Leaders Paint a Bold, Inspiring Vision for the Future

Following the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. military accelerated the ongoing and gradual process of searching for the best people available to lead – regardless of sex. As a result, female career military officers began to advance into very visible leadership roles: the first female combat pilot in the U.S. Navy, the first female in U.S. history to command in combat at the strategic level, and the first woman in U.S. military history to assume the rank of a four-star general.

They didn’t want to be “female leaders”—they just wanted to lead.

These women were wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. But they were also military leaders, warriors, academics and mentors in their own right.

As the military has evolved to develop an appreciation for the potential of women to serve in the most challenging of positions, it is also time for the American public to see these women for what they bring to the fight: brains, strength and courage.

They are leaders.

No one does leader development better than the military. Behind winning our nation’s wars, its primary purpose is to develop leaders. This happens through organized leader development programs, like institutional schooling and courses, but mostly through personal interaction and example. It’s the unit-level leaders out there who are making the critical impact in our armed forces.

Falling in the period around Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May) and Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), this SUMS Remix honors three female leaders who demonstrated principles of leadership development that all leaders will find helpful in leading their own organizations.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Fearless Leadership by Carey D. Lohrenz

An F-14 fighter pilot’s top lessons for leading fearlessly – and bringing a team to peak performance

As an aviation pioneer, Carey D. Lohrenz learned what fearless leadership means in some of the most demanding and extreme environments imaginable: the cockpit of an F-14 and the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. Here, her teams had to perform at their peak – or lives were on the line. Faltering leadership was simply unacceptable. Through these experiences, Lohrenz identified a fundamental truth: high-performing teams require fearless leaders.

Since leaving the Navy, she’s translated that lesson into a new field, helping top business leaders, from Fortune 500 executives to middle managers, supercharge performance in today’s competitive business environments.

In Fearless Leadership, Lohrenz walks you through the three fundamentals of real fearlessness–courage, tenacity, and integrity–and then reveals fearless leadership in action, offering advice on how to set a bold vision, bring the team together, execute effectively, and stay resilient through hard times.

Whether you’re stepping into your first leadership role or looking to get out of a longstanding rut, Fearless Leadership will act like your afterburner–rocketing you to ever-higher levels of performance.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The primary work of nourishing people with vision is discovering and communicating that unique identity as a church. Many leaders photocopy a vision from a conference or book and then wonder why more people don’t flock to the to that vision. Do your people really want a vision based on another church’s values?

Never forget that God is always doing something cosmically significant and locally specific in your church.

A nourishing vision requires five courses. As you deliver the five-part meal, you’re really addressing the irreducible question of clarity people need. If you have not thought through all five aspects of your church’s vision, people won’t be able to really access it.

The five questions play out as follows: At our church…

  • What are we ultimately supposed to be doing?
  • Why do we do it?
  • How do we do it?
  • When are we successful?
  • Where is God taking us?

If you asked these clarity questions to the top 40 leaders in your church, what would they say? If they don’t have a clear, concise and compelling answer that’s the same answer, it’s time to go to work.

A fearless leader begins the work of leadership with a bold vision.

The vision you create and hand down to your people is going to be the cornerstone of your team’s success. It all starts with a clear concept, a view of where you want to go. If your vision is limited, your potential and possibilities are, too.

The very essence of leadership is the ability to create a picture of success and bring people toward it. Your vision gives the team a universal understanding of who you are, as both an individual and a leader within the organization; who they are as members of the team; and where the group is headed. It’s a chart to our destination, providing a steady compass to orient your team. And when the sea gets rough, the vision allows you to navigate the challenges and come out ahead.

If you don’t have the courage to set the vision, the tenacity to keep after it, and the integrity to pursue it authentically, your team is going to be dead in the water.

Clear vision is not just wishful thinking. It’s more than simply imagining what you hope the future will be. It’s an incredible tool that catalyzes your team, gives it purpose and focus, sustains it in challenging times, and helps it perform at the highest level. You and your team have to see yourself accomplishing that dream without losing your way or getting distracted. The right vision can make that possible.

Carey D. Lohrenz, Fearless Leadership

A NEXT STEP

Set aside time to reflect and answer the following questions. Circle “Yes” or “No” – don’t dwell on the question, but answer it without too much thought.

Dreaming and Achieving Pop Quiz

  1. When people talk about the future of our church, is there an immediate sense of enthusiasm? Yes / No
  2. Have we named a shared dream within a five-year timeframe? Yes / No
  3. Do our volunteer leaders regularly pray for some specific yet epic impact that our church will make in our city or community? Yes / No
  4. Do most of our leaders naturally talk about “the big picture” of the church before they talk about their ministry area? Yes / No
  5. Do we have several days already calendared in the next year to review and reset a visionary plan? Yes / No
  6. Has our team boiled down the single-most important priority for our ministry in the next 12 months? Yes / No
  7. Are we totally confident that our team is taking action and reviewing ministry progress each week? Yes / No
  8. In the last five years, did we have a church-wide, disciple-making goal that was not related to money? Yes / No
  9. Has our team written down what our ministry will preferably look like three years from now? Yes / No
  10. Has our senior pastor spent as much time on preparing a visionary plan as he/she has spent on preparing the last four sermons? Yes / No

After you have completed the above questions, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How many “no’s” did we circle collectively?
  2. What was the easiest “no” to circle?
  3. What was the easiest “yes” to circle?
  4. What was the most frustrating “no” to circle?
  5. Are you excited about taking some time as a team to work on our church’s big dream? Why or why not?
  6. Is there any reason why we shouldn’t be able to answer “yes” to these questions after a few months of work?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 93, released May 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<<

Advertisements

Identifying Four Characteristics that Help You Lead Your Culture

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – From Values to Action by Harry Jansen Kraemer, Jr.

In this highly anticipated book, Harry Kraemer argues that today’s business environment demands values-based leaders who, in “doing the right thing,” deliver outstanding and lasting results. The journey to becoming a values-based leader starts with self-reflection. He asks, “If you are not self-reflective, how can you know yourself? If you do not know yourself, how can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself, how can you lead others?”

Kraemer identifies self-reflection as the first of four principles that guide leaders to make choices that honor their values and candidly recounts how these principles helped him navigate some of the toughest challenges he faced in his career.

Lively and engaging, Kraemer’s book comes at a critical time when true leadership in every facet of society is desperately needed.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The values of leaders of teams, departments, or organizations have an enormous impact on their respective groups. Your ability to influence people, whether leading a team of four, a department of 40, or a church of 4,000, depends significantly on their ability to appreciate your values.

Your values as a leader should be so clearly understood that even without you in the room, your team would be able to explain what you stand for in consistent terms.

The journey to becoming a values-based leader consists of four principles that guide leaders to make choices that are aligned with their values.

Applying the four principles of value-based organizations in a systematic way to help you build a values-based organization. With an appreciation for the four principles, you are committed to letting what you stand for shine in all your actions and interactions. In other words, you are a value-based leader.

Values are not bullet points on a corporate website or motivational phases on a poster in a lunchroom. Values define what you stand for and must be lived 24/7. Without values, an organization lacks cohesion and purpose.

When a boss does not have any discernible values, his team cannot relate meaningfully to him. Their relationship with him is based solely on the fact that he’s the one in charge.

However, a boss is who is a values-based leader and follows the four principles acts in a completely different manner. Self-reflection increases his self-awareness. Balance encourages him to seek out different perspectives from all team members and to change his mind when appropriate in order to make the best possible decisions. With true self-confidence, he does not have to be right, and he easily shares credit with his team. Genuine humility allows him to connect with everyone because no one is more important than anyone else.

Self-Reflection – The ability to reflect and identify what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most.

Balance and Perspective – The ability to see situations from multiple perspectives, including differing viewpoints, to gain a holistic understanding.

True Self-Confidence – More than a mastery of skills, true self-confidence enables you to accept yourself as you are, recognizing your strengths and your weaknesses, and focusing on continuous improvement.

Genuine Humility – The ability never to forget who you are, to appreciate the value of each person in the organization, and to treat everyone respectfully.

Working for a values-based leader motivates the team members not only to do their jobs but also to take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities. Knowing that the boss wants their feedback, they speak up, and not just when he asks for input. They are proud to be a part of the team, knowing that no matter what the circumstance or situation, their boss is committed to doing the right thing – and so are they.

Harry M. Jansen Kraemer, Jr., From Values to Action

A NEXT STEP

As you clarify your deeply held values, they can only become tools for shaping culture to the extent that they are captured and carried throughout your organization.

As a values-based leader, you set the tone, whether within a small team or for the entire organization. Knowing who you are and what you stand for enables you to set a good example for others, so that you can create a team rooted in values.

Schedule several hours away from your normal routine in a place that will allow you time for reflection.

Author Harry Kraemer suggests the following questions for reflection. Using these questions as a guide, work through each of the four characteristics to see how you are developing as a values-based leader:

  • What did I say I was going to do today, and what did I actually do?
  • If what I did was different than what I planned, what were the reasons?
  • What went well, and what did not?
  • How did I treat people?
  • Am I proud of the way I lived this day?
  • What did I learn today that will have an impact on how I live the next day, the next week, and going forward?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-3, released April 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<<

 

Building Buffers Increases Production in Your Marathon Meetings

Meetings are a powerful tool for organizations. Secretly, though, you enjoy those Dilbert comics that feature the pain and frustration of poorly run meetings. It seems as if Scott Adams, the brilliant author of Dilbert, was a part of your last meeting!

Let’s face it; meetings can be a real drag. We all hate doing them, but we also feel they are a necessary evil to ensure people work well together. For such a straightforward concept – essentially a group of people gathered to discuss an idea – we really do make a mess out of it sometimes.

While statistics vary widely on the amount of time spent in meetings, successful organizations know their teams spend so much time in meetings that turning meeting time into sustained results is a priority. Actions that make meetings successful require direction by the meeting leader before, during, and after the meeting.

Whether you are organizing meetings or simply attending them, you owe it to yourself to become more effective at this skill – especially if you are the team leader!

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Herding Tigers by Todd Henry

Doing the work and leading the work are very different things. When you make the transition from maker to manager, you give ownership of projects to your team even though you could do them yourself better and faster. You’re juggling expectations from your manager, who wants consistent, predictable output from an inherently unpredictable creative process. And you’re managing the pushback from your team of brilliant, headstrong, and possibly overqualified creatives.

Leading talented, creative people requires a different skill set than the one many management books offer. As a consultant to creative companies, Todd Henry knows firsthand what prevents creative leaders from guiding their teams to success, and in Herding Tigers he provides a bold new blueprint to help you be the leader your team needs. Learn to lead by influence instead of control. Discover how to create a stable culture that empowers your team to take bold creative risks. And learn how to fight to protect the time, energy, and resources they need to do their best work.

Full of stories and practical advice, Herding Tigers will give you the confidence and the skills to foster an environment where clients, management, and employees have a product they can be proud of and a process that works.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Do you feel like your meeting schedule is overwhelming, often containing back-to-back meetings? Even with those, do you often feel like you can’t get everything done? Here’s a simple but effective technique: block out time in your schedule without specifying what it’s for, so you have time to work on unexpected issues.

Avoid waiting until the last-minute to schedule a time buffer. The more time you wait, the less available time and/or wiggle room you’ll have to actually drop in that time into your calendar.

Get into the habit of adding a time buffer both to the beginning and end of meetings and appointments as soon as you schedule them. Physically schedule or write-in the buffer into your calendar so you can see it.

As leader, you are uniquely positioned to help the team avoid “meeting pinball,” just bouncing between meetings all day in reactive mode.

One strategy is to establish buffers between tasks or events that allow you ream to reset, consider what’s next, and catch its breath between commitments.

Rather than stacking commitments back to back, you are giving each commitment that you schedule the amount of time it needs and no more, and you’re ensuring that every commitment has a little breathing room blocked off around it so that there is margin for participants.

If you truly want the people on your team to bring their best thinking to a meeting, don’t chain meetings back to back, especially if they are about different projects. Give them five or ten minutes to recollect themselves between meetings, to check in with their other commitments if necessary, and to refocus on the next topic.

Who decided that meetings should be an hour by default? Consider changing the default meeting expectation for your team by making each meeting precisely as long as it needs to be to finish the conversation. Then, take a break for the appropriate amount of time needed to regroup and refocus before the next meeting.

Also consider building buffers at the beginning and end of the day. While there are some situations that require such meetings, limit them as much as you can. By doing so, you’ll allow your team members to settle in, prepare, and bring their full attention and energy to the matters at hand. Also, you’ll allow them to wrap up any important matters at the end of the day before going home so that they can be refreshed and ready to go the following morning.

Todd Henry, Herding Tigers

A NEXT STEP

Time buffers are not just “fluff,” they are extremely valuable units of time! They are what keep meetings from running into one another.

You could think of time buffers just like the spaces between words in a sentence. It’s the difference between reading: “Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow,” versus “Maryhadalittlelambitsfleecewaswhiteassnow.” The spaces help keep things properly separated.

Think about what value your time buffers could bring you and your team when it comes to meetings. Could your buffer bring you: peace of mind, a little less stress, or time for you to grab a snack and a drink of water?

Evaluate your current slate of recurring meetings and consider eliminating or adapting them to better your team’s time.

How can you better structure your current meeting schedule so that there is less wasted time and energy and more white space for your team to recollect and refocus on the work?

Are there any commitments or expectations that bookend your team’s day that need to be adjusted so that they have more margin around the edges of their schedule?

Once you have created buffer space around your meetings, have conversations with your team to help them take full advantage of it.

Excerpt taken from Remix 90-2, released April 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<<

 

 

Photo by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Seven Steps to Change Your Culture

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

Where does great culture come from? How do you build and sustain it in your group, or strengthen a culture that needs fixing?

In The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle goes inside some of the world’s most successful organizations—including the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, IDEO, and the San Antonio Spurs—and reveals what makes them tick. He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. Drawing on examples that range from Internet retailer Zappos to the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade to a daring gang of jewel thieves, Coyle offers specific strategies that trigger learning, spark collaboration, build trust, and drive positive change. Coyle unearths helpful stories of failure that illustrates what not to do, troubleshoots common pitfalls, and shares advice about reforming a toxic culture. Combining leading-edge science, on-the-ground insights from world-class leaders, and practical ideas for action, The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.

Culture is not something you are—it’s something you do. The Culture Code puts the power in your hands. No matter the size of your group or your goal, this book can teach you the principles of cultural chemistry that transform individuals into teams that can accomplish amazing things together.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Whenever successful groups communicate anything about their purpose or their values, it starts with their surroundings. What’s more, the same focus exists within their language. You hear the same catchphrases and mottoes delivered in the same rhythms.

Building purpose is not as simple as carving a mission statement in granite or encouraging everyone to recite from a hymnal of catchphrases. It’s a never-ending process of trying, failing, reflecting, and above all, learning.

High-purpose environments don’t descend on groups from on high; they are dug out of the ground, over and over, as a group navigates its problems together and evolves to meet the challenges of a fast-changing world.

High-purpose environments are filled with small, vivid signals designed to create a link between the present moment and a future ideal. They provide the two simple locations that every navigation process requires: Here is where we are and Here is where we want to go.

Here are a few ideas to help you achieve that.

Name and Rank Your Priorities – In order to move toward a target, you must first have a target. Listing your priorities, which means wrestling with the choices that define your identity, is the first step.

Be Ten Times as Clear About Your Priorities as You Think You Should Be – Leaders are inherently biased to presume that everyone in the group sees things as they do, when in fact they don’t. That is why it’s necessary to drastically overcommunicate priorities.

Figure Out Where Your Group Aims for Proficiency and Where It Aims for Creativity – Skills of proficiency are about doing a task the same way, every single time. Creative skills, on the other hand, are about empowering a group to do the hard work of building something that has never existed before. Most groups consist of a combination of these types; the key is to identify these areas and tailor leadership accordingly.

Embrace the Use of Catchphrases – When you look at successful groups, a lot of their internal language features catchphrases that often sound obvious, rah-rah, or corny. Their clarity, grating to the outsider’s ear, is precisely what helps them function.

Measure What Really Matters – A world cluttered with noise, distractions, and endless alternative purposes is a challenge to building a clear sense of purpose. One solution is to create simple universal measures that place focus on what matters.

Use Artifacts – Successful cultures have environments richly embedded with artifacts that embody their purpose and identity.

Focus on Bar-Setting Behaviors – Successful groups translate abstract ideas like values and mission into concrete terms by spotlighting a single task and using it to define their identity and set the bar for their expectations.

Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code

A NEXT STEP

Write each one of the seven above steps on a separate chart tablet. Set aside time at a future team meeting to discuss and brainstorm the steps as follows.

First, for each one, spend no more than seven minutes for each, asking your team to give examples of each step currently being followed in a positive way.

Next, repeat the exercise, asking your team to give examples where the step is being done poorly or is missing altogether.

Finally, on the second set, choose the top two on each step, and for each, answer this question: “Here is where we want to go?”

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-2, released April 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<<

Boring Meetings? Advance Output Using an Agenda

Meetings are a powerful tool for organizations. Secretly, though, you enjoy those Dilbert comics that feature the pain and frustration of poorly run meetings. It seems as if Scott Adams, the brilliant author of Dilbert, was a part of your last meeting!

Let’s face it; meetings can be a real drag. We all hate doing them, but we also feel they are a necessary evil to ensure people work well together. For such a straightforward concept – essentially a group of people gathered to discuss an idea – we really do make a mess out of it sometimes.

While statistics vary widely on the amount of time spent in meetings, successful organizations know their teams spend so much time in meetings that turning meeting time into sustained results is a priority. Actions that make meetings successful require direction by the meeting leader before, during, and after the meeting.

Whether you are organizing meetings or simply attending them, you owe it to yourself to become more effective at this skill – especially if you are the team leader!

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold

We all know that meetings suck, right?

You hear it all the time. It’s the one thing that almost everyone in business can agree on.

Except it’s not actually true. Meetings don’t suck; we suck at running meetings. When done right, meetings not only work, they make people and companies better.

In Meetings Suck, world-renowned business expert and growth guru Cameron Herold teaches you how to use focused, time effective meetings to help you and your company soar.

This book shows you immediately actionable, step-by-step systems that ensure that you and everyone in your organization improves your meetings, right away.

In the process, you’ll turn meetings that suck into meetings that work.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

A simple meeting agenda, distributed in advance, is perhaps the most important tool in ensuring a successful productive meeting, even when the meeting is between only you and one other person.

If you can’t personally create a meeting agenda for the meetings you convene, at least delegate that responsibility to one of the participants. That way, you’ll get all of the benefits of having an agenda without having to do the work!

The difference between meetings with and without agendas can mean chaos, ruffled feathers and very few accomplishments. An agenda communicates to attendees that the meeting will be conducted in an orderly fashion and that productivity is the goal.

Organizations hold meetings to get things done, share information, develop plans, document progress, provide clarity and make decisions. An agenda can ensure that the meeting stays on track and that special projects and routine operations proceed as intended. An agenda can help a group of employees function as an effective team.

Without question, every meeting must have a clear agenda distributed to attendees in advance. If you skip creating an agenda, then your meetings can quickly go off track, get hijacked by a random topic, or include people who shouldn’t be attending.

By taking the time to plan, prepare, and distribute an agenda before the meeting, you will reap considerable benefits.

Benefit 1: Introverts are engaged

When it comes to your more introverted team members, more often than not they won’t speak up unless you ask them a question directly or they’re passionate and engaged in the subject. Giving them an agenda in advance allows them the time they need to think through answers, frame their thoughts, or whatever else they need to do to raise their ideas.

Benefit 2: Time is maximized

Creating an agenda in advance gives you the distinct advantage of maximizing your time. Including time allocated for each item helps you realize whether you have too much or too little, and gives you the flexibility to adjust and split topics before the meeting begins, instead of trying to navigate this on the fly.

Benefit 3: Only essential employees participate

Creating your agenda in advance forces you to think critically about who you’re inviting. It’s highly likely that only select individuals need to discuss certain items on the agenda.

Benefit 4: People learn to opt out

An agenda distributed in advance helps people feel like there’s a good reason for them to attend. But it also gives people the chance to opt out if they don’t feel they can provide or extract value.

Benefit 5: Your team comes prepared

When you include the meeting style (information sharing, creative discussion, or consensus decision) in the agenda, then you tell your team what to expect and how best to prepare.

When your agenda includes all items being considered, a purpose, and possible outcomes, then people will know exactly why they have been asked to attend the meeting and what they will be expected to accomplish during it.

Cameron Herold, Meetings Suck

A NEXT STEP

If you already prepare an agenda for meetings you lead, congratulations!

However, if you do not prepare an agenda or know yours could be better, consider the following ideas to help you develop an agenda for your meetings.

  • Create the agenda at least three days in advance, to allow everyone time to review it and prepare for the meeting.
  • Seek input from team members.
  • Create a list of any pre-meeting work required by participants.
  • Start with simple details: time and place and attendee list.
  • State the meeting objective or goal.
  • Create a list of meeting topics or questions to be answered.
  • Add a realistic time allotment for discussion of each topic.
  • If appropriate, list discussion leader for each topic
  • Choose only topics that affect the entire team participating.
  • Other pertinent information as required.
  • Plan to end each meeting with continuous improvement by asking 1) What did we do well? and 2) What do we need to different for the next meeting?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 90-1, released April 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<<

How to Overcome an Overloaded Life by Choosing Wisely

We’re all busy in the same sorts of ways. Our lives are consumed with the crushing weight of family, work, and church activities. Our lives are bombarded with requests, demands, and desires. Individual situations may be quantitatively less busy than others, and some more so, but as a society we are living a shared experience of an overwhelmed life.

Where does it all stop? When will things slow down? How can we recapture time lost?

Technology has delivered time-saving devices that actually consume more time. Progress moves our lives faster and faster, yet we seem incapable of enjoying little if any benefit. We desire and often achieve more. We have bought into a full-life timeshare to only find ourselves bankrupt in emptiness.

Are you asking this question?

I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

As Americans, we assume that more choice means better options and greater satisfaction. But beware of excessive choice: choice overload can make you question the decisions you make before you even make them, it can set you up for unrealistically high expectations, and it can make you blame yourself for any and all failures. In the long run, this can lead to decision-making paralysis, anxiety, and perpetual stress.

In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains at what point choice – the hallmark of individual freedom and self-determination that we so cherish – becomes detrimental to our psychological and emotional well being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz shows how the dramatic explosion in choice – from the mundane to the profound challenges of balancing career, family, and individual needs – has paradoxically become a problem instead of a solution.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

We are living at the peak of human possibility, overflowing in material abundance. As a society we have achieved what our ancestors could, at most only dream about, but it has come at a great price. We get what we say we want, only to discover that what we want doesn’t satisfy us to the degree we expect. We are surrounded by timesaving devices but we never seem to have enough time.

The success of our lives today turns out to be bittersweet, and everywhere we look it appears that significant contributing factor is the overabundance of choice.

The fact that some choice is good doesn’t necessarily mean that more choice is better.

There are steps we can take to mitigate – even eliminate – many sources of distress, but they aren’t easy. They require practice, discipline, and perhaps a new way of thinking. On the other hand, each of these steps will bring its own rewards.

  1. Choose when to choose – To manage the problem of excessive choice, we must decide which choices in our lives really matter and focus our time and energy there, letting many other opportunities pass us by.

  2. Be a chooser, not a picker – Choosers are people who are able to reflect on what makes a decision important, or on whether none of the options should be chosen, or whether a new option should be created. Good decisions take time and attention, and the only way we can find the needed time and attention is by choosing our spots.

  3. Satisfice more and maximize less – Learning to accept “good enough” will simplify decision making and increase satisfaction. By settling for good enough even when the “best” could be just around the corner, satisficers will usually feel better about the decisions they make.

  4. Think about the opportunity costs of opportunity costs – When we decide to opt out of deciding in some area of life, we don’t have to think about what the opportunity costs.

  5. Make your decisions nonreversible – What we don’t realize is that the very option of being allowed to change our minds seems to increase the chances that we will change our minds. When a decision is final, we engage in a variety of psychological processes that enhance our feelings about the choice we made relative to the alternatives.

  6. Practice an “attitude of gratitude” – We can vastly improve our subjective experience by consciously striving to be grateful more often for what is good about a choice or an experience, and to be disappointed less by what is bad about it.

  7. Regret less – The sting of regret (either actual or potential) colors many decisions, and sometimes influences us to avoid making decisions at all. It pays to remember just how complex life is and to realize how rare it is that any single decision, in and of itself, has the life-transforming power we sometimes think.

  8. Anticipate adaption – When life is good, adaptation puts on a “hedonic treadmill,” robbing us of the full measure of satisfaction we expect from each positive experience. We must develop realistic expectations about how experiences change with time.

  9. Control expectations – What may be the easiest route to increasing satisfaction with the results of decisions is to remove excessively high expectations about them.

  10. Curtail social comparison – Though social comparison can provide useful information, it often reduces our satisfaction. So by comparing ourselves to others less, we will be satisfied more.

  11. Learn to love constraints – We should learn to view limits on the possibilities we face as liberating, not constraining. Choice within constraints and freedom within limits enable us to imagine a host of marvelous possibilities.

Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice

A NEXT STEP

There are costs to having an overload of choice, not the least of these is reduced time. Our culture is infatuated with freedom, self-determination, and variety, and we are reluctant to give up any of our options. But clinging to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, anxiety, and stress.

Make a choice to take control of your decision-making. Set aside 30 minutes three days each week for the next month. During each of those 30-minute periods, review and reflect on one of the 11 actions listed above by doing the following:

Write the phrase on a chart tablet. Read it out loud, and then write down thoughts and actions that come to mind. Take no more than five minutes for this exercise.

Then, go back over the list and circle up to five items that most interest you. Spend several minutes on each one, adding additional thoughts to those as needed on the chart tablet.

After reviewing those, choose a single thought or action that you will immediately begin to implement in this area. On a new chart tablet sheet, list the 11 areas above again, and write this action beside the appropriate phrase.

At the end of a month, you will have worked through the list of 11 items above, and developed a single action item to help you improve in that area. Reflect back on what you have done, and how it has improved your decision-making.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #87-3, released February 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<<

6 Principles That Shape the Culture of Your Organization

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Built on Values, by Ann Rhoades

Most leaders know that a winning, engaged culture is the key to attracting top talent—and customers. Yet, it remains elusive how exactly to create this ideal workplace —one where everyone from the front lines to the board room knows the company’s values and feels comfortable and empowered to act on them.

Based on Ann Rhoades’ years of experience with JetBlue, Southwest, and other companies known for their trailblazing corporate cultures, Built on Values reveals exactly how leaders can create winning environments that allow their employees and their companies to thrive. Companies that create or improve values-based cultures can become higher performers, both in customer and employee satisfaction and financial return, as proven by Rhoades’ work with JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Disney, Loma Linda University Hospitals, Doubletree Hotels, Juniper Networks, and P.F. Chang’s China Bistros.

Built on Values provides a clear blueprint for how to accomplish culture change, showing:

  • How to exceed the expectations of employees and customers
  • How to develop a Values Blueprint tailored to your organization’s goals and put it into action
  • Why it’s essential to hire, fire, and reward people based on values alone, and
  • How to establish a discipline for sustaining a values-centric culture

Built on Values helps companies get on the pathway to greatness by showing the exact steps for either curing an ailing company culture or creating a new one from scratch.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Many leaders know what a great culture looks like. They are just unsure as to how to implement one.

Culture develops, regardless of whether or not it is defined. And if the values you’ve formally written down don’t match the existing culture, those values will be ignored.

You can create a model for culture change that will energize your teams every day, and their energy will carry throughout your church’s ministries.

A high-performing culture doesn’t just happen. It can’t be forced into being through willpower. But it can become an inevitability if you create the right environment to foster it.

Six fundamental principles inform every successful values-based culture.

Principle 1 – You can’t force culture. You can only create environment.

A culture is the culmination of the leadership, values, language, people, processes, rules, and other conditions, good or bad, present within an organization.

Principle 2 – You are on the outside what you are on the inside – no debate.

Many leaders do not understand that you cannot create a great organization if you treat your team members badly.

Principle 3 – Success is doing the right things the right way.

By defining your values and the behaviors based on them, you simplify the task of day-to-day decision-making.

Principle 4 – People do exactly what they are incented to do.

Reward the behaviors you want, taking into account how they lead to an outcome.

Principle 5 – Input = Output.

Organizations will only get out of something what they are willing to put into it.

Principle 6 – The environment you want can be built on shared, strategic values and financial responsibility.

Conscious action, beginning with determining a set of shared values, can set up the necessary condition for encouraging a culture that will make an organization great.

Ann Rhodes, Built on Values

A NEXT STEP

List each of the six principles above on a separate chart tablet sheet. Gather your leadership team together for a two-hour discussion, spending 15 minutes on each, brainstorming your team’s thoughts and comments about how each of the six principles are – or are not – in place in your organization.

After you have completed all six, spend the last 30 minutes reflecting on how you can use these principles to improve the values and culture at your church.

Remember, values are the motivational flame of the church. They are the shared convictions that guide your actions and reveal your strengths. Values answer, “Why do we do what we do at our church?” They are springboards for daily action and filters for decision-making. Values represent the conscience of the organization. They distinguish your philosophy of ministry and shape your culture and ethos.

If your values fail to inspire the staff, there is no way that they will shape the culture you are seeking. If your values are boring and predictable, maybe it is time for an update. Click here to schedule a conversation with an Auxano Navigator around values development.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-1, 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<<