down the mountain. While gazing over the steep side from the top of the run, my friend’s advice was, “Point your skis down the hill and keep your nose over your tips. You have to lean forward and over your ski tips. Even when you are overcome with fright, maintain a posture of nose over tips, rather than leaning back.” In essence: lean back and you fall.

This is not only great advice for skiing steep slopes but also good advice for leadership. As a leader, you sit atop the mountain. You have no choice but to face the slopes. You can lean back, coast, and play it safe, snowplowing your way painfully back and forth across the mountain, or you can point you skis down the hill, nose over the tips, and dominate the run. Being a courageous leader requires you to push beyond the norm, be willing to take risks and quit being a wimp.

Courage is not an individual trait but an organizational one. It’s a natural instinct that all leaders confront fear of failure and fear of the unknown. But living in that fear is destructive for a team and will kill momentum.

Courage is not waiting for your fear to go away; it is confronting your fear head-on.

Through working with young leaders around the nation, I have found six essentials that can help build a culture of courage in an organization:

1)    Set scary standards. Your level of excellence and expectation for your product, service or experience should be something that is nearly unattainable. Safe goals are set by safe leaders with safe visions. Give your people a goal that scares them, and you’ll produce leaders who know what it means to overcome fear.

2)    Allow for failure. The road to success is many times paved through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.

3)    Make decisions. Don’t let ideas, strategy, communication, and important organizational markers sit idly by on the side without saying yes or no. Leaders are decision makers, and must do it constantly.

4)    Reward innovation. Innovation requires taking risks. And bold risks create bold team members. Rewarding innovation will challenge your team to grow in their roles.

5)    Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one. Be disciplined. Aggressively pursue a few things that make sense. Say no often.

6)    Learn to delegate. This is one of the most courageous things a leader can do. Entrusting others with important tasks requires letting go and relinquishing control. Liberally pass responsibility and authority to your team. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead. Early and often.

These elements aren’t easy to nurture in a corporate setting. You and your colleagues will likely resist it at every turn. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die.” Courage mingles our desire to rush forward with a willingness to accept the possibility of being stopped in our tracks.

Yet if you desire to be a leader who changes the world, you have no choice but to exhibit courage on a constant basis.

The good news is that unlike some leadership traits, courage is not inborn; it’s learned. The natural response is to run from what frightens us, but life’s greatest leaps occur when we resist this impulse.

Remember when you were completely fearless as a kid? Children often demonstrate courage naturally. Most of us can think back to times as a child when we stepped out in courage. Whether riding a bike without training wheels, jumping into the deep end of the pool, or letting go of the rails to ice-skate without assistance, life teaches us that progress requires courage. We have to be willing to get out to the edge, look at what is in the front of us, summon up the fortitude, and jump.

The jump may be risky, but the decision to stay where you are is even more so.

Be Brave!!

8 Keys for Leading Musicians, Designers, and Artists

Okay, so alot of us who run organizations, or manage teams, or have staff direct reports, are leading those who consider themselves to be ARTISTS of some sort.

Whether it’s musicians, or designers, or writers, or entertainers, or worship leaders, or those who sketch/paint/draw, I’m going to lump them all together for the sake of this conversation and my thoughts on how to best lead them.

Disclaimer: we are ALL artists. In regards that we all are called to create things of excellence. Some of us are way more “Artistic” at our core than others. That is who I’m talking about here. You know who they are on your team. Guaranteed.

I’m also VERY INTERESTED to hear from you on how you best lead/manage artists. Please comment below and share your thoughts.

Here are a few of my thoughts on effectively leading Musicians, Designers, and Artists:

1. Start with reality. Artists are different. Not in bad weird way. But in a great weird way. So just begin with this, and it will help tremendously.

2. Lead, don’t manage. Share vision, inspire, and let them loose. Managing an artist type like you would an accountant, or a project manager, or a typical hard charging type A, is not a good idea.

3. Be very specific on areas that most think are ambiguous. Most leaders think that because artists are spontaneous and spatial in their thinking, that they don’t want specifics. So alot of leaders will be totally ambiguous in their interactions with artists. But just the opposite. Most artists need and desire very clear, focused and specific direction. They don’t mind boundaries; in fact, they welcome them (more insight on this from my friend Tyler Reagin here).

4. Give them room to dream. This might mean they need to spend an afternoon at a coffee shop or in the park or at the lake. Let them do that.

5. Include them in the process. If you simply tell them what you want once you and everyone else have decided, you’ll probably get it. But including them in the creative process will create more buy in and probably a better outcome.

6. Allow them to decorate and make their area “their own.” Their office or cube or space needs to reflect who they are. Otherwise, finding inspiration could be tough in the office.

7. Release them into their areas of greatest strength. Don’t burden a great artist with tasks and responsibilities outside their strengths. If it’s a money thing, pay them less but let them do what they are great at. Most artists care way more about doing their “art” anyway.

8. Aggregate artists in “pairs” and team lead them. I like to always have at least two artists in a meeting, on a team, working on a project, sitting together, and ultimately working together. It gives them more energy and allows them to vent to each other. Also, if you have personality conflicts with artists on your team, then “team” lead them. Don’t take it personal, but figure out the best way to release them and inspire them. It might be that you are not the best person to do that, and it’s okay that someone else on your team is.