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