Do you have radical trust?

Let's say you are going to launch what could be a million dollar product.  You've had other products that have been somewhat successful and you have fans but this product is going to change everything.   The technology is unheard of but that's not the reason this product will cause so much change. The brilliance behind this product is it's unfinished.  As a matter of fact it's like a never ending canvas.  It wouldn't be a stretch to consider it the most collaborative tool ever created.  Kids will benefit.  Adults will benefit.  People with special needs will benefit.  Education will benefit.

This product is out, you might even be using it right now.

Apple had radical trust.  The brilliance behind the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad are the apps.  Apple created a wonderful product and handed it over to the world to make it better.  There was even the tagline, "There's an app for that."  If you remember the initial keynote address about the iPhone there was an introduction to developers as well the ability to begin building apps on their Mac prior to the actual product launch.

What does this have to do with us as leaders?  It's a matter of retaining great people.  I have learned great people stick around because they are allowed input and ownership.  Often, I can ignore this truth.  I get in the "get it done" mode and don't look for opportunities to include others.  My question for you is where could you be more like Apple and put radical trust in people?

Every organization has systems.  So you might want to look at yours and ask a couple of questions:

1.  Are people our infrastructure? - Sure the iPhone is genius but other people have made it even better.  What are you doing to develop a culture of great people before you think about the ROI of a product or action?

2.  Do we build platforms or walls? - Apple could have launched the iPhone and locked everything down.  I think it still would have been a pretty inventive product.  But apple wasn't thinking just about a product, they were thinking about a creative platform.  Do you train your people in this way?  Are you thinking about giving people what they need like core values and resources so they can then do even more?

3.  Can people give feedback? - I know, this one can be terrifying.  Every leader has experienced people who don't understand constructive criticism.  But hang in there and give people the opportunity to give feedback.  Again, this is the genius behind Apple's success.  When a developer hits a bump in the system Apple tries to flatten that bump.

So what about you?  Are you a leader with radical trust in people?  Do you believe they can make things better?  I'd love to hear what you think about trusting people.  Please leave a comment below!


How to identify real friends when you're a leader

A consequence of organizational leadership is misunderstanding who is for you and who is for the organization.  Leaders end up with hurt souls. They invest in someone they cared for and thought the relationship was reciprocal but discover through adversity or conflict they discover the friendship was based on the mission.  Betrayal is not an uncommon emotion found buried deep in a leaders heart.  Most leaders have their own personal Judas somewhere in their story.

I'm amazed at how many times I can think about feeling betrayed. I thought the person was for me but instead they were only about the organization. I've also watched many people leave a team or organization and they feel abandoned. For those of us who are leaders we embody the mission therefore leaving us and incapable of differentiating between a persons service to the mission and their trusted friendship with us.

So how do we recognize friends in the midst of organizational leadership?  Here are four tips to elevating your friendships as a leader.

1.  More than the mission - If the only thing you and this other person talk about is the mission be prepared for this relationship to alter if either of you move on.  Even soldiers who go and defend each other in battle will go home and have less communication.  Is there any higher cost than your life?  Is there any greater connection than with someone who protected your life?  Yet, soldiers still part ways and have distance.  If you value a relationship with someone you serve with in the mission make sure you spend your time talking about life outside the mission.

2.  Do they come to you - Many of you reading this are in some form of Christian leadership.  Do you realize most of the people you lead identify you as someone who is there to serve them?  They are not fools. You are there to serve.  We can forget this and then end up hurt because we thought our service translated to friendship.  Leaders can recognize friends by paying attention to who seeks them out for quality time.  Not training time.  Not spiritual guidance.  Not "how to" around the mission. But look for those people who seek time with you outside of what the mission needs.

3.  Do you go to them - You didn't think discovering friends was a one way street?  You're a leader, so don't be afraid to lead.  If you want to have a friendship with someone beyond the mission than say it.  Leaders communicate.  If you want to have long term friendships let potential friends know it!

4.  They pray for you, you pray for them - I've learned that my friends beyond the mission are the ones who can hear me in good times and bad times and their response is the same: They are praying for what is happening in my life.  That is a friend.  And it makes me want to do the same for them.  Again, you should think about doing this for someone else if you are looking to have friends who stick by you as a leader.

I wish I could say I am perfect relationally but there is a trail of broken relationships that say otherwise.  So I need your participation in this conversation.  Will you help us do this part of our lives better?

What have you learned about being in a postion of leadership and having meaningful friendships?  Please comment and join the conversation below!

Stop guessing

Successful teams have leaders who put themselves on the other side. They've created systems for their people but they have also tried them. Prior to launch they become incarnational, taking off their current role and stepping into someone else's to experience what they will ask of others. Leadership decisions empower people, not slow them down. We want to help people perform at a higher level.

 Photo credit to m1ke_pearce

When it comes to decisions that will effect your team are you guessing? Here are some questions to ask yourself when making a decision for other people to follow?

1. Could I do it? - If you can't do it then why are you expecting others to do it?

2. Is it simple? - Complex systems should have short shelf life. If they don't than your people will have short shelf life.

3. Is it necessary? - A decision making mistake is creating a system to control people instead of creating a system that empowers people. Don't disguise checking over a shoulder as "caring". I'm not saying checking progress is a bad thing. When key results are known up front than a follow up conversation around those results is expected. People recognize phony caring immediately!

4. Is it beneficial? - Chris LoCurto will say, "The role of the leader is to help his/her team win." Leaders can not make decisions that benefit themselves. That type of decision is beneficial for one instead of being beneficial for the whole. The litmus test on beneficial decision making is receiving input from those it will affect.

Let's make decisions that add value to the lives of those we lead instead of taking value away.

Please leave a comment around other ways you think leaders can empower people in decision making instead of slowing them down?

Are you Diddy or Ice?

I believe that our words are some of the most powerful tools that leaders have. Our words can either be a spring board of creativity or a barrier like a wall. What is your response when someone on your team brings a new idea? Do you feel threatened? Do you feel your system threatened?

Here is how you know if you are a barrier. Think back to the last time someone on your team brought you a new idea or suggestion: did you immediately respond with data or proof that the "system" is working in the "grass is always greener" location? Because you just communicated the "system" is far more valuable than the person or the people on your team.   Barrier leaders love to let you know where the "grass is greener" because that is their view of success.  Barrier leaders want others pointing at what they've done to be the greenest grass in their Neighborhood, organization, or team.

Take a week and ruthlessly believe in people and their ideas. It's kinda like watering your own lawn before you hit up the sod store.

For a hip-hop comparison; I'd rather be Ditty discovering talent


than Vanilla Ice trying to do the old system with a small tweak.