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Get More From Your Time; Stop Casting Vision As A Leader

Casting vision is a waste of time.001I have decided that casting vision is a big waste of time.  And, I don’t want people on my team doing it anymore.

A couple weeks ago I took my son fishing for the first time.  He’s three and half and was very excited to go.  We got our gear ready, hunted for worms and found a snake first, but eventually got us some worms.  We headed to the lake, found a bench and got down to business.

Not being one who wanted to just watch the bobber, he slowly reeled in after every cast.  Which means I spent a lot of time casting.

Later that night, I was reflecting first on how awesome it was to experience that 5 minutes of fishing with my son.  I mean, he’s three, after five minutes it was more about the turtles and birds that could be seen rather than the hidden fish.  But slowly my mind wondered to what illustrations and lessons I could catalog in Evernote to later retrieve for blog posts, sermons or public speaking events.

My mind landed on casting vision, and slowly I realized that a lot of leaders, including myself, get this all wrong.  I think it’s because of the picture the word “cast” or “casting” creates in their mind.

There are two primary definitions of the word “cast” as a verb.

  1. throw something forcefully in a specified direction.
  2. cause light or shadow to appear on a surface.

I don’t know who first coined the phrase “cast vision”, but I bet they didn’t mean….”toss out a picture of a preferred future and hope someone picks it up.”  I have a feeling they meant, “paint a picture in such a way that those who see it stop in their tracks and consider themselves waking as a character in your painting as they help carry more light into dark places.”

Many leaders today think adding a quick note or statement about the “why” behind an action is vision casting.  Why is not vision.  Why is our purpose for doing.  Vision is the picture of a magnetic future that attracts others to leverage their time, talent, and treasure to turn the painting into reality.

From now on, in my teams, we will no longer cast vision.  Instead, we will share our vision and we will share it all the time.

For today, I want to focus on the language we use.

Here’s some wording to help move from vision casting to vision sharing.  These statements work in one-on-one conversations, print media or public announcements.

  1. Imagine what your life would be like if someone “did this” for you.
  2. If “this thing” happened in your life, how would you describe it to your friends?
  3. Who do you know who would benefit from this?
  4. When I first experienced this, it moved me from “there” to “here”.
  5. The people who contributed to this said they did so because…..

Here’s a concrete example from the church world and announcements.

Vision casting:

If you tithe or give here on a regularly basis, we want to say thanks for being part of what God is doing here by helping support the efforts behind our food pantry.  Last month 50 families got the food they so deperatly needed.  This is a need we are blessed to be able to to fill in our community becasue you are a generous church.

Vision Sharing:

Imagine for moment you have no idea where you are going to get food for your or your family next week?  You haven’t wasted your money, there’s just not enough available to pay the rent, fix the car, and buy food.  Imagine walking into our food pantry were you are treated with respect and dignity, where you find nonjudgemental help with no strings attached.  That’s what happned last month to 50 families in our community because of the work we can do together by the sharing of our time, talent and treasure in providing a food pantry that goes beyond handing out food.  It builds people up.

Beyond announcements and statements, there are numerous other things that must happen to share vision.  I’ll be writing more about those coming up.  Join my email list to be in the know when those resources are available.

 

The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make In Delegation (Learn To Delegate Like A Pro)

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.

How to delegate to my team.

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.

  1. Identity the next action step required.
  2. Decide the best equipped person to handle the action step.
  3. Assign it to them.
  4. 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.).
  5. Followup with the person when the action step requires it depending on difficulty, due date, etc.

Pretty simple.

 

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.

 

 

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.

Help Your Kids Build Character That Measures Up

“Come on boys, get cleaned up. I’m taking you for ice cream.”Helping With Character Development in Kids

My brother and I looked at each other in total disbelief. We ran down to the house faster than we ever had before. “Really? Why?” we asked our dad.

“Your mom just told me that the two of you have behaved all day. I’m proud of you.”

I don’t remember what I ordered, or what we even talked about while eating our ice cream. I don’t remember what clothes we had on or what vehicle we went in. I do remember vividly my dad saying, “I’m proud of you.” And, I remember the reason for the reward.

Parenting is a balancing act. And, it’s a tough job.

Let’s say you walk into the living room after hearing a large crash. You discover your two kids standing there unhurt with a broken lamp on the floor beside them. “What happened?” you ask. Now, your kids have a choice; lie or tell the truth.

“An alien came through the window and smashed the lamp.” or
“We knocked it over and it broke.”

Let’s say your kids tell the truth about knocking it over. So you ask, “How did it get knocked over?”

“We were tossing the ball back and forth.” they reply.

“You know you’re not suppose to be doing that, go to your room.”

Now, let’s fast forward a week. You discover your kids have done something else they knew they shouldn’t have. You ask…”what happened?” At some point, your kids are going to lie to you. Why? They don’t want to get in trouble. That’s just human nature.

But, let’s go back a week to the broken lamp. What if your reply had been something like this.

“How many times have I told you you aren’t suppose to be playing ball in the house? You are going to be punished for this. But, I also want you to know I’m proud of you for telling the truth. Telling the truth is what’s most important here. It doesn’t get you off the hock, but it does help it so your punishment won’t be as bad.”

Now, kids being kids and all…the next time they may still lie. But, they have a much greater chance of telling the truth. Especially if you repeatedly point out the times they tell the truth. After all, what gets repeated gets remembered. And, what get’s reward gets repeated.

But parenting is tough, it’s hard to always remember to highlight the positive. Especially when you are tired or upset that your kids did something they knew they shouldn’t have. What if you had a visual reminder…for you and for them.

What’s hanging on your walls or fridge right now? Are they things you are proud of? Probably. What about your kids artwork, trophies or awards? I want to introduce you to a new tool to display your kid’s positive character decisions.

The Character Growth Chart.SONY DSC

Let’s return to the above broken lamp example for just a moment.

“How many times have I told you you aren’t suppose to be playing ball in the house? You are going to be punished for this. But, I also want you to know I’m proud of you for telling the truth. Telling the truth is what’s most important here. It doesn’t get you off the hock, but does help it so your punishment won’t be as bad. In fact, come here a second.” You and your kids go to the Character Growth Chart. You have them stand with their back against it, mark their height and write something like this…. “Rilee told the truth when she broke a lamp.”

WOW, what a powerful moment this could be for your kids. You can’t…and probably shouldn’t….give ice cream every time thy tell the truth. You probable won’t use the Character Growth Chart every time they display a character trait you want to reinforce. But the times you do use it, will be a big moment for your kids. Plus, when people come over to your place and see the accomplishments displayed, you and they can brag on your kids a bit. Another reinforcement of a positive choice.Character Growth Chart, Helping Parents Teach Character To Their Children

Why is this important for your family?  You are trying to instill character over anything else in your kids. After all, your kids character will determine the decisions they make when you aren’t with them. (tweet that)

If you want this powerful tool to use with your kids or grandkids, you can order one of the handmade Character Growth Charts for only $65 (includes shipping and tax). $65 for a tool to impact the lives of your kids forever.  Click Here for our secure order form, or ask questions in the comments.

LET’S TALK:

  • What do you think about the idea of a Character Growth Chart?
  • What do you do to help build your kid’s character?

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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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

THE IDEA:

Hand Out Jelly Donuts Every Day

TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:

  • 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?

WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW:

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

RELATED POST:

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. 

 

 

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