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What Churches Can Learn from a Restaurant Owner

We take a lesson where we can find it—even on National Public Radio.  On Weekend Edition Saturday , host Scott Simon interviewed the owner of three  restaurants in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about the challenges of coming back from COVID.  Her remarks caught my attention on two points—employees and customers—and made me think about our churches.     Now, I know that we should avoid thinking of our staff leaders as “employees” and that congregants are not really “customers” (although some think they are), but there are some insights here for those who serve and especially for recipients of that service.   First, she pointed out, “ There's a lot of pressure on the team that is in place. We don't have a lot of depth to allow people time off, to allow people a break. We're losing the people that have been here because they're exhausted, fatigued because we're so short-staffed.”     This is certainly true of ministers.  Clergy stress is at an unprecedented high.  Although
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A Leader Drives Culture

I visit three medical providers on a regular basis—each one every six months or so.     As I waited recently to see one of the doctors, I reflected on the difference in the way that they deal with patients.      One is a well-run, professional practice where I am always greeted by a friendly nurse who makes me feel at the ease.  The doctor is a capable person who asks good questions and includes me in making decisions about my health.   Another is very much a family-type practice.  I know everyone in the office.  The doctor is rather laid back and always outlines options for my treatment.   The third is very much oriented toward providing a service and moving patients along.  The doctor is a very competent person but works more from a prescriptive approach, telling me what the best approach is for my treatment.    Now, I am very happy with the service provided by each of these practices, but I am also aware of how the personality of the lead professional in each office drives the cultu

Growth or Control?

"Leaders, you can have control, or you can have growth, but you can’t have both.”   This statement at the 2021 Global Leadership Summit by Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of Life.Church, was my key takeaway.  If you want to be in complete control of everything, then you are limiting the possibilities for growth in your organization and in your life.   Being in control of anything or anyone is really a myth.  You guide and discipline your children, but ultimately, they go on to live their lives for themselves.  You can employ and coach people in your organization, but you can never motivate or control every action that they take.  You can create and launch an organization, but if you attempt to micromanage it, you limit its growth.   Growth comes from creating a healthy environment and then letting its components thrive.  Perhaps gardening is the best metaphor to use.  You prepare the soil, select and place the plants, water, feed and weed, but your garden has a life of its own.  Yo

Positively Energizing Leadership: A Review

If you assume that Kim Cameron’s book is about making people happy at work, you are shortchanging this contribution to leadership literature.     Cameron’s thesis is this:     All human beings flourish in the presence of light or of positive energy. This is called the heliotropic effect.     The kind of positive energy that usually accounts for the flourishing of individuals and organizations is called relational energy.    In this book, Cameron explains how relational energy is created and enhanced through the demonstration of virtuous actions by leaders.   Those familiar with leadership literature will find a great deal of commonality with the work of others such as Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee in Resonant Leadership but Cameron offers another model for leaders to consider.  His contemporaneous engagement with the pandemic makes his writing especially fresh and engaging.  He reminds us, “In order to effectively manage turbulent circumstances, we must identify something that is s

Compassionate Accountability: Coaching

The Gallup organization did a meta-analysis of 100 million employee interviews to identify what makes a highly engaged team.  The key factor is the manager, but one with a particular style of leading.  In a recent blog post , Jim Clifton reported, “ Gallup has discovered -- through studying what the best managers do differently -- that great managing is an act of coaching, not one of directing and administrating.”   At the center of compassionate accountability is coaching.  Good managers engage in regular coaching conversations to encourage, develop, and support team members.  In the blog, Clifton suggests several ways to implement this game changing strategy in an organization.   1.        Recognize that Millennials and Generation Z individuals want to learn and grow.  Coaching provides this opportunity. 2.       Announce to your organization that your leaders will move from administering teams to coaching teams. 3.       Do away with all evaluation forms and institute this approach:

Compassionate Accountability: An Ongoing Process

The term “performance review” elicits many reactions.     One colleague shared with me, “The first time my supervisor came to do my annual performance review, I got sick at my stomach.”     One of my own frustrating experience came when my supervisor took the occasion of our annual review to let me know he was not happy about something that happened six months earlier!     He had never mentioned the occurrence to me before then.      For many of us, the annual performance review or evaluation has been a “come to Jesus moment” that we would rather avoid.  We need a new approach to employee performance review that involves not simply evaluation of the individual’s activities during a period of time.  We need to find a way to encourage personal development, assess the support the person is receiving, and consider his or her role in the success of the organization.  Churches should be leading this effort, but they usually are lagging.   Traditional performance management was built upon sev

Compassionate Accountability: Getting the Right People on the Bus

In his book Good to Great , Jim Collins argues that those who build great organizations make sure they have “the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive bus.”  We need the right people on board to accomplish our mission.  He goes on to say, “When facing chaos and uncertainty, and you cannot possible predict what’s coming around the corner, your best ‘strategy’ is have a busload of people who can adapt and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next.”   Let’s consider a model for getting the right church staff “on the bus.”  First, we must be very clear about the need that we intend to meet and the resources available.  Generally, we define the area of responsibility and identify how an additional staff member might help the church meet that need. We also consider the resources we have available.  This may determine if we will meet this need through a volunteer/volunteers or seek a paid staff person.  If we do go for a paid p