Tag Archive - performance

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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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How to Coach the Best Performance out of your Team

I wish coaching could solve every staff performance issue. I wish a little post game conversation would always turn into great results. I wish getting some team members a few more, “game like reps,” would improve their performance. I wish.

Unfortunately, coaching isn’t always the solution. There are some team members who can’t or won’t receive coaching and need to be coached out instead of being coached up. But how do you know how to respond to each unique team member?

High Performers

Some high performers not only produce great results, but they welcome and respond to coaching. They’re always looking for ways to grow and improve their game. They have the talent required to perform at a high level and the character necessary to receive coaching and respond well. These team members are fun to coach. They’re the kind of people who do a lot with what you give them, and then ask for more. These people just need you to empower them and keep coaching them up.

There are some team members who are insanely talented and have the capacity to deliver great results but lack the character necessary to receive and respond well to coaching. They may be a great talent but have really poor chemistry with the rest of the team. These are the kind of team members that you need to intervene with quickly and keep on a very short leash. They need to be provided with clear and quick consequences or they can mess up the entire chemistry of the team. No amount of competency can overcome a fatal flaw in character.

Low Performers

Not every low performer needs to be coached out. There are many factors that impact poor performance. They may not have been given the right resources to succeed, they may have been placed in a role that doesn’t play to their strengths, or they may simply be young and inexperienced. If they have the character it takes to receive and respond well to coaching and have good chemistry with the team then coach them up instead of coaching them out.

Sometimes you can’t avoid coaching a team member off of your team. It’s part of your responsibility as the coach or leader to not allow low performers to remain low performers. If a team member is constantly shifting blame to other people or circumstances for their poor performance, if they have a poor attitude, if there is poor chemistry with the team, if there is a character problem, if they don’t respond well and respond quickly to coaching it’s probably time to coach them out instead of coaching them up.


Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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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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Why Shared Leadership is Better Leadership

Leadership is a gift that is meant to be shared. It’s how leadership is both best developed and best exercised. Shared leadership is not for everyone though. It requires a tremendous amount of personal security and deep levels of trust at the highest levels of the organization. But if you can master shared leadership then you’ll move at a pace you never thought was possible.

1. Shared Leadership Attracts Better Leaders

Leaders are attracted to leadership opportunities, organizations in which they’ll be able to exercise their God-given gift. When you’re willing to share real leadership decisions and influence with others all of the sudden your ability to attract top talent to your team goes up dramatically.

2. Shared Leadership Keeps Better Leaders

Keeping leaders in today’s economy is tough. Especially when young up and coming leaders want more influence and more responsibility. Well, why not give it to them? Figure out what only you can do and do that. Then give the rest away. The more leadership you’re able to share the longer you’ll keep other leaders at the table and by the way you’ll end up keeping more leaders at the table as well.

3. Shared Leadership Generates Better Decisions

The team truly does outperform the individual every time. In a shared leadership model you afford yourself the luxury to not have to shoulder the burden of being the best at everything…and let’s face it, we all know you’re not the best at everything…so stop pretending. In a shared leadership model you get to lead in your area of brilliance and submit in areas of weakness and allow others to shine. Sounds kinda Biblical doesn’t it?

Photo Credit: C!… via Compfight cc


Posted in Leadership

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What does my Pastor want from me?

Ask a Church Staff Member what they want out of their Lead Pastor, then turn and ask the Lead Pastor what they think their Staff wants out of them and you just might be surprised at the in-congruence of the answers; then again, maybe not. I recently taught a couple of breakouts at a conference where I had the opportunity to interact with a bunch of Ministry Staff Members. Many of them were quick to identify what they were hoping to get out of their Lead Pastor. We were even able to build a quick grocery list of their top frustrations they had with their Lead Pastor. However when the table was turned and I asked the question, “What do you think your Lead Pastor wants from you?” it was easy to see that most Ministry Staff Members haven’t spent much time wrestling through the idea. As a Ministry Staff Member, have you ever stopped to consider that other than keeping numbers going up and to the right and keeping complaints about your ministry to a minimum, that your Pastor may actually be hoping to get more from you than what’s on your job description? You may have never thought about it much…but below are four things that your Pastor is hoping to get from you:

Continue Reading…


Posted in Leadership, Staffing