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?

 

Creating a business plan can seem to be a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple steps, you can create a business plan.

Early in my career I always felt as if I was spinning my wheels. I would put in countless hours of hard work, but at the end of the year, I would not see the gains I desired. I would look back at the year and realize we had not progressed, but simply maintained. In these seasons I did a gut check and wondered what was going on. Sometimes I questioned whether I was the right person to lead.

While most leaders have visions of grandeur, they often don’t have a plan to get from where they are to where they envision their organization to be. What is needed is a business plan. Creating a business plan may seem like a huge task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple steps, you can create the successful business you desire.

I was introduced to the idea of drafting a business plan by Building Champions, an executive coaching company. The ideas in this post come from what I have learned through them.

Your plan does not need to be twenty pages thick; in fact, it may fit on a single sheet or two. It does not have to be comprehensive, but does need to answer the following questions:

1. What is your primary focus for this year?

Many components are necessary to get to your desired finish line, but what is the one thing you want to focus on this year? The rest of your business plan rests on how you answer this question.

The focus can be on one of two things:

  •  Something you measure. I work in the non-profit arena, so the figure important to me is the number of lives being changed.  For your business, it may be customer retention, leads, sales growth, or location expansion.
  •  Principle. While the things you measure are important, sometimes it is a principle that needs the most focus this year. This could include improving internal communication, creating and implementing a plan for leadership development, improving team collaboration, and so forth. Improving in these areas will ultimately have a positive impact on the numbers you measure.

2. What are your desired outcomes?

You need to know when you reach your goal, so the desired outcomes should be measurable. Businesses may measure in terms of revenue, new hires, new clients, money spent on new initiatives, etc. For churches it could mean baptisms, members cared for in groups, salvation, new leaders trained, money given to missions, etc.

3. What consistent behaviors are necessary to get to the stated focus and desired outcomes?

These are the activities you do frequently that will inevitably help you reach your goals. These behaviors should be written succinctly. If I want to improve team collaboration, saying I will have meetings with my team is not clear or inspiring. However, stating I will hold a strategic meeting the first Monday of every month with my leadership team is.

4. What projects or improvements need to be done to make this possible?

Unlike the previous steps, this is not an ongoing discipline, but rather an improvement that can be checked off when complete. Technological upgrades such as new Customer Management Software, a new website, or a needed server expansion can fall under this category. It also may be a facility expansion or other building improvement necessary to accomplish your outcomes.
I believe that a plan works when you work the plan. This may the very thing you are missing to take your organization or cause to the next level. Once you have your document finished, you may want to reveal it to your team members to get their input and buy-in. I encourage you to review it once a week to see if you are hitting your marks and to adjust your course as necessary.

Creating a business plan, life plan, and weekly rhythm are a few of the key elements I work on with my one-on-one coaching clients.

What is the next step you are going to take to make a business plan? What else would you add to this list that could be helpful to readers?

 

A bounce house is a bit like an organization. When you remove one component- the air blower in the case of the bounce house- it crashes to the ground, potentially injuring those along for the ride.

I have been part of organizations that seemed to collapse out of nowhere, and it left me wondering what went wrong. Many organizations have not created the right structure or foundation for consistent stability. If one component or key person is removed from the organization, the rest of it comes crashing down.

What does it take for an organization to survive a massive blow? How can you recover and eventually thrive? Here are four steps to building an organization that lasts:

1. Be clear on your convictions. Whether you call them convictions or values, you have to be clear on what they are. This will help you avoid the future regret of ending up in a place you never wanted to be. The people within your organization need clarity to keep you going in the right direction. You have to know what you stand for so you won’t chase after everything that comes your way.

2. Make the right partnerships and avoid the wrong ones. As an organization becomes more successful, opportunities grow. Jumping at every opportunity can be the downfall of an organization. Companies can lose focus on the things that made them successful in the first place if they don’t critically think through potential partnerships. Ask yourself if the opportunity aligns with your purpose, convictions, and vision. Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says, “When it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” Good partnerships are built on relationships over time. When you have close relationships with others, it is easier to tell who would make a good partner.

3. Develop your team. We need to get away from the messiah complex. One person alone can never accomplish what a competent and dedicated team can. Craig Groeschel, the pastor of Life Church, said, “The potential of your organization rests in the strength of its people.”

There should be an intentional plan for developing all the people in your organization. As they grow, they make the organization better. For ways to develop leaders, read this post.

4. When possible, promote from within. If you are developing your team properly and your organization is healthy, promoting from within should be a frequent course of action. Those who are already in your organization understand your culture and can be more loyal. There is a chance that someone from the outside may look like the right fit on paper but not have the chemistry or ability to adapt to your culture. There are times when it is not possible to promote from within, especially if you are in a turnaround situation or growing faster than your people are developing. For more information on what to look for in a leader, check out this post.

Over the last few years, my team and I have implemented these four things. Even though we recently lost a key person, the team stepped right up and filled the void. Losing a vital person in our organization could have spelled disaster, but because we have focused on building an organization that lasts we are stronger than we have ever been before.

Which one of these do you need to start working on today? What else could be added to this list?

 

The Six C’s of Leadership

Trying to find the right leaders for our teams can be a challenging task, but there are ways to make that process less daunting. Knowing the qualities to look for in a leader removes some of the guesswork and allows you to pick a good leader with confidence.

I remember a time when I had to really evaluate our church— where it was at currently and where it needed to go from there. The organization was stuck in a proverbial rut and needed to be changed from the inside-out.

Leadership expert John Maxwell is widely known for saying, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I knew that if I wanted the church to make big changes, I had to make sure I had the right leaders in the right places.

Over the following eighteen months, many of our top positions experienced a change in leadership, and this not only included staff positions but volunteer positions as well. It was during this time of great change that I stopped to look at the qualities that all good leaders needed to demonstrate, my “Six C’s of Leadership.” If someone is to succeed in a leadership position, they must demonstrate these characteristics. Let’s take a look at those characteristics.

The Six C’s of Leadership

1. Character

This is the most vital of the six characteristics, and the one that can hurt the most if you overlook it. The person you choose will be representing your church, business or cause, and you don’t want someone who will harm your reputation as a damaged reputation takes a long time to rebuild.

Resist the temptation to ignore serious character issues in a person simply because they are good producers. You may gain in the short term, but you will lose in the long term.

Do your due diligence in the interview process and ask any potential leadership candidate tough questions that reveal their true nature and character, and don’t forget to check with their references.

2. Competency

Simply put, you always want to find the very best person for the role you are attempting to fill. You may not always be able to afford the very best person, but there is no reason not to aim high. If you are only looking for someone to settle on, you will never find that true gem.

Companies and churches often overlook competency because they are trying so hard to relieve the pain of a vacancy in their organizations. But if you simply fill the position with a person that is unqualified, you will inevitably have to deal with the same problem again in the very near future.

The person you consider hiring should be capable and passionate about the role they are filling. People are less likely to burn-out and get frustrated in areas of personal passion.

3. Culture

If your organization has a healthy culture, it is often ideal to promote someone within the organization that understands the culture and could develop into the leader you need. I truly believe that instead of trying to find a superstar, we need to develop superstars.

Not everyone will be the right fit. In fact, they can have the other five C’s and still not be the right person. I have seen leaders who truly love God, have a calling in their area of service, love people, but still were not the right fit.

And sometimes promoting from within is not always the best decision, and we need to hire from outside the company. If you are hiring from the outside, it is important to make sure that the person is not only capable of performing their role well, but also able to fit well with your culture.

4. Capacity

Ideally, you want to hire a person who has the ability to grow and develop as the organization does. If they hit their leadership peak early and fail to grow, they will slow down the pace of the entire organization.

There are those who simply can do a task, others who can lead a team, and even those who are leaders of leaders. Which one do you need?

5. Calendar

In the church world, much of the significant work done for God is done by volunteers. This may not be the case for you, but you still need to make sure the person has the right calendar to handle the role, meaning they have the time to devote to the role they are filling.

I have hired dynamic people who have had the other C’s in spades but lacked in time. The result was that their performance suffered, simply because they couldn’t put in the time to get the job done.

For those leading churches, this factor is especially important. I learned from Bill Hybels to make sure the work people are doing for God is not killing the work God is trying to do in them.

6. Chemistry

Can you and your team work alongside this individual? You have probably heard of countless professional sports teams who have the best talent but still can’t win the championship. One of the reasons for that is a lack of true chemistry.

Before you move forward with a candidate for a particular role, get to know them in a professional and personal setting. Have them meet the rest of the team. Do they naturally seem to get along well, or does there seem to be tension or awkwardness? Some people might take a bit of time to warm up, but you can usually tell right away if someone is a bad fit. It makes a difference not only to the candidate’s performance but to the performance of the entire team.

Early on in my career, I made some poor decisions when putting people on my team.  I believe many of these challenges could have been avoided by going through each one of these C’s and asking myself, “Do they have the ____________ for the role/position?” We want to make sure potential team members have each of the qualities leaders need before moving forward with them. It will help us choose leaders with confidence and conviction.

Which of these qualities is the hardest to find in a leader? How could you use these six qualities as a guide in the future?
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock

Leadership development sometimes seems hard to wrap our heads around, but it doesn’t need to be. There are a few simple things you can do to grow as a leader.

I have been in leadership since the early 2000s but didn’t develop as much as I would have liked my first few years.

In my early thirties, I desperately desired change in the areas I lead. I came to realize that the problem wasn’t those around me, the market, culture, or other things I could have blamed it on. The problem was I had reached my leadership capacity, and everything around me was sinking.

In addition to seeking God, I started to do a few simple things that led to tremendous change.

1. Read. Leaders are readers. Most of us would love to sit down and pick the brain of Jim Collins, John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, or Seth Godin. The reality is you can, and for less than you think. For the price of a book, you have access to some of the best leaders in the world.

2. Listen to podcasts. Similar to books, you can learn from the best in the world, but for free. There are plenty of great leadership podcasts out there from some of the best thought leaders in the world.

You can get amazing information on almost any subject through this medium. There are podcasts on spiritual growth, leadership development, becoming a better parent, and so much more.

3. Hire a coach. If you want to go further faster, having a coach might be best for you. There is an investment to this, but the ROI is well worth the cost. I saw tremendous gains after I started using the services of Building Champions.

Andy Stanley once said, “You can be better than everyone else in your field without coaching. But you’ll never be as good as you can possibly be.”

Currently, I have a few one-on-one coaching spots open. We will work together to create a plan for your personal and professional life and hit your desired outcomes.

4. Join a mastermind or peer group. I meet up once a month with those in my industry. There is so much you can learn from those younger and older than you. Like coaching, there is an investment to join many mastermind groups.

The advantage of these is that you can be very frank with those in this group, with a less likely chance of any backlash. There is something special about getting around those who have gone through, or are going through, what you are experiencing.

5. Empower and develop other leaders. When you give away leadership, you not only grow in your leadership but also your influence. You won’t tap into your true capacity until you start to develop other leaders.

Take a moment and think about those around you who you can develop as a leader. If they are a direct report to you, you can empower them by delegating some of your tasks and responsibilities to them. Leading others is one level, but being a leader of leaders is something entirely different. If you want to improve your delegation skills, improve your ability to delegate, you can read my free ebook Discover the Process of Delegation.

I had reached my leadership lid, and without having a hunger to learn more, you may as well. The best way not to hit your leadership lid is to continue to learn because leaders are learners.

Action Step: Which one or two of the steps above do you need to take to expand your capacity? What are some other ways to grow as a leader?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

The one hour a week that can change your life

We are all given 168 hours a week. I believe that there is one hour that will help you stay on top of a busy life.

Many times I’ve had an experience at the beach that reminds me of how my life was going. I am enjoying myself in the water, bar the occasional splash of saltwater in the mouth. After an hour or so, I look up to see my stuff on the beach and realize I have drifted far away from my belongings.

My life for many years felt like this experience at the beach. The current of life was constantly trying to pull me away from things that are important to me. This has changed since I became intentional in the areas of my life that matter most.

I learned about the Life Planning process. This process that ultimately changed my life was picked up from Michael Hyatt and Building Champions. After learning the process, I created what I call your Personal Life Blueprint. You can learn more about creating a blueprint in this post. Once I knew what was most important, I implemented a weekly review to stay on top of those areas.

In the weekly review, you take about an hour out of the hustle and bustle of your life to look up and ensure you are not drifting away from what is important. The system I use is an adaptation of the Getting Things Done method from David Allen. Here are the steps I go through during my weekly review:
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1. Read your blueprint.
Once you have created your blueprint, review it every week to help you reach the goals you have set. Reading about what is important to you will help you from drifting too far from your goals. This built-in accountability will go a long way.

2. Process all emails and get my inbox to zero.
Emails are like weeds. If you don’t stay on top of them, they will get out of control. During the weekly review, you decide what to do with each email.
• Respond immediately if it takes less than two minutes
• Put in a respond-later file
• Delegate the needed action from the email
• Delete

3. Review other digital messaging outlets.
Check other accounts for outstanding tasks/items including:
• Social media
• Work Instant Messengers
• Software- CRM or other management systems

4. Process any loose paper.
File or process all loose paper including:
• Notes in Evernote- are they tagged properly so I can find them later?
• Receipts- tag or process
• Paper inbox (file any papers that have made it to my paper inbox throughout the week).

5. Go over previous week’s calendar.
Make sure you didn’t overlook something, such as a task assigned to you from a meeting. You may realize there is something you have to follow up on in the near future. You may be reminded of a thank-you note you want to write.

6. Look at the upcoming week’s calendar.
Make sure you are ready or will be ready for upcoming projects or meetings. Ask yourself what are the three to five things that must be accomplished this week?
If you are married, go over the calendar with your spouse. Once you are finished with it, make sure to ask yourself the question, “Have I scheduled the most important things in my life?”

7. Review and add to task/project list.
I use Nozbe to help me with my tasks and projects. There are many other project management software programs such as Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. The goal is to find a system or software that you enjoy.

Whatever task manager you use, I encourage you to set up a template for your tasks that are recurring. This will help you from having to reinvent the wheel every week.

This one hour (or less) weekly investment has changed my life and paid more than its fair share of dividends. I am more prepared every week than I ever was before and able to stay on top of a busy life. The more important areas of my life are getting the attention they deserve, and everyone around me is benefiting.
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Action Step: What one hour a week works best for you to do a weekly review? What else would be beneficial to add to your weekly review?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock

 

 Creating a Personal Life Blueprint

Someone once said, “Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up there on purpose.” This does not have to be the case.

In 2013, I found myself at a challenging point in my life. From the outside things looked picture perfect. I had a great wife, I was leading a church, and I was a foster parent, but I knew something was missing. Internally, I had a lack of peace about how I was leading, and it bothered me greatly. Most of us avoid discomfort, and it was the pain I experienced that drove me to make serious changes.

First, I did what I knew God wanted me to do– pray. Then, I did what I felt God leading me to do. King Solomon said, “Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.”  I believe all planning in your life must begin with Him; prayer and planning should always go hand-in-hand.

For months I searched for a personal coach, and I finally found him through Ministry Coaching International (MCI), a part of the Building Champions family.  I expected him to start with some amazing plan to turn around the ministry I was leading. That was not the plan. He wanted to begin with self-leadership, and he introduced me to the life planning process, which I call the Personal Life Blueprint.

There are many ways one can create a life plan, but here are five ways that have worked for me and thousands of others:

  1. Take a day off. Yes, you need a day away from the busyness and distractions of this world. Creating a life blueprint is a very personal thing, so I encourage you to be alone for a bit. Some people can afford to stay at a hotel to make their plan, but there are many other free options that will work. Go to a park, library, or coffee shop. I encourage you to find a place where you can pray and reflect without being interrupted as you go through this process.
  2. Figure out your priorities. You have to decide what the most important things in your life are. List them in descending order of importance. Each of these priority accounts will have their own sections where you will define them further. God is my number one priority account, and I believe it should be the same for everyone. Some other suggestions are a spouse, children, self, work, church, education, health, friends, and finances.
  3. Make an account for each priority. Each account will describe where you want to be, have a purpose statement, include a scripture, state where you currently are and list goals to get you from where you are to where you want to be. The screenshot below describes each subheading under the account:

Personal Life Blueprint Account Heading Description

Here is an example of a completed health account.

health account blueprint

 

  1. Schedule those priorities. Since your goals are S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you should be able to insert them into your calendar. Whatever calendar you use, start by placing what is most important. If you are married, you should go over your calendar with your spouse.
  2. Review weekly. There should be some method to make sure you are staying on top of what is most important. This is where the weekly review comes in. There are many things that can be done as you prepare for the upcoming week, but reviewing your Personal Life Blueprint and calendar is a must. I have written a more detailed post on the weekly review.

This may seem a little overwhelming at first; I know it was for me. However, I can’t say enough about how my life has changed for the better since I implemented this process. I have improved personally and at leading my family and church because I decided to be a better steward of the time God has given me.

If you are looking for greater accountability, I have a few one-on-one coaching spots open. Creating a life plan, business plan, and weekly rhythm are a few of the key things we will work on.

Action Step: Take out your calendar and see when you can schedule some time off to create your Personal Life Blueprint. What is the day and time that works for you?

Photo Courtesy of Adobe Stock