Relationships are Everything!

Relationships are THE most important thing in life, especially if you are a Christian leader. Dr. Day helps explain why relationships are key to spreading God’s word.

 

If you have any questions on leadership for Dr. Day, email Shonnie Streder at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org.

Share this with any leaders you know and make sure to join us at First United Methodist Church, Shreveport for Worship this Sunday! We have two opportunities for you to hear Dr. Day speak, 8:30am & 11:00am Traditional services in the Sanctuary. You can also view the service live on KTBS Channel 3 at 11:00am on Sunday mornings or Live online at 11:00am by clicking here. If you have any leadership questions for Dr. Day, he would be happy to answer. Please, leave a comment or email me at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

Life Long Learner

As a leader, are you committed to life-long learning? Listen as Dr. Pat Day shares his 6 steps to continuing your journey to be a successful leader.

 

If you have any questions on leadership for Dr. Day, email Shonnie Streder at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org.

Share this with any leaders you know and make sure to join us at First United Methodist Church, Shreveport for Worship this Sunday! We have two opportunities for you to hear Dr. Day speak, 8:30am & 11:00am Traditional services in the Sanctuary. You can also view the service live on KTBS Channel 3 at 11:00am on Sunday mornings or Live online at 11:00am by clicking here. If you have any leadership questions for Dr. Day, he would be happy to answer. Please, leave a comment or email me at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

Worker Smarter, Not Harder

How can you work smarter not harder? Dr. Day offers some advice on how doing so can improve various facets in your life.

 

If you have any questions on leadership for Dr. Day, email Shonnie Streder at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org.

Share this with any leaders you know and make sure to join us at First United Methodist Church, Shreveport for Worship this Sunday! We have two opportunities for you to hear Dr. Day speak, 8:30am & 11:00am Traditional services in the Sanctuary. You can also view the service live on KTBS Channel 3 at 11:00am on Sunday mornings or Live online at 11:00am by clicking here. If you have any leadership questions for Dr. Day, he would be happy to answer. Please, leave a comment or email me at sstreder@fumcshreveport.org and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

From Words to Action

Decide How to Decide

Decide How to Decide

Over the past three weeks we have focused on how to have a meaningful conversation based on Joseph Grenny’s book, Crucial Conversations.  A productive conversation creates a free flow of ideas into a shared pool of meaning.  But the only way people are going to share is if they feel safe.  If a person doesn’t feel like you care about them (respect) or what they desire (goals), they will not readily present their ideas.  When ideas are withheld, decisions are made on partial information at best.  Of course, the way we talk about our ideas, the way we couch our positions is critical to keeping the conversation safe and free flowing.  But once we have mastered the way we talk to one another, how do we make decisions?

Dialogue is NOT a decision.

Wasted Meetings: Have you ever been in a meeting that bats around a lot of good ideas, everyone gets fired up, but when you leave nothing happens?  Ever felt like you wasted your time talking because no direction was decided upon?  Dialogue is necessary, but so is decision making.  We often fail to move from ideas to actions because of unclear expectations, decisions that are too broad and not specific enough, or there is no follow-up and accountability.  How do you move beyond conversation in a timely and productive way?  You have to decide how you are going to make a decision.

Decide How to Decide: While many times it is clear who the decision maker is, often times it is unclear.  Who decides if a child is to be held back, the school or the parents?  Who decides if someone is going to be promoted in the company, the CEO or the management team that is going to work closely with that person?  Who decides if you are going to have another child, you or your spouse?  Who is going to decide to fire a CEO, the board or investors?  When people don’t decide how they are going to decide, frustration ensues.  People tend to fight for dominance and safety breaks down resulting in information not flowing freely.  Often when someone is asked their opinion, they become indignant and hurt if their idea is not implemented.  This, too, will lead to future breakdown of crucial conversation.  When a group decides how they are going to decide it puts everyone at ease so that they can make timely decisions without stirring up unhelpful emotions.

Command, Consult, Vote or Consensus: There are basically four methods for decision making; Command, consult, vote and consensus.  Command is often used for easy decisions that fall under senior management or has been delegated to a person.  These decisions are made without the involvement of others.  No dialogue needed, only decision.  Consultation is when input is gathered from the group and then a designated person or persons make the decision.  Voting is when an agreed upon percentage swings the decision.  This should only be used when efficiency is the highest value and when all the options are generally thought to be good.  Consensus is when everyone come to agreement and then supports the final decision.  Consensus should be used when the stakes are very high and issues complex, or when absolutely everyone must support the final decision.

How to Decide How to Decide: How do you know which decision making process to use at any given time?  There are four key questions that can clarify how to proceed.  1) Who cares?  Who are the stakeholders?  Who will the decision affect in a significant way?  It is a waist to have anyone at the table who doesn’t care.  I have seen too many times when a large group is discussing mutually important issues when two or three people start talking about issues with which the rest of the group is uninvolved. The rest of the groups starts looking at their watches and rolling their eyes.  Respect everyone’s time by having only stakeholders at the table.  2) Who knows? Who has important knowledge to contribute to the decision?  Sometimes that means bringing in outside experts.  The main thing is that you want people to have something worth saying, who aren’t talking out of a hole in their head.  3) Who must agree?  Who do we expect to carry out this plan?  Who has position and influence important to implementing whatever we decide?  No one likes to be blindsided by decisions made without them, especially if they are expected to carry them out.  4) How many people is it worth involving?  The goal should be to involve the fewest number of people while still considering the quality of the decision and people needed to support the decision.  Do you have the right people to make a good decision?  Do you have the right people whose commitment you need?  Once you have those in the room, shut the door!  Too many people makes for overly prolonged, time-wasting, and frustrating meetings.  Deciding how you are going to make decisions will pave the way to decision-making that has the main stakeholders, those with expert knowledge, and those who are needed to move the decision forward around the table.

Logistics: Logistics is about putting decisions into action.  Moving from the meeting to the work isn’t difficult, but requires four things.  First, who is going to do what?  ‘Everybody’s business is nobody’s business’.  Put a name to each piece of the action.  Second, what are they to do?  Be exact with the deliverables.  Vague principles yield bad results.  Don’t leave too much room for interpretation.  The group that spends valuable time making decisions deserves to have them executed as decided.  Third, when is the deliverable do?  Putting a time limit on the action is important.  When there is no time limit, ‘tomorrow’ becomes the mantra and it never gets done.  Finally, follow up.  Accountability of some sort is critical.  All of us perform better when we know someone is counting on us, and is going to ask us how we if we are finished.  Accountability shouldn’t be cumbersome requiring long reports and red tape.  Rather, a simple email, call or informal meeting will usually do the trick.

Moving Forward: For business, friendships and family to move forward, decisions must be made.  Deciding how to decide is the most respectful approach to move from dialogue to action.  Figure out who needs to be involved to make the most informed decision and to carry out the succeeding plan.  Good luck, good conversations, good decisions, and God’s blessing!

The Power of Stories

imagesIn critical moments, when crucial conversations arise with a supervisor, spouse, child, or friend, we need to pay attention to the stories we tell ourselves.  In the previous blogs I wrote about the need to ask ourselves clarifying questions:  What do I want for myself?  What do I want for the other person?  What do I want for our relationship?  These questions clarify our goals, elicit our empathy, and focus us on long term interests.  I also wrote about the need to make conversations safe by establishing mutual interests and demonstrating respect for the other person.  This third blog in the series focuses the stories we tell ourselves and the need to invite others to tell their stories. (This article comes from material and reflections on Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny, et al.)

Stories Create Meaning – The idea of telling stories may seem soft, beside the point, and even manipulative spin.  However, we develop stories about our lives in order to interpret what happens to us.  That interpretation elicits emotions which motivate our decisions and actions.  Thus, the stories we tell are critical!  We may be in a situation in which we blow up in anger because someone said we didn’t know what we were talking about.  The distance between hearing the comment and responding with a verbal torrent is a millisecond.   How could you tell yourself a story in that amount of time?  The thing is that we have narratives set up in our heads.  ‘So-and-so tries to make themselves look good by putting others down.’  ‘So-and-so has had it in for me ever since I was promoted.’  ‘So-and-so doesn’t respect my opinion.  But what if we told a different story?  ‘So-and-so is having a hard time in his marriage and is lashing out at others.’  ‘So-and-so feels insecure.’  ‘So-and-so is the most versed person on this subject.’  Our ‘hot buttons’ are the words or actions that trigger our most powerful negative stories about ourselves and others.  The facts (words or actions) can take on many different meanings depending on the story we place it in.  The truth is that we act upon the feelings elicited by the stories we tell, not the facts.  In a very real way, all truth resides in stories.  Controlling our stories is critical to controlling our conversations.

Three Deadly Stories – Most stories have a problem, a villain, and a helpless victim.  The problem is discovered in the critical moment when your ‘spidey senses’ go up.  Emotional and relational danger is present.  You want to fight back or flee to safety.  The problem is the cause of the substantial discomfort.  Our first story begins with the villain.  The villain is the person ‘who put us in the situation’ or ‘caused this pain.’  All the bad things happening are the villain’s fault.  We tend to paint the villain red as the devil.  We accentuate their vices, attribute bad motives, and don’t view them as a person worthy of respect.  We tell ourselves stories of why they are so bad, and why we are justified in our harsh thoughts and actions toward them.  The second story we tell ourselves is the victim story.  The victim is ourselves.  We think of ourselves as innocent and accentuate all our virtues.  The situation ‘is not my fault’!  We can’t understand why anyone would do or say such a horrible thing to someone as nice as ourselves.  The third story we tell ourselves is that we are helpless.  We justify our feelings and actions toward the other person by telling ourselves that we had no other choice.  ‘Someone had to get so-and-so’s attention!’  ‘So-and-so had it coming to him!’  ‘So-and-so wouldn’t listen to reason and was so obstinate.  What else could I have done?  We yell and get snarky.  We ignore and give the cold shoulder.  Then we justify it by rehearsing our villain and victim stories.  The fact is, we tell these justifying stories only when we feel like we have something we need to justify.  We make excuses for our actions because we have not lived up to our own standards.  We begin to tell these three deadly stories instead of solving the problem.

Finding My Story – If we are telling ourselves these deadly stories, how can we find a more objective truth?  How can we tell ourselves stories that are more connected to reality?  We must ask ourselves questions to counter each of the deadly stories. Counter the villain story with this: Why would a reasonable, rational, and decent person do what this person is doing?  This question engages the other person from a standpoint of good faith and opens up the possibility of other reasons we haven’t yet thought of.  Counter the victim story with this: Am I pretending not to notice my role in the problem?  Reflect on what you have done to contribute to the issue.  Counter the helpless story with this: What do I really want for myself, the other, and our relationship; and what can I do now to get those results?

When looking for the true story, continually check it against the facts of what was said or done.  Is there another way that the facts could be put together?  What other story could be told using those same facts?  The same facts can be interpreted a thousand different ways.  Honestly assess other possibilities.

Finding Our Story – So far we are loosening the grip of negative, destructive stories on us.  We are enabling ourselves to engage a conversation more positively.  However, to get the best understanding of a problem – and, therefore, its solution – we must have everyone involved contribute their story to the shared pool of meaning.  I can only imagine the possibilities in my mind.  We can imagine many more possibilities together.  First, make sure you have the crucial conversation with the right person.  Don’t talk about someone, talk with someone.  The parties involved are the only ones who can ultimately solve the issue.  Second, make the conversation safe.  Show that you care about the other person as a person, and that you care about the things she cares about.  When mutual respect and mutual interests are maintained, you can talk about almost anything.  Third, begin the conversation by stating the facts that have elicited the concern.  Facts are the least controversial and insulting way to start.  If we started with why the person is a villain, we’d get nowhere.  Rather than telling the story, ‘your OCD micromanagement is driving me nuts,’ say, ‘I noticed that you check up on me a couple times a day and ask me to run any new ideas by you…’  These statements of fact are much easier for the supervisor to hear.  Third, tell your story.  Now that you have established the facts, tell how you interpret them.  ‘It makes me feel like you don’t trust me and respect my work.’  You take ownership of your story without making it sound final.  Tell your story with a certain amount of tentativeness, a willingness to understand better.  Finally, ask the other person to share their story.  ‘Am I interpreting this right?’  There are many ways to encourage the other person to tell their story.  The supervisor might say, ‘The last person in your position would run ahead of himself and end up making mistakes that took time to correct.  I am just trying to make sure you are a good process oriented person before I let you go.’  As the person shares their story, you will gain insight that will change your story.  Eventually, you share the story.  From there you can create action steps built on a commitment to a mutual understanding.