Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Month: May 2016 (page 3 of 4)

Volunteers: From Seats to Service, Part 1


Any nonprofit, church, or charity organization either rocks it at volunteerism or is rock bottom when it comes to getting people to serve. I have yet to see any middle ground. Therefore, this series of posts is designed to help you begin to develop a healthier culture of volunteerism in your organization.

When I asked Chris Maverty, a volunteer master leader at North Coast Church in San Diego, what it takes to really have volunteers, he utilized the word HAVE to give his answer. I will expound on his answers with some advice of my own too.

I. How  To H.A.V.E. volunteers?


The leader or volunteer organizer must establish a reoccurring habit of when you will recruit, train, release, and retire volunteers. Leaders are often great at getting in paperwork, reports, POs, and the like in on time. We have habits for meetings and planning and so on. But when it comes to volunteerism, we often hope for  the best without any prior thought or planning.

We all need to develop a habit of constantly looking for the next volunteer to join the team and have a regularly set time that will be utilized to orient them, train them, and release them into service. When you create a meeting and invite everyone to it, you and others will be prepared for that meeting with whats needed to get the job done. It’s the pressure of knowing the meeting is coming and being ready for it. The same is basically true for volunteerism.

If you set a date to train, lets say 12 volunteers a month, then the pressure is on you and the team (if you have one) to identify them and invite them to that meeting. No one wants to come to a meeting with no one there. The pressure works on you and the team to keep volunteerism always in mind. If you have an arbitrary stance to when you will find and train volunteers, you will always be in the rush once the big event is right upon you. Instead of recruiting well-trained servants of your mission, you place any warm body as a place holder to make it through. This is abusive to volunteers and a shame to your organizations valued mission and vision.


The leader must have a positive and authentically caring attitude towards those that serve above them, under them, and beside them. We often hear people say that attitude is everything, and why, because it’s true. Those that serve us can easily see through any false attitude of care, support, and celebration. They must be able to see us as their champion, knowing we have their back and are here to serve them as much as they are here to serve us. This is all truly built up and enhanced the next two letters, V and E.


Ask yourself, “Am I putting the volunteer’s needs and interest above my own?” Leaders must ask that question because abuse of volunteers is why fewer and fewer people are signing up to serve. They have heard the horror stories of volunteer leaders who literally yell at, look down on, and misuse those that serve. They hear about the guy that gets stuck teaching the same class for twenty years, or the lady that can never seem to get out of cooking every meal for the youth service. Thus, for today’s leaders, we are not only trying to recruit servants, we are trying to overcome the stigmata established by poor volunteer oversight.

Continually ask yourself, “What do they need?”

  • Are they having a bad day?
  • Are their kids going though something tough and its weighing on your parent volunteer? Is their marriage falling apart?
  • Have they been passed over by a promotion?
  • Are they simply having a bad day or week?

We all have these situation and issues as leaders, so why is it so hard for us to remember that our volunteers have them too.

Chris Maverty says it so well when he says, “Put the person before the yes. Care for them, don’t use them.”

Do we want everyone we ask to say yes when we need them? Of course! But we cannot do that and trump the care it takes to allow them to say no at times. Now understand, I am talking about a legitimate need, some volunteers may not have a legitimate reason to say no, and you will know when to push a bit harder for a yes. This is why all leaders need to see wisdom and discernment. The point is, know your volunteers. You would want the same if you were serving.



Elevate those that serve! Celebrate good times, come on! (feel free to pause and sing along with Cool and the Gang in your head)

Let others know who has joined your team. Raise the energy level. Oh, and be excited even from the beginning. Don’t wait for them to accomplish something amazing, let them know you believe in them from the beginning. More people do amazing feats when they know that have a strong support for them . Praise early, praise often, and do it from the heart!

Plus, when you celebrate the new recruits (and of course celebrate those already on the team), it helps others want to join YOUR TEAM. They see that you are a fun leader, one who cares, one who celebrates, one who supports, and they cannot wait to be a part! The team that plays hard is a team that also knows how to work hard.

Now go put these four words into action this week and see your volunteer culture begin to grow healthier. Speaking of a volunteer culture, Volunteers: From Seats to Service, Part 2 this week will be on how to create and establish a healthier volunteer culture!


Note: This blog is a result of a meeting with Chris Maverty on 9-17-15.








Keeping Brand Loyalty While Growing

brand pic blog

Healthy Growth + Brand Loyalty = MISSION SUCCESS

We all want people, especially new people, to become entirely committed to our brand (culture/mission/values). Yet, commitment to the brand can, at times, create an adverse tension between brand identity and the fresh energy coming from new blood. The process of outsiders becoming loyal insiders is one filled with increasing tension unique to the brand you’ve created.

Tension is good, but only to a point. Too much tension and you are in danger of snapping. Too little tension and you have languishing energy. Thus, sticking with only the old guard can mean stagnation at best and death at worst, while increasing influx of new blood can bring a fresh vitality but distort the brand altogether.

So the challenge becomes, “How do you attract and keep new people while preserving healthy brand loyalty?”

Here is where Ben Arment stimulated my thinking with five perspective changes:

  1. Treat new blood with the exact same respect and attention you give to the old guard. Notice, you don’t stop caring for those loyal to the brand, you simply treat those new to it with a bit more time and attention. Who needs the attention, the one who is “all in” or the one who is teetering on a commitment?
  1. Drop the jokes that only an insider would understand and find humorous. Appeal to the masses, not those who already know the, “brand speech.” Inside jokes leave new people feeling like the “third wheel” at the party.
  1. Clarify brand lingo and culture as soon as you can, in as plain language as possible. Some parts of brand identity must be said up front since they are irreducible. Make sure to only force as much of that lingo as possible on new people (as you continually lead them towards other nonnegotiables of brand identity). Think process, not event.
  1. Leave all the politics and privileges out. No one likes jumping through hoops or appealing to old guard politics to gain access. New people will simply move on. Although certain privileges comes with time and loyalty, makes sure that does not hinder new people from joining in as soon as possible at appropriate levels.
  1. Never put your personal bias ahead of the true brand. If everyone adapted a brand to his or her personal likes and dislikes, the brand becomes diluted as it cascades through the organization. We all have biases and there is nothing wrong with admitting and recognizing that truth. What must never be done is allowing that bias to contaminate the brand.

Taking into consideration these five challenges leads to two powerful questions:

  1. What is hindering new blood from becoming loyal to your brand? (For example, does one of the previous five ideas resonate with issues in your organization? Or would you add one to the list?)
  1. What tension does your brand identity cause that you could actually use to your advantage, if managed well? (If tension is present, why not maximize it for potential growth?)

In the end, no organization wishes to capitulate to being stagnant. Nevertheless, organizations that thrive in both brand identity and increased growth are ones that tackle with unbiased ferocity the problematic issues mentioned here. Simplistically, it all comes down to what you say and how you say it (body language included). So in every interaction, use your words, and the actions that accompany them, wisely.


Note: these are my notes adapted from a Century Leadership directional team discussion with Ben Arment – author, speaker, and creator of STORY in Chicago (www.benarment.com)

Graduations, Legacy, and Why it Matters


I was recently at the college graduation of a young man I held in my arms as a baby. As his family took pictures of us, I flashed back to realize I was no longer holding him as a child, but we were now arm in arm as equals, as men. Daniel Roche, I am incredibly proud of you!

Daniel told me how my wife and I have continued to inspire him and how much we have influenced his life. It was incredibly gratifying but it was also humbling. While examining my life (as college graduations will make you do as mine was 15 years ago), I realized that some of my relationships and mentoring have turned out like this young man and some did not come close. So as I have gleaned from Simon Sinek books, I started with WHY.

Asking myself, why was this relationship different or this experience varied from another, I have found a few qualifying ideas (out of many of course).

Those who we mentor and who look up to us need to:

1.  Hear our story, all of it, not the polished parts.

Daniel had the ability to know all about me as his dad was my mentor. His dad, Bob, was my youth pastor and is still my greatest life long friend. Bob knows all about my ups and downs, my strengths and weaknesses. I never asked him to keep those from Daniel. I wanted Daniel to know I was fallible and I was human, but I am trying. I wanted Daniel to be the best human being he can be, not a fake perfectionist person that wears a perfect mask.

I also wanted him to know my struggles and how I have overcome. How imperfect people have the best opportunity to change the world as imperfect people. Imperfect people are the most authenticity and approachable. They apologize. They strive for excellence over being perfect. They express gratitude for winning and are quick to make sure everyone knows that next time they may not be so fortunate. They enjoy the moment but are still grounded in humility.

2. Our consistent encouragement.

You cannot simply tell someone they are doing well here and there. They need consistent reinforcement that they are heading in the right direction. It’s as if we are all driving down a highway, we know that we are going in the right direction, but it occasionally feels good to see the consistent highway sign reminding you of the correctness of your course.

A great way to do this is send cards, eCards, emails, texts, and Facebook messages. Don’t say the same thing but vary the praise and encouragement. Make sure to be specific as to help reinforce the celebrated behavior. It also never hurts to be fun and humor. Let your hair down and send something comical. Remember number one, be real!

3. Make most of their own decisions, good and bad.

As a longtime leader and a parent it is incredibly difficult for me to step back and allow others to make decisions. Nevertheless, solid leadership and strong parenting skills require just that, stepping back and allow decisions to be made by others. How else will we grow? Plus, we need to provide safe training grounds for others to fail forward. Failing Forward, made popular by John Maxwell’s book, is allowing other a safe place to decide and do and even fail and to get up and start over again.

When a leader or mentor smothers their followers or mentorees,  three things happen: (1) they become immature decision makers once they are on their won, (2) they are fearful to make decisions in a timely manner, and/or (3) they become permanent followers always looking for others to make their decisions for them. I am sure that anyone reading those three issues would agree that we need to make solid decision makers for those we lead and mentor.

4. Our honest criticism.

I mention this because numbers two and three need to be weighed by number four. We cannot go along like everything is tiptoeing through the daisy and allow those we lead to believe they are infallible or worst, perfect. Make sure to deal with issues quickly, tactfully, and with humility. Start with how you even make mistakes, how others have helped you, and why you are now critiquing and helping them.

The idea of crucial conversation has gained momentum over the last few years. Confrontation has often received a bad name for the sake of human resources or better yet tolerance. Yet, to never have difficult conversations and to model them to those we lead, only leave a huge kink in their leadership armor once they lead. We must model humble, proactive, and positive criticism so that they will receive the needed feedback now and develop these same skills later.

5. Our lavish celebration when they succeed.

Finally, celebrate more. People are so scared to celebrate people because they may leave out others or make others around them feel they should have been celebrated. Fear is always the most heinous deciding factor when it comes to doing something. I am a realist and others may, or better yet, will get left out when celebrating others. How to help them deal with that is a topic for an entirely other post.

People actually are more sincere, productive, and stay longer in their work environment when they are celebrated appropriately. As surveys have discovered, people with supportive and encouraging leaders, bosses, and mentors, stay twice as long as those that do not. In other words, celebration makes people fell seen and heard and allows them to flourish in an environment of support. So party more, its a proven leadership tool!

So theses five things came to me the other day and I thought I would share. I know I am not the only nostalgic and reflective leader, so what are somethings that come to mind on this topic for you. Post in the comments below and allow the discussion to continue.

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