Archives For Leadership

SecretsHave you ever heard that statement? It applies not only to leaders but to the organizations we lead.

One example is Penn State University. As early as 1998 people were aware that assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, had dark issues. But no one took significant action, so they all became part of the problem. Sandusky did not fail alone. The community around him failed miserably to be his safe community. The leaders were sick — the organization was sick. How sick? As sick as their secrets.

A healthy, productive leader is needed for a healthy, productive organizational culture – and we need safe people around us to become that healthy leader. I need people who have the courage to ask the tough questions – and people who I feel safe to tell all.

Here are 5 ways safe people help us  . . .

1) Preemptive Protection. Secrets may not be “sin” in the early stages but they can lead you there. A lot of people will suffer the consequences of my secrets, so someone safe needs to hear exactly what I am thinking. And they do not need to be…

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Bikeable ChurchPortland, Oregon is a city known for its hipsters, coffee shops, swank bohemian urban neighborhoods, craft breweries, burgeoning artisan economy, and bicycles. Call it the Amsterdam of the United States … Portland has been dubbed “America’s Bicycle Capital.” The city certainly lives up to this title and wears it proudly. Every city has some kind of bicycling scene whether tattooed skinny jeans wearing singlespeed fixie riders in San Francisco or middle-aged me in lycra in Phoenix. However, Portland is a unique city among all others. While we certainly have our hipsters riding singlespeed fixies and our middle-aged men in lycra, what makes Portland stand out is that more than any other city, Portlanders use their bicycles as their “MoDo” (mode of transportation).

I live on the fourth floor of a mixed-use apartment building and right below me is a main bicycle thoroughfare. I see groups of cycling children commuting to school. There are scores of cyclists who cruise by on their way downtown or back the other way after work. Oftentimes, throughout the day and evening, I can be sitting in my living room or out on the patio,…

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Thank YouAs Children’s & Family Ministry Leaders, we are surrounded (hopefully!) by a team (staff and/or volunteers) committed to accomplishing great things in the lives of, well, children & family. My hope is we have an “attitude of gratitude” year-round. Obviously, however, this time of year highlights the opportunity to say “thanks”. Here are a few ways to say thanks for those who are in the trenches with you:

1. Simply say “thank you”.

Still, by far, the best way to express your gratitude. A genuine, heart-felt “thank you” simply can’t be beat.

2. An act of service based on a true understanding of that person.

Understand what makes that person feel truly appreciated, and serve them by doing it. It might be a pat on the back, a small gift, public recognition, or something else. Serve them by finding out & following through.

3. Handwritten notes. 

“Old school”, hand-written, note cards still beat high-tech communication any day of the week…period.

4. Treats.

Really, can anything beat a sweet, little morsel of thanks? Especially given to the men you need to thank? I don’t think so.

5. The gift of time. 

We are all insanely busy. Can you give your staff a…

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At precisely 11:31 am, I glanced at the traffic stats for and was elated that we were setting an all-time, single day record for pageviews. One article was responsible for much of the surge, and article originally entitled Young Pastors: 7 Women to Watch Out For.

At 11:32, I read and email that reflects feedback I’ve received from others as well pointing out the sexist nature of the article’s title. Good call, you who voiced this. I should clarify that Joe McKeever, the author, wrote an excellent warning to young men in ministry and meant no harm whatsoever with his title. Joe is one of our best and most consistent writers.

Having re-evaluated the article’s title, I made the executive decision to do three things:

  1. Keep the article. It’s an excellent warning to young men in ministry.
  2. Change the title to reflect the real intent of the article itself. It’s now Men: Protect These 7 Women by Watching Yourself. I’ll explain the new title in a second.
  3. Write a follow-up, myself, on Young Women: 7 Men With Whom to Guard Your Interactions Carefully. It’ll be live sometime…

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Feed the SheepWhat makes organizations weak? Is it a failure of good strategic planning? Are there cultural issues that preclude good performance? Are many leaders and workers failing to execute? While these issues are important, new information suggests that there may be one major issue we have often overlooked.

An Insightful Revelation

In a recent publication by Darren Overfield and Rob Kaiser, the authors culled through their research since 2010 of 5,400 leaders in organizations in four continents. They found that accountability was the weakest link in organizational behavior. Nearly half, 46 percent, said they do not have sufficient accountability from managers and leaders. The two authors noted, “No matter how tough a game they may talk about performance, when it comes to holding people’s feet to the fire, leaders step back from the heat.”

The evidence is overwhelming. Leaders are letting people get away with laziness, lack of productivity, personal branding, and personal interests to the detriment of the organization. Overfield and Kaiser offer some historical reasons that might explain this counterintuitive behavior. I have added a few of my own.

Lack of Courage Among Leaders

Some leaders are simply…

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HolidaysIt’s almost Thanksgiving. Christmas is already showing up on the streets and in the stores. You’ve been here before. Choir rehearsals. Play practice. Band rehearsals. Gift shopping. Wrapping. Sermon prep. Decorating the sanctuary. Setting up the Christmas tree. These are just a few of the items on your “to-do” list.

But how do you prepare on the inside?

How can you be sure that this season you’ll be closer to Christ than you have ever been? How can you be sure that this season you’ll keep from going crazy and burning out?

Here are a few tips for your consideration:

Maintain the ONE-ON-ONE. Keep that quiet time you have with Christ. Perhaps it’s in your study early in the morning before anyone else has gotten up for the day. Or perhaps it’s during that 5-mile run in town. However you do it, maintain it. Don’t let the hectic nature of the holidays rob that away from you.

Maintain the TO DO List. It may not be easy for you to hear this if you’re not a list person. But it may be just the ticket for you. Keep all the tasks for the season in one place. It…

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VisionA lot of people have great vision. But you’ll never see your vision become a reality unless you communicate it well to others. Many great God-given dreams die in the vision-casting stage. In fact, there are seven particular things you need to make sure your people understand in the process of sharing your vision with them.

1. Who you are. What’s your church about? Every church should fulfill the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. But how you fulfill the purposes depends upon the distinct nature of your church. What makes your church unique? People aren’t the only ones with a particular shape; whole churches have them as well. When you’re communicating vision to your church, you’ve got to help people see how your church is unique.

2. Where you are going. Besides communicating your identity, you need to communicate the church’s direction and goals. Leadership is influence, and the quickest way to tell if you’re a leader is to look over your shoulder. If somebody’s following you, you’re a leader. If nobody’s following you, you’re not the leader. It’s that simple. The moment you have to tell…

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How do you discover, develop and deliver the unique vision God has for you? How can you know that you won’t die a carbon copy when God has made you an original?

#1 Uncaging vision begins with the vision of God. Finding your unique vision starts by worshipping and listening to the Chief Visionary. Remember that no “better future” than you can imagine was not already imagined in the heart of God. He started with perfection in Eden and he will end with perfection in New Jerusalem. But you have your part in the story in between—thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When was the last time you prayed to God as the ultimate source of vision?

#2 Uncaging vision demands ruthless self-examination. One definition of genius is the ability to scrutinize the obvious. Most leaders are so close to their community both inside and outside of the church, that they miss the contextual and cultural cues that are essential to guide the vision discovery process. The win is to answer the question, “What can our church do better than ten thousand…

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GraphI was intrigued by a recent post I read by Seth Godin. He writes…

Avoiding the false proxy trap

Sometimes, we can’t measure what we need, so we invent a proxy, something that’s much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation.
TV advertisers, for example, could never tell which viewers would be impacted by an ad, so instead, they measured how many people saw it. Or a model might not be able to measure beauty, but a bathroom scale was a handy stand in.
A business person might choose cash in the bank as a measure of his success at his craft, and a book publisher, unable to easily figure out if the right people are engaging with a book, might rely instead on a rank on a single bestseller list. One last example: the non-profit that uses money raised as a proxy for difference made.
You’ve already guessed the problem. Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the very thing you set out to achieve in the first…

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Sweet KidsParents want their children to be generous.

Among the first words we teach them are “momma”, “dadda”, “yes” and “no.”

Somehow they learn “mine.” Then we teach them “share.”

It pleases us when we see them give.  And it pains us when they are selfish with their stuff.  As they grow, they will encounter the same challenges we do as adults – generous living does not come naturally to us.

As father to four children ages 5 to 16, below are some ways we strive to pass along biblical generosity in the Anderson home.

Set their giving standard

As soon as our children are old enough to count their own money, we teach them to divide it into thirds: a third for saving, a third for spending and a third for giving.  We are currently beginning this process with our five-year old, Autumn.

Whenever our kids receive money – from chores, birthdays, gifts, etc. – they set aside a third and put it in their “giving” envelope.  Separating into thirds is easy.  And by giving a third of their money to God, they learn that giving is as important as saving and spending.  As children,…

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Get Rid of Email Overload Once and for All

It’s Monday morning and you already have 75 unread emails in your inbox. It’s not the best way to start the week, but it’s pretty normal for many professionals. We’ve all been there, and we all know the overwhelming feeling that little red circle brings when it appears on our screen.

While I’m still trying to find the best system for handling my own email overflow, here are a few tips I’ve followed to avoid allowing email to take over my day:

1. Prioritize

Michael Hyatt has some great advice on organizing and prioritizing your email in this post. In reality, not all emails are created equal. Some need to be read and responded to right away. Others should be archived or deleted in bulk. Keep that in mind whenever you receive an email. If it needs to be addressed immediately, respond. If not, set it aside in a folder or use your best friend, the delete button.

2. Set a time limit

If you’re not careful, you can start answering emails at 8 a.m. and the…

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CriticsLeadership sucks (you can quote me on that.) When God taps the shoulder of a person for the purpose of leading a ministry, you can be sure they are in for a ride. Leadership is about taking people forward toward a vision of the future. Forward movement always involves change. Leading change makes lightning rods out of leaders – and that sucks.

Check out this quote I came across while reading the book, Leadership On The Line (by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky):

“To lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear – their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking – with nothing more to offer perhaps than possibility…People push back when you disturb the personal and institutional equilibrium they know. And people resist in all kinds of creative and unexpected ways that can get you taken out of the game…”

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People will tell you what they think of your leadership. This is a good thing. It’s a whole lot worse to…

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