Friday, August 26, 2016

The consequences of leaving poor leaders in place

I have been following the saga of a friend who works for a global company. She is very good at what she does, outperforms her peers and produces results that have cause more senior managers in the organization to take notice and cheer her on. There is one manager, however, who does not and it is her supervisor.

The MO of the supervisor is one we have all probably seen at one time or another. He loves to blame when things don't go well. He has been known to be less than honest. He has a history of berating his staff. When staff need help he often does not come through and rarely on time when he does. One can leave conversations with him feeling belittled and denigrated. My friend has experienced all of these behaviors.

Here is the interesting thing. Everyone seems to know of this individual's behaviors. Fellow staff do and warn one another. More senior staff members have indicated to my friend that they know her manager can be difficult and tell her to let them know if she needs anything, effectively telling her to work around the system when the manager misbehaves. It seems to be common knowledge that this manager does not produce, does not build team, divides rather than unifies teams, is consistently defensive and difficult to work for. Yet, no one seems to be willing to do anything about it except to acknowledge it quietly behind the scenes.

I have seen this scenario played out too often in both for profit and non-profit organizations. Even in places where the vast majority of leadership is healthy and caring. What puzzles me is that there are consequences to allowing poor managers/leaders to stay in place. Those consequences include:
  • Poor morale
  • People who decide to leave and work elsewhere
  • Cynicism among staff
  • Loss of respect for other more senior staff who know and do nothing
  • The need to negotiate around the very person who is charged with serving their staff
  • Division among staff who are played against one another in an atmosphere of mistrust
  • Significant loss of teamwork, common mission and morale
  • Loss of missionality where staff start to look out for their own interests rather than the mission of the team
The bottom line is that scenarios like this hurt everyone - the entire organization. It is a violation of the pact that organizations make with their staff and eventually it causes loss of good people and effectiveness. If your organization has examples like this, deal with it for the sake of everyone involved.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The magic, pain and wisdom of reflection


There is no wisdom without reflection. Deep thinking brings understanding and truth and yet we do it too seldom because it requires two commodities rare in our lives: silence and time alone. Precious space for our minds to be cleared of distractions. Without reflection we will not learn the lessons of our past, have wisdom for the present or chart a wise course for the future.

There is magic in reflection when we are able to connect the dots of our lives with insights into ourselves or God or the journey we are on. It is why I journal and walk and reflect. It is why David of the Old Testament meditated and reflected on the truths of God and one can discern his own connecting of the dots in the Psalms that he wrote. Those who write know the magic of insights that come in the reflective solitude of words meeting paper.

If there is a reason we don't reflect more, perhaps it is because along with magic, reflection can bring pain. Things we have done that hurt us or others, things others have done that hurt us, the regrets of life that can accumulate over time. Scriptures speak of Godly sorrow, sadness over actions or words that none of us escape this side of heaven. Yet even this is a blessing as we contemplate how we will live in the future, experience once again the grace of God that always encompasses our brokenness and overwhelms us with His limitless love. Without reflection on our brokenness we cannot experience Gods grace or live in  true humility.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of our reflection and the wisdom with which we live our lives. Wisdom requires reflection: time to consider our motivations, the paths we walk, priorities we establish and the plans we are making. Insight into any of these requires deep reflection.

Why do we read C.S. Lewis, the Psalms, or devotional books? Because the writers were people of deep reflection and we are blessed by their insights. Each of us can do the same.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Monday, August 22, 2016

Five suggestions for dealing with prickly people



TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Five EQ skills that can transform a team or organization


The average level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) within an organization or team has a direct impact on the success of that group. The higher the EQ skills of a team the better they relate, the more candid they are, the less conflict they have and the health of relationships is stronger. All of these contribute to greater cooperation, more innovative thinking, cooperation and lack of infighting and politics. This also applies to boards and in the church world to congregations.

There are five EQ skills that can literally transform a team or organization if leadership will focus on them, train their staff and communicate these skills regularly. These five skills can be learned but we must also unlearn some unhelpful habits to get to a place of health.

The first skill is that of self definition. Self defined individuals think for themselves rather than simply taking the party line, verbalize their views even when it may be lonely and do not worry what others might think of them. They are secure in who they are and what they believe. Innovation experts say that this skill along with a culture that invites it is one of the most significant keys to innovation.


The second skill follows from the first. It is the ability of a team to engage in robust dialogue where any issue can be put on the table with the exception of personal attacks or hidden agendas. Where this does not happen it is almost exclusively the fault of leaders who are threatened by direct dialogue that might rock the boat. The ability to engage in robust dialogue invites ideas, observations, and innovation while the inability kills both ideas and innovation.

A third skill is essential to the first two and that is a non defensive attitude on the part of all team members. It is an attitude of "nothing to prove and nothing to lose" where we do not have to be right and where we approach our work with open rather than closed minds. Defensiveness shuts down conversation whereas non-defensiveness invites conversation, ideas, dreams, innovation and the ability to look at situations with new eyes.

The fourth skill comes into play when we don't do the first three as well as we could: conflict resolution: the ability to quickly address conflict, de-escalate the issue, look for a win-win solution and normalize the relationship. Conflict is not bad. Unaddressed conflict, however, is toxic. Think of the mental and emotional energy that is spent in unresolved conflict. People can be taught how to resolve conflict and to think of it in three steps: address it, look for a win/win solution and normalize the relationship.

The fifth EQ skill that can transform a team or organization is the simple agreement to ban gossip. Gossip is the transmission of second or third hand information to others that is prejudicial or first hand information that is harmful and which need not be shared. All gossip is toxic to relationships, teams and organizations so a concerted effort should be made to eradicate it.

Take a moment and think about what your team or organization would look like with these five skills being lived out by all members. They can be taught and practiced and over time they will transform your team or organization.


TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why I quit my ministry dream job and would do it again - from Gravity Leadership


From Gravity Leadership

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

The use of "normalizing conversations" to de-escelate conflict in relationships


There are many things that can introduce conflict or awkwardness into relationships: disagreements; words spoken; actions or even second hand conversations that come back to us. It can cause us to back away from a relationship, suspect that others don't have our best interests in mind and create an invisible wall between two individuals. It happens in families, among friends and in the workplace - anywhere we have key relationships.

This is where normalizing conversations come in. Rather than live with our perceptions or assumptions about where the other individual is coming from, or the awkwardness that has been introduced into the relationship, normalizing conversations can clarify and remove relational walls that have been created. It is a courageous decision we make to seek peace, clarity and understanding by candidly talking to another about the events that have transpired.

Unaddressed issues between individuals create walls and distance while discussing those issues can remove those walls and bring parties closer together.

A normalizing conversation is very simple. It is taking the step to initiate a conversation in order to understand one another and remove the invisible wall that has been created by words, actions or assumptions. Choosing to initiate a conversation with another to clarify issues and create understanding  is a courageous and peacemaking practice. And too rare.

A normalizing conversation is not a confrontation but a conversation. It may or may not result in agreement but it can result in understanding. Because you have invited the other individual to be candid with you as you are with them, it removes future awkwardness in the relationship even if you did not come to agreement. It is simply a conversation to "normalize" what has become problematic.

The major barrier to such conversations is our own fear. In my experience, our fear is usually unfounded and we find the other party relieved to be able to lower the walls and understand each other. Even if the conversation is hard, it opens up the ability to communicate and creates greater understanding and that by definition almost always lowers the relational walls. It is about calming the relational waters.

TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness in both the for profit and non profit sectors. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Five simple principles for governance in churches and non-profits


Governance systems in churches and non-profits are often antiquated, discouraging and massively complicated. The result is that it is hard to make decisions, know who is responsible, ensure results and create accountability. The result is that the return on mission is significantly compromised.

There are five simple principles that should apply to any governance system. You can also measure your own governance against these five principles and determine if there is reason to rethink how you do governance. Often systems that worked in one season do not work in another.

Keep it simple
There has been a tendency to make governance systems complicated because we are afraid that someone will make a poor decision. The real result is that you have to make decisions more than once, with multiple parties making for a complicated and time consuming process.

Keeping it simple means that:
  • There is only one board
  • Decisions do not need to be made by multiple groups
  • The decision making path is clear and understood
  • Decisions can be made in a reasonable time
Keep it clear
Clarity means that everyone knows who is responsible for what, that there is not overlap or ambiguity in responsibilities and that individuals and groups know their responsibilities and the limits to those responsibilities. Clarity is particularly important between those things that are delegated to a senior pastor, staff as apposed to areas which are the responsibility of the leadership board. When that clarity is not present there is confusion at best and conflict at worst. In congregational government the congregation often signs off on items such as sale and purchase of property, changes to the bi-laws, the calling of a senior pastor, election of the leadership board the annual budget. Again, there should be clarity on what goes to the congregation and what does not.

Keeping it clear means that:
  • Everyone knows who is responsible for what
  • There is not overlap in responsibility
  • Decision making pathways are always clear
Keep it empowered
Empowerment means that those who are responsible for certain areas also have the authority to make decisions for those areas. If the Senior Pastor or non profit leader is given responsibility, he/she should also have the authority to act. The same for those areas under the purview of staff. This is not about turf but about the ability to make effective decisions in an efficient manner.

Keeping it empowered means that:
  • Those who have responsibility have authority to act in those areas

Keep it accountable
One of the reasons that clarity is so important is that ambiguous governance systems (where multiple groups are responsible for a decision) make accountability for decisions equally ambiguous. Any time an individual, group or a board have responsibility and authority they must also be accountable for the outcome of their decisions. Empowered governance means that those responsible can act within their scope of responsibility but always with accountability for the results of their decisions.

Keeping it accountable means that:
  • Those responsible for decisions are also accountable for those decisions
  • All actions should be consistent with the mission of the organization
TJ Addington of Addington Consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com