Tag: Leadership

Leadership Is… An Ideal Leader #303

Ever wondered about the ideal leader? What skills, behaviours and attitudes would be lived daily? Would the ideal leader be a people person, a number cruncher a Christian servant leader or someone different?

During leadership seminars and personal interviews I’ve asked hundreds of employees and volunteers what skills or attributes they expect, appreciate and want most in a leader. The skills cited are not difficult, but in combination provide a dynamic quality, yet enjoyable working experience. Here are four characteristics to strive for.

The consistent response to my questions, backed by research, is that leaders must be honest. Good news or bad, followers want leaders to tell the word straight. The leader who is honest sets a standard for the organization. Staff will follow the example.

The ideal boss is consistent. The leadership style is predictable. No ups and downs of good and bad days. No favourites. Staff and volunteers can enjoy the work knowing the style of their leader.

The ideal leader works from defined set of values. These values guide decisions, goals, plans and working strategies. Every decision could be traced back to a basic value. These values depend on the individual, but benefit the organization both above and below the leader. The employees can assess their best fit with the leader, and the leader can assess a best fit within the organization.

The golden rule has been around for centuries, but is as current to today’s business and customer service as it was in Christ’s day. “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” (Luke 6:31 MSG) Think of it in today’s terms. The satisfied customer, follower, supporter always comes back. Every leader has followers. The associates, suppliers, front line staff and volunteers or customers want quality service. The ideal leader treats each of these with the same high quality respect, dedication and service. People will respond to quality service and come back for more.

The ideal leader, could be you? How do you rate on these points?

Leadership is … following Christ’s example of service.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach


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Leadership Is Pastor Appreciation

Laurie KennedyChar and I recognize October as Ministry Staff appreciation month. This is our time to do something unique with the Ministry Staff in our church. We value each one. We care for them and we know that appreciation is the best way to ensure their emotional health and work effectiveness.

Note these quotes from Resilient Ministry by Burns, Chapman and Guthrie.

“Being a Pastor is a tough, demanding job, one that is not always very well understood or appreciated. Pastoral work is more complex than that which transpires in the hour or two a week that many lay people see the pastor in action…”

“The relentless nature of ministry means that fatigue is a constant companion of leaders in the church. While lay people joke about ministers only working on Sundays the truth lies on the other side of the continuum. A pastor’s work is overwhelming because it wears upon the body and soul.”

“The clergy role is sui generis, for it is the only profession that wraps personal identity, professional identity and religious all in the same package.”

“One of the ironies of our time is that many people who serve in caring professions experience poor health. Perhaps the most ironic of all is the strikingly below average health of clergy. Age for age, clergy have significantly greater incidences of chronic disease, heart and GI tract conditions, and stress which is a bit embarrassing for a group preaching about life every week. Clergy today have, on average a pattern of health that is significantly worse than the average.” Gunderson and Pray, Leading Causes of Life: Five Fundamentals to Change the Way You live Your Life.

These National quotes may not represent the ministry staff you employ. However, it becomes obvious that the better we care for our Ministry Staff the better equipped they are to care for our churches.

Leadership is, encouraging your people to let your Ministry staff know, really know, that they are loved and cared for.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
Jethro Group

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Leadership is Unforgettable Service

Laurie KennedyI travel a lot.  I speak in churches, at leadership retreats and consult with Boards and Leadership Teams.  The work is wonderful and I love it.  The challenge is, every time I’m away from my home, I stay in a hotel.  Hmm!

Hotels have a lot in common.  They have rooms, check in procedures, a shuttle from the airport, fruit at the front desk, a continental breakfast, a pool and conference rooms.  Their staff are trained to provide positive customer service.  Hotel managers know that an exceptional experience will bring travellers back.

My last trip provided an unforgettable experience. The shuttle arrived on time. The driver took my bags and told me why she loved her city on the short ride to the hotel.  My room was large, a wide screen TV, comfortable couch, bed, shower and wash room.  So, far this would be a normal night away and I’d fly out the next day.

The next day I was speaking in a downtown church; I had the address but no idea where it was.  I asked the front desk clerk if she could call a taxi and hold my luggage until I returned after church. She was friendly and confirmed they could call a taxi and hold my luggage.  Then she asked where I was going. She replied that she knew where the church was and would be happy to shuttle me there. On the way to church the driver asked what I did.  I explained and she offered to pick me up after church and drive me to the airport.  I called after church, she arrived with my luggage and we were off to the airport.

Now, that is a level of service that is rare in business class hotels. I was impressed. Thanks Guy, General Manager of Homewood Suites by Hilton Winnipeg Airport, you have my thanks.

Leadership is a continual process to ensure each and every customer has an unforgettable experience.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is Excelling

Laurie KennedyAn eagle’s egg was put into the nest of a prairie chicken. Sometime later the eaglet hatched and grew up with the young chicks, so the story goes.

Time passed, the eagle learned from his brothers, mother and family to scratch for insects, cackle and fly in a brief thrashing of wings and feathers just a little off the ground.  He fit in very well with his new adopted family.

Years passed.  The adopted eagle grew very old.  On day, he saw a beautiful bird soaring far above him in the sky.  This bird flew, dipped, and glided with power and beauty the adopted eagle had never seen before.

“What a beautiful bird” the eagle said to his adopted brother.  “What is it?”  “That’s an eagle, the chief of the birds,” the brother clicked.  “But don’t give it a thought.  You could never be like him.”

The adopted eagle believed him, lived the rest of his life fitting in, following the crowd and died thinking he was a prairie chicken.

Like the eagle, the potential of the dedicated individual is beyond measure.  Individuals can and will conquer handicaps and impossible circumstances.  The motivation is beyond control, diagnosis or predication.  Its cost is miniscule, its results incalculable.  From the moment of birth though adulthood and retirement, you and your associates are capable of accomplishment beyond previous experience.

What makes the difference?  Why are some workers committed and dedicated while others are under motivated, under worked and dissatisfied?  “Followers never take responsibility, whereas a genuine leader, it’s his main Job Description.” Fortune Magazine, March 2003. As Christian leaders we need to excel “doing it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

You may have the potential of an eagle, but you make the choice daily to strive for greater things.  Make the decision to strive for excellence.  Be the very best you can be.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Discipling People for the Future

Laurie KennedyThe building held over 1,000 people, a large platform, floor to ceiling pipe organ, stained glass windows, a residence and a stately structure.  The building has long historical roots. It was the first of its kind in the capital city.

It was a unique experience. The music was awesome.  The enthusiasm was obvious, the hours of practice was evident. Yet, I was dismayed. It was a juxtaposition as we attended a music festival in this large downtown building.

Tourists pay for guided tours. They admire the unique architecture, the stained glass windows, carved wooden chairs and pews.  These buildings only survive with tourist dollars. They are beautiful works of art called churches.

Think about the builders, a century ago. The draftsmen, bricklayers, workers of gold, silver and bronze.  They worked days, months and years.  They were not building for tourists; they were building for people, for God’s glory. I suspect in those days, working on a cathedral was a lifetime endeavor.  Some of the workers didn’t live to see the opening of the cathedral they built.

These buildings are advertised as churches yet a church is not a building. A church is a body of believers.  If there are no believers, there is no church.

Churches used to be the center of the community. A house of worship, the major social justice, the relief organization, the centre for medical and senior care.  Churches used to set the standard for ethics.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20)

Is your family of believers growing, serving the needs of your community and bringing in new people?  If it isn’t your building may be a tourist attraction to future generations.

Leadership is praying, believing discipling people for the future.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership Is Change

cropped-laurie-kennedy1.jpgChange isn’t as difficult as perceived. However, tradition is comfortable.  Old running shoes just seem to fit better. The old sweater is preferred even if it should be thrown out. Leading an organization through change has similar struggles. Haggai encourages us to consider our ways (plans systems, activities) to see if they are working.

“the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “… Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:3)

Note the obvious:

-Everything will stay the same unless you change something.

-You cannot be the person you want to be by being the person you have always been.

-Your business, family or church will not achieve God’s vision by repeating the past.

-The future will be the same as the past, unless something changes.

Albert Einstein is quoted. “You cannot achieve a new goal by applying the same level of thinking that got you where you are today.” Note, James C. Hunter’s book The World’s most powerful Leadership Principle.

Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:13-14).  Polly LaBarre in Fast Company confirms that “Change is a chain reaction, but you have to be deliberate about where you start.  YOU can’t fix everything at once.  The trick is to find the minimum number of leverage points that can make a dramatic impact.”

So how do we effect personal and organizational change?  I encourage leaders to start simple. Review your To Do List looking for activities that do not contribute to your Vision.  Then, replace these activities with value added work. You always want to do work that leads to your goal. Be creative, innovative and design a plan that you can implement easily. Set priorities that support your values, then monitor to ensure you stay on track.  Don’t try to change everything.  Small consistent steps toward your goal are always more effective.

Leadership is changing the future by doing something different today!

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is Eliminating Barriers

Laurie Kennedy

Remember the failed grand opening at Jakes Restaurant?  Church leaders unknowingly make the same mistake and are often totally unaware of the many barriers to visitors in their church.  Here are two frightening examples of barriers I’ve experienced

  1. Char and I sat close to the aisle and another visiting couple sat directly in front.  We were reading the bulletin and preparing ourselves for the service.  Another couple came in, stood beside the couple in front and told them to move because they were sitting in their seats.  The visiting couple stood up and walked out of the church.

  1. We visited a church with an attendance of just under 100. The Pastor came over and welcomed us. That was great. At greeting time we joined the rest of the congregation in the foyer for coffee. It was fascinating, with 100 people in attendance it must have been obvious that we were visiting but no one, other than the Pastor initiated conversation with us.  That day was pot luck day and again no one invited us to stay.

In their fascinating book, See you next week, my two really good friends Gary Carter and Robin Pifer illustrate the principles and hundreds of ideas about how each of us are responsible for encouraging visitors to come back next week.  Note these quotes from their book.

“All churches whether small or large need to have people on a welcoming team, as a matter of fact, the whole church has to be on the welcoming team.”

“In the ten minutes before and after a meeting there is only one job to take care of…The same applies after the meeting. Meet the people first”.

“You get one chance to make a first time impression with first time guests.”

“When you are at your best you will constantly be re-evaluating and asking good questions.  How can we serve the people that are coming?  How can we truly live out the life of love that lives within?”

Check out their fascinating book, See You Next Week by Doug Carter and Robin Pifer.

Leadership is ensuring that all your people strive to eliminate every invisible barrier that discourages visitors.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is influence by example

Laurie KennedyLeaders dominate the news and headlines. Their decisions affect us all.  We admire, look up to and often follow their advice. We even wonder what it would be like to be them.

There is another more significant kind of leader. This leader is rarely seen in headlines, avoids the crowd and refuses celebrity status. This individual never takes the credit, prefers the sidelines allowing someone else to take the limelight.  This leader will never be on the front page of a News or Fashion magazine.

The leader I’m thinking about is short in statue yet very tall in the knowledge and ability in his field. He would stick to a task long after the motivation left. He dedicated his life to a cause; a cause so great, only a leader with a unique sense of direction could fulfill. This leader strove to guide and influence, without coercion. His teaching was never in the political arena or the classroom. He used the greatest teaching technique known.  He taught by example.  He lived what he believed. His followers respected him, and learned from him.  As a Leader, he didn’t need to display his values on his T shirt he lived them.

Our great leaders should not be measured by the standard of their cars, suits, or whether they achieve headlines. They should not be measured by monetary gain or fashion.  They should be measured, by a standard of lasting results.  No flash in the pan, fool’s gold here.  Let’s measure greatness by footprints. The footprints of lasting results.

As leaders, our job is to look a little further, strive a little harder, stick to the task a little longer.  But, most of all, our job is to ensure positive footprints are left behind ensuring that we have lived our values.

Leadership is a challenge, yet my friend defines leadership as a privilege to serve.

Take a minute, think of a person who influences you. Now make a short list of their qualities and work to emulate those qualities today.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is ‘SCRAM’ ing your goals

Laurie KennedyWith her national flag tied to her cane, Hulda Crooks, age 91, climbed the 12,388 feet of Mt. Fuji. She didn’t let her age, fear of failure or risk get in her way. Teiichi Igarashi, 99 years old, conquered the same Mount Fuji in 1986.

You may not be in your nineties.  You may not want to climb mountains. But, you have goals. A goal is, ‘a future event which is desirable and accomplishable’.  You have to want it, then work towards it.

When you set a goal, follow SCRAM (Specific, Consistent, Reasonable, Attainable, and Measurable).  When your goal fits this criteria, you are ready to begin.

The only thing holding you back is your own fear. Proverbs 22:13 puts it this way, “The lazy man says, “there is a lion outside! I shall be slain in in the streets!” We often give up our potential accomplishment due to the fear of failure. Yet, we are not remembered for our failures, but for our successes.

James Benson Irwin isn’t remembered for his failures. He is not remembered for the flying accident where he broke his jaw and both legs. He is also not remembered for the therapy required to regain his memory. He is not remembered for being rejected from the astronaut training program four times. He had many life threatening challenges, but  James Benson Irwin is not remembered for his failures. He is remembered for overcoming them and being the eighth man to walk on the moon.

You may not want to walk on the moon or climb Mount Fuji, but you do have dreams and goals.  The best part is you can accomplish them.  Don’t stop trying just because you don’t want to fail.  Failure is normal, we all experience it.  The challenge is to go beyond failure to accomplishment.

Brand Lomenick, The Catalyst Leader said, “Never be afraid to charge a hill, overcome an obstacle, or maneuver around a hurdle that keeps you from achieving what you believe God is calling you to.”

Or, look to Caleb who in his senior years said to Joshua, “Now therefore, give me this mountain” Joshua 14:12.

Leadership is seeking God; first in prayer, scripture and then as we set our goals.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is under the microscope

Laurie KennedyFamilies, churches, corporations and our nation are built by leaders. If we want to change our world, we first need to support and change the skill set of our leaders.

Consider the changing roles of Pastors. Young people are called into the Ministry. They go to Bible College and Seminary to be taught by Biblical scholars. Then, with the God- given gifts of preaching and teaching, they graduate and enter their life calling. This calling often becomes a burnout job of expectations to: define a vision, motivate and supervise a team of staff and volunteers while coordinating building projects. Then, we add administrative systems, finances, changing demographics, social media and multicultural ministries. To survive, our Pastors are stretched way beyond their gifts, strengths and abilities.

“Our interviews with nation-wide, representative samples of Protestant Pastors consistently show that most Pastors do not even consider themselves to be leaders.  Fewer than one out of every 20 pastors believes he/she has the spiritual gift of leadership.  Fewer than one out of every four pastors claims to serve the church as a true leader.  Most of them feel they have been called, trained and hired to preach and teach.  Leadership, for most pastors, is just one of those unfortunate duties they must endure as part of the deal that allows them to do that which really turns them on-preaching and teaching.”  The habits of highly effective churches by George Barna.

Paul defined a number of leadership roles and illustrated the effect of the team working together. He called the team a body.

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

Leadership is encouraging and supporting your Leader.

Our future, as a Nation, as people of faith and your church is dependent on each of us. God gave you and your church the skills and spiritual gifts necessary to become healthy. Pray today about what you can do to make your family, your church and our nation healthy.

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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