Category Archives: Team

The Leader & Planning: Pace and Environment

This is the 4th in a series on leadership and planning.  For many organizations it will soon be the season for team strategic planning.  You need a team that is highly engaged and ready to give their best thinking towards the future of the organization.  Today’s post speaks to the right pace of planning and the best environment.  Here are some practical suggestions on both.

The Right Pace Matters  Too many leaders wear out their teams with all day planning meetings.  It’s death by planning.

1. Spread the planning time out over multiple days.

2. Never have a planning meeting for more than four hours in any one day.

3.  Don’t stay on one topic for too long.  I would recommend not going more than 60 minutes on any particular issue.  If you are tackling a particularly big problem-return to it later when there might be some fresh ideas.

The Right Environment Matters  If you want people to be engaged and contribute well you need to place them in an environment that aids the creative process.

1. Provide a comfortable meeting room that is well lit and has enough room for people to move around (I actually prefer meeting in a home when possible).

2. Be sure to take a good break every 75 to 90 minutes during the planning time.

3. If you are going to require planning aids like a VPU, large whiteboard (with markers that actually work), giant 3M note pad, posit notes, etc. be sure they are sufficient in number and in working order before you begin.

4. Snacks.  You have to have some good snacks.

There is an art and a science to planning.  Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference.  Lead well!

The Leader & Planning

In case you haven’t noticed, it is July.  The significance for many ministry settings which operate on an academic year is that it is time to begin thinking about a strategic plan.  This can be the case for any organization that operates on an academic calendar, or a fiscal one which begins in August or September.  I have helped a lot of teams in their planning process and I have taught on strategic planning on numerous occasions.  I regularly see two missteps when it comes to team planning.  Either the plans are not worth executing because they were poorly done or teams are worn out through the process-or both.  Over the next several posts I will offer some insights that might change your planning environment toward a more productive and enjoyable one.  Today, we will begin by talking about the two primary purposes of planning.  I am  drawing both of my principles from a spiritual perspective-but believe them to be true no matter the setting.

1. The 1st Purpose of Planning is Stewardship  This is the idea that all of the resources we have at our disposal are not our own.  Typically we do not wholly own these resources, they have simply been entrusted to us to employ.  The idea of stewardship also carries the notion that we will always have a limited supply of resources.  In other words, they are not inexhaustible and we rarely have all that we want.  I believe this to be true whether we are leading a for profit enterprise or a non-profit organization.  With these two things in mind it makes sense that we have to be incredibly wise about the right use of the resources entrusted to us.  Under the banner of “resources” I would primarily count people, money, and tools.  Because we believe our cause to be worthy and because our resources are always limited-we have to employ the people, money, and tools under our watch with great care and towards the highest leveraged activities and strategies possible.  This absolutely requires thoughtful planning.

2.  The 2nd Purpose of Planning is Celebration  You may think this a strange reason for good planning.  But I find that leaders and teams often spend days on crafting a robust strategic plan only to forget to celebrate key milestones along the way.  This can ultimately be very demotivating to a team giving it’s best effort to execute a plan.  This can also raise the belief that the constant, non stop focus on planning and execution is primarily for the sake of the leader.  To stop and celebrate not only allows a proper break in the daily harried activity but it also provides a great opportunity to acknowledge individual and team contributions.  This places the proper emphasis on team and not just on a leader. If you are a spiritual leader it also allows you the space to give God his deserved glory for showing up in ways that you had not anticipated and adding his blessing to your plans.  Celebration can take many forms.  I think it should be specific, acknowledging critical milestones and key contributions.  I also think it should be regular, taking place each time a new goal is reached.  To stop and celebrate says that the dog days of planning were worth it.  It also keeps your plan a living document that can change and adapt over time (more on this later).

This post says nothing about how to plan-we will get there.  But I hope it speaks clearly as to why we must plan.  We must see all resources as valuable and every effort as note worthy.  To do so elevates the function of planning.  Lead and plan well!

Here are some key verses from the Bible on planning:  Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:12; Job 42:2; Psalm 20:4; Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 14:22; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 21:5; Isaiah 14:24; Ephesians 1:11

5 for Leadership

After a week of vacation, here is a fresh 5.

12 Bible Verses for Leaders  Ron Edmondson provides twelve verses from Scripture that are foundational for biblical leadership.  These are certainly worthy of consideration.  Also check out Ron’s current five part video series on his blog as he interviews Dr. John Laida, who was Ron’s pastor growing up.

3 Leadership Lessons From Queen Elizabeth II  Scott Eblin writes a nice piece on the “footprint” of a leader and uses the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the UK as an example that how one leads really matters.

The Top 10 Reasons People Have Lost “The Art of Vacation”  This seemed timely.  My family and I just returned from 9 days of vacation and enjoyed every bit of it-yet I did notice it was truly hard to unplug.  This post is from Chris Brady which highlights aspects of his upcoming book, A Month of Italy.  This is a very good list and worth pondering.  As leaders there has to be down time.  Take a look.

How Do I Lead A Team?  This post comes from the Talent Technologies web site and highlights five useful expectations of team members from their leaders.  These principles are foundational to a good team experience.

All Hail The Generalist  This is a great piece out of the Harvard Business Review blog and makes a great case for why the era of the generalist may be returning.  Vikram Mansharanami writes that the need for generalists who can see the interconnectedness of many things may be the leader of the future.

There are the 5 for this second week in June.  Lead well!

5 for Leadership

Here is the Christmas week 5 for Leadership.  I am going “Country” on you this week-all of these bloggers reside in the Nashville area.

A Leader Must Know When to Ask for Help-This is thoughtful post by a branding expert named Maurilio Amorim.  He provides 10 tangible benefits of wise counsel.  This is a post to protect you from yourself-because none of us are wise enough on our own to lead well.

Interview With Matt Hasselbeck-This comes from Pete Wilson’s blog and is a video interview with the Titan’s quarterback.  Pete is a one of the pastors of Cross Point Church in Nashville (actually, there are five different campuses for the church).  The quarterback of any football team has to be a leader.  Every play begins with him.  This is a great 35 minute interview with Matt including several applicable leadership principles embedded in the conversation.  Also, check out Pete’s other posts–they are worthy.

How to Create The Kind of Team Unity That Drives Results-This is another gem from Michael Hyatt.  Leading teams requires both the science and art of leading.  In this practical post Michael talks about three kinds of team unity and five steps toward team alignment.  This is a great primer for heading into 2012 with better designs for your team.

Help Them Believe-This one comes from Jenni Cartron who is the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville.  This is brief post that begins with this opening phrase: “Leaders, it’s your job to help people believe…”  Read and see what you think.  Check out some of Jenni’s other posts while you are there.

My Advice For Young Leaders-Soles4Souls has become one of the fastest growing non-profits in the country.  Wayne Elsey is the CEO-take a look at his “About” section of his blog after you read this post.  In this post there are four good pieces of advice for any young leader.  For that matter, any leader would benefit from Wayne’s practical points.  Take a look.

There you have it for this week-5 from Nashville.  I hope that you enjoy these and that you have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

5 for Leadership

I am starting a new regular feature on my blog called “5 For Leadership.”  It will consist of five links to some great reads on leadership that I have found beneficial to me.  Please give me your feedback.  I would love to know what you think about the quality of these posts and the benefit of this blog for you in your leadership life.  Enjoy.

Leading Blog has a great review of the latest book by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, Great By Choice.  They offer a solid synopsis of the theme and some helpful insights for understanding the book.

N2Growth blog by Mike Myatt has a very interesting post on “12 Ways to Spot Ineffective Leadership.”  I find Mike’s writing always thought provoking and practical-check it out.

Desperate Pastor Blog has an older piece (from January of this year) entitled “Spiritual Leadership.”  This post shares some insight from Samuel Logan Brengle, who was an officer in the Salvation Army.  This post takes aim at the heart of a spiritual leader.

Ode is a blog and print piece that originated in the Netherlands and is billed as “The online community for intelligent optimists.”  They did a post in February of 2010 that I think is worth a read.  It is entitled. “How Leadership and Spirituality Must Connect in the New World.”  I don’t agree with everything that is written-but the post offers an interesting perspective about the inner life of a leader for today’s world.

In case you missed it, here is a link to Desiring God where Piper wrote a very useful post on “Six Characteristics of Spiritual Leadership.”  Piper highlights six principles from the Old Testament on team leadership for the church.  It is quite good.

8 Principles for Leading a Team

I read this post today from Perry Noble and thought it was worth repeating-some good thoughts on team leading. Pay attention!

I recently sat down with all of our worship leaders here at NewSpring Church for two hours…it was seriously an amazing series of conversations.

At one point, Lee McDerment, our worship leader at the Anderson campus asked me, “What are some things all of us need to keep in mind as we lead teams.” I gave a decent answer … but after I got back to my office I began to write my thoughts down … and here are eight things I believe that every leader needs to keep in mind when leading a team.

#1 – You will never effectively motivate someone with feelings of guilt
I’ve made that mistake as a leader before, thinking if I could just get someone to feel bad they would do a better job … WRONG! No one has ever brought about significant change in the world because guilt propelled them to do so. AND … if a leader finds himself always motivating by guilt … he will also soon find himself without anyone to lead. NO ONE likes going on a guilt trip.

#2 – People don’t respond to need – they respond to vision
When a leader talks about a need, some people will respond. BUT, when a leader can cast a compelling vision about what SHOULD BE and with God’s grace and our participation, WOULD BE CHANGE HAPPENS! Many times a team leader will drift off course NOT because they are lazy and/or pathetic, but because maybe they have forgotten why they do what they do and a shot of vision will cure that every time.

#3 – A person cannot be held accountable for unspoken expectations
Another mistake I’ve made in the past as a leader is assuming people could read my mind and so when they didn’t do what I thought should have been done I would get angry with them. After some very confusing looks and some really tough conversations I began to realize that I was expecting things out of people that I hadn’t clearly explained! Our job as leaders is to give clear, realistic expectations and then resource the people to make those things happen.

#4 – Keep short accounts
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 that we are to not let the sun go down on us while we are angry. In other words, we should act with URGENCY when it comes to conflict among the teams we lead. Unresolved conflict is like cancer that begins to eat away at the body. It must be dealt with OR its destruction will bring about death. Many leaders RUN FROM conflict because it is uncomfortable, but I’ve learned the hard way that we must embrace a little discomfort now or A LOT of it in the future!

#5 – Don’t be afraid to set high standards
One of the problems I’ve discovered when it comes to leadership in the Church is that some people are perfectly fine with setting the bar of excellence really low … and then allowing the people they lead to crawl under it. I know leaders who literally fear that if they set high standards that people will get offended. However, the thing I’ve learned around here at NewSpring is if we DON’T set high standards people do not feel challenged … which leads to boredom! (BTW … I said “high standards,” not “unrealistic ones!”)

#6 – Beware of the all-star
One of the things that cripples any team is when it has an all star who believes ministry simply cannot take place without them. And when a leader begins to believe that about an individual on the team then they will often fear what might happen if the all-star left rather than what would happen if the presence of God left!!! Every “star player” who truly has an intimate walk with God understands that it’s the TEAMWORK that makes the DREAMWORK – period.

#7 – Each team member is a human being
The leader who views the team he leads as people who are assembled to do what he wants them to do and that’s it sucks as a leader! A leader MUST care about the people he leads and NOT just the tasks they perform. If a team member sees themselves as merely a tool in the leaders hand rather than a valued team member … they will soon be looking to join another team.

#8 – Ask questions
One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is assuming that they have to have the answer to every question that comes their way. (BTW … NO leader is that good!) One of the things I am realizing more and more is how incredibly gifted and talented the people around me are … and over the past several years I’ve asked this question in so many meetings when someone presents an issue to me, “So, what do you think we should do?” Often times the person already has the solution planned out … which saves me (and everyone else on the team) all kinds of time and energy! The reason God blesses a leader with a team is so that leader can harness the collective wisdom of everyone involved and make the best decision.

Besides … people ARE going to share their opinion somewhere … a leader might as well be the first to hear it … because it can save a lot of problems in the future.

One more thing … the only reasons a leader might not ask questions is because he is insecure (thinks doing so will show weakness), full of pride (thinks he is better than everyone else) or fear (because he knows the answer he is going to hear from the team is the right one – but not the one he prefers!)

Perry Noble is the Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina. At just nine years old the church averages over 10,000 people during weekend services and is launching another campus in Columbia, South Carolina this year to reach even more people.

Attending to The Needs of Those You Lead

Clarence Otis is the CEO of Darden Restaurants–this is an impressive chain of such well known establishments as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, and Longhorn Steakhouse in the U.S. Otis was interviewed for the Herald Tribune last week about some critical aspects of good leadership–here are some highlights worth pondering.

What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned? It’s this notion that leaders think about others first. They think about the people who are on the team, trying to help them get the job done.

How do you hire people? The most important thing to me is, you want to see someone who has passion, who really gets excited about the world around them and has drive. Being comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty is a trait I look for, because those folks are pretty comfortable with diversity–they are looking as much for the opportunity that’s inherent in that as they are for the risk.

Are there things that, as a leader or manager, you’ve learned to do less of over time? I’d say probably less wordsmithing, less massaging of the work product, more thinking, more reflecting.

Any thoughts on how language is used in the business world? I do think language is important in leadership, and it’s critically important in oral communication. It’s worth thinking about exactly how you’re going to say something. It’s important for focusing people. It’s important for inspiring them. It’s important for directing them. The more senior you are the more important it is–because your voice is amplified.

What has surprised you the most about the top job? I would say it’s how amplified everything that you say or do is. You have to be very intentional about what you say and do. If not, then something that was just thinking out loud, some thought you had, some “what if” becomes a directive, even though 10 seconds later in your own mind you dismissed it.

What would you like business schools to teach more of, or less of? I didn’t go to business school; I went to law school. But my sense is the one thing law school does that business school could do more of is provide you with a social context, the broader context within which business operates. I think it would be interesting for business school students to learn constituional law and comparative law. I think the dialogue between the business community and the civic community is hampered by the gap.

Interesting insights from a very successful CEO and company.