• Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Leading Others in the Most Important Things

    If you’ve ever had someone invest in your life by helping you grow spiritually, assisting you in navigating the treacherous places where the eternal intersects with the temporal then you know the absolute necessity of having these kinds of people apart of your life.

    As I look back on my life I’ve had a number of people who’ve invested in me spiritually, people with names like Neil, Wayne, Mark, Jack, Terry, and Steve. They’re all people who’ve cared for me and wanted to see me grow in the most important ways.

    So as one who received such investment, I’m motivated to do the same for others. It’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen to work for an organization like SpringHill, because SpringHill creates experiences that facilitate this kind of investment by adults in the lives of children. It’s also why one of the personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to possess to make an enduring impact on the lives of others through their work at SpringHill is what we call “Spiritual Leadership.”

    “Spiritual Leadership” is the ability to mentor others, to help them grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and ultimately guide them to a life that honors God and expands His Kingdom. Spiritual leadership takes on many forms and can be expressed in many ways, from the ability to lead small groups, to one on one counseling, or teaching before large audiences. Even though the context of “Spiritual Leadership” may differ, the outcome is the same, helping others better live out their faith in Christ.

    This is why SpringHill needs people who demonstrate “Spiritual Leadership”, because it’s through spiritual leadership that our mission’s fulfilled and young lives transformed for eternity.

    This is part 8 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Together Accomplishing Something Great and Enduring

    The greatest accomplishments the world has ever seen are the result of teamwork. Great institutions built, just wars won against incredible odds, and complex social problems solved because of communities of people who worked together to achieve something good, positive, and lasting. In every case these great accomplishments could not have happened through the work of a single person. True, a single person may have led the team, or been the public face, but behind that leader has always been people committed to seeing the work successfully completed.

    Even in my life, in the great accomplishments I’ve participated in, I’ve always been member of a community. Whether it’s teaming up with my wife Denise to raise our children, being a part of a winning sports team, or working for an effective organization like SpringHill, it’s always been the team, the community that has brought success.

    It’s this reality and the power of people working together to accomplish something significant and lasting that’s made it absolutely critical that SpringHill staff be great team players. It’s why being “Community Focused” is an essential personal quality and a key professional competency for staff who want to make an enduring impact at SpringHill.

    “Community Focused” people not only value being part of a team, they value the team’s success over their own. They acknowledge and thrive on the inter-dependency our work requires including valuing the God-given differences each person brings to the community.

    So whatever good and lasting thing SpringHill has ever done, or will ever do, will come through the team of people who’ve committed themselves, not only to SpringHill’s mission, vision and goals, but also to each other, working tirelessly as a team to see SpringHill accomplish the good work God’s given it to do.

    This is part 6 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Wisdom Applied

    The test of our wisdom is found in the decisions we make. It’s displayed in the quality, timeliness, and the process in which we go through to make decisions. So it’s all three of these aspects of decisions – quality, timeliness, and process – that reflect the wisdom we have, or don’t have.

    Wisdom requires knowledge, experience, judgment, and analytical ability, combined with a strong sense of right and wrong. And the measure of all these things, the proof that we have wisdom comes through in the decisions we make. Decisions are the tangible, measurable expression of our wisdom. Its wisdom applied.

    It’s also why one of the personal qualities and professional competencies someone needs to possess if they’re to have long-term success at SpringHill is quality and timely Decision Making.

    At SpringHill this competency is absolutely critical because of the freedom we provide our staff to do their jobs and the sense of stewardship we expect them to practice. It’s because we believe that the best people to make decisions are the ones closet to the “action”, not those sitting far behind the “frontlines”. We believe this to be true because those at the “front line” have the best perspective and expertise.

    Thus when an organization keeps decision-making closest to the “front lines” it requires staff who can display wisdom through their Decision Making. And, if done right, this kind of Decision Making ends up being the best because it’s almost always faster and higher quality.

    And the added benefit of entrusting decision-making to staff on the “front lines” is that they continue to grow in their wisdom and in their ability to make decisions, helping the entire organization continually become better and more effective in fulfilling its mission (it’s all part of Personal Learning I covered in the last post).

    This is part 4 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Growing as a Leader,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader

    Always a Student – The Essential Need to Learn

    When you learn, you grow and change, and when you grow and change, it’s almost always a result of learning. There’s an undeniable relationship between these concepts. So if a person or an organization wants to grow, whether it’s in a career, a relationship, or in their impact on people and the world, it almost always requires ongoing learning. Because the reality is growth and change will stall or burn out if not fueled by learning.

    This is why one of SpringHill’s core values is to be a learning and mission-driven organization. Without learning we would not experience the necessary change required to grow in our influence, outreach and effectiveness in fulfilling our mission and achieving our long-term goals. As we often remind each other “if we’re not learning we’re dying.”

    It’s also why one of the qualities and competencies a person needs to have long-term success at SpringHill is what we call “Personal Learning”. It’s that personal and professional curiosity and inquisitiveness which leads to continuous improvement in one’s self and in the organization.

    Personal Learning is evident in people who read, listen to others, ask lots of questions, and seeks out other people and organizations to “go to school on”. It’s also evident in people who take mistakes, defeats, and crises and see them as opportunities to learn , grow, and change. Struggles are an ally to people who love to learn.

    One of the tell-tale signs a person (and organization) embraces Personal Learning is that they’re humble. You see Personal Learning requires people who accept and acknowledge to others, and to themselves, that they don’t have it “all figured out” and never will.

    So, as you can see, Personal Learning is an absolutely essential part of SpringHill, which also means it is an absolutely essential quality of our staff, board and volunteers, especially if, together, we’re to make an enduring impact on our world.

    This is part 3 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    The 20 Mile March

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    The first “Game Plan Question” an organization needs to answer is “What are the consistent steps we need to take to achieve our BHAGG and our Vision?” It’s a question SpringHill has wrestled with on and off for years. Common sense told us achieving a long-term goal requires breaking it down into manageable chunks. Yet we just couldn’t get our arms around how to do that.

    Then we read Jim Collins‘ new book Great by Choice. There we found the perspective we needed to answer this Game Plan Question. It’s a concept Collins calls the “20 Mile March” based on the Antarctica explorer Roald Amundsen’s strategy to be the first person to reach the South Pole. Amundsen planned his entire trip on 20 mile marches. He and his team did everything in their power to march 20 miles a day, no more or no less, regardless of the weather. This breakdown of his “BHAG” – to be the first to the South Pole – into manageable chunks was a key factor in his team achieving their goal.

    Collins defines a 20 Mile March in organizational terms by saying it’s “more than a philosophy. It’s about having concrete, clear, intelligent, and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms that keep you on track.” He also provides a number of compelling case studies worth reviewing.

    For SpringHill we’re testing a 20 Mile March defined by annual growth in campers served that will move us towards fulfilling our BHAGG of serving 260,000 people a year by 2025. We’re simply calling it “the 13.5 March” representing the annual percentage increase in campers we serve each year. It’s a number we believe we can achieve year over year and it’s a number that provides us an annual target to strive for regardless of the conditions. It’s our attempt to eat this elephant one bit at a time.

    This is part 2 of a series of posts about the questions every organization needs to answer to achieve their vision.

  • Living as a Leader,  Summer Camp

    SpringHill Alumni Making A Difference

    Last week, while at our Mack Avenue Community Church/Hope Community Church SpringHill Day camp, I ran into former summer staffers Kristen VanderPlas-Selle and Jessica Concannon. I’m always encouraged to hear what God’s doing in and through our SpringHill “alumni” and last week was no different. After graduating from college and finishing their summer careers at SpringHill these two women made decisions to continue to serve and minister to kids.

    Kristen (summers 05-08) leads Mack Avenue’s after school literary program (click here to read about one of her students). She and her husband Scott (another SpringHill alum) live right in the heart of 48214 zip code – one of Detroit’s most economically devastated neighborhoods. Their willingness to become part of this community and to serve its residents is having a powerful and lasting impact on the lives of young people and their families.

    Jessica (summers 05-10) has been a teacher for two years in a brand new Christian school, Tree of Life, which serves urban students from Kalamazoo, MI. Tree of Life’s mission is educateall children regardless of their socio-economic situation. Tree of Life celebrates the diversity of the body of Christ and equips children to serve God, people, and creation to their fullest potential.” Jess has taught in a small, multiple grade class which has allowed her the opportunity to build strong relationships with her students and their families, opening the door for further ministry outside the class room.

    Both Kristen and Jessica told me that their summers at SpringHill were influential in their decisions to work in these important communities and to serve these kids and their families. I’m thankful for Kristen (and Scott) and Jess for their commitment to bring Christ’s Kingdom to all people, and humbled by the small part SpringHill played in their decisions to do so.

  • Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

    Getting to “Running Smoothly”

    Legend has it that the late, great coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, was nearly useless during games, at least from the player’s perspective. If this was actually true then the question is how can one of the greatest football coaches of all time, the man for whom the Super Bowl trophy’s named after, be of no use during the most important events in a team’s season – the football games?

    The answer to that question also answers the question why the SpringHill summer camp teams have been able to describe the first two weeks of camp as “being remarkably smooth”. As I promised in my last post, below are the steps we expended an enormous amount of energy on to assure “running smoothly” this summer became a reality.

    Warning – there’s no magic formula here, just common sense stuff written about and practiced by effective organizations, including the Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s, since the beginning of time:

    First, we find the right people. At SpringHill we define the “right people” as being “mission driven and mission effective”. “Mission driven” describes people who committed to our mission, align with our values and fit our culture. “Mission effective” people have the skills, abilities and experiences to advance our mission (not just believe in it) and achieve our goals.

    Second, we take these “right people” and make sure they clearly understand their jobs in terms of roles, responsibilities and outcomes.

    Third, we train and equip “the right people” mentally, physically and spiritually so they will achieve their job outcomes and help SpringHill fulfill its mission.

    Finally, we coach, communicate, encourage, inspire, and provide positive accolades and helpful critique about how the “right people” are doing on the job and how SpringHill’s doing overall.

    When we take these four steps the odds are very good that, like this summer, camp will “run remarkably smoothly”.

  • Organizational Leadership

    Propulsion into the Future

    With the rollout of our new vision, and with SpringHill staff and board being the people they are, I’m expecting over the next year a lot of new ideas for programs and ministries we could embark on. Thus our challenge will be in screening and prioritizing these ideas, with the goal of only doing what will propel us towards fulfilling our vision and BHAGG.

    So as I’ve thought about this opportunity it’s become apparent that there will three groups of ideas we’ll be evaluating.

    Humility Ideas:

    Humility ideas are all the possibilities that result from seeing a need or an opportunity in the world and wanting to do something about it. Most will be great ideas, ideas that can and should become reality. But they won’t align with our mission, vision, core values and philosophy of ministry, thus we shouldn’t do them. They’re humility ideas, because it’ll require us to remember – we can’t do all things and be all things to all people.

    One off Ideas:

    These are ideas that do align with who we are and direction we’re going but do not propel us forward or give energy to our envision future. Though they may align, they don’t integrate well with SpringHill and the direction it’s going, thus they provide little momentum forward, and so, as a result, they will be lower priority ideas.

    Propelling Ideas:

    Propelling ideas will be our top priority. These are ideas that are both aligned and have the potential to propel us forward in fulfilling our future goals. These ideas will give energy to SpringHill because they’ll integrate with other initiatives, with our ministry allies, with our staff, and with our supporters.

    So over this next year we’ll need wisdom and humility as we work to take on only what will lead SpringHill be all that God’s called it to be, and to do only what God’s called it to do.

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    “Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else”

    In Patrick Lencioni’s new book The Advantage he makes his case for why organizational health is the most important characteristic in any successful business or not for profit organization.

    “At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity – is healthy – when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy and culture fit together and make sense.

    …any organization that really wants to maximize its success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart, and it must be healthy.

    Smart organizations are good at those classic fundamentals of business – subjects like strategy, marketing, finance, and technology – which I consider to be decision sciences.

    But being smart is only half the equation. Yet somehow it occupies almost all the time, energy, and attention of most executives. The other half of the equation, the one that is largely neglected, is about being healthy.

    A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees.

    The vast majority of organizations today have more than enough intelligence, expertise, and knowledge to be successful. What they lack is organizational health.

    This point is worth restating.

    After two decades of working with CEO’s and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with the how healthy they are.”

  • Leadership,  Organizational Leadership

    Listening to All the Voices

    After months of talking, and more importantly, listening to many people, reading, observing the world, and praying about SpringHill’s vision for our next season of ministry, I discovered my role, in this process, has been to listen for God’s voice in the voices of others.

    As you might remember from earlier posts, vision answers the question “what does God want us to become in the next 10 to 20 years?”

    I also discovered four voices I needed to pay special attention too. The first voice is the voice of SpringHill – including the SpringHill of today and the SpringHill of yesterday. In particular I needed to focus on the unchangeable DNA of SpringHill – our statement of faith, core values, mission, and philosophy of ministry.

    The second voice is what I call “the world”. The world includes those trends, cultural issues, and industry realities that stand outside of SpringHill but can, and most likely will, impact SpringHill now and into the future.

    The third voice’s represented by the people of SpringHill – our staff, board, donors, volunteers, and alumni. I found my experience listening to these voices to be informative and inspiring. These conversations also reminded me why I love working with and for these incredible folks.

    Finally, with encouragement of our board chair and vice chair, I’ve listened to all that God’s put on my heart and in my mind about SpringHill, most of which now resides in my journal.

    So after listening to these voices it became clear that each one had many significant things to say about our future. But it’s where all four voices meet that I’ve heard God’s voice, and His clear calling, for what SpringHill’s to become in this next season of ministry.

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