10 Leadership Blogs to Follow in 2017

In our last blog post, we explored several event planning websites to guide you in the latest tips and trends as you prepare for events of all sizes. Today, we will highlight ten leadership blogs to follow as you seek to become a more well-rounded leader. Whether you lead a large organization or a small group, plan events for thousands or a simple retreat for your church, or have an accomplished resume of leadership positions or are just getting your foot in the door, these blogs offer great insight into all facets of leadership.

  • Carey Nieuwhof: Carey Nieuwhof is a pastor, father, author and speaker who desires to “help people lead like never before.” Through his blog and podcasts, Carey shares both personal experiences (good and bad) and interviews leaders to gain their success strategies.
  • LifeWay Leadership: This site is full of articles for both church staff and lay people. There are also links to leadership events, podcasts and training resources. While you are here, you can also link to other LifeWay ministry sites including kids, students, women’s and group ministries.
  • Michael Hyatt: Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He currently runs his own online training company. Here you can find articles and podcasts on topics such as leadership, personal development and productivity.
  • Eric Geiger: Eric Geiger leads the Church Resources division at LifeWay Christian Resources. In addition, he is an author and pastor. This blog contains great resources and practical tips for leaders of all levels.
  • Leadership Freak: Dan Rockwell writes a daily post on various leadership topics for seasoned and upcoming leaders.
  • Scotty Smith—The Gospel Coalition: Scotty Smith provides a daily Scripture reading and prayer based on that reading. This blog is a great devotional resource for leaders to prepare themselves each day.
  • Brad Lomenick: Brad Lomenick was (and still remains) influential in the Catalyst movement. His posts range on topics from leadership and the next generation to innovation and creativity, to name a few.
  • Scott Cochrane—A Leader’s Journey: Scott Cochrane is a leader in the Willow Creek Association, an organization with a vision to “help Christians grow their leadership to maximize Kingdom impact.” He writes about a wide assortment of leadership topics.
  • Thom Rainer: Thom Rainer is President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. His regular podcasts, Rainer on Leadership, offer great information on various leadership topics for the church and beyond.
  • Seth Godin: Seth Godin is an author and speaker with a knack for concise, witty posts that are both insightful and thought-provoking.

What about you? What leadership blogs do you follow? Comment in the section below.


3 Keys To Decision Making

Us guys love a great sports story.  And when we can get an analogy out of it, we like it even better.

I was reading a story about the San Francisco 49ers, who went to the Super Bowl.  Their coach, Jim Harbaugh, made a big decision halfway through the season to change  quarterbacks.  Alex Smith had been their starting qb until an injury.  He was replaced by Colin Kaepernick, and that decision divided the locker room.

Can you blame the teammates for being divided?  The QB is the defacto leader for the team, and when he’s benched, many people get upset.

Think about the decision Coach Harbaugh had to make.  Smith was, and had been the guy, but he sensed a change was needed.  I’m sure Harbaugh had his reasons, but making that decision and sticking to it had to be tough.

As an event planner, big decisions need to be made every day.  You have to be willing to make those.

Here are 3 quick thoughts on decision making:

  1. Don’t be scared to make a decision.  Some leaders will let the consensus of a group make the decision.  I’m not sure this is the best way to lead.  Had Harbaugh let the locker room make the decision of starting QB, Smith probably would have been the guy.  They 49ers might not have made the Super Bowl.
  2. Stick with your decision.  Waffling is not allowed.  That is even more hurtful to the team.  For Harbaugh, there was really no going back.  If you thought through all angles of your decision, own it.
  3. 3.  Don’t worry what others think.  As a leader, you have to stand head and shoulders above the crowd.  Think Harbaugh cared what others thought of his decision?  I’m going to say no.  It was his and his alone to make.  Had it failed, he most certainly would have gotten the blame.

There is a new book out that I’ve just started called Decisive: How To Make Better Choices In Live And Work by Chip and Dan Heath.   I’m looking forward to digging into it deeper to help me make better decisions.


TAGS: San Francisco 49ers, decision making, leadership

Crisis Strikes: Handling Individual or Group Crisis

Are you prepared to take control if a crisis strikes your group during an event?  Shawn Stewart, a youth leader with over twenty years of experience, has some excellent advice for leaders when it comes to dealing with crisis.

  • Respond immediately.  If it’s a health emergency of someone in the group, call 911.  If it’s an emotional crisis call a meeting with the individual or individuals involved. Keep safety at the top of your list, then move on to addressing other physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Contact your organization’s leaders.  “I learned to always call my pastor, apprise him of the situation, and ask him to stay near a phone in case I needed direction.  If a minor is involved, it’s also important to call his or her parents or guardians immediately.   Sometimes people will hold of, thinking it’s better to wait until they have all the information to inform the parents.  But it’s much better to keep them in the loop from the very beginning.” explains Mr. Stewart.
  • Get the group together.  Rumors will fly and information will be twisted beyond reality if you don’t inform the group of the facts.  Whether it has to do with one individual or ten individuals it’s best to include everyone in a brief informational session.  Give them the facts, be serious, and calm.  “The group will feed directly off the attitude of the key leader” Shawn explains.  Once you have told them what is happening and what you are doing to address it, tell them what they need to go and do next.  If you don’t provide something for them to do, it usually turns into a bit of chaos.” says Shawn.
  • Debrief. After the crisis has passed, debrief your leadership team.  What did you do right? What could you have done better?

If you are the key leader on a trip or at an event, you need to recognize that in a crisis you need to take the role of a director.  Directing care, directing communications and directing the actions of the rest of the group.  You’ll feel more confident if you plan ahead.

Shawn Stewart meets with his leaders before every event and brainstorms possible crisis and emergencies related to that specific trip.  “When I took a youth group to serve in New York City, we realized the kids wouldn’t be used to the subway system.  So we told everyone that if the entire group didn’t make it onto the subway at a stop, everyone needed to get off at the very next stop.  Before I go into any crowd situation, I always inform my group where to meet if they get separated from everyone else.  I’ve learned if you don’t plan ahead, you’re planning for disaster.”

Don’t approach events with an attitude of fear, but instead prepare to respond calmly to a crisis by taking planning steps before your trip or event.

3 Ways To Ensure Positive Team Building

Planning an effective team building retreat can be a daunting task.  Organizing activities to foster creativity and group participation to generate new ideas is tough. Here are  3 ideas to keep in mind while leading any team building event to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.

Build Trust – Trust is a huge part of life, no matter if you’re at work or at home. If you don’t have trust, communication and collaboration will also be nonexistent. If some people aren’t participating, or they’re getting their few ideas shot down, it’s going to be hard for them to trust the group. Keep an eye out for this and remind them how it’s done!

Increase Communication– Communication is a huge piece of team building, and also a giant part of any group work. The fact that everyone understands what is going on, who is in charge of what, what the exact goals are, and what steps to take to get there, is crucial. As the “boss” or “planner,” talk to your groups, be available to listen to their comments, and invite questions from staff, coworkers, and other guests.

Boost Collaboration –Some people work best when collaborating with others, while others excel working alone with little to no outside help. If you’re having a corporate team building retreat, or any kind of retreat that focuses on team building, a lot of independence needs be left at the metaphorical door. Team building is all about learning together, growing together, and working together. While conducting your team building strategies, keep an eye on people who are trying to take over the conversation or group, and encourage everyone to participate.

Keeping these 3 ideas in mind during team building activities will ensure positive results.

How have you implemented these ideas with  your team?

Moving An Organization From Unhealthy To Healthy

Today’s post is the final installment in a series written by Ed Stetzer (VP – LifeWay Research), dealing with unhealthy Christian organizations. Unfortunately this is an issue that many of us have had to, or are currently dealing with. Hopefully these posts can be of help to you, or someone you know.

In the first post Ed described 6 symptoms of an unhealthy organization (read here) and in the second one he discussed what to do if you find yourself in an unhealthy organization (read here). In this third post, Ed looks at what a healthy organization looks like and how an organization can move from unhealthy to healthy.

Previously at the blog, we’ve looked at unhealthy Christian organizations (part one, part two) and the response has been quite surprising. I’ve had calls from numerous Christian leaders telling me that they were printing out copies for their staff… and I’ve had people from more than one organization ask if I was talking about them. To quote Rick Warren, no, “It’s not about you.”

It is about a pattern, and this pattern is both real and widespread. Some organizations really are unhealthier than others, and, unfortunately, I’ve seen it– as you probably have as well.  (click here to read entire post)

Was this blog series helpful? Would love to get your thoughts below!

How Healthy Is Your Organization?

How healthy is my organization? It’s a question almost all of us should be asking from time to time. Over my 30+ year career, I’ve had the pleasure of working in some great organizations, as well as the stress and challenges of working in some that were less than healthy.

Today’s post is the first of a 3 part series (written by Ed Stetzer, VP – LifeWay Research) dealing with unhealthy Christian organizations. In part 1, Ed provides a list of 6 symptoms of a dysfunctional church or organization. I found the article to be very insightful and hopefully you will as well.

Considering (and Surviving) Unhealthy Christian Organizations, part 1 by Ed Stetzer

I started thinking about writing this article when a couple I know were approached about working at a prominent Christian organization. They expressed appreciation of how much good is done by this organization. Yet, they were not interested because they knew people who worked there. And, although everyone who worked there would readily say God was doing great things, they also used two phrases regularly: “we’re miserable” and “around here, you just keep your head down and do your job.”

And therein lies the quandary of the dysfunctional Christian organization– it often does good things on the outside while destroying the soul of those on the inside.

So, how do you know if your Christian organization or church is dysfunctional? (click here to read Ed’s entire post)

After reading Ed’s entire post, please let us know by commenting below if you found this helpful.


5 Keys To A Great Staff Retreat

How many of you have come home from a staff retreat thinking it was pretty much a waste of time? I know I have, even a time or two when it was my staff retreat!

Staff retreats can be a strategic part of building a highly productive team. However, the difference between a mediocre staff retreat and a great one is having a good game plan. To help with planning your next staff retreat, here are 5 keys you want to make sure  are part of your plan:

  • Pray – You would think we would never forget to make this a key part of a staff retreat, but that’s not always the case. Don’t take this one for granted. Spend time in prayer both before and during your retreat.
  • Evaluate – A key to any strategic plan is an honest evaluation of your current situation. Take the time to evaluate as a staff and make notes of what you’re doing well and what you want to improve.
  • Plan – Staff retreats are a great time to dream and plan your future direction. Be sure your plan has well defined action steps and responsibilities so everyone knows what’s expected when you get back to the office.
  • Learn – A well balanced team has a wealth of knowledge. Don’t forget to tap into that knowledge and learn from each other.
  • Laugh – Nothing like laughter to draw a staff closer together. Relax, laugh and enjoy the time together.

If you’re going to invest time and money into having a staff retreat, doesn’t it make sense to  do everything possible to make it a great one?

Think Before You Critique

Recently my wife emailed me a devotional she had come across. Not because she was trying to tell me something, but because it had a sports reference (guess she figured that might get me to read it). For those of you who know my wife, you know this was a bit unusual. First, she’s not big into technology (although she now wants an iPad) and secondly, she’s definitely not a sports fan.

The sports reference was a quote by Ron “Jaws” Jaworski. Recently, on ESPN Radio, Jaworski made this statement, “We have too many historians and not enough pioneers”. His point was  there are way too many people who relish the opportunity to arm-chair quarterback and critique past events, but not too many folks out there willing to try and make a positive difference.

I definitely agree on this. Too often I’m in meetings and people will focus all their attention on what didn’t work. Or instead of looking at what could be, they focus on all the reasons why something won’t work. I don’t know about you, but this drives me crazy!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a critical eye when analyzing the past, but we must do so in a way that moves us forward. Instead of just taking the critical shots, we need to be investing time and energy into coming up with solutions to the problems we’ve identified. This is how an organization improves and moves forward.

Here’s a thought. The next time you start to voice a criticism, stop and think. Think about what solutions you could offer instead of only critiquing. Imagine how much more could be accomplished when we focus on solutions rather than criticism and blame.

Don't Get Stuck In A Classroom!

One of the numerous advantages Christian conference centers have over hotels is the natural setting that surrounds them. Not only does the natural setting provide your group the opportunity to get away from the distractions of the world, but it also provides your group with the opportunity to get out of the traditional meeting room setting.

Recently I read a blog post entitled “What I Learned About Leadership From A Low Ropes Course”. It was written by Michael Hyatt and in the post Hyatt talks about how beneficial he found going through an adventure learning experience to be. Here’s a quote: “I love reading books on leadership and attending seminars. But as helpful as these are, they are not the same as doing something together with a team. There are some things in life that are best learned by doing.” (Read full post)

I loved reading this post! See, I’m a big believer in adventure or experiential learning. As Hyatt points out, it’s one thing to read about a subject or sit in a classroom listening to a lecture, but it’s another thing all together to actually get out and learn by doing.

I think this is especially true in dealing with leadership and team-building. Getting a group out into an adventure setting helps to break down barriers and level playing fields. If facilitated well, this type of learning can have a huge positive influence on growing leaders and building teams.

When was the last time you incorporated adventure learning into one of your retreats? How did it work for your group? If you haven’t done this yet, why not? As you think about these questions, I’ll leave you with one last quote from Hyatt’s post…“Find a retreat center with a low (or even high) ropes course. It is well-worth the investment.”

Interested in learning more about adventure learning? If so, here’s a link to the Ridgecrest website where you can get more information (click here). Also, feel free to call 828-669-4844 and speak to one of adventure learning professionals.

Are You A Lovable Meeting Planner?

A few weeks ago, I read a post on CVENT entitled “10 Things I Love About Meeting Planners“. The author of the post listed 10 things they loved about meeting planners and why.

As I read the post, I couldn’t help but think how difficult it would be for a planner to live up to all 10 of the things listed. Doing so would pretty much make them perfect in the eyes of others in the meeting world. A pretty high standard, don’t you think?

While none of us will ever be perfect, I thought it might be helpful if I listed some of the things she loved about meeting planners and then asked a few questions to help you gauge whether or not someone might find those lovable traits in you.

  • Always Prepared – How organized are you? Do you wait to the last minute to plan your event? Do you take time to come up with contingency plans for when things don’t go quite like you expect them to?
  • Composed– When things hit the fan, how do you react? Are you cool as a rule, or do you let people see you sweat?
  • Wired for Possibilities– Are you a glass half full, or half empty kind of person? Do you see possibilities where others see only obstacles and reasons why something won’t work?
  • People Connectors – Do you enjoy putting people together?
  • Generous Hearts – Are you a go-giver? Do you keep your eyes open for the quiet people at your event? What about looking out for those in need?
  • Extra-Mile Team Players – If you commit to do something, does it happen? On time? Are you willing to do whatever you can to ensure the success of your event? Even if that means taking on the least desirable tasks?
  • Friendly & Fun – Is that how people would describe you? Do you run around your event with a smile on your face, or are you always looking serious?

As a meeting planner, what other lovable traits do you want people to find in you?