Archives For Strengths

As a follow up to my post yesterday about the importance to motivate, don’t manipulate people who you are leading, today I am sharing the most powerful way you can motivate people to work with you. Whether they are staff, volunteers, or a board member, this method will be extremely important to employ if you are serious about motivating people and keeping them engaged with your mission long-term.

Flickr Photo Credit: faceleg

Flickr Photo Credit: faceleg

Leadership expert and author, John C. Maxwell believes “people’s purpose in life is always connected to their giftedness.” When leading people it is extremely important to know what their strengths are because this helps you tap into their passion and the area they want to work in.

2 Reasons Leveraging People’s Strengths is Important Continue Reading…

SAYING NO

May 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

This post is adapted from a section that was cut from the manuscript of my book titled, A Day of Hope.

SAYING NO

You have to develop the ability to say no to everything that doesn’t match up with your strengths, and that’s hard.  You have to find a way to set up systems around you and people around you who help you guard your time and energy so you can dedicate as much time as possible to the areas you’re strong in.

Focus

You’re also going to have to learn to say “no” to other outside requests that people put on you.  You probably already know, that when someone request for your time, they might not have your personal best interest in mind. They might have their own agenda they’re trying to put on you. Such as a friend who has the same problem he’s been dealing with for months, but doesn’t take any steps to make it right, however he wants to spend time with you to “talk” about it, with no intentions to take the advice you give.  A knock on the door salesman who comes to your front door asking if you have a few minutes to take a look at “gadget” he’s trying to sell.  Or a friend who’s recently become involved in the latest Multi Level Marketing (MLM) gig where he wants to talk to you about a “great opportunity.” Rarely do these people have your best interests in mind. They have their own personal agenda and they are thinking about themselves when they ask for your time. Thus, you must learn to say no.

Question: How do you say "no" to requests for your time that do not match up to your strengths?

Strength

Great leaders know their strengths.

Discovering your strengths might come to you suddenly after a little thought and effort, or they might start to slowly be revealed to you over a long period of time.  The process will be different for everyone.

In my book I share that I four strengths:

  1. Visioning – Seeing the future of what God wants me to create and do to further His kingdom.
  2. Thinking – Generating ideas and concepts that will help that vision to become real.
  3. Communicating – Communicating that vision and ideas to a group of people either in writing or speaking.
  4. Creating – Make daily progress on that vision to create new things and new services to help people.

While you go through your own strengths to discover them you might not end up with four. That just happened to be the ones I ended up with. You might have six, ten or two.  However many you feel you have is fine because there is no right or wrong amount of how many strengths you have.

When discovering your strengths, focus on qualities and characteristics, not on tasks and activities. This is important because a task and activity can often be part of a quality or characteristic. But a quality or characteristic isn’t going to be part of an activity or task.  Notice that my four strengths are primarily qualities I possess. I have great vision, I’m a good thinker, I’m a good communicator, and have the ability to create things.

An example is that I’m a good communicator in many ways. I’m a good communicator when it comes to being diplomatic and helping to find common grown with people. I’m also pretty good at connecting with a person when we’re talking one to one and I’m able to build some rapport to where we feel that we understand each other. And I’m decent at communicating to a group of people. I know how to prepare to speak, I understand how what I say will be perceived, and I know how to use my body language and tone of voice to communicate what my words mean.  As you can see, being a good communicator is a quality that I possess.  But it’s not an activity.  

There are many activities that can take place within that one quality so do your best to find your strengths that are qualities, not just tasks.

Question: What are your strengths?

 

My Sense of Call (part 1)

September 26, 2011 — 2 Comments

The purpose of my life is to be a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world.

I do that by serving and helping leaders. That sense of call for ministry comes from when I attended a training on how to lead small groups at our church. I was originally at that training because I wanted to create a small group of guys who would study leadership from the Bible and spend time getting to know each other.

I wanted to create a group of Christian guys who have leadership potential and want to lead. While at that small group training I felt God tell me, “Christopher, I want you to go to make leaders of everyday men and women.” Before this happened I already had a good feel for my sense of calling. I had been involved in leading a volunteer based program for five years, and I had personally seen the difference that good leadership has on a program. Therefore I was at the small group training to learn to train leaders, and what God shared with me was a tremendous encouragement that I was walking along the correct path.

I also feel called by God to fill the need and hunger for leadership growth in our community, country, and world. There are many needs that our country and world has, but one need that every country has is more Christian leaders. We desperately need more leaders who have integrity and who are effective. This is part of the affirmation of my call: that what I feel called to do is desperately needed.

A large part of my call to ministry is simply to encourage leaders, which is why I have written a book with that same purpose titled, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I wrote the book to encourage other leaders and teach them how to lead people to do great things in their community. No matter how good of a leader they are, there will be times when leadership is tough and I believe that is an important message to communicate. And a good leader needs to know that those times are going to happen. But how does my call to serve leaders get lived out and done?

I feel that a large element of my call to ministry is to write. I am a pretty good writer. I can easily sit down with a pad of paper and pen and get down principles and ideas that will significantly help leaders. In addition to writing, I feel that I have a broader set of strengths that have affirmed my call. Those strengths are:

  • Visioning – Seeing the future of what God wants me to create and to do in order to further His kingdom
  • Thinking – Generating ideas and concepts that will help that vision become reality
  • Communicating – Communicating my vision and ideas to a group of people either in writing or speaking
  • Creating – Making daily progress on that vision by creating new things and new services to help people.[1]

These strengths allow me to be an effective leader and creative communicator.

Based on my best discernment, I believe my sense of calling is to serve and help leaders full-time. I am here on earth not just to teach, but to also be a good leader who lives out leadership principles daily.

Because I am willing to be an example of a good leader, I am open to the idea of employing lots of people to influence them positively because I know that I can teach leaders two ways: 1) By being a good example; and 2) By what I say. I have a file folder in my home office titled, “New Org” which consists of all of the ideas that I have had and think might be worth having as part of my organization. With that said, my sense of call of ministry is to play a vital role in serving leaders so they can become better at what they do. But, like any other goal and project worth pursuing, there going to be perils and pitfalls that I will have to deal with along the way.


[1] Christopher Scott, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community (Turlock, CA: Maximum Impact Leaders, 2010).

 

It Takes Time

March 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here’s part nine of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.

IT TAKES TIME

Some of this is hypothetical.  What I’ve shared with you in this chapter has been a best case scenario.  There will be times when you have to do tasks that are outside of your strength zone.  There will be times you have to ask people to do tasks that are outside of their strength zone too.  Your job is to do the very best with the resources available to you.

This entire chapter is about striving to discover your strengths so you can successfully deploy them in order to contribute to A Day of Hope in the best way possible.  I certainly haven’t reached that place yet in my own leadership of A Day of Hope, but I know I’m always improving in my ability to narrow down what I’m good at and my ability to only do work in those areas.

It takes a significant amount of time to discover and deploy your strengths.  It took me years of work—and failure—to find my strengths.  Failure is a key part of figuring out what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.  Practice and thinking will also help you to discover your strengths.  Practice is the part where you try lots of things, experiment, and fail.  Thinking is what you do after you’ve “practiced” to evaluate what you’ve done and see what you’re truly good at.  You need both.  You can’t successfully discover your strengths without practicing and thinking daily.

Every successful person has discovered what her strengths are.  If you know a successful person, ask her what her strengths are and how she found them.  It was a great help to me to listen to successful leaders speak about their strengths and how they found them.  Yes, you are your own individual person. Your strengths and talents are going to be very different than others are, but you’ll still be able to listen and learn from their stories.  If you don’t know any leaders, just find someone who is great at what he does.  Or go to the local library and read a biography about a past president, a successful businessman, a professional athlete, or anyone else who is known around the world for what they do and have done.

The important thing to note is that it’s going to take time to find your strengths, and you can’t just sit around waiting for them to be figured out without work from you.  No one else is going to do it for you.  The initiative lays in your hands.

The past few months, I’ve been learning to dance with my girlfriend.  When we go out dancing there are always a lot of different dances I don’t know how to do.  But when we dance, we dance most of them because the only way I’m going to learn which dances I like and don’t like is by trying different ones.  I get out there, and we look goofy.  I accidentally step on her feet, and we fumble through it all.  When the evening is over we look back at the night and think about what dances we enjoyed and reflect on them.  So jump out there, get going, start trying things, fail, succeed, evaluate it all after it’s done, and then try again.

Always Say Yes

March 16, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here’s part seven of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.

ALWAYS SAY “YES”

The principle of always saying “yes” is one of my favorites in the entire book.

This principle was birthed out of feeling totally burned out and overwhelmed on many occasions.  At times I would feel so tired, burnt out, and beat up that I just couldn’t do any more.  I had nothing left to give.  I realized that the passion I had to serve people far outweighed my ability to help them on my own.  I could only work so much, and if I was going to serve and help as many people as possible, it was going to require more people to help.

Out of this experience I slowly adopted the principle that every time someone offered to help me with A Day of Hope, I would say, “Yes” to their offer.  It didn’t matter what it was, who it was, or when they offered to help; my goal was to be able to say, “Yes” to their offer regardless of any other circumstance.  This allowed them to lighten my workload.

One of my leadership weaknesses that I’m still working on is learning to delegate more.  In the past I would rarely delegate or allow others to help me.  If they offered to do something I already knew how to do or planned on doing, I would tell them that I had it taken care of.  Little did I realize that every time I told them I didn’t need their help, I was inadvertently telling them they shouldn’t offer to help in the future because I “had it taken care of.”

I began to say “yes” to every single offer someone had for A Day of Hope.  If someone offered to do a fundraiser car wash on a Saturday, I would say, “Yes, go for it!”  If someone offered to make us a new website (even though we already had a pretty good one), I would say, “Yes, make something new and let me have a look at it.”  What I’ve found is the more I’ve learned to say, “Yes” to people’s offers to help me, the more they seem to offer.

Remember that anytime someone offers to assist your effort to serve people in need, you have to find a way to say, “Yes.”  Find a way to say yes so they can do some good to help you raise funds, gather food, and raise awareness for your project to help people in need.

Here’s part six of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.

DEFEND YOUR STRENGTHS

There are two types of people who lead A Day of Hope: those who think of lots of ideas and those who implement ideas.  As a leader of A Day of Hope, you are more than likely in the first category.  I know I am in the first category as someone who generates lots of ideas—so many that I have trouble implementing them all.  I’m lucky if I implement 25 percent of the ideas that I generate.

If, like me, you are a person who generates lots of ideas, one of the last things you need is more people who generate ideas.  What you need are people to implement them, people who can make things happen and who can administrate well.

This is very important because my experience in this area caused me to become extremely unproductive when I first started working with people.  People will hear about what you’re doing and want to suggest ideas to help.  Often when I tell someone about the work of A Day of Hope, they’ll say it’s a great service that we offer to the community.  Then they’ll say, “You know what you should do . . ?” or “Have you ever talked to . . ?” or “Have you called this person?” or “Have you ever contacted Oprah?”  They all have great ideas, but as the leader there’s no way you can chase down all the ideas and still focus on doing what you do best.

Remember, your job as the leader is to focus on doing what you do best and to find others to do the rest.  When people keep putting ideas on you, it’s impossible to do what you do best.  I learned a long time ago not to let other people set my agenda and fill my calendar.

Here’s some effective ways to respond to people who want to give you ideas.  “Yes, that’s a great idea!  How can I support you to make it happen?” or “Yes, we do need to do that.  Can you help us?” or “I’m really busy right now, so I can’t do it.  Would you like to do it?”  Surprisingly, some will actually say in response, “Yes, I’ll give it a try,” and they will take some type of action to see that work is done.  If the person declines to take initiative on the idea they had, then it probably wasn’t that good of an idea to begin with.  If they really thought it was a good idea and wanted to help support you, then they would take the initiative to make it happen.

As you can see, this is just one example of how you’ll have to defend your strengths as the leader of A day of Hope.  There will be many other instances where you will have to do the same.  To effectively lead from a position of focusing on your strengths, you’re going to have to keep fighting to focus on them and to defend them.

Remember that if you leave your calendar and agenda up to others, they will determine it for you.

Here’s part five of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.  If you missed the first four sections, you can follow the links below.

Passion: Discover & Deploy Your Strengths
You’re a Natural

FIND SOMEONE TO DO THE REST

Do what you do best, and then find someone else to do the rest.

Once you discover your own strengths, find someone to do everything else that you’re not good at.  Successful leaders find ways to shed all the tasks which they’re not good at so they can focus on the things they are good at.

Do what you do well and allow others to come around you and do what they do well too.  Your job as the leader is to always be casting vision and telling others what needs to be done.  That way they can rally around you and jump in to help your cause.  People can’t help if they don’t know what is on the to-do list.  When you’re constantly casting vision for the things that need to be done, it makes it easy for people to say, “Hey, I know how to do that!.”

I remember early on in the process of getting A Day of Hope started I made a presentation to a class at California State University, Stanislaus where a girl came up afterwards and offered to volunteer.  I had done my homework and had a list of several things coming up where I needed help, including creating flyers to recruit volunteers.  Since I was prepared and knew what needed to be done, I was able to tell her ways she could volunteer.  And out of that list, she picked the one where she could say, “Hey, I can do that!”  To this day she still helps with flyers.

Some people might call this delegation, but I believe this takes it a step further than delegation.  Delegation is simply saying, “This needs to be done, and you need to do it.”  When working with volunteers you can’t really delegate much because you don’t have any authority over anyone.

People don’t have to volunteer, and they don’t have to do anything you say.  Volunteers want to help because they want to make a difference and have fun in the process.  Your role as the leader is to share the things that need to be done in a way that your volunteers can say, “I can do that.”

If you can’t find someone to do something or take on an area that you’re not good at, then you need to evaluate if it really needs to be done.  Is there a way to get around it?  Is there a way to do something else?  Is there a way to avoid it altogether?  Can it wait a little longer?

I think its very important that you talk about your weaknesses because it allows others to know where you need help.  This is very contrary to what many people believe.

It’s conventional wisdom to think you should hide your weaknesses so people don’t think you’re incompetent.  I disagree.  Whether you say it or not, the people who volunteer with you are going to know what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.  So why not talk about it?  And while you talk about your weak areas, ask for them to help you in those areas.

If they see that you’re weak in an area but you haven’t actually admitted it, they might hesitate to offer a helping hand thinking that you believe you can do it on your own.  But when you say, “Hey team, I’m not good with marketing, and we need someone who can step up to carry the responsibility of promoting A Day of Hope,” that makes it ok for someone to say, “Hey, I like marketing, and I wanna help.”

This takes confidence and security.  In sharing the work that needs to be done, you have to learn to let go of control and allow others to do things on their own.  Yes, you might feel that you could do it better, and the task won’t be done exactly as you had envisioned it.  But that’s the thing with leadership—you have to allow people to work under their own authority and responsibility.  You’ll also learn that it means they are going to gain a little bit of credit for the work they do.  As the leader you can’t keep all the credit for yourself.  The more people you have helping, the more credit will be shared among the people helping you.

If you do learn to let go of these tasks and allow others to do what they do well while you do what you do well, I think you’ll be surprised at the results.

Do What You Do Best

March 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here’s part four of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.  If you missed the first three sections, you can follow the links below.

Passion: Discover & Deploy Your Strengths
You’re a Natural

DO WHAT YOU DO BEST

Once you’ve started to discover what you do best (your strengths), then it’s time to stick to them and not get side tracked with anything else.

I work daily to stay in my strength areas and try not to get pulled into other areas where I’m not the best.  In the nonprofit world there are lots of grants that can be applied for by organizations doing good work in their community.  Grants can be a great source of funding if a nonprofit is willing to go through the hard work of creating proposals, budgets and arguments of why they need the money.  Applying for grants takes a tremendous amount of patience, time, administrative strength, and a left-brained, focused, strong person who can think logically.  And that’s not me.  I’m a very right-brained, creative person who loves people and likes to be a leader.

As a result, all of the fundraising we do for A Day of Hope reflects my strengths of being a creative, relational person.  Sitting in an office by myself on a computer applying for a grant does not fit my strengths.  What fits my strengths is having a vision for what we can do and working with people to creatively get there.  This means we mostly do local events to raise funds and gather food for our work.  It also means I use my love for people to build relationships that result in direct donations from individuals and companies.

In 2009, we did car washes twice a month for six months because they directly fit my strengths.  When leading a car wash, I’m able to envision the goal of the event (we were there to raise funds and awareness for our cause), communicate that envision (by having 10 – 20 volunteers come every time), and create the event (actually piece it all together and make it happen).

I also led our Charity Food Bag Drop which was an amazing event where we collect food from homes in our local city to use for A Day of Hope.  We distributed over 10,000 paper grocery bags to homes asking them to donate nonperishable food that we could use in our baskets.

It has been hard work to develop and find my own personal strengths.  I have slowly made progress little bit by little bit, and that has been reflected in how we are run, the events we do, and the activities we take part in.

You’re a Natural

March 10, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here’s part three of chapter three of my book, A Day of Hope.

YOU’RE A NATURAL

Have you ever heard someone say, “Man, he’s a natural” or, “That kids got pure natural talent”?

Barry Bonds is a former player for the San Francisco Giants baseball team and is current record holder for the most home runs in a single season.  It’s been said he had so much natural talent that he could wake up on New Year’s Day after partying all night and still go out to the ball park and hit home runs!

I remember watching his first game back after an injury which had kept him out of the season for almost four months.  His first two at bats he almost knocked the balls out of the park even though he had very little practice and no real game experience in four months.  Anyone who can swing a wooden bat and hit a small three inch wide ball being thrown at 100 miles per hour has some serious talent.

Barry Bonds was fortunate because he found an area of life where he was good, where his natural, innate abilities were able to shine and show through with very little effort on his end.  This is exactly what I mean when I talk about discovering and deploying your strengths.  As a leader you have to do the same.  You need to find out what activities and tasks come naturally to you.  Then you have to dedicate the time and effort to develop yourself in these areas.

My question for you is, what comes naturally to you?  What comes with very little effort?  What were you good at it right from the start?  Earlier I reminded you that your areas of strength might be areas where people often compliment you or they say they admire a specific character quality you have.  Those might be your clue for finding and discovering what you do well.

I was fortunate enough to have someone in my life who helped me to realize my strength was in leadership.  I remember talking to my mom one night while walking home from work.  We were talking about A Day of Hope, and I was giving her an update on all the great progress we were doing.  Her reply to my update about our project are words I’ll never forget.  She said, “Maybe you’ve found something you’re good at.”  It was at that moment I began to realize I had an ability to lead people.

There are many strengths that will help you be to be a successful leader of A Day of Hope:

  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Love
  • Compassion
  • Caring Heart
  • Building a Team
  • Managing People
  • Insight
  • Discernment

All of these qualities have the potential to be part of the leader for A Day of Hope.  However, this certainly isn’t a complete list of what you must have.  You can have different strengths and still lead a successful effort.