Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to Fix Your Meetings

Seth Godin had a great post on this topic and listed out 9 ways to get serious about your meeting problem. He admits that these ideas are simply marketing - just a show to demonstrate to your team that you are serious about getting your meetings under control. I'm going to try a couple of his ideas. Here were my three favorites:
  1. Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length? Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you're done. Not your fault, it's the timer's. (OK I combined 2 here!)
  2. The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
  3. Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens.
Good stuff. In your estimation what are some keys to getting meetings under control?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

You Know You're Living in 2009 When...

  1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
  2. You email the person who works at the desk next to you.
  3. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
Thanks to Kem Meyer for the post - you can read some more at her site.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Few Quotes from UNLEASH Session #1

Perry Nobel, the Sr. Pastor of Newspring Church, threw it down in the first main session of the UNLEASH conference that I'm attending right now. Here are three good quotes.
  1. How many of you grandparents in the crowd would give your life to see you grandchildren come to know Jesus? ... How many of you would give up your music style?
  2. When the church becomes as valuable to us as the stock market, we'll do something about the decline.
  3. Christians have consistently used prayer as an excuse for inactivity.
There were a bunch more - but I'm limiting myself to three! If you were at UNLEASH feel free to add on your best quotes.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making the Most out of Conferences

As we're getting ready to head out for the Unleash Conference for Church Leaders tomorrow - I have been pondering how we can make the most out of this learning experience. One of the challenges that people face is in translating the content, the experience, and the application of all we’ve gained from our time away. My friend Bob Bickford compiled a good list of suggestions to make the most out of training opportunities and conferences. He talks about some of the obvious things like good note taking, using meals to debrief with your team, networking with other like-minded leaders, and good post conference evaluation. But I picked three of the less obvious recommendations that I thought were helpful.
  1. What do you think we need to think about? Good conferences raise questions. Be sure to write down the questions you’re beginning to ask and the questions you believe we should be asking as an organization.
  2. Take 10-when you return from your conference ask for 10 minutes in the next staff meeting to summarize your experience and new learnings.
  3. Divide and Conquer-if you attending the conference with a team, cover multiple sessions and breakouts rather than sticking together…this maximizes your learning and also makes the debriefing sessions varied and interesting.
Any other helpful advice for maximizing the impact of a conference?

Monday, March 09, 2009

How To Spark Initiative in Those You Lead

Ben Arment had a great post this week about this important leadership topic. His premise is that "nine times out of 10, when we complain about lack of initiative in those we lead, it's because we've unintentionally put a lid on it." He lists 5 ways to spark initiative... as always... I picked my favorite 3:
  1. Responsibility has to come with authority. Has to.
  2. Our environments have to be permission-giving. Experimental even.
  3. Invite them to the table. People don't try when their opinions don't count.
You can check out the other two here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Things I Enjoyed at Grace Today - March 7-8

We had a great weekend at Grace. Although we were missing a big segment of our college students due to spring break - it was still a phenomenal time with great energy and passionate worship for God. Al was on point, the band was rocking, Gary got dunked, there was "magic" happening in the children's wing, but here are a few of the other highlights for me:
  1. Shawn and Stephanie's testimony video - I think we will have this posted at our vimeo site sometime soon, and you need to see it. Stephanie is pregnant with a baby boy named Benjamin who will not be able to survive outside the womb once he is born. It is a moving story of faith and hope.
  2. Teaching S.H.A.P.E. - This was week one of our new SHAPE class and it is going to be tremendous. I love the makeup of the class and am pumped about what will happen when this class is unleashed with the knowledge of how God has wired them to serve.
  3. Launch of our new strategy to encourage people to arrive on time - I know this is a nerdy Executive Pastor thing to get excited about, but we chose Daylight Savings weekend to unroll our strategy. A new countdown video at the beginning of services, closing of main doors immediately when service starts, ushers redirecting people to use side doors when the service is in progress, etc. The days of allowing lateness to distract those who are on time are over!
Grace readers - what were some of your favorite moments from this weekend?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ways to Fail as a Team Leader

Church leadership requires a very high level of skill because in most cases the leader is working with volunteers. And recruiting and motivating volunteers requires a completely different skill set and a different level of leadership savvy than recruiting and motivating paid employees. I read a good article by the guys at Leadership Transformations on this topic. You can read all 10 ways to fail as a team leader here. I picked 3.

  1. Fill your team with people just like you. Surround yourself with people who think like you do and share similar strengths and weaknesses. Could there be a more ideal team than one made up of multiple versions of you? A variety of gifts and skills on a team is incredibly important - we have such a great mix here at Grace.
  2. Ask someone to do a specific job, and then do it yourself. Micromanagement is one of the surest ways to fail as a team leader. The team leader who aims to fail must avoid empowerment at all costs. If you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.
  3. Conserve affirmation. You don’t want your team members to become arrogant. Use affirming remarks sparingly. Try to space them out as much as you can. If possible, only tell your people you appreciate them once a year at the Christmas party. This is one I have to improve on - I think very highly of my team so often, but am not always quick to express that affirmation.
What are some other ways you've seen team leaders fail, or that you as a team leader have failed?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Leadership Axioms

On my last trip down to the SC (that's South Carolina) - I listened to a podcast by Bill Hybels about his new book Axiom. I had just purchased the book and wanted a little primer before I got into it. It was excellent. Hybels defines axioms as carefully-crafted phrases of just a few words through which leaders can communicate a complex concept, value, or a learned leadership lesson, and these axioms become part of the organization’s culture. They are short repeatable sound bytes that help organizations develop a common leadership language and value system. Here are three that caught my attention:

  1. "Can I have an umbrella of mercy?" - We have actually used this one for some time at Grace. It's a phrase that was hatched by the Willow Arts team. It means, “I’m going to propose a high-risk idea, and something in me wishes there was an umbrella of safety over my head to protect me from bad reactions.” Everyone in leadership has felt the emotional risk that comes when a new idea is put out on the table. This phrase asks for some grace from those listening to "hear me out" without judgment.
  2. “When something feels funky, engage.” - This was a new one to me, but it resonates deeply. Often when leaders are walking around, they pick up on a hint of something funky going in a particular department. Sometimes they tend to avoid addressing it and hope it will go away or resolve itself. That usually never happens! When something feels funky -even if you can't put your finger on exactly what it is - it's time for a leader to engage.
  3. "Check your ego at the door" - Colin Powell developed some axioms that are called the “Powell Principles,” and this is one of them. Hybels noted how every part of this axiom is memorable — especially the visual imagery of arriving at a meeting, walking through the door, checking your ego like a coat, leaving it behind, doing your business, and picking it back up when you leave.
What are some leadership axioms that have been helpful to you?