Entries by Dave Kraft (1064)


Are you a toxic leader and perhaps don't know or don't think you are? Find out by taking the TLS

There are more toxic leaders leading today than you might think. There are three possibilities. 1) You are a toxic leader, know it, and are allowing the Holy Spirit and those you lead to facilitate change in your life and ministry, 2) You are a toxic leader and don’t know it or don’t think you are. 3) You are a healthy leader and are aware of toxic attitudes and behaviors and are prayerfully watching for it in your life. Dan Rockwell will help us take a Toxic Leader Score (TLS).

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Your Toxic Leader Score* (TLS) is the level of unnecessary irritation you cause others. If you occasionally irritate colleagues by arriving late, you’re a 3 on a range from 1 to 10.

If you frequently irritate colleagues, but don’t realize it, your TLS is 9. The worst leaders don’t know they’re toxic.


10 ways to elevate your Toxic Leader Score:

  1. Make everything about results. “Relationships are for babies and losers.”
  2. Minimize or ignore emotion and energy. “Just do your job!”
  3. Change course in mid-stream without preparing people or giving reasons.
  4. Complain more than affirm and compliment.
  5. Devalue progress. When someone makes progress, remind them they have far to go.
  6. Set long-term goals – ignore short-term wins.
  7. Focus on fixing weaknesses, rather than maximizing strengths.
  8. Be a know-it-all.
  9. Interrupt people.
  10. Believe it’s all about the money.

Leadership is more than vision and strategy. It’s also inspiration. Your unscientific Inspiration Score (IS) is your ability to tap the power of happiness.

10 Ways to elevate your Inspiration Score:

  1. Dedicate yourself to building positive energy environments. The most powerful thing you do is create positive environments where people love coming to work.
  2. Show respect. If you want people to act like owners, stop treating them like slaves.
  3. Be decisive with openness.
    • Seek input.
    • Explore options.
    • Explain purpose.
    • Make decisions.
    • Adapt as you go.
  4. Trust people. Meddlers and micro-managers top the Toxic Leader chart.
  5. Ask questions, gently. Questions feel like interrogations when all you care about are results.
  6. Make work about them, not you. Help people get where they want to go.
  7. Give helpful feedback.
  8. Practice open handed generosity.
  9. Pat people on the back, literally. Touch energizes. But, don’t lay your hand on people.
  10. Pursue excellence collaboratively. Set high standards and figure out how to reach them together.

What behaviors make leaders toxic?

What behaviors make leaders inspirational?

*TLS is an unscientific scale created for this post.







“Relational Games Leaders Play”

 I read a quote by Colin Powell:

“Trust is the glue that holds an organization together and the lubricant that keeps it moving.”

I believe that establishing and maintaining trust in a relationship, a team or an organization is the most important thing that needs to take place. When trust is gone, it’s just a matter of time until everything else is gone. The worst thing one person can say to another is, “I don’t trust you anymore;” whether it’s a parent saying it to a child, a child to a parent, a married couple to each other, or team members saying it to their team leader. Absence of trust is the first rung on the ladder to becoming a dysfunctional team, according to best selling author Patrick Lencioni.

One of the ways you can lose trust is to play relational games with those you lead.

Let me explain what I mean.

You lose trust and credibility with people when they don’t believe what you say anymore. Over the years, I have heard leaders and worked with and for leaders who say things like:

1)   I’ll give you call next week 

2)   Let’s get together for lunch

3)   I’ll get back to you on that by Friday

4)   I’ll have this done and in your hands by Thursday

You, from your experience, can very well add to the list of things leaders have said to you that they never followed through on. In some cases, they really never meant what they said in the first place; empty promises that are not kept. Could it actually be a form of deception and lying when we say things we really don’t mean? And if we mean it and it looks like we missed following through, wouldn’t it be nice to hear:

 “I’m really sorry that I didn’t do what I said I would do.”

“What can I do to make it right?”

I am especially concerned in a conversation or meeting when things are promised but not written down or placed in a calendar or on a “Do List.” I honestly don’t have a lot of confidence in people’s memory when so many are over committed and overwhelmed.

Eugene Peterson’s Message Paraphrase 2 Corinthians 4:2 reads:

“We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.”

How about Jesus’ simple encouragement to let your yes be yes and your no be no from Matthew 5:37?

By God’s grace, I want to under promise and over deliver. I want to say what I mean, mean what I say and do what I promise, and not be inappropriately flippant with my words and commitments. If you are not saying what you really mean, over time people will loose confidence in you and in your leadership and begin to ask themselves what else is he/she not telling me/us the truth about? In honoring the one who is the Way the Truth and the Life, can we not be aboveboard and honest in our communication with those we are privileged to lead?

I’d love to hear from you on this in the comment section below. 


Five things to keep in mind in making leadership decisions

Leaders make decisions. That's what all leaders (voluteers or paid staff) do. The more they are paid, the more is probably riding on those decisions . If you don't like to make decisions or are hampered by fear in make certain kinds of decisions maybe you should rethink your calling to lead.

Brad Lomenick shares five things to keep in mind in making decisions.

Leaders are decision makers. Period. Whatever the time of year and season of life, lots of decisions are probably on your desk or in your to do list waiting to be pushed forward. It’s something we must do. Constantly.

So here a few thoughts on making decisions:

1. Understand that it’s part of your job. Making decisions as a leader is normal and ordinary and required. It’s why you are a leader. Embrace it.

2. Sleep on the big ones. For big decisions, always sleep on them. The extra time will allow your decision to be made without the spontaneous emotion that comes with a spontaneous response.

3. Know your values. As Roy Disney stated, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Many times indecision occurs because of lack of clarity on vision and values. Values are foundational and must be in place in order to move the organization forward.

4. Understand the context. Do your homework and make sure you are informed. Plus be aware of the situation- in the case of a good/bad decision, those are pretty easy. In the case of a better/best decision, those take a bit more time to push forward and get to a final decision. Different decisions require different levels of involvement, awareness, and information.

5. Just do it. Create a culture of action in your organization. Many leaders quickly become overwhelmed with several decisions in front of them and then unintentionally paralyze the organization by avoiding them all. Create a system of action that demands completion and execution, and ultimately your system/culture will demand decisions from you.


Learning leadership from Mickey Mouse and Disney!

You probably know by now that I am a leadership freak. I am fascinated and drawn to anything (movies, books, articles and music) that teaches me something about leadership.

I believe that.  “Everything stands or falls on leadership,” to quote John Maxwell. That’s why, by his grace, I have for many years, and will continue, to give my energy, time and life in helping to equip and empower the next generation of leaders in local churches.

I read a very interesting article in the LA Times Saturday, July 29th, 2017 edition about Marty Sklar. Marty worked for 54 years for the Disney Corporation and retired in 2006. He died on Thursday July 27 at 83 years of age.  

Quoting from The Times, “He embodied the very best of Disney, from his:

  •  Bold originality
  • Joyful optimism
  • Relentless drive for excellence

I love these three marks of leadership: Originality, optimism and excellence. There are too many carbon copies today and two few originals. There is too much pessimism today (with good reason perhaps) and not enough optimism. There is too much mediocrity today and not enough excellence. I want (by his grace) to embody these traits and motivate others to do the same.

Marty Sklar distilled what he learned during his time at Disney into what was called, “Mickey’s Ten Commandments” which according to the LA times became  “A widely circulated creed that remains a touchstone in the theme park industry and which became a cornerstone of Marty’s 54 year career at Disney.”

Here are “Mickey’s 10 commandments; lots of wisdom here on leadership for your group, company, organization or church.

Mickey's 10 Commandments

1.  Know your audience - Don't bore people, talk down to them or lose them by assuming that they know what you know.

2.  Wear your guest's shoes - Insist that designers, staff and your board members experience your facility as visitors as often as possible.

3.  Organize the flow of people and ideas - Use good story telling techniques, tell good stories not lectures, lay out your exhibit with a clear logic.

4.  Create a weenie - Lead visitors from one area to another by creating visual magnets and giving visitors rewards for making the journey

5.  Communicate with visual literacy - Make good use of all the non-verbal ways of communication - color, shape, form, texture.

6.  Avoid overload - Resist the temptation to tell too much, to have too many objects, don't force people to swallow more than they can digest, try to stimulate and provide guidance to those who want more.

7.  Tell one story at a time - If you have a lot of information divide it into distinct, logical, organized stories, people can absorb and retain information more clearly if the path to the next concept is clear and logical.

8.  Avoid contradiction - Clear institutional identity helps give you the competitive edge. Public needs to know who you are and what differentiates you from other institutions they may have seen.

9.  For every ounce of treatment , provide a ton of fun - How do you woo people from all other temptations? Give people plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves by emphasizing ways that let people participate in the experience and by making your environment rich and appealing to all senses.

10.  Keep it up - Never underestimate the importance of cleanliness and routine maintenance, people expect to get a good show every time, people will comment more on broken and dirty stuff.





Ten things that can cause church conflicts to get out of hand!

Conflict is not necessarily bad, but the way it’s handled can be bad. Where there are no conflicts there probably aren’t real deep relationships either.

Chuck Lawless shares ten things that contribute to conflict in churches getting out of hand.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

Some years ago, I was a volunteer firefighter. It was amazing to see what could happen when a tiny spark ignited a small blaze that could quickly become a roaring fire. Given the right conditions, a spark could lead to absolute destruction. 

That happens in church conflict, too. Here are 10 “right conditions” for escalating conflict in a church. 

1.  The church is made up of sinners. That’s the case, of course, and that fact won’t change. Sinful people are naturally selfish and divisive. Sanctification sometimes takes a while to correct these tendencies.

2.  Members care about something. This “condition” might seem strange, so hear my point. Some conflict in the church heats up in direct proportion to how much people care about some issue in the church. Their care may be misdirected, and their sense of ownership may be problematic – but they fight for something precisely because they care about it that much. 

3.  The church has no “up front” relational expectations. The churches I know that deal well with conflict are usually those who teach how to deal with relational conflict as early as their membership class. The church that ignores these potential issues invites problems.

4.  Nobody’s praying for unity.  Jesus prayed this way in John 17:21 – “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.” If Jesus prayed that prayer for His followers, we, too, should be praying for this unity.

5.  Church leaders have not taught biblical principles for conflict resolution. Matthew 18:15-20 is a starting point. Putting others before self (Phil. 2:3) obviously matters. Believers who don’t know what the Bible teaches about reconciliation will follow the ways of the world – and the way of the world is often, “I want to win.” 

6.  Leaders do not address legitimate concerns.  At times, the concerns that church members raise are legitimate. When church leaders blatantly ignore those concerns, nonchalantly hear them, or superficially address them, the conflict is not resolved. Its resolution is only delayed.

7.  Conflict is not separated from emotion. I think, for example, of battles over worship styles. These preferences are so connected with emotions that it’s often difficult to separate the two. Conflict escalates because emotions heat up.

8.  People operate in secret. You know the scenarios. Anonymous complaints. Unsigned letters. Behind the scenes meetings. Opposition rallies cloaked as “prayer meetings.” It’s all secretive – and it’s often demonic.

9.  People listen to gossip. Once conflict begins, it’s often fueled by rumor and innuendo. Those who spread the rumors are acting in sin, but so are those folks who stoke the coals by listening. As long as anyone listens, the fire spreads.

10.  Nobody carries out church discipline. It would be ideal if all conflict were resolved before discipline became necessary. The Bible, though, assumes that churches will take necessary steps to deal with troublesome members. If the church doesn’t do so (or, if they do so, but in an unbiblical or uncharitable way), they prolong the conflict.