COMMITMENT

Recently, I was at a middle school seminar, where a motivational speaker was challenging students to become engaged in a small group initiative. He gave an illustration of a married couple who were relaxing poolside. It was a hot day and they were needing some relief from the sun. Naturally, they both decided to go for a swim. The husband, stood up and without hesitation cannon-balled right into the deep end. The wife, on the other hand, walked over to the shallow end of the pool, used the handrail and slowly walked her way into the pool using each step. After several minutes of contemplating and with about half of her body emerged in water, she turned around walked out of the pool and told her husband the water was too cold. This story seems like an average event, but it was used to show the dynamics of commitment. The husband’s reaction was one of being enthusiastically all in. The wife was hesitant and wanted to tip-toe into the situation, while over analyzing every step.

This scenario can be so common in our own lives. We see an opportunity or a challenge in front of us and we can make the choice. We can either dive into the deep end without doubt, insecurities and fear, or we can tip-toe our way around opportunity. One requires faith and the other relies on self.

In this context, we could highlight two kinds of commitment – personal commitment and commitment as a leader. Personally, this begins with your relationship to the Lord and the confidence of knowing what He has called you to. When these two things are solidified in your life, you are able to draw strength, especially when stepping into the unknown. This strength then has the ability to overflow and influence those you are leading. Leaders who make a choice to dive into their relationship with the Lord are able to lead others out of a strong sense of commitment. We live in a world where so many people make decisions based on their own interests. In doing so, we fail to realize the greater impact that our own “yes”, may have on others, not to mention the eternal impact! Your commitment hinges on souls.

In closing, let me leave you with this quote, “In order to ‘hold fast’ to something, one must allow oneself to be held to something. That commitment may be one of the hardest things to practice in a world of so much choice.” Today we have a choice. Will you choose to cannonball or tip-toe?
Article written by: Holly Williams

Source: You Win in the Locker Room First, by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

Enrich Culture – Building a Cohesive Team – More than Mediocre

A leader who is intentional about setting the culture, hiring people who fit the culture, and developing those people, now has the ingredients for an amazing team! In physics, cohesion is the force by which molecules in a substance are held together. In this article we’ll look at the factors by which team members come together to form a cohesive team. The book we’re drawing from this month is “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni – in this book, Lencioni outlines 5 keys to creating a healthy high-performing team. Each principle builds on the former, so let’s begin with the end in mind. The ultimate footballteampurpose of a team is to get “Results”. A sports team wants to win the game, a military unit wants to achieve the tactical objective, a corporate team wants to see profits, a married couple wants to raise children who become healthy adults, and a Teen Challenge staff team wants to see lives transformed. I love how Lencioni recounts of hearing people say, “well we have a losing record this season, but we have a great team!” He’ll say “no, you don’t have a great team; you have a group of people who enjoy being together and are satisfied with mediocre results.” You might say that Teen Challenge is God’s business and we can’t measure everything – the results are up to Him. That’s partly true, but from well executed fundraising events to well-maintained buildings to changed lives…there are plenty of results we want to see in Teen Challenge.

Next, a team gets results because they are willing to embrace “Accountability”. Greg Hammond talks about this principle in creating a “peer culture” in the student body. He uses the example of a time when he constantly found old gum on the sidewalks of the campus. He could have added yet another rule to the policy manual and said, “No gum.” Instead he went to the student body and said, “You decide – if you want to keep chewing gum, keep it off the sidewalks.” The students took care of it themselves by holding one another accountable. And this is what makes accountability effective, when it operates with “Commitment” to agreed upon decisions, objectives or courses of action. With this kind of commitment the team member says, “I’m all in and I will do my best to support this decision and see it succeed.”

While the gum chewing example is a simple one, other decisions and courses of action are not so straightforward – should this student be dismissed? How can we improve our admissions process? Can we disciple our students more effectively? This is where cohesive teams learn to be comfortable with “Healthy Conflict”. This is nothing more than the pursuit of truth – what’s the very best decision? Is there a better idea? What will be the most effective solution? When team members are free to weigh in on the discussion, and are willing to do so, it’s more likely that the best decision will be made because everyone has brought their brains, experience and giftings to the table. Healthy conflict doesn’t necessarily lead to consensus – the leader will often have to make the call – but people can usually commit to decisions they’ve been allowed to give input on even if they disagree. This kind of honest discussion can only happen in a healthy culture, where there is the presence of “Trust” on a team. Lencioni calls this “vulnerability-based trust”, where people can speak up or admit they don’t have all the answers without fear of being judged or shot down. This kind of trust takes time and intentionality to cultivate on a team but everything else depends on this foundation.

Next month we’ll take a closer look at the role of the leader in these 5 areas. In the meantime, how are things on your team? Is it healthy and functional? Or is there sometimes an inattention to results, avoidance of accountability, lack of commitment, fear of conflict, or absence of trust?

Enrich Culture – Developing People

In Teen Challenge we would say that we are “student-focused” – and we should be. However, sometimes a leader can be so student-focused that they look past the staff they are leading and, along with them, place most of their emphasis on the students. While a key leader may retain some aspects of student ministry, their primary ministry is to the people on the team they lead. And when a leader is growing and developing the people they lead, they can be sure the students will be growing and developing as well. So last month we looked at how a leader enriches culture through the practical skill of hiring the right people, this month we’ll look at the practical skill of developing people. Ken Blanchard, in his book “The Servant Leader”, says that a “key element of being a servant leader is to consider people’s development as an equal end goal as their performance.” Blanchard offers up a simple model for developing people with what he calls “Situational Leadership” and illustrates how Jesus was a Situational Leader. This model recognizes SLII-Color-Model-Exp_inprthat people are always on a development continuum based on 2 things: commitment and competence. When you started with Teen Challenge your commitment was high as you answered God’s call, but your competence was low because you’re new on the job, you have a lot to learn. Blanchard calls this an “enthusiastic beginner”. As you begin to learn your new role and experience challenges moving up the learning curve – maybe a student you’ve been counseling leaves the program – you may become a “disillusioned learner” as your commitment wavers. You may ask, am I really cut out for this? But as you continue to grow in competence, you reaffirm your commitment and become a “capable but cautious performer”, ultimately becoming a “self-reliant achiever”. (In our context, let’s acknowledge we’re still God-reliant achievers…) The leader’s role with Situational Leadership is to first “diagnose” which development level applies to the person. Secondly they demonstrate “flexibility” in adjusting their leadership style to that development level. For an enthusiastic beginner, it’s ok to be “directive” in your leadership – the person is new, they need to know what to do and how to do it. For a disillusioned learner the leader shifts to a “coaching” style – asking great questions while still providing direction to get the staff member over this hump. As the staff becomes a capable but cautious performer they need a “supportive” leadership style – they can do the job, they just need to be affirmed. Finally, the leader can “delegate” to the self-reliant achiever – empowering them and releasing them to flourish in their role. After diagnosis and flexibility in leadership style, the third skill of a situational leader is “partnering for performance” – working with the staff member to identify goals and a plan for on-going development. As a leader, when you create a culture that intentionally develops people and learn the skills to do this well, you’ll retain great people, your team will flourish, and students will be well served. And, if you are a staff member, guess what? These same situational leadership principles apply as you disciple students – think about how they go through these development levels in the program and how you adjust your approach accordingly… This month, read one of the Gospels with these principles of development in mind, how was Jesus a situational leader?

Article Contributed by: Karissa Corpeny, Director of Corporate Training

References:

The Servant Leader” – Blanchard & Hodges

Leading at a Higher Level” – Blanchard