Remembering My Father, Celebrating Book Lover’s Day

August 9 is birthdate of my father, who was born in 1927.

It’s also Book Lover’s Day.

Those two seemingly incongruent circumstances actually have a powerful connection for me.

After suffering a major stroke on February 10, 2012, my father passed away on February 25. By the time I was able to get back to Tennessee to see him, he had lost motor functions and speech capacity. Over the few days I was there, the slow but steady decline continued.

I had last seen him during the Christmas holidays. While there, I spent some time alone at home with him. After suffering a series of strokes over the past several years, he could no longer read – but the legacy of his reading lines the bookshelves all over my boyhood home. In the quiet hours when everyone was asleep, I scanned the shelves and remembered hearing him talk about this book or that one. I pulled a few off the shelf, and opening them, was instantly transported back in time to a conversation about the subject, or to memories of the event itself.

I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He insisted my mother take my brother and me to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.

Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful my father instilled in me.

Sunday 8/9 will be Book Lover’s Day – not an official holiday but one I eagerly celebrate. Book reading is a great hobby. It’s an important one, too. Employers look for it on resumes. Reading is educational, informative, and relaxing. It makes us both smarter and happier people.

Book Lovers Day is a great day to celebrate. Just grab an interesting book, find a quiet, cozy place, and crack open the cover. Celebrating Book Lovers Day in August is pleasurable on the deck, under a shady tree, poolside, or in a cozy hammock. If you fall asleep while reading, that’s okay. It’s all part of the relaxing benefits of being a book lover.

I’m also celebrating this Book Lover’s Day as a part of my vocation – Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader at Auxano. My role requires me to read – a lot – and then write book excerpts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs about what I’m reading. During a recent conversation with a teammate, I was able to pull a half-dozen book titles off the top of my head when asked for recommendations on books about a specific topic that helped him work with a client. That’s part of the benefit of reading!

I love my job!

Here’s an example:

I love (and practice) the 4 different levels of reading as espoused by Mortimer Adler in his great book, How to Read a Book, but I really like to latch onto a topic and practice Syntopical Reading. Also known as comparative reading, it is where many books are read, and placed in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve.

For the last several months, that topic has been “Hospitality in the Home,” and my current tower shelf of syntopical reading in the topic is at 127 books – and I’ve still got some more coming in!

In addition to the pure enjoyment of reading on the subject, these books formed the basis of a month-long emphasis at Auxano entitled “Building Bridges to Your Neighbors.” The content produced by this reading includes two emails, two feature articles, a webinar, an eBook, and countless social media posts.

Here’s a partial view of those books; the tower is out of room and another dozen or so are on a nearby file cabinet:

In addition to this special project, another ongoing syntopical project of sorts is SUMS Remix.

Issue #151, shipping next week, is the most recent one, published every two weeks over the last six years. Those 151 issues represent 452 books. The format of SUMS Remix is simple: one problem statement faced by church leaders, 3 brief excepts from books that provide a solution to the problem, and 3 ready-to-use applications for leaders to try out immediately. You can find out more and purchase an annual subscription to SUMS Remix here.

With an issue published every two weeks, a two-week production cycle, and a two-week preparation phase, at any given time I’m working on at least 4 SUMS Remix issues, which means there are 12 books on my front burner.

And that’s just for SUMS Remix reading…

Then there’s current reading for Auxano social media (Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook posts), preparation for Guest Experience development and consultations, other writing projects, and believe it or not, reading just for the pleasure of reading – a nightly occurrence. Currently a few topics I’m reading in include restaurants, food, and related areas; the psychology behind our bias; the development of U.S. culture from the 1600s through today; and of course, there’s always some Disney history in the mix!

So, on Book Lover’s Day, and in memory of my father, I’m trying to emulate Thomas Edison, who believed that voracious reading was the key to self-improvement. He read books on a remarkable range of subjects to address his endless queries. As Edison noted, “I didn’t read a few books, I read the library.”


If you want to know more about my dad, here is the eulogy I gave at his funeral. After the funeral, while my sons and I were moving some things around his gas station, I discovered one reason I am so passionate about guest experiences. And read this post to find out why readers are leaders.

How are you celebrating Book Lover’s Day?

How to Practice the Three Actions of the Good Samaritan in Your Neighborhood

Note: During the month of August, I will be going back to previous SUMS Remix issues relating to hospitality in the home that have not been published here on the Wednesday Weekly Reader. Why? In these crazy times, we could all use a refresher in how to be a better neighbor. I’m also posting these to support an Auxano initiative during the month of August, Building Bridges to our Neighbors.


 

Author Reggie McNeal invites us to get off our ass (biblically speaking) with a focus on the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

We’re living in a bizarre polarity of unprecedented connectedness and unparalleled isolation.

Many of us are – and have been – living, working and schooling from home, joining countless others in our cul-de-sacs or subdivision streets.

The Great Commission may carry you to the ends of the world, but it starts on your street. God has given us a perfect environment for demonstrating the gospel and advancing His mission, if only we would open our eyes to it. It’s that place you probably consider your personal and private fortress – your home. Hospitality is one of the simplest – and most exciting – ways to engage in God’s mission.

If we are ever going to join all our lives to God’s mission to change the world, we need to reclaim all of our ordinary pieces as a part of that gospel mission. We have to reject the notion that something has to be big or unusual to be significant. We will have to view the ordinariness of our lives as significant, and allow God to use our homes as a seed to be planted and grown, not something to be discarded or devalued.

We need to practice neighboring.

Just who is our neighbor? And, how can we serve our neighbors?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Next Door as it is in Heaven by Lance Ford and Brad Brisco

There was a time when neighbors knew each other’s names, when small children and the old and infirm alike had more than their families looking out for them. There was a time when our neighborhoods were our closest communities.

No more. Neighborhoods have become the place where nobody knows your name. Into this neighborhood crisis the words of Jesus still ring true: Second only to the command to love God is the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Next Door as It Is in Heaven, Lance Ford and Brad Brisco offer first principles and best practices to make our neighborhoods into places where compassion and care are once again part of the culture, where good news is once again more than words, and where the love of God can be once again rooted and established.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Practice the Three Actions of the Good Samaritan in Your Neighborhood

After the attention-getting quote by Reggie McNeal noted above, he continues:

I don’t know what business you are in (education, the social sector, for-profit enterprise, health care, etc.), but ultimately you want to be in the people business. Helping people is the best part of life! If you don’t discover this truth and act on it, not only will your “neighbors’’ needs go unmet, but you will never be whole.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is a call to action, not just a great story.

If anyone should “neighbor” differently, it should be us. So let’s do it. Let us love our neighborhoods as ourselves.

As followers of Jesus, we can’t afford to miss the point in the parable usually named “The Good Samaritan.” We believe we would better understand Jesus’ point if, we called it “the parable of the good neighbor.” The Samaritan – the one who proved to be a real neighbor – demonstrates several important traits we can learn from.

Nearing – All three of the players in Jesus’ story “saw” the man who was in distress. All three of the guys were busy. They were on a journey. They had things to do, people to see. But there was a difference in the three. Two people saw and went on. One person saw and went to.

It’s so much easier to just “pass over to the other side.” What we thought we saw or heard may not be the case. It could just be our imagination. That conversation I overheard between one of my kids and her playmate from down the street may have sounded like her family is struggling with finances, but I may have misunderstood. Then again, little Carly does seem to eagerly accept every offer for a chance or to stay for dinner.

I will never know the answer unless, like the Good Samaritan, I go to the person.

Caring – The real neighbor in Jesus’ story begins to attend to the wounds he discovers. Not only does he offer his own immediate resources, he seeks the assistance of others nearby. The Samaritan needed to continue his journey. But he didn’t just leave the man behind. He asked the innkeeper to take care of the fallen man.

Think about that. Our aim must be higher than just to be a good neighbor ourselves. The goal is to create a neighborhood of good neighbors whereby our collective gifts, talents, resources, and caring heart of many neighbors join forces when needs arise.

Sharing – Finally, look back and see what this neighboring example set in motion. Before we get the parable of the real neighbor, we get the great commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Heart. Soul. Strength. Mind.

Jesus is talking about our passion and being. What do you care deeply about? What do you love to do? What are you skilled at and knowledgeable about? Jesus says, “Love God with all of that!” And then he says, “Make it tangible by loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Lance Ford and Brad Brisco, Next Door as it is in Heaven

A NEXT STEP

For our friends, it’s easy for us to share what we have and know. But Jesus takes it to an entirely different level. He defines real neighbors as those who are willing to do so with strangers – and not just strangers because they’ve never met.

Authors Lance Ford and Brad Brisco provide some ideas for reflection and preparation in practicing the three actions of the Good Samaritan as noted above. Set aside some quiet time this week and follow the suggestions below.

  1. Immerse. Slowly read the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 from at least five different Bible versions in order to hear differences in translations.
  2. Recognize your resources. Reflect on your own heart, soul, strength, and mind. Make a list of what you know and what you possess. What are you passionate about? Begin making a list that will help you to serve others and provide an example for your neighbors as they consider their own resources.
  3. Consider others. Think about your neighbors. Who might be interested in joining you in making your neighborhood the best it has ever been?
  4. Pray. Begin praying for your neighborhood each day, that it becomes a place that experiences the peace and blessings of the Lord and the revelation of the gospel of the kingdom of heaven.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 88-1, released March 2018


 

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<<

August Special: When you purchase a SUMS Remix annual subscription during the month of August, you will also receive a PDF containing all seven issues of SUMS Remix that have a “hospitality in the home” theme. The PDF will be emailed to you after purchase.

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<

How to Learn by Listening

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 – Leading Loyalty by Sandy Rogers, Leena Rinne, and Shawn Moon

In business, if people merely like you, you’re in trouble. They need to love you! Learn how building loyalty and modeling great customer service behavior to develop frontline teams is the key to building raving fans.

To thrive in today’s economy, it’s not enough for customers to merely like you. They have to love you. Win their hearts and they will not only purchase more—they’ll talk you up to everyone they know.

But what turns casual customers into passionate promoters? What makes people stick with you for the long haul?

The industry experts at Franklin Covey set out to unlock the mysteries of gaining the customer’s loyalty. In an extensive study that involved 1,100 stores and thousands of people, they isolated examples that stood out in terms of revenues and profitability. They found that these “campfire stores” burned brighter than the rest thanks to fiercely loyal customers and the employees who delight in making their customers’ lives easier.

Now Leading Loyalty reveals the principles and practices of these everyday service heroes—the customer-facing employees who cultivate bonds and lift revenues through the roof. Full of eye-opening examples and practical tools, Leading Loyalty helps you infuse empathy, responsibility, and generosity into every interaction and:

  • Make warm, authentic connections
  • Ask the right questions
  • Listen to learn
  • Discover the real job to be done
  • Take ownership of the customer’s issue
  • Follow up and strengthen the relationship
  • Share insights openly and kindly
  • Surprise people with unexpected extras
  • Model, teach, and reinforce these essential behaviors through weekly team huddles

It’s time to invest in building loyalty. Even small improvements mean a big boost to your bottom line…and improves your business overall.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

You would think listening would be easy. After all, we spend a good chunk of our lives doing it. We listened to our parents when we were children. We listened to our teachers in school. We listen to the radio in the car, and we listen to the TV while we are watching it.

But even though we have done it for so long, and even though we do it now, many of us don’t. Not really.

We hear sounds, but there is a difference between hearing things that happen to be around us at a given moment and actively, intentionally listening. The first happens without effort; the second comes through discipline and practice, and this is where we often fail. We find ourselves, especially when we are hearing something or someone we don’t agree with, not really listening but instead tolerating sound, just waiting for our own chance to talk.

There is a downside to efficiency when we’re working with human beings – we may neglect to take time to empathize and really listen.

The skill we are focused on here is not only listening to hear, but also listening to learn.

On a personal level, when we fail to listen, we not only miss the opportunity to show empathy and earn loyalty by connecting and learning from someone’s story, but we also fail to fulfill the greatest human need: to feel understood.

By making a genuine human connection with people and listening to learn, we uncover their story, which then allows us to feel and convey empathy.

By using the skill of listening to learn, you learn more about the other person’s story, and doing so enables you to show empathy. Listening to learn is not just a mechanical skill. It’s the result of really wanting to learn, of caring enough about another person to connect and listen for a moment.

Listening to learn comes from a heartfelt desire to truly understand other people. The more we understand, the more we can help them, the more loyal they become. The listening-to-learn behavior is rooted in the principle of empathy because it is about fully understanding and empathizing with the story of another.

Sandy Rogers, Leena Rinne, and Shawn Moon, Leading Loyalty

A NEXT STEP

Listening is important. It’s more than just a skill. In fact, it might well be worth considering, if we have trouble listening, the real reason why it’s so difficult.

A starting point? Listen to understand people without worrying or thinking about how to answer.

Who is someone on your team who excels at making genuine connection with others through listening? Ask them to share their “secrets” for listening with your whole team.

Following that, discuss the following questions:

  • What are we really trying to learn by listening?
  • Which of the following “Listen to Learn” guidelines do you need to improve on?
    • Stay silent until the person has finished talking.
    • Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart.
    • Don’t worry about how to answer – focus on understanding.
    • Rephrase what was said and check for understanding.
  • What does it mean to “listen with our ears, eyes, and heart”?
  • How do we check for understanding without solving the problem?

For a leader, listening is perhaps the most important skill of all. As a leader, we must learn to listen while navigating along with the person speaking toward a common destination – mutual understanding.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 121-2, 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<<

Seven Trends of the New Retirement Mindset

Many leaders view retirement – whether a few years or a few decades away – as a finish line.

But increasingly these leaders, especially for those who are closer to retirement, are finding that being too young to retire but too old to find a job has become a critical issue.

Will Heath, Succession Specialist, writes in his upcoming book, “There comes a point in every ministry leader’s life when their greatest contribution and source of influence shifts from the performance of tasks to protection and mentoring.”

In other words, retirement isn’t the last great thing a leader does. It is the gateway to a leader’s greatest season of influence.

We may live ten years longer than our parents and may even work twenty years longer, yet power is moving to those ten years younger.

Are leaders in this age group facing a decades long “irrelevancy gap”?

THE QUICK SUMMARYI’m Not Done, by Patti Temple Rocks

When it comes to discrimination in the workplace, we’ve come a long way as a society. But there’s still one systemically ignored form of discrimination that happens all the time, and it affects everyone: ageism. 

Ageism is real. It’s widespread, insidious, and up until now, it’s been largely hidden, due to the low rate of reporting from those who are pushed out of their jobs when they reach a certain age. With the largest demographic America has ever seen–baby boomers–now experiencing age discrimination at work, it’s time to talk about this deeply hurtful and bad-for-business practice.

In I’m Not Done, Patti Temple Rocks takes a deep dive into ageism in the workplace–what it looks like, how it harms people and businesses alike, and how business leaders can get on the right side of the issue. Patti’s story, and the stories of those like her, creates a powerful declaration and a movement to stop this last remnant of workplace discrimination in its tracks: #I’mNotDone!

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Imagine a world where there is no longer a preconceived notion about what age someone becomes irrelevant or undervalued. What if, like every other form of inclusion, you were valued just because you were valuable?

Imagine a world where nobody feels the pressure to leave an organization before they are ready to leave, and age is taken off the table as a marker for retirement.

Older employees offer a wealth of value. They are, quite literally, a treasure to any organization. They have life experiences and work experiences that can absolutely meld with youth and new ideas and technologies. Imagine an organization that leveraged this experience and wisdom, that blended its workforce into a truly diverse, agile, intelligent, cohesive and kind organization.

What if you put as much thought into the end of your career as you did in the beginning, and it didn’t have to be kept a secret until the day you gave notice?

There are more older Americans in the workplace than ever before. And they’re accomplishing more than any generation before them. Because older workers are staying in their careers longer, a new paradigm is emerging. Here are seven key trends I see in the new Baby Boomer mindset.

The Wise Boomer

Boomers don’t see themselves as old, in either mind or body. They want to be appreciated for the knowledge and skills they’ve gained over a lifetime, and want to contribute in meaningful ways, including the ability to pass along their wisdom and life experience.

Sixty is (Really) the New Fifty

Boomers are intent on re-inventing aging in their own fun-loving image, going back to school, launching businesses, and running marathons. They don’t know the concept of “age-appropriate,” and they still feel great.

The “I Got This” Attitude

Long defined by their independent, trailblazing approach to life, Boomers are resistant to receiving support that threatens their autonomy. Their Millennial children don’t always understand this.

What Retirement?

Boomers look at retirement completely differently from previous generations. Boomers like having an impact in every way they can, and will be as creative as they need to be in finding opportunities.

No Moving Truck Required

Many Boomers are choosing to stay closer to home to remain connected to others – particularly their children and grandchildren, so they can stay active in their lives. They are also totally comfortable jumping on a plane and finding an Airbnb when they crave a little sunshine.

Constantly Connected

Boomers are readily adapting technology and using social media just as much as younger generations do. In fact, they are much more likely to share, advocate, and influence others online.

Proud…Just Not Always Out Loud

While Boomers are often justifiably proud of how young they look, feel, and act, sometimes that results in an effort, conscious or otherwise, to disguise their actual age.

Patti Temple Rocks, I’m Not Done

A NEXT STEP

Almost all ambitious young people spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the early stages of their career. Most don’t give a single thought to managing the tail end of their career. That’s a shame, because navigating the last ten years of a career can be even more difficult than the first ten.

It doesn’t matter what your age is now – the fact is, at some point you will “retire” from working. The seven trends above are both instructive for Baby Boomers rapidly approaching retirement – and younger leaders whose retirement may be years away.

Real magic happens when organizations make a concerted effort to incorporate age into their diversity initiatives. When a team is made up of younger “digital natives” who grew up on the Internet and social media, along with more senior employees who have decades of industry experience, there is a synergy of talents and abilities. Everyone learns from one another. That combination of wisdom, experience, and youth is powerful.

If you are lucky to serve on an age-diverse team, set aside some time in a future team meeting to discuss the seven trends listed above, both as a present reality and a future event.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 122-1, released July 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<<

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<<