Archive for July 2014

3 BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS: A New Book, Free Tips, and Consulting Services!

In addition to this week’s posts, I again want to share 3 big announcements:

1) My new book, “Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Ability, and Opportunity” will be available on Amazon later this week! Look for an announcement soon letting you know that it is available for purchase.

2) You can get a free digital copy of my “Three Keys for Forming a Good Team” by signing up for email notices! On the Common Sense Leaders home page, enter your email address and first name (and I guarantee your information will not be shared with anyone else), and I will send you a free digital copy, containing three important factors to keep in mind when putting a team together.

3) I am now available for professional consulting services! E.L.M. Consulting Services can provide professional services for analyzing and assessing your Educational organization, your Leadership, and/or your Ministry; for teaching and training those within your organization through workshops and seminars; and for assisting you in creating and communicating a plan and prescription for future growth, change, and development.

My experience and expertise in these areas, combined with my ability to make connections between an organization’s past, present, and future in a way that makes sense to people, can help you to identify, understand, and implement changes that will benefit the employees, the constituents, and the organization itself. Available services include:

Analyze and Assess: Identifying your story by observing, interviewing, surveying, studying, and interacting in order to provide an understanding of culture, strengths, and needs

Teach and Train: Growing your people through workshops and seminars that will provide professional development and training

Educational workshops and seminars –

  • Be-Attitudes of Better Teaching
  • A+ Education

Ministry workshops and seminars –

  • Teaching the Mind, Reaching the Heart
  • Build Your House on Solid Ground (Marriage Conference)
  • A Friend in Need (Lay Counseling Training)

Leadership workshops and seminars –

  • Be a Better Leader
  • Leadership University
  • Leadership Lessons from Ezra

Personal Development workshops and seminars –

  • Building Blocks for Personal Management
  • Things That Matter

Plan and Prescribe: Developing purpose by working with your leadership team to define, strategize, organize, connect, and communicate a vision and plan for growth and development

Contact me at jeff.mcmaster@commonsenseleaders.com for more information.

Quotable (Jeff McMaster)

“Consistency begins with what you say, is demonstrated by what you do, but is validated in who you are.”
Dr. Jeffrey McMaster

My Simple Diagram of Leadership

A number of years ago, in my doctoral studies, I took a course called Issues in Leadership Theory. Throughout the course, we, the students, were assigned essays on various theories, ideas, and characteristics of leadership, with which we were expected to interact and then write reflective responses. The goal was to build a broader understanding of leadership and of the effective practice of leadership.

I was taking this course while serving as the administrator of a K-12 school, one that had experienced some great difficulties and needed to be revitalized. I was on the ground floor, in the middle of leadership activity, trying to build and/or rebuild momentum, enrollment, programs, morale, and even (literally) a school building. There were many issues, needs, and deficiencies that I was wrestling with (like, how to start a hot lunch program, how to expand brand recognition in the community with no advertising budget or director of development, and how to attract new excellent teachers with a persuasive vision while retaining the existing excellent teachers who were resistant to change). Although I did not fully realize at the time the extent to which it was happening, I was actually developing my leadership style and principles of practice. And so, over the duration of that leadership course, as I read, interacted, and responded to the assignments, the ideas that resonated with me began to come together in my mind to form my own personal theory of leadership.

As I put those ideas together in a way that seemed to make sense to me, I began to see leadership as a process that occurs within a context, which I visually illustrate below in a diagram called Jeff’s Simple Diagram of Leadership (I like diagrams and illustrations). The basic concept is this: In any situation, there are leaders and followers. Sometimes who they are can change, but both of the individuals/groups are necessary. The leader must have knowledge of the context/environment in which the leader and followers exist (present). He must also have knowledge of the organizational history (past) and organizational vision (future). With this knowledge, the leader engages in the process that is a continuing cycle of analyzing past, present, and future in order to move people and the organization toward a desired growth, change, or direction.

diagram

Now that time has passed since I first formulated these ideas, I believe that this simple diagram is a very accurate picture, and in many ways was even prophetic, of how I have learned to lead. I have come to understand and value the extreme importance of story and culture, both in organizational history and in understanding the people with whom the leader works, and therefore have learned the value of listening and asking questions (past). I have experienced the importance of the role of relationship in the context and environment in which the leaders and followers interact, and in the process have developed my own relational skills (present). I have learned that I have the ability to see “the big picture” of what the organization ought to be and to communicate this in an understandable way (future). Along the way, I have discovered one of my greatest leadership strengths is the ability to make connections between these three – past, present, and future – in way that makes sense to people. And now as I look back, I can see that in each organization in which I have worked, my leadership has followed this pattern and process and has resulted in significant and positive change.

In that particular school in which I was first putting these ideas together, I must admit that I made many mistakes. For example, this is where I learned the importance of taking time to listen to people and understand culture before initiating change (by making the mistake of making changes too quickly without first understanding the environment). However, I grew in both my knowledge and practice of leadership, resulting in a number of significant positive changes, including, among other things: doubling of enrollment; restoration of financial stability; initiation of a large scale building program; establishment of a school board, a hot lunch program, an after school program, and a parent-teacher organization; development and expansion of honors and advanced academic programs; and establishment of a student internship program.

Since that time in my life, I have further developed effective leadership skills and practice that have enabled me to be an agent of change in several other schools and organizations. I have personally identified many of the basic principles that underscore my approach (for example:  learn history and culture; realize that people matter to God, therefore it is important to build relationships and care about people; see the big picture; recognize God’s sovereignty; know that to influence change, you have to change the way people think; communicate; empower; serve; be willing to do things differently). But I have also seen my simple diagram of leadership emerge and remain as the crux of my personal theory of leadership.

Over the last few years, I have now observed a new development: many people have shared with me that they have seen my ability to analyze and assess an organization through the filter of my theory of leadership, to develop strong and effective means of teaching and training those within the organization, and to create and communicate a plan for future growth, change, and development. They have then challenged me to make these skills available for the benefit of others. Therefore, the next step in my leadership is to begin providing this service – as a consulting service – to other schools, ministries, and organizations. My experience, education, and leadership have prepared me to help other organizations identify, understand, and implement changes that will benefit the employees, the constituents, and the organization itself.

If my services could be a benefit to your organization, please contact me at jeff.mcmaster@commonsenseleaders.com.

3 BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS – Free Tips, Consulting Services, and a New Book!

In addition to this week’s posts, I have 3 big announcements to share:

1) You can get a free digital copy of my “Three Keys for Forming a Good Team” by signing up for email notices! On the Common Sense Leaders home page, enter your email address and first name (and I guarantee your information will not be shared with anyone else), and I will send you a free digital copy, containing three important factors to keep in mind when putting a team together.

2) I am now available for professional consulting services! E.L.M. Consulting Services can provide professional services for analyzing and assessing your Educational organization, your Leadership, and/or your Ministry; for teaching and training those within your organization through workshops and seminars; and for assisting you in creating and communicating a plan and prescription for future growth, change, and development. My experience and expertise in these areas, combined with my ability to make connections between an organization’s past, present, and future in a way that makes sense to people, can help you to identify, understand, and implement changes that will benefit the employees, the constituents, and the organization itself. Available services include:

o   Analyze and Assess: Identifying your story by observing, interviewing, surveying, studying, and interacting in order to provide an understanding of culture, strengths, and needs

o   Teach and Train: Growing your people through workshops and seminars that will provide professional development and training

  • Educational workshops and seminars –
    • Be-Attitudes of Better Teaching
    • A+ Education
  • Ministry workshops and seminars –
    • Teaching the Mind, Reaching the Heart
    • Build Your House on Solid Ground (Marriage Conference)
    • A Friend in Need (Lay Counseling Training)
  • Leadership workshops and seminars –
    • Be a Better Leader
    • Leadership University
    • Leadership Lessons from Ezra
  • Personal Development workshops and seminars –
    • Building Blocks for Personal Management
    • Things That Matter

o   Plan and Prescribe: Developing purpose by working with your leadership team to define, strategize, organize, connect, and communicate a vision and plan for growth and development

3) Later this month, my book, “Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Ability, and Opportunity” will be available on Amazon! Look for more information soon.

What Do You Think . . . has been the greatest benefit (or challenge) of teams for you?

I have served in leadership environments with effective teams, ineffective teams, and sometimes no team.  The book of Proverbs speaks to the wisdom that comes from the council of a group, and I have learned the truth of this in my own experience, so I have come to value being part of a team.  In your experience, what have you found to be a great benefit (or challenge) of functioning in a team?  Please share in the comment box below.

What is Team Leadership?

Peter Northouse defines a team as “a specific type of group composed of members who are interdependent, who share common goals, and who must coordinate their activities to accomplish these goals.” (2013, p. 287) He goes on to say that good teams fulfill two primary functions, one related to tasks, and the other related to people.  He succinctly says, “Two critical functions of team effectiveness are . . . performance (task accomplishment) and development (maintenance of team),” (p. 299)  In this type of leadership, the role of the leader is team oversight; specifically, to help the team accomplish its goals by monitoring, diagnosing, and acting.  This often involves distributed leadership, which is the distribution of leadership roles and responsibilities to the most appropriate team member at any given time.

Team Leadership Theory is not really about how a team leads, but rather how a leader leads a team.  Hill’s Model for Team Leadership provides a good explanation of this theory.  It begins with the leader’s mental model, which involves three steps in navigating a problem in the function of the team:  identifying the problem, understanding the context, and determining the possibilities.  The model then progresses to the decisions that a leader must make regarding the problem, whether or how to intervene and improve team function.  He must decide whether to simply monitor the situation, or to take action.  He must determine if the issue is internal – in which case he will need to diagnose or repair – or external – in which case he will need to forecast or prevent.  If he must intervene, he must determine if the intervention is for task or relational needs (or for environmental issues), which will in turn effect the actions he must take.

The basic idea is that it is the leader’s responsibility to monitor the team and its activity to ensure that it is functioning well, and if – or when – it is not, to determine what steps to take to address the issue and get the team back on track.  He must be able to see and understand the problem that exists in the team (and whether it is related to task, people, or environment) and determine what is the most appropriate response or corrective action.  Given the value of teams in an organization (which is another discussion), this is an important skill set for leaders.  An understanding of Team Leadership Theory has helped me to become more effective at leading my teams, and I would encourage you to grow in this area as well.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.