Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

#19 build a better meeting (alone)

after last week’s build a better meeting (one-on-one) blog, matt guevara tweeted me saying that he had read several articles about scheduling a regular time to meet with yourself. i wanted to hear more about this idea, and and since the build a better meeting series is a collaborative project, i asked matt if he would share his thoughts in a blog.

enjoy matt’s notes:

four years ago i realized that i was so busy with life and ministry that when i had opportunities to focus on a project for any period of time, the thing that kept distracting me was the work i was NOT getting done.  has that ever happened to you?  thinking only about the projects you are not attending to absolutely erodes any sense of accomplishment in the things you are trying to get done.  those feelings led me to the book getting things doneby david allen. it was there i learned some best practices for organizing work and creating a system for collecting action steps for projects.  one of the best things i learned from the book was to set up a meeting with myself every week.  as Kelly Forrister writes on her GTD blog, “if you don’t have a systematic and thorough approach to reviewing your work, you’ll never break free from the busy trap of thinking you need to be thinking and worrying about your work all the time.”

so often leaders think of meetings in a tightly defined box.  meetings must require a group of people.  meetings require those people to sit down.  meetings require a leader and a group of listeners.  the more i experimented with the best practices of getting things done (or GTD to its avid followers), I realized that my definition of a meeting needed to expand.  i learned that it was okay to set a time on my calendar to meet with myself for specific purposes.  here are the things i put into place to make this meeting happen and what i use the time to accomplish (adapted from an article by kelly forrister):

i set a time on my calendar (typically 50 minutes) every week to reflect on a complete, current, and consistent inventory of my commitments.  this includes projects i am invested in, upcoming ministry events or speaking opportunities, family related events, and personal items. i hold the meeting in an uninterrupted space. i resist the temptation to stop the meeting and attend to some of the action steps that i uncover (unless they take less than two-minutes). i reward myself for getting through the meeting.

here’s another perspective on what you can accomplish with a weekly meeting with yourself (taken from a review of getting things done by josh kaufman):

  • Process and organize – anything you’ve collected but haven’t handled yet.
  • Review your active tasks – are there any to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
  • Review your active projects – are there any to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
  • Review your calendar – are there any meetings to add, delegate, defer, or delete?
  • Someday/Maybe – anything to add or promote to an active project?
  • Reference Files – anything you need soon? Anything to add or update?
  • Goals – are you moving in the right direction? Are you making progress? Are any changes necessary?

i know, it’s monday.  set a meeting with yourself right now for the end of this week.  you’ll find that this review time will set up your weekend nicely and provide a great foundation for you to get stuff done next week.

matt guevara blogs at the cory center and is always tweeting about children’s and family ministry.  he’d love to meet you (when he is not meeting with himself)!

meet the intern

i’m thrilled that this fall we’ll have our very first intern! sandy will be blogging here based on her learnings in business, and meetings (YAY!), and leadership, and team development. i think that an internship is intended to benefit the intern most, but so far i’m benefiting big time from sandy’s sharp thinking and creative ideas!

a special introduction from sandy:

my name is sandy and i am thrilled to be lemon lime kid’s very first intern. i might be jumping on the blog from time to time, so i thought i would introduce myself. i am a student at judson university studying leadership development. i was on staff in my church’s childrens ministry for a few years and worked with amy on a project last year. i am not 100% sure what i am going to do with my degree yet, but i am excited to be learning more about how to be an effective leader. my husband, alan, and i live in the suburbs right outside of the city. i enjoy cooking, gardening, and riding my bike. the thing that i am most looking forward to during my internship is being able to take what i am learning at school and put it into practice with something that i am passionate about – helping kids learn about jesus!

welcome to the team, sandy!

[my confession] i cleaned out my closet

yesterday, i posted a short review on anne jackson’s new book permission to speak freely.the book’s central theme is that we’ve lost our way in the church in not allowing for a place of sanctuary, a place to share our  confessions and brokenness, instead becoming a place of shame and fear.

i think anne’s right. especially for church leaders. until recently, i believed that being a leader meant hiding my weaknesses, ignoring my insecurities and proving to my team that leaders have it all together.

this is not true. of course, it would be great if leaders could always demonstrate confidence and a well-balanced life, and joy in ministry. but that’s not real, and most days not what it feels like to lead. and so, i’m grateful for anne jackson’s voice encouraging us, the church leaders, to lead by sharing both our broken and redemptive story.

and so, my own sort of personal confession. a few months ago, i did something crazy. and wild. i cleaned out my closet. and by “cleaned” i mean i got rid of every piece of clothing that hung in my closet. because i worry a lot about what people think of me. and i worry that they think i’m not good enough. and i like to balance those fears with a nice healthy dose of image management.

and clothes were my way of managing my image. different clothes for different occasions. always choosing the right clothes so that people thought the way i wanted them to think about me.

that was up until recently when i realized all of this, and decided that i no longer wanted to choose clothes based on fear, i wanted to chose clothes that made me feel beautiful, and comfortable, and were just right for me. no one else, but me. so i cleaned out my closet, donated 6 large bags to goodwill, and sold 6 large bags to a local thrift store (12 bags is a lot of fear and insecurity!).  and i started over. bought a small amount of new clothes one piece at a time, only things i absolutely loved and that make me feel truly like me. i bought some fancy new hangers, and the picture above is the result of my newly-made-over-closet. because, i want to lead with a spirit of freedom, and honesty.

what about you? what’s your own personal confession? and how can we lead well by sharing both our brokenness and healing?

book list [for today]

i’m in the middle of a million books right now. or 5.  i love reading multiple books at the same time. in a strange way they sort of shape and speak to each other, making the reading experience fuller and deeper.

i’m finally through all of my summer vacation books and am now moving on to a few heavier books. books on leadership, and fear, and food, and spirituality. you know, none of the subjects that should be read while lying on the beach! what are you reading this fall?

here’s my list:

the land between: finding god in difficult transitions [by jeff manion] i listened to jeff’s talk at the leadership summit and instantly knew that i wanted to hear more from him on the topic. after going through a somewhat rough transition in my own life, i realized that we don’t often hear christian pastors speaking about what it feels like to be “in between.” i love that jeff addresses this, and only hope that his book sparks the way for more conversation. and, he’s dan scott’spastor – so that makes him extra cool!

permission to speak freely: essays and art on fear, confessions, and grace [by anne jackson] i’m a huge fan of anne jackson, specifically loved her first book “mad church disease” and love, love her blog flowerdustand this new book is so good and creative, and honest, and lovely to read. i’ll be posting a full review next week (9/7) on the book blog tour. can’t wait!

women food and god: an unexpected path to almost anything [by geenen roth] i picked up this book last weekend at barnes and noble, and even just a few chapters in, i’m already loving it. it’s such a different book than i’ve ever read, and is really stretching my thinking on how our spirituality is often expressed by how we cook and eat. not necessarily a traditional christian perspective (and her language isn’t the cleanest) but i am really enjoying the book.

unleashing the power of rubber bands: lessons in non-linear leadership [by nancy ortberg] yes, i’ve read this book before. and yes, i’ve blogged about the book before. here and here. this is my current favorite leadership book. when i was thinking about a leadership book to read with sandy, the new intern, this was the book i thought of first. i’m excited to digest and process it alongside sandy. it will be fun to see it from her perspective!

on writing: a memoir of the craft [by stephen king] my husband just read this book, and oh-so lovingly, handed it over to me the minute he finished. the book really inspired kelly, and i’m hoping for the same!

what does your book list look like today? oh! and if you’re interested in adding a free book to your list, my brother in law is giving away a copy of transition planon his blog! happy reading!

#18: build a better meeting (one-on-one)

last week while meeting withsandythe brand new lemon lime kids’ intern-a thought occurred to me: most of the tips and ideas we discuss during the build a better meeting series apply to team meetings, and usually assume that a medium size group is gathered for a meeting.

but, for most of us, we also lead weekly meetings with only one other person in attendance. a one-on-one meeting is a perfect time to focus on just one employee or volunteer, and dig deeper into specific decisions and tasks.

a few tips for meeting one-on-one with an employee or volunteer:

  • create an agenda: even if it’s a less formal agenda, or it’s an agenda that lives in your head – still take the time to think through what needs to be discussed, decided, and planned. don’t treat it like a coffee date where you’ll just casually chat hoping that by the end, everything has been discussed. most likely, it won’t be discussed if you don’t have a plan!
  • encourage personal catch up: when you are one on one, it’s a perfect time to catch up on each other’s families, and hobbies, and vacations. but, just like you would in a larger group meeting setting, set a time limit for personal conversations and be sure to move on when time has expired. sandy and i share a passion for cooking and are big fans of aarti sequeira, so after a few minutes of catching up on our favorite recipes, we were back to our task list.
  • delegate action steps: it may feel strange to review action steps at the end of a one-on-one meeting, but it’s crucial that each person understand what to do next. at the end of the meeting, review the discussion, delegate next steps, and agree to an action plan.

enjoy your one-on-one meetings this week! and, please share your best tips for making the most of time with an employee or volunteer.

oh! and starting next week, sandy will be writing a weekly blog series called “diary of an intern” on her internship leadership learnings!

welcome TED to #kidmin

welcome TED. we’re glad you’re here.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference and first began in 1984 when founder Richard Saul Wurman wanted to throw the world’s best dinner party.

how TED became the new harvard is a fascinating new article in the latest fast company magazine, and of course has me wondering how TED will affect the future of children’s ministry conferences.

maybe you’ve seen jamie oliver’s TED talk, or elizabeth gilbert on nurturing creativity, or malcolm gladwell on spaghetti sauce, and maybe while watching you wondered why learning isn’t always this simple and effective. it’s without doubt that TED is paving the way for new forms of learning and collaborating.

the key to TED’s success are the simple yet distinctive design rules that wurman created:

1. a single track of programming: wurman says, “they think people want choice, but the people talking at the break don’t have a common memory and all feel they went to the wrong session.”

2. no Q & A: wurman’s logic, “out of the first 20 questions you get, 19 are either speeches or bad questions.”

3. 18 minute-talk length: wurman says 15 minutes would be trivial, too short. and if you said 20, people would talk for 25.

i love most everything about children’s ministry conferences, and as both a regular conference attendee and conference creator, i’m curious to see how we’ll follow TED’s lead.

what do you think? how will TED affect children’s ministry conferences? and the better question: how do we want TED to affect conferences?

#17: build a better (on time) meeting

so, have i mentioned this before? i have aholy discontent for bad meetings.

along with chewed gum, and sloppy joes, and cold weather, i equally hate bad meetings.

but, i’ve been complaining about bad meetings for too long – figured i should turn my frown upside down and do something helpful. do something to encourage bad meetings to fall out of fashion. hence, the weekly monday series: build a better meeting.

today’s tip: start and end meetings on time.

it’s simple, really. but oh-so-hard to accomplish. i’m a simple girl. i believe that if a meeting is scheduled for 9-10 am, it should start at 9 and end at 10. but then again, i’m simple. i don’t like a ton of fuss.

most meetings i attend, start late and end late. i wish it weren’t true. and, i’m definitely responsible for my share of leading late meetings. maybe together we can fix this.

a couple (on time) tips:

  • start the meeting on time. even if only one person is there, or only one person is missing. and please please don’t say the phrase, “let’s just wait a few minutes until everyone gets here.” it devalues the people who made it on time.
  • make sure you can always see the time. wear a watch, or place a super large clock on the wall directly in front of you. if it’s difficult to lead the meeting and pay attention to the time, set an alarm clock that beeps when time is up. then, you can set it and not have to think.
  • end the meeting on time. even if you don’t get through the entire agenda, and communicate that to the group -“i value your time more than the items on this list. we’ll get to these things next time.”  it might encourage participants to work hard at the next meeting to help you get through the list. when they know there is not an infinite amount of time, they’ll feel encouraged to work hard!

cheers to on time meetings! oh, and i’m super grateful to my friends matt and dan who helped brainstorm today’s tip. after all, build a better meeting is a collaborative project – if you’ve got a great tip for building a better meeting, email or tweet me: | @adolan