Are You a Good Manager?

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Admit it. Nobody likes a bad manager.

When things are poorly managed, everybody suffers. Things become disorganized. People get confused. Information gets lost. Productivity wanes. All in all, poor management can lead to mass chaos.

Good managers place priority in taking good care of the people or tasks assigned to them. They model service. They are selfless. They set a standard of excellence for others to follow.

In reality, we’re all managers. God has entrusted to our care numerous things of which He expects us to be good stewards. A literal translation of the word steward is manager. Whether it’s money, time, relationships, talents, or even God’s green earth, we’re called to be responsible managers.

So how are you managing the things God has placed in your care?

Keep these things in mind when it comes to managing your God-given responsibilities:

  1. God is in charge. Psalm 24:1 (NIV) reminds us, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” And in the Book of James we learn, “Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above” (1:17, HCSB). As humans who are often on mission for fame, possessions, and power, we must humble ourselves daily, acknowledging God as our Creator and Sustainer. As we trust in His provision, God will give us all we need.
  2. Honesty is the best policy. Manipulation and deceit are Satan’s tactics when trying to lure us off the path of being good managers. Don’t let Satan win. We’re reminded in 1 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV), “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.” Always be honest and trustworthy.
  3. We need each other. When we each use our God-given gifts, everyone benefits. We learn in 1 Corinthians 12:6-7 (MSG), “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.” As we strive to be good managers, we must work together and appreciate the different abilities, gifts, and skills that each person brings to the mix.

If you allow it, the ability to be a good manager is attainable. It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be fun. But in the end, our responsibility to God remains. Choose to be a good manager. As you make stewardship a priority, you’ll glorify God and set a great standard for those around you to go and do the same.

Want to help kids understand how to be good managers? Discover how Meet Penny Nickels can be a simple and effective tool to start the conversation early! Learn more at pennynickelsbooks.com

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Do You Have Trouble Being Still?

 

479345205Waiting. Late Gen X’ers and Millennials have never really had to do much of it. In fact, we cringe at the thought of it. Thanks to fast food retailers, express trains, HOV lanes, and supermarket “10 items or less” checkout stations (just to name a few), we’ve gradually lost any and all tolerance for waiting.

I’ll be the first to confess that I have a low tolerance for waiting. (If you want proof, just ride to work with me one morning and see how well I handle traffic jams.) Recently, as I grumbled to myself about having to sit still for a few extra minutes, I had a revelation. I realized that I get easily frustrated when someone doesn’t answer my call, text, or email promptly. I never want to wait in line at theme parks. I start to steam when that friend (whom I love) says they’ll be there at 6:00 pm but doesn’t show up until 6:10pm. I often don’t even have the patience to wait on the elevator to move two floors (ridiculous, I know).

While processing all of these instances, I realized that I have a serious problem. Is it really such an inconvenience to my schedule to have to be patient for just a few tiny moments of my day? Of course, the answer is no. But there’s a greater lesson to be found here: Waiting is a part of life. No matter how advanced technology may become or how many more choices we’re offered in this life, we’re always going to be required to wait on something or someone.

Whether it be in the work environment, relationships, or leisure, waiting is never comfortable or pleasant. But we could all testify to the fact that waiting has proven profitable at times. We must remember that the big thing God has waiting for us just beyond the horizon is only found through seasons of being still and patiently trusting a greater plan.

Scripture is full of great examples of how waiting proves valuable in the end. Psalm 46:10 provides probably the best advice ever for waiting: “Be still, and know that I am God.” In other words, breathe in, breathe out, and simply trust the one who knows us best and what’s best for us–our Creator.

Consider your own life. Do you have a low tolerance for waiting? Do you feel entitled to have everything “your way, right away”? Do you need to take time to be still, trusting in the Lord’s perfect plan and timing over your own?

6 Ways to Thrive In the Midst of Poor Leadership

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Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t mention his or her frustrations with the leadership at their workplaces. Maybe you’re hearing the same things. Or maybe you can relate with your own work leadership. Or maybe you’re a leader who has your own set of frustrations about your employees.

Stories about leaders in workplaces who are “good” people (meaning, he or she is generally a good person) but constantly make bad decisions for the team are more common than not. Whether a leader isn’t fully qualified for the job, has lost passion for the company’s mission, or just not the right fit for a leadership role, employees are forced to make the best of the situation for the sake of the mission at hand.

Good decision-makers can be few or far-between these days. The emotional and mental weight that comes with making major business decisions requires a leader who might who doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve. Being a good decision-maker requires an individual who may not always be popular and who doesn’t mind having a few enemies. And ultimately, being a good decision-maker requires an individual who can discern right from wrong.

So how can we respond when “good” leaders make bad decisions in the workplace? After taking a poll from several friends in various career fields, here are some ways to thrive in the midst of poor leadership:

1. Stay focused on the task at hand. Remember what you signed up for. If you’ve committed to a role or position on your team, the task or mission should be where you pour your energy. Keep the interests your end user, customer, or audience as your priority.

2. Pick up the slack when possible. You can either be a part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution. When your leader drops the ball or lacks necessary passion, pick up the ball and keep things moving. The worst that can happen is that somebody will notice your own passion and desire for excellence. Ultimately, you don’t have to have the name plate of director, manager, or supervisor on your door or desk to lead and lead well.

3. Keep a positive outlook. As much as discouragement and frustration wants to conquer your passion, let endurance and hope drive your daily attitude. Prepare yourself each morning to face the day ahead. Set aside time to refuel before you head into work. Ideas: pray, read Scripture, read blogs or articles that relate to your work, make lists of projects to conquer, or research creative inspiration from people or companies who do similar work.

4. Pray for your leadership. Quite frankly, if you’re frustrated or angry with your leadership, this one should be atop your list. In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus reminds us, “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.” Humility always wins–every time. Your leaders need you to pray for them.

5. Make yourself indispensable. If you believe you are valuable and important to your team, strive daily to make yourself indispensable. Prove your value daily by doing excellent work. Always push your creative limits to the max. In his book, Linchpin, Seth Godin describes indispensable employees as people who figure out what to do when there’s no rule book; they consider their work as a form of art. Be someone who makes a real difference.

6. Offer wisdom when possible. Believe it or not, even the best leaders covet wisdom from their team players. Don’t be afraid to offer wisdom, words of encouragement, or suggestions to your leaders. Guard against arrogance or being overconfident, but rather approach your leaders with respect, humility, and genuine passion when you have something to share or suggest. You might just be surprised at how they respond.

Above all, love your work, pour your best self into it, and remember why you do it. Even if your leader fails, you can rest confidently in knowing that you did your best and remained faithful.

 

Why Excellence Still Matters

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Have you ever gazed at a work of art, focusing on the artist’s attention to detail? It’s fascinating to see and absorb what makes the piece original. It’s in the details where excellence is found.

When it comes to your own personal work or craft, how important are the details? Do you strive for excellence? Do you consider your work as a form of art or a way to share a special skill or talent? Or is your focus primarily on just getting the work done, getting paid, and getting home in time to see the latest reality TV episode?

One thing I’ve observed in the workforce today is a disregard for excellence. Whether it’s a lack of motivation, interest, or skill, many people don’t seem to care much about the details or originality of the work to which they’ve been entrusted. And, in the end, audiences are left with a lackluster experience.

Imagine a world where excellence still mattered. Imagine a world where each person considered their work as a form of art or skill that can captivate an audience (or customer) in ways that draw them to the intentional details and originality of the work. Now imagine yourself as an artist in that world. What would you create? How would you create it? What would make it original and fascinating to your audience?

Our world today needs individuals who have the heart of an artist. Excellence still matters. Details are still of great importance. Originality is still captivating.

If you’re still not convinced, consider the work of our Creator. He cares about the details. Just look around (or in the mirror) for proof. Observe the growth of a child (or consider the conception process). Think about the changing of seasons (or night and day). Not only did our Creator care about the details, but He cared about excellence.

Consider the work you’ve been called to do. Are you striving for excellence? Do you care about the details? If not, I challenge you to find ways to make it original. Strive for ways to impress your audience. Whatever the task you’ve been given to do, consider it a form of art. In the end, it’s about more than the paycheck.

When it comes to excellence, here’s some food for thought…

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31, HCSB)

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7, ESV)

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

“He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head!” (Matthew 10:30, MSG)

The Lost Cup of Ambition

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am·bi·tion – an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment. (dictionary.com)

When I was growing up, there was much talk about ambition. I remember being taught (in school and at home) to dream big, learn much, and climb the ladder of success all the way to the top. But something I’m noticing more and more is that people (of all generations) seem to be comfortable with stopping only so far up the ladder. In a sense, it appears that ambition is a lost concept.

Why are we no longer ambitious? Here are five possible explanations.

ROSTER CUTS

In our recent days, difficult economic times have forced companies and organizations to cut expenses. Among those cuts are personnel. Among those personnel are quite often the people who have climbed to the top. Thus, the higher the salary, the first to go. As ambitious “ladder climbers” watch their leaders at the top be pushed off the ladder, they tend to stop climbing out of fear that they might be cut next. In turn, we’re left with a team of individuals who: 1) play it safe rather than take risks, 2) blend in rather than sticking out, and 3) contribute to the problem rather than improve it.

UNCONCERNED COACHING

Another explanation could be a collective lack of enthusiasm. As I converse with young professionals daily, I’ve found a common thread of frustration in today’s workplace. Not only do young professionals feel undervalued for their passions and talents, but they also don’t feel freedom to be creative. Instead, they’re asked to be cogs in the wheel, sticking to a robotic script, which leaves them unmotivated with no desire of growth or ambition.

INTERCEPTED PASSES

We’ve all seen it. You (or maybe someone you know) pours their passion, wisdom, and sacrificed time into building your future at a company. Then, out of nowhere, a manager hires someone else for your coveted (and likely well-deserved) role. Whether it’s an actual qualified candidate or the manager’s personal friend, it’s a stab in the gut, resulting in a major lack of ambition (especially when you have to train the new hire who’s getting paid more than you). Call it poor leadership or bad luck, nothing quenches a person’s ambition faster than being denied rightful opportunity.

RECOGNIZABLE ROSTER

Ever had a boss or manager who constantly asked what you do? Even worse, has a work leader ever introduced herself to you on an elevator when you’ve already met numerous times? It’s hard to be enthused about working hard and being successful when your boss doesn’t even know your name or title. Talk about an ambition killer.

IMPROPERLY POSITIONED

When the wrong players are in the wrong roles, expect ambition to plummet fast. Leaders should be able to observe skill sets and assign roles, but a player’s instincts can often be the best indicator of who fits where. When leaders see a loss of ambition within their teams, re-examining player positions might be of great value when it comes to upping morale, enthusiasm, and ultimately…ambition.

What other factors do you think are leading to a loss of ambition in today’s workforce?

When it comes to ambition, do you need to a fresh cup?

Making Par vs. Raising the Bar

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When I was a kid, I practically grew up on a golf course. My dad loved the game and played often. I always wanted to tag along with my dad for the hopes that I could pull along my kid-sized bag of clubs and pretend that I could hit the ball as far as he did. (And getting to illegally drive the golf cart was an extra perk.)

MAKING PAR

As I grew into my teen years, I remember wanting to get more serious about the game. I started paying attention to the rules and objectives of play. That’s when I learned about making par. For you non-golfers, par (which stands for “Professional Average Result”) is the number of strokes it should take a skilled golfer to complete each hole. Essentially, the lower your par, the better your score.

When it comes to our work and relationships, many people seem to be living just to “make par.” We know the “professional average results” required of us to make it from paycheck to paycheck. We know what’s required of us to keep others satisfied daily in relationships. In other words, we’ve mastered the skill of making par.

But what if we lived in such a way that just making par wasn’t the standard?

What if our objective was less about making par and more about “hole in one”?

RAISING THE BAR

We live in a culture that says average is enough. And we’ve embraced the idea that if we just make par–each day, each week, each year–we’ll find contentment. Essentially, the concept of “raising the bar” is a lost art. Going above and beyond has become a hassle.

I’m thankful to be surrounded by a handful of friends and coworkers who live with a “raising the bar” mentality. For them (and for me), average isn’t enough. There’s a genuine sense of accomplishment and joy that comes with a “raising the bar” mentality in life. You begin to see transformational results in your work. You see beauty and depth in your relationships. And ultimately, you find purpose in who God created you to be. When you raise the bar, you raise your self-esteem and your character. Bonus: You raise up those around you.

When you think about raising the bar, what imagery comes to mind?

How can you raise the bar in your own life right now?

So here’s my challenge: Whatever your area of responsibility may be (leadership, service, family, etc.), find ways to raise the bar–and don’t delay. Not only will you see transformation in your own life, but you’ll be inspiration to someone else who’s striving just to make par each day.

Need a Boost in Team Morale?

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Morale. It’s so important to a team’s success. Chances are, we’ve all experienced a lack of morale at some point along the way. Even if a team is composed of weak or unskilled players, strong morale can be the one important factor that keeps them focused and in the game. Similarly, a team of MVPs can fall to defeat when morale is low.

So what causes low morale?

In the cases when I’ve most often observed low morale, there’s usually a consistency in either a lack of passion from leadership, a mistrust of leaders in place, or patterns of constant change or instability. Team members need passionate leaders and coaches who are present and accessible (within reason). The most trusted leaders are those who cast strong vision, empower the players’ talents/skills, encourage and affirm team progress, and invest in the players. And obviously, a team in constant transition of players, policies, and practice techniques will almost always struggle with low morale, based on the sheer fact that healthy teams need time to bond, train, and grow together for chemistry and balance.

More importantly, how can one work to ensure a steadfast state of high morale?

Whether or not any of the above factors are in play within your organization, the power of maintaining a strong team morale is essentially in your own hands. Consider these 3 tips for boosting morale.

  1. When you start to see a drop in morale, maybe it’s time for you to step up your game and lead from within. Can your teammates see your passion? Remember that it often takes just a small spark to ignite a giant flame. Also, be on the lookout for ways to fan the flame of other teammates’ passions.
  2. Don’t trust your current leadership? Maybe it’s time to get to know your leader better. Ask him or her to lunch (if possible). Read his or her blog. Send them handwritten notes of encouragement. Often, what leads to a lack of trust is a lack of understanding. Get to know your leaders.
  3. While change is inevitable, consider its benefit. Sure, we hate to see players leave the team. But sometimes a strong player’s exit can open the door to strengthening your own weaknesses. What new talents and skills can you bring to the team that was previously being repressed? And, with time, we often find that new players sometimes bring that missing ingredient for your team’s success. Give change a chance.

Are you currently seeing a dip in morale within your team’s environment? If so, what are some other causes or trends you’ve observed in contributing to the lack of morale?

How do you contribute to maintaining high team morale? What advice would you give to others dealing with this within their organizations?