The life of a leader can be both exciting and challenging; rewarding and exhausting at various time. Leadership can also be incredibly lonely at times, but it does not need to be.

The first few years of my current leadership position were exciting and lonely at the same time. I loved my calling but soon realized the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top,” had some truth to it.

I fought against the loneliness by trying to reach out to other people. I knew in my line of work this took more perseverance than I expected, as my first few attempts at connecting to others in my role were just me leaving voicemails. I didn’t give up, and it paid off.

Eventually, I found a local gathering of others in my position, who met once a month. Through this group, I realized that leaders need to break away from isolation and have others join them on the journey.

I believe, in order to thrive, Leaders need to invest time in five different relationships.

1. God– If you are passionate about what you do, you may have a hard time shutting down the “Thinktank.” For this reason, and others, every leader needs a daily quiet time.

As a person of faith, I spend this time in prayer, scripture reading, or worship. If you struggle to have a devotion time, this post may help you out.

2. Family – This may sound as if it is a given, but it is not. Leaders who are passionate about their organizations, sometimes do so at a heavy price to their family.

I heard someone say, “Do not trade something that is unique to you (ie.your family), for something that may not be permanent.” Your family is permanent, but your job or business may not be.

3. Your tribe – In his book Tribes, Seth Godin states, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea……A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

The group that meets once a month is my tribe. It is helpful to meet with others who can clearly relate to what you are experiencing.

4. A coach– Coaching is one of the best investments you can make in your personal development. I define a coach as someone in your corner to challenge you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Yes, there is usually a price with this, but the return on your investment far outweighs the cost. I personally have had multiple coaches, and have invested thousands of my own dollars, but I believe it was more than worth it.

You can hire a coach that is either experienced in your industry or has the skills to help you reach your desired goals. If you need more motivation to hire a coach, read this article by Forbes.

I have used the services of coaches for years, and now am coaching myself.

5. A friend- This is the person you want to go fishing with, watch a ballgame, or meet up with for coffee. You can talk about a myriad of subjects with this person, or say nothing at all.

You can also share about things that have been bottled up and needed to be shared. An article from the Harvard Business Review tells us:

“Emotional support is equally essential. Like anyone else, executives occasionally need to vent when they’re dealing with something crazy or irritating at work, and friends and family are a safer audience than colleagues. This [support] serves as a much-needed outlet from the pressures of raising a family and leading an organization.”

As you can see, a leader does not need to be lonely. The relationships mentioned can help a leader endure challenges and thrive in their role.

The level of change I have experienced when I have all of these relationships in my life is revolutionary. Prioritizing these relationships not only helps you keep the right perspectives by honoring God and your family with time, but you are also getting the other supports you need to be the best version of you, you can be.

Take out your calendar and give some space for each of these relationships.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Is something else you would add to the list, or are there one of these that you struggle with?

Do you remember when you were a kid and you had huge dreams? Maybe you are still a kid; regardless, I hope your dreams are huge.

What was your biggest dream when you were a kid? Depending on what generation you grew up in, you may have wanted to be an astronaut, doctor, or professional athlete, etc. But what happened? You either achieved your dream or you “grew up” and realized it was not realistic for you, or the fear of not being able to accomplish it held you back.

Maybe God has placed something in your heart as an adult. There is something God has placed in your heart, where you truly make a difference in this world and shine. Yet there is something that is still holding you back. It’s fear.

Fear causes many things, including being held back from what God has planned for your life. I am not talking about committing your life to Jesus, yes, that is the first step. But God’s plan is BIG, and that means, His children will do big things for His glory.

God delivered the children of Israel from slavery from the superpower of the day, the Egyptians. His desire was to bring them to a prosperous land, but fear slowed them down.

1. Fear Spreads.
After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, (the leaders of that day) and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and shown them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country–a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! Numbers 13:25-28

When God places a good opportunity in front of us, sometimes all we do is talk about the obstacles, as if God wasn’t aware of these things. He is aware of those things, but He is also aware of His power to help you overcome those obstacles.

Caleb, one of those, who scouted out the land, believed God was able to do what He promised, but watch how others spread fear.

But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. Numbers 13:30-32

2. Fear Reacts.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”  Numbers 14:1-4

Fear can turn into an emotional reaction. In this story, they spent all night crying over their perceived fears. Then their fears caused them to have poor judgment. They wanted to get a new leader and return to the country where they were slaves.

The real result was a missed opportunity and a ton of wasted years. The children of Israel wasted decades of their life. God intended one thing for them, but their fear kept them back from getting all that God had for them. I heard someone once say, The biggest regrets you will have in life are not the things you do, but the things that you did not do.”

How to Overcome Your Fears

1. Fear is destroyed by faith.

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:6-8

God uses people to accomplish His plan, the question is will you be one that He uses. God told the people that He would be the one who would give them the land. He would do the hard work. He just needed to find someone who would believe Him.

2. Fear God not man.

Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

Maybe you have heard the statement that a man who fears God has nothing else to fear. When you have a healthy reverent respect for God, it can destroy the fear of man.

3. Know that God is with you.

“This is My command-be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Joshua was able to be courageous for one simple reason; he knew that God was with him. When you know that God is with you, there is no reason to fear.

If you allow fear to rule your life, you will never reach your potential. Yet, if you destroy fear by a healthy respect for God, faith, and an understanding God is with you, the sky is the limit. You can run after your dreams and accomplish them!

How to Create a Weekly Rhythm

As leaders, we have aspirations to be incredibly productive every week. We come to work determined to get ahead and take care of what is most important. By the end of the week, many of us are left wondering why we didn’t get the results we were hoping for. So what is the secret to a successful week?

A few years back I struggled to stay on top of things, which kept me from getting ahead. I remember taking a self-evaluation test where I was asked to rate myself on how organized I was on a scale of 1–10. I gave myself a raving 3, only because I felt confident—confident my organizational skills needed a little attention.

This evaluation was given to me by Building Champions, whom I had hired for personal executive coaching. This was one of the best investments of my life. In the beginning stages, they had me create a life plan, which I have since renamed as my personal life blueprint. If you don’t have a personal life blueprint, I would encourage you to complete one of those first.

Once I became clear on what I wanted in my life, it was time to make it happen by scheduling it. Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them. If you really want to know how you spend your time, you can do a write-down for three days, listing how you spend every half hour. Yes, this is a grueling, yet eye-opening exercise. Building Champions has a time-blocking document you can use here.

[bctt tweet=”Your desires will not become a reality unless you make time for them.” username=”justinsetzer”]

Now it is time to create your desired time block, which I have renamed ‘desired weekly rhythm’. The weekly rhythm shows how you would spend your time if you could control it. While there are many unforeseen circumstances that can come up in a week, many weeks are normal.

The rhythm is broken up into thirty-minute segments, showing how you would spend your time in an ideal week. There are a few keys to creating a weekly rhythm that will help you get the most out of your week:

1. Plan your day’s theme.

The focus is important and having your day’s theme can be a huge boost to productivity. Instead of jumping from one unrelated task to another, you can get into the groove of working on one aspect of your job. You will notice that I have my theme listed at the top of the spreadsheet. The theme is my primary focus of the day.

2. Schedule your personal priorities.
• Them time: This is the time you have scheduled for your relationships. This should include time for dates with your spouse, time with your children, and friends.
• Renew time: These are the activities that renew you and keep you at peak performance. These could include your time with God, exercise, reading, outdoor activities, etc.

3. Schedule your high payoff activities.

These are the activities that Stephen Covey would place in quadrant II, as described in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. These activities will differ from person to person. High payoff activities may include vision casting, coaching your team, recruiting, managing sales relationships, top-level meetings, appointment setting, lead generation, etc.

4. Schedule the heavy lifting early in the week. 

If you don’t knock out the tougher aspects of your job early in the week, you will likely procrastinate with those tasks. If you are like me, it is better to get the hard projects done first.

5. Schedule time to work in the business and on the business.

• In-time is when you are working in the day-to-day operation of your organization when you are in the thick of things.
• On-time is when you walk away from working in the business to working on the business. This may include strategic planning, brainstorming, or working on a new initiative or product. In some settings, it can be easier to focus on working on the business at the end of the week when the other work is completed.

This process may take a few times to get down, but the return on investment is amazing. I have been able to free up an entire day of work per week for on-time.

More importantly, my family and priorities are not being neglected. It is an incredible feeling to know that you are spending time on the things that matter most, and still being productive in your organization.

If you are looking for further help. creating a weekly blueprint for your life is one of the steps I take my coaching clients through, Do yourself a favor and schedule a few hours to make a weekly rhythm. You can download a template here.

How would following a weekly rhythm be beneficial for you?

Six Steps to having a Personal Quarterly Review

Logic tells us that that harder and longer we work, the more we will get done. However, this is not always the case.

Just last week I was sitting in front of this same computer, evaluating how my life was going. Deep, right? That reflective time away was directly responsible for one of the most productive weeks I have had in a very long time. That time away is what some call a quarterly review or personal quarterly off-site.

The quarterly review is a time when you will get a higher overlook of your ninety days, and prayerfully decide your direction for the next ninety. I was introduced to this process from Building Champions and Michael Hyatt, and credit them for the information in this post.

One key to an effective quarterly review is to do it somewhere where you can reflect and think, and give yourself adequate time. So, to do this effectively you should take a half-day or full day off work and get away from everyone. I typically do my reviews at a library; other options include the park, coffee shop, bookstore, campground, or a hotel.

Here are six proven elements of an effective quarterly review.

1. Prayer. We begin with prayer because we want to make sure our will is aligned with His. You may ask Him for direction as you begin the review, or pray through some challenges you are going through. This sets the tone for the review.

2. Review and revamp the blueprint for your life plan. I wrote about creating a personal life blueprint here. A lot can change in three months, especially with the ‘where you are at’ and ‘what you need to do’ sections of your blueprint.

Change any area that needs updating and the corresponding goal. During big changes of life, you may have to revamp much of the blueprint.

3. Set new goals. This is a good time to set new objectives for yourself personally and professionally. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What are three things I want to accomplish in my personal life in the next 90 days?
  • What are three things I want to accomplish professionally in the next 90 days?
  • Is there something in my life that is taking a considerable amount of my time that I need to stop doing?
  • Is there something I need to start doing?

4. Modify your weekly desired rhythm. As life changes, so do your blueprint and goals. After revamping your plan and setting new goals, you must find a place in your schedule to accomplish them. You may have to cut less important things out of your schedule to make your new goals a reality. If you haven’t designed your weekly schedule yet, read this post.

5. Knock out a project. If you are able to take a full day off, work on a project that you don’t normally have time for. This will help you start the new quarter with renewed motivation, and help you feel better for having the day off.

6. End with prayer. I know we have already prayed, but I think it’s good to make sure you didn’t speed through an area and miss God’s heartbeat. During this prayer ask God if there is anything on the plan that He wants you to change. As you finish the quarterly review, thank Him for His grace and love.

Once the quarterly review is over, you need to let key people in your life know about the changes, namely those who they will affect. People such as your spouse, mentor, and assistant need to know the direction in which you are heading. Letting these people know what you are doing and why will make it easier, and help you avoid unnecessary trouble later.

My last quarterly review has already paid off. I am laser focused for the next quarter and have a renewed passion in all areas of life.

The quarterly review is one of the pieces we take some of our coaching clients through. If you are looking to invest further in your personal and professional life, this could be a great next step.

When are you going to do your personal quarterly review?

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

A leader must be careful not to fall into either of these opposite ditches: abdication or hoarding everything. There are three responsibilities leaders should never delegate, and six they can.

Twice in my life, I have come in to lead a struggling organization. In round one, I had the tendency to do most of the work because I wanted to make sure things were done right. The result was that some things were taken care of better, but leaders were not developed, and the company didn’t grow as much as it could have. Indeed, there was a better way.

There are certain things that a leader can and can’t give away. Recently, I was in a conference breakout session on the topic of transitional leadership. In his breakout, Chris Bonham, Executive Pastor of one of the largest churches in Florida, shared three things that a leader can’t give away:

1. Vision. Not everyone can, or should, come up with the vision. The leader should be the one who comes up with the vision for the organization, and constantly keep it before their people.

2. Strategy. Businessdictionary.com defines strategy as, “a method or plan chose to bring about the desired future, such as the achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.”

Since the leader helps to set the vision, they should be involved in the plan that gets them to their vision. The leader should involve others in the process, but not give it away fully.

3. Core Values. These are the convictions or values that won’t change over time. These are the guides to how the organization will be run. A few examples of core values include integrity, fun, adaptability, action-oriented, generosity, and excellence.

The goal of core values is not to pick the ones that are aspirations but to choose those that are true to the company. Because the company is a direct reflection of the leader, they must be involved in this process.

It is vital that the leader is involved in these top three areas, but there are others that can be given away. In fact, if you don’t give away these six, you will never see others in your organization reach their potential. As one leader once said, your organization will reach its potential when the members of the organization reach theirs.

In addition to the responsibilities leaders should never delegate, Chris Bonham also shared six things that leaders can give away:

1. Power. The ability to direct or influence others.

2. Authority. The ability to give orders to move others to a place of obedience.

3. Responsibility. Give away accountability.

4. Recognition. We should recognize the efforts that others put in. You need to give others their rightful credit.

5. Judgment. Giving others the ability to express and go with their own opinions.

6. Decisions. The ability to execute.

You may be thinking, “What happens if they fail?” We must give people room to fail and succeed. Now, we don’t simply give untested people the keys to everything, but we incrementally give them more and more responsibility. By doing so, we will create environments where people will be more likely to stick around.

Go through these two lists and see which ones you need to be working on. There may be things that you are delegating that you are supposed to own, or you may see that it is time to hand the ball off to others. You can access a free resource on delegation here.

Which area do you need to start owning? Which area is the hardest for you to give away? 

 

 

 

 

 

A Free Guide on How to Empower Others and Focus on Your Priorities

If you believe in your organization or cause, you probably want to reach more people. However, there is one issue; as individuals, we are limited in how much we can accomplish alone. In the midst of our day-to-day activities, we get stuck doing things that are not our highest payoff activity.

It was in a season where I was wanting to move forward the mission of the church I lead that I created “Discovering the Process of Delegation.” I wrote it for both me and my team. Seasons of frustration can result in a season of innovation. Most of the good content out there on any subject came from the writer’s struggle with a topic or situation, which was precisely the case with this eBook.DelegationCover3

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There I was, wanting to move forward so badly, but instead, I was getting caught up doing activities that would be better suited for someone else. I have a real tension to manage though; most of the work at the organization I lead is done by volunteers. So I can’t just dump what I don’t want to do onto them, simply because it is not fair. For this reason, I believe we should delegate tasks to others according to their passions and skills.

What I was lacking was a clear process to get the results I desired. So, I created it in this eBook with accompanying worksheets. “Discovering the Process of Delegation” is not only a short eBook, but it also includes step-by-step instructions to help you empower those around you. Yes, although you may have attempted to delegate before and possibly failed, the issue is that you may not have delegated correctly.

“Discovering the Process of Delegation” will help you:
* Understand the principles of delegation
* Know the rules for effective delegation
* Empower your team
* Decide who the person to delegate to is
* Discover your highest payoff activities

I have included two worksheets that will help you track a path of effective delegation. I seriously believe that the results you can get from following the steps laid out in this eBook can transform your organization.

In exchange for the book, all that I ask is that you subscribe to my email list. This will help you stay up to date with the best content I create. I would also love your feedback on the book.

 

 

I’ve heard someone say, “The potential of your organizations rests in the strength of its people.”  If this is the case, we should be focused on developing our teams.

I have served in a leadership capacity for over a decade, in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. During the early years of my leadership tenure, I relied on my ability to get work done. While I did a good job at maintaining the organizations I led, they were not moving forward as I was expecting. No matter how hard I worked, I would never achieve my desired outcomes.

Looking back, the biggest issue was that I was not developing or empowering my team. King Solomon said it well, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” Not to be corny here, but I was focused on harnessing the power or me, instead of we. I was not tapping into the true power of the organization and my team.

Fast forward a decade and I have become much more intentional at developing those around me. Here are a few simple things I have learned along the way, which helped to develop my team.

1. Coaching Your Team. I believe strongly in coaching your team. I meet every other week with every individual who directly reports to me for their personal development. I learned this from Building Champions.

They start by completing either a life plan or business plan, which serves as a basis for their personal development. These documents include the goals they have set for themselves in their personal and professional lives. Your job is to encourage them and keep them accountable to achieve their goals.

They send you an email 24-48 hours before we meet, answering:

  • Big wins since our last meeting
  • Challenges/obstacles that you’re facing
  •  Key topics we need to discuss
  •  Decisions we need to make

Team members leave these meetings with an action item(s) to complete. During your next meeting, you can ask them about their progress. This built-in accountability benefits both them and you and helps you to develop your team.

I have used the services of coaches for years, and our team would love the opportunity to come alongside you through coaching. Besides creating a plan for your personal and professional life, we can set up a coaching program for your team.

2. Conferences. Get your team out of the office, and get them into an environment where they are inspired together. Yes, you can listen to podcasts or watch leadership videos at work, but there is something about getting out of the office. Mark Batterson is known for saying, “A change of place, plus a change of pace, equals a change of perspective.”

It amazes me how a team member hearing the same thing from someone else causes them to “get it.” In a conference setting, your team will be inspired to see what is possible and hear from some of the best leaders in your industry.

3. Empowering your Team. If we never give people a chance to step up to the plate, they will never develop their swing. We have to give the eagles in our organizations a chance to fly, or they may simply go somewhere else.

To truly empower people, we have to give away responsibilities and the authority to accomplish them. We may have delegated tasks, creating followers; but often, we have not done the right thing by delegating authority to create leaders.

You may have heard the adage, “It takes teamwork, to make the dream work.” The potential is in your team, and as a leader, you are the one that can draw it out of them.

 

What is one step you can take today to develop your team? Is there anything else you could add to this list?
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

3 Questions on How To Handle Criticism

If you are moving forward in life, it won’t be long before someone criticizes something you say, do or don’t do. Though it is never easy, I think it is possible to handle criticism with dignity, poise, and grace.

In early 2015, things were really looking up at the church where I serve as Pastor. People were coming to church, lives were being changed, and God was helping our church family grow.

But in spite of all the good things happening, one simple comment brought my world crashing down. Someone came up to me one day after service and shared with me their dislike of something we did during the service. That one comment took me from high to low. I know the person who shared with me has a good heart and was simply trying to be helpful, but the negative comment shattered my world at that moment.

As much as I wanted to just brush off that comment and forget all about it, I decided to use it as a teachable moment for myself. I have learned that we cannot discount criticism from other people as it can help us to grow, even if it’s hard to hear. I encourage you to lean in when you are criticized and evaluate the criticism from a logical, analytical standpoint so that you can learn, grow and become better because of it instead of sad, frustrated, or angry.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself when you face criticism so that you can use it to improve and become even better in your life:

1. Is there any truth to what is being said?

This is an extremely important question to ask yourself when facing criticism. We may not like what we hear or the manner in which the criticism was expressed, but we should not ignore the truth behind the words. This question is best answered once our emotions have subsided and we have the ability to think objectively about what was said.

2. Are they a foe, fan, or a friend?

We need to ask ourselves which one of these three categories the critics fall under so that we can determine the validity of the criticism and understand how to move forward.

 FoeMichael Hyatt calls these people trolls: “These people have an agenda. They are out to hurt you— or at least use you for their own ends. They want to lure you into a fight. I have had three this week. They taunt and mock you. They are unreasonable. If you engage them, they will only distract you and deplete your resources. The best thing you can do is ignore them. As someone once said, ‘resistance only makes them stronger.’ You will never satisfy them. Just keep doing what you know you are called to do.”

Fan: Fans are those who always tell you that you are doing a good job. We all enjoy encouragement in the things we do, but these people may simply be telling you you’re amazing because that’s what they do. Remember that fans may be people who don’t know you well enough to give critical feedback.

Friend: A friend is someone who wants the best for you and is not afraid to give you honest feedback. A friend knows you well and has a desire for you to reach your God-given potential. When friends give criticism or feedback, make sure you pay close attention to it and use it to improve.

3. What do I do with the criticism?

No matter who was critical to you or the manner in which they spoke their words, you can grow from the incident. Remember, growth only occurs when resistance is added.

If you know the criticism given is true, you need to ask yourself, “What can I do to better myself in this area?” This is a key for you to get better from the criticism instead of bitter.

If the criticism is not true, you should ask yourself if the person who shared it with you knows you well. If the answer is yes, you may want to have a follow-up conversation with them to clear the air. If the answer is no, you may want to simply brush off the comments and move forward.

Regardless of what you do, don’t let bitterness take root when someone is critical of you. Yes, this will require you to be intentional, but feedback can be a great catalyst for growth. Some of the toughest criticism I have received has resulted in some of my most beneficial growth.

How can this post help you with handling recent criticism? Would you add anything to this list?

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Four questions that will help you decide whether or not to let someone go.

Letting an employee go is never easy, but it is even harder without a clear process to think through.

There are many reasons to let someone go— perhaps you are restructuring, trimming your budget, or eliminating divisions within a company. This post, however, deals with performance-based issues.

In my early twenties, I got my feet wet managing multiple stores in a growing pizza chain. In this type of business, employee turnover is rather high. I distinctly remember an owner in the company asking me to go into one of the stores and fire the general manager, who happened to be my boss at the time. I always felt a responsibility to God and the owners of the business to properly manage the place.

I have headed teams in both the profit and non-profit arena for over a decade, and I have learned a lot along the way. While I have never enjoyed letting anyone go, I realize being a team leader means parting ways on occasion. I believe these questions will help you decide whether to make that difficult decision.

1. Have I given them clear expectations?

Without clear expectations, you may think your employee isn’t doing anything you want while he may feel as if he is doing an excellent job. The problem may not be with the person; it may be a clarity issue. It is not fair for you to expect something from the employee that you have not made clear. Dr. Mark Rutland, former president of Southeastern University, once said, “If the key to quality is meeting expectations, you owe your employees a clear explanation of exactly what you expect.”

A little work on the front-end makes your expectations clear. Consider having an employee initial all the pages of their job description as part of the onboarding process. You can use this document as you go through one-on-one meetings or 90-day and annual reviews. The job description can also come in handy when you need to coach the employee on opportunities for improvement or celebrate a job well done. If you are considering letting an employee go, there should be multiple documented conversations about their poor performance and where their shortcomings will lead.

2. Have I given them the resources needed to accomplish what is expected?

Once we have made our expectations clear, we must set our teams up for success by providing the resources necessary to meet our expectations. Conferences, coaching, podcasts, and books are all great resources to develop our teams. When you let someone go, you should feel as if you have done all you can to help that person succeed.

3. Would I hire them today?

This question has to be asked after you’ve answered the first two questions. It may be tough to answer, but it will reveal how you truly view the employee’s performance. Something attracted you to hire them initially; is that quality still there? If you can say yes, there is a chance you may be able to better utilize that person in a different role or department. Sometimes we have the right person in the wrong position.

4. Why do I want to let the person go?

Is our issue with the person’s performance or is it something personal? Someone simply rubbing you the wrong way is not a reason to fire them. In order to be an effective leader, you need to be able to work harmoniously with many different personalities.

If you have worked through these questions and still believe you should let your employee go, it may be time to part ways. I have learned that a person can be a good employee, just not your employee. Believe it or not, many will do better because you let them go. Multiple times I have seen people push themselves after being let go and find a much better opportunity elsewhere.

When it is apparent this is the route you must choose, you should have the hard conversation sooner rather than later. I heard somewhere that you hire slow and fire fast. Follow these tips to part ways amicably:

  • Be clear. Bring the documented proof- performance reviews, disciplinary reviews, etc. – to the meeting.
  • Be gracious, but honest. You shouldn’t be a jerk when you let people go, but you should be honest. This conversation may be a catalyst to a future breakthrough in their life.
  • Be generous. If it all possible within company policy, give your employee a severance package. This can vary greatly depending on the reason for firing, the number of years at your company, the person’s position, what was agreed upon in the employment contract, etc. I believe it is a good idea to lean toward the generous side.
  • Be legal. Make sure you are following all laws- state and local- when it’s time to let someone go. I am not in charge of an HR department and I am not a lawyer, so get input from these two sources if you are unsure of what the law says.


Do you need to clarify your expectations, give employees some needed resources, move someone to a different position, or let someone go?

Change is a word that gets some excited but makes others cringe. Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, change is going to happen.

I became the lead pastor of a church when I was 29. It was the same church I had attended since my early twenties. While the ministry had experienced many years of success, it also had a few challenging seasons before I became the pastor.

A few years into my tenure, I realized the church needed a major overhaul. In the fall of 2013, I called a leadership meeting to discuss this. I shared my heart about the need for change. We decided we would evaluate every person on staff and every program in the church, and after making the needed changes we would re-launch the church.

I thought the change process would take six months and then we would be ready to re-launch. Instead, it took sixteen months. Once we re-launched, we saw new life come to the church. The process definitely challenged me and taught me a few things about leading change in an organization.

1. Change is hard. There, I said it. When you decide a major change is needed in an organization- especially one that has been around for a while- the course will be tough. Change is hard, but the consequences of staying the same are harder. I heard someone say you have to decide between two pains— the pain of change or the pain of slowly dying.

2. Change must begin with the leader. If you personally are not growing and changing, your organization will not change; change begins at the top. During my season of change, my leadership skills grew by leaps and bounds. I read books, attended conferences, prayed earnestly, and got help from peers and coaches.

3. Not everyone wants change. You may wrongly believe everyone in your organization will agree on the need to change, but this is often not the case. When people don’t see a need for change, they may resist it. There are always some who enjoy things the way they are. Many times those resistant to change have the loudest voices.

4. Not everyone will still be there after the change. This is always a tough one. It’s never easy when people are no longer part of a church or organization. While you should never intentionally push people away, some people will leave when things are not the way they were yesterday.

If you are truly making some big changes, chances are you may have to adjust roles or let some people go. I heard Joyce Meyer say that every time the bus stops, someone gets on and someone gets off the bus. This is something you are going to have to be all right with.

5. Not everything has to change. Before we re-launched our church, I thought everything needed an overhaul. After evaluating, I realized some things still served our ultimate purpose. In the end, many- but not all- things changed. The change is needed only if it helps us move towards our desired outcome. We should never change simply for the sake of change.

6. Change is worth it. The last few years have been incredibly challenging, but well worth it. Yes, it was tough and some members weren’t fans and left the church, yet the fruit that came, in the end, was worth it. We are a few years past that first meeting, and I am so glad we moved forward.

There are a lot of things I am still learning, but here are a few tidbits to help you lead change:

1. Be clear on why you need to change. If you are not clear on why change is needed, no one else will be. For you, it could be a shifting market, a change in culture, or that the organization has hit its life cycle. If you are not clear and passionate about why you’re changing, you may not make it through the process. The why behind the change is more important than the what. People need to know why we can’t stay where we are.

2. Get buy-in from key people. Before telling everyone about the change, you need buy-in from key stakeholders. These may be direct reports, managers, board members, or key volunteers. Give these people time to think about what you are proposing and give you feedback. I believe it’s best to make decisions together. Scripture tells us there is safety in the multitude of counsel. Once they have bought into your ideas, these key people can add keen insight and be your greatest champions of the vision.

3. Over-communicate change. You can’t talk about your desired change in one meeting and expect everyone to get it. It may be something you have been thinking about for months or even years, so not everyone will get it the first time. Talk about the change in your meetings and emails, on social media, and via other communication outlets. Give your employees or members of your organization a chance to absorb the information in various forms.

4. Celebrate the small wins. We need to stop and celebrate the incremental changes happening along the way. This will communicate your desired change but in a different tone. Sending someone a thank you note, rewarding your team with dinner, or publicly acknowledging a job well done goes a long way. It communicates, “This is exactly what we are looking for.”

When you start on the journey to change an organization, change may not be immediate, but it will be well worth it.

What step do you need to take today to make the needed changes in your organization? Are there any other points you would like to add that is not listed here?