Free Resources by Daniel Decker

Daniel Decker is becoming one of my favorite authors and leaders to read each week. You can check out his website or subscribe to his blog at www.danieldecker.net.

This past Sunday he posted a compilation of all the free e-resources he has offered or which he knows others offer this year in one place. I spent about an hour looking through them and found some awesome teachings, eBooks, and articles from authors like John Maxwell, Seth Godin, Jon Gordon, and more.

Listen, don’t pass up opportunities like this. I know many of you will spend several hundred dollars this year going to a conference or two. Some of the content you will find here will give you the same value at a REALLY low price. Don’t miss out!

CHECK THEM OUT RIGHT HERE!

The Meeting Professional

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com

The last few weeks I’ve explored the idea of teams; specifically getting the right people on them. But what about leading teams? What would happen if hired a professional to lead your meetings. How would it look compared to how YOU lead them?

Seth Godin wrote a blog about this recently entitled “Making Meetings More Expensive“. He didn’t suggest hiring a professional though. He recommended a meeting fairie.

Click this link to see what he had to say. You’ll be stretched.

The Strategic Personality

This month I’ve been talking about the importance of getting the right people on the right seats in your bus:

  • In ‘The Chicken or the Egg‘ I asked the question, “Which should come first, your strategic team or your vision?”
  • In ‘The Seats of the Bus‘ I explored who should sit where on the bus.
  • In ‘What’s the Big Deal About a Wrong Seat?‘ I showed you what it might look like having the wrong person in the wrong seat – especially on your Strategic Team.
  • Finally, in ‘The Four C’s‘ I gave you permission to evaluate your team selection through the lens of four specific criteria.
I want to zero in on one of those “Four C’s” a little more today; specifically in the area of Competency. Let me ask you a question. How do you know if a person has the right personality to serve on a Strategic Team? You may not think it’s a very important question. I can assure you that it is. I’ve learned through the school of ‘hard knocks’ that certain personalities generally just don’t fit on a Strategic Team. He may have great character, awesome chemistry with you and your church, and feel called to serve in leadership. He may even be one of your leaders or elders.
If you were looking for someone to manage the finances in your organization, I think it’s safe to say that an area of competence for that role would include someone with an analytical personality. If you decided to recruit someone to teach a class you would hope the individual was good with people – another personality trait. In the same way, people who serve on the Strategic Team should lean in a particular direction regarding their personality. This is an area of competence which is very easy for us to overlook.
I’ve already shown you what it might look like if you have the wrong person in the back of the bus right here. Now I’ll show you what personality best fits in those seats. Check out this chart.

 

The upper right quadrant will tend to be your leaders and visionaries.
The upper left quadrant will often be your thinkers and analytically inclined.
The lower right quadrant will likely be your communicators and your fun people.
The lower left quadrant will usually be your faithful and loyal workers who just want to use their gifts to serve.
The closer to the outer edge, the stronger their personality in that quadrant. The closer to the center the more ‘well-rounded’ they tend to be in all of those quadrants. I recommend you try out the online personality profile at www.leadingfromyourstrengths.com/purchase-lfys-profiles.php. You’ll have to pay a $25 fee to take the test, but in the end you will have a 25+ page summary of your strengths & weaknesses. On the very last page you will find a chart similar to the one above with an indicator of where you fit.
Does this mean that people who tend toward the bottom left shouldn’t be on your team? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that certain strategic discussions will likely be more of a stretch for them to engage in. You will probably see them struggling or need to give them more time to process or catch up than you would those whose personalities lean towards the upper right. Some of these people may contribute very little to the conversation as well. I happen to know that those with a strong bottom/left personality also have a very difficult time with confrontation and conflict. Two important elements in strategic discussions.

What if you find yourself in one of that bottom left quadrant? In that scenario I would recommend that you work extra hard to ensure you don’t fill your Strategic Team with others of the same personality. In other words, be sure to recruit team members who lean to the upper right. You may also want to consider asking someone else to lead the team meetings. You should definitely be present and have a voice in the discussion, but it would probably be easier for you if someone else focused on leading so that you can give more of your energy towards processing the discussions in the room.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

I just finished reading this book. It’s very well done and an important read for anyone in leadership. It’s not a leadership book. It’s a time and life management book. It’s about Getting Things Done.

How To Know if You Should Read This Book: You should get and read this book if ANY ONE of the following are true:

  • If you are not very organized. 
  • If you find yourself letting tasks, meetings, projects, etc. to get lost in the shuffle. 
  • If you miss deadlines. 
  • If you are ever late to meetings. 
  • If you miss meetings. 
  • If your inbox is full of emails you haven’t (and won’t anytime soon) read. 
  • If your inbox has more than 75 items in it at any given time. 
  • If your desk has piles of papers that you know probably have important things for you to do. 
  • If you ever have a nagging feeling in the back of your brain that there’s something you should be doing, but you don’t know what it is. 
  • If you go home every night feeling overwhelmed with your work. 
  • If you have received write-ups or reprimands from your employer because of poor work habits. 
  • If you have a lot of ideas about how to improve your life or ministry, but often forget them and rarely do them.
Author David Allen has laid out some very practical and usable principles to help you manage your projects and time in todays society. Note: the book was written a few years ago, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s relevant. I’d like to give you a few suggestion to keep in mind while reading it though:

  • Current Tech: Realize that the book was written before smart phones and the ipad really hit the market hard. Some of his methods (not to be confused with principles) will be better applied with current technology.
  • Current Applications: Realize that there are several software and web applications which may be very helpful in utilizing the principles that Mr. Allen proposes. Mr. Allen’s website also includes some software applications designed to utilize his methodologies and there is also an app for the iphone which I am told is very helpful as well.
  • Microsoft OneNote 2010I have found Microsoft OneNote 2010 to be one of the most meaningful and useful applications for organizing and sorting my thoughts, ideas, projects, and tasks than anything else. If you have Office 2007 – 2010 installed on your computers, it’s already bundled and installed, ready to use. Try it out.
  • Dry Topic: Don’t give up while reading it. Time management is not a topic we all get super fired up about. It’s mundane and sort of boring – though extremely critical in our overall productivity. This book is a GREAT read, but it’s a little dry and long-winded. Still I haven’t seen a better one on this topic anytime recent. I was turned onto this book after reading Craig Groeschel’s blog about it.
So don’t procrastinate. You won’t have time to read this book until you read it, so just find the time and read it – how’s that for a conundrum?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Four C’s

In my last two blog entries (The Chicken or the Egg? & The Seats of the Bus) I have been talking about the importance of getting the right people on your bus and also making sure you have the right people in the right seats.

In particular, it is very important that every team member is aligned with you in four different areas. At Elim Gospel Church, we simply call these “The Four C’s”. Three of these “C’s” Bill Hybels talks about in his Leadership Book, “Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs”. Whether you are looking for someone for your Strategic Team, for your board of directors, for the director of your men’s ministry or for your newest secretarial hire, these four criteria should be evaluated as part of the recruitment process.

Character: It goes without saying that character is critical when recruiting someone to an influential position. What is often NOT said, or thought about, is just what “character” traits you are looking for. We tend to see people as “good” and have a hard time labeling them as someone lacking in character.

You should identify your own list, but here are a few things we deem very important:

  • Team Player
  • Teachable
  • Honest
  • Attends Regularly
  • Serves Regularly
  • Gives Regularly
  • Submitted to Leadership
  • Growing Christian
  • Positive Example in Life

Competency: The business world has this one figured out. They’ve got resume’s, job applications, and interviews down pat. The Christian world? Not so good. Again, it seems like we somehow think it’s “unchristian-like” to evaluate whether someone actually has the right skills for the job. Classic example: the lady who played the organ when growing up in church during my teen years. Was I the only one that noticed she didn’t have any rhythm and constantly got the wrong notes? Oh yeah, and she couldn’t really sing either.

When recruiting, for anything, figure out in advance what competencies are required for that role; then you can begin the process of deciding who best meets those criteria (along with the other 3 “C’s”.)

Chemistry: Again, this area is one many leaders are afraid to discuss or consider. This is the arena where you determine if the person in question is going to be a good fit in your culture as well as with you as their leader. Chemistry is not to be confused with character. It is strictly about whether this person carries the key aspects of your ministry DNA or not. This is why nearly every great leader in both the marketplace and ministry will tell you that it’s much better to hire from within – because those people will be much more likely to be DNA carriers and score high in chemistry with you as their leader.

Here is what I have discovered about how chemistry impacts your team and ministry. When you have a team player that is high in chemistry with you and your organization, you will very likely have little relational conflict. Conversely, when chemistry is low, conflict will likely abound. I’m not talking about the constructive conflict that should be in every relationship and team. I’m talking about the conflict that continually rises up because two different worlds/mindsets/standards keep colliding. This is also why it is becoming more and more popular for organizations to hire competent but young and less experienced people as opposed to those who have a ton of experience. The more experienced professionals also tend to have a lot of opinions and mindsets on what should be done and how to do it.

Calling: The final “C” we look for when hiring or recruiting is also critical to us. We actually walk all new hires through these four C’s and end with this one. This is our reminder that God has an interest in this decision. Jesus told us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” God told Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you…” So we remind the candidate to seek God for His purposes for them and we do the same. It is quite possible that the person would be a great match in every other way, but that God is directing them towards something else in your organization or in the world.

We take these criteria very seriously. If even just one of them doesn’t seem to be lining up, we slow everything down and re-evaluate. Better to struggle through a leadership void for a season of time than to get the wrong person on the bus and find out 6 or 9 months down the line that they aren’t going to work out.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

What’s the Big Deal About a Wrong Seat?

OK. So we have acknowledged that there are different kinds of seats on the bus. Why is this so important? Would it really be that big of a deal if team members picked their seats? What if someone who sits in the middle of the bus decides they would really like to hang out in the back of the bus? Shouldn’t we let them?

Do you remember where you sat on the bus when you were a grade-schooler or teenager? It’s pretty likely that, although you perhaps thought you would enjoy sitting somewhere else, if you did you would have felt really out of place. Or perhaps your parents made you sit in the front and you couldn’t wait for the ride to get over?

The point is, team members should be placed on the RIGHT team for their OWN benefit as well as the benefit of your organization. This is especially true when it comes to identifying who should be on your strategic team. It’s not for everyone to sit in the back of the bus. The conversations taking place in healthy strategy meetings will include honest and open assessments of current ministry, big picture brainstorming, and plans to make both small and large shifts and changes in your organization. Some of those conversations are enough to send your average “tactically-minded” team member to counselling for weeks.

Here are some signs you may have the wrong person in the wrong seat in Strategic Meetings:

  • He rarely speaks during the meeting.
  • She often fidgets or is disengaged from the conversations.
  • When he does share, his comments seem to reflect a misunderstanding of the general direction of the discussion.
  • She seems distressed during the meeting most of the time.
  • He constantly brings up reasons why ideas won’t work.
  • She regularly resents or defends ministry evaluations.
  • He is emotionally exhausted after each of the meetings.
  • She gets overwhelmed and excessively emotional during or after the meeting.
  • He keeps turning the conversation towards the details – “Who is going to do that?”, “Where will we get the money?”, “How will we ever be able to recruit people to get involved?”, etc.
Do your ministry a favor. Be careful in who you choose to be on your Strategic Team. Over the next few entries I will share more ideas on how to pick the right people for your Strategic Team.

The Chicken or the Egg?

Philosophical Dilemma: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Evidently the age-old question has finally been solved. Ironically, the solution British scientists have come up with supports creation pretty well! If you are into poultry philosophy, fell free to check out the article here.

Leadership Dilemma: Which came first, the strategic plan or the strategic team?

Most of the business and ministry world would likely have answered this question with, ‘the strategic plan’. After all, doesn’t it make sense that we determine where we want to go, what our vision is, and THEN pull together a team of people to implement that vision? I would have thought so myself until I read the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins (I recommend this book!). Listen to what Jim had to say about great leaders:

“We expected that good-to-great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it. The old adage, ‘People are your most important asset’ turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Being Spiritual

George Washington’s Prayer at Valley Forge

I spent the last month focusing almost solely on “Being Strategic”.

What about “Being Spiritual?” Where does God fit into the mix? Important question. The answer to that question will ultimately determine “the path” you take in all of your plans. God has always been very clear that His purposes and His will are what we should be seeking, not ours.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purposes that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

“Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city the guards stand watch in vain.” Psalm 127:1

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3

Job gives us a great reminder that we should always remember to submit our plans, ideas, and dreams to the Lord. It’s vital that every step we take is God inspired and God ordained.

“Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Job 38:1-3

Here’s my challenge for you . . . . Pray. . . . Seek God. . . . Dedicate yourself to listening to His voice. . . . Fast.

Recently my pastor was speaking to our leadership team about prayer. We are gearing up right now for our second annual 21 day fast beginning in January. We’re calling it “Fast Forward 2011”. Check out some of these quotes from Pastor Josh’s message to us:

  • “Prayer is the single most resisted activity by the enemy.”
  • “Prayer is one of the highest forms of spiritual stewardship.”
  • “Jesus said, ‘Without me you can do nothing.'”
  • “Prayerlessness is not because of busy-ness, it’s because of pride.”
  • “Prayer is the ultimate surrender.”

Being Strategic

The last couple of weeks I’ve walked through a blog series called “A Guest Experience.” If you followed along at all you discovered that I was using a unique strategic process to solve a problem in the context of the church environment. I’ve said many times to my colleagues and friends that I wish I had this book available to me many years ago.

That said, I’d like to give credit where it is rightfully due.

Erika Andersen is a business thinker and the author of the book “Being Strategic“. Nearly all of the ideas and methods I have introduced in my most recent blog series are directly from that book. There is a lot more in the book I haven’t talked about. Being strategic with groups, building a culture of strategic thinking and the art of facilitating meetings are a few.

I highly recommend this book to you. You can pick up a copy right here at Amazon.com.

You may also go to Erika Andersen’s website to learn more about her at erikaandersen.com or visit her blog at Forbes.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Favorite Articles from 2010

Following is the byproduct of some of my reading this fall. I’m an avid reader of some great blogs. You can check out what blogs I frequent and recommend by clicking on “Fav Blogs” above. At any rate, I strongly urge you to bookmark this page and check out some of these great articles when you get the chance. I know you’ll be stretched and challenged! I was!

The Rule of Three: How to Have an Abundance of Volunteers – by Nelson Searcy


What Does it Take to Lead a Turnaround Church – by Dr. Donald E. Ross (guest blogger)


The Power of Syncby Seth Godin


The Small Things Ignoredby Craig Groeschel


Alienating the 2%by Seth Godin
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