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Expanding Your Brain—The Daily Practice of Absorbing and Processing New Ideas

Uncategorized Dec 09, 2019

One of my favorite quotes is by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who says, “One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Isn’t that fascinating to think about? Every piece of knowledge, every concept, and every creative idea we think about alters the makeup of our minds!

The idea is to learn something new every day. I take this very seriously in my own life. Learning comes in many different formats—some people love reading; others enjoy audiobooks and podcasts; some need to get their hands dirty in order to truly learn; some people love teaching others. No matter how I learn, I make it a point to stretch my mind daily in some way.

Learning is a lifelong love of mine. When I go too long without stretching my brain into a new domain, I can sense that I’m starting to get soft on myself. Without challenge, and a bit of discomfort, we won’t grow in the same ways we do when we’re challenged.

So what’s...

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Flextime Leadership: The Generational Shift Towards Softer Schedules

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2019

In the 21st century, we’re seeing more and more organizations move away from the traditional nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday work schedule. On top of the need to staff many organizations during weekends, this is also a result of a cultural shift. No longer are employees set on staying with the same company for forty years; based on family, life stages, and other factors, sometimes leaders need a chance to take a step back.

The good news is that flexible work schedules allow this to happen without disqualifying leaders from leading altogether. We can’t expect every single leader to come in and work full-time; but we can still recruit, develop, and maximize their potential—no matter what life stage they’re in.

For example, consider a working mom who’s a leader in her organization. She has children who are still young—maybe in school—but she wants to continue contributing to her organization’s vision and mission. She’s not available...

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Painting the Wall: Finding Easy Wins in the Midst of Organizational Change

Uncategorized Nov 25, 2019

Think about your latest home renovation project. It likely took hours of planning, execution, and tweaking to get it just the way you wanted it. Think about the quickest step of the process—the thing that took the least amount of time for the most substantial change. Chances are, it was painting one or more walls.

 Why is this so effective? It changes the entire feel of a room without you having to move furniture, redecorate, or do much of anything else. Spend one day painting, and the whole place feels different. So, when you’re implementing change in your organization, the same principle applies. You can find those things that are easy wins—the equivalent of painting the walls in the room.

 What’s the low-hanging fruit? What are the things that make your vision move forward substantially, and at the same time are fairly easy to execute? What are those things that are quick to implement and easy to celebrate? These will allow your team or your...

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Pouring the Cement: The Danger of Solidifying Changes Too Early

Uncategorized Nov 18, 2019

Chances are you’ve driven by a construction site and seen a cement truck pouring a new foundation. It’s fascinating to watch. The cement begins as a malleable substance before hardening into something that can last a lifetime.

 In leadership, I like to use this metaphor to refer to the phase in transition where your new plans—the changes and initiatives you’re just starting—begin to solidify. Just like cement takes hours to fully harden, your plans as a leader take time to become concrete. When you first begin to implement change, things need to be pliable. Imagine trying to pour a cement foundation with rock-hard cement! It doesn’t work. You need a softer start in order to mold it to what you need.

 Right now, as a leader, you’re building frameworks for your vision; you’re pouring things in; you’re moving things around. You may not know what’s going to work yet—or, at least, how it’s going to work....

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The Trapeze Artist: Leading Your Team in Navigating Change

As a kid, I loved going to the circus and watching the trapeze artists. You’ve probably seen them, too—limber, athletic men and women who bravely let go of one bar, sail through the air, catch another bar (or another trapeze artist!) and continue gliding above the audience’s heads as if they can fly.

I like to think of navigating change as a trapeze act. If you’re a leader, you’re overseeing a team; and chances are, you’ve already had to help your team navigate some change. Right now, your team is swinging on bars in one location—they have systems, passions, goals, and relationships that are familiar. It’s brave of them to even be on the bar at all. But chances are, you see more opportunity across the way, and you’re trying to bring everybody along with you.

What we do as leaders when we navigate change is, we basically tell our teams, “Hey, I know you’re comfortable on this bar, going back and forth. But over there...

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Inviting Authenticity

Eliminating the Need for Camouflaging in Your Organization

My mom is a very strong leader and a strong personality. She’s amazing. She ran the praise team at our church; played piano; organized the kids music — I mean, she did a lot. But I vividly remember that, whenever she had to get up and give an announcement about the praise team practice, or something for Awana…something strange would happen.

My mom is a loud woman, like me: she talks with her hands, has a big smile, possesses a loud voice…you can hear her laugh across the room. She would get up with the microphone, and softly croon in an overly-sweet tone, “It’s so good to be here this morning. And I’m so glad to talk to you.”

This different person was happening up there! She was camouflaging. Camouflaging is a phenomenon that happens when a woman senses that her environment calls for “good women” to display certain traits and actions. She adapts by hiding her true...

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Decreasing Competition

How Recruiting More Female Leaders Actually Leads to Less Competition

Over the decades, women have gotten a bad reputation for being competitive. Think of the comedies you’ve seen involving women who work together: they may have cat fights; a queen bee might rise up, who monopolizes leadership and doesn’t help anyone else; rarely do we see portrayals of female leaders working together in harmony.

This really isn’t representative of the real world — especially in today’s age. In reality, these stereotypes and challenges aren’t based on leaders being women. Instead, they’re based on being a minority. Think about it: when resources and opportunities are scarce, there will naturally be competition. That’s true for men, women, young, and old.

Women who are one of the only female leaders in their organization know that they have to grasp opportunities while they have the chance. They may not often get the chance to lead, to be promoted, or...

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Communication Cues: Men vs. Women

You’re probably aware that men and women communicate differently; this is a well-known truth. Often, however, we don’t take time to consider exactly how men and women communicate differently. When we look at communication styles on a specific level, we find that the cues each gender uses differ significantly.

What does this look like in a workplace setting? Let’s take a standard meeting as an example. If a man is in front of his colleagues, communicating, he likely has men and women listening. Each audience member will be different; but on the whole, male and female listeners will contribute to the conversation in gender-specific ways.

A woman listening in will communicate her attention by nodding, and saying things like, “Yes, I understand.” She may even interrupt and say, “That’s exactly what I was thinking!” She’s going to give lots of positive affirmation. She wants the speaker to know that, even if she doesn’t agree...

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Bias Impacts Both Male and Female Church Leaders

In today’s society, it’s easy to pinpoint others’ biases: we easily spot them in the opposing political party, the opposite gender, other groups who don’t see eye to eye with us. A bias is a prejudice in favor of a certain person, group, or thing. The term denotes an unfair preference, or one that has little to no logical foundation.

Biases affect both male and female leaders. Why? Because, whether we’d like to admit it or not, we all have them. We all struggle with them. Our upbringing, culture, friend groups, workplaces, faith, and other factors combine to inform who we are. The first step to overcoming our individual biases is to acknowledge that they exist.

As I’ve worked with church leaders nationwide, I’ve found the same propensity in those circles: it’s easy for church leaders to pinpoint the biases of those who hold different theological beliefs. For instance, two churches who fall on opposite sides of the theological spectrum...

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Be Patient and Intentional in Change

Why Intentionality in Making Changes is Critical for Leaders

Church leaders have the unique task of initiating change in their congregations and ministry teams. This isn’t an easy or simple role, especially when challenges and disagreements are a regular part of the change process. Whenever you are leading change of any kind, it’s vital that you be both patient and intentional.

Any change will include important stakeholders and influencers — these are the people whose say, and resources, are essential to the change. As a leader, it’s wise to give these stakeholders them an opportunity to hear what’s going on in your heart, and to ask questions about it. It’s easy to move forward and tell others what you’re going to do; but true leadership is leading others along the path with you.

Let’s take the issue of women in leadership in church as an example. It would be easy to assume that all women would easily welcome having more female...

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