Friday, 24 November 2017

7 Questions That Can Help You Crush A Plateau And Gain Momentum

Chances are you would like what every leader would like—momentum.  A post by Carey Nieuwhof.

All of us hit both personal and organizational plateaus. As much as we think momentum should be a permanent state, it never is. No one lives in a state of momentum all the time.
So if you hit a plateau or fall in a rut, how do you get out of it—both personally and organizationally?
A number of top leaders will talk about how to find and sustain momentum (plus so much more) in Atlanta at thE. Not a senior church leader? Register instead for the Orange Conference in Atlanta. I’ll be at both events (and I’m hosting ReThink Leadership), and I’d love for you to join me. Early bird rates are on until March 16th!
In the meantime, how do you find momentum when you don’t have it?
Sometimes the answers on how to get momentum can prove elusive until you’ve discovered the right questions.
Here are 7 questions I’ve collected over the years that I ask myself on a semi-regular basis to push through to the next level and find momentum.
While I can’t guarantee they will help you, I promise they have helped me get unstuck over and over again.

1. Are You Spending Most Of Your Time In Your Sweet Spot?

You may be good at many things, but you’re actually only great at a few things.
And you’re only truly passionate about a few things.
This is true for individuals and organizations.
Jim Collins asked the question this way: What can you be best in the world at?
I know that’s an audacious question, but the more you can align your gifting and passion with how you spend your time, the more effective you will be.
Sure, in start-up mode, you need to do a little of everything, but over time, the more you spend doing what you’re best at, the more you will love what you do and the greater value you’ll bring to your team and cause.
Often churches and leaders who plateau get stuck because they’re not operating in their area of peak giftedness or effectiveness.
2. In Your Weekly Routine, What Are You Having To Manufacture Energy To Do? Why Are You Doing It?
You don’t approach everything you do with the same enthusiasm.
Neither does your organization.
Sometimes you have to manufacture energy to do things, personally and organizationally. That’s okay every once in a while, but if you’re consistently having to manufacture energy, it can be a sign it’s either time to stop doing what you’re doing or hand it off to someone else.
Maybe a program that was once effective has stopped being effective. No matter how much you promote it, you know it’s accomplishing nothing.
As the famed marketing genius, David Ogilvy, once said, great marketing just makes a bad product fail faster.
As hard as it is to admit, maybe you’ve plateaued because you simply have a bad product. So either make it great or kill it.
On a personal level, maybe you’re spending a lot of your time doing something you’re not great at. Change that.
3. Who Are You Spending Time With That You Don’t Need To Be Spending Time With? 
This is a huge question. Don’t overlook it.
It’s tempting to think you have to spend your time with whoever asks to meet with you. And if you do that, you’ll always lead a small organization. That kind of time management doesn’t scale. As I shared here, that’s almost always a mistake.
Second, you’ll ignore your best leaders (because they’re low maintenance) and spend all your time trying to prop up your weakest leaders or with people who simply always have problems (you know who I’m talking about).
The people you spend the most time with don’t have to be the smartest people or the richest people by any stretch (that can be sinful), but you should spend most of your time with the key people you’ve trusted most deeply to carry the mission forward.
Chances are they won’t ask for more of your time because they manage and lead themselves well. But they should get it anyway.
Great leaders spend most of their time with the leaders who generate most of their results.
Do that, and you’ll almost always either find momentum or discover why you don’t have it.
4. Who Are You Not Listening To That You Should Listen To?
Leadership is isolating. You tend to hear from the same people again and again, and it generates a confirmation bias: the people around you say the same thing and it confirms the theory you have about why you’re stuck.
One of the best things you can do when you’ve hit a plateau is to get out of your office and even break from your usual circle to do some selective listening.
Create a focus group and ask them what they’re seeing or feeling.
Design a survey to solicit feedback. If I find myself in a preaching rut (it happens), I’ll often convene a focus group or survey the congregation on a topic I’m going to address. I learn so much about how people actually think through and talk about an issue that it reframes how I’m going to preach a subject. (Here’s an example of a current survey I’m running. And yes, you can take it.)
Bottom line? No matter how you do it, get out of your normal circle and listen.

5. How Can I Put More Fuel In The Areas That Are Seeing The Most Traction? 

Just like you need to spend most of your time with your best leaders, you and your organization should spend most of your time focusing your efforts on what’s producing the majority of your results.
If you can apply the Pareto Principle to all areas of your organization, you’ll go further.
For example, let’s say your kids’ ministry is seeing huge growth right now. Do you give resources to other areas that are weaker, or do you give more money and resources to kids ministry to further their growth?
I would vote for giving more money and resources to kids ministry. And then jump to question 6, below.

6. What Areas Of Your Ministry Are Seeing The Least Traction? 

Kill what’s not working. As my friend Reggie Joiner says, “It doesn’t take a leader to kill what’s dead. It does take a leader to kill what’s living.”
You need to prune and cut your organization as much as possible to fuel momentum. In the same way that a pruned apple tree grows more apples, a pruned ministry bears more fruit.
7. If You Were An Outside Consultant, What Would You Tell You And Your Team To Do?
I love this question.
It might seem a little strange, but it will give you distance.
If you were an outsider, what would you tell yourself to do? Most of the time you already know the answer to this… you’re just afraid to say it.
So say it.
And then once you figure that out, just go do it. Often answering that question can lead to a breakthrough.

Sunday, 12 November 2017


A great post by Dan Rockwell - A must read!

I’m still grappling with the realization that kindness/warmth is inconvenient. I’d be kind if I had the time.
Thankfully, when I work with people or organizations, they are my agenda. But what if you’re not on my agenda?

Warm and competent:
Change your thinking if you believe gunslinger-leaders get to the top.
“If you’re seen as low-warmth, you have something like a 1-in-2000 chance to make the top quartile of effectiveness as a leader.” (1) Zenger & Folkman
Don’t sacrifice warmth on the altar of competence.
The first thing teams need to know is, are you friend or foe. Do you intend harm or help?
The second thing teams need to know is, are you competent?
Leaders worry too much about competence and not enough about warmth.
Two questions that determine warmth:
  1. What is your intent?
  2. Are you able to act on your intentions?
Trustworthy leaders are warm and competent.
If you must choose between warmth and competence to build trust, choose warmth. That’s not to say that incompetent leaders are trustworthy. It is to say that we are quicker to trust warm leaders.
Adam Waytz, “Warmth really predominates judgments of trustworthiness.” (2)
The seven practices of warmth:
  1. Help others reach their goals. This assumes you know the goals of others.
  2. Display optimism, but don’t minimize challenges.
  3. Follow through. Leaders who don’t follow through are seen as uncaring.
  4. Maximize the strengths of others through coaching and mentoring.
  5. Challenge people to reach high and support them on the way. Low standards aren’t warm or inspirational.
  6. Explain an intention, seek feedback, and change. “I’m working to display optimism. What am I doing that displays optimism? How might I improve?”
  7. Maintain a forward-facing posture. Don’t ignore the past. Just focus on the future.
What concerns you about displaying warmth?
How might leaders display warmth?
  1. I’m the Boss! Why Should I Care if you Like Me?
  2. Measuring Trust Through Competence or Warmth
  3. Susan Fiske – Youtube video  (not quoted.)
  4. The Effects of Status on Perceived Warmth and Competence (Not used in this post.)

Saturday, 14 October 2017


If we aren’t careful, as time passes, leaders expect more from others and less from themselves. 

Would you hire you, if you interviewed yourself?

You expect the people you interview to answer important questions with concise clarity. Maybe it’s time to hold yourself to the same standard.

Questions to interview yourself:

1. Imagine 20 years have passed.
  1. What have you accomplished that makes you proud?
  2. What have you done to enrich the lives of others?
2. What do you wish you could do better?
Don’t humble-brag by saying silly things like, “I tend to work long hours.” Or, “I find it difficult to take time off.”
  1. How have your weaknesses held you back?
  2. How are you compensating for your weakness?
3. How forward-looking would the people you work with say you are on a scale of 1 to 10?
Suppose you believe your colleagues would give you an 8 on the forward-looking scale.
  1. Why didn’t you give yourself a 7?
  2. What would be true of you, if you were a 9 on the forward-looking scale?
4. What have you done to develop your leadership over the last 3 months?
Development requires focused attention and purposeful practice. If you aren’t working at developing your leadership, it’s not happening.
  1. How much time do you spend reflecting on your leadership practice?
  2. When are you reflecting on your leadership trajectory?
5. What leadership behaviors are essential for your future success?

6. If you don’t achieve your dreams, what will you have left undone?

7. What value do your strengths bring to the organization?
Bonus: What is your definition of leadership?
  1. How do you fulfill your own definition of leadership?
  2. How do you fall below your own definition of leadership?                                                                                                                                   One way to stay humble and connected is to give yourself a job interview.

Thursday, 21 September 2017


An Outstanding post by Dan Rockwell!

A great meeting is as rare as a white moose.  Count yourself fortunate if you ever see one.

Meetings include conversations in three directions.
  1. The leader talks to the people around the table.
  2. The people around the table talk to the leader.
  3. The people around the table talk to each other.
All three directions are relevant.

Successful leaders provide direction to meetings, but they don’t monopolize the conversation.  When one person does most of the talking, the people around the table disengage.

Yes, there are times when leaders speak to inform, provide focus, or add insight. But my experience indicates that leaders talk way too much in meetings.

Ego:  Today, as I listened to the conversation, I felt a need to be the “wise one.” My ego whispered, “You have ‘the’ answer. After all, they hired you because you’re so smart.” My ego loves me more than anyone else.

  1. Monopolizes conversations.
  2. Overshadows others.
  3. Needs the spotlight.
  4. Defends its viewpoint, rather than exploring another’s perspective.
  5. Adds too much “value” to the contributions of others.
  6. Loves to look like the smartest person at the table.
Ego in the leader sucks the life out of the talent around the table.

Leading the meeting isn’t dominating the conversation.

Talking to each other:  1) Strengthens connections  2) Generates surprising insights and options  3) Fuels energy.

Bigger conversations:  Get people talking to each other.  E.G  1) Fred, I noticed you haven’t contributed yet. What’s going through your mind?  2) Where does Wilma’s comment take our conversation.  3) Let’s generate a list of ideas that might help Barney work through his concern.

How might you lead meetings without dominating conversations?

Monday, 28 August 2017


Any bully can kick someone in the pants. It takes real leadership to inspire.  If you encouraged a team member once a week, you’d do it about 58 times a year. (taking into account holidays!)

Courage takes teams further than timidity. To encourage is to inspire courage.

Negative energy is like running with rocks in your pockets.

“The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab

12 sentence starters that inspire courage:

  1. I appreciate …
  2. I notice …
  3. You’re great at …
  4. Thank you for … (Be specific.)
  5. I’m impressed with …
  6. You help us get where we want to go when you …
  7. You’re making progress on …
  8. You encourage others when …
  9. Great effort when you …
  10. Congratulations on …
  11. You’re making a difference for …
  12. I’m encouraged when you …
Skillful leaders use encouraging language EVERYDAY!

7 sentences that inspire courage:

  1. Let’s give it a try.
  2. What’s the next imperfect step you could take?
  3. What would you like to try?
  4. What are you learning?
  5. If you weren’t nervous, what would you do next?
  6. I’ve seen you rise to challenges in the past.
  7. You’re on the right track.
Give yourself permission to encourage imperfect people. Don’t use someone’s weakness in one area as an excuse to withhold encouragement in another.

Lifting-up takes leaders further than beating-down.

Thursday, 24 August 2017


A great post by Dan Rockwell!

I can not notice people. I want to notice, but I’m easily distracted.
People can’t see your heart, when you’re lost in your head.

It doesn’t matter if you want to notice people. It only matters that you do.

Distraction blocks interaction.
I walk around distracted by a million things – what’s next, problems, opportunities, and performance, to name a few. I’m contemplating a coaching client’s concerns or the next presentation.

Remember you matter.
It’s easy to forget that people watch leaders. A frown on your face signals problems to the team. You may not mean to be a downer, but a nagging frown drags others down.

It ain’t hard, but it’s important.
People talk about simple things like smiling when they describe how leaders might improve their leadership.

You object that you’re not good at smiling. That’s so sad.
Bad is stronger than good. You need at least three smiles to overcome the negative impact of one frown. You’re in the hole baby. You better get smiling.

3 tips for frowning leaders to get their smile on.
  1. Tell yourself you like people. Think of something you like about the person in front of you. If you don’t like people, get out of leadership.
  2. Find a positive thing to believe in. What positive thing might you believe about others on the team?
  3. Admire a strength. When you walk up to someone, think about something you admire about them.
A smile that creates wrinkles around your eyes indicates that you notice positive things.
7 small things that make a positive difference.
  1. Smile.
  2. Show interest. “How are the kids?”
  3. Pat on the back.
  4. Bring coffee for the team.
  5. Celebrate progress and hard work.
  6. Sing happy birthday.
  7. Say thank you. (A smile and a little eye contact takes ‘thank you’ to a whole new level.)
What tips might you offer to frowners?

What small behaviors have big impact?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Are you a toxic leader and perhaps don't know or don't think you are? Find out by taking the TLS

 There are more toxic leaders leading today than you might think. There are three possibilities. 1) You are a toxic leader, know it, and are allowing the Holy Spirit and those you lead to facilitate change in your life and ministry, 2) You are a toxic leader and don’t know it or don’t think you are. 3) You are a healthy leader and are aware of toxic attitudes and behaviors and are prayerfully watching for it in your life. 
 Dan Rockwell will help us take a Toxic Leader Score (TLS).
Your Toxic Leader Score* (TLS) is the level of unnecessary irritation you cause others. If you occasionally irritate colleagues by arriving late, you’re a 3 on a range from 1 to 10.

If you frequently irritate colleagues, but don’t realize it, your TLS is 9. The worst leaders don’t know they’re toxic.

10 ways to elevate your Toxic Leader Score:
1.     Make everything about results. “Relationships are for babies and losers.”
2.     Minimize or ignore emotion and energy. “Just do your job!”
3.     Change course in mid-stream without preparing people or giving reasons.
4.     Complain more than affirm and compliment.
5.     Devalue progress. When someone makes progress, remind them they have far to go.
6.     Set long-term goals – ignore short-term wins.
7.     Focus on fixing weaknesses, rather than maximizing strengths.
8.     Be a know-it-all.
9.     Interrupt people.
10.   Believe it’s all about the money.

Leadership is more than vision and strategy. It’s also inspiration. Your unscientific Inspiration Score (IS) is your ability to tap the power of happiness.

10 Ways to elevate your Inspiration Score:
1.     Dedicate yourself to building positive energy environments. The most powerful thing you do is create positive environments where people love coming to work.
2.     Show respect. If you want people to act like owners, stop treating them like slaves.
3.     Be decisive with openness.
o    Seek input.
o    Explore options.
o    Explain purpose.
o    Make decisions.
o    Adapt as you go.
4.     Trust people. Meddlers and micro-managers top the Toxic Leader chart.
5.     Ask questions, gently. Questions feel like interrogations when all you care about are results.
6.     Make work about them, not you. Help people get where they want to go.
7.     Give helpful feedback.
8.     Practice open handed generosity.
9.     Pat people on the back, literally. Touch energizes. But, don’t lay your hand on people.
10.   Pursue excellence collaboratively. Set high standards and figure out how to reach them together.

What behaviors make leaders toxic?

What behaviors make leaders inspirational?

*TLS is an unscientific scale created for this post.