DREAM TEAM(WORK)

November 11, 2019 — 1 Comment

The 1992 men’s Olympic Basketball team has been described by many as the greatest sports team ever assembled. As a result, the team was given the name Dream Team. As a basketball junkie, and a player who grew up with these superstars in the 80’s, I couldn’t wait to watch them play in the Olympics! The team did what many predicted, and handily won every game they played. They defeated every opponent by an average of 44 points; the players on the other teams were not only overwhelmed by their play, but also in awe of these superstar players being on the court at the same time. Since the original Dream Team, no other USA team has really been able to compare.

The Dream Team had exceptional talent at every position, a team made up of the greatest of all time, so talent alone would guarantee their wins. It might look different for us as most of the teams we lead are made up of lots of different types of people, and many that are not all talented in the same way. Despite the discrepancies that may exist in talent and skill, all great teams have a few things in common:

Every great team is united. Hellen Keller is quoted as saying, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Teamwork is about standing on the line together and supporting one another through the highs and lows. Great teams unite around common mission, and help each other execute their roles in the accomplishment of the mission they serve. They don’t allow outside forces to destroy one another, always playing offense together against what comes against them.

Every great team has short memories. If you’ve ever played sports, you know that in order to be successful, you have to have a short memory during games. If you or your teammates make a mistake, you can’t continue to live out the mistake…you have to move on to the next play. Great teams don’t stay too low in the lows, or too high in the highs. They are always learning from and growing to the next opportunity.

Every great team is responsible to not for. This may be the most important quality of great teams. Teamwork is about working together, and the best teams that work together are the teams that understand they are responsible to their team’s success and contributing to it, but not for the success of others. President Harry Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” Every team member should focus on being responsible for what they bring to the team, and not worrying about credit or accolades. The team, working together, is responsible for outcomes.

Every great team is agile. I can be accused of overusing this word, but it is one of my favorite words when talking about leadership. Teams that work great together are agile – able to take on, accept and manage change and obstacles when they come their way. We have to move quickly, lightly, and in a graceful manner together through change or obstacles. Teams that have members who can’t do this tend to clog the effectiveness of the team.

Questions for you:

  1. What qualities make your team successful?
  2. Where does your team need to improve?

Lead Differently!

Greg

GUIDE ON THE SIDE

October 28, 2019 — 1 Comment

A number of years ago, Monica and I took a trip to Italy. We traveled with two other couples and visited Florence, Rome and a few other great cities.

If you have ever traveled anywhere in the world with a rich history, you want to make sure you don’t miss a thing while you are there. As we prepared for this trip, we spent some time reading up on this history as well as some of the most popular sites to see. As great as the books were on information, they could not help us much once we got there… seeing everything in a book is much different than being there in person.

What made this trip come alive for us and provide us with a memorable experience, was servant leadership of one of our friends on the trip. She became our guide and she was great. She guided us through the entire trip, making sure we didn’t miss anything, and introduced us to much more than the book ever could. As our guide, she became a part of the journey and the experience – it simply would not have been the same without her guidance.

This is what servant leaders do for us in our life – they help guide us in the journey. My good friend Tim Elmore calls great leaders the ones who are “guides on the side.” How can we become effective guide on the side servant leaders?

Servant Guiders are Prepared. On our trip to Italy, one of the things that made our friend such a great guide is that she had done a lot of preparation for the trip. She had been there before; she knew where to go and what to avoid. Great servant leaders who help guide others are always more effective when they are growing and learning themselves and can help to serve as guardrails in our life, keeping us from going over the edge.

Servant Guiders Share a Passion. Great guides who serve others are passionate about the same “macro” things we are. For example, they share the same worldview, values, or mission in life. Our friend was passionate about travel and the experiences just as we were, as a result she knew what we would connect with and connect to. That’s what great servant guides do – they connect to each other’s passions.

Servant Guiders are Pushers. Great servant guides push others to see what they may not see in themselves, and thus create experiences they may never have experienced on their own. For us on our trip, we would have been fine staying in Florence and Rome. These two areas were familiar and popular, but our guide pushed us into other towns during day trips – ones that were less popular but created some of our most memorable and magnificent experiences.

Servant Guiders are Pullers. Finally, servant guiders not only push, but many times will pull you in the journey. When we visited Italy, we could have moved at our own pace, which would have been slower, based on our limited knowledge of what there was to experience. Our guide was great at pulling us out of our pace, so we could experience as much as possible in the limited time we had. Great servant guiders have to pull us out of comfort and self-imposed limitations in order for us to flourish.

  1. Are you a great guide on the side? In what ways?
  2. Who are the great guides in your life? Have you told them how much you appreciate their servant guiding?

Lead Differently!

Greg

FIRM

October 23, 2019 — 1 Comment

I came across a word recently in reading, that is not uncommon, but I had never spent much time thinking about. The word firm is a word used in many ways and in many contexts. There is nothing extremely revolutionary about the word’s meaning—to have a solid and unyielding surface. But it’s one of those words that when changed from an adjective to an adverb or verb, it comes to life and can have an extremely transformational result.

We hear the phrase “stand firm” a lot around our values, believes and convictions. Tim Keller writes that stand firm is essentially a military word. We have all stood firm over and around something throughout our lives, whether it was as a child refusing to eat our vegetables, as teenager with a relationship, or as adults in our beliefs.

Tim Keller, in his book Galatians for You, briefly lays out three qualities of firmness I would like to expand on here:

  1. Firmness is about being alert. When we stand firm, we must immediately realize there will come opposition. We must always be alert of not only the opposition, but how our firmness is communicated. We can be firm and still be loving, graceful and accepting. Too many times our firmness blurs the line of stubbornness to others, and so we want to fight a battle that may not be there. It’s like the squirrel that runs around on my roof in the mornings—I don’t like it and I wish he didn’t, but in reality, until he is doing real damage, I’m alert to the fact his main goal is not to irritate me, he is only doing what he knows.
  2. Firmness is about being strong. When we stand firm, it requires strength. It requires a strength that no one or nothing can tear us down. We have always lived in a world where declaration will lead to division…someone out there is always on the other side. When I work out with weights, I realize many times the weights and their movements have the ability to knock me off balance, so I must firmly place my feet on the ground, gripping the foundation and holding strongly to the foundation under me. For me, the foundation is Jesus. I’ve tried other foundations in my life to give me strength, money, relationships, careers and other desires, and none of them worked. My faith has always provided to me the strength I need.
  3. Firmness is about sticking together. We are always stronger when we are together. We always need others to stand with us. I love the community of Jesus followers that stand with me and I with them through all the hard times and the celebrations. When we stick together, we keep each other balanced, help each other up, and push each other forward. When you think about it, sticking together produces a stronger firmness. The journey of faith together is rewarding and transformational for one another, and for the world.

I pray you stand firm and lead differently!

Greg

I once had a young couple come and see me for counseling. They had only been married a few months and were experiencing what they determined to be some major issues. She was upset with him because she felt he was self-centered, only doing the things that made him happy at the exclusion of her needs. He simply did not understand the problem – he saw the things that he wanted to do as a release for him. His new job was stressful, and he needed some things to help him escape. After listening to them, I began to guide them on journey of understanding what it means to actually serve one another. I let them know the first place we must start is to simply go – to move forward and change each other’s lives before changing our own. To me this is the first part of adopting a life of service.

  1. Service is about needs. Servant leaders put the needs of others before their own needs. Great servant leaders always measure joy by the accomplishments of those around them not by what they themselves have accomplished. Robert Greenleaf, the man who coined the term servant leader, suggests asking these questions:
    1. Do those we serve grow as persons?
    2. Do they, while being served, become healthier, wise, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?
  2. Service is about equity. Great servant leaders create a culture where there is a level playing field and everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Serving others is about empowering, not controlling, and seeing everyone as a collaborative partner. The best servant leaders I have seen are those who give people space to develop and use their talents and gifts.
  3. Service is about self-realization. When we serve, we always serve from our own character base. Servant leaders check their motives, always evaluate their values, and continue to look for opportunities to learn and grow. Greenleaf writes, “Servant leaders create a positive ethical climate for followers by striving to be trusting, insightful, open to new ideas, strong and courageous.”

When we serve, many times, we have to get up and go, not letting bitterness, pain or pride stand in the way. Great servant leaders get up, go, conquer obstacles and change people’s lives. It requires more than showing up or carrying a title… it requires movement toward transformational change.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you work to gain understanding, input, and buy-in from those you lead? What does this process look like for you?
  2. Which of the following do you feel are your strongest attributes in your leadership: trusting, insightful, open to new ideas, strong or courageous? Which are your weakest? How can you get better?

Lead Differently!

Greg

SERVICE: A HIGH CALLING

October 9, 2019 — 4 Comments

When organizations talk about values, an important point to consider is how can the value connect to the heart of the individual and encourage action. Service is the second value of FCA, and it does just that – connects to the heart and encourages action.

In my life, I have had one of the greatest models of earthly service I could ask for. If service really is modeling how Christ served on earth and continues to serve today, then my mom is that person. My mom did not have what would be called the greatest childhood…there was a lot of dysfunction in and around her home. She does, however, love her parents and her siblings unconditionally at all times.

Over her lifetime I have watched my mom truly serve all types of people in all types of situations, but nothing has stood out to me more than how she served within some of the toughest moments of her life. My mom led the charge on service – taking care of the family when her brother’s life was cut short too early, when her mother had Alzheimer’s for too long, and her father’s health failed at the same time. She served her sister, as she slowly died from painful rheumatoid arthritis. She never said no, and she was always there, doing whatever needed be done. She always did and has taken the high road and always put others’ lives before her own. She is a servant leader if there ever was one. It is from her life of service that I have come to my own conclusions of what service actually is, and over the next few weeks, I am going to lay this out in more details but here is a synopsis:

  • Service is about Going. In reality, most of life (at least the parts of life that produce impact) is all about getting up and going, and not letting bitterness, pain or pride stand in the way. Great servant leaders get up, go, conquer obstacles and change the people’s lives.
  • Service is about Guiding. One of the greatest and most impactful things we can do in this world is to help guide people. My good friend Tim Elmore calls great leaders the ones who are “guides on the side.” Great servant leaders walk beside others helping them navigate life.
  • Service is about Generosity.  This goes without saying, but service requires a generous heart. We can give in so many different ways, whether it be our time, our talent, or our treasure. Great servant leaders give up what may be important to them for what is important to others.
  • Service is about Garnering. This may seem like an awkward word to associate with giving, since garner means to gather for oneself, and true servant leaders do not serve because they are looking for something. However, a true leader who serves other does garner respect, credibility and loyalty. People want to listen, be around and follow servant leaders and this gives the servant leader great influence.

Dr. King said; “To serve, you only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

I wish I was more like my mom when it comes to service, it seems so easy for her and like so much work for me. I have to work on my servant leadership every day, and sometimes I fail miserably. But I’m very fortunate that Jesus and my mom have provided examples and a roadmap for me to follow. Thank you, Mom!

  1. Who has modeled servant leadership for you?
  2. Who can you serve today?

Lead Differently!

Greg

September: The Month of Integrity

Great Leaders Understand This: Accountability Never Fails 

I recently watched a documentary President Richard Nixon. The documentary primarily focused on the end of his presidency, and the Watergate crimes committed. One of the people interviewed made a statement that could not have been more accurate – he said Nixon’s ultimate undoing was his lack of integrity in believing he was accountable to no one.

This, I have learned, is the most common mistake leaders make, their lack of integrity is rooted in their belief they have no accountability. Much of this is rooted in narcissism – an inflated sense of their own importance. Simply put, the highest integrity requires the highest understanding of the importance of accountability. When speaking on accountability, Henry Evans says, “Accountability is the obligations of an individual to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner. “

Great leaders understand how accountability works.

  1. Accountability makes good organizations great, and great organizations unstoppable. When people are accountable for their own actions, when they own their successes and failures, and when they are open to others speaking into that same accountability, there is no stopping their sustainable impact and progress.
  2. Accountability equals immediate credibility. One of the greatest phrases anyone can say in an organization is, “I own this.” When team members own their responsibilities and roles, remain in their lanes without watching and comparing their work, and rise to others, organizations flourish. “Having authority implies accountability. If you reject the blame for failures under your watch, people reject your leadership.” (Rick Warren)
  3. Accountability opens up clear decision making and transformational solutions. When accountability is woven into the fabric of an organization, a greater commitment is forged and as result team members gain clarity on vison and mission; decision making becomes much easier because of the trust and safety that exists. When leaders are making clearer decisions, they make fewer mistakes. When organizations make fewer mistakes, they are achieving impactful and transformational results.

Accountability often gets a bad rap. It’s not as negative as many may believe. Accountability is not encroachment into our leadership – it allows us opportunities to show the highest integrity and frees us up to lead with authenticity and credibility.  Great leaders seek out accountability in all areas of their lives.

  1. Do you have a tendency to bristle at accountability? Why do you feel you do this?
  2. What are 3 things you can do this week to hold yourself more accountable to your team?

Lead Differently!

Greg

THE McPHEE EFFECT

September 27, 2019 — 2 Comments

Years ago, our family stumbled across a couple of movies on TV, called Nanny McPhee. My family will tell you – once I find a movie I like, I will watch it every time it comes on, regardless of who is with me. And now, the Nanny McPhee movies fall into this category.

A brief background on the movies: Nanny McPhee is based on the book series Nurse Matilda written by the British children’s author Christianna Brand. Nanny McPhee is a Mary Poppins-type character who is called upon to help a family in need. There is a deeper lesson on unity, and a focus on helping the children learn and grow. She has a motto for the way she works; “When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.” I love these statements and they really hit home for me on many levels, especially with my relationship with Jesus.

There are two points made in the statement and I want to look at the first one first: When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When I think about my faith, and the times in my life I find myself needing God but wanting to fix everything myself (which honestly is always), God actually does not fight against that. Many times, He actually waits me out. Think about the times where we really need guidance, wisdom, provision or protection… in those times, we search out hundreds of ways to deal with on our own, thinking that we can fix it. It’s really cool that God stays – He does not abandon us as we attempt to go about it without Him. He realizes we need Him, and His hope is that we give up the fight and turn to Him for wisdom and guidance.

The second statement, though on the surface seems contradictory to the first, is an intriguing statement as well; When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. This statement has everything to do with God giving us the room to grow and learn. James writes about this in James 1:3-4:

“Because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

Let perseverance finish its work so can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I don’t believe for a second God ever departs us, but I do believe He leaves us alone to grow and mature in many circumstances. For me, I realize the trails and tests I have been through have helped me mature and grow. I’ve been tempted to wait on God to “fix” it all, instead of letting perseverance run its course. When He gets me upright, I have to begin to walk, moving forward toward purpose.

My prayer time begins to reflect less a person who is always in need, to a person who takes on the strength and gifts of Christ. A person who moves forward to deal with issues and praises Him in the process.

“Find it pure joy my brother and sisters when you face trails of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

It’s not that we don’t need God, but there is a time when our need to praise Him and find joy in where we are needs to outweigh our desire for Him to fix everything.