Over 35 years of leadership and since 1998 professionally coaching leaders and executives, I have seen far too many poorly thought through decisions made around agreeing to serve. Agreeing to take on added responsibility, particularly if you are already busy, has major consequences. It impacts time, energy and focus. Ultimately it impacts whether or not true priorities are actually achieved.
Oftentimes Christian leaders and volunteers find themselves serving in areas and in ways that really don’t reflect who they are or how God has prepared them. I was really helped in this area by a book Bobb Biehl wrote, titled Increasing Your Boardroom Confidence. In it he had 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Agreeing to Serve on a Board. He had several other lists and I used every one of them with great benefit.
Over the years I modified and developed my own list of questions based on this book, to ask those many leaders and volunteers who I bore some responsibility for. They weren’t always considering working on a board, but they were considering and being considered for some important service for the Lord. I did not wish them to assume responsibility without taking the time to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider these 14 questions.
If you are being asked to assume a new task, take the time to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write out the answers to these questions for yourself. That way you will be very intentional in your thinking and writing it out will capture your thoughts concisely. This will enable you to make a better decision and reflect on what you need to do next as you make yourself available to serve the Lord. With thanks to Bobb Biehl, here’s my list.
1. What expectations are there of me in this position? From whom?
2. What are my three biggest assumptions about this task? Are they true?
3. Am I really committed to this cause and the people it represents?
4. Do I have confidence in the senior leadership and feel I can support them?
5. Can I make the time for this leadership responsibility without creating excessive stress?
6. Do I and my spouse agree about this decision?
7. Leadership issues take discernment. Am I a discerning person and can I improve that competency?
8. Do I have any hidden agenda that could sabotage meetings or others on my team?
9. Are there any continuing things in my life that if people knew about them would disqualify me from serving?
10. Are there relationships or situations I should clean up before serving in this responsible position?
11. Am I a good team player or do I generally want my own way?
12. How have I been prepared for this task? Experience, skills, interests?
13. What is being said to me about this decision? Faith, family, friends, mentors etc.?
14. To what degree am I willing to change so that I can make a more effective contribution?
Print them out. Keep them handy. Use them. A lot of challenges in Christian service could be eliminated if an exercise such as this would be used.
Helping Leaders and Executives Beat Burnout
By MartinSawdon On May 18, 2011 No Comments
GR had only two modes of operation in his interpersonal relationships at work. One was so thick and treacly it provoked nausea. The other was cutting and vicious. Was this a happy place to work and did it inspire committed, enthusiastic and innovative staff?
On the other hand, Josh, a rescue team leader of integrity and humour, was straightforward and slow to anger but quickly responsive to issues as they arose. If Josh asked the team to go through fire they would do so with a song on their lips and smiles on their faces.Was this a good experience for the team’s members ? Certainly! Did it encourage innovation, participation, commitment and a desire to be better? You bet !
I have experienced both environments and can tell you where I was happier and which I preferred!…………and yes, the names have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent.
For many, the quality of the workplace experience is very much a function of relationships. Whether we enjoy going to work depends on whether we have buddies there and how well we are treated by peers, supervisors and subordinates.
But who would have thought that there is a direct connection between the quality of our relationships at work and productivity, profitability, staff retention and customer loyalty? Yes, folks, that is what the research says, it’s the soft skills which make the difference and no longer is there an excuse for those of a strictly bean-counting persuasion to deny it.
The jury has now returned its verdict many times over. If you are looking for superior profitability, productivity, staff retention and customer loyalty then your first step is to figure out how to create a corporate culture which nurtures people and their relationships.
What does this look like? Start by looking for opportunities to express appreciation of your staff and do so! Start by ensuring everyone understands what it is they are expected to achieve. Start by looking at your vision, your mission and your values and determining whether they are understood, whether they inspire, to what extent they remain relevant and are incorporated in the day to day activities of your people.
………And start doing this today!
Martin is a Christian Coaches Network Member Coach
By MartinSawdon On May 12, 2011 No Comments
So many companies today have been downsized without comprehending the long term implications for ongoing corporate success or even survival for those left behind with vastly increased workloads and for those simply left out.
Ensure that your company is more than a survivor but a leader, a model of continuing high profitability and inspired staff.
1. Spend your time on the big picture and delegate everything else to incredibly capable subordinates. Be a visionary, develop your intuition and creativity, read the runes, anticipate product and service cycles to ensure your company’s economic future is always bright.
2. Have a well developed corporate mission and vision expressed around ethical values. Ensure that these are embraced, practiced and spread by all your people, particularly executives, managers and supervisors, to permeate the whole corporation. Help those unwilling to wholeheartedly endorse and practice your company’s expectations find employment elsewhere.
3. Have all your executives, managers and supervisors trained as coaches or work with their own coach. In today’s workplace there is no longer time for the traditional, overseeing model of management. With downsizing and a shrinking management structure, more and more people are supervising others in different professional disciplines. Coaching provides the tools to deal with this and ensures that your employees continue growing as individuals, both personally and professionally.
4. Know the amount of work to be done monthly in your company, and the number of people necessary to do it and hire them – the best! In today’s economy many companies have been downsized by the bean-counting model, leaving insufficient staff resources for the amount of work to be done, let alone done well. When the staff:work ratio is right your people will rise to the extraordinary challenge every time, without burning out – but every day is too often!
5. Tell the truth. Increasingly we hear, for example, the importance of family life being acknowledged in the workplace. In those same places where family values and the importance of life outside of work are being touted, days of 12 hours or more, 6 days per week, remain the norm. Is there a contradiction here? Tell the truth in this and every other respect.
6. Acknowledge your staff. Endorsing your people’s achievements person by person may be the best investment of your time you will ever make. For many, acknowledgment is a need, one they cannot be their best without … and if that is not enough motivation, we read that for many, acknowledgment is as important as a raise.
7. Actively promote team building. Teams have to be built at every level – shopfloor, through departments to senior management and board of directors. The strongest structures are round. If we imagine our organization as a circle of metal loops welded together, then its strength depends equally on each link and the welded connection between them. The links may be strong but the structure still falls when the welds fail. Ensure that everyone on your team is pulling in the same direction. This means exchanging information freely and being unfettered by interdepartmental or interdisciplinary protectionism. Help anyone who is unwilling to participate with enthusiasm join someone else’s team, somewhere else.
8. When something goes wrong, start by assuming the best. When something does go wrong (rarely, we know!) how often do we jump into the fray, pounding the desk, frothing at the mouth and shouting to know who is responsible for this incredible incompetence? … only to discover that at best it was something we had not trained our staff to handle, at worst, something we had said which was ambiguous. Assume the best, honour your people and avoid embarrassing yourself!
9. Pay fairly. Pay is only one of many factors contributing to the sustainable workplace. Your company does not need to pay top dollar but it must pay a fair dollar. What is the range of compensation for this type of work and what else contributes to making your company one of the Top Ten best employers?
10. Be a responsible corporate citizen. Some employees will love you for it, others will have no interest at all, but do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do and it comes with advantages which you will recognize.