Tag Archive - blame

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Blame Goes Up and Credit Goes Down

It’s one thing when people have to follow you because you sign their paycheck or you’re the “boss.” It’s another thing when people want to follow you. Becoming the king of leader that people want to follow is the kind of stuff you should be paying attention to and spending your time on.

People want to follow leaders who take more blame than they should, and people want to follow leaders who give away more credit than they should. And I want people to want to follow you.

Blame Goes Up

Ultimately every problem in the church is the Pastor’s/Leader’s problem. If you’ve been in your seat for more than three years, it’s your problem. Before that, feel free to blame the prior administration. If you’re facing a problem most likely it’s because of somebody you hired, something you trained or something you allowed. And you know what? You’re never going to go wrong taking responsibility for what is going wrong. Being quick to take ownership and get on the solution side of issues deescalates tense situations. It also teaches people on your team that it’s okay to make mistakes and it frees them up to lead.

Credit Goes Down

Instead of taking the credit when things go right, start giving it away. The world is few of leaders who take. Instead be a leader who gives. Be quick to point out what went right and what your team did to make things go right. Blame them for what went right instead of what went wrong. They’ll love you for it and they’ll do it again. Because, what gets celebrated gets repeated.


Posted in Leadership

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5 Mistakes Experienced Church Leaders Make

Experienced Church Leaders don’t mean to do it. Being complacent. Making mistakes. It “just happens” we tell ourselves. But does it have to happen? Not really.

After spending more than 22 years in full-time ministry this “experienced” Church Leader has committed every mistake on the list. We can chalk it up to complacency, over confidence, or a complete and utter lack of awareness. I know, you’re probably thinking…aren’t you a “successful” Church Leader and ministry consultant? Aren’t you supposed to stay on top of this stuff? Aren’t you supposed to lead without making mistakes? I wish it were that simple. I’m human. I make mistakes. Hopefully I can help you by sharing my blunders.

But what exactly is an experienced Church Leader? I’m sure you’ll answer that in your own way. If you’re reading this blog post, I’m betting the majority of you think you’re an experienced Church Leader. Or maybe you’re someone well on their way to becoming an experienced Church Leader who wants to avoid the blunders of us veterans. I commend your proactive efforts. So, let’s just agree that the term experienced Church Leader applies to all of us.

1. Moving too Fast

If you know me, you know that I love progress and results. In fact, I can be tempted to choose accomplishing the mission over people, even though people are the mission (weird huh). I’ve gotten myself into trouble a couple of times by moving too fast and leaving people in the dust or even worse mowing over people in the way. Both are bad. Yes, people are dying and going to hell, and someone has to do something about it…like right now…and that someone is you and me. But I’ve often underestimated what I can get done over the long haul and overestimated what I can get done this week.

2. Holding on too Long

Control is the enemy of growth, period. It’s the enemy of personal growth, professional growth, organizational growth as well as the growth of the Church and the spread of the Gospel. I’ve held onto things too long and told myself that others wouldn’t do it the way I wanted it done or as well as I could do it. Frankly I was wrong. The dirty little secret of Church Leadership that no one ever tells you is the higher you go in leadership the more you actually have to let go of and give away. If you don’t learn to let go, you will become the lid on the growth of the church.

3. Shifting Blame

Accepting personal responsibility is the first step that we take when it comes to real growth. This idea of “walking in the light” that the Bible talks about is the greatest personal and leadership challenge I believe we’ll ever face…and we’ll face it over and over and over again. I’ve been guilty of judging myself based on my intent and motivation and others by their performance. I’ve learned over time that blame goes up and praise goes down. Good leaders push praise down onto others and accept responsibility and blame for things that go wrong in the organization because ultimately, they’re in charge and have the power to change things.

4. Underestimating People

Have you ever underestimated someone? I have. More than once actually. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve underestimated what a volunteer can do as a volunteer. I mean there are fantastic, high capacity people in our churches that get paid a significant amount of money to do a job that they’re really good at and we cast the big vision to them of holding a door at church on the Guest Services Team. Ugh. We need to think differently. I’ve even underestimated young staff members. I forget how young I was once. I was 32 years old when I became an Executive Pastor at a church that was 2,500+…so yeah…start believing people and start giving them authority and space to lead. They might surprise you.

5. Trusting People Instead of their Performance

I’ve ignored people and refused to believe the truth about people. Even when they tell me who they are through their performance. I’ve chosen to trust and view them through relational trust that had been built up over time (friendship) instead of listening to them when their performance tells me over and over that they aren’t gifted to do a certain job, that their capacity isn’t as high as I thought, or that the job had outgrown them. Every time I’ve done that I’ve been guilty of hurting and holding the church back.

And that’s the list. It isn’t a list of ALL the mistakes experienced Church Leaders make, but they’re at the core of most of my leadership failures. Even though the list is short, there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from my mistakes.


Posted in Leadership

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What makes Emotionally Intelligent Church Leaders Different?

The best church leaders don’t simply spend time learning new stuff about the bible, praying 24-7, discovering new management techniques or understanding organizational theory. They spend time on becoming better at the art of leading through relationships. After all relationships are both the glue and the grease that make work, happen.

And before you blow this post off and chalk it up to a bunch of business stuff being applied to church world…think again…this is all rooted in the Bible.

Emotionally Intelligent leaders are great at building effective interpersonal relationships with their team. Which is essentially the combination of being simultaneously self-aware and others focused.

But what are some things that these leaders actually do differently?

The Art of Timing

It’s a gift to say the right thing at the right time. The Bible puts it this way in Proverbs 15:23 “Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!”

Emotionally intelligent leaders are disciplined with their words and craft their words intentionally. Not in a manipulative manner but in a way that serves people well. They don’t always say everything they see or feel for that matter. They are wise about giving people what they can handle or need at the time to help them move in the right direction.

Others Focused

Emotionally intelligent leaders are others focused. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul linked spiritual maturity to living an others-oriented life. Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

While Paul put it this way in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t focus on themselves they focus on the team, because they know that the team out performs the individual every time.

Self-Awareness

The best leaders I’ve ever been around are quick to take personal responsibility when things go wrong. Instead of looking outward and shifting blame they choose to shoulder the blame themselves. This takes a tremendous amount of confidence and self-awareness. And of course, the enemy of self-awareness is self-deception. Self-deception can be a dangerous thing. It can make you believe more or less about yourself than you should. You can even fool yourself into thinking more or less about others than you should. Emotionally intelligent leaders are sober minded, they know who they are, and they know who they’re not, and they do what’s best for the team. They are quick to take personal ownership when things go south and give out praise when things go well.

Jeremiah 17-9-10 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”


Posted in Leadership

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Stop Blaming your Team for Under Performing

If you’ve ever managed a team you know how easy it is to grow frustrated when individuals on the team don’t perform well and the team doesn’t get the results you’re looking for. Unfortunately when things go wrong, the first place most leaders and managers look to place blame is on the team. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. Sometimes someone on the team doesn’t do their job and things fail. But the team should be the last place you look to place blame. The first place you should look to place blame is on yourself. When things go wrong on your team, keep the following principles in mind:

#1 Remember You Hired Them

If you don’t like your team, just keep in mind you’re the one who hired them. You knew what you were getting when you brought them on the team, so you shouldn’t be surprised. That is, unless you don’t have an effective process for recruiting and on-boarding new team members.

#2 Be Specific and Clear

Don’t speak in vague generalities. Coach your team on specific behaviors and attitudes. Give them real clarity on deliverables and deadlines. And then hold them accountable to results. One of the worst things at work is to not know what you need to do to be successful. Don’t let you team feel that way. Be clear with them.

#3 You get what you Tolerate

If you don’t like the attitude or performance of your team it’s probably because you’ve allowed (by intention or neglect) them to develop a particular culture. The only one who can change that is you. If you’re frustrated, the good news is you don’t have to stay that way. You have the power to change the team dynamics by changing yourself and how you interact with and lead your team.

#4 Play to their Strengths

One of the fundamental roles of the leader is to put the team players in a role and give them responsibilities in which they can find success. Everyone wants to win, and winning at work feels much better than losing. Help your team feel like their winning and you’ll not only get more done, you’ll have more fun doing it.

#5 Your Approach Matters More than you Think

If you come in guns blazing asking what went wrong and barking about how this can never happen again, people aren’t going to follow you very far. But if you help them improve, develop them, and serve your team by investing in them you may be surprised at the results you get.

#6 Timing is Everything

Coaching while your player is making a play comes off as micromanagement, that’s the wrong timing. It produces pressure and leads to a poor performance. However, you don’t wait a couple of weeks to watch the game tape. You watch it immediately after the game and coach up your players in order to make changes to schemes and performance quickly before the next game. You can’t wait weeks before you address a poor performance or attitude. If you do they’ll think they’re doing a good job because you haven’t addressed it, and when you do they’ll be surprised.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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are you avoiding reality?

You’ve heard it said before, “The number one job of leadership is to define reality.” Unfortunately we’ve seen over and over again in recent years both companies and one high profile personality after another end in ruin as a result of losing touch with reality. Somewhere along the way these companies and personalities start to believe their press clippings, stop listening to the right voices, and ultimately reality becomes lost in a haze.

So how do you know if you are dealing with the brutal facts of your current reality? You may not be dealing with the brutal facts if you:

Continue Reading…


Posted in Leadership, Staffing