• Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

    Making the Tough Decisions – Part 4, Being Clear on Your Convictions

    Annual Planning MPIn my last post we discussed the need to courageously face the brutal facts and resist the temptation to “bend the map”.  So, for leaders, the obvious follow-up question’s are:

    • Where do we find this courage?
    • What’s the solid foundation we can plant our feet on?
    • Where do we find the confidence that, regardless of the outcome of our decisions, we can rest knowing we made them based on strong values and clear convictions?

    It’s in this last question that we find the foundation to having the courage to make those tough decisions. We need to seek, find and articulate both our personal and our organizational values and beliefs.  So to that end, let’s take a brief look at both core values and beliefs and the critical role each play in making tough decisions.

    Core values answer the question – what’s most important?  What are the things we’re willing to work and sacrifice for, and never compromise on?  What’s so important that we’ll defend these values even if it causes great pain and loss?  Think of the great price paid by the men and women of our military to defend our nation’s core values of liberty and freedom.  Core values, when used in decision-making, provide a guide on what we’re willing to do and not to do.

    The second half of our foundation for courage is knowing our core beliefs.  Core beliefs answer the question – what do we believe to be true?  They’re different from core values because they’re found outside of ourselves or our organization not from within. Though they’re similar to core values, because when they’re core we’re willing to defend, sacrifice, and suffer pain and loss because of them.  However we must remember that core beliefs are true regardless of whether everyone values or believes them. Articulating core beliefs is an act of acknowledging the reality in which we live and work and gives us a solid foundation to face and make difficult decisions. It keeps us from “bending the map” and helps assure we’re making decisions that match up with the realities of the world.

    So as leaders we have the dual responsibility of knowing and articulating both our personal as well as our organization’s core values and beliefs.  They provide us the foundation for the courage we need to make tough decisions, the peace of mind we seek during difficult times and the guard rails to keep us on track.

    If you’ve never articulated your personal and your team’s core values and belief’s I encourage you to begin the process as soon as possible.  Taking time before the new year begins will help you and your leadership prepare for the inevitable tough decisions that will come your way in 2016.

     

     

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Making the Tough Decisions – Part 3, Bend the Map or Face the Brutal Facts

    FullSizeRenderTough decisions have their birth when a leader’s faced with what Jim Collins calls the brutal facts.  Brutal facts are those stubborn, nasty little realities that scream at us “leader, you have serious problems”. And serious problems always require making the tough decisions to solve them.

    Which is the problem for so many leaders – when we’re faced with the brutal facts we must do something with them, we’re compelled to act, to make tough decisions. So one of the first and most courageous steps a leader must take is simply to face the facts and accept them for what they are – reality.  But there’s a strong temptation to explain away the facts that will cause us difficulty, pain, extra work, or we simply don’t like.

    This temptation has the same elements as the temptation people often faced with when they become lost, it’s a phenomena psychologists call “bending the map.”  It’s when a lost person stops believing their map because it doesn’t line up with what they think their reality should be. They explain away the inconsistencies between what their map is telling them and where they find themselves.  They chose not to believe their map but instead to believe their own distorted reality. This happens because the fear of being lost is such a powerful emotion that people will disregard all the facts, talk themselves into believing what is false all to stave off that fear, even if the result’s to become more lost.

    From my experience the phenomena of bending the map doesn’t just occur when people are lost. Something similar happens when leaders bend their financial maps because they can’t accept their financial results, or they bend their people maps when they can’t believe people would act or perform in a certain way, or they bend their performance maps because the key indicators don’t line up with their expectations.  When leaders lose the courage to face the brutal facts they begin to explain away and rationalize that their maps are wrong and their indicators are off base.  They chose bending the map instead of taking the very courageous step of facing the brutal facts and admitting their lost.

    So the very first step in making the tough decisions is to resist the temptation to bend whatever map you’re looking at and instead to face the brutal facts.  To embrace the reality your map is telling you and, more importantly, to accept the responsibility to change course by making the tough decision.

    Is there any place in your leadership where you are or have bent the map, where you’ve failed to face the brutal facts?  What have you done to find the courage to accept the harsh reality staring you in the face?

     

     

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Making the Tough Decisions – Part 2, What makes a Decision Tough?

    Barn and piano

    As people, and as leaders, we face decisions every day, all day long.  Most are easy, simple decisions, because they’re decisions we make often – where to go to lunch, what route to take to work, which new jacket to buy, etc..  But other decisions are not so easy.  They require much more from us than the routine decisions we make everyday. Yet, as I said in Part 1, it’s these tough decisions that provide us the greatest opportunity to positively impact the world and the lives of others.

    So what’s the anatomy of a tough decision?  There are three facets to every decision that determine their degree of difficulty:

    1. The potential consequences:  The bigger the consequences of making (or not making) a decision the tougher it is to make.  Think about a decision to walk across a steel I-beam straddling a 3 foot deep ditch to reach a hurt child compared to one stretched between two buildings 20 stories above the ground.  The bigger the potential consequences, the tougher the decisions.
    2. The quality and nature of the information can make decisions tough. It’s what I call the leader’s “fog of war” (we’ll discuss further in a future post).  The “fog of war” results in distorted and missing information.  On the other hand,  there are times when the information is available and clear but our lack of experience or expertise makes it hard to digest and process, thus making decisions tough.
    3. People are nearly always an element in tough decisions.  The people element makes decisions tough because:
    • We see the potential negative consequences people may experience from these decisions, and
    • because people often fight you and your decisions because most people do not like change .

    For me, because I’m both by nature a risk taker and a people pleaser,  it’s the people element that makes my decisions difficult.  When faced with hard decisions I can tend to lose a lot more sleep thinking about all the potential people issues than I do about the consequences or the nature of information I’m looking at.  It’s the people element that clouds my thinking, slows my decisions, and often trips me up.  I’ve found I benefit from seeking and listening to an outsider’s perspective concerning the people element when faced with tough decisions.  When I can talk with some one with a detached perspective I’m in a better position to make the right call even when it impacts people I love.

    Thanks for your input on my last post.  They’re very helpful to my cause of preparing for a workshop I’m giving at the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s (CCCA) national conference.  Here are two more questions I’d love to hear your thoughts on:

    • Which of these three facets of a decision do you find the most challenging?
    • What do you do to help yourself work through this facet when you’re faced with a tough decisions?
  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Making the Tough Decisions – Part 1

    imageThe most important test a leader will ever face is when he or she must make the tough, painful, gut wrenching, and sleep losing decision.  It’s part of the leader’s job, it’s in their unwritten job description – leaders must make hard decisions, it’s not a matter of if, but of when.

    So when I was asked to teach a workshop on how to make tough decisions at the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s (CCCA) national conference in December I said yes.

    To that end, over the next month, as I prepare to present I will post some of my ruminations about this important subject looking for input and feedback.

    One of my first conclusions about making tough decisions is not only do leaders need to make hard decisions but being a multiplying leader (Leadership25) and making hard decisions are actually synonymous.  The two are inseparable.  To be a leader means to make hard decisions.

    The reason is we live in a fallen and broken world and, as a result, hard decisions will come our way.  So it is that leaders will always face hard calls.  And the most impactful leaders will always take on the hard decisions, seeing them as opportunities to make a difference in the world.

    Over the next several weeks, as I develop my workshop on making hard decisions, I will post thoughts on such issues as:

    • Conviction and courage
    • Facing the brutal facts
    • Clarity on answers to key questions
    • Being the only person with all the information
    • Trust and Speed
    • The Fog of war and making mistakes
    • Prayer

    What I’d love is for you to join me in this work.  I’d love your feedback, thoughts, and stories that can help me create an effective workshop that will benefit leaders from around the country and the world.

     

  • SpringHill Experiences,  Summer Camp

    The Multiple Meanings of F.T.K.

    Bryce McClelland, SpringHill Summer Leader, United States Naval Academy Mid-shipman 3rd Class and his campers
    Bryce McClelland, SpringHill Summer Leader, United States Naval Academy Mid-shipman 3rd Class with his campers

    No, the letters F.T.K. are not secret code, and yes, they have meaning, serious meaning. As a matter of fact these letters stand for two significant but related purposes.

    These two purposes highlight the reason why over 1000 summer and year around SpringHill leaders just ran the sprint we call summer camp.  It’s why they worked uncountable hours, at times in uncomfortable weather and conditions, and often enduring heartache and disappointment.  It’s also why they experienced the joy of loving, serving, teaching, coaching, and leading nearly 28,000 children and students. F.T.K. moved these leaders to do all they could to assure campers had the best week of their year and the most transformative experience of their life.

    F.T.K. is also why 1000’s of supporters, ambassadors, prayer partners, volunteers, churches and families invest in the work SpringHill does every summer.

    It’s what drives the SpringHill family, every day, to be more creative in their work, and more effective in serving more kids, families and churches in more places.

    F.T.K. is how we ultimately evaluate the work we did this summer.  It is SpringHill’s plumb line, it’s what moves us, inspires us, sustains us and brought all of us together this summer.

    And it’s why, for the past 18 summers, I’ve devoted my vocational life serving SpringHill’s mission.  And yes I know, if you’re not connected to SpringHill, you may not know the multiple meanings of F.T.K..

    The words behind F.T.K. are significant yet quite straightforward. And as soon as you read them, you’ll understand why they are the guiding force of our work this summer.

    F.T.K. represents both – For the Kids, and – For the Kingdom.  Hands down, with no serious rivals, there’s no better cause, no more important work, no better way to spend a summer than serving kids and His Kingdom.  Just ask the 1000’s of people who did so this summer and the 10,000’s of kids, families and churches who experienced the fruit of their work.

  • Leadership,  Summer Camp

    12 Reasons Camp Counselors make Great Employees

    2015-07-30 13.11.37With the end of summer drawing near 10,000’s of college age adults around the country will be ending their summer jobs at camps and will be looking for new work. So being a former corporate employment manager and current camp professional it seems appropriate for me to highlight the 12 reasons why smart employers will seek out and hire these former camp staff:

    Former Summer Camp Staff are:

    1. Hard working – camp jobs are a 24 hour/7 day a week jobs
    2. Disciplined and timely – camps run on schedules that need to be followed
    3. Responsible – what’s more important than the safety and care of children?
    4. Selfless – camp jobs require putting the needs and desires others before their own
    5. Flexible and adaptable – camp requires staff to adjust to changing conditions (weather is so unpredictable)
    6. Team players (they know how to work and play well with others) – camps are small, tight-knit communities where only team players survive
    7. Very good with the public – these folks interacted professionally daily with parents, camp inspectors, donors and others
    8. Creative – because their job was to ensure campers had the best week of their summer
    9. Teachers and coaches, since they were responsible to help others learn life lessons, do new activities, and experience new people, places and things
    10. Policy followers because camp has rules and it’s important that they’re followed
    11. Policy questioners, because they’ve learned that following a policy can stand in the way of achieving the higher goals of summer camp which is to provide life changing experiences for campers
    12. Leaders, having led 7 to 15 people everyday for the entire summer

    So you can see, smart employers will be first in line to hire these well-trained, experienced, and talented people. Their summer experience puts them miles ahead of their peers.

  • Book Reviews,  Living as a Leader

    Dare to Serve

    Dare to Serve Book Photo

    I just finished one of the most inspiring leadership books I’ve read in a long time – Dare to Serve – How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder, CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. It’s so good that it now sits on my book shelf right next to my signed copy of Max De Pree’s leadership classic – Leadership is an Art.

    So what makes this book so inspiring, engaging and helpful?

    First, is Cheryl’s thesis – “When you choose to humbly serve others and courageously lead them to daring destinations, the team will give you their very best performance” p. 9. Cheryl’s value based, people centered leadership philosophy is not only right on, it’s a desperately needed message in the celebrity driven, leader centered culture found in so many organizations today.

    Second, there’s Cheryl’s courage. Think about it, how many CEO’s of a multi-billion dollar publicly traded company, would dare to proclaim such a contrarian idea as one that says – you can lead teams to great performance by serving them? And, of course, courage in others is always inspiring.

    Third, Cheryl is not only a student of leadership, she is a leader. Her book isn’t filled with theories but reflects what she’s learned by actually leading people and organizations. Which means this book is a case study in leadership and, specifically, in leading the turnaround of a struggling organization.

    Finally, I’ve spent some time with Cheryl, so I can vouch for the fact that, as a leader and, more importantly as a person, she’s the real deal, which only affirms that her book is the real deal.

    So if you’re a leader of any kind or aspire to be one, Dare to Serve gives you a great roadmap to become a better leader. It will inspire you to lead humbly and courageously so that you and your team will win.

  • Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

    5 Steps You can Take to Help Your Team Win

    2013-07-16 04.58.12Do you want to assure your team accomplishes a goal, task or project? Then there’s five steps, as a leader, you must take to increase the odds of your team being successful. By the way, in the spirit of transparency, I write these as much as reminders to myself as I do to be helpful to you.

    1. Put the goal, task or project clearly and concisely in writing – writing down a goal, task or project with the accompanying plan gives it a sense of permanency and significance. Making it clear includes defining success so your team knows when it has won. Also outline the steps and resources needed to win. Make sure it’s concisely written because by doing so it will make it more memorable.
    2. Measure and track progress on a regular basis – How often you measure and track your progress depends on duration of the goal or project. The shorter the horizon the more frequent you must measure and track. The farther out the horizon is the less frequently you need to measure and track progress. But no matter the horizon, don’t ever believe you can stop or avoid regular tracking and measurements. If you do, your team will soon flounder. The depth of your measuring and tracking will also depend on the track record of your team.
    3. Provide consistent and regular feedback If you’re appropriately consistent in measuring and tracking then you’ll be in the right place and posture to provide timely and helpful feedback. Feedback includes recognizing the good progress and providing correction if necessary.
    4. Stay with it till it’s accomplished and finished – Doing these five steps requires discipline on your part as a leader. If you lose sight of a goal, task or project eventually our team will as well. What you chose to focus on will be what your team focuses on, and what you chose not to focus on (or lose focus on) will eventually be what your team choses not to focus on as well.
    5. Celebrate – By doing these first four steps you will increase your team’s chances for success. This last step increases your team’s chances of success on the next project, task or goal. So celebrate, thank, reward, and affirm the good work your team does and they’ll be ready for the next challenge that comes their way.
  • Uncategorized

    Don’t Wear the “Blame & Complain” T-shirt

    Blame and ComplainA while back I was sitting at a coffee shop with a friend and our conversation took us to the subject of people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their decisions and actions and their tendency to blame others and complain about all their problems. My friend said, as he set down his latte, “If I could buy these people a custom t-shirt, it would say in big bold letters, ‘Blame & Complain.'”

    Now that’s a t-shirt no leader wants to be offered. To blame and to complain are the opposite attitudes and behaviors of people who are making a difference in the lives other others and in the world.

    Instead of blaming others for problems, leaders take responsibility when things don’t go right even when it’s not directly their fault. The legendary college football coach, Bear Bryant, use to say “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it.” Blame, self-justification, and skirting responsibility takes leaders and their teams nowhere good. It only leads to loss of credibility, respect and broken trust ending in fractured relationships. And all those places create a spiral of poor performance which will never be broken but only exasperated by blaming and complaining.

    As to complaining, leaders don’t waste a New York minute complaining because it doesn’t do one thing to solve problems. A leader’s job is to help their team move forward, to tackle problems and to solve them. This takes hard work, time, energy and focus, all of which get diluted with complaining. As I often tell our team “If it wasn’t for problems and obstacles we face every day, SpringHill wouldn’t need most of us. Our job is to solve, deal and prevent problems so why complain about them; it’s why most of us have jobs.”

    So don’t ever be tempted to wear the “Blame & Complain” t-shirt instead always be quick to put on the “Responsible & Will Solve It” shirt, it’s the one t-shirt leaders are always willing put on.

  • Growing as a Leader,  SpringHill Experiences

    What are the Ingredients in a Dream Job?

    2015-01-21 03.30.18There are four factors that influence how much you’ll love your job – the organization you work for (including your direct boss), the lifestyle it provides (pay, hours, travel, location, etc.), the actual work you do, and finally the people you work with. If your job is only good in zero or one of these factors, find a new one now. If two of these are present, it’s an ok job but don’t let it be long-term.  If your job has three of four, it’s a great job.  Four out of four, now that’s your dream job. This week I experienced a big dose of all of these factors, reminding me again why I have a dream job.

    First, I met with many of our board members to talk about how we can best organize our resources to accomplish our vision. Each meeting was a powerful reminder of the impact of SpringHill’s mission and the quality people I’m blessed to serve on behalf of.

    Next I spent a big part of my week in Indianapolis with all our SpringHill leaders at our annual Leadership Conference. The conference provided me an opportunity to do two things that I love to do – teach and learn. I was able to speak with our team about being a multiplying leader and I learned from our own team and SpringHill friends about building healthy team culture, living out the Gospel and preparing ourselves for leadership.

    But most importantly this week gave me the opportunity to spend time with a group of people I truly love – SpringHill staff. We worshipped, played (Duck Pin Bowling was a blast), ate, prayed, worked, learned, laughed, encouraged, challenged, and grew together as a team. This group of people, and the incredible work they do, is why I’m blessed beyond what I deserve to have the job I do.

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