VOX LIVE Blog: Leading for Life

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Leading for Life, run by Innovista, provides practical training for leaders.  VOX Editor, Ruth Garvey-Williams is at the one-day Leading for Life training at the Riasc Centre in Swords, Dublin today (Saturday 11 June) and is delighted to bring you a LIVE Blog with highlights of the action throughout the day!

10am Just getting ready to start here at the wonderful Riasc Centre (Swords Baptist Church).

10.27am Great warm up creating balloon "chairs"!  

10.29am  First up Jason Lane, the International Director of Innovista (introduced by Emma Rothwell).

Being a Leader others love to follow

As a teenager, Jesus sounded amazing but church was terrible!  My passion is to see younger leaders given opportunities, equipped and released to lead mission.  Younger leaders often have the courage to do what others don't.  That is my driving passion!

How do we build sustained commitment within others to the cause we are leading?  When leaders lead in the right way, people are willing to sacrifice joyfully to see the vision fulfilled. But not all leaders are like that.

10.41 Leaders that others love to follow, create clarity for their teams.  If there is not clarity, people spend all their energy filling in the gaps rather than on the mission itself.  

Clarity of Direction - (Purpose and Vision)

In order for people to engage with a cause, they need to be clear about what the cause it and why it matters.  Purpose is about what we do and it must be simple and memorable.  If you want people who are fully engaged, they need to be clear on the vision.  What is the better future that you are pursuing? Vision provides inspiration.  It is the job of the leader to make vision visible because by definition is it something that has not yet happened.

10.59 Reflection time:  What is the purpose and vision of your team?  Are they clear about it?

Clarity of Culture - How are things done around here?  Is there a culture of sabotage within the church?  Is there behaviour going on that undermines the purpose and vision?  Culture is shaped by values (convictions that lead to specific behaviours).  Clarity of values creates a healthy culture in which people are set free to get on with the right things in the right way.

Too often we are short on volunteers so we lower the bar:  the recruitment policy says if you are warm and willing, you are in.  When we have strong cultures based on values, we are able to recruit the right people!

11.12am Reflection:  What are the core values?  What are the behaviours that result?  Is the team clear on them?

Leadership basics:  "I am responsible for creating clarity for my team!"

11.45am  Next up Humanitarian Aid Worker, Kate Bowen-Evans (introduced by Sam Moore, Director of Innovista Ireland).

Making Teams Work

I have a passion for seeing improvement in leadership and management in the church!  Bad management is a pastoral issue.  Too often there is insufficient time spent on leading people well!.

Christian Development organisations should base their human resource management on Christian values.

If we claim to love people and do not display the love of God to our staff, we have a problem.

12 noon: We need to take time planning and thinking about the strategic direction and who we need on the team in order to get there.  Unfortunately, there is an idea vs reality.  When you are working in a Christian organisation you don't always have the luxury of picking your "dream team".  However, you can be specific and "picky" in order to get the right people on board.

Some people are brilliant but a nightmare to work with.  Others are great to work with but ineffective.  There can be a resistance in the Christian community to doing things "well".  

Induction is key!  Take adequate time during the induction stage to provide support and "hand-holding".  Be approachable and check in regularly with your team members.  Don't just let them sink or swim.

12.14 It is so important to set clear goals and objectives.  What do you want to be achieving by when and how?   What is expected of people?  It is not about whip-cracking but about relationships.  How can we help and support people within the roles they have?

Feedback is so important but we need to do this in a caring, affirming way.  Give honest, loving, specific, structured feedback.  Being able to give negative feedback appropriately is a positive sign.

Never underestimate the pastoral value of good management and supervision.

Know your team:  Strengths finder focuses on what we are good at rather than on trying to improve our weaknesses.  Go where the energy is.  Use what you are good!   Identifying our skills or strengths and weaknesses and where we have gaps.  Understanding and valuing difference is so important within a team.  Show appreciation both publicly and privately.  Use language of inclusion and co-leadership.  Defend and protect your team.  Share successes.

Leading your team:  

  • A leader need to be concerned with more than just the day-to-day tasks but also have the big picture.
  • While a leader that is unconcerned about what others think can be decisive and able to manage certain situations (e.g. crises), in the long term a leader needs to care about their impact on people and be willing to solicit feedback.
  • A leader needs to be a specialist in leadership and management, just because people are good in certain areas does not mean that they are the right person to lead that area.
  • It can be good to have a visionary leader but if they are always instigating new ideas, it is confusing and exhausting for the team.
  • Boundaries are so key for any team - lead by example in this!

14.01 Back after a great lunch and excited to hear from Pam Rooney about Paradoxology!

I am quite shy and I'm always in the back row of the church but I do have a passion for God!  Most of my friends and family are not Christians and don't have much time for Christianity.  If Christianity were re-marketted, what would it look like?  I work as a leadership coach - in the business world there are some people who are natural-born leaders but in God's world, He seems to use the most unlikely people to lead.

Paradoxology is a tent in the middle of Electric Picnic.  During a visit to India, I read the "Wild Goose" - a book about Celtic Christianity which talks about the Spirit of God.  This book goes through all the reasons for "not" doing stuff.  I had been inspired by the spirituality I saw among the Indians and I also lament that Christians always seem to reach out to Christians.  I go to a lot of music festival where there are is lot of "spirituality" on offer - I lament about that because people are so attracted to this stuff.  I said, "What if we had a beautiful Christian space in the middle of Electric Picnic?"

But I didn't know how to do it.  I prayed for the 13-hour flight home and had the idea to ask Scott Evans to be involved.  He was so excited and so we got together.  I had to ring Electric Picnic and they were not excited about it.  Eventually they said, "We will take a chance on you but one step out and you'll be out."

God provided for us every step of the way.  By default, I followed the leadership model.  I made the decision and then brought others on board who created a great team.  There was loads of hard work but it was tremendous.

15.34 Jason Lane is back to continue talking about leading in such a way that we encourage people to fully engage in the cause.

Creating Clarity around Current Reality - responding to what is going on.  What in your current reality needs to change?  We need the space and time to slow down and engage with the difficult questions.

Leaders are stewards as well as servants:

  • We are stewards of the Gospel.  We have a message to demonstrate and communicate.  
  • We are stewards of the visions that God has given to us.
  • We are stewards of people - when we talk about stewards, we think about money.  Although money matters, people matter even more!

Most of the time, there is something that needs to be better.  So often, we think the problems mean that we are a bad leader and we try to pretend that problem is not there.  When we don't pay attention to the problems, they start to grow.... they become the "elephants".  (The elephant gets bigger and everyone is looking at the elephant while we are trying to ignore it.)  If we name the elephant in the room, trust in us goes up!

Stop and ask the question... What is the cost of not dealing with the elephant?  Whatever the cost of dealing with it, the cost of not dealing with it is even higher!

Leaders that others love to follow know that they are deeply loved.

As we do that, those around us will love following - giving themselves to the cause of the Gospel!

15.53 Reflection:  Is there an elephant in your room? What is its name and what is your next step?