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LinkedIn Leadership

October 23, 2017

I found a nice post on LinkedIn today. More than just one article on one theme, this column offers sound bites on several topics. So, here is our leadership moment for today, touching areas that many leaders deal with in our ever changing cultural context. I’ve editorialized and added some of my own comments in italics.

Extra stress can turn bosses into micromanagers, argues Google's Caterina Kostoula in Fast Company. Micromanagement has the destructive power to kill your team's creativity, drive employees to quit, and negatively affect the physical and emotional health of everyone involved. But it doesn't have to be that way: Take a break, ask yourself if you are taking on too much, get feedback from your team, and commit to making a change. "Resist the urge to interfere," writes Kostoula. "Done good enough by your team is better than done perfectly (does that even exist?) by you." Still, know that the leader must exercise wisdom and discernment between good enough and unacceptable quality/ethics/effort/product. Intervention is essential and necessary in some situations. Swift and sure corrective action is called for at times. The best leaders can properly judge when to step in and when to stay out.

The buddy system works. Researchers at the University of West Chester in Pennsylvania set out to determine what would convince inactive students to hit the campus gym on a consistent basis — and those who had buddies nearly tripled attendance, reports The Ladders. (And when the researchers added some healthy competition to the mix, sharing other pairs' attendance records, the students did even better.) It's not just a lesson for upping your treadmill time: If you want to get up earlier, learn a new skill, read more books, or develop other habits; it helps to have a teammate. Although not a fan of utilizing competition in church or ministry, because the focus is on the doing (or simply in winning)more than the being, there is merit in a group/team walking alongside each other in attending, caring, doing, and being. Jesus had His disciples, Paul had Timothy, and the witnesses went out in pairs.

Hot Topic: Communication


With messages multiplying in the modern world of work, it's easy for things to get lost in translation — even when we're all speaking the same language. Here are a few pointers to keep your communications skills sharp.


Looking to break the ice at a meeting? Share a few pictures, suggests Harvard Business Review. Humans are visual. We process images faster than language, and it helps release key connection-building hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. Got a minute? Share a video clip, utilizing music, images, and words; all powerful communicators.


When addressing a crowd, focus less on what you want them to think and more on what you'd like them to feel, says Wharton's Adam Grant. "To change what they believe, you have to change what they want to believe." In my own experience, it is both the head and the heart which needs to be touched (impacted), educated, and molded. To speak to one, at the expense of the other, often leads to futility.


How to write top-notch work emails: Skip the jargon, mind your commas and question marks, and write with your distracted coworkers' limited attention spans in mind, advises the Financial Time's Sam Leith.


The rise of the "millennial mentor:" For executives, the fear of being caught flat-footed by rapidly shifting consumer tastes or the next social media trend has become palpable. Many are turning to their millennial employees for a lifeline, tapping so-called "millennial mentors" for advice on everything from developing new markets to management style to texting etiquette, reports The New York Times. Generational consulting has become a big business: Companies spent $80 million on such advice in 2016 and some consultants charge as much as $20,000 an hour. So it may be cheaper to get your advice in-house. So many waste what they already possess (but do not, or will not tap). Utilize cross-cultural (age, socio-economic, racial, tribal, etc.) knowledge and understanding by intentionally encouraging and rewarding the sharing of opinions, ideas, and perspectives.


When it comes to hiring, look for potential over skills. For many jobs, particularly those in sectors undergoing rapid transformation, having a "beginner's" mind can be far more valuable than possessing a finely tuned set of skills. In such cases, Quartz points out, traits like motivation, curiosity, and determination may be more meaningful predictors of success. Case in point: Jane Goodall, who landed an assignment to study chimpanzees having absolutely no experience. The main qualification, in her own words was the possession of "a mind uncluttered and unbiased by theory." See my previous blog, “Character over Skill” for further insights. Also ask if you want their DNA built by someone else (not necessarily bad) or built by you and your vision.

One last idea: We live in a world of constant distractions — and our brains pay the price. Writing in HBR, West Point's Mike Erwin points to studies that suggest our IQ drops by five to 15 points when we're multitasking, and distractions erode our ability to retain useful information. To break the cycle, Erwin suggests we take a step back and embrace solitude: "Opportunities to focus are still all around us. But we must recognize them and believe that the benefit of focus, for yourself and the people you lead, is worth making it a priority in your life." I can honestly affirm the truthfulness of this concept. Working from the confines of ADD throughout my life, strategic solitude (often in the form of worship), has opened my mind and helped me to be so much more productive. Regularly, planned breaks, before signs of burnout, are most productive.

 

 

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