Browsing: Team Work

Leadership Is… Really Listening #304

An effective leader is an equally effective communicator. As a speaker I want people to listen and hear. As a listener, I also want to hear and really understand what others are saying. An hour with one of my mentors is useless if I don’t listen, hear and learn. We need to listen more than we talk to be sure that others feel valued.

“A true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first.” (Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader)

Listening is more than just being present and quiet. It is focusing all your physical, emotional and psychological energies to the conversation. The individual reading, corresponding or sleeping in the back of a team meeting is only physically there. Their presence is not assisting, it is hindering the learning process. In communication, the art of being fully and completely involved is paramount. Your physical, emotional and physiological presence must be seen and felt.

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” (Proverbs 1:5 NIV)

When listening, be aware of the big picture, listen and watch for intent, tone of voice and the body language. The body language involves the eyes, feet, hands, general posture and emotional responses. Watch for consistency, do the emotions back up the words, or do the words tell a different story?

The actual words are important, but tend to communicate far less than the manner in which the words are used. Listen to the words, but listen within the context. Most people remember less than 30% of the words heard. The rest of the content becomes filler. By listening to all the variables you can communicate effectively.

The effective servant leader knows that listening is the best investment in team development.

Leadership is … listening and really hearing.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is… Influence #294

Leadership is an influence process, guiding others to follow a God directed Vision.

“Sometimes even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so that he can take him there.”

Lee Iacocca, Christianity Today

Effective leaders create positive change. Ineffective leaders work to maintain the former outdated direction and can’t change it.  The difference is the influence of a respected and trusted leader.

Many volunteer leaders strive for a position to become a leader. The challenge is, people don’t follow a position they only follow a leader they trust.

Volunteers in church can’t be forced or disciplined to be more Christ like. They can only be encouraged and influenced to model themselves after a Christ like leader.

Extraordinary leadership is found in leaders (who have searched to discover his or her authentic self) who influence others to accomplish great dreams through intentional relationships, spiritual awareness, wise counsel and relentless vision.

“The task of future leaders is not to make a little contribution to the solution of the pains and tribulations of their time, but to identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery, through the desert to a new land of freedom.  Christian leaders have the arduous task of responding to personal struggles, family conflicts, national calamities, and international tensions (not to mention business crises) with an articulate faith in God’s real presence.”

Crane and Hamel, Executive Influence

Influence has nothing to do with position or organizational power. It has everything to do with the person. The factors that most powerfully impact your influence is your personal integrity, character and strategic excellence.

Healthy Leaders, influence our world one step at a time.

Leadership is … faith in God’s real presence.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is… Appreciating Your Pastor #292

You have a business. It has tremendous potential for success. Your product has the power to change our world. You have history on your side, experience is positive and the market potential is beyond imagination. Your business idea is relatively free for the asking and leads people to change their lives. You even have testimonies from individuals whose lives have been changed.

This business of yours is highly complex and diverse. You could compare it to the human body. When everything works together, it is healthy and finely tuned. You can accomplish great things and have the potential to work for a lifetime. However, there is a qualifier: this new venture of yours is totally dependent on a unique and highly complex component. You call it the brains of the organization. The organization, organism if you prefer, will grow, lead into neutral or shrink, based on this unique engineering. This marvelous piece of technology is so critical that if it breaks down, your business breaks down. Further, without this unique piece of equipment, your business dies. OK, you get the picture. As this piece of equipment thrives, so does your organization.

You value and appreciate this critical piece of machinery and know it needs to be properly maintained. It needs long term scrutiny, oiling and replacing of worn parts. You’ll want to ensure good quality subcomponents to keep your business operating successfully for years to come. Remember, your business grows, stays in neutral or dies depending on this marvelous piece of equipment. You have a couple of options to consider.

Enough illustration. I have your attention. In this fictional illustration, your Pastoral staff represent the highly technical and complex component that keeps your church alive. We need to do everything we can to ensure their effectiveness.

“Honor those leaders who work so hard for you who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along to your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 MSG)

Dear Pastors, we love and appreciate you.

Leadership is, caring for your Pastor

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is… Listening to Understand #291

Our most effective leaders are amazing listeners. These are the people who listen thoughtfully and carefully. They want to hear our words, our heart values and struggles. Good listening is more than being quiet while the other person talks. Great conversations are interactive. The best listeners ask questions to discover and share insight, aiming for a common understanding.

The best listeners ask questions that promote discovery and insight. Good listening is a cooperative and interactive conversation allowing feedback to flow smoothly in both directions. The best leaders encourage conversations instead of directing. Use what or how questions to get people to open up. Then, ask open-ended questions to help group members answer with more than a simple yes or no. Questions like, what did you learn from the verse or chapter of the book, will bring up more illustrative inquiry. As you listen and interact, watch for nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, and other subtle body language signals.  It is estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these non-verbal signals. We listen with our eyes as well as our ears.

The focus of a conversation is not just covering the material. It is prayerfully focusing on God’s plan. Pray before, during and after an individual or group meeting.

“The single greatest attribute of an effective leader: (is) the ability to listen. Keep in mind that for most people, listening is about the hardest work they’ll ever do.”  (Brian Billick, Competitive Leadership: Twelve Principles for Success)

We are naturally biased to speak our minds. Ineffective leaders are poor listeners and treat conversations as chances to talk about themselves increasing their perceived status.  They spend more time planning their next response than listening to others.

God invites us to be quiet and listen. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. (James 1:19 NIV)

Leadership is … listening and caring to build relationships

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Sharing God’s Love With A Timothy #284

Our Adult Sunday school teacher asked how many of us could lead a friend to Christ without a Bible in hand. The frightening reality is that only a quarter of us in class that morning responded positively. How would you respond? Could you lead a friend to Christ without your Bible in hand?

Billy Graham used a paraphrase built on, 2 Timothy 2:2.  “This is like a mathematical formula for spreading the gospel and enlarging the church. Paul taught Timothy. Timothy shared what he knew with faithful men. And the faithful men were supposed to teach others also. And so the process goes on. If every believer followed this pattern, the church could reach the entire world in one generation. Mass crusades in which I believe and to which I have committed my life will never accomplish the Great Commission; one-on-one relationships will.” (Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit)

I asked four of my favorite Ministry people what each of us should do to be more Christ-like. We talked about the style, the technique the difference between the way I was taught and the way my Millennial and Gen Z friends speak about Christ.

I came away with 9 key phrases that if we lived them would dramatically improve our role in letting our world know Christ.

I’ll frame these with questions. Are you and I:

  • Known as a people of integrity?
  • Known to be sensitive?
  • Good listeners?
  • Involved with friends who live and believe different?
  • Demonstrating God’s love in all our relationships?
  • Showing a positive relationship with our family and friends?
  • Living examples of God’s love?
  • Loving our neighbours as ourselves?
  • Involved in our community?

We will see the world wide impact. But it starts with you and me. Today!

“When it comes to evangelism and discipleship, obedience is a big deal. It’s not an extra credit item. It’s not the gold standard. It’s the only standard”

Mission Creep

Leadership is showing God’s love wherever you are.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Growing Your Church with Dynamic Teams #283

Effective leaders design and lead dynamic teams. These awesome teams build great churches by prioritizing Scriptural principles, people development and then program and organizational change. As the Leaders grow the people will follow.

Your dynamic teams will inspire each of their people to pray, seek God’s face and grow their church. The 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle) suggests we get 80% of our results from 20% of our activities. Put it another way, 20% of your activities are responsible for producing a full 80% of your results. The beauty and challenge of this little formula is to concentrate on the work that really has an impact on your goals, then, reduce activities that don’t produce the results.

Church change and growth strategies have less to do with the latest dynamic program and more to do with prayer and relationships. As our Teams, Life Groups and Ministries work together, lives of character influence our family, friends and community.

“Most church growth occurs because a church effectively ministers to people’s needs. Its focus is on people”. (Ray Bowman and Eddy Hall, When Not to Build) The point is not to downplay programs. We need our programs. Yet, we have a responsibility to work with and build up our skills to ensure our programs are more effective.

Scripture tells us, For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5 NIV)

“Google commissioned their internal human resources team to identify and rate the attributes of their best leaders. They were surprised to find that technical knowledge rated dead last.  Instead, attributes like listening well and letting employees make relevant decisions attracted and kept the best people.” (Joe Manby in Love Works)

“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow. So that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT)

Leadership is listening to and building up people.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Visioning #276

You, your Pastor, Board and your people all have the same Vision, right? Vision discussions dominate my email and verbal questioning. It seems so obvious that leaders, volunteers and guests in a church or mission all need to work together. In another sense the idea of a whole church working and growing together in sync with each other seems like an impossible dream. Scripture says, We who believe are carefully joined together with Christ as parts of a beautiful, constantly growing temple for God”. (Ephesians 2:21 TLB)

Think about a jigsaw puzzle, a thousand unique colourful pieces spread over your dining room table. There are different shapes, a palate of primary colours mixed with a multitude of unique hues. The individual pieces without a picture make absolutely no sense. That’s your church without a vision. However, when you have the picture, you can fit pieces of similar colour and design to fit together.

Your Vision is the ‘What’ God wants you to accomplish. At The Jethro Group we pray and work toward the day when ‘Healthy Leaders: lead, serve and care with integrity’. Our reality is that every blog, seminar, coaching session and writing event is geared toward this Vision. We avoid anything that is not designed to move us forward.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)

God gave Moses and his people, estimated to be one million strong, a long term vision of a Promised Land. A land of plenty. A land to live and worship in peace. God also gave his people a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them toward the Vision.

We are no different today. As individuals, families and teams a future vision is essential. It gives all of us hope during difficult times of stress and a monitor of daily accomplishment. “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it”. (Habakkuk 2:2 KJV)

Leadership is moving you and your church from disarray and confusion to a God-directed Vision.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Partnering #236

Laurie KennedyThe Lone Ranger style doesn’t work. Working alone, carrying the weight, bearing the risk in today’s challenged economy is foolish. The pressure, risk of burnout and health issues resulting from increasing the daily challenge of working alone doesn’t work.

“I saw something meaningless under the sun: There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless—a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-9 NIV)

God gave each of us strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities. When we work alone, we are prone to fail. We lack support. When we partner, there is more fun in the work; my strengths help another’s weakness and together we produce more.

In a former home church, we built a new building with 90% volunteer labor. Each of us had strengths and weaknesses. We found friends who were willing to help in their area of expertise. Working alone we could not accomplish much, yet when we put all our abilities, relationships and networks together we received free advice, volunteer time, effort and donated equipment.

Our relationship with Christ is similar.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)
Solomon confirms. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV)

Leadership is … learning to partner as we work to serve God.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
Jethro Group

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Leadership Is Caring For Your Staff

Laurie KennedyI have a special concern for you church leaders. I know what it’s like to be a leader, in on Christ’s sufferings as well as the coming glory. Here’s my concern: that you care for God’s flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting spontaneously. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way.” (1 Peter 5:1-3 MSG)

Healthy Church and Mission organizations depend on dedicated paid and volunteer staff. It is awesome to work with faith based organizations that demonstrate a caring work culture. Staff respond dramatically when they can respond positively to these points in a healthy organization.

  1. It is exciting to work when my role fits within the Vision and Annual goals of our church.
  2. My church feels like a finely tuned organization that prays about offering a world class service representing our Heavenly Father to our world.
  3. I have the resources that I need to excel in my role.
  4. My team members encourage me, care about my family and my work.
  5. I have a best friend at work.
  6. The leaders in my church/mission take time to call and pray with me.
  7. My opinions are encouraged and valued.
  8. New people are encouraged to find a place to use their God given gifts.
  9. Trust is obvious among staff, volunteers, Leaders and Board members.
  10. My direct supervisor listens to me and encourages me to learn and grow in my relationship with Christ.

Prayerfully think about the increased dedication and enthusiasm your staff will have when they can experience these statements.

Leadership is caring, praying, supporting and encouraging staff.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
Jethro Group

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Leadership Is Self-managed teams

Laurie KennedySelf-managed teams are awesome but rare. We typically look to a leader for the vision, values and direction. Leaders are great, however when individuals work together, teams will form, develop and change as the need arises.

During my Leadership work at Trinity Western University we shared, learned and breathed Servant Leadership. We were taught to consistently serve the vision, mission and values. We were taught to lead as the need arises, but to be cognizant that a Servant Leader only takes the lead when necessary. Your goal as a Servant Leader is to serve.

As a closing exercise, we divided into teams, each with a canoe on a bay on the West Coast of Canada.  Most of us had never paddled a team canoe before. We struggled, made mistakes and learned to paddle in a reasonable direction without a formal leader.  The two hour experience was awesome. Charan, Carey and Useem illustrate that “The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra performs Beethoven symphonies without a conductor. Special Forces conduct combat missions without a commissioned officer” (Boards that Lead).

Today, I experienced a Self-Managed Team. We were on a beautiful acreage South of Edmonton. The guests, flowers and food arrived on schedule. Without instruction, all vehicles parked by the highway. As we watched, teams developed, finished a task and disbanded without conference or direction. Volunteers finished the tent, moved chairs, put the many bouquets of flowers in place, tested microphones and music. The ‘Jigsaw pieces’ of the event fit together seamlessly. At the appointed time, we all took our seats, the Pastor and Groom stood on the hill overlooking the valley, the bride arrived and the day was on.

As we drove home, it became obvious there wasn’t a formal leadership hierarchy. All guests were committed to the Vision, Mission and Values of the day. We all knew the resource people, but there was no need for meetings, stress and last minute debate or discipline sessions. When something was missing, everyone searched for solutions and creativity emerged.

Leadership is changing, building teams and re-forming as the need arises.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
Jethro Group

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