Feedback Matters

Feedback matters. What you do with it matters even more. Successful higher-level leaders welcome, even invite feedback. However, many people in leadership positions have a fear and resentment about feedback. I have known people in positions of leadership both in the corporate world and in ministry who refused to accept any feedback or criticism.

Can you imagine a person changing companies every year or two simply because their annual evaluation came back with an area to work on? I’ve witnessed it and heard of it multiple times. We all have areas we need to work on. Running from those weak areas will never solve the issues and will stifle our growth and keep us from climbing the ladder of leadership and success.

The story is told of a fortune 500, computer company, surviving the technology bust around the turn of the 21st century and the biggest layoff in company history. A survey was given to all company employees with not so warm results. The survey revealed employees impression of the top officers in the company; the company’s CEO was considered impersonal and emotionally detached. The company president was autocratic and antagonistic. There were other such words used as well, but you get the picture. More than half of the employees stated they would leave the company if provided an opportunity.

Fortunately, this CEO and his president did not do as most in the business world. They actually took the survey to heart. Realizing that over half of your workforce is ready to walk out the door is not a comforting feeling for anyone in leadership. – Or, at least it should not be a comfortable feeling. That large of a percentage cannot be wrong. Changes need to be made.

This CEO and his president knew they had to take a long hard look at their own conduct and leadership styles. Both men studied, received counsel, and began working on correcting their poor behavior patterns. Videos from the CEO, about the wake up call, were played for all company employees. Changes began to take place – not only in these two men. But also in the overall atmosphere of the company.

In many organizations, if this type feedback had been revealed, the persons in leadership would have ignored the information or tightened the screws a little more in their ill-fated leading. This type behavior certainly will drive away the best leaders and workers in the organization. Turnover will be extremely high and quality of work low. It happens in business.. It happens in ministry.

Today, that computer company is one of the largest, holding a high market share, and is a stronger company than before. Why? Because the two men at the top realized the change needed to start at the top. The realization that their leadership was the biggest factor holding the company back. Their willingness to make the needed adjustments in their own lives perhaps saved the company and put it on solid, growing ground where it has remained for the last sixteen years.

My prayer is that as a leader you will always welcome, even invite feedback, especially constructive feedback. This is the only way you will grow as a leader and the only way to progress through the levels of leadership. Feedback matters. What you do with it matters even more.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Level Five – The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Little has been written about Level Five leaders. Perhaps because it is rare to find a level five leader. Or could it be because level five leaders are so modest, self-effacing, and humble that they are difficult to capture? It is not that they are actually difficult to capture. However, it is difficult to get them to speak about themselves. The reason being they are – modest, self-effacing, and humble –not so much in their eyes, but in the eyes of their beloved employees (volunteers).

Level five leaders are overly self-effacing, thinking of others, always giving credit to everyone else on the team. You will likely never hear a level five leader take credit, even if he was the only person involved in the accomplishment. But he/she will always gladly point to the team as the reason for success.

Level five leaders are so high on the team success scale that all individual contributions at all levels have become secondary (or non-existent). This leader has constructed and developed a team that loves the leader to the point that the effectiveness of the team’s accomplishment is the victory. Team members will sacrifice for a level five leader; not because of a deadline or time limit, but because of their admiration and love for the level five leader.

Not only do level five leaders pass the credit (even if he/she has done most of the work), he will also shoulder the responsibility, even when the responsibility lies elsewhere. This is where the humility of a level five leader shines through. The leader could have been 500 miles away when the blunder occurred, yet, he will always take ownership of the responsibility and never pass blame. Like a mother hen takes care of her chicks, so a level five leader will protect his team members.

Level five leaders will repeat the team success no matter where or what team they are assigned to. The cream always rises to the top. Level five leaders cannot, by nature of who they are, reveal themselves as a level five leader. Think about that statement. If a person claims to be a level five leader, does that claim not take away humility and self-effacement? This alone would disqualify a person as a level five leader, would it not?

Level five leaders are always hard, diligent workers as well. Not afraid to get their hands dirty, often the first on the job and the last to leave, yet disciplined in keeping life’s priorities straight. Like most people you and I may never reach the level five leadership post, but should it not be our ever-endeavoring effort?

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Many Aspire, But Few Make it to Level Four

In this series on the five levels of leadership we have thus far looked at the lower three levels:

1)      Positional leader – This leader operates from an authoritarian stance. He uses his position or title as the authority to get things done. This is the lowest level of leadership and actually the least productive of all. (See the post titled “Your True Leadership Style is the Behavior Pattern Others Perceive” for more on this leadership level)

2)      Relational level – This leader gets buy-in from team members and employees by building relationships across all lines, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, age, and work ethic. Production comes when people feel the leader cares enough to positively encourage workers by getting to know each one. (See the post titled “Moving Up the Ladder of Influence and Leadership” for more on this second level of leadership)

3)      Gaining Momentum – The level three leader has built relationships, gained respect and now employees and team members are motivated around a specific cause. Individual interests are put aside for the good of the team producing greater effectiveness. (See the post titled “Reaching for Level Three Leadership” for more on this leadership level)

While many aspire towards level four and five, few ever truly make it. Level four leaders are developing leaders from within his/her team (be it paid employees or volunteers). This is where the cream rises to the top. True leaders are assisting their team members in personal growth. Not in only the yes men and women of the team – but every member. People want to follow a level four leader. They are not running away or leaving the organization.

It is true many people are not certain how to assist others to grow. Others, like level one leaders are threatened by the possibility of subordinates or employees and volunteers. “After all, if that person grows in leadership ability, he might expose me or take my job.” While they will never come out with those words, a level one leader would rather attempt to hold someone back and even take credit for what others do. Level four leaders do the opposite. They want to see every person in the organization grow and reach his/her full potential.

I love John Maxwell’s statement, “A leader is great not because of his or her power, but because of his ability to empower others.” There is so much providential truth in that statement that I encourage you to read it again – and again.

Unfortunately, too many leaders have a false sense of level four leadership. We have level one leaders in churches and other organizations masquerading, pretending to be level four leaders and never facing reality.

Level four leaders understand their main responsibility is to assist in the development of all team members (not a select few who agree with the leader)  to accomplish the work at hand and to grow beyond the scope needed for this task. Level four leaders will see their team members rising above, receiving promotions, and leading others.

Don’t be a “in my own mind” level four leader. You will run your best people away. Instead strive to become a true level four leader by building the requirements of levels two and three. Then do everything in your power to help all your team members (employees and volunteers) to grow beyond your own leadership. This requires vulnerability and humility. And this is truly a level four leader.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Reaching for Level Three Leadership

Level one leaders operate from position or title. Productivity at level one is short-lived, turnover is high, and trust is lacking. Level two leaders operate relationally, building relationships that garner respect. Leaders who rightfully earn the respect of their workers (volunteers) will also gain permission to lead for effective results. So, how does a leader move from relational to higher levels of leadership and more effective results?

Because of the relationships built and trust earned, a leader can move to the next level of leadership which is “gaining momentum” or as John Maxwell justly calls it, Production. In this level, we begin to see teamwork surfacing. People are now coming together for a cause. Workers (paid or volunteer) desire coming together to accomplish the tasks at hand. Effectiveness as a team emerges overtaking individual exploits.

Level three leaders observe and act in ways that will build the team as well as individual members of the team. Level three leaders are results oriented – but not by force. Leaders at this level have and continue building relationships and involve workers in determining and resourcing for effective results. Workers, who have been included in the decision and fact checking process (research and reviewing statistics, facts, and products) are more likely to strive to accomplish desired results. Therefore, creating a team effort for effective results.

At level three, people follow because of proven results – results that the team and you have accomplished. A level three leader will pass the credit of success to lower levels of workers. (Level one leaders want the credit; “It’s what I did”). The more a leader will pass the credit and shoulder responsibility, the greater effectiveness he will become as a level three leader and preparing him for level four. Here is an example:

“It is true we did not reach all of our goals for this month as a team. However, every one of you performed well and we’ve seen growth because of it. I am proud to tell others that I am on the same team with you. I take full responsibility for our team not reaching “xyz” and I know that if we pull together we will do our best to overcome that obstacle next month. You did well. Let’s keep the momentum going this month.”

Even if he/she has done the major share of the work, a leader who always passes the credit, will have no issues with people giving their best to accomplish goals and tasks. On top of passing the credit, a leader who will carry the responsibility of shortfalls on his shoulders instead of “passing the blame”, will gain followers that will not easily be dissuaded.

Be a leader who not only builds relationships with everyone on your team, but one who strives to build individuals into effective productive teams – teams who desire to be together to accomplish a task or take on a specific cause. Swallow your pride and self-centeredness and begin passing the credit of all success and accept the responsibility of losses or failures as your own. After all it is your watch, you are the leader. You can build a team of effective production and momentum beyond any individual glories.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Moving Up the Ladder of Influence & Leadership

How do you get people to work for you when they are not obligated? Influence, relational influence. This is the second level of leadership. As discussed in last week’s blog post, Level one leadership is leading from position, using your title or position as motivator. Level one is often leadership by pressure or even coercion. Level one leadership demonstrates little or no true leadership skills. This week I want to look at level two leadership, relational, or as John Maxwell lists it, “Permission” leadership.

Whether they are obligated or not, to move from level one to level two leadership a person must be inter-relational, able to build relationships with their charges (paid or volunteer). These relationships must go beyond, “Hi, How are you doing today?” A person unable to build solid, lasting relationships with workers (volunteers) will find short-lived effective success as a leader. In other words this person will continue to operate from level one.

You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.” A very powerful and great statement from John Maxwell. Lower level leaders often times do not understand the critical element of this factor. Perhaps like me you have heard a manager say, “I am not here to be their friend. I am here to be their boss. I am here to see they get the job done.” While there may be some truth in those statements. The truth would lie in the third sentence, not the first.

The very best way to get someone to accomplish a task is through positive influence. To provide absolute positive influence, you must first get to know the person, earning his/her respect. Respect is earned, not given arbitrarily. You do not have to go out and have drinks with everyone in your organization, or invite them over for dinner. However, personalizing the work relationship will gain far greater respect than barking orders and adding bureaucratic procedures.

When people know that you care about them as a person, not as a machine, they will respond accordingly. In the church, business world, and life in general, far too few people are willing to take the time to invest in building true, caring relationships. A wise investment for anyone is to learn basic people skills. Your influence level rises as people enjoy and want to be around you. As a leader, this is critical in progressing up the ladder of influence.

The major characteristic separating level two from level one is that people want to follow you, not out of obligation to your position, but out of respect and relationship. When you build relationships and gain their respect, people will give you permission to lead them. Begin today: What can you do to build and strengthen relationships with those who serve under your leadership?

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.

Your True Leadership Style is the Behavior Pattern Others Perceive

Many people have used the word influence in their definitions of leadership. I believe, Leadership is an influence process. John Maxwell and others have written about five levels of leadership. Maxwell’s terms for these are Level one, Positional, Level two, Permission, Level three, Production, Level four, People Development, and Level five, Personhood. Level one being the lowest level of leadership, where the least amount of true leading actually takes place, and level five being the highest level, a level very few people ever attain.

When entering a new position or job promotion, most everyone will enter at level one. You are not yet proven in this position. Therefore, you must lead from position. The only leadership credential you have with employees (volunteers) is that of a title. People will follow for a short time a person who only leads from level one, positional leadership. Sooner than later, using your position to accomplish the work and goals of your organization, will wane. So will morale and attitudes within the organization. People will begin to leave your organization, beginning with the best workers and potential leaders. I literally scratch and shake my head when I see people attempting to lead via positional leadership. Especially when it appears this is the only leadership style he/she knows. It is plainly ineffective as a leadership style.

Level one leadership has also been known for decades as autocratic leadership. Autocratic leaders are authoritarian leaders and this type of leadership dates back to some of the earliest tribes known to have recorded information. Here’s one small snippet of what Wikipedia says about this type of leadership: “An authoritarian leadership style is exemplified when a leader dictates policies and procedures, decides what goals are to be achieved, and directs and controls all activities without any meaningful participation by the subordinates…The group is expected to complete the tasks under very close supervision, while unlimited authority is granted to the leader.”

Level one leadership will severely strangle the effectiveness of any organization. Using the five levels of leadership listed above, the highest level of effectiveness and organizational success comes with the highest level of leadership, level five. True effectiveness of leadership begins to appear in level three, production, and rises as the leadership rises to level four and five.

The higher levels in leadership represent more supportive roles by leadership, whereas lower levels represent directive roles from leaders. Autocratic leaders expect results, my way. Subordinates have no say in how something is to be carried out.

Higher level, supportive leadership, on the other hand, gives freedom and empowers subordinates. You will see more of a democratic leadership style in place in these organizations. Involvement of followers (subordinates) in decision making.

Autocratic – derives power from position or title – expect results my way – morale killer.

Democratic – places an emphasis on personal power of every person in the organization – morale booster = effectiveness.

If you are a leader ask yourself this question: “If I were not in leadership, which of these would I want to serve/work under?” I believe you’ll choose the higher level democratic leader. So, why not begin today, striving to become one. Set your goals to progress through the levels of leadership, striving to become the highest level leader you possibly can be.

Your true leadership style is the behavior pattern that you use with other people when trying to influence them, as they perceive it. (Not what you think it is, but as they perceive you)

George Yates is a Life Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in reaching their full God-given potential.

Can you learn all there is to know about coaching by reading one book? 

A guest post written by;  Stephanie A. Janke, Certified Biblical Life Coach

Can you learn all there is to know about coaching by reading one book?  My estimation is probably not, but George L. Yates has managed to pack many powerful keys and valuable insights into just 10 chapters and a little over 100 pages, in his book, COACHING:  A Way of Leadership    A Way of Life.

Mr. Yates discusses coaching, eye contact, body language, and the art of asking questions. His coaching instruction resonates with moving people forward, enabling them to maneuver and navigate through various stages of transition and transformation. What particular skills do I need to do this, you might ask?   We are all coaches in some ways during our lives, even if it isn’t our business or ministry.  Teaching children, cruising through marriage, or building relationships with co-workers, family and friends, requires us to have the skills George describes in his book! 

Does asking the right questions or watching a person’s body movements give me enough information to help someone really make changes?  Mr. Yates explores the 4 basic ‘natures’ of the question, and examines the ‘funnel effect’ of how coaches can help bring the coachee to a “more proper conclusion, leading them on a path toward greater effectiveness”.   Discovering the breakdown, realizing the need to make adjustments, and taking responsibility, will begin the rebuilding process that each person needs to keep moving forward.

Can sitting in a real-time environment with our coachees produce more depth and substance during our sessions?  COACHING: A Way of Leadership, will open your own eyes to the keys of greater communication skills through eye contact, body language, and facial expressions. Along with concentrating on greater listening skills, the coach will become a ‘life-long’ learner.  George’s goal is “to have the purpose, power, and passion which transform us”, the coach; when we help others to “unlock the mysteries of the mind, heart, soul and will”! 

Why should you read COACHING: A Way of Leadership A Way of Life?  As the Mr. Yates describes, the ‘why question’ is often not the best approach.  Instead, ask yourself, ‘What will best help me to create an environment of change, experience, and discovery, so that the coachee will be inspired, and have their own thoughts illuminated?   Can I assist them to unearth the choices and changes they can only make themselves? Want to improve your productivity? ,Want to be more effective in your coaching? ,Want to be respected as a person with the ability to lead others?  Read this book and you will discover like Mr. Yates states in his conclusion… “After all, Coaching, it is a Way of Leadership, a Way of Life!   My plan is to read it over and over again.

My thanks to Stephanie Janke for her review of this book. You can purchase your copy from Amazon or at SonC.A.R.E.

George Yates is a coach and Church health strategist, assisting individuals, churches and other organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose.

The Four Natures of a Question – part II

“Furthermore, if questions so profoundly predetermine thought and inquiry, then it would seem to make sense to get them right lest our searching become a blind man’s groping. Unknown

Questions are truly a great gift from God. Learning the different natures of questions will lead you to be a worthy coach and leader, creating many discovery learning experiences for your employees, coachees, peers, family members, and others.

Closed Ended Question – This nature of this question is to use static recall; recollecting facts and stored information. As soon as one person answers te question, everyone’s thinking shuts down. Examples of closed ended questions:

What day of the week is today?

When is your birthday?

Where are you from?

What do you do for a living?

Open Ended Questions – Engage the higher order thought processes causing everyone listening to move to deeper thinking. Is not normally answered in one word or simple statement. Everyone in the room continues these deeper thought processes, even as others verbally share their responses. Examples:

What does Saturday mean to you?

What would a perfect birthday look like in your thinking?

How could we have done a more effective job?

In what ways will purchasing that particular car help you?

Rhetorical Questions – do not normally require an answer. Many times the answer is in the question. Examples:

Isn’t the weather nice today?

Aren’t you feeling chipper this morning?

You’re not looking to be a failure, are you?

Statement Questions – taking any statement and turning it into a question. Statement questions can be rhetorical, closed or open. As leaders, we should work to keep them open ended or at least engage the higher order thought processes of our listeners. Examples:

You say, you went to work on Tuesday, but didn’t stay?

Jane really likes wearing that blue dress her mother gave her, doesn’t she?

This guy, Samson, really killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey?

Learning the nature of questions and which nature will help make forward progress for your employee, volunteer, child, or coachee. After all, if questions so profoundly predetermine thought and inquiry, doesn’t it make sense to get them right lest our searching become a blind man’s groping?

To learn more about the four natures of a question and how to effectively develop and employ questions, order your copy of COACHING:A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life. Also available at Amazon in hardcopy and kindle.

George Yates is a Coach and Church health Strategist assisting individuals, churches and other organizations in reaching for their God-given potential.

The Four Natures of the Question

Different questions have different natures. Nature is defined as the inherent character of a person or thing. Understanding the inherent (in-built) character of a question is the key to success as a leader, coach teacher and even as a parent and spouse.

The inherent character of a question will largely determine the response for that question. I believe there are four basic natures of questions. These are: 1) Closed ended, 2) Open ended, 3) Rhetorical, and 4) Statement. Each nature solicits a different mode of response.

One of these natures causes the listener to use static recall, not engaging the higher order thought processes. Unfortunately, this is the type question most used in business, churches, classrooms, and even casual conversation. The other three nature’s of a question cause the listener’s brain to activate the cognitive skills of the brain, engaging the higher order thought processes described in chapter seven of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life.

Without engaging the higher order thought processes we cannot cause a learning experience or assist someone to move forward in his life. Understanding the Nature’s of questions will assist anyone in helping others.

Learning to use the proper natured questions at the right time will be critical in leading others in business and in family affairs. Read what Pastor Jason Price writes:

“George Yates is a master at asking questions. Even before Reading, Coaching: A Way of Leadership a Way of Life, I have seen first-hand how coaching can radically change the culture within a church, his coaching helped change ours!  George masterfully uses the art of asking the right questions, to lead churches and people on a road to self-discovery, helping them identify the God-given purpose for their church. The principles taught in, Coaching, are highly practical and transferable to any setting. They reveal the personal insights of an effective coach with decades of experience. If you have a desire to revolutionize the way you lead in your professional or church life, you need to read this book!”  R. Jason Price Senior Pastor Cornerstone Baptist Church, Nicholasville, KY.

George Yates is a coach and Church Health Specialist, assisting individuals, organizations, and churches in fulfilling their God-given purpose.

What Is The Purpose of a Question?

What is the purpose of a question? Have you ever considered this? As a leader (parent, teacher, coach), this should always be an imperative for every question we ask. Actually, the purpose of the question is four-fold. And each question you ask will fit one of the following principled purposes.

Properly formulated questions asked at the right time, in the right manner can 1) gather information: This is perhaps the most used purpose for asking questions. Yet, in my opinion, it is not the best use or purpose of greatest of greatest benefit. Using questions to gather information is beneficial and helpful in moving an organization or individual forward. Before asking a question to gather information know for what purpose you need or desire the requested information. Is it vital for forward movement?

2) substantiate a person’s prior knowledge of a subject: This purpose comes in very handy as a leader or coach, and can be beneficial for teachers as well. Before you move into deeper discussion about a topic or before assigning a task to a particular individual, you want to know his prior knowledge about the subject or assignment to be completed. Without understanding the listener’s prior knowledge of the topic, you may find yourself talking way over the heads of others in the room. Or you could find yourself wanting to discuss rudimentary ideas, when your listener is far beyond this level. In either case you’re likely to find the eyes of your listener glazed over and not engaged. Learn to ask the right questions to substantiate the prior knowledge of others in the room.

3) solicit your listener’s approval: As a leader, leader, teacher, or coach, there are times when you want to ask a question that will solicit your listener’s approval. “As we make this transition, you are willing to lead your department, aren’t you?” This could be followed with a question as, ”What are your biggest apprehensions about this transition and your department?” Asking questions to solicit your listener’s approval will assist you in determining their capability.

4) promote higher level thinking which leads to true behavioral learning and life change: This in my opinion is the greatest use of the question for all leaders- in the workplace, at home, in the classroom, – every leader in every realm of life. Very seldom should we use a question that does not engage the higher order thought processes of everyone in the room. Many questions used today from casual conversations to fortune 500 board rooms require only static recall – recalling facts and figures. This type of questions cannot produce learning and will never move a person or organization forward. It is not until the higher order (deep thinking) thought processes are engaged that forward movement can be experienced.

Understanding the purpose of a question before you ask it is essential to great leadership. Learning to think through the purposes of a question may take practice, but the results as a leader will be evident!

To read more about The Purpose of a Question read chapter eight of COACHING: A Way of Leadership, A Way of Life

George Yates is a coach and Church Health Strategist assisting organizations, churches, and individuals in reaching their God-given potential.