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Maybe You Are The Problem With Your Team (Learn To Stay Out of the Way)

The topic of leadership has been on my mind a lot lately.  Specifically as it relates to the workplace.  The summer staff is about to move into camp for summer 2014.  The year round staff is doing an amazing job getting everything ready.  And I am realizing just how much I need to stay out of the way.  As a leader, how often do you think about the fact you could be in the way of your team?


What's wrong with your team might be you. Confessions of a leader


It’s a strange idea to think about in leadership.


The imagery of leadership being the person “out front” of the team leading the charge is appropriate.  As a leader, we should be “out front”.  But, this means you need to keep moving forward.  If you stop moving forward or start moving sideways into areas that don’t matter; your team will have to also stop, run you over or follow you off track.  And, getting the team AND yourself back on track is a lot harder than just yourself.


What should a leader do?


Ask yourself (and your team) am I in the way?  If the answer is ever yes (or if your team hesitates) GET MOVING!!!


Here are a couple ideas to keep you moving forward in your leadership:


  1. Review your vision and mission for the organization everyday.  Seriously, everyday.  You need to keep on track.  Leadership’s key function is keeping the vision and mission front and center.
  2. Plan a new way to cast the vision to your team every 14 days.  This will keep you thinking about the vision and keep it in front of your team as well.
  3. Read.  Read books, trade journals, blogs (especially this one), READ!!!  Find relevant stuff to read about your industry, about leadership, about your strengths.  Not just stuff you agree with, but stuff that also makes you defend your believes…how knows…you might find yourself with a new opinion on an old problem.
  4. Listen.  Listen to your team (in fact, you should be asking each of your direct reports every single week how they are doing, what they are doing and what would help them do it better and/or faster.  Then, if you are any good at leadership, you’ll followup and actually provide them the help when possible)  Listen to podcast about your industry or leadership.  Listen to the news if your industry is trending there.  Listen to outside advisors.  Listen to your customers, owners, beneficiaries, board, etc.  Listen to your gut.  Listen for God to guide you.
  5. Mastermind.  Being in a mastermind group has had the single greatest impact on me over anything I’ve done yet.


What do you know?


What’s your favorite blog or podcast on leadership?  What would you add to this of five above? (let me know and I might add it) Would you listen to a 5 minute daily blog focused solely on leadership?  Email me or comment on this post.

How To Approach People (This Works Every Time)

It’s an honor to share a guest post today from a great guy; Brett Faris starter of  Before discovering his site, I thought I was losing my passion or was just totally stressed out.  Turns out, my passion was simply being overpowered by burnout.  I didn’t know the difference between stress and burnout; now I do.  Regardless of where you lead; you can benefit like I have from Brett’s content.  After reading and commenting on this post here; sign up over at FeedLeaders for encouragement like none you’ve ever received.


How to approach people.


A Challenge Of Many Leaders:


If you are in ministry, you have to be comfortable meeting new people. Approaching new people is a major win in ministry because if you don’t meet new people how are you going to reach people?

If you are like me, approaching people doesn’t come easy. I’m a mix of introvert and extrovert. Part of me is shy and reserved while another part of me is friendly and outgoing. What about you?

What I have found is once I meet someone I have no problem engaging in conversation and getting to know someone. However the initial walk across the room to introduce myself doesn’t come easy.

So how do you approach people in a way that works every time giving you the best chance to make the walk across the room and connect with someone new?

Never approach someone out of obligation but solely out of opportunity.


Yet Another Life Lesson From Camp:


My greatest lessons in how to approach people I learned during my time at Camp Barnabas. Camp Barnabas is a camp for kids with special needs where I took groups of high school students to serve during summer mission trips.

The staff at Camp Barnabas were geniuses at how they gave people a chance to meet for the first time. At Camp Barnabas they pair up one student with one camper then ask the student to spend 23 hours a day for six days to help the camper have the greatest week of their life. Needless to say the first meeting is important!

So what does Camp Barnabas do that makes approaching people you haven’t met before an incredible experience?

At Camp Barnabas they make meeting people for the first time fun and meaningful.

Watch this clip of the volunteers waiting to meet their camper who are introduced one by one. In this clip we go from making noise to using “spirit fingers” because the camper who was being introduced next was deaf and autistic.

Next time you walk across the room to meet someone new here are three ideas to help shift your mindset to ensure it becomes a great experience.

Three Ideas:


FIRST: See approaching new people as an OPPORTUNITY instead of an OBLIGATION.

At Camp Barnabas meeting your camper was an opportunity for something great to happen in your life. They made meeting the campers such an exciting and memorable experience that we couldn’t wait to meet the campers for the first time.

As Church Leaders we have to carry the same mindset. On Sunday when new people walk through your doors never approach them out of obligation. Instead approach them out of opportunity. The moment you walk towards them out of obligation you ruin any chance for good to come from your encounter.

THEN: Understand everyone is UNIQUE and not the SAME.

Camp Barnabas understood that everyone is unique. They understood some kids were loud and ready to go while other kids needed quiet and time to adjust.

All people are unique and not the same. When you approach new people it is important to take this into consideration. Focus on body language. Be attentive to their social cues. Don’t focus on a script but enjoy the moment for what it brings.

You will do yourself and the people you meet for the first time a great service if you approach every new encounter as a new experience to enjoy.

FINALLY: Find ways to IMPACT them but also allow yourself to be IMPACTED by them.
At Camp Barnabas not only did we impact the campers but the campers impacted us. All of us went to Camp Barnabas believing that we were the ones who would be making the impact however in the end we found they were the ones who impacted us.

As Church Leaders we have to approach people with the hope to impact them. Encourage people. Pray for them if it is fitting. Introduce them to a key volunteer. Do something to add value to their life however small it may be. However don’t let it be a one-way street because God will use other people to impact you Brett.

This is the great exchange of all relationships that God will use you to impact other people while He will use other people to impact you.

One of the greatest things we can do as Church Leaders is welcome new people into our churches with effort and love. As you approach new people consider these three simple ideas that will help shift your mindset to make your first encounter fun and meaningful.

(This post first appeared on and is being reposted here with permission)

Stay encouraged,


Sign up for his free book at

Check Out Brett's Free eBook!

Check Out Brett’s Free eBook!



What has worked for you when meeting new people?  What are your thoughts on Brett’s guest post today?




Leadership Isn’t About Getting It Right…

So many leaders think that leadership is about being right.

I get that.  Who like’s being wrong?

But true leadership is about making adjustments.

When I first launched I thought for sure I’d only be doing workplace leadership.  Then, I started to dabble in family leadership.  Then, I added some videos about marriage.  In a short period of 1 year; I lost the vision and drifted right into complexity.

Now that my wife and I have our speaking, writing and membership site going all around being Family Life Consultants.  Now that my day job is busier than ever.  Now that my kids need more of my time.  Now that my marriage is such a priority that I need and want to feed it.  Now that; this and that.  I need clear vision more than ever.

I need to be as productive as I can with every moment I’m working.  I need to be focused on the things that get the greatest results.  (Come on, some of this has to be hitting home for you.)

So, I will use as my vehicle for capturing my workflow, training our virtual assistants, experimenting with technologies, and more.  I’ll clarify my thinking about leadership as I write out plans and training materials here as blog posts.  I’ll learn from your comments.  As a community we will learn and grow together.

Now, you know.

Why and How To Lead With Grace


Leading can be messy.

Leading can be exhausting.

Leading can be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

There are so many opinions on what “THE KEY” to being a great leader is.

Frankly, there isn’t one. Leadership is the high school janitor’s giant ring of keys. Leadership is complex and multifaceted.

Image courtesy of graur codrin at

Image courtesy of graur codrin at

With that image in mind. We now have this questions. “What is the key ring?”

What’s the thing that keeps all of the keys of successful leadership held together?

I believe the key ring of leadership is Grace.

Let’s define Grace. If you are speeding down the highway and get pulled over, here is what could happen.

  1. You get a ticket. This is because you are under the law and your ticket is justice, and what you deserve.
  2. You get a warning. This is forgiveness. The cop could have given you the ticket, but decides to be forgiving.
  3. The cop walks up to your window and gives you a jelly donut. You are getting something you don’t deserve for being in the wrong, this is Grace. (Just a side note to my fellow believers of Christ…consider this analogy for a moment in your relationship with God. Powerful to consider God gives us jelly donuts everyday.)

When’s the last time you extended Grace to someone you lead?
How are you going above and beyond the expectations of those you lead?

Don’t you want Grace extended to you? My marriage wouldn’t be what it is if my wife and I didn’t exchange Grace regularly. My relationship with my children…same thing. My team at work, ditto.

Now, before someone comments that, “but sometimes you don’t have a choice. As a leader a time will come when you have to fire someone.” True. But do it with Grace. Make sure you really know the whole story first. I’ve never fired anyone who was surprised. Everyone is gifted and capable at doing the right work, But if you judge a tree for it’s ability to have empathy and walk with an upset costumer towards a resolution, you’ll end up with the a big pile of wood chips and no oxygen.


Hand Out Jelly Donuts Every Day


  • Look for new ways to develop the skills of your team.
  • React to screw ups by working with them to fix it.
  • Overreact to right decisions and under-react to mistakes.
  • Get out of your office every day and be present with your team.
  • When you think you have given enough, you have almost started giving enough.
  • Remember, what gets rewarded gets repeated.
  • Create a great environment by getting the wrong people off the team.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Consider a situation you are facing. What will the jelly donut look like?


Question: What other tips do you have to lead with Grace? Where do you disagree with me in this analogy of Leadership? What do you believe the key ring is?  I’d appreciate your thoughts, please comment. 



9 Ideas To Prevent Mid Summer Blues In Your Camp Staff

If you are a camp director, you’ve probable heard the term; “mid-summer-blues”.


Mid-summer-blues is that funk that your staff get’s in part way into summer camp.

Mid-summer-blues can cause staff to get complacent. And complacent staff can lead to more:

  • homesick campers,
  • preventable injuries,
  • bored campers,
  • a decrease in meeting the camp’s mission and
  • other negative consequences.

Not to mention, staff who want to quit.

In the last several summers, we’ve kicked mid-summer-blues out the gate. Here are some keys to keeping mid-summer-blues out of your camp’s culture.


  1. Talk about it during staff orientation. Put your staff on the lookout for it. Empower them to prevent it.
  2. Talk about the vision, a lot. Keep your team inspired by talking about the “win” every day. Overreact to victories and under-react to setbacks. (I’m blushing, but yes you can click here to tweet that)
  3. Keep crazy out of camp. Be ridiculously cautious hiring staff. Hire character over anything else.
  4. Drama as a camp activity is great. Drama as a staff pastime is not great. Kill drama by making gossip a fireable offense.
  5. Have staff small groups. Everyday for 30 minutes our staff have a small group Bible study with 3 or 4 other staff. These times of day give staff time to step away, work on themselves, recenter, reconnect and be reenergized. Half of our staff small groups meet during morning watch and the other half meet during vespers.
  6. Require everyone to have a one-on-one with their supervisor every week.
  7. A few weeks into camp, introduce a staff only competition. We call it, Battle Staff Galactica. It’s a series of games including a rock-paper-scissors bracket playoff, sing-offs, costume contest, etc. Some games happen before campers arrive on Sunday…basketball, volleyball, gaga ball, etc. Others happen with campers as the cheering squad. For example, staff have to dress up like someone else on staff…the campers vote on the best during a meal. Just caution the staff to keep camp focused on the camper. Have a primary supervisor who can keep a “campers-first” mindset run the games. Only play one a day or every other day. Don’t keep a running score, the idea isn’t to win a big prize, the idea is to keep fun and the excitement of camp alive in your staff.
  8. Change things up. Have a random ice-cream party that nobody knows about except the director. Just spring it on all of camp one evening.
  9. Use the Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. Showing appreciation to each person in a way unique to them is huge. In fact, this is the single greatest contributor to our success at kicking mid-summer-blues out of the gate.
  10. ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Read The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.
  • Choose one of your returning summer staff, contact them and ask them if they want to start planning Battle Staff Galactica for your team.
  • Please comment your thoughts and ideas below.  What’s worked for you to increase staff moral?
  • If you found this helpful, please share it, I’d be very grateful.

How To Be Understood Better By Everyone

This is one of the workshop topics we cover in training our summer camp supervisors.

In fact we cover it with our camp counselors before they work with kids.

And, my wife and I talked and practiced this before we got married.

In fact, I first learned about it reading a parenting book.

This post is a trifecta for my blog. Three of the most common things I write about our marriage, parenting and workplace leadership. This is one of those, Leadership Happens Everywhere kinds of post.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

Unintentional Covert Messages.

I see three things that mostly effect communication.

  • The words we use,
  • The body language we use,
  • The filters the other person uses to process what we’ve said. These are built on previous life experience.

For the remainder of this post, I want to focus on the words we use.

I used to believe that it wasn’t my responsibility if I accidentally offended someone. But, are people not responsible for car accidents?   I accidentally pushed my brother through an open window when we were kids. I can assure you that my mom held me responsible.  Side note: my brother has reflexes like a cat and caught himself before falling from that second floor window. I believe I deserve the credit for his reflexes by running him through training drills like the window when we were younger. My mom still disagrees.

It’s time to be responsible for our part of clear communication.  

Here are three examples of unintentional covert messages.


Wife says; “You didn’t do that the way I asked you to.”

Husband hears, “I don’t believe in you, I think you must be stupid.”

Husband becomes defensive.


Parent says, “Do I need to remind you again tomorrow to remember your lunch for school?”

Kid hears, “I don’t believe you are smart enough to remember things on your own.”

Kids start to think, if you don’t believe in them: why even try.


Leader says, “Does that make sense to you?”

The team hears, “I don’t think you are smart enough to understand me.”

The team starts thinking, “My boss must think I’m stupid. I’m never getting a promotion or credit for anything.”

Here are three ways to consider rewording the above examples.

Wife, “I see you did it different then I suggested.” The husband can reply with “yep.” They are now free to continue a conversation.

Parent, “How are you planning to remember your lunch tomorrow?” The kid is now empowered and knows you believe in them.

Leader, “What do you see that I’m missing or not explaining well?” The team realizes they work for someone who thinks they are intelligent and values their opinion.


Nobody cares what you said, they want to know what you meant.


  • Identify what wording is in your current vocabulary that needs to go. For me, it’s “Does that make sense to you?”
  • Ask yourself. “If I say this, does it only say what I want it to?” “How can I make this statement positive and uplifting for others?”
  • Identity things others say that annoy or bother you. Do you say them?
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Think about the last conversation with your spouse, child or a person at work. Did you unintentionally “say” something you didn’t mean to?
  • Ask someone you’ve built a bridge strong enough to bare the weight of truth with if you have anything you say or do that is hurtful and you aren’t aware of it.


  • If you are on the other end of conversation like this, speak up. Say, “I know you just said “xyz” but what I heard was “Lmnop”.”


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