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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
When we interact with big, successful organizations we expect professional interactions and excellent products and services. It’s the same expectation for any large organization whether it business, educational institution, church or other not-for-profit organization.
On the other hand, when working with smaller organizations, we expect personal attention and friendliness. We may cut the organization some slack when it comes to quality products and services because we’re willing to exchange them for personal attention and friendliness.
This was the idea my good friend and SpringHill ally, Mark Beeson, was sharing with me recently.
Mark’s thesis is – if a small organization wants to exceed expectations it needs to provide excellence in its products and services while never losing that personal touch people expect. But if larger organizations like his church, Granger Community Church, or SpringHill, want to exceed expectations then they must provide, as Marked called it, unexpected goodness and kindness. In other words, treat people like a smaller organization would.
So what does unexpected goodness and kindness look like for larger organizations? It’s…
- Providing personal touch and the extra friendliness
- Creating a sense of belonging to the people being lead and served
- Making people feel like an individual and not a number or a statistic
- Simply knowing and remembering people’s names
- Taking care of an issue or request personally and promptly
- Sending hand written notes
- Returning phone calls, emails and text messages like you would your dearest friends (or your mom)
- All levels of leadership being approachable, accessible and authentic with the people they serve and lead
- Providing as much attention to individual people as to tasks, projects, programs, facilities, etc.
In other words, unexpected goodness and kindness is what small organizations find so easy and natural to do but bigger organizations find hard to achieve.
Which leads to the question Mark and I pondered – can organizations like SpringHill and Granger Community Church interact with people with goodness and kindness like smaller organizations?
Both Mark and I answered that question with a resounding yes, if we’re intentional, focused and prepared. As I thought more about this question I realized that for SpringHill this discussion isn’t just theoretical, it’s literally our integrity, of living consistently with one of our core values – to exceed expectations.
You see when we articulated this core value over 20 years ago SpringHill wasn’t nearly as big. To exceed expectations then meant to provide an outstanding experience and service. Today, people expect outstanding experiences and service from SpringHill. But if we’re to live out this value today, it most certainly means providing on a regular and intentional basis, authentic and unexpected goodness and kindness to all we serve and lead. This needs to be our goal; it has to be our focus, it needs to be our reality, if we’re to have integrity as an organization.
So I’m once again thankful for my annual walk around SpringHill with Mark Beeson, because the best way to learn a new concept is to experience it firsthand. This I did in my time with Mark, and both I and SpringHill have benefited from his authentic and unexpected goodness and kindness.
In my last post, as well as in a previous post, I talked about meaningful and challenging work as key to staying energized and focused in your job. Though work that is both meaningful and challenging is critical to creating a job you’ll love there are three other ingredients that make up the recipe for your dream job that we need to talk about.
- Working for an organization whose mission, core values and culture align with your own calling and values. You may love your work but if you don’t get excited about your organization’s mission, values and culture you don’t have your dream job. Hint – is the organization you’re working for have an articulated mission and values as well as actually living them out? If not, there’s a good chance you won’t aligned with this organization
- The people you work with. Though closely related to culture, part of a great job is working with people you like, you respect, who treat you and others with dignity, and help make you both a better professional and a better person. Hint – do you find yourself looking forward to seeing your team after a weekend or a vacation? If not, it maybe because you don’t really like to be around them.
- The lifestyle it provides. Does your job provide you the pay, benefits, hours, flexibility, and location to help you have the life style you envision for yourself? It’s more than about salary; it’s about both the tangible and the intangible benefits a job offers that either positively or negatively impacts you and your family. Hint – does your job keep you from doing the things outside of your work you love to do or enable you to do those things? Remember, a full and healthy life outside your job is critical to long-term success in your work.
If you can land in a job where all four of these ingredients come together in the perfect blend, congratulations, you have a dream job. But the truth is life isn’t a dream. We live in a broken world where perfection rarely happens and when it does, it’s usually for a fleeting moment. What that means is there is no perfect job that has all the four ingredients in the exact amounts you’ve always dreamed of.
So even in the best jobs in the world you’ll find that you often have to compromise on one or more of these ingredients. If you can find a job that has the right balance of 3 of the 4 you’ve got a great job. The important issue is to know which of the four ingredients are the most important to you. These are the ones you don’t want to compromise on. You also need to know which ones mean less to you so you can make appropriate trade-offs and assure you have the ingredients you want. For example, if lifestyle issues are your highest value, you may be willing to work with people you don’t particularly like if the job provides you the benefits you want and need.
So know it’s possible to have a great job, one you want to get up for every day and will want to do so for a long time. But it requires knowing what’s most important to you and then never compromising on those values.
So when filling out our family’s tournament brackets I always pick the teams with the best defenses. Because, as every serious basketball fan knows, a team’s success in a single game elimination tournament most often hinges on playing great defense.
Which leads to a couple of questions – is defense the reason why teams play in tournaments? Or is defense simply the means, or how a team wins a tournament? The answers are obvious, teams play in tournaments not to play great defense but to win. Winning is why they play, defense is the how.
Unfortunately, unlike basketball, when people think about leadership they too often mix up the how of leadership with the why. It maybe because one of the best “how’s” is servant leadership. Servant leadership is so right, so good, so appealing, that we tend to think of it as the result or the why of leadership, not the how.
But servant leadership is the how, it’s the posture of leadership, it’s the way leadership can and should be done. But it’s not the why; it’s not the result of leadership. Servant leadership is basketball’s equivalent to playing great defense.
So servant leadership isn’t the purpose of leadership; it’s not the answer to the question –why do we lead?
The answer to that question is that we lead so we can multiply, to reproduce. Our why is to grow those we lead so we can grow the impact and effectiveness of teams and organizations we’re entrusted with. We win when our leadership results in multiplication (click here to see more on leaders as multipliers).
So our leadership strategy is servant leadership but our goal is always multiplication. We must never confuse the two.
There 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.
A close friend of mine was asked to give a talk to business leaders centered on the theme of “thriving not just surviving” and asked if I would share with him some of the things we do at SpringHill to thrive. Below is my answer to my friend’s request.
Like a garden there are four areas of focus that I’m convinced have helped SpringHill not just survive during these rocky economic and industry challenging times but actually thrive.
- People – always assuring people, whether it is staff, partners, or customers, are the organization’s top priority. Why? Because it’s the committed and talented people who make SpringHill a healthy and thriving ministry.
Alignment – having clarity and commitment throughout the organization on the answers to the most important questions an organization faces such as:
- Why do we exist? Mission
- What’s important to us? Core Values
- What do we want to become? Vision
- What do we want to accomplish? Goals, both short and long-term
- What makes us distinct? Brand
- Culture – creating an organizational culture that is positive about the possibilities, respectful of people, appropriately challenging and accountable, and finally celebratory.
- Work – like a garden, creating a thriving organization requires ongoing attention and care of these three elements – the people, alignment and the culture of the organization.
There may be other elements necessary to thrive, but these four have been the center of SpringHill’s healthy growth for many years.43.928283-85.286682
A significant part of being a contributing member of a community dedicated to achieving something great and enduring is being able to see the world through the eyes of others. It’s the ability to relate to where others are at so to know what it’s like to “walk in another’s shoes.” In my last post I wrote about one of the essential personal qualities and professional competencies a person needs to be successful at SpringHill is to be “Community Focused”, in other words, to be a team player.
But to be truly “Community Focused” a person also needs to demonstrate a quality we call “Compassion and Sensitivity”. It’s a personal quality and professional competency necessary for a person to demonstrate if they’re to make a long-term impact at SpringHill. We believe it’s not just enough to be committed to the mission and vision of SpringHill but to be committed to the people who work for the mission, who support the mission, and those for whom the mission serves.
A person who is compassionate and sensitive to others shows genuine concern for other’s welfare, sees and anticipates their needs, and seeks to build relationships with all kinds of people regardless of where they’re at spiritually, physically, intellectually, emotionally, or socio-economically. In other words, it’s being a person whose “people centered” that will find long-term success at SpringHill.
But it’s important to see that being compassionate and sensitive looks different in different people. And it’s also important to avoid the common belief that compassion and sensitivity is a personality type. Instead it’s an attitude accompanied by observable behaviors, in other words, it’s something a person does.
So we expect all our staff to demonstrate the qualities of “Compassion and Sensitivity” regardless of their personality, because it’s a necessary ingredient in being “Community Focused”, thus for making an enduring impact through their work at SpringHill.
This is part 7 of 14 in a series of posts about what it takes to be successful at SpringHill.43.928283-85.286682
In my last post I addressed SpringHill’s goal of having the best team by being an organization that the best people want to be a part of. But as I’ve thought about the word best and how it’s commonly used I may have misrepresented our goals. So let me clarify.
The word best typically implies comparison. To be the best means you’re better than everyone else. That’s not what we mean at SpringHill when we talk about being the best.
When say we want to be the best team we simply mean we want to be effective in fulfilling our mission and achieving our goals and doing it consistent with our core values. In other words being the best means we are faithfully delivering on God’s calling for us and doing so in the way that honors Him.
This is also same the spirit in which we use the word best when applying it to people. It’s not our goal to have the “number one” person in a particular field or profession on our team. Instead our goal is to have the right person. We use the language in Jim Collins’ book Good to Great where he says “great organizations have the right people on the bus”.
The right people are those who’re committed to our mission, embrace our values, embody the SpringHill Experience, fit our culture and have the skills and abilities to help our team be successful. There may be more talented people in the world by comparison, but for SpringHill, if they don’t meet these qualifications, they’re not the best.
So you can see we’re not into comparisons, except for the one that really matters – the comparison of ourselves as individuals and as a team to what God’s called us to do and who He’s called us to be.43.928283-85.286682