5 Steps To Shape The Culture of Your Organization

Photo by chomiji

Photo by chomiji

What Is Culture?

Dictionary.com defines organizational culture as the customs, rituals, and values shared by the members of an organization that have to be accepted by new members.

A specific example of culture in the workplace might include all the employees showing up for work between 7:55 and 8:10. Why this time range? Did all the supervisors demand it? No, not at all. This is just the way it is. This is the group norm. As employees have been hired into the company, these new employees just realized that this was around the time that most employees arrive to work. They followed the culture of the organization. Herd mentality.

How Is Culture Created?

Let’s say you just started leading a certain organization. As you spend time getting to know your organization over the first few weeks and months, you begin noticing that there are significant problems within the culture of the organization. What do you do? As the leader, how can you change specific things you don’t like about your culture?

You can’t create culture, at least not immediately. You can’t force a culture on an organization, either. But, there are specific steps you can take to begin the process of reshaping your current culture.

Here are some thoughts on shaping or reshaping an organization’s culture.

5 Steps To Shape Your Culture

  1. Write about it. In all of your organization’s written communications, figure out ways to include quotes, articles, and interviews that reinforce the desired outcome. And, the more written communication from the very top leaders, all the better.
  2. Talk about it. At any and every opportunity, such as in meetings or conferences, talk about the culture you desire to take root in your organization.
  3. Dispense it. In your organization’s leadership hierarchy structure, the vision must successfully move from the top down. The top leaders get with the leaders under them, then those leaders take it to their teams, and so on.
  4. Live it. All the key, highly visible leaders in the organization must model the desired culture, or it’s never going to take place.
  5. Reward it. You can’t force a specific culture on your organization. It either happens or it doesn’t. But, you can reward behaviors, though, to get those to stick. Financial bonuses or other significant gift rewards given to individual employees publicly in front of their peers has the potential to bring cultural changes.

Questions: Do you have experience in shaping or reshaping organizational cultures? What has been your experience in shaping cultures? Do you have anything to add to my five steps above?

Embracing Tension To Live Your Best Life

Photo by Dave77459

Photo by Dave77459

A Life Filled With Tension

You had a horrible night sleep because your baby is really colicky right now. You’re in a bad mood, and you’re about to take it out on the rest of the family, especially your spouse.

You just stepped on to the elliptical machine at the gym. You’re only a couple of minutes into your workout routine and you’re just not feeling this exercise thing, today. You’re about to step off the machine and find something easier to do or maybe even just go home.

You just picked up the kids from childcare on your way home from work. They’re being obnoxious in the back seat of your car. You’re exhausted from a long day of work. You’re on a tight family budget. You are also trying to eat healthy meals at home, but then out of the corner of your eye, you see a fast food restaurant at the next intersection.

What do all these scenarios have in common? They all contain a point of tension. A point when you need to make a decision on where you are going to allow this tension to lead you. In that very moment, you can make a good choice or a poor choice. In some points of tension, there may not even be a decision to be reached. You may just need to hold on to your tension for the time being.

Tension Resolution

I have come to the conclusion that we as human beings do not enjoy these points of tension. We will do almost anything to avoid them. And, it’s just too easy to slip into our default mode and make a poor decision as a result of the tension.

In the examples above, our default response is to be grumpy with our families and take it out on them when we haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

Our default reaction is to seek pleasure and comfort over a strenuous workout.

Our default reflex is to save time, energy, and the hassle factor for dinner by going through a fast food drive thru on our way home from work.

In the majority of situations, our default response is to take the easy way out in order to resolve our point of tension.

Living With Tension

So, what should we do with these points of tension?

First, be aware that they occur in your life multiple times during the day. Simple awareness that this is going on can help you in deciding on what to do with the tension.

Second, recognize what your default response is in any of these situations. Everyone’s default is pressing the easy button to get out of the tension as fast as possible.

Third, establish a compelling vision of your ultimate life. Compare your default reaction to these points of tension and the life you ultimately desire.

Fourth, embrace the tension. Recognize the tension for what it is. Realize that you don’t always need to seek comfort by resolving your point of tension as quickly as possible.

Fifth, make the BEST choice that lines up with your life vision. You DO have a choice in these tension-filled situations. Plan ahead what your reaction will be in order to avoid hitting your default key. Decide in advance what the best choice is for you.

Questions: So, how aware are you of these points of tension and your natural default reaction to resolving these tensions in your life? Now that you’re at least a little more aware of them, what is your plan in order to deal with them from this point forward?

Featured Guest Post At XPastor.org On “Second Chair” Leadership

XPastor.orgI’m pleased to announce that I had a new guest post go live this week over at XPastor.org.

Post Title: “Second Chair” Leadership: How to be a Superstar Executive Pastor

Summary: In this post, I discuss the uniqueness of second chair leaders. They hold a challenging position of leadership and authority. I also give five thoughts on being the best at chair number two:

  • Always remain positive about your boss with other people.
  • Understand how to “ride in the boss’s wake.”
  • Ask the right questions in the right way.
  • Always defer to your boss’s leadership, unless you have been clearly handed the leadership baton.
  • When you have been handed the leadership baton, don’t be afraid to lead with excellence.

Read this and more over on my guest post at XPastor.org.

Thank you to Dr. David Fletcher and his team for utilizing my post!

5 Ways To Be a Class Act Who Gets Noticed In A Crowd

Photo by Steven Depolo

Photo by Steven Depolo

The Great Divide

I work with a lot of different people. I work with ministry volunteers, I work with church staff. I even work with a few volunteers and organizational people outside of the church world. I work with busy professionals. I work with retired people. Old, young, busy, healthy, or maybe even sick. I’m sure we all have dealings with a wide variety of people.

Not all these people are on an “equal” level, though, in their respective ministries or organizations. There is often a great divide between those who are just part of the crowd and going with the flow, and those who stand out from the rest of the crowd.

The people who always stand out in mind are those who have special, unique qualities. Here’s a listing on my top five ways to stand out in any crowd of people and get noticed.

5 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd

  1. Be early. When I first typed this, I wrote “Be on time,” but honestly being on time should be the minimum standard. The sad reality is that not very many people are even on time to their commitments. At the very least, we should all be on time to appointments and activities. Being early is what can set you apart from everybody else. And, being early can even score you some face time with leaders.
  2. Keep your word. Communicate. Be dependable. Our culture is becoming increasingly more and more convenience oriented. People will tell you one thing on one day, and then change their mind a few days later completely based on what is convenient for them in that moment on that particular day. Keeping your word, though, doesn’t depend on convenience. It depends on character. Be a man or woman of character, not convenience.
  3. Be prepared and do your best work. If you want to be noticed in the crowd of people and even within crowds of other leaders, then you must show up prepared. You need to know any and all material backwards and forward. You need to research. You need to study. You need to practice. Throw yourself into your preparation 100%. Give it your all. You’ll stand out because most people just go halfway.
  4. Have a great attitude. While you’re showing up early, keeping your word, and being prepared, come in with a great attitude. If you need to “fake it until you become it” then so be it. People are attracted to positive attitudes, not negative ones.
  5. Be proactive. Look around. Look ahead. Are there possible problems that can and should be addressed sooner rather than later? Can you be part of the solution? Express your concerns, then offer great solutions that work.

Questions: So, do you think you stand out in a crowd? Are you early to your commitments? Do you keep your commitments, even when it’s inconvenient to do so? Do you show up prepared and do awesome work? Do you have a great attitude? And finally, are you proactive at offering amazing solutions to problems?

Do you have additional ways to stand out in a crowd? What has worked for you in your own unique situation?

Harnessing The Power Of Awareness To Initiate Change

Photo by here'slookingatyou,kid

Photo by here’slookingatyou,kid

Cluelessness Rules

It blows my mind how clueless many people seem to be. Many appear to be simply beboping through life. Whether it’s going from one activity to another or running back and forth between work and home life, many seem to have their heads stuck in the sand without much awareness of what is actually taking place around them.

On the surface, everything seems to be going okay in their lives. If you were to dig a bit below the surface, though, I’m guessing things would probably be a mess in many areas of their lives.

Their finances are a disaster. They have no monthly budget. They have no short or long-term goals. They have debt. They are living lifestyles beyond their ability to sustain long-term. As a result, they are living paycheck to paycheck with no fruit to show for all their labor.

Their relationships are sketchy. They don’t spend quality or quantity time with their spouse or children. They don’t see their extended family very often. They have a handful of friends they rarely see. As a result, they feel isolated and lonely.

Their spiritual lives are lukewarm. They make no time for Bible reading. They have shallow prayer lives. They bounce into church if they just happen to have a couple of hours on a Sunday morning when they aren’t at the lake. God just isn’t on their radar very much. As a result, they feel unfulfilled and spiritually dead.

The Power of Awareness

There is a better way, though. If we will just take some time and occasionally cease our relentless, daily activity, then we can create some space in order to become more aware of what is actually taking place in our lives. Once we become aware of what is going on, then we can begin the process of making necessary changes to move in a different direction.

Here are some methods and practices to “press pause” on our hectic personal lives so that we can take time to reflect and become more fully aware of what is taking place around us.

  • meditation: I’m not talking Far East mystical practices here. This is more the Michael Hyatt approach. Just take several minutes each day to stop any activity and quiet your mind.
  • journaling: This is a great activity to become self-aware of what is going on in your life. You can write about your successes and failures. You can write down your dreams and goals. You can list out everything that’s going great in your life right now, or maybe even not so great.
  • talking and listening: Sit down with your spouse, children, and friends. Talk about what is taking place in your family and each other’s lives. Try to do more listening than talking. Really dig deep, ask a lot of questions, and be on the lookout for some key thoughts on what is really happening in the lives of those closest to you.
  • counseling: There is no shame in seeking out the services of a professional counselor. They have been trained to help you unpack your life stuff. They can be a useful resource for you to develop greater awareness in your life. They will do more listening than talking. They will ask you leading questions and reflect back to you what you are saying.
  • coaching: A life coach will push you into greater awareness for what you really want to accomplish in your life. They’re going to give you the “kick in the rear” you need to set goals and to get moving on those goals as quickly as possible.

Questions: How aware are you? Do you really have a handle on what is taking place in your life? Are you living with a sense of purpose and direction? Have you tried any of these 5 practices I have listed above? Which of these practices work best for you?

Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry?

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Volunteerism vs Calling

I’ve been involved as a leader in church ministry for the last 16+ years. I’ve had as many as 35-40 volunteers at any given time under my direct leadership during this 16 year period. Throw in the typical ministry churn that takes place in churches, and I would guess that I’ve seen 250-300 volunteers pass through my ministry alone.

As I’ve worked in the church world during this time, I can clearly see who shows up as a result of a spirit of volunteerism, and who serves because they feel the calling of the Lord to be a part of ministry. I’m not talking some crazy, mystical “God spoke to me in a dream after eating pizza last night” kind of experience, either.

Here’s what I have observed over the years:

  • Volunteers serve only when it is convenient. Called ministers serve during times of convenience as well as inconvenience.
  • Volunteers put in a “half-hearted” effort. Those called by God give their very best effort.
  • Volunteers want to quit at the first sign of a problem. Called ministers will dig in and persevere.
  • Volunteers can always find lots of reasons to complain and be unhappy. Those called of the Lord serve with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

In my own ministry, I was recently reminded of the importance of the call into ministry for those under my direct leadership.

3 Important Reminders For Our Call Into Ministry

  1. Each one of us has a calling into ministry. Being a part of a specific ministry is more than volunteering. Hopefully, we have not been begged or coerced into using our gifts and abilities for ministry. We’re either called by God or we’re not called, and that’s okay. If God does call us though, we need to be obedient to that call.
  2. We are simply “stewards” or managers of our calling. In other words, “our individual positions are not really our positions.” Here’s what I mean: God has placed you in a specific position at a specific time in your church’s history. Right now, you’re responsible to be the best manager of your specific calling until the Lord decides that calling needs to change. All of us need to lead well, today, and then we need to do an awesome job of handing off the baton to the next called person sometime in the future.
  3. The mission of the church or a specific ministry must always move forward. This should be the primary purpose behind our calling. God will see that His purposes are fulfilled whether or not we remain faithful in our calling. We may even be moved on by Him to a different mission. Always keep your focus on the overall mission of your church body as well as your specific ministry calling.

Questions: Have you been obedient to your own personal call into ministry? How well are you managing the position God has called you to right now? Are you focused on God’s mission for your life and ministry, or are you selfishly focused on your own agenda?

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Wide World of Sports

I have many fond memories from when I was a kid growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. A specific memory that always stands out in my mind is watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay.

In the opening TV show bumper, you may recall hearing this statement “ … the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” And, the video footage for “agony of defeat” was some guy having a horrendous wipe out on a massive snow ski jump.You can almost feel that guy’s pain. It was that bad!

The Thrill of Victory And The Agony of Defeat

Who doesn’t like to win? Being victorious is awesome! When you’re in the winner’s column, everything is going great and you’re receiving exactly what you desire, everything that you have trained and worked so hard for.

Defeat is truly that, though – agony! None of us like to lose. None of us like to be defeated in anything.

But, it’s in those times of defeat in which we learn and grow the most.

The only way we learn that we don’t have everything figured out properly is to lose. Losing forces us to re-evaluate our approach and the changes that need to be made.

My Personal Defeat

I understand defeat. Trust me, I really do. A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my own personal defeat here: Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan.

Now that I’m past that particular defeat in life and back in the “winner’s column,” I can truly say that I’m thankful for my defeat. God is faithful and guided my path to better places. I’m a better, stronger person as a result of the defeat. God grew me through the agony.

Amazing blessings can come through difficult times. I learned how to be a much better husband and a father as a result. I finally figured out how to manage stress and rest. I’ve been able to get in the best physical shape of my life. I’ve become a better writer. I’ve developed amazing relationships on my journey. I’ve read some great books that have shaped my mind and taken me to new and better places.

Each defeat you encounter in life, you really do have a choice. You can fight the defeat. You can be mad about it. You can allow it to make you a bitter, depressed, unhappy person.

Or, you can just “roll with it” and see where this defeat takes you. Chances are, you can learn some cool stuff. You can meet some amazing people along the way. You can become a better but different person on the journey.

Through my own personal defeat, I went from Broken To Superhuman. God shaped me into a better follower of Him. All praise be to God for His amazing grace.

Get My FREE Book

Interested in learning more about my own defeat and victory? The lessons I learned from personal defeat that lead to sweeping life changes that brought me back to victory, once again? I believe my 5-Step Action Plan can give you the tools to move through these life detours into a better place.

This little e-book addresses the problems and the accompanying solutions. So, do you want to stay angry and upset about your defeat, or are you ready to move forward onto to victory?

You can’t buy Moving From Broken To Superhuman in bookstores. In fact, you can’t buy it anywhere on the Internet. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter.

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If you’re really struggling with major defeat in your life right now, here’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow from my own experience. What do you have to lose? A better question: what are you losing out on if you don’t get my FREE e-book?

Question: If you have read my e-book, what did you think? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Thanks!

A Financial Vision For America

Photo by Kyle Kim

Photo by Kyle Kim

The Problem

Our nation is in dire financial trouble.

The greatest nation on earth, the richest, most prosperous country the world has ever known, is on the brink of financial collapse. As of the date of this writing on July 4, 2013, the national debt clock is approaching $17 Trillion.

All political parties, all Presidents, all congresses, all state and local governments must be called to account.

For decades, our politicians have been intoxicated with power and vast financial resources they have confiscated from us, the American people.

For too long, our local, state, and federal governments have paid for programs that are too expensive and just don’t work. For too long, we have run yearly deficits that have led us to unsustainable debt loads. For too long, we’ve been throwing money around we don’t have, at problems we simply cannot fix with money alone. For too long, we have kicked the financial can down the nation’s fiscal timeline, hoping for a miracle to materialize that never will.

For too long, there has been little to no accountability for bad fiscal policy. For too long, our politicians have been playing political as well as financial games with us.

For too long, many of our wealthiest citizens have been gagged and shackled, simply because they have incredible, financial savvy.

Spending money we do not have doesn’t work in our own households, and it certainly doesn’t work in our governments, either. There will be a pay-day, someday. It won’t be today and probably not tomorrow, but there is coming a tipping point, soon.

Something needs to change, today. Our nation must rise out of our stupor of financial insanity into a glorious new sunrise of financial responsibility, stability, and plain, old-fashion, common sense.

The Vision

I have a vision of American citizens who understand personal finances. They budget appropriately. They spend less than they make. They live debt free lives. They save a portion of their income for the future. They actually pay for their own food, cell phones, healthcare, college, and emergency expenses instead of relying on government handouts.

I have a vision of churches and para-church ministries who rush to give aid to our citizens, instead of Federal Government agencies.

I have a vision of a prosperous United States of America, a nation that encourages appropriate government budgeting practices, spending below our means, and paying down its debt load as quickly as possible.

I have a vision of politicians who are required to live under the same fiscal policy rules they enact on us.

I have a vision of local, state, and federal governments that encourage hard work, financial reward, business growth, innovation, wealth, investment. This means lowering personal and business tax rates to reasonable levels so that we actually encourage productivity rather than discourage it.

I have a vision of wealthy citizens who are applauded and thanked for their contributions to society, rather than demonized. They are encouraged to achieve great financial success, because they have worked hard and risked their fortunes in order to invest their finances, build amazing businesses, and hire us to help them.

I have a vision; no, I have a dream today.

The Dream

I have a dream that one day, all of us will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

Sweet land of financial liberty; let financial freedom ring!

And if America is to return to being the greatest nation this world has ever known, this must become true. So let financial freedom ring from the New York Stock Exchange to the San Francisco Transamerica Pyramid Center.

Let financial freedom ring from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to the Dallas Stock Exchange.

Let financial freedom ring at the IRS Building in Washington, D.C.

Let financial freedom ring in the US Treasury as well as Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Let financial freedom ring in the City of Miami Mayor’s Office to the Washington State Legislature.

Let financial freedom ring from every household, yea, from every institution, business, church, and government entity in this great land.

And when this happens, when we allow financial freedom to ring from every corner of these great United States, then we will truly achieve the unalienable rights outlined by our founding fathers: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Question: Will you join with me in this vision? If so, please leave a comment and then share in every corner of social media. Thank you!

Leadership Is A Stewardship

Photo by WillowCreek D/CH

Photo by WillowCreek D/CH

The Catalyst Podcast

I enjoy listening to the Catalyst podcast regularly. It’s one of a few podcasts that I like to listen to while I’m working out. If you’re familiar with this podcast at all, there are some great leadership quotes by well-known leaders spoken in the front-end bumper music portion of the program.

My favorite quote in the opening bumper is Andy Stanley‘s statement, “Leadership is a stewardship. It is temporary, and you’re accountable.” This is a simple, yet profound statement that always causes me to pause and reflect on my own leadership of those I have been called to lead.

The Stewardship of Leadership

Stewardship. There’s one of those fancy, King James Bible kind-of words. A simple definition of the word is “management.” A steward is simply a manager of the owner’s property.

Because of its connection with God’s Word, I also believe stewardship has a very serious, spiritual connection. It’s not simply a management role. Stewardship is a spiritual discipline that Christians are expected to engage in. We have all been called to manage well everything that God has given to us manage in our temporal life here on earth: our personal finances, our possessions, our talents, our families, and our career calling.

If God has made you a leader, then He’s expecting you to manage with excellence your leadership role, however big or small that role may be.

You Will Be Held Accountable

The second half of Andy’s statemement “ … It is temporary, and you’re accountable” is where this whole stewardship concept can get a little scary. There is coming a day for all who follow Christ in which we will hand off the leadership baton to others and then give an account to God of our management ability of what He has asked us to manage.

I’m reminded of these New Testament passages in regard to the accountability of our stewardship of leadership:

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you (Hebrews 13:17).

Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer’ (Luke 16:1-2).

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:11-12).

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13).

One day, we will all give an account to God for our management abilities. For those of us who are leaders, especially within the church, we will be held to a higher standard than other believers.

I would encourage all of us to live and lead today as though our personal evaluations by God will be held tomorrow.

Question: In light of this revelation that the management of your leadership role will be evaluated by God Himself, how will you lead differently, now?