what lens is your leadership team looking through?

Senior Leadership TeamsGood Friday morning!

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to work with several senior leadership teams of various types of organizations. All of them were made up of good, intelligent, and professional people.

Yet, some of them were dealing with a common issue found in many senior leadership teams. This issue is is highlighted in the book Senior Leadership Teams, What It Takes To Make Them Great. The issue is that many teams are formed in a de facto sort of fashion whereby the heads of certain functions automatically make up the team. With that foundation, the members of the team act more like members of a legislature or Congress in that they are there to represent the interests of their area or function.

A healthy senior leadership team is comprised of members who realize that they are responsible for the overall success of the organization and not just their function. They have learned to look through the lens of the organization and not the more narrow lens of their line or functional role.

So what lens is your leadership team using? Are they “representatives” of their function or are they there to lead and be responsible for the entire organization?

Hope you have a great and blessed weekend!


what do you tell a leadership team?

Today and tomorrow, I, and two others, have the privilege of facilitating a retreat for a leadership team from an organization that is making a difference. The organization has been around quite a while, but many on the team are new or relatively new so we will hopefully be helping them to connect and to learn what it means to truly be a team.

We do have two full days of training and activities scheduled with some really good materials including Lencioni’s one day seminar on “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team“. But as I was thinking about the retreat, it occurred to me to ask, what is the one thing that I want them to come away from this retreat understanding and embracing.

The thing that hit me was “You Need Each Other“. To me, understanding that is fundamental to the operation of a good team is the core understanding that you actually need the other members of your team. Once you understand your need for the other members of your team, you begin to appreciate them as people with unique skills, strengths, experiences, quirks, and weaknesses. And you learn to value all of that and more.

If you are a team member, I would ask you to consider if you truly appreciate your need for the other members on your team?

Also, when you think about leadership teams – what is the one thing you would want to tell them?


mindsets of true leaders

beautiful shiesGood Monday morning to you! Winter is not quite done here. The snow started melting last week, but the temps have dropped again. It’s 15 with a wind chill of 0. I am about ready for spring!!

Your mindsets are critical to how you live your life.They determine how effective you will be and how you will impact others. Collectively organizations can and do have mindsets that guide how they function and directly impact their long-term success.

Allow me to suggest to you four mindsets that I believe are critical to how well we perform as leaders:

1. Trust – trust is foundational to the well functioning of a leadership trust. Most say that trust is earned and they treat it like an emotion. My contention is that trust is a choice and it is given. Choose to trust people – choose to trust your team.

2. Dependency – that sounds a little odd in our culture does it not? What it means is that we realize that unto ourselves we are insufficient and incapable of accomplishing much of anything. We are all dependent upon God and we are all dependent upon one another. Pretending you are superman and can fly solo in life is an illusion.

3. Humility – this is probably the most foundational and most important mindset of all of life. The choice to walk the path of humility is a life changer. As C.S. Lewis outs it, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less often.” Humility is an outward focus on God and others instead of an inward focus on yourself.

4. Growth – are you continuously learning, growing and becoming a better person? For that is what leaders do.

Mindsets are critical to being an effective leader.

Questions for you – what are your actual mindsets right now? Worry, suspicion, fear, or . . .? Which of the four mindsets listed above are you going to start developing this week?

Peace and grace,


jealously and ambition

blue sky Lauren AUG 2013Good morning! Looks like it’s going to be a great week working with the AWANA leadership team at their leadership retreat!

Jealousy and ambition! Ever had those two things intrude upon the workings of your leadership team? They will destroy the effectiveness of a team as quickly and more thoroughly than most anything else.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” – James 3:16

In contrast, teams that truly collaborate, where leaders operate with wisdom, then there is harmony – peace.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

So, which of these two verses describe the operations of your leadership team? Are people competing with a self-centered view, or are they seeking the wisdom from above? Are people open to reason? Are they sincere – authentic?

If verse 16 describes your leadership team – maybe it is time to have some frank discussions about how to move to a team that reflects verse 17.

Blessings on your week!

dissent or agreement – which do you seek?

butterflyOn my way to Florida today! Somehow, I need to figure out how to travel to Florida in the winter instead of mid-summer!

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be around people that agree with me, that share my viewpoint, and that make me comfortable. The conversations are easier, there is minimal conflict and tension, and it just makes me happier. I know that I am right most of the time, so why waste time with those who obviously don’t understand and disagree with me. Right?

The problem is, what I want is not what I need. While that is true as an individual, it is also true for leaders of organizations. We have a tendency to seek out affirmation of our ideas and not seek out dissent. However, dissent is exactly what we need – individually and corporately. We need people who have the courage to challenge our ideas, to shoot holes in them, to create friction and sparks. This is the only way that ideas will become better. This is the only way bad ideas will die a timely death.

As a leader, often times people will avoid disagreeing with you, they will avoid criticizing your ideas and will be more concerned with earning your favor – especially if you quash dissent. You have to set the tone for your team so that they know that not only is it safe to challenge your ideas, it is actually expected. Because you know that you need their dissent to develop the best ideas.

Seek dissent, encourage creative friction and sparks within your team as you wrestle together to find the best solution to your challenges.


The Consequences of a Silent Lie

It is Friday! Hope you have a great weekend!

Does the following sound familiar? You are sitting in a leadership meeting and the team, led by a strong and persuasive leader, are headed down the path to a decision. It seems everybody is on board with the direction, but you keep having these doubts or “checks” about the wisdom of the decision. To you, there are some important unanswered questions or you have some deep concerns that you believe need to be addressed. Yet, everyone else seems to be on board and not asking questions and you sure don’t want to be the wet blanket on the meeting, so you simply keep quiet and nod in seeming assent as the meeting comes to a close.

You have just lied (a silent lie) and it is to the detriment of your team and organization. I have written before on the Silent Lie before and to read more on it click here.

I was recently told the story of the consequences of a silent lie by some leaders. The team was going down the path of taking an approach to an issue that was quite a new approach for them. There was excitement about the new approach and it looked like a promising answer to a particular challenge within the organization. However, one of the leaders, an important leader, had reservations about the decision and direction, but did not voice them due to the excitement of the other team members.

The result of the decision was not positive. The concerns that the one leader do not voice proved to be valid. The problem was that if he had voiced his concerns, it would have been a simple change that could have been easily worked out in the meeting. However, it later became an issue that involved people and their lives and became messy. The point is that there are very real and serious consequences to the silent lie.

Learn to speak up and voice your concerns – do not be guilty of a silent lie – other people’s live are affected.


Trust is the Key

“Absence of Trust – This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.” – Patrick Lencioni

Trust is absolutely foundational to the effective operations of a leadership team. You can try all the gimmicks, bring in consultants  give orders and so on, but if the members of your leadership team do not have this level of trust, it will always be less than it could or should be.

Watch this quick video from Pat on trust:

So take the time and do the hard work needed to build trust on your team – it is worth the effort!Workbook


Which Hat Do You Wear?

Good morning!  Are you a member of a leadership team for your organization?  If so, what hat do you wear when you are in your leadership team meeting?  That of a team member or that of the “representative” of your part of the organization?  This is one of the key issues that keeps a group of leaders from actually becoming a team.

Team members are usually functional heads of a part of the organization (and have great emotional attachment to those areas) as well as a member of the leadership team for the overall organization.  The pull between the two roles can greatly hamper the effectiveness of the team if not dealt with directly with clearly understood roles and parameters.

Most of what are called “leadership teams” are actually “working groups”.  A working group is when the members come in as representatives or advocates of their particular area of responsibility and their functional role takes priority over their role on the leadership team as a leader of the entire organization.  Think US Congress!

Members of a true leadership team realize that their first responsibility is to the advancement of the mission and the overall organization and that their role as a member of the leadership team trumps their functional role.

Reconciling this issue and actually learning to operate in this manner is one of the biggest hurdles to a “working group” of leaders actually becoming a true leadership team.

So, what hat will you wear at your next leadership team meeting?  Advocate for a constituency or team member that desires to move the organization forward?


He Just Frustrates Me!

Why can’t people think like I do?  Wouldn’t that be so much simpler?

Of course we read in Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about one body but different parts and in Romans 12 where Paul talks about the different gifts.  Also, in most of the management and leadership literature we also read about how important it is to have a diverse team.  But it is just so frustrating when all those diverse people don’t think like I do.  They have different opinions and don’t immediately see the validity and genius of my point of view!  I know they are different personalities and have different gifts, but it sure would be so much more simple if they thought like I do.  Look how more efficient we would be!  No more wasting time on these long discussions.

Ever feel that way?  We say that we want diversity on our teams, but yet at a core level it often actually frustrates us.  The problem is, your team sees or feels that frustration at a certain level and it will stifle the input you need.  Eventually, the only people that will stay around you are the ones like you because they are the only ones that feel comfortable or safe around you.

As a leader, you have to truly come to value the wonderful and varied ways God has formed the people in the team around you.  You should almost revel in their wonderful diversity and have a grateful heart for the varied gifts and personalities of the people the Lord has placed on your team.

Take time to thank the Lord for all those wonderfully different people around you today – and then go and let them know how valuable they are to you and your organization.


Do You Really Have a Leadership Team?

Do you really have a leadership team?  Most of us do in name, but do you in actuality have a team?

In his book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni says that in reality what most of us have are leadership working groups – not teams.

Think about it this way – a working group is similar to a golf team where the players go off and play their own game and then get together at the end of the day to tally up their scores.

A real team is more like a basketball team where everyone is playing simultaneously in a mutually dependent way and even interchanging roles. And if one player is not performing up to their potential, then the team suffers.

Most of us in reality have working groups of leaders who come together to represent and advocate for their areas in a joint meeting instead of a team where leaders come together around a common goal and with a focus on the greater good for the overall organization.

Moving from being a working group to a highly functioning team is an intentional choice and is a lot of hard work – but worth it.  If you are a leader in a church or ministry, you owe it to those you lead to build a team and to not be satisfied with simply a working group.

The basis to having a healthy organization is to have a healthy leadership team.  Without a true leadership team that is healthy, you will not have a healthy organization.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, take time to meditate on the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ upon the cross that paid the penalty for our sins.  What a wonderful, outrageous act of obedience and love. We are truly a blessed people.  Take time to praise Him.  Tomorrow is Friday, but Sunday is coming!