Become a Better Leader Through Balancing Differences

Leadership training and development in our military takes place on two fronts. First, officers identify, build, and utilize the skills that will allow individuals and teams to effectively and efficiently achieve their goal. Second, officers focus on training methods and techniques that will allow those same individuals and teams to practice effective combat and leadership skills in the fields.

The same types of leadership training and development can also serve leaders in your organization – beginning with you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

With their first book, Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin set a new standard for leadership, challenging readers to become better leaders, better followers, and better people, in both their professional and personal lives.

Now, in The Dichotomy of LeadershipJocko and Leif dive even deeper into the unchartered and complex waters of a concept first introduced in Extreme Ownership: finding balance between the opposing forces that pull every leader in different directions. Here, Willink and Babin get granular into the nuances that every successful leader must navigate.

Mastering the Dichotomy of Leadership requires understanding when to lead and when to follow; when to aggressively maneuver and when to pause and let things develop; when to detach and let the team run and when to dive into the details and micromanage. In addition, every leader must:

  • Take Extreme Ownership of everything that impacts their mission; yet utilize Decentralize Command by giving ownership to their team. 
  • Care deeply about their people and their individual success and livelihoods, yet look out for the good of the overall team and above all accomplish the strategic mission. 
  • Exhibit the most important quality in a leader―humility, but also be willing to speak up and push back against questionable decisions that could hurt the team and the mission.

With examples from the authors’ combat and training experiences in the SEAL teams, and then a demonstration of how each lesson applies to the business world, Willink and Babin clearly explain THE DICHOTOMY OF LEADERSHIPskills that are mission-critical for any leader and any team to achieve their ultimate goal: VICTORY.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The most difficult – and essential – element of leadership requires finding the balance between opposing forces that exist for every leader.

The list of dichotomies is infinite. Because for every positive behavior a leader should have, it is possible to take that behavior to the extreme, where it becomes a negative. Often a leader’s greatest strength can also be his or her greatest weakness. But knowing and understanding that these dichotomies exist is the first part of keeping them from becoming a problem.

A good leader builds powerful, strong relationships with his or her subordinates. But while that leader would do anything for those team members, the leader must recognize there is a job to do. And that job might put the very people the leader cares so much about at risk.

The key is balance, maintaining an equilibrium where your team have the guidance to execute but at the same time freedom to make decisions and lead.

There are limitless dichotomies in leadership, and a leader must carefully balance between these opposite forces. But none are as difficult as this: to care deeply for each individual member of the team, while at the same time accepting the risks necessary to accomplish the mission.

This dichotomy reveals itself in the civilian sector as well as the military. This is one of the most difficult dichotomies to balance, and it can be easy to go too far in either direction. If leaders develop overly close relationships with their people, they may not be willing to make those people do what is necessary to compete a project or a task. They may not have the wherewithal to lay off individuals with who they have relationship even if it is the right move for the good of the company. And some leaders get so close to their people that they don’t want to have hard conversations with them – they don’t want to tell them that they need to improve.

On the other hand, if a leader is too detached from the team, he or she may overwork, overexpose, or otherwise harm its members while achieving no significant value from that sacrifice. The leader may be too quick to fire people to save a buck, thereby developing the reputation of not caring about the team beyond its ability to support the strategic goals.

So leaders must find the balance. They must push hard without pushing too hard. They must drive their team to accomplish the mission without driving them off a cliff.

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, The Dichotomy of Leadership

A NEXT STEP

In order for leaders to find the balance described above, authors Jocko Willink and Leif Babin had developed two checklists: one with common symptoms resulting from a leader being too close to a team, and the other which indicates a leader might be too hands-off with his team.

Reproduce each of the two lists below on separate chart tablets, and review them first by yourself. Add to the lists as needed.

Then, bring the sheets into your next team meeting for a general team discussion about this dichotomy of leadership.

Too Close to Your Team

  1. Bold and aggressive action becomes rare.
  2. Creativity grinds to a halt.
  3. Even in an emergency, the team will not mobilize and take action.
  4. The team shows a lack of initiative; members will not take action unless directed.
  5. An overall sense of passivity and failure to react.

Too Far Away from Your Team

  1. Lack of vision in what the team is trying to do and how to do it.
  2. Lack of coordination between individuals on the team and efforts that often compete or interfere with each other.
  3. Initiative oversteps the bounds of authority; individuals and teams carry out actions beyond what they have authorization to do.
  4. The team is focused on the wrong priority mission or pursuit of solutions that are not in keeping with the strategic direction of the team.
  5. There are too many people trying to lead.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 119-2, released May 2019


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

How to Engage Your Team Through Affirmation

One of the things many growing organizations have trouble with is alignment and communication – from both a cultural and “business” standpoint. This may be the result of physically distributed teams or simply rapid growth. The larger an organization grows and the more distributed it becomes, the harder it is to make sure that there is a healthy relational dimension in our communication across the organization. Even in a small organization, understanding the importance of relational connection takes communication to the next level.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Win the Heart by Mark Miller

Employee engagement is shockingly low–but it’s not an employee problem; it’s a leadership problem. Bestselling author Mark Miller says it’s up to leaders to create a workplace where their employees truly want to be – and he reveals four keys to doing it.

Every great company has an engaged workforce, and nurturing a culture of engagement is at the heart of great leadership – employees who really care about their work, their coworkers, and the organization can supercharge a company’s success. But for many years, engagement has been suffering. Gallop reports that 70 percent of employees are not fully engaged on the job. Mark Miller draws on more than forty years of leadership experience to show leaders at all levels how to change the conversation and create real competitive advantage in the process.

In the fourth book in Miller’s High Performance Series, CEO Blake Brown sets out to discover how to create the kind of workplace where everyone feels excited to come to work, passionate about what he or she brings to the company, and energized at the end of the day. It’s a journey that takes him literally all over the world–from Italy to Greece to Green Bay and more. What he discovers from the pages of history is as relevant as the evening news. 

Engagement unleashes untapped potential buried deep within the hearts of your people. An engaged workforce is more creative, more driven, and more enthusiastic about reaching company goals. If you put the lessons in this book to work, your people will never look at work, or their leaders, the same way again.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

When your team members are made to feel that they matter, they develop self-confidence and self-esteem, and that translates to positive results. Team members who are not treated as if they mattered perform as if their jobs don’t matter either.

When you recognize, appreciate, and encourage your team members, they will in turn share those affirmations with others, resulting in a better team and organization culture.

Genuine affirmation, from the heart, tends to connect with the heart.

We actually do a lot of things behind the scenes so you can have a consistently amazing experience.

  • It starts with leadership – no organization drifts to greatness.
  • We have to select the right people and be sure they are aligned on what matters most – this is a never-ending challenge, but without it, everything is so much harder. Some things even become impossible without everyone pulling in the same direction.
  • We have to be sure people are fully engaged and focused on execution. If they aren’t engaged, there’s no way we’ll deliver consistently. We want excellence to be the norm, not a random occurrence.

The two-word secret to engagement: “Thank you.” We want every employee to know how much we value his or her energy and effort, so we thank you a lot.

We say thank you when we see an employee doing their work with excellence; we say thank you when we observe someone going above and beyond our already high standards; we say thank you when we see our people living out our core values; we even say thank you for a team member’s contributions at the end of every shift.

Mark Miller, Win the Heart

A NEXT STEP

Do you say “thank you” to your team members often enough – or at all?

Here’s a starter list of 10 ideas to say “thank you” to team members. Use this list as a starter to complete a chart tablet of at least 30 ways to say thank you – and use at least one every day for the next month.

Wall of fame – Create a wall of fame featuring images of team members; be sure to include what they did that you are recognizing them for.

Praise often – Praise your team members quickly – as soon as you notice an action that is praiseworthy.

Give the gift of wellness – Give out passes to a yoga studio or gym. Healthy team members feel better about themselves and add value to the team.

Have fun – Reward your team after the conclusion of a special season or event with a fun outing. It not only says thanks but encourages team participation and bonding.

Sticky notes – The adult version of the affirming lunch note to your child! Leave notes on their desks or work areas, saying thanks and explaining why.

Random gifts – Who doesn’t like surprises? Give team members small gifts with a note saying thanks.

Acknowledge team members in meetings – When team members have a great idea, perform above and beyond the expectations, or something worthy of mentioning – be sure to acknowledge them in front of their peers.

Appreciate personal wins – When a team member achieves a personal milestone in their lives, celebrate with them in your work environment.

Celebrate birthdays – Make their birthday a special day in some way.

Write a note – A personal, handwritten note is always a special gesture. Mail it to your team member’s home, so their family can see it and celebrate too.

It’s your turn!


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

How to Adjust Your Management Style

Managing a team is a job with a perpetual preoccupation: the manager can never be free to forget the work, never has the pleasure of knowing, even temporarily, that there is nothing left to do.

– Henry Mintzberg

To serve as a church staff member, be it a single-staff position in a small church or a role in a multi-staffed megachurch means you are a manager.

Not a leader, though that is true as well.

You are a manager, and there is a difference. As author Henry Mintzberg writes, “By the excessive promotion of leadership, we demote everyone else. We create clusters of followers who have to be driven to perform, instead of leveraging the natural propensity of people to cooperate in communities.”

Becoming a manager of effective ministry teams is as simple as A, B, C, and A is for “Adjust your management style.”

THE QUICK SUMMARY – High Output Management by Andrew Grove

The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. 

Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, High Output Management is equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

As the leader of a team, or the leader of leaders of teams, it is only natural that you want to lead them in a way that delivers the best output possible. On the other hand, you have many other tasks at hand as a leader.

If you want to approach this particular task in the most efficient manner possible, is there a single best management style, one approach that will work better than all the others?

Like the pursuit of almost any discipline, the answer is “no.” There simply is no one style of leadership that is better than another.

The secret is you must learn to adjust your management style, not just manage the same way for everyone.

The output of a manager is the output of the organizational units under his or her supervision or influence.

The question then becomes, “What can managers do to increase the output of their teams?” Put another way, what specifically should they be doing during the day when a virtually limitless number of possible tasks calls for their attention?

To give you a way to answer that question, I would like to introduce the concept of the task-relevant maturity (TRM) of your subordinates. The TRM is a combination of the degree of their achievement orientation and readiness to take responsibility, as well as their education, training, and experience.

The conclusion is that varying management styles are needed as task-relevant maturity varies. Specifically, when the TRM is low, the most effective approach is one that offers very precise and detailed instructions, wherein the supervisor tells the subordinate what needs to be done, when, and how: in other words, a highly structured approach. As the TRM of the subordinate grows, the most effective style moves from the structured to one more given to communication, emotional support, and encouragements, in which the manager pays more attention to the subordinate as an individual than to the task at hand. As the TRM becomes even greater, the effective management style changes again. Here the manager’s involvement should be kept to a minimum, and should primarily consist of making sure that the objectives toward which the subordinate is working are mutually agreed upon.

Here’s a summary:

Task Relevant Maturity of Subordinate Characteristics of the

Effective Management Style

Low Structured; task-oriented; tell “what,” “when,” and “how”

Medium Individual-oriented; emphasis on two-way communication, support, and mutual reasoning

High Involvement by manager minimal; establishing objectives and monitoring

Managers must regard any management mode not as either good or bad but rather as effective or ineffective, given the TRM of our subordinates within a specific working environment. This is why researchers cannot find the single best way for a manager to work. It changes day-by-day and sometimes hour-by-hour.

Andrew Grove, High Output Management

A NEXT STEP

Because a person’s TRM depends on a specific working environment, when the environment changes, so will his TRM as will his supervisor’s most effective management style.

In order for you to learn to understand and adapt the concept of TRM to your team, you need to fully understand and apply these concepts on a regular basis.

Block off two hours in your schedule to begin working on TRM concepts for your team. First, reproduce the summary table listed above on a chart tablet.

Next, for the most common environments of your team, write in their names alongside one of the three designations of “low,” “medium,” or “high.” Remember, you are not labeling their TRM as either good or bad, but rather as effective or ineffective.

Transfer the designations and names to another chart tablet, writing them along the left side. For each person, write at least two actions you will take to help move from their current state to the next level. If they are at the “high” designation already, write actions that will help them move to the next level beyond their current assignment.

Schedule this activity into your calendar once per quarter.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 120-1, released June 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Follow These Rules in Order to Raise Your Personal Leadership Lid

Leadership training and development in our military takes place on two fronts. First, officers identify, build, and utilize the skills that will allow individuals and teams to effectively and efficiently achieve their goal. Second, officers focus on training methods and techniques that will allow those same individuals and teams to practice effective combat and leadership skills in the fields.

In this issue, we will have a chance to hear from leaders in the Army, Navy, and Air Force as they discuss various aspects of leadership training and development that have served them well during their careers.

The same types of leadership training and development can also serve leaders in your organization – beginning with you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – It Worked for Me by Colin Powell

Colin Powell, one of America’s most admired public figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.

A beautiful companion to his previous memoir, the #1 New York Times bestseller My American Journey, Powell’s It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is a trove of wisdom for anyone hoping to achieve their goals and turn their dreams into reality.

A message of strength and endurance from a man who has dedicated his life to public service, It Worked for Me is a book with the power to show readers everywhere how to achieve a more fulfilling life and career.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Short, pithy sayings have played an important role in the life and legendary career of Army four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. And the heart of these are his “Thirteen Rules.”

Stories don’t just make pleasant reading.

They speak to a journey of learning about life and leadership.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning. This rule reflects an attitude and not a prediction. A good night’s rest and the passage of just eight hours will usually reduce the infection.

  2. Get mad, and then get over it. Everyone gets mad; it is a natural and healthy emotion. Staying mad isn’t useful.

  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. Accept that your position is faulty, not your ego. Loyalty is disagreeing strongly, and loyalty is executing faithfully.

  4. It can be done. This is more about attitude than reality. Maybe it can’t be done, but always start out believing you can get it done until facts and analysis pile up against it.

  5. Be careful what you chose: you may get it. Don’t rush into things. Usually there is time to examine the choices, turn them over, and think through the consequences. Some bad choices can be corrected; others you will have to live with.

  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.  Superior leadership is often a matter of superb instinct. When faced with a tough decision, use the time available to gather information that will inform your instinct. Often, factual analysis alone will indicate the right choice. More often, your judgment will be needed to select from the best course of action.

  7. You shouldn’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours. Ultimate responsibility for a team or an organization falls on the leader, but leaders need to make sure the choices they make are theirs and they are not responding to the pressure and desire of others.

  8. Check small things. Success ultimately rests on small things, lots of small things. Leaders have to have a feel for small things – a feel for what is going on in the depths of an organization where small things reside. The followers live in a world of small things. Leaders must find ways, formal and informal, to get visibility into that world.

  9. Share credit. When something goes well, make sure you share credit down and around the whole organization. It is the way you appeal to the dreams, aspirations, anxieties, and fears of your followers. They want to be the best they can be; a good leader lets them know when they are.

  10. Remain calm. Be kind. Calmness protects order, ensures that we consider all the possibilities, restores order when it breaks down, and keeps people fro shouting over each other. Kindness, too, reassures followers and holds their confidence.

  11. Have a vision. Be demanding. Followers need to know where their leaders are taking them and for what purpose. Great leaders inspire every follower at every level to internalize their purpose, and to understand that their purpose goes far beyond the mere details of their job.

  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. We can learn to be aware when fear grips us, and can train to operate through and in spite of or fear. In the same way, naysayers may be right in their negativity, and reality may be on their side. Listen to everyone you need to, and go with your fearless instinct.

  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. If you believe and have prepared your followers, the followers will believe.

Colin Powell, It Worked for Me

A NEXT STEP

Use Colin Powell’s “Thirteen Rules” as a 90-day team learning exercise as follows.

In the room used for your team meetings, put up 13 chart tablets, and on each, write one of the rules listed above.

Each week challenge your team to drop by and write examples, illustrations, and brief notes about something that occurred to or with them in the past week that reflects the rule.

In the next team meeting, briefly review that sheet, and discuss how the team can learn from it. Then, point out the next week’s rule and encourage the team to repeat the process.

Follow these actions for an entire quarter, until you have been through all 13 rules.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Broadcast Attention by Knowing Your Thread

When Thomas Davenport and John Beck wrote the book The Attention Economy, they brought a very important message to church leaders. The book argues that information and talent are no longer your most important resource but rather attention itself. People cannot hear the vision unless we cut through the clutter.

The principle of attention requires church leaders to be bold and relevant as they integrate vision into the internal communication of the church. According to Davenport and Beck, these are the most important characteristics to get attention:

  • The communication is personalized.
  • The communication comes from a trustworthy source.
  • The communication is brief.
  • The communication is emotional.

In other words, your communication should be telling stories.

And your stories start with knowing your thread.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Be Known for Something by Mark MacDonald

Pastor, communicator, ministry leader… listen to your community!

— 80% of evangelical churches are in decline or stagnation.

— A third of our communities have no perceived need for a local church.

— Many churches aren’t known for anything relevant in their communities.

The solution: Be known for something that will reconnect you to your community. Embark on an eye-opening journey to revitalize your church’s reputation, control your message, and create a communication strategy for reaching the lost for Jesus Christ.

Your church needs to reconnect with community. This book will help you to discover how.

Mark MacDonald, a leading voice in effective church communication, shares fascinating stories to help you discover your unique thread that will…

  • Revitalize your church’s reputation
  • Simplify your church’s messaging
  • Tear down your ministry silos
  • Attract people to your church

Be Known For Something is the answer to engaging your congregation while encouraging church growth from your community.

Discover your thread in this easy-to-read and easy-to-lead book. Learn how to control it, communicate it, and live it.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The sitcom “Cheers,” a hit for 11 seasons, may be best remembered for the refrain of its theme song: “where everybody knows your name.”

What about your church? Does your community “know your name?” Not the literal name of your church, but the “who” and “what” and “why” of your church.

Maybe that question needs to be preceded with another, more telling one: Do your members “know your name?”

According to “Be Known for Something” author Mark MacDonald, if your members and regular attenders don’t know what their church was known for, the community certainly won’t hear about it.

And if your community doesn’t hear about you, or “know your name,” are you really being effective in reaching them?

Why do thousands of churches fail annually while our communities have lost interest in our ministries? Perhaps, there’s a thread we can discover so that we can reconnect with our local community where God planted us…a thread that God will use to grow His Church and your ministry.

Do you know what your thread is? Here are the criteria to weigh your ideas and create a successful communication thread:

It needs to be simple.

This short statement (1-5 words) needs to be a simple concept that people will embrace and remember.

It needs to be somewhat “open” in thought.

The more specific the statement is, the harder it will be to “roll it out” across your ministry.

It needs to be emotionally charged.

Consider the emotion someone will have when he or she experiences the benefit. Make sure this emotion is the feeling you or your church exudes.

It needs to be benefit-driven.

The statement should refer to a solution and, therefore, a prominent pain or a path to a goal.

It needs to feel like your congregation.

Be biblical, genuine, authentic, and real.

It needs to be unique.

The more unique you are in the communication thread, the easier it will be for you to break through with it.

Your DNA scarlet thread is woven within everything you’re doing. Get your thread embedded into people’s long-term memory.

Mark MacDonald, Be Known for Something

A NEXT STEP

Use the following discussion questions by author Mark MacDonald in your next leadership team meeting to focus on discovering your church’s “thread.”

  • If our people were to go and live our mission statement, how would their lives attract non-churched people in our community?
  • If we are “being” our mission statement, what benefit would speak directly to someone in our community?
  • What’s the biggest benefit for attending our church? What would the average regular attender say it is?
  • If there’s more than one thing, do we think we could decide on the thing? The answer we want to hear regularly to this question, “so why do you attend this church?”. Would the answer encourage someone else who doesn’t attend a church now to attend?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 118-2, released May 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

 

How to Leverage the Fuzzy Front End of the Onboarding Process

Do you remember your first day at your current job?

Was it a pleasant and memorable experience?

Or did it make you question your decision by the end of the first day?

Even well-meaning organizations often miss on new employee onboarding and orientation. Common mistakes include:

  • Inundating the new employee with facts, figures, names and faces packed into one eight-hour (or longer) day
  • Required viewing of tedious orientation videos
  • Endless “talking-head” lectures
  • Providing inadequate or outdated technology
  • Inadequate assignments so the new team member feels as if they are treading water rather than jumping right into the work of the new job.
  • Not having any process of enfolding new people in the life of the organization.

Your organization’s positive first impressions can cement the deal for a new employee. Those positive actions can also speed integration, productivity, and contribute to a sense of camaraderie. Various research findings show that good orientation programs can improve employee retention by at least 25 percent.

THE QUICK SUMMARY

Your first 100 days in a new leadership position are critical, as they set the foundation for your team’s success going forward. The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan helps you start gaining traction even before your first day in a new job. The playbook gives you a concrete strategy for getting a fast start—engaging the culture, setting direction, aligning the team, avoiding common missteps, and delivering results. This new fourth edition has been updated with new graphics and downloadable tools, and expanded with new information learned from real-world clients over the past twelve years.

Many organizations, regardless of size, industry, or geography, realize that it is strategically imperative to effectively onboard leaders into new roles and combine teams during M&A and reorganization. New thinking for new teams provides ways to get quick results with key business initiatives, and new discussions on cultural fit and evolution to help you better contribute to your organization’s success. Updated stories and case studies provide real-life glimpses at how successful leaders navigate tricky situations, and extensive online tools point you toward additional resources as the need arises.

40 percent of new leaders fail within the first eighteen months on the job. When a new leader drops the ball, it’s at the expense of the team, the organization, and the leader’s track record. Successful leaders start leading and delivering immediately. This book shows you how to start getting results right away and dramatically increase your chances for success—by systematically shaping your leadership with intent.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Imagine the following scenarios…

You’re a new employee in a fast-growing organization. It may be your first job right out of school, or it could be the next step in your career. You show up on the first day bright and eager to begin, but you really have no clue about the details surrounding your new job, other than the basic description. Apparently, neither has the organization that hired you! Your first greeting is something like, “Oh – you’re here? I guess we’d better find an office for you…”

Or maybe the organization that hired you has some sort of human relations department in place. There is a person in charge of new hires, and they welcome you on your first day, showing you to your office, complete with a fresh technology setup, passwords, files, important information, and a thorough weeklong orientation schedule.

Maybe your new organization has already set up everything for you, and you step into your new job ready to go. That’s good – but still falls short of great.

If you have waited until your first day on the job to begin, you are already behind.

Your new leadership role begins the moment you accept the offer, the deal is done, or the re-organization is announced. Wouldn’t you like concrete framework for successful leadership and a clear roadmap to the critical first 100 days?

Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that leadership begins on Day One of a new job. Like it or not, a new leader’s role begins a soon as that person is an acknowledged candidate for the job.

Everything new leaders do and say and don’t do and don’t say will send powerful signals, starting well before they even walk in the door on Day One.

If you embrace this concept and do something about it, you increase your chances of success. This one idea can make or break a new leader’s transition.

The bonus time between acceptance and start is the Fuzzy Front End. It often comes at the worst possible time, interfering with the last days of an old job, time earmarked for taking a vacation, catching up with personal errands postponed for too lone, or just unwinding a little before the big day.

The good news is that, more often than not, the key elements of the Fuzzy Front End can be addressed in relatively short order.

Make your Fuzzy Front End even more powerful with these six steps:

Determine your leadership approach given the context and culture you face.

Step one is to identify the need for change and the readiness for change. The context you’re facing determines how fast you should move. The current culture determines how fast and effectively you can move.

Identify key stakeholders.

Step two of the Fuzzy Front End is to identify your key stakeholders, the people who can have the most impact on your success in your new role. Be sure to look in all directions to find key stakeholders.

Craft your entry message using current best thinking.

Step three of the Fuzzy Front End is clarifying your initial message. Everything you do communicates to everyone in the organization observing you and everyone in the organization who is in communication with those who observe you.

Jump-start key relationships and accelerate your learning.

The two actions of Step four of the Fuzzy Front End work hand in hand. You achieve this by conducting pre-start meetings and phone calls now, before you start. The impact you can make by reaching out to critical stakeholders before you start is incalculable.

Manage your personal and office setup.

No matter how much you try, you cannot give a new job your best efforts until Step five of the Fuzzy Front End is underway. Taking the time to figure out housing, schools, transportation, and the like is not a luxury. If you wait, these things will distract you at a time when everyone is making those first and lasting impressions of your performance.

Plan Your Day One, early days, and first 100 days.

The knowledge gathered from Step six of the Fuzzy Front End should enable you to begin to put things in context and help you figure out what you want to do on that first day, during that first week, and during those first 100 days.

George Bradt, Jayme Check, and John Lawler, The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan

A NEXT STEP

Create your own strategy for dealing with the Fuzzy Front End by taking the following actions, as suggested by the authors.

Write the six steps listed above on each of six chart tablets, and answer the following questions for each.

Determine your leadership approach given the context and culture you face

  • How significantly and how fast does the organization need to change given its environment, history, and recent performance?
  • Are there any trends in the environment in each of these 5Cs: Customers, Collaborators, Capabilities, Competitors, and Conditions?
  • Review the organization’s history as far back as you can for founder’s intent, heroes along the way, and the stories and myths people carry around with them.
  • Look beyond the obvious – what is working well, and less well?

Identify key stakeholders

  • Write the following words down the left side of the chart tablet: Up, Across, and Down.
  • Answer each of the following questions with each of three “audiences” listed above in mind.
  • With whom are you communicating? Be as specific as you can.
  • What are they currently thinking and doing? What is most important to them?
  • What do they need to stop doing, keep doing, or change how they are doing?
  • What do they need to know to move them from their current state to the desired state?

Craft your entry message using current best thinking

  • Your communication points will flow from your message, the platform for change, the vision, and the call to action.
  • Platform for change – What are the things that will make your audience realize they need to do something different from what they have been doing?
  • Vision – What is the picture of a brighter future that your audience can picture themselves in?
  • Call to action – What are the actions the audience can take to get there so they can be a part of the solution?

Jump-start key relationships and accelerate your learning

  • Using the list of stakeholders created above, determine which ones you should speak to before Day One.
  • Realize the answers you get to questions before you actually start will be different from the answers you get after you start.
  • Even when a pre-meeting may not be possible, just asking will make a favorable impact.
  • Remember that pre-start conversations will often have a cascading impact.

Manage your personal and office setup

  • Create a personal, time-based set-up relocation list.
  • Create an office setup checklist to address office setup issues before Day One.
  • Make sure the human relations office/staff is accommodating your needs by helping you assimilate culturally so you can have an impactful Day One.

Plan Your Day One, early days, and first 100 days

  • Using steps listed above, create a 100-Day plan worksheet with broad categories and actions to capture the foundational elements of your plan.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 116-1, released April 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

 

Strategy: How You Do What You Do

Remember the last time you sat down to do a jigsaw puzzle? The work proceeds in two basic steps. First, you put the edges together. Finding all of the little pieces with straight edges is the easiest way to begin. As you piece together the top and bottom and sides, the puzzle is framed up within a relatively short period of time.

The second part of the process is now ready to begin, because you have defined the basic shape and outline of the puzzle. Before building the frame, it would have been exceedingly difficult to put many of the middle pieces together. But now, all of those elusive jigsaw shapes and unclear image fragments have perspective and boundaries.

Even though the frame makes the puzzle-building project easier, more work remains. You pick up awkward shape after awkward shape, twisting and turning them and turning again, until you get just the right fit and-snap-the image develops, one piece at a time. After a long journey that may take days or even months, the final image emerges.

Articulating your church’s vision is like working on a jigsaw puzzle.

Auxano co-founder Will Mancini developed the Vision Frame concept to show you how to articulate your vision the same way you would build a puzzle: in two basic steps.

This excerpt of SUMS Remix continues to introduce the Vision Frame, guiding you to first think about the four outer edges – the components of your church’s identity that frame everything else you do. These edges anchor the second part of the process (a future SUMS Remix), which involves the direction of living and articulating the dynamic vision of your Church Unique through the daily work of turning and twisting the pieces of the organization. The edges of the frame are definitive, but the middle of the puzzle is dynamic. The fixed nature of step one, building the frame, anchors the fluid nature of step two, where your vision picture slowly develops into the better intermediate future God has entrusted to you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Move by Patty Azzarello

Move is your guide to mobilizing your whole organization to take your business forward. Whatever your needed transformation may be: a new initiative, a new market, a new product, your fresh strategy is up against a powerful foe: an organization’s tendency to stay very busy and completely engaged  with what it’s already doing. This book shows you how to cut through resistance and get your team engaged and proactively doing the new thing!

Author Patty Azzarello draws on over twenty-five years of international business management experience to identify the chronic challenges that keep organizations from decisively executing strategy, and to give you a practical game plan for breaking through. Leaders tend to assume that stalls in execution are inevitable, unchanging parts of the workplace—but things can change. At the heart of every execution problem is the fact that there simply are not enough people doing what the business needs. This guide shows you how to get your entire organization on board—remove the fear, excuses, and hurdles—and uphold the new pursuit against distractions and dissent.

No transformation can succeed without suitable engagement from the whole organization, but building engagement can be difficult, uncomfortable, and tentative. This book shows you how to get it done.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The absence of strategy, as Will Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church. By healthy, he means that there is some foundation of spiritual unity in the church and trust among the leaders.

Unfortunately, many churches think that being more effective is simply a matter of trying harder, being more obedient, or praying more. The battle belongs to the Lord, but the Lord also asks us to prepare the horse for battle. In other words, kingdom effectiveness and missional movement require more than spiritual unity; they require strategic clarity.

The strategy is the piece of the Vision Frame that brings this crucial dimension. This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits into the mission. 

Strategies are often stated in end goals. An end goal, no matter how inspiring it is, is not enough. The “Middle” is the important part.

It’s easy to get excited at the beginning and define long-term goals at the end. It’s the “Middle” that’s the problem. It’s hard to keep an organization focused on doing something new and difficult for a long time. Since real transformation takes time, you need a strategy to maintain execution and momentum through the Middle.

A good strategy defines what you will do. What you will do describes what happens in the Middle. While you are in the Middle, without the right measures that define your strategy in a concrete way, you can’t know if you are making progress. And if you can’t see that you are making progress, you will most likely not keep going. Everyone will stay busy with what they are already doing, and your transformation will stall. The leaders and the team need to get fiercely aligned on the specific, clearly defined, resourced, and sponsored outcomes that need to happen through the Middle to bring about the long-term success of your strategy.

A big reason for the stalls that too often occur in the Middle is that many organizations mistake listing end goals as a strategy. You become excited about the wonderful achievement at the end, but there is nothing in the definition of that end goal that tells you specifically what to do, which way to go about it, what problems you need to solve, or what you need to fix, change, stop, or invent to get there – these are all things that need to happen in the Middle.

A strategy must describe what you will do, including how you will measure and resource it. Strategy must clarify specific action.

Patty Azzarello, Move

A NEXT STEP

Strategy Defined

Strategy is the picture or process that demonstrates how the church will accomplish its mission on the broadest level. Strategy answers the question, “How do we do what we do?” It is a flashlight that shows new people clear next steps. It also sets the expectation of involvement for all members.

The strategy is like a container that holds all of your church activities into one meaningful whole. Without this picture individuals within the church will forget how each component fits into the mission. They will be lost in a programmatic soup of good but random activity.

Think of strategy as a pattern of participation. It reveals places and rhythms of being involved. It is the church’s operational logic. It shows how every major environment (time and place at church) is a part of a discipleship pathway. Strategy is the missional map or “where Joe goes” at the church.

Strategy Reminders

  • The strategy defines your unique church model
  • Without strategy, programs are not “vertically related” to the mission
  • Without strategy, programs are not “horizontally related” to one another
  • In most churches, 50% of worshipers do nothing other than worship
  • The two greatest barriers to involvement are, “I don’t know how” and “No one invited me.” Clear strategy removes these barriers.
  • Generally speaking, churches with fewer higher quality ministries have better results
  • Strive for simplicity with strategy – good programs are enemy to great programs
  • Over-programmed churches should chart a 1-3 year alignment journey
  • The vision team should be able to draw the strategy on a napkin
  • Use a visual strategy icon in all church communications 

Gather your team and give everyone a large napkin and a pen. Ask them to pretend that they are having coffee with a key leader in their ministry. Give them 90 seconds to draw a picture of how your church is called to help people mature in their faith as disciples, using as few words as possible. Don’t let them look at each other’s napkin until everyone else is finished, then tape them next to each other on a wall.

Discuss together: How close are they to the same picture? Are the words used the same or different? What steps are needed to clarify a shared strategy among your team?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 115-3, released March 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

On the way to pick up a take-out lunch from my neighborhood diner yesterday, the warm sunny day found me with the sunroof open and the windows down. I came across a field that had freshly cut and baled hay in it – the old style small bales. The aroma of the hay took me back to my teenage years, when my buddies and I helped nearby farmers as they would bring in hay for their cattle. My usual job was to stack hay bales on a wagon pulled by a tractor – sometimes tossing them from the field, sometimes stacking them on the wagon. Hard work, but good exercise and fun for a bunch of teenagers.

My instantaneous trip down memory lane was shattered when I rounded the corner and saw one man, driving a tractor pulling a machine that picked up the bales, stacked them in neat rows, and when a row was complete lifting the whole thing onto a trailer. The work was quicker, neater, and in the long run more economically advantageous for the farmer.

On the way back from the diner, going down the same road, but on the other side, I saw an elderly gentleman driving a tractor cutting a small field around his house – but with an identical International Harvester tractor and mower to that I used in the early 70s. Now, the tractor I used then was old – that made this one really ancient. But it seemed to be doing the job just fine, and the farmer was moving right along in his work.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The season and needs of both farmers dictated their actions. Each was using tools at his disposal to accomplish a task. Each was satisfied that they were doing the right thing, and they achieved their desired result.

Change, even as regular as the seasonal changes (at least in NC) is a constant. I’ve been a student and practitioner of change for a long time. One of the best resources for understanding change is William Bridges’ Managing Transitions.

Don’t let the title fool you: the first sentence explains the premise of the rest of the book: It isn’t the changes that do you in; it’s the transitions. Bridges sees change as situational – the new job, new boss, new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.

I think Bridges would translate the old French saying above to: There can be any number of changes, but unless there are transitions, nothing will be different when the dust clears.

Situational change hinges on the new thing, but psychological transition depends on letting go of the old reality and the old identity you had before the change took place. Nothing so undermines organizational change as the failure to think through who will have to let go of what when change occurs.

Got Change, anyone?

 

How to Harness the Power of TNT

Positive Learning from Negative Feedback

Leaders in all sizes and types of organizations often face negative feedback and criticism – and many have problems dealing with it.

Maybe it’s time to blow criticism away with “TNT”.

Recently I was reading HBR.org and came across a great article by John Butman entitled “The Benefits of Negative Feedback.”

I recently gave a lunchtime “author’s talk” at Children’s Hospital in Boston and, although I thought the talk went well, somebody in the audience didn’t like it at all. On the evaluation form, the person in question wrote a single word in the comment box: CONFUSING.

Thank you, whoever you are. While everybody else gave me good marks and said nice things, which I appreciated, my critic forced me into self-examination. Was he the only one forthright enough to speak up, or was he the only one not paying enough attention to get it? What was confusing? The ideas? The presentation?

His thoughtful suggestions contained in the article on dealing with negative feedback reminded me of a simple but powerful tool that I use whenever I receive criticism.

It’s called TNT, and I learned it over twenty years ago from Sue Mallory, a training instructor for the Leadership Network. I’ve been using it in every shape and form since then.

Are you ready?

The Next Time.

That’s right – once something has been said or done, you can’t do anything about it – for good or bad! Why should you beat yourself up and let it drag you down?

But you can learn from it and apply that learning to The Next Time the situation presents itself.

Here’s a great example: A presentation I gave at a national conference in Dallas TX. I was no stranger to the conference – I’ve been speaking at it for over ten years. The topic was not new to me even though it was the first time I had presented it in its current form. I had prepared adequately – or at least I thought.

As it turns out, I had mistakenly assumed that the attendees of this year’s conference attending my session would be the same as in prior years, and I neglected to gauge the makeup of the audience before I launched into the presentation.

Over half of the session’s attendees were from a technical background, when I had expected most of them to be from a church ministry staff background. The presentation was only 5 minutes old before the quizzical looks and a few responses to my questions made me realize a mid-course correction was required!

Fortunately, I have a background (albeit several decades ago) in the technical production aspect of church ministry, and I was able to shift on the fly to orient the presentation more in that direction. The formal evaluations I received backed up the comments from several attendees following the session, indicating the midstream switch was a success.

Looking back, I could have avoided the situation by noting what other sessions were being offered at the same time (and thus gauging potential attendance) as well as taking a quick audience poll to see who was present (to adjust the presentation at the beginning).

But it happened, and I couldn’t change a thing.

There’s always The Next Time.

What about in your leadership position? How will you use the power of TNT in evaluating an event or lesson or sermon that got some negative feedback in order to provide a positive launching point for improvement in the future?

Don’t let the negatives get you down – instead, blow them away with TNT.

How to Communicate Your Vision Through Stories

When Thomas Davenport and John Beck wrote the book The Attention Economy, they brought a very important message to church leaders. The book argues that information and talent are no longer your most important resource but rather attention itself. People cannot hear the vision unless we cut through the clutter.

The principle of attention requires church leaders to be bold and relevant as they integrate vision into the internal communication of the church. According to Davenport and Beck, these are the most important characteristics to get attention:

  • The communication is personalized.
  • The communication comes from a trustworthy source.
  • The communication is brief.
  • The communication is emotional.

In other words, your communication should be telling stories.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Laws of Brand Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

We have been sharing stories from the beginning of human civilization―for good reason. Stories captivate our attention and build communities by bringing ideas, emotions, and experiences to life in a memorable way. This is proving to be an increasingly potent strategy in the era of the connected digital consumer. With consumers more empowered than ever before, your brand isn’t what you say it is anymore, it is what consumers say it is. As a result, capturing customers’ hearts and minds today requires businesses to prioritize emotional connections with customers, to be in the moment, having authentic conversations, to share relevant, inspiring stories that move and motivate people to take action. 

Packed with inspiring tips, strategies, and stories from two leading marketing innovators, The Laws of Brand Storytelling shows business leaders and marketing professionals the power storytelling has to positively impact and differentiate your business, attract new customers, and inspire new levels of brand advocacy. The authors lay down the law―literally―for readers through a compelling step-by-step process of defining who you are as a brand, setting a clear strategy, sourcing the best stories for your business, and crafting and delivering compelling narratives for maximum effect. Win your customers’ hearts and minds, and you win their business and their loyalty.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In SUMS Remix 109, “brand” was defined as the perception of your organization that lives in the minds of your audience.

The authors of Brand Storytelling remind us of that: “It’s not about you; it’s about them. Create stories that your audience can relate to. Make your customer the hero. Be human in everything you do.”

Brand storytelling isn’t just about the content you create. Brand storytelling is who you are. Every story adds to a person’s perception of your brand.

Brand storytelling is the art of shaping a company’s identity through the use of narratives and storytelling techniques that facilitate an emotional response and establish meaningful connections.

Brand storytelling done right is never self-absorbed; it is a dialog. It’s human and real and relatable. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or even funny, but it unites, sparks conversations, and puts people first.

Storytelling can take the form of a video, a tweet, a conversation, a surprise-and-delight act, great customer service, or a brand taking a stand on a specific issue. The list is long. A company’s every interaction with the world matters in shaping its story (both at the macro and micro level).

Macro stories are at the core of your organization’s DNA. They highlight your company’s story, its founding myth. They can do so through a logo, a brand identity guide, and the story of the founder(s). What drove the founder(s) to risk everything and start an enterprise? Why was it important? What challenges had to be overcome? How was the ultimate mission statement shaped? Macro stories are the why, the foundation of and the reason for everything the company does.

Micro stories are the lifeblood of your storytelling strategy. They are an “always-on” approach to continue building your macro story. They are the moments in time that allow us to keep our brand at the forefront of everyone’s mind in a relevant way.

Micro stories can come in any shape or form: websites updates, social content, blog posts, press releases, co-marketing and partner messaging, packaging, events , customer stories, employee stories, influencer stories, internal communications, newsletters, e-mail campaigns, product deliver, and so on.

Your micro stories cannot contradict your macro story. They are designed to support and extend it.

Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio, The Laws of Brand Storytelling

A NEXT STEP

According to authors of “The Laws of Brand Storytelling, “Great marketing isn’t just about grabbing attention with catchy taglines and click bait headlines anymore, but holding that attention and building lasting and meaningful connections. Brands can no longer rely on slogans and jingles but must learn to tell stories.”

Set aside some time in your next leadership team meeting to review the concepts of “macro” and “micro” stories as listed in the excerpt above. Write the words “macro” and “micro” on two chart tablets.

For no more than five minutes, list all stories in each of those two categories by name or a brief description. For example, “founding story,” “relocation,” “Sam Smith revival,” etc.

After listing the stories on the two chart tablets, go back and review each one as follows:

Macro stories – Talk through the stories listed, using the questions posed in the excerpt above to guide the discussion. Discuss how these stories need to be woven more into the tapestry of your church’s conversations.

Micro stories – Review the list of micro stories and discuss how each supports the macro stories you previously discussed. If they do not support the macro story, discuss how you will adapt them, or stop doing them.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 118-1, released May 2019.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<