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4 Signs a Team Member Is a Distraction

Jimmy Butler is an amazing basketball player and he seems to be fitting in very well with his new team – the Philadelphia 76ers. Earlier this season, he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves but publicly stated he did not want to play for the Timberwolves any longer, that he did not trust or respect the management. Amazingly, despite his demands to leave the team, he insisted he was not a distraction. No one, of course, believed he was not a distraction. If you declare you don’t want to play on a team, it is impossible to not to be distraction. Here are four signs a team-member is a distraction.

1. The person is negative.

It is impossible for a negative team-member to not be a distraction. They suck energy from the room and from the team. Instead of contributing to the culture, a negative team-member corrodes the culture.

2. The person has to be over-managed.

Jim Collins wrote that “if someone has to be over-managed, you have the wrong person in the role.” When a person requires over-management, time that could be deployed towards mission and opportunities is constantly syphoned away towards less important things.

3. The person doesn’t believe in the mission and values.

A team-member who does not believe in the vision of the team is going to slow down the team from realizing the vision. A team-member who is not moving in the same direction as the team is going to create distraction from the direction or worse cause the team to shift direction.

4. The person sends signals they are not “all-in.”

Jimmy Butler created work for his team, when he was with Minnesota. The other players had to answer questions about him. Instead of solely thinking about games, they were forced to think about him. When someone sends signals that they are not “all-in,” the team will suffer. Eventually Jimmy Butler, and all-star player, was traded for non-all-stars, and the team is playing better without him. A committed non-all-star is infinitely better for a team than a non-committed all-star. He is doing great with the 76ers, which shows that a distracting team-member on one team is not necessarily a distraction on a different team. Life is always better, for all of us, when we are on a team where we contribute and don’t corrode, where we add to the team and don’t take away from the team. Read the full article 4 Signs a Team Member Is a Distraction that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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4 Ways to Avoid Being a Distracted Leader

An effective leader is a focused leader. A distracted leader greatly limits his or her effectiveness. Instead of leveraging influence, intellect, and inspiration towards a great purpose, a distracted leader divides resources across a plethora of priorities. A distracted leader commonly diffuses attention and focus and chases too many goals. Distractions can come masked as “good opportunities,” but if they pull you off mission, they are distractions nonetheless. So how do you avoid being a distracted leader? These four practices can help:

1. Remember where you add the greatest value

Focused leaders have a healthy understanding of who they are, of where they make the biggest contribution. Distracted leaders are typically confused leaders, not only confused about priorities but also confused about themselves – confused about their gifting and passion. To be focused and to remain focused, remember where you add the greatest value. If you are unsure, ask others you trust and reflect on where you have made the biggest impact in the past.

2. Keep your top goals in front of you

If you don’t have a list of goals or current top priorities, then it is highly unlikely you are a focused leader. But having goals and filing them away is very different from using them as a filter for decisions and actions. If you keep your top goals in front of you, they are much more likely to become a filter for what you say “yes” to and of where you invest your time. Chose several important goals and then let those goals boss you around.

3. Always align to the mission and values of your ministry or organization

When you goals and your gifting are in sync with the mission and values of the ministry or organization, then focus and impact are exponentially multiplied. If your goals are not in sync, then you are in the wrong place. If you don’t align to the mission and values of your team’s culture, not only will you be distracted, but you will also be a distraction.

4. Filter learning through your context

Yes, it is true that “leaders are readers” and that great leaders show “learning agility” – the ability to acquire and assimilate new information and scale their leadership. But there are times when new learning can unintentionally pull leaders away from effectiveness. Undisciplined and unfocused leaders can read one book or listen to one podcast and attempt to change the entire direction of their ministry or organization. Learn but filter and apply learning through your context, through your goals, and through how God has designed you as a leader. As your focus increases so does your effectiveness. Read the full article 4 Ways to Avoid Being a Distracted Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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What Should a Leader Do When the Team Is “at Capacity”?

A common struggle leaders face is the conflict between wanting to raise expectations that will cost people on the team time and energy while simultaneously hearing from the team that “they are already maxed out” or “they are at capacity.” It is possible that “being at capacity” is an excuse, and it is possible that the team is really maxed out. So what should a leader do? If the capacity statement is reality, these three capacity cures will help the team create more time and energy. If the capacity statement is merely an excuse, these will help expose that. So either way, the following are wise moves for leaders to take.

1. Clarify what is most important.

If a leader gives the team ten priorities, the team is going to be “at capacity” all of the time. Leaders owe it to their teams to help them understand what is most important in each season. Simply by clarifying what is most important now, capacity will be created as people will leverage time and energy toward what is communicated and celebrated. Leaders will likely always have more ideas than time and resources to execute those ideas, so clarity is critical.

2. Stop doing the less fruitful.

To create more capacity, help the team stop doing things. And then leverage the time, energy, and financial resources from the things that were stopped towards the most important. If leaders will lead their teams through the discipline of stopping the least fruitful things, capacity will be created.

3. Develop your team.

Leaders are responsible for the development of the teams they lead. If a leader’s team is 5% better than they were a year ago, then the team has 5% more capacity. If a leader of a team keeps declaring that their team is at capacity, and if the workload is really the same as it has been, then that leader has admitted that the team has not been developed. And that is on the leader. Clarity. Discipline. Development. Those are three strong capacity cures that leaders have at their disposal. If you utilize them you will help your team create more capacity OR you will expose the excuse that “capacity” has become. Read the full article What Should a Leader Do When the Team Is “at Capacity”? that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays

“Why do you take a day-off during the week? The devil doesn’t take a day off!” said one cranky old man to a young pastor.

“Because I am not trying to be like the devil” quipped the pastor.

Well done, pastor. Well done.

Ministry leaders must take a day off each week or they lack the moral authority to encourage those they serve to rest. Ministry leaders must take a day off each week for the sake of their own health, both physical and spiritual health. Without a time to rest, leaders will burn out or implode. Churches that make it difficult for church leaders to take a day off are harming the leaders and the church. Thankfully I have always served in churches that value the ministry leaders having time to rest. Thankfully the people who thought negatively about “days off” for ministry leaders weren’t in positions of decision-making.

If you are one of those people who think ministry leaders only work on Sundays, God loves you in the midst of your foolishness. But you are really, really foolish.

I had always taken Fridays as my “day off” before leaving the local church and serving as senior vice-president at LifeWay Christian Resources. Other friends of mine took Mondays off. Those seem to be the most common days off for ministry leaders. When I left local church ministry to serve at LifeWay, I learned what an actual weekend was. I had no idea what that word “weekend” really meant till not being on staff at a local church. Now that I have gone back to the local church, my current “day off” is Monday but I am going to experiment with Friday again too.

I have asked others which day is the best “day off” for ministry leaders and here are the best arguments I have heard for each day:

Take Mondays off:

  • Sunday is the end of your week. Take Sunday night and Monday off and rest before you start a new week.
  • The “Monday blues” can be real for ministry leaders. You are more susceptible to making bad decisions and express frustration to others. Take off and come back in a better place. You will have fewer regrets for your decisions and your interactions with others.
  • If you take Fridays off, you will be tired the entire week in the office. Rest up on Monday and you will enjoy the week more. And you will be more productive.

Take Fridays off:

  • On Mondays, you will not be able to resist problem solving from the weekend services, so you won’t really mentally be “off” on Mondays. On Friday, there is a better chance your task list is more complete
  • You put yourself behind on sermon prep if you take Mondays off.
  • You are exhausted on Mondays. Don’t give that time to your family. Give them Friday.

Which day is best? I recently polled church leaders on Twitter and 70% of those who responded chose Fridays over Mondays. It likely depends on the rhythm and the personality of the leader. You can experiment and see which works best for you. Or you can stick with what you have always known. The most important thing is that you are actually taking your day off.

Read the full article Day Off for Ministry Leaders: a Case for Mondays and a Case for Fridays that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make

Sometimes being a leader feels like living with a split personality as leaders must think about the future while also executing today. And then there are the emotional challenges of leadership, as being a leader often requires leading with two emotions at once. Leaders often must grieve the loss of something while also holding to hope for the future. They carry a deep burden while also being filled with joy for the opportunity. They address problems with sober-mindedness while also rejoicing that good things are happening.

As I have grieved the loss of ending one season of ministry and rejoiced in the beginning of another, I have thought a lot about the tension of leading with two emotions at once. And of the mistakes we are prone to make. Here are three common mistakes leaders make emotionally.

Mistake One: Ignoring emotion

It is not healthy to ignore an emotion because it will likely surface later without the benefit of processing and learning from it in the season. For example, if a leader buries and ignores grief—the grief can manifest in unhealthy ways. Or if a leader ignores the joy of leading because the leader worries that celebrating will take too much time away from work, the leader can easily create an unhealthy culture.

Mistake Two: Minimizing emotion

My current tension has been this: I have been tempted to minimize my excitement about my new assignment for fear of being disrespectful and dishonoring to my current team. In the same way I have been tempted to minimize the feeling of loss for fear that people will think I am not ready to go. It is hard to hold two emotions at once but minimizing them robs the leader of important moments and conversations with the team.

Mistake Three: Being ruled by emotion

Leadership is emotional. In fact, there has been a lot written on emotional intelligence—the ability to connect with others, show empathy, and effectively communicate non-verbally. While leaders are emotional people, wise leaders are not to be ruled by their emotions. Emotions can take us down dangerous paths and into unwise decision-making. The great news for the Christian is that we are able to continually submit our emotions to our Savior. We don’t have to let our emotions rule us, but we can preach the truth to our emotions. Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’–what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God.

Read the full article 3 Common Emotional Mistakes Leaders Make that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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7 Indications That Fear is Hampering Your Leadership

In the book of Proverbs God gives His people a collection of wise sayings on living life skillfully. One of those sayings contrasts trusting the Lord with fearing other people.

The fear of mankind is a snare but the one who trusts the Lord is protected (Proverbs 29:25).

We are commanded to fear the Lord. In fact, throughout the book of Proverbs we are told that wisdom comes from fearing the Lord, from walking in awe of His character and deeds. But we are also commanded to not fear mankind. We cannot fear God and fear other people at the same time.

Fear of mankind is a snare. It causes us to stumble in our steps, paralyzes us, and hampers our effectiveness. How does fear of mankind manifest itself in a leader’s life? Here are seven indicators a leader is caught in the snare of fear.

1. Hesitancy to offer accountability

If a leaders needs to be approved, the leader is being ruled by fear of others, and won’t bring needed accountability. Leaders who need to be loved by those they lead struggle to offer accountability and correction to those who need it.

2. Too many goals

The trouble with too many goals is that it is highly unlikely they will be achieved. The attraction, though, of many goals is that many goals can actually lower expectations. A few goals raise the pressure and the expectation for those goals to be achieved because those goals are visible to everyone. So leaders who walk in fear will often chose, even without realizing their motivation, many goals to spread the expectations across lots of different things.

3. Small goals

Small goals can be leaders hedging their bets out of fear. Fearful leaders can’t stand the idea of a goal not being met so they set small goals, if they set goals at all. 

4. Paralysis

Fear of making a decision that people question or that upsets people can paralyze leaders from making important decisions. Ironically, not making a decision is often the worst decision a leader can make.

5. Risk aversion

Risks don’t need to be reckless. They can be informed by instinct, experience, and the wisdom of others. But a risk is still a risk and may not work, which means possible failure. Leaders who are allergic to risk are likely also allergic to disappointing others or being criticized by others.

6. Intolerance of failure

A leader who creates a culture that doesn’t tolerate failure is a leader who creates a culture that doesn’t tolerate innovation. Fear of failing in front of others is a snare that stops leaders from trying new things.

7. Approval junkie

A leader who needs approval from others needs approval from them because he or she ultimately fears them. Fearing God liberates us from fearing mankind and needing their approval. In Christ we are already approved. Because of Christ in us we are approved by His work on the cross and not our work.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of mankind is a snare.

Read the full article 7 Indications That Fear is Hampering Your Leadership that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective

Gary Vaynerchuck is a successful entrepreneur, author, and CEO of VaynerMedia. Among marketing professionals, he is known for his skill in social media marketing and brand building in the digital space. He is also known for tireless work ethic. He has frequently pointed to gratitude as his motivation. He wrote:

Knowing that I was born in Belarus in the former Soviet Union, probably the least capitalist place in the whole world—and having had the serendipity of being able to come to the most remarkable country on earth when I was three—I have a full perspective on where I come from. I got really lucky that what I’m great at (entrepreneurship and business) is really appreciated in the U.S. My perspective on both the health and wellness of my family, as well as where I came from, allows me to handle anything and everything. My gratitude allows me to step away from any issues and remind me of all the great things I’ve been given. It’s impossible not to stay motivated or get too down when you’re feeling grateful.

I appreciate his perspective and fully agree. Here are three reasons that gratitude makes leaders more effective:

1. Gratitude fuels work ethic.

When we are grateful, we want to maximize the opportunities that have been given to us. When we are ungrateful, we waste countless amounts of time being frustrated that we have not received what we are owed. Instead of attacking each day with appreciation for the opportunity, ingratitude causes people to complain they are not getting what they deserve or have earned.

2. Gratitude is attractive.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” We want to be around leaders who are happy and optimistic, who are excited and thankful for the opportunities. No one wants to follow a leader who is always complaining, who is unthankful. When we are grateful we are simultaneously encouraging. By how they approach life, thankful leaders are always reminding people that there are things to be thankful for and moments to enjoy.

3. Gratitude crushes pride.

Pride always leads to destruction. It robs people of perspective and emboldens foolishness. Therefore, effective leaders are humble and realize they have not earned all they have. They realize that they have received, that they have been given. One of Cicero’s most famous statements is: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Just as pride has been called the parent of all sins, Cicero called gratitude the parent of all virtues. Gratitude is the opposite of pride because gratitude is joyful admission that we have received, not that we have achieved.

If you are a Christian, you are commanded to be grateful. Gratitude is part of our faith because we believe we have received everything we have. The Christian faith is a receiving faith, not an achieving faith. We receive His forgiveness and grace. We don’t earn it.

The apostle Paul reminded a group of Christians that lived in the city of Corinth that everything they had was from the Lord, not something they earned or deserved. He wrote: For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? (I Corinthians 4:7)

Life is so much fuller when we remember that all we have is a gift from our good and perfect Father. Our leadership is much more effective when we remember that our roles and opportunities are from the Lord.

Read the full article 3 Reasons Gratitude Makes Leaders More Effective that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders

One of my mentors, Brad Waggoner, has regularly quipped, “Most people struggle with self-awareness, so why would I think I am somehow different from everyone else?” He is right. Everyone struggles with self-awareness to a degree, and we are foolish if we think we are immune. Our lack of self-awareness in life and leadership is often referred to as our blind spots. I have been leading other leaders for a long time, watching them interact with their teams and with the team they serve on, and I’ve seen three common blind spots in leaders:

1. Many leaders talk longer than they realize.

Many leaders talk longer than they think they do. They can easily dominate meetings because of their convictions, their ideas, and the sheer amount of work to report. But by over-talking in meetings, leaders can unintentionally stifle the team. One practical way to combat the temptation to talk too much is to set a time for yourself and hold yourself accountable not to cross it.

2. Many leaders sound harsher than they mean.

Because leaders can underestimate the power of their position, they can sound harsher than they realize. Every word from the mouth of a leader is received with amplified impact, so leaders who bring sharp critiques to their teams must do so very carefully. If the leader thinks the rebuke is a “5,” the people likely hear it as an “8.” Wise leaders steward their words very carefully.

3. Many leaders change direction more than they know.

Leaders are often about new ideas, change, and vision. Because of that, leaders can err by constantly bringing new direction to the team. The team can sometimes feel as if they have yet to execute properly the last batch of ideas or see the fruit of the last direction before a leader brings a new direction. Effective leaders know that consistent direction over time is far better than constantly shifting the direction of the team. Of course, there are other common blind spots, but these three can easily hamper a leader’s effectiveness. Blind spots can’t be corrected if the leader doesn’t know they exist. For blind spots to be corrected in a leader’s life, the leader must be in community and humbly listen to others whom the leader trusts. Read the full article 3 Common Blind Spots in Leaders that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins

Creating a church’s distinct culture is one of the most important but difficult aspects of leadership. Culture really comes down to shared behavior or values. We embed these shared values through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style.* Each component correlates with our leadership pipeline framework. Leadership pipeline does not focus solely on top levels of leadership. Leadership pipeline is a long-term investment in a church’s most valuable resource: people. It provides a clear process of development for every volunteer, leader, coach, ministry director, or senior leader in your church. When these components are implemented, you create a culture that reproduces leaders at every level of your leadership pipeline. Creating a culture for development begins with Scripture. Ephesians 4 clearly states the role of church leaders is to be equippers. Our job is to develop others. But consider passages like Matthew 28 that remind all believers to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples. Development is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of leadership level. After establishing a conviction for development, you move into strategy. What’s your development process? Often what we call “training” is instructions to get someone started in a new role. We must shift to ongoing development that helps each person learn the role, then lead out, then multiply themselves in that role. You then know they’re ready for the next level of your leadership pipeline. If a person doesn’t want to advance, celebrate how they invest in and equip new leaders in their ministry role. The next two phases are often difficult to implement: structure and systems. Your church may have a nice structure on paper, but in reality, your church operates in ministry silos. When we lack clarity and alignment, we create confusion for our people. The same is true for systems. Over time, churches drift toward complexity, not simplicity. We add new processes without evaluating or restructuring our current ones. Establishing a leadership pipeline creates clarity and alignment in your church’s language, leadership levels, and processes so your people understand where they are, their responsibilities, and their next step of development. So how do you develop people? Through skills and style of training. You must identify core competencies required for every leadership level of your pipeline. For example, a small group leader and a parking team leader should be equipped in conflict management. Core competencies are universal, but skills also include role-specific skills unique to each ministry area. Style is how you train and develop your people. We encourage flipping the classroom. In traditional training, people gather to learn from a church leader who is a “sage on stage.” In the flipped classroom, people watch training on a topic prior to the gathering time. Training is appropriate to each person’s level of competence, not the same for all. When the group gathers, they discuss their training, and the “sage on stage” becomes a “guide on the side,” allowing the group to process and grow together. Recall again Paul’s command in Ephesians 4 to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” If we want to get serious about creating a culture of leadership development, we must do so through Scripture, strategy, structure, systems, skills, and style. Our legacy is not about what we do as leaders but those we develop. Let’s build an army to do just that. *Adapted from Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, In Search of Excellence (New York: HarperCollins, 2006), 9-10. Read the full article The Shared Values of Leadership Development by Todd Adkins that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside

A role is open on your team. Is your first inclination to hire from outside your organization or to hire from within? Most leaders have a default position on this issue, where their mind initially goes. They either tend to think first about hiring someone from within or they think first about what type of person they can find outside the organization. In the end, they may not do what they first think, but their default is to lean toward hiring from either outside or inside. It is important to understand both views so you can appreciate the strength of each view. And then you can decide for yourself which view will be your own OR you can choose the third way and do as Jay-Z once penned: “I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.”

View One: Hire from the Outside

Those who think first about hiring from the outside often do so because they value fresh perspective and fresh eyes. Those who prefer to hire externally have a fear that the culture will grow stagnant by simply recycling the same people into different roles. Jeff Immelt, who served as CEO of General Electric in recent years, increased external hires significantly during his tenure. From 2009-2016, external hires increased 60% at GE. Immelt believed a new type of employee and a new type of talent was needed for that important season in their company, so he ramped up external hiring.

View Two: Hire from the Inside

As I was writing this, I asked my youngest daughter, Evie, which view she thought was best. She said, “From the inside because you already trust the person.” Not bad for an eight-year-old, and she is exactly right. Those who advocate hiring from within point out that every hire is a risk, and hiring from within minimizes the risk because trust around character and chemistry has already been established. The person clearly already believes in the mission and has proven to be trustworthy. An additional benefit of hiring from within is the leadership development culture that is cultivated. Hiring from within can help send the signal that “we build our leaders instead of buying them.”

Past the Fork in the Road: Look at the Context

The third view is to discipline yourself to think first about the context. While I lean toward hiring from within because I am committed to developing leaders for the future, looking at the context is where I believe it is best to land. Context should drive whether you hire internally or externally. The needs of the organization at the time, the focus of the role for the next season, and the desire for cultural transformation or cultural sustainability all impact the immediate context surrounding the hire. John Kotter has wisely offered, and I am paraphrasing, “If you want to change the culture, hire from the outside. If you want to sustain the culture, hire from the inside.” Read the full article 2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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