Archive for the ‘Organization’ Tag

Trust As A Lynchpin   1 comment


Original caption: I decided to see if I could ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a member of a group that is struggling with trust issues.  I am not sure what precipitated the breakdown in trust but I definitely can observe the results.  Trust is a something that once it starts to dissolve, it is extremely hard to reform.  Trust is also the lynchpin that can hold a group together and keep it moving in a beneficial direction.  So this group having trust issues has led to a type of domino effect within the group.  Since people do not trust each other, and in some cases, some of the leadership, there are a lot of little fires that burn in various pockets of the group.

I think an important skill for leaders to have is to be able to get beyond the surface and find the real issues.  If a leader just deals with the little fires that seem to burst up in various areas, the leader is going to become exhausted because she/he will just be running from fire to fire.  While the leader is spending all of their time dealing with fires, the group flounders because in most cases there is no one setting direction for the group.  Some of the leaders within the group I mentioned at the start have been wise enough to look deeper than the surface fires and have found the root of most of the problems as being a disintegration of trust within the group.

So now that the problem is identified, the key is to find a solution unless the group itself is going to dissolve.  Identifying a lack of trust is much easier than rebuilding trust.  Here are some approaches that I find help in rebuilding trust:

  1. Take the time to listen – Often we are very good at telling people information but we seldom sit down and listen.  By listening to others, we are given the opportunity to truly hear the concerns that they have and/or the situations that have led them to lose trust.  We are also able to clarify and to correct misconceptions or misinformation.
  2. Communicate effectively and often – It is key that the leadership clearly communicates decisions, actions, goals, and reasoning.  These should be communicated in a variety of ways and should happen more often than we even think the need is there.  If communication does not occur, it can give the perception that something is purposely being hidden.
  3. Encourage questions – Even when we communicate effectively and often, people may still have questions.  If we ignore the questions or give the appearance that questions are a nuisance, then people shut down and often anger builds.  It also again gives the perception that something is being hidden or that there are hidden motives.
  4. Be consistent – One thing that disintegrates trust is when the leadership is not consistent in their behaviors.  People begin to feel they have no way of anticipate what types of responses or what directions may be coming their direction.  When they feel this, they will lose trust in what they are being told.  They will also become frustrated because of the confusion that exists with constant changes.  Sometimes directions need to be changed but if this is the case, communicate the change and the reason for the change.  People can accept change if it is not all the time and if they are given a rationale for the change.

This list is far from being exhaustive.  This work of rebuilding trust is also very difficult and will take time.  However, this is vital to the health of a group.  If there is not trust, then there will be bickering.  If there is not trust, then there will a lost of momentum among the group.  If there is not trust, then there will be anger, resentment, and rash decisions.

Vision is the Fuel   2 comments


Ripples

Ripples (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

I have recently been thinking a lot about visions.  As a leader, I have come to realize how important it is for a vision.  I believe that a vision is what provides the fuel for an organization or a person to move forward.  In the Bible, I find this passage:  “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  (Proverbs 29:18a)  Vision is vital as the driving force to move all things forward.

I think that one of the issues that arises with many organizations and individuals is the lack of a vision.  As we have moved to be more inclusive in the decision-making process, I think that we have inadvertently eliminated a vision caster in most situations.  As we have moved toward being realistic in our personal lives, we have stopped creating visions that seem too lofty and often stopped creating visions at all.  The results are a lot of stagnation in organizations and the lives of individuals.

I believe we need to recapture the importance of lofty visions.  We need to acknowledge that there are visionaries and we need to allow them to cast visions.  I also believe that vision casting is not a group activity.  But when we allow the vision casters to do the visioning, then the next important step is for those casters to communicate the vision clearly to others.  During that communication, we need to be willing to take risks and to strive to see what we cannot see now.  The vision then comes to life as that vision is spread and appropriated by others.  The realizing of the vision is only possible with the input and involvement of others.  So I view it similar to the effects of a stone being tossed into a pool of water.  However, there is only one person who cast that stone.

We need more visions.  We need more vision casters.  We need more fuel to move us from stagnation to living.

Being A Leader   Leave a comment


Diverse GMU people all put together into a square.

Diverse GMU people all put together into a square. (Photo credit: KellyCDB)

This morning the Disney Institute posted this blog post on Facebook.  The title of the post is 3 Signs You Are Meant To Be A Leader and it was written by Les McKeown.  The first thing that caught my eye is something that I have come to believe, “Not everyone is cut out to be a leader.”  In a nation where many people strive to create a “level playing field,” I think that we often overlook the fact that we have all been created differently and are unique.  We all do not have the same skills and abilities.  That was never part of the original design.  Instead, each person was given skills and abilities that are specific to them.  It is when we combine this varied skills and abilities that we have the perfect group of people to handle life.  Like the old axiom states:  The sum is greater than the parts.  Yet, how often in an attempt to create a sense of equality among people do we place people in roles that they are definitely not equipped and gifted to manage?

I do believe that every person has the ability to learn.  We can create individuals that can survive in a position in which they are not equipped to be.  But this is a great service to the individual and to the organization.  As the writer of the post comments, they are less than effective in the position.  Many times they are frustrated and quickly burn out.  If they do not burn out they may act out by being irritable or even aggressive towards others.  The organization often flounders under their leadership and may lose members or be unsuccessful in their projects.

Let me be clear; every person has a valuable position in every organization.  The value of that person is not based on a hierarchy of roles.  Every role is necessary if the organization is going to be successful.  So the title of the role is far less important as the person’s abilities and gifts that she/he bring to the role which they have.

Paul seemed to make this abundantly clear when he was writing to the church in Corinth.  In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the various gifts that the people have in the community.  He points out how the individuals work together for the betterment of the community.  He also points out how one part cannot be successful without the others and that all have a vital role.  This is how each individual and each community of people were designed.  Diversity in the midst of unity.

In addition to a diversity of roles, there is diversity in the types of individuals needed in each role.  As an example, the role of a leader can have a large variety of ways in which that role is executed.  Different organizations and different situations require different types of leaders.  There needs to be a matching of what type of leader is needed just as much as a matching of the individuals having the right gifts and abilities to be a leader in the first place.

So let’s stop assuming that everyone should have an equal opportunity for every role.  Let’s stop placing people in positions which they are not a healthy fit.  Let’s stop trying to make everyone the same.  Instead, let’s acknowledge the diversity and the need for diversity within an organization or group of people.  Let’s identify the gifts and abilities of the person and determine where those gifts and abilities will do the most good.  Let’s celebrate each role and each person without a hierarchy of importance.  When we combine these different parts (roles), we will have the ability to achieve great things.

Letting Go   Leave a comment


Letting go

Letting go (Photo credit: against the tide)

 

One of the most difficult things for an organization to do is to let go of the things that have had so much meaning in the organization’s life.  Sometimes organizations have events or projects that have a very storied history but are no longer relative or connect with other people and their lives.  However, because of the history and the meaning that it has had in the past for the members of the organization, no one is willing to let the project or event take the normal course of life and die.

 

So the question is what should the leader of an organization that is struggling to let go of something that has been valued deeply within the organization in the past do, if anything.  I think there are a couple important actions a leader can take in such a situation.  First, it is important to collect tangible data on the project if possible.  How much is being expended in financial resources and human resources to continue the project?  How many people are serviced or impacted by the project?  What benefits are obtained by the organization through the project?

 

The next important gathering of information is in regards to the history of the project.  Why was the project started?  What was the intention or goal of the project?  What changes have occurred within the project over its life span?  Who has been involved in the project throughout its history?

 

The leader then needs to work with group in charge of the project to discuss the information that has been gathered.  The leader should ask questions regarding the value of the project (not just financial but not void of financial aspects).  Questions regarding if the original goals or intentions are still part of the organizations current goals and intentions.  Questions in regard to who is being served by the project and who is willing to be involved in the project.  Finally, questions that help the group reflect upon the relevance of the project to the life of the organization, its members, and those who are being reached through the project.

 

Through reflection and responses to questions, the leader can help the organization discern if the project or event has purpose to be continued or if the history of it should be celebrated but the event or project be allowed to end.

 

Inappropriate Behavior   1 comment


self portrait. Im not an angry person! Lots of...

(Photo credit: Rynelson17)

One of the most difficult things for a leader to do is to deal with inappropriate behavior.  It can seem shocking that someone can treat another person in a  very negative manner.  The words that they use and the tone in which they say those words can be very damaging.  It can be damaging not only to the recipient but it can be damaging to the organization.  If you are trying to create an inviting and welcoming atmosphere within your organization, behaviors that cut down individuals or create negative energy can destroy any attempts at obtaining the atmosphere you have in mind.

The questions that arise are when and how this type of inappropriate behavior should be addressed.  This is not something to take lightly because the responses to these questions can either create more damage to the organization or can bring about a change that will be beneficial for the individual engaging in the negative behavior  and the organization.  I have become convinced that the wrong thing to do no matter what is to do nothing.  If these behaviors are allowed to continue, there will never be a benefit, only a negative.

I think the first conversation with the individual is to try to get insight into what may have led to the behavior that you want changed.  This is important because some times there are circumstances in that person’s life of which you may be totally unaware.  It could be that this was a one-time occurrence based on challenges or emotions with which the person may be dealing.  If this is the case, then understanding the cause of the behavior can help reassure that the behavior will not be repeated.  However, if there seems to be no basis for the behavior then a conversation regarding why the behavior is inappropriate and giving an expectation that it not be repeated must occur.

Each situation is different and must be handled differently.  However, what must be remembered is that the situation must be handled. It will not magically go away.  Only by addressing the situation can the expectation of that there will not be a re-occurrence of the behavior be fulfilled.

Evaluation Time   2 comments


One of the important tasks of a leader is to take time every so often and do some evaluation.  This evaluation must be in-depth and look at all aspects of your life.  Time must be spent on looking at the organization which we lead.  Is the direction we are going the best direction for the organization?  Are the right players in place?  Do we have a good sense of where we are headed and why we are headed in that way?  Is my leadership the right leadership to move the organization in the right direction?  Are those being led feeling energized about where the organization is going and the steps that are being taken?  All these questions and more need to be examined and answered.

Another important, and often overlooked, area that a leader needs to evaluate is their personal life.  Am I doing what I feel called to do with my life?  Are my priorities in proper alignment?  Do the ways I spend my time, my energy, my money and resources reflect my priorities?  What are my passions right now?  Am I able to pursue my passions in the areas I have committed myself to?  How are the relationships in my life?  Which relationships are adding benefit and which ones are causing drain?  How am I benefiting others?  Where is the joy in my life?  How is my physical health?  What changes or corrections do I need to make?  All of these questions are vital to ensure that the leader is in a healthy place to lead.

We do not live in a vacuum.  One area in a leader’s life has direct impact on the other areas of our lives.  Many leaders try to

Question mark in Esbjerg

Question mark in Esbjerg (Photo credit: alexanderdrachmann)

compartmentalized but it is just a false attempt to ignore the interconnectedness of our lives.  So the evaluation must incorporate all aspects of our lives.  As a Christian, another vital area of my life to evaluate is my spiritual well-being.  I need to ask how my relationship with the Lord is and the various elements of that relationship.  My faith is another area that impacts my whole life.  My faith cannot be compartmentalized to Sunday mornings.

What other evaluative questions might you ask?

What other areas should a leader examine and evaluate?

 

Can’t Make ‘Em Drink   3 comments


Français : Cheval en train de boire. English: ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I had a great conversation with some of my colleagues.  We were discussing some changes that may need to occur within a couple of groups that we have been tasked to work with.  A couple of times throughout the discussion and as the discussion broadened some to the whole organization, it was lifted up that no matter what we design or what we think should happen, if people do not find value and/or purpose in it, they are not going to participate.  As I pondered those conversations, I was reminded of the old say, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.”

How often can we see what might be the best route of action or what a group of individuals should be doing yet we struggle to make it happen?  The truth of life at this point in time is that people have so many options that they can easily find another organization, another activity, or another way to spend their time.  Especially when it comes to a church or volunteer organization, if they are not inclined to do something, there is no way to make it happen.

I wonder if this isn’t exactly how the Lord feels many times.  God chose to give humanity the option of choosing the life pattern that God created or not.  God even gave humanity the choice whether to love the Lord or not.  Our Creator can see the best route of action for our lives; what we should be doing, but God decided not to force us to do so.  Instead, like those of us in conversation yesterday, the Lord has tried to show us a purpose for doing what is best.  It seems that if people see a purpose or value to something, they are much more likely to take that route or participate in that activity.

As leaders, we have to listen to the people.  We have to hear what passions and purposes excite them.  We have to introduce them to possible purposes and passions.  Ultimately, if the route or action we take does not create/support purpose or passion in someone’s life, we are never going to get them to drink.