I want to be surrounded by the broken and mended

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Have you ever screwed up in an ugly and public way? It sucks. If you have any shred of self awareness it eats you alive. You lose sleep…lots of sleep. The anxiety starts to build as it becomes clear that this is not going away until you engage it head on and humble yourself before any and all effected. As soon as you come clean and air it out, even though a list of consequences may await, you feel a tension release and a freedom that is powerful and brings you back to life.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is about as powerful of an interaction as two humans can have on this earth.

I’ve been there plenty of times and I know how these experiences have shaped me. I know I’m in good company when I’m around people who have walked these hallways.

3 Questions for Innovative Leaders

Moneyball

As usual, I’m the last person to see that movie everyone liked as I tend to shy away from movies with hype. I got around to seeing Money Ball last night and I have to say, as someone who doesn’t like baseball, it was, at minimum, a very entertaining movie.

As a leader and innovator I find myself instantly identifying with Billy Beane and Peter Brand in their struggle to change the way things are done.

Here’s three questions I find myself asking as a innovative leader:

Am I Surrounded By Traditionalists?

I was hooked when Billy sat at the table with his veteran scouts and they chatted him up on how they like this player and that player didn’t look like an athlete and Billy knew there had to be more to it than this. They were coming up with answers. They were good answers. They were the right answers.

The hardest realisation you come to as an innovator is when you realize you’re surrounded by people who have no idea what is around the next corner or they have other motives for maintaining the status quo (like keeping their jobs – which may have become irrelevant). It hurts and is lonely.

So take a look at the room; who is asking the right questions? Who is uninterested in the way things ‘have always been’ as they contemplate what might be a better way of doing things?

Am I Willing To Hand The Keys Over?

Billy Beane saw something in Peter Brand who was fresh out of college and had a new perspective on things. When a bright young innovator is given the room to try new things by someone who has real power, amazing things will happen.

Why wait until a young mind is polluted by a career or years of grinding it out in an organization, tap into their energy and ideas NOW before it’s too late and they’re just like everyone else. It’s not even about age, being willing to move vertically as well as laterally within your team can make room for people who might actually be better at some things than you.

Am I Willing to Take Risk?

Innovation does not come without risk, Billy was heading into uncharted waters and had to fight a lot of resistance along the way. His career was on the line.

If you can’t take a risk, then you’re not invited to the innovation party…plain and simple.

Bonus Question: Do I Want to Change the Game?

The thing that had me most excited was that Billy’s drive wasn’t just to win games or the world series…he wanted to change the game.

This isn’t for everybody but it struck a nerve with me because it’s exactly what drives me every day. I want to completely change the game in my industry and not simply grow my organization or climb up the ladder; I expect those to come naturally along the way. It may be the true sign of an innovative leader; in my case…well…we’ll see.

What questions do you ask as an innovating leader?

Teleseminar – Kicking it old school with Eric Bryant

Eric Bryant came on staff here at Gateway Church Austin at the beginning of the year and I do have to say; his disc golf game is really coming along.

Once a month he does a teleseminar with various leaders and innovators in ministry type spaces and he has invited me to contribute to that conversation this month. This is going down tomorrow at 1:00 PM central time.

Go here and offer Eric your first born and your email address to join in on the seminar.

Cultural Thermometer | prescription drugs

I’ve blogged in the past about the importance of church leaders taking the time to be current on issues and data that shine light on what our culture is like so that we can better meet the needs of our communities. Today WebMD published a list of the 10 most prescribed drugs in the US. I saw the link in my news reader and as I was clicking on it I was forming my hypothesis about what would be on it. I immediately had thoughts about ADD drugs and other¬†psycho inhibiters and/or anti depressants.
To tell you the truth I was kind of shocked upon seeing the list and the fact that drugs like that weren’t even in the top 10. Take a look:
  • Hydrocodone (combined with acetaminophen) — 131.2 million prescriptions
  • Generic Zocor (simvastatin), a cholesterol-lowering statin drug — 94.1 million prescriptions
  • Lisinopril (brand names include Prinivil and Zestril), a blood pressure drug — 87.4 million prescriptions
  • Generic Synthroid (levothyroxine sodium), synthetic thyroid hormone — 70.5 million prescriptions
  • Generic Norvasc (amlodipine besylate), an angina/blood pressure drug — 57.2 million prescriptions
  • Generic Prilosec (omeprazole), an antacid drug — 53.4 million prescriptions (does not include over-the-counter sales)
  • Azithromycin (brand names include Z-Pak and Zithromax), an antibiotic — 52.6 million prescriptions
  • Amoxicillin (various brand names), an antibiotic — 52.3 million prescriptions
  • Generic Glucophage (metformin), a diabetes drug — 48.3 million prescriptions
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (various brand names), a water pill used to lower blood pressure — 47.8 million prescriptions.

A quick read through that list and it’s pretty blaring what major need Americans have. Seven of the ten are drugs directly related too or closely tied to conditions that are a result of bad diet. Granted some of them are also¬†prescribed¬†to fairly healthy elderly people dealing with issues that are more hereditary.

I’m not a health expert by any means but it is important to me and what I do to have a pulse of the people I intend to effect change in.

What can the church do to make a difference in this area? Locally? Nationally?

But even more so; why hasn’t the church been doing anything up until now?

 

March Madness and Leadership

I’m a college hoops fan. I eagerly await selection Sunday even more than Christmast. I can’t wait to fill out my bracket. Over the last few years we have seen an unusual amount of upsets. Not just early round upsets low ranked teams going deep in the tourney. This week end an 11 seed will play an 8 seed in the national semi final which means that one of them will be in the national championship game. This seems so far fetched that on ESPN.com there is¬†literally¬†only one person who has the final four right on their bracket.

What has changed? Why are perennial favorites dropping to mid majors and school we hardly know of?

Blue chips and veterans

You know the schools; the ones with the hall of fame coach and the blue chip recruits. The schools that every kids grows up wanting to play for.

They have gotten comfortable with their game. They run the same offense year in and year out. It’s old and it’s stale.

Young, fresh and creative

You might know his name already, Skaka Smart. 33 years old. He’s creative and he sees the court in a different way than the crafty veterans that we have always known. And guess what…it’s working!

I’m 33. Most days I feel like I’m looked at as just a kid. It’s a bummer. I feel like I’m in my prime of creativity and I have to fight for a chance to use my gifts.

I was at SXSW a couple weeks ago and the thing that occurred to me is that the people with the vision, leadership and chops that are changing culture right now are not in their 40s or even 30s, they are in their twenties.

I hope that when it is my turn to pass the keys to the next great mind…that I do it…before it’s too late.

Winning the little battles

There are those little tasks and those little side projects that people ask you to ‘help’ with or even lead. They don’t completely fall into your job description but there is some overlap.

You’re probably maxed out as it is, most of us are. If I went around my office and asked everyone who they thought was the most overworked they would first think to themselves; “I’m the most over worked”…then they would give some other answer as to who I might agree is over worked.

So it happens; you’re asked by someone (most likely someone paid more than you or with more tenure) if you can ‘make a widget’ (for the sake of discussion).

The first thing to understand is why they are asking you because there is a reason buried somewhere, it’s not random. Here are the main reasons you get asked to do the little things:

Someone thinks it’s your job
Maybe you made a widget before or your team makes them. Maybe you have never made them and this person has no idea how widgets are made and their best guess is that you can do it…I’m sure you’ll be able to connect the dots. This situation is a good check point on what you think your job is versus what your¬†colleagues¬†think your job is. This is usually the main reason you get asked to do things you don’t really want to do and may not fall in your job description.

Someone is panicked
Take this as a compliment when someone is panicked and is looking for anyone who can make or help them make a widget and they look to you. This means they trust your wisdom and the relationship you have. They might not have much reason to believe you or your team can make widgets but they know you’ll understand their situation and are probably an asset.

Someone thinks you can rise to it
This is the most positive reason someone asks you to step outside your main path of¬†responsibility. This is usually a leader that thinks you can grow into making widgets and wants to take a chance on you. You’ll know right away when this is the reason because you will be asked to do something you really want to do but it wasn’t your job until now. I’m not going to talk about this one anymore because it’s a no brainer…DO IT!

So now you have been asked to do something that doesn’t fall in your job description and that:

  • You don’t have time to do
  • You may not want to do (because it’s a lame task)
  • Doesn’t fall in your job description

So what are you to do? What are the options in this situation?

I think you have three main options in this situation and I base all of them on not just being an answer for this one time but rather something that sets you up to better handle the next one.

Selective incompetence

You can give the task a try and do a poor job and in the future you won’t be asked to do it again. Remember when you did this as a kid with your chores? Not the most mature path to take but it will solve this issue for you.

Clarify your job description

In some instances it may be better for you and your¬†organization¬†to understand what it is you do and are good at and to make sure you stay in that zone. At the time of the ask is a great time to gain clarity on your role. We all want to stay in our sweet spot as much as we can and likewise we want our teams to function in their sweet spots. This is usually most people’s instinctual response but not always the right one. If you keep getting similar requests from people maybe it’s not them that misunderstand what your job¬†description¬†is.

Hit a home run

This may come as a surprise to you but a viable response to the ask is to take it and knock it out of the park. Yes, take the ‘opportunity’ to blow some minds.This puts the control of this situation in your hands next time it happens. This means that you will have the credibility to say no because you now have the track record to say things like: “we don’t have time/budget to make this widget” and everyone will believe you because you are now the expert. This is my first thought when I’m asked if I can do something outside my realm; How can I use this to increase my credibility and influence and in turn free myself up to focus on my sweet spot?

New Leadership Essentials Pt. 3 – Conclusion

In parts one and two of this little brain dump I contrasted what I think are dying leadership skills with vital emerging leadership skills. This begs the question; I’m a leader, what about me? Where do these thoughts hit the ground?

Management is dead

I see management based leadership roles going away… and they already are. It took this recession to kick start the process. In a strapped economy a person who doesn’t produce won’t have a lot of value to an organization. Let’s face it, management positions haven’t been about producing. If the first words out of your mouth when you describe your job are: “I lead a team that…”, you may need to take an inventory of what it is that you do and what you produce.

If and when we recover from this recession, organizations will have learned that carrying dead wood on their team like they did when things we’re booming in the nineties won’t cut it anymore. Everyone on your team needs to carry weight when it comes to producing what ever it is you produce, not just go to meetings…even at the top.

This is happening because of the reality that anyone can have great ideas and platforms to communicate them, but not all have the skills and gifts to make these dreams reality.

Your Whole Team is the Customer Service Department

And your customer service department is open 24 hours. In the past organizations had a customer service department and a¬†communications¬†department and the ‘voice’ of your¬†organization¬†was crafted and delivered to the public and your clients via these people/teams. Everyone else was internally focused.

Real time communication and marketing is quickly becoming the norm and your brand must keep up. This reality doesn’t make room for customer service to address the issue and the communications/PR people to draft a statement. Your¬†organization¬†is being represented¬†publicly¬†by every person in it; top to bottom. This means every person on your team needs to understand the ‘voice’ to which your brand speaks…and execute it well.

Are you and your team ready to face this reality?

New Leadership Essentials | Pt. 2 – fresh skills

Yesterday I laid out the three main skills that leaders have leaned on since more or less the industrial revolution. I said that I think they are dying. So what replaces them?

Design
As we move to a global village culture and the world becomes more connected, it will become more class-less and it is already happening in the more technologically advanced countries. ¬†This is especially true in intellectual space. The ‘expert class’ is not what it used to be, no longer can you simply contribute knowledge but you must also be a part of the design process of what ever it is your organization is looking to accomplish.

It’s no longer enough to have a great idea you must also be willing and able to put your boots on and get some things done and make something. The smallness of the world allows us all to see that anyone can have a great vision and even a strategy to accomplish it…but you have to be able to design it and craft it to be a leader.

Story
Can you take people on journey across multiplatforms and mediums and spark a movement? Not just the simple oration of a story over 30 minutes. Some stories take years to play out before the people on the journey come to the final climactic scene and take the action that the leader intended. Some stories are 140 characters long and last a few minutes…even a few seconds in the life of one individual.

Pure communication skills just don’t cut it, one must understand and relate to the reality of those you wish to communicate to and the various mediums by which the story is told. I don’t believe this can be faked; leaders must have a firm grasp of this because this ever shrinking global culture can spot a fake¬†infinitely¬†better than generations past.

Caring
You first need to truly care about those you wish to lead and those you wish to impact through your¬†organization and then you must clearly communicate that you care.¬†¬†Leaders who can put on a good show are a dime a dozen, but leaders who can truly and¬†genuinely¬†care…and prove it will create powerful movements.

Being a a captivating personality will only get you so far, you must care and you must be able to scale your caring to an ever growing movement if you wish to grow your organization.

If you read part one you may be thinking that these three skills are basically the same…maybe, maybe not?

Am I hitting something here or am I way off?