Tag Archive: strengths

Understanding Your Team's Language

Seven years into my marriage, my wife and I realized we were having problems forming apologies to each other. I apologized to her the way I wanted her to apologize to me… “I’m sorry. I’m going to take XYZ steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

But she wanted something different. She wanted me to own it, by recognizing the hurt I caused her. Until we read The Five Languages of Apology, we didn’t know we were apologizing to each other in what basically, foreign languages.

It was important for us and our marriage, to learn each other’s language – and I’ve learned that it’s important in my work-life, too.

Typically when you interact with people, it’s wise to follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you wish done unto you.”

I’ve memorized it. I’ve had my kids memorize it. But in a work setting, the wisdom of the Golden Rule doesn’t hold up that well in all circumstances. It’s not always wise to manage others the same way you would want to be managed.

Often while at work, we encourage, correct, and lead in ways we wish to receive those same things. But each employee has different needs. The “Golden Rule breaking” idea comes from the book First, Break All the Rules. Authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman explain this idea and call it “managing by exception.”

Managing by exception is hard work. It takes study and a lot of relational intelligence (read past post on emotional and relational intelligence). Our church uses a personality and spiritual gifts assessment called PLACE to help better understand people’s personalities and give their supervisors tips how to lead them. Because this idea is so important, I also personally use StrengthsFinder, Stand Out and The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace to better understand how people I work directly with like to receive communication, correction, and appreciation.

If it seems overwhelming to learn the “languages” of those who work directly with you, start small:

  • Ask them their favorite way to learn.
  • Ask if they prefer to talk things through in person or through email.
  • Ask if they like public recognition or something less “public.”
  • Determine if they like to make decisions alone or collaboratively.

As a leader, we have to communicate effectively to those we supervise. Effective communication will sound different to each person. When you can, contextualize to the individual.

Practical takeaway: at times, you’ll need to break the Golden Rule.

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Hard Lessons Learned the Hard Way

He’s been the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church for over 20 years. He’s been a part of a lot of awesome things God has done here and he’s also taken the opportunity to learn along the way. Below is his description of a hard lesson learned that has freed him up to be the pastor God called him to be. I’m thankful for @MikeGlenn‘s guest post on my blog. You can read Mike’s blog here.

Hard Lessons Learned the Hard Way

“Mike, it’s not that you don’t help us when you’re in these meetings. You hurt us.”

Yes, that was said to me. And believe it or not, it was a friend who said that to me. Even more, he’s still my friend. He’s my friend because he loved me enough to tell me the truth. And even though I didn’t like hearing it, I knew my friend was right.

I don’t have the gifts of administration—none of them. I’m creative, visionary, and future-oriented. I can see where the culture and church are going to intersect in the future and how the church needs to prepare for the coming realities.

Now, what else have I told you about myself? I don’t have a clue how to actually get any of this done. If I don’t have someone around me to work through the details, then nothing gets done.

What’s more, when I try to attend to details, I grow bored and frustrated very quickly. In fact, if I’m trapped in the minutiae of working out the implementation of an idea, I quit. My house, my office, my whole life are full of great, but unfinished ideas.

Here’s what this means. I have a person, or rather people, around me who have the gifts I don’t. I need these people around me—those who know me, those I can trust—to break down my ideas into doable next steps.

Not only do I have to have them around me, I have to let them do their work. Once the idea has been handed off, I have to have the self-discipline, indeed the humility, to realize that if my idea is going to happen, someone else will make it successful.

This isn’t all bad. People who have the gifts of administration love meetings, setting budgets, and aligning strategies. I’m glad they’re happy. It gives me more time to think about the future.

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