Getting Buyin

A few months ago we bought a new (to us) car. For the first few months everything seemed fine but eventually I began to notice that there was a slight tremor in the steering wheel, not always, just sometimes. My first hope was that if I ignored it the tremor would go away – or perhaps the whole thing was just in my imagination. But, the more I drove, the more it became obvious that there was a problem – not always, just at certain speeds.

If you’ve been around cars long enough you know that this means that something wasn’t lining up quite right and the problem could be something minor, like a tire out of balance, or something major, like a bent frame. When the wheels on the car don’t line up with the road properly it becomes difficult to steer, harder to stop, and it causes unnatural wear on different parts of the car. Over time, ignoring these problems can lead to huge repair bills.

As leaders we can experience similar problems with team members. When members of our teams don’t line up with where we are going it becomes difficult to move forward, harder to implement change, and can cause unnatural wear on other team members and the organization. These problems can be caused by something as small as not lining up with a decision we’ve made or as large as not lining up with the vision of the organization.
Effective Teams are Committed »

The Importance of a Break

There are certain seasons in out lives that are extremely busy, seasons where it is difficult to find time to step away, but even in those times it is important to break from routine. As leaders, we set the pace and it is very easy for us to set the pace at a level that is unsustainable. Yet, there’s a tension that the tasks of the day still need to be done.

The answer is simple. Trust your team.
Equip them and set them free.

During the summer I over see a day camp that runs 12 hours a day Monday through Friday. I also have responsibilities at church on Sundays. A schedule like this, if not controlled, can very easily lead to burn out. My leaders are just as bought in to the mission of the camp as I and would gladly follow my example of a pace that leads them to burn out as well.

So, while I can’t take a weekday off each week, I do make sure I take off when I can. I also set the example of what’s important. My staff knows that my family expects that I’ll leave at 5:30, so barring an extreme emergency, I leave at 5:30 – even if that means leaving things undone.

Stepping away for a break can strengthen your team as well. It gives them the opportunity to gain the experience of making decisions on their own building their confidence and helping you learn to trust them even more.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I think we forget that breaks also help us step out of the monotony and gain a clear perspective. In other words, taking a break makes us, and our team, more productive.

Good Teams Fight

Last week I talked about the importance of trust among members of a good team. One of the primary reasons that team members need to trust one another if because healthy, productive teams need to fight.

Conflict, or debate if you prefer, among team members isn’t something that team leaders should avoid – in fact, the opposite is true: We need to encourage it. In Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni notes that teams that can be passionate and unguarded in their discussions will have better thought through decisions (often in shorter times). I completely agree and have watched my teams accomplish the same thing because they are not wasting time and energy trying to protect themselves or their ‘territory’.

More so, when conflict in meetings is avoided, back-channel attacks become common place and your workplace begins to fill with an odd brand of politics (oddly enough, debate will lead to less politics). The workplace can also stagnate because controversial topics are avoided. In church life this can be extremely detrimental because we’re dealing with a controversial and offensive gospel.
Leading the fight »

A Path to Better Teams: Trust

The cornerstone of any relationship is trust.

Trust enables us to know who we can count on, it lets us know who will help us overcome our weaknesses. When it comes performing together as a team, knowing who is there for us, who we can count on, is vital.

A group of people that don’t trust each other can still be considered a team, but they won’t be very effective without trust. A group of people like that will hid their mistakes and weaknesses from one another – meaning it will be difficult for the team to get better. It also means there won’t be constructive feedback being given or received.

Individuals that don’t trust one another  stick to the areas where they are most proficient – refusing to help outside their area. There’s also a ton of time wasted as people try to “keep up appearances.”
Stronger Teams Trust »

Blogging Seasons

It amazes me when I hear of bloggers that have a huge amount of posts scheduled and ready to appear in your feed weekly – or even daily. I read or heard somewhere that Seth Godin has over a year of posts ready…

Sometimes I’ll get ahead by a week or two…then life happens and I find myself typing out thoughts on the day I want to post. Sometimes even the night of the day I want to post.

I suppose that isn’t terrible, but it certainly isn’t good for doing a series or even for type up consistently good content.

Our lives have seasons: slow, busy, hectic…for me, summer is the most hectic. The wise thing to do would be to have at least a months work of posts ready to go. Things that I could reschedule as needed so I could talk about things like my dad’s passing or my son’s baptism.

But I didn’t do that.

Instead, I started a series on perspective. I had some ideas of where I wanted to go for each one and typed the content each week. But, as happens when you are busy, things can get forgotten. In this case, I have a half-typed blog about how scripture and our perspective can be at odds. It has a pretty solid beginning – but for the life of  me, I have no idea where I was going with it.

So, take a lesson out of my book: If you’re going to blog on a consistent schedule, understand your life schedule and plan ahead. Block out some time to write your week’s or your month’s topics at one time. That way, when life gets busy your blog won’t suffer.

Maybe one day you can even have a stash like Seth.

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