I hate wasting time. I think most people do. That’s why far too often people leave staff meetings frustrated.
There are too many meetings where time is being wasted by teams debating between two choices in trying to make a decision.
Besides the typical culprits of bad meeting management, I propose that teams to often narrow their decision options between only two options.
While leading at a summer camp, a few issue I can remember debating for long periods of time while weighing only two options include:
- Option 1: Fire the person even though there was only 10 days left on their contract for the summer.
- Option 2: Don’t fire them.
- Option 1: Purchase the land even though is more then you need or could comfortably afford.
- Option 2: Don’t purchase the land.
- Option 1: Have the keynote speaker open and close the event which is what normally happens at this retreat.
- Option 2: Have the Keynote Speaker only open or close the event.
But, time and time again, I’ve noticed that when my favorite little leadership axiom is employed, a much more creative and wise decision is eventually reached.
Consider the 3rd option.
When I would realize we hadn’t yet talked about a 3rd option, I would call the team’s attention to the axiom. And then, we had the freedom to think outside the box we had placed ourselves into.
For example, here the solutions that worked for us from the above debates.
- Suspend the person for a week without pay. This allowed them enjoy the end of season adjourning experience with the rest of the camp staff but still upheld the integrity of the organizations policies.
- Went to the seller and asked them to divide up the property to the portion we needed.
- Have two Keynote Speakers. One to open, and one to close.
Next time you are leading or participating in a meeting, and the team seems locked into choosing one of two options, put some energy into finding the 3rd option.
It can take time to get ideas flowing from people, but once you give your team freedom to think creatively, you might be surprised by what they come up with.
The 3rd option has resulted in the vast majority of decisions and programs that people rave about at the camp as being “genius”. Or, people would say to us; “how do you all come up with this stuff?”
In fact, now I refuse to make a decision unless we have explored at least the 3rd option…sometime more.
Give it a try. Avoid the pitfall thinking of…
- “If my team improves on my initial idea, someone will loose confidence in me.”
- “A leader’s job is to make the tough call and make it fast. I don’t have to explore the 3rd option.”
- “There is no 3rd option here.”
Now, there have been times the 3rd options have been lame. But, the vast majority of the time…the 3rd option takes us to the next level.
By the way, have you read Axiom by Bill Hybels? Great leadership book. An absolute must read for anyone series about leadership.
- List a couple decision you are trying to make right now where you don’t feel you have a 3rd option. Come up with a few 3rd options for each decision area.
- Let your team know that from now on, you want three options to consider on all decision.
- Talk to your spouse about the 3rd option axiom when setting up your next date night or in a parenting decision you are wrestling with.
What is your favorite leadership axiom?
As a leader, some of our key responsibilities include:
- Protect the organizational culture.
- Cast and recast the vision.
- Lead from tomorrow to today.
- Set the example of leadership that should be replicated at all levels in the organization.
- Be the public image of the brand.
- ?? What would you add, email me or comment on this article.
In today’s article, let’s focus on our responsibility to “recast the vision”. Or, put another way, repeating ourselves.
Leaders are Repeaters.
As the leader we need to make sure the vision is easy for everyone to see and then we need to keep it in front of the organization.
We need to repeat our vision in various ways on a regular basis. Here are just a few reasons this is so important:
- What get’s repeated get’s remembered.
- People need to be exposed to the same information multiple times before they believe it.
- Organizations and people drift over time.
- Without clear direction, other leaders will be head off in the wrong direction.
Tips and Suggestion
- Have a quarterly award for the team member who exemplifies the vision. You can call this; The Quarterly.
- Have a company radio station and interview people once per week. You can also choose everything else that plays. You can setup a radio station for about $750 that will transmit for up to 1 mile. No FCC regulations are involved if you keep the power under a specific amount. (You can do this with a company podcast as well. I highly recommend Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting if you need help getting a podcast up and running.)
- Start a blog. Write once per week about some aspect of your organizations mission and/or vision A blog by the leader for his/her team is a great way to share ideas, record your best thinking, train new team members, recast the vision and unify the organization around a central theme. If you send emails out, these are lost after the first send. Newly hired staff don’t get the benefit from old emails. (Need a quick start guide to help you get a blog up and running, email me. I’ll guide you step by step in setting up your blog, or do it for you.)
- Have a monthly newsletter. Call it, the Vision and ensure that it goes to every employee. Write about success stories of your vision being delivered. (Better yet, do this in your leadership blog.)
- Have breakfast. Take two employees out to breakfast once per month. Talk with them about their lives and how they feel about the vision. The will become ambassadors of your vision for their coworkers. Plus, you’ll be better connected to your team. You may discover hidden talents and passions that can benefit the organization, or a new sailing partner. Don’t be afraid to be friends with the people on the team.
Action Steps You Can Take Right Now:
- Send an email to two employees inviting them to breakfast. (Or, send an email to your assistant and ask them to make the arrangements. But, just between us, it’s more personal and effective if you do it yourself.)
- Email me about starting a leadership blog.
- Place a note on your calendar for the first Monday of every month to “Celebrate The Vision”. The schedule a task as soon as possible to brainstorm what this will look like for your organization.
- Repeat the vision to the next team member you see in a unique way.
What Do You Think?
Email me or comment on this article to share your favorite way to recast the vision for your team.
I recently took my team to Leadercast 2014. During our lunch break I was asking everyone on our team what their greatest takeaway from the morning was. Our 20 year old program director, Meredith, floored me with her response. I realized that I had learned the same lesson after years of struggling with delegation. However, she picked up on it and put words to my greatest challenge with delegation in a few hours. I learned a lot at Leadercast, but I didn’t expect this lesson on how to delegate tasks.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Back to my conversation with Meredith.
Me to Meredith; “What’s your greatest takeaway so far?”
Meredith; “I’m good at delegating tasks. I’m terrible at delegating decisions.”
And there it was my friend. I realized I had mastered task delegations years ago. In fact, pretty quick into my leadership journey I had delegating tasks down.
- Identity the next action step required.
- Decide the best equipped person to handle the action step.
- Assign it to them.
- Record the assignment in whatever task management system I was using at the time. (I’m now 100% on Nozbe and loving it thanks to Jackie Bledsoe Jr.).
- Followup with the person when the action step requires it depending on difficulty, due date, etc.
But, I never felt like I was getting ahead.
How about you? Do you feel more or less free to dream about the vision of your organization and how to reach it as you delegate more and more? I for one was always confused. Why was I still so swamped when I had everything delegated out?
Enter Dave Ramsey book Entreleadership.
From Mr. Ramsey, I learned and use the 3 suggestions rule. (Actually, I only require 2.) The rule is this. When you bring me a problem, come with 3 (or 2) suggestion on how to fix it. After I’m presented the problem and the suggested solutions I decide on a course of action. I make sure the person knows why or why I’m not using one of their suggestions. Over time, I learn how my team thinks and they learn how to think like me when solving problems. After a few rounds of this, I can eventually say; “You no longer need to bring problems like this to me. I trust you to decide.”
Overall, this has been working great. And Meredith helped me see what I was actually doing in this process. I was delegating decisions.
When I would simply delegate task in the past without delegating the authority to make decisions….I was setting my team up to have to come back to me with questions. However, once I started passing on the responsibility to make decisions I started noticing more time in my day to focus on the things that only I can do.
With Dave Ramesy’s approach I am teaching my team how to make decisions. Thus, delegating decisions making when the team member is ready. Now that Meredith has helped me connect the dots, I’m going to be able to be even more intentional.
What I Have To Stop Doing.
I also had another light bulb moment. And, that lead to me apologizing to my team. Recently I would reply like this when asked about something I didn’t need to be involved in. “You decide, I don’t care.”
What I thought I was saying was this; “You can decide this. I trust you. I don’t need to care about this, because you have it covered.”
What I now realize I was covertly communicating. “You decide. I don’t care about small things like this. It’s such a small decision, it’s beneath me. You are only capable of handling this kind of small thing and I don’t care. Only bother me with the big important stuff.”
Not what I thought, felt nor meant. But the words we use matter.
Now, I will simply reply; “Thanks for asking. However, I trust you. I’d like for you to decide. I’ll support you whatever you decide.” And, after saying this a few times, I’ll just cut it down to; “You can decide this. I trust you.”
What About You? Do you delegate decisions as well as you delegate tasks?
What Do You Know?
I would appreciate any insight you can share on delegation in the comments or by sending me an email.
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?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
It’s an honor to share a guest post today from a great guy; Brett Faris starter of FeedLeaders.com. 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.
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.
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 FeedLeaders.com and is being reposted here with permission)
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What has worked for you when meeting new people? What are your thoughts on Brett’s guest post today?