Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The practice of thinking the best of others

This is a discipline because our first instinct when evaluating the behavior of others is often to suspect ulterior motives. In most cases we are working from ignorance since we cannot see into the mind of others. 

The problem with assuming the worst about the actions of others is not only that we are almost wrong, but that it causes us to respond in ways that are not helpful to a good relationship. After all, if I suspect that an individual has poor motives, I will respond with suspicion, distance and possibly even anger. My distancing from that individual in turn causes others to distance themselves as they watch our attitude. We influence others when we assume the worst rather than the best. Sometimes it is not possible to undo the impressions we share with others. 

Buckingham has it right: Find the most generous explanation for each other's behavior and believe it. Doing so allows us to operate from a position of trust and regard rather than mistrust. We don't have to like all the behaviors of others but the reality is that they probably don't like all of ours either. But we always hope that they will assume the best because we intend the best. 

In evaluating the actions of others it is worth considering that we can quickly jump to negative conclusions about them that we would never want them to have toward us. It is a superior attitude rather than one of humility, recognizing our shared humanity. 

Jesus had it right when he told us to "Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31)." That includes our assumptions about others and our generosity toward their motives. Jesus said in the same conversation, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36)." Both are keys to good relationships and to a less judgmental attitude toward others.

TJ Addington of Addington consulting has a passion to help individuals and organizations go to the next level. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The top ten traits of Christian leaders

Leaders come with many different kinds of wiring and lead with varied styles. I celebrate those differences. When hiring or promoting, I care much about how a person leads but I care even more about what lies behind their leadership. There are ten traits that I look for in leaders that are for the most part personal traits that spill over into how they lead.

A Kingdom heart
In ministry settings a kingdom heart is crucial. Our leadership is not about ourselves but about Jesus and what He wants to accomplish on this earth. A kingdom heart is one that understands we are not building something for ourselves but for Him.

Humble leaders can focus on others and the mission because they are not building a kingdom for themselves. Humble leaders have the capacity to live and lead with personal transparency and have a "nothing to prove and nothing to lose" attitude. They are open and non-defensive when challenged.

There are two ways one can live: intentionally or accidentally. The best leaders understand how God has wired them, what He has called them to do (and not do) and organize their lives around the most important rather than simply responding to life. Everything about their priorities and time management is intentional and focused.

Clarity is required for intentional living. Clarity about how God has gifted and wired us, clarity in our leadership priorities and organizational clarity all contribute to the ability to be deeply intentional. 

Those who lead others and expect them to be accountable must be accountable themselves. To lead one must be willing to follow! Lack of accountability is about hubris while accountability is about humility and a healthy commitment to health. This includes accountability for results

The best leaders are deeply reflective people: about themselves, others, the organization, methodology and life in general. They are thinkers rather than simply doers. Their actions come out of thinking and reflection rather than simply responding to events around them. They are thinking, reflective practitioners.

The best leaders are deeply inquisitive, always asking questions, probing people in their organization and in others, desirous of learning and growing. They ask the question "why" often and don't assume that conventional wisdom is always wisdom. 

Team focused
Healthy organizations are formed around teams that work synergistically together under good leadership with accountability for results. Thus leaders must be willing to work with and through team rather than working independently.

Leaders give themselves away to help others be successful and the organization reach its objectives. They are servants to those they lead and understand that it is as others succeed that they succeed. Thus they mentor, coach and help others grow with a generous spirit.

Healthy EQ
Unhealthy EQ is the greatest killer of leadership as it creates relational chaos in its wake. No matter how brilliant an individual is, if there are EQ issues, they will not end up on one of our teams. Healthy EQ, on the other hand builds healthy relationships which leads to healthy collaboration and the building of healthy teams.

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.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Eight confusing church board issues

Church board leadership is always a challenge. And, often boards or individual members are confused on the role of the board. If these areas of confusion can be resolved, the work of the board becomes far easier. Here are eight issues that often cause confusion on a board.

1. What are we actually trying to accomplish?
This sounds like a simple question but the truth is that a majority of church boards cannot answer the question with any specificity. They have a mission but apart from that general statement which generally reflects the Great Commission (more believers and better believers), there is often no objective target that the church is pursuing and without a target there are no metrics to gauge one's progress. 

It is the board's responsibility, working in conjunction with staff to clearly determine what the church is trying to accomplish and then to assign metrics to the target so that it can evaluate its progress.

2. Who is responsible for what?
When there is ambiguity between the responsibilities of the senior pastor (and other staff) and the board there is in the worst case scenario conflict and in the best case confusion. If there is not a written document clearly delineating the responsibilities of both there will be issues that create frustration for both parties. The role of a board is governance while the role of the staff is the day to day ministry. Wherever you draw those lines, be sure you draw them so that there is both clarity and accountability.

3. How does the board interact with the church staff?
The short answer is that boards interact with staff only through the senior pastor. Staff can have only one supervisor and boards are not in a position to supervise or tell staff (apart from the senior leader) what they should or should not be doing. This does not mean that board members cannot have relationships with staff members but it does mean that they cannot direct the work of staff.

4. What is the senior pastor empowered to do on their own and in what areas do they need board approval?
None of us like micro management but this is what happens with many senior pastors who are never sure what they are empowered to do and what decisions they can make and alternatively what issues they need to bring to the board for approval. Constantly needing board approval is demeaning and demotivating for leaders. 

It is incumbent on the board to make clear the leadership parameters of the senior leader so that they are free to lead but are still aware of the boundaries that the board has established. It is the difference between a permission withholding culture and a permission granting culture.

5. What is the board's job description?
In the absence of a clearly written description of the responsibilities of the board every board member has their own definition of their role. That means there are multiple definitions of the board's role. And, it creates confusion and even conflict on the board. Furthermore, it is not possible for the board to evaluate its own work in the absence of a clear job description. 

That role description should include the fiduciary and legal pieces of their responsibility along with the responsibilities delineated in the New Testament for leaders. If you are not clear on these Biblical requirements ask me for the PDF to my book High Impact Church Boards and I will gladly share it.  

6. What are the board's rules of engagement?
In other words, how does the board operate? How does it make decisions? What happens if a board member disagrees with the majority? Does the board always speak with one voice? How does it deal with rogue board members? Is there a board covenant that spells out how the board operates together?

Because many board do not have that clarity, there is a great deal of dysfunction on church boards. This need not be the case but the board must clarify its roles (number 5 above) and how it operates. Without clearly defined guidelines, confusion and conflict will emerge.

7. Who does the board represent?
Many board members believe that they represent their particular ministry interest or constituency in the church. This can easily lead to divided boards especially if there are factions within the congregation that board members see as their job to represent. This view of church leadership has more to do with how we think about American political polity than it does a Biblical theology of leadership. 

Board member do not represent any constituency in the church. Rather they are called Under-Shepherds of the Chief Shepherd - Jesus Christ. Jesus is the head of the church and church leaders lead on His behalf (1 Peter 5:1-4). This does not mean that board members ignore the concerns of the congregation but their leadership is a sacred trust given by the Chief Shepherd. Church leaders lead the congregation where they believe Jesus wants them to go.

8. How do your choose and engage new board members?
Too many congregations do not have a process in bringing new board members on that is designed to set the board up for healthy leadership. Furthermore, in the absence of clarity on 1-7 above, there is no objective way to acclimate new board members to their role as it has not been clarified. 

The most powerful group in most churches is not the board but the committee or group that chooses board members. For a healthy board it is critical to guard the gate of leadership. Only healthy board members can contribute to a healthy board. 

All of this comes down to good clarity. A lack of clarity in these eight areas create confusion. Clarity allows you to move forward in greater health. If you desire help in any of these areas, contact me at my email below. 

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ Addington can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Who are you listening to?

I had a fascinating conversation recently with a senior executive of a well known company. Like many sales organizations, there is a headquarters staff of 300 but the sales are generated by sales teams around the country. Of those in the main office, there are only three individuals who have had experience in the field: working with customers; selling product and seeing the projects they sell completed.

My friend, in his position has regular access with the president who is making daily decisions and in his and the sales staff's view these decisions are out of touch with customers and the realities of the business. Why? Because the president listens to those in the main office but not to those who have regular contact with the customers. In the process he is pricing the product out of the market resulting in declining sales. He is frustrated along with the large sales force. 

His experience can be replicated in organizations, churches and ministries everywhere: leaders who are listening to the wrong people resulting in a myopic leadership paradigm.

The problem? To lead well we must listen to people at all levels of an organization, know their challenges and issues as well as talking regularly with the constituency they serve. When leaders listen primarily to other senior leaders without listening to those at other levels of the organization they do not get the information they need  to make helpful and wise decisions. 

Peter Drucker was a writer and consultant on management who knew an extraordinary amount of information on a wide variety of businesses. How did he get that information? Each morning he would call line managers in various industries to find out what was actually going on. He didn't call the senior executives, but those who dealt with the nuts and bolts of the business. They knew things that the senior staff often did not know. 

In my work with churches and non-profits I watch senior leaders talk to each other but not to those who make the ministry or non-profit what it is - those at all levels of the organization who have a closer relationship with the realities, challenges and views of the constituency, therefore, hurting their ability to make the best decisions. 

If you lead, ask yourself the question: Who am I listening to? Am I listening primarily to senior leaders or am I spending significant time listening to those at other levels of the organization along with constituents who can give me a much more unvarnished view of reality?

The best leaders know where they will get their best information and are disciplined in making the time to listen to all levels of the organization (along with constituents). They know that good decisions depend on good information. Who are you listening to? Are they the right people?

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Negotiating Church Conflict

One of the observations I have made in working with churches who are experiencing conflict is that we generally don't do it very well. Conflict itself is not bad if it involves differing ideas as to how to accomplish our mission. The issue is always how we handle the conflict, or our differences. It is poor handling of differences that get us in trouble, not the differences themselves which are merely differing perspectives on what should be done. That being said, here are some principles that can help us negotiate conflict or differences in a healthy manner.

One: Disagreement and expressing that disagreement is not wrong. Some are afraid to share their opinions because they have been told that to do so is gossip. It is not. All of us have the right to share our views in the church with the caveat that we do it in a healthy manner. It is unhealthy to try to shut down discussion in the church. It is OK to talk. It OK to express our views. It is OK to differ with others.

Two: Gossip is sin. Gossip is "idle talk or rumor, especially about personal or private affairs of others" (Wikipedia). Gossip is different than sharing our opinion for it goes to the motivations or actions of others and is generally destructive in nature. Scriptures are clear that gossip is wrong. Gossip includes questioning the motives of others, passing along third party information as fact, and denigrating others. Disagreement or stating our views is not gossip, it is simply defining what we are thinking.

Three. Robust dialogue is healthy. Robust dialogue means that we can put any issue on the table with the exception of personal attacks or hidden agendas. There are differing views in congregations on any number of issues. It is good to talk about those things but to do so without personal attacks, hidden agendas or language that inflames rather than informs. Healthy leaders invite healthy dialogue and listen to those who speak.

Four: Unity in diversity is critical. Unity within the body of Christ is a high value in Scripture. Congregations are made up of different views, opinions, social and ethnic backgrounds but it is the Holy Spirit that binds us together as one. Each of us has the same Holy Spirit in his or her heart and that spirit is a spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,goodness, gentleness, and self control. If we live in His Spirit we can have differences and still remain united as one body. As Paul put it in Ephesians 4:3, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."

Five: Being able to disagree and stay in relationship is good Emotional Intelligence and demonstrates the work of the Holy Spirit. Each of us has preferences and opinions on many things in the church. What we want to be able to do is to state those positions but remain in fellowship and friendship with those who hold a differing position. This is not always easy but it is Biblical.

Six: By extension, marginalizing or demonizing those who disagree with us is bad Emotional Intelligence and does not reflect the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to disagree with someone. It is another to believe that they are bad people because they believe differently and to allow our differences to shatter our relationships, trust or to see them as evil. This does not reflect the will of the Holy Spirit.

Seven: Taking on the offense of others is foolish and wrong.My best friend has an issue with someone in the church so out of friendship I take up their offense and allow their issue to become my issue. This is foolish and wrong because I have allowed my friend to alienate me from others when I have no personal reason to do so. Nor can I resolve an issue that is not my issue. It happens in families and congregations and it contributes to greater conflict.

Eight: The church is the Bride of Christ and therefore we must display the attitude of Christ toward one another even when we differ from one another. The church is not like any other organization for it is the Bride of Jesus and His chosen instrument to reach the world. We of all people need to be His people in good times and in hard times. Paul writes in Philippians 2:4, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." 

Nine: Forgiveness is often needed when we have conflict. We need not apologize for having differing views and perspectives but we do need to apologize when our words, attitudes or actions get the best of us and we say or do things that are not pleasing to God. I have often had to apologize in times of conflict. God is pleased when we keep short accounts and forgive those who need forgiveness and seek forgiveness when we need it.

Ten: Pray diligently! When we focus on ourselves we want to be right and win. When we focus on God we start to see those who differ with us in a different light and desire God to win. In prayer, our hearts are often softened and changed, our humility is increased and our desire for a Godly solution is heightened.

There will be conflict this side of heaven. Lets do all we can to handle it well.

TJ  has a passion to help individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Monday, June 17, 2019

Quick results verses long term sustainability in ministry

We are a people in a hurry.

We want results (and we should) but we want them now and often rather than ensuring that we do something well and sustainable, we opt for what we think will be the quick solution which usually fails in the long term.

We run ministry campaigns but can neglect the harder ongoing training in stewardship and generosity. We want people in groups but don't provide a long term sustainable model that keeps them there or grows their leaders. We want growth and put great energy into appealing services but don't close the back door through meaningful engagement of those who come - and thus many leave. We desire to train new leaders and design programs but don't mentor them through the process and give them opportunities to lead and grow and receive feedback.

Why do we so often neglect long term sustainability in our ministry efforts? Sustainability takes a lot more time and we want results now. Sustainability means that we know what we are going after, are committed to doing it well, have done our homework, thought through the issues, have someone who will lead the effort and are willing to start small and let it grow. In the short run it produces less but in the long run it produces exponentially more than going after quick results.

Take groups as an example. Almost every church values groups but most struggle to make it happen. They run programs to get them going and then they fizzle out and a few years later they try another tact. Yet there are churches (even very large churches) that have up to 75% of their adults in groups on a regular basis. In the first instance, the desire for quick results circumvents long term success. In the second instance, leaders have done their homework, built a sustainable model and are dogged in pursuing it for long term sustainability and success.

The next time you tackle a ministry initiative, ask this question: Am I going after quick results or do I have a paradigm for long term sustainability?

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ Addington can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Monday, June 10, 2019

When vision is perfectly designed to take you nowhere

Vision is a funny thing. Lots of people (and leaders) have vision but many cannot deliver on that vision because they cannot develop a realistic strategy that will allow them to accomplish the vision. That is why a vision without a workable strategy is hallucination: an unfulfilled dream, a false hope and an empty promise. Many so called visions for the future are perfectly designed to get you nowhere except in the mind of a leader. 

The problem with this is that vision usually comes from leaders and leaders have followers and staff. It is staff who have to live with the unmet dreams of their leaders and the implications of chasing a vision that they know is a foolish dream. I remember a leader I once worked for who hired a staff member to accomplish a specific task that was vital to the organization. 

As I listened to the vision of that new staff member and his strategy for how he would accomplish it I knew in my heart that "this dog won't hunt" but I was not in a position to do or say much as I was lower in the organizational chain and this was a senior level hire of a senior level executive. Nor was I asked my opinion.

In this case we wasted three years of effort, built a staff we had to eventually let go and lost one million dollars in the process. And I had to pick up the pieces when it fell apart and the staff member was let go. Not only did we pay huge "dumb tax" for the foolish expectations and their results but the senior leader lost great credibility in the eyes of his staff for leading us down a path that resulted in organizational damage and could have been avoided. The Walter Mitty vision of the senior leader was an hallucination.

It is not that this leader (the one who hired) and the staff member (the one who was hired) did not have a strategy to reach their vision. Their problem was that it was not a workable strategy. It was built on false assumptions, optimistic rather than realistic thinking which did not even move the ball down the field a bit but rather went the wrong direction entirely.

How does one avoid moving mistaking vision for dreams or hallucinations? A key is not to develop vision by oneself. Senior leaders should work the visioning process with other senior staff who must help deliver on the vision. That includes a reasonable, workable strategy for how the organization will accomplish its vision. Usually that will mean changes in the current paradigm or strategy that the organization is using. After all, the current paradigm got you to where you are but was not designed to get you to where you need to go next. 

That raises the question of whether the organization and its leaders are ready and willing to refocus their efforts, personnel and resources toward the accomplishing of the new vision? Adopting a new vision without refocusing the organization toward that new vision is also an hallucination. Refocusing may well mean that some staff who were key in the past will need to be let go in order to accomplish the new. It may well mean that other staff will need to be refocused and even organizational structures changed to meet the needs of a new vision and a new day. It is a grave mistake to assume that your current ministry paradigm will get you to a new vision and the next level.

Here are the kinds of questions that need to be addressed if a vision is going to be more than a dream:

  • Is this a realistic vision and is it the right vision for us as an organization?
  • Do we have buy in from senior staff toward a new vision and what is our plan to create a guiding coalition within the organization to move in a new direction?
  • Do we have a realistic and workable plan to accomplish the vision?
  • What are the unintended consequences of moving in our new direction?
  • How do we need to restructure staff, budgets or organizational structure to focus on the new vision?
  • How will we know if we are being successful and how do we monitor progress?

Vision is a wonderful and necessary element of leadership. But, a vision without a workable strategy is simply a hallucination.

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ Addington can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Why many churches are unsuccessful in finding and retaining high quality volunteers

All churches talk about volunteers and what they can contribute to ministry but many find it difficult to find and retain high quality volunteer staff. The following factors contribute to this problem but all of these can be overcome if we take them seriously.

When we treat volunteers as “second rate staff” rather then treating them like staff we send a message  that they are not as appreciated or important as paid staff. When you think about that you realize how crazy that is when these volunteers are willing to contribute their gifts and talents for free. If we truly want their expertise and involvement we need to give them the same appreciation, information and asking for the same input as they do staff.

When we are not willing to invest the same energy into helping volunteer staff grow and flourish in their ministries as we do paid staff we also send an unwanted message. I would argue that we ought to offer a level of growth and building into their lives that they would greatly value the opportunity to serve Jesus and be thankful that they are being built into. Just as we want to help staff understand their wiring and gifts and grow in faith and EQ, we ought to want the same for our volunteers who will often be the future leaders of the church.

When we are not willing to give volunteers responsibility commensurate with their gifting and experience - as we would with paid staff we desensitize them from continuing with us. After all, if they carry significant responsibility in their non church life and we ask them to fill slots that are below their interest or experience they may become easily bored. Of course some volunteers just want to help and they don’t care much where they end up. Others want to lead or contribute their knowledge and skill in a ministry setting and we should get as close to their heart passions as we can.
After all we are about releasing people into ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12) in light of their God given gifts (Ephesians 2:10-11).

When we don’t listen to our volunteers the way we would listen to staff we lose their trust. Volunteers bring a unique perspective to staff because they can see ministry from the outside in rather than the inside out. Both are important perspectives but too many church leaders are more interested in their own perspective rather than the perspective of the outside in. Listening to only one perspective limits our understanding of reality. Listening to both perspectives not only gives better perspective but it values both groups equally.

Finally many churches lose volunteers when they only focus on ministries inside the church. There are many believers who long to see the gospel penetrate their communities but find little interest on the part of church leaders to do so. When this happens mission driven individuals will follow their passions. And the church loses!

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.

Creating cultures of organizational excellence

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Living a generous life

A Generous life is one where we see all resources as given by God to be put at the disposal of God. This includes our money, gifts, time, abilities, skills, help and whatever is in our library of resources. Generosity allows us to leave a legacy as we share what we have with what others need. 

When we think of generosity we often think of money and financial resources. The truth is that there are many kinds of generosity. It is often said that the most precious thing we have today is our time. In fact, it is often easier to give money rather than to give our time. Yet, it is often our time that people need. In an added irony, giving others our time gives us much greater opportunity to influence others and leave a legacy with them as most influence is life on life. 

Included in a willingness to give our time is a willingness to share areas of expertise that we have. A generous individual is ready and willing to share their expertise because it allows them to contribute something of value to an individual or a cause that we care about. 

In one of the organizations I consult with there is an extraordinary woman whose office is often filled by those who need some encouragement, a listening ear and wise advice. She willingly shares her time and encouragement and is loved because of it. In doing so she is living a generous life. And ironically, what she can give away is needed by many in the organization. Another individual in this organization loves to stop by and pray for you. He has a gift of faith but is also generous with that gift of faith and willingly shares that gift. 

What can you give away? What can you be generous with?  All it takes is a willingness to share what God has given to us.    

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.

Creating cultures of organizational excellence

Friday, May 31, 2019

Stop following your boss and get in front

Many smart people make a fundamental error in their relationship with their boss whether that be an individual or a board. They wait for direction rather than taking the initiative to set direction themselves. In doing so they give up a great deal of their autonomy because they are no longer controlling their destiny.

OK you say, "but it is our job to follow our authority." Yes, we are accountable to our authority but it is possible and preferable to influence the direction you are going by getting in front of your authority rather than simply responding to it. How do you do this?

First, you get in front of your boss when you learn to anticipate their thinking and direction, take the time to think deeply about where they are going and make your own plans accordingly. In other words, you are proactively moving in the direction they are moving and where possible are a step ahead in your thinking. If you are right, by being ahead of them, you can directly influence their direction.

You get in front of your boss when you proactively address concerns you know they have before they ask you to do so. Not only have you done the hard work to think a step ahead of your boss but you have done the harder work to ensure that you are already addressing needs you know they will address - before they address them. 

How do you obtain the intelligence to know where your boss wants to go? You listen carefully and ask a lot of penetrating questions about their intentions and direction. And you pay attention to what their priorities are and what issues they seem passionate about. Find out what they are being pressed on by their supervisor or board so that you can address issues that they are being pushed to address. 

Ironically, for those who do this, their supervisor, boss or board often end up following them rather than the other way around. You are now setting the pace, or in the least have major influence as to where the direction is going. This is a huge win for healthy staff who desire to have influence in the organization they work for.

Rather than follow, think about leading by getting in front of the issues.  


Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ Addington can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com            

Monday, April 29, 2019

Letting go of fear and ego to empower our staff

Truly empowering staff is a difficult thing for many leaders to do and many organizations are far more controlling than they are empowering. While this is often driven by good motives - make sure that things don't go wrong, it is highly demotivating to staff and actually keeps staff from growing and developing. After all, without having to take responsibility and risks one does not grow. Simply following the instructions of another is not a recipe for development.

The root of unempowered cultures is often fear that someone may make a mistake which reflects poorly on the leader - which is about the insecurities of a leader. Or, it is hubris on the leader's part that no one can do it as well as they can. Thus the need to control rather than empower. The point is that lack of empowerment is not about the staff but about the leader. When leaders recognize that this is about them, they are more likely to pay attention to the issue.

In unempowered cultures:
  • People feel controlled
  • Permission is always needed
  • The ideas of staff are often ignored
  • The best staff generally leave
  • The leader is seen as fearful or indecisive
  • Staff don't grow
  • The organization suffers
Leaders who resist empowering staff end up hurting their staff, their organization and themselves. Their fear or ego gets in the way of forward progress. If you want to develop a healthy organization, however, you will overcome both fear and ego and allow your staff appropriate freedom. 

Here are some things to remember as you do so.

1. Recognize that empowering others may well mean that some things will fail. Failure is a good thing because if nothing fails, little is being tried! Breakthroughs come through trying new things or doing things in new ways. The best leaders allow failure and practice autopsy without blame. The best lessons are often learned when something does not work as we wanted it to.

2. Realize that others will do things different than you. We are all wired and gifted differently. The issue is not usually how something gets done but that it gets done. Be OK with different approaches knowing that yours is only one of many.

3. Give freedom within boundaries. If there are specific boundaries you don't want crossed, be clear about them so staff know where they have freedom and where they have limits. All freedom comes with boundaries after all.

4. Be specific about the outcomes you desire rather than the strategy to get there. Strategies can vary but the outcomes need to be clear.

5. Stay connected and guide the process not through telling or micromanagement but through ongoing dialogue that allows the best ideas to emerge. Ask questions rather than telling someone what to do. Sometimes that will mean stepping back and allowing something not to work and allow the staff member to figure it out.

6. Give appropriate feedback in a way that continues to empower and not control. Share your observations and thoughts but resist telling them what to do.

7. Celebrate success and help staff learn from their experience. It may not be perfect but with time and coaching it will get better and better. The more experience your staff have in figuring things out the happier they will be and the better off you and the organization will be. 

Don't allow your fear or ego to get in the way of empowering your staff!

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level of effectiveness. TJ Addington can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com

Sunday, April 28, 2019

How are you doing as a leader or how is your leader doing?

How is your leader doing as a leader? If you are a team member, here is a way of figuring that out. If you are a leader, here is a reminder of what is really important.

Does your leader bring great clarity to what the organization or team is about and how it will get there? That is job one of a leader. Clarity gives direction while ambiguity brings confusion.

Does your leader empower you to accomplish what you are tasked with through your gifts and wiring and without micromanagement? Empowerment values people while disempowerment devalues people.

Does your leader meet with you monthly as a mentor coach in order to remove barriers, help you move the ball forward and understand what you are doing? In doing so, does he/she provide you with honest and helpful feedback?

Does your leader keep his or her commitments and promises on a consistent basis? Good leaders don't ask their team to do what they do not do themselves.

Does your leader lead through their team or treat their team as ancillary to their "real" work? Do you feel that their number one job is to help the team be successful or that they are more concerned about their own work? Good leaders lead through their team.

Does your leader keep the team focused on results rather than activity? Are measurable results a focus of your leader? Do they help you strategize for achieving those results or is evaluation a secondary issue?

Does your leader foster a collegial atmosphere where team members work in concert with one another or are your team members isolated and siloed?

Is your leader open to honest feedback and suggestions or do you find them to be closed or defensive? Are there issues that are off limits for the team to discuss with their leader knowing that those issues are too sensitive to discuss?

If you had a choice today, would you sign up to work for the leader you work for? If yes why? If no why?

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

Creating cultures of organizational excellence

Monday, April 22, 2019

What Harvest Bible Chapel could do to avoid bankruptcy and closure

I believe there is a good chance that Harvest Bible Chapel will suffer bankruptcy and closure unless drastic actions are taken. The current situation within the church is not sustainable. ECFA has not only removed their seal of financial approval but said that they will never reinstate the church given what they have learned. Attendance and giving is in a steep dive. The elders (former and current) have yet to be completely candid. 

The books have not been opened and the information of financial malfeasance is devastating. The movement of funds and excessive pay of James MacDonald cannot be justified. The use of funds for non ministry purposes has been verified - and we may only know the tip of the iceberg. True information as to what is happening internally is not being shared apart from leaks that occur daily. Individuals who have been a part of what looks like a corrupt organization are still employed by the church. Deals are still being made with James according to those in the know. Lawsuits have been initiated to request donations be returned. 

In spite of the above, the church is in the process of looking for a new senior leader. What leader of good character would even consider such a situation where there is a clear lack of transparency and where there have been grievous violations of trust that have not been owned up to and staff who were a part of that system who are still on staff?

Ironically, the webpage for the church states this: "Every weekend we're opening the Bible together and learning from its pages in ways that speak right into our lives. In our services, our ministries, our music - in everything we do at Harvest, our passion and focus are to bring glory through His Son Jesus Christ." Call me cynical but this statement does not square with the above descriptors. 

It is unlikely that the above scenario can exist much longer with a viable church. I am not sure that anything can rescue the church at this point but I believe that it only has a chance if it takes the following action. 

1. The appointment of an outside board of elders for a period of time. Too many people inside the power structure of the church still have a vested interest in secrecy and guarding their turf. Only a board made up of respected Christian leaders from outside the church can bring objectivity and transparency to what seems to be a corrupt ministry. Outsiders who have no agenda other than the good of the church have nothing to guard, nothing to hide and nothing to be afraid of. Until this happens there will be no healing or health.

2. This outside board is the only group who can choose new elders for HBC to choose men who are not part of the current system or have a vested interest in what has transpired. All new elders, if chosen by the current board or their representatives will live under the suspicion of covering up the past - which may well be true. Even if not true they will live under a cloud of suspicion. In addition, no elder who served under the watch of James MacDonald should ever serve as an elder in the church again. If for no other reason than they cannot lead well having been a part of a sick system.

3. All staff who were in senior positions either on the ministerial side or the administrative side must be relieved of their duties. They may or may not have been a part of the problem but the perception will always be there that they were. In addition, many staff knew of the sickness within but remained in their role which lacks integrity on their part. There are key financial people who remain in place who had to know of financial irregularities and yet are there today. 

4. The books need to be opened - completely. Without complete transparency at this point the leadership have no credibility. Only an outside board will be able to do this as there are too many inside the power structure that don't want the books opened as it will reveal their poor leadership. Open the books and let the chips fall where they will.

5. Someone - and I believe that only an outside board can do this - needs to name any illegal, unethical or questionable actions involving James, the leadership and the elders. Repentance comes with an acknowledgement of wrongs committed and only with that acknowledgement can the congregation have a chance of healing.

My prediction? None of these five steps will be taken because there is too much to hide, too much pride and too much need to be in power. It will sadly end in a failed church and even worse mayhem than currently exists. As long as you hide the truth it will likely repeat itself. Bring it to light and it will likely not. Unfortunately the history to this point is to hide and try to control what cannot be controlled and is no longer a secret. 

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

Creating cultures of organizational excellence

Saturday, April 20, 2019

This is what Easter looks like!

There is no better picture of what Easter looks like than the cross that still stands in the rubble of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The cross is empty and triumphant. The rubble of our lives - the reason for His death lies at the foot of the cross as we are relieved of our sin and burdens. Two days before, Satan thought he had triumphed over God only to find out on Easter morning that God had triumphed over him. The empty cross and the empty tomb said it all.

For everyone who feels
like a failure today. Leave that failure in the rubble at the foot of the cross and walk into a new future. Jesus died to free you of your sin. He died to free you of your failure. In that death He took all of our sin and failure on Himself.

Because of the cross, there is no wound He cannot heal, there is no failure He cannot redeem, there is no sorrow He cannot console. There is no burden we cannot give Him. There is no future that needs to be in eternal doubt. There is no path we need to walk alone.

This was a day that the world had never seen. Goodness actually triumphed over evil as it will one day soon. Hope triumphed over despair as it can for each one of us again and again. Life triumphed over death as Christ arose as we will one day from death. On this day the world changed forever.

Celebrate Resurrection Day. It shows the power of God when He triumphed over evil. It gives us hope for our own resurrection and life with God forever. It is a day of celebration and hope.

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

Creating cultures of organizational excellence