Wednesday, November 30, 2011

25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview

I ran across this article by one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt, and thought it would be a good one to pass along. This is not my material, but his. I hope it helps.

25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview
by Michael Hyatt

I have a list of questions that I use during my first interview with a candidate. It has evolved over time, as I have gained more experience. I don’t ask every question in every interview; rather I keep it on my lap as a reference.

1. How do you feel about this opportunity?
2. What work experiences have you had that prepare you to be successful in this position?
3. What do you see as your three greatest strengths?
4. What do you think is your biggest weakness?
5. How do you learn best? How would you describe your learning style?
6. You’ve obviously accomplished a great deal. To what do you attribute that success?
7. We all make mistakes. When you discover that you have made one, how do you handle it?

8. Do you think that telling a “white lie” is ever justified “for the greater good”?
9. If things go wrong with a project, what obligation if any do you feel compelled to share with your boss?
10. If someone else has wronged you in some way, how do you deal with the situation?
11. Can you tell me about a recent situation where you had to share bad news with someone? How did you handle it?
12. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make good on a commitment that you wished you hadn’t made?

13. Are you satisfied with what you have accomplished in your life so far?
14. Where do you see yourself in three years?
15. What are your biggest personal goals? career goals?
16. Would you consider yourself a reader? What kinds of things do you like to read?
17. What was the last book you have read? What are you reading now?
18. How do you make sure that you follow-up on your assignments? Do you have a system?
19. How do you typically prepare for meetings?

20. How well did you do in school? If you had to do it over again, how would you have done it differently?
21. What do you wish they had taught you in school that they didn’t?
22. Do you consider yourself a smart person? If so, why?
23. What’s your general approach to problem-solving?
24. How would you describe your learning style?
25. What are some of your interests outside of work?

For the original post, go here.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Don't Celebrate Until It's Time

Here's a great article by Scott Cochrane of The Leadership Centre, Willow Creek Canada. It's about avoiding the dangers of celebrating too soon. There are some great points in here for you leaders, as well as some great video for you sports fans. Click here to read it.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Young Leaders – Start Smart"

It's been a while since I posted something - and I loved this piece I just read. So, here's a great article by Dan Reiland. Dan was one of John Maxwell's key staffers at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego. He has a lot to say about leadership development, particularly in a church environment. This piece is specifically designed for those starting out in ministry, but any leader can find some takeaways here. Enjoy.

by Dan Reiland
Are you heading to your first church? Maybe your second? You probably feel a combination of passion and uncertainty. How you start out in your church matters greatly.

Olympic coaches and runners have taught us that how a sprinter comes out of the blocks is a significant factor in how well he or she runs the race. The same is true for a leader in a local church. If you get off on the wrong angle, or wrong foot – it may be a difficult race at best.

There is no one formula that fits every person, but there are guidelines that can help you get out of the blocks strong, swift and sure-footed. The guidelines offered here work best based on the assumption that you have prayerfully chosen the right church.

• Transition from leading person to leader.
Some young leaders I talk to consider their first church the fifth year of college – and their real education! Just saying. When you make the transition from preparation, (from college or an internship or whatever it might have been), to your church, there are several adjustments to be made.

The most crucial of these adjustments is a change of mind-set from one that focuses largely on moving (growing) yourself from point A to B, (graduation), to moving an entire congregation from point A to point B. It's a huge difference. The transition is from being a leading person (one who does things well) to being a leader of persons (one who leads others to do things well.) A leading person may excel in what they do personally, but has no track record in leading others to excel together. It's a gigantic transition from being a good student to a good leader. Don't let it overwhelm you. Just knowing you need to make the shift is half the battle!

• Learn as much as you can as fast as you can.
Learn the history of the church. The past will give you great insight about to how to lead into the future. Spend time getting to know the leaders. Find their heart and learn what they think. Ask about the strengths and weaknesses of the church, but not like a consultant conducting a survey, ask like a parent who cares about their kids.

Still on learning, but from a different angle, I encourage you to find a mentor or two. Very specifically, find a pastor whose church attendance is just one step above yours. For example, if your church averages about 200, find a mentor who leads a church of 400. You want to learn what he knows!! Find a church as close to yours as you can. There is no secret to proximity. It's only for practical reasons. If you need to travel a couple hours to find one, then get your Starbucks on and start driving.

• Gather some change before you make change.
Change will always cost you as a leader, so you need "change in your pocket" before you make changes. This comes by earning trust, building strong relationships, and getting some wins under your belt. The good news is that the church will loan you some change upon your arrival. If you spend it well they will give you more. If you spend it unwisely, they will charge you interest that will kill you.

One young pastor used his borrowed change to announce from the platform on his first Sunday, without discussing this with anyone, that the choir would no longer be wearing robes. He said it was about time they caught up with the 21st Century. He didn't last long.

Another and wiser pastor, a United Methodist in Georgia, not a week on the job, saw that his church of 200 plus desperately needed a win. It was a plateaued church with little money and even less hope. They really wanted new choir robes but couldn't afford them. The pastor knew that choir robes had little to do with the success of the church in the big picture but was wise enough to know they needed a win. He told the congregation that God was big enough to provide the money for the choir robes – $2400. He stood beside the pulpit and lovingly challenged the people to give. He took a risk and God blessed. Over $2500 came in and you never saw such a pumped and enthused church. They thought, "If we can do that" what could we really do? The pastor gained serious "change in his pockets" that morning!

• Be yourself.
People like you best when you are yourself. Not everyone will like you, but people like you best when you are genuinely you. When you are yourself people can connect with you. When they connect with you they can trust you. When they trust you they will follow you. It's not easy, but it is that simple. Just be you.

Relationships are always important, but especially in the first three to six months. Invest time with the people, not to be their pal but their leader and friend. Let people get to know you as you get to know them. Don't try to make everyone happy and don't lose sleep worrying about what everyone thinks. Remember that while you lay awake at night thinking about it, they are snoring. Find the key leaders and care about what they think, but remain true to yourself.

• Develop leaders. This is obviously a much larger topic than a paragraph or so can cover in one article. But I can at least make the point. If you want your ministry to be larger than you, you must develop leaders to help you realize the largest possible Kingdom impact. It's not about numbers and size, it's about impact. I don't care if your church is 100, 1,000 or 10,000 as long as it's growing and people's lives are being changed. You need more leaders to help you do that.

If you are already doing leadership development, great! Skip this paragraph. If you are new at it, let's get started in a simple doable pattern. Here it is. Gather up a small group of leaders. They can be paid staff, volunteer or a combination. It's OK to have rookie leaders with potential and veteran leaders if they want to grow. Pick a great leadership book and meet twice a month to learn leadership together. Hit a chapter or two each time and focus on two things: 1. What are you learning? 2. How are you applying it? That's it! The key is simplicity and consistency. Leadership development is a lifelong commitment not an event. Stay at it. Leadership development can get much more involved than what I just said, but those two things work very well. Just keep doing it and you'll expand your process naturally.

If you'd like several good book suggestions to develop leaders with go to my blog at and click on the "books" button.

• Chase God.
This may be the most obvious of all, but curiously it gets left out more often than you might think. Young leaders are so eager to lead, build and succeed that it's easy to crowd out that which really matters. Don't get me wrong. I applaud the zeal, energy and hard work. But God is the one who adds the favor, blessing and true power to make anything of eternal value happen.

The two things that will keep your heart hot for God are prayer and evangelism. Stay close to God and never lose a heart for people who are far from God.

Yes, you and I could make this list longer. But if you make it much longer you'll get lost in the list. The idea is just to get started on the right foot. Start smart and the rest will come in time.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool Link of the Day #5

The First Step You Must Take To Get Your Book Published

This is a link to a blog post by Michael Hyatt, of Thomas Nelson Publishing. There are a lot of people who would like to write a book but who have no idea how to go about it. Here's a link to an article that can maybe help you get started. I hope that it's beneficial to you.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Cool Link of the Day #4

Here's another great link that I came across. This one is designed specifically for pastors, but any Christian leader will find helpful information here. It's from Catalyst. "Catalyst is a powerful gathering of young leaders, a movement of influencers and world changers who love Jesus, see things differently, and feel a burden for our generation. We seek to learn, worship, and create together with a momentous energy passionately pursuing God. We are Catalysts... Kingdom ambassadors, change agents, influencers, and cultural architects seeking to change our churches, communities, and cultures for God."

The following link is to the Catalyst Leadership Journal. It is a digital magazine with videos, interviews and articles that can help Christian leaders move to the next level. I hope you enjoy.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Are You Teachable?

As a leader for many years, and one who has been responsible for filling both staff and volunteer positions, I’ve had to think long and hard about the qualities to look for in a candidate. As I’m interviewing people, one of the biggest things that I’m looking for is teachability.

Everyone, of course, must first pass the Character test – are there flaws in this person’s character that will eventually cause them to self-destruct? They also must pass the Competency test – if hired, does this person have the skills necessary to fill the role they are being asked to fill? Beyond those two obvious ones – and competency can be acquired – one that I believe strongly in is the Capacity for Change test. In other words, is this person teachable? Can they learn?

Let me explain why I have placed this criteria right near the top of my list. If I know anything about leadership it is this: good leaders are life-long learners. So here’s the question: how can we be sure that we are continuing to learn? What does it mean to be teachable?

1.       Being teachable is more about attitude than aptitude.

Many years ago the Carnegie Institute analyzed the records of ten thousand people and concluded that 15 percent of success is due to technical training. The other 85 percent is due to personality, and the primary personality trait identified by the research is attitude.

While having a lot of talent is helpful, I’d much rather have someone with a teachable spirit than a Mensa member who already thinks they know everything. The reason for this is obvious: no-one knows everything. A potent combination is the person with great talent who is also teachable.  

We see examples of this in virtually every major sport. Young phenoms arrive on the professional scene having dominated everyone in their age group throughout their life. But once they reach a certain level, they find themselves competing head-to-head with others with similar track records. Those who go on to have successful, even spectacular, careers, are those who continue to apply themselves to learning new skills and techniques, and who embrace the discipline necessary to take their game to the next level.

If this is a weakness for you, John Maxwell, in his book Developing The Leader Within You recommends two things to help change your attitude: First, say the right words, read the right books, listen to the right lessons, be with the right people, do the right things and pray the right prayer.

The second was to do number one every day, not just once or only when you feel like it, and watch your life change for the better.

2.       Being teachable is more about humility than ability.   

This may seem like the same thing at first blush, but it’s not. Humility is all about recognizing that we can learn from anyone; it’s the understanding that there is much that we don’t understand.

John Haggai, author the outstanding book Lead On wrote that: “The man who knows everything, learns nothing, and so it is a humble attitude that sets the stage for the knowledge and know-how that lead to success.” It’s the humble person who realizes that we learn more when we listen than when we talk.

When Harry Truman was thrust into the presidency after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, a friend took him aside: “From here on out, you’re going to have lots of people around you. They’ll try to put up a wall around you and cut off any ideas but theirs. They’ll tell you what a great man you are, Harry. But you and I both know you ain’t.” There’s an important lesson here – we all have a lot to learn.

3.       Being teachable is more about the future than today.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.” This speaks of potential. The person who is not teachable is placing a hard cap on their own potential. They are denying themselves a preferable future because, being unwilling to learn, they will be unable to change.

All of the good leaders that I know have a personal growth plan. They’ve actually sat down and looked at what they are doing to develop their leadership abilities in order to be better tomorrow than they are today. Benjamin Franklin said, “By improving yourself, the world is made better. Be not afraid of growing too slowly. Be afraid only of standing still. Forget your mistakes, but remember what they taught you.”

I believe that we have an obligation to our Creator to make the most of what He has given us. In the church it’s called stewardship. The question for all of us is this: what are we doing today to make us better tomorrow? Make a determination that you will begin today to make positive change. Here are a few suggestions:

Read. Many years ago I made a commitment to read from a wide variety of points of view in order to be relevant when I spoke. I read numerous newspapers and magazines as well as books ranging from biographies to novels, works of history, leadership, politics and theology. This helps to keep my mind active.

Listen. When I’m traveling by myself I’ll carry CD’s on Leadership from a wide variety of speakers. There are any number of downloadable podcasts out there as well that are well worth the time and effort. Also, make it a habit of listening to those around you. Cultivate an attitude that asks, “what can I learn from this person?”

Attend Conferences. I have made it a habit to attend at least one major leadership conference yearly in order to stay fresh. At this writing, I’m looking forward to The Leadership Summit in two weeks time. I find that the wide variety of speakers and ideas helps me to think creatively and challenges my assumptions.

Expose yourself to successful leaders. The internet is making our world ever smaller. We all can easily avail ourselves of the best resources from the best people. But also, as a pastor, I enjoy visiting great churches. When I’m on vacation, I try to arrange plans so that I can visit churches that are doing great things. It helps to broaden my mind and change my opinion of what’s possible.  

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cool Link of the Day #3

Here's an excellent article for all of you busy people out there. Included in this article is a link to a free e-book by Michael Hyatt called "Creating Your Personal Life Plan." If you find yourself running around with too much to do and too little time  to do it in, this might be what you're looking for. I hope you enjoy it.

Creating Your Personal Life Plan
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cool Link of the Day #2!

I found this link while surfing the web today. It has some nice resources for Christian leaders, including a free on-line assessment of your leadership style. You'll find a lot of helpful things here for leadership development.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Cool Link of the Day!

Every once in a while I come across something that is worth sharing. This one is from Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Nelson Publishers. I hope you enjoy.

iMentor Steve Jobs
View more presentations from Coach Bay

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Leadership Conferences

Over the years I've had the opportunity to attend numerous Leadership Conferences as the result of a commitment I made a long time ago. If you're going to become a better leader, it means exposing yourself to good leaders and ideas. One of the best ways of making that happen is to attend a Leadership Conference where you can have a feast for a weekend and then snack on the leftovers for years to come.

My favorite conference is the Leadership Summit hosted by the Willow Creek Association and featuring Willow Creek pastor, Bill Hybels. As a delegate to the Summit I've had opportunity to learn from luminaries like Jack Welch, Jim Collins, Colin Powell, Erwin McManus and many others. They also feature young up-and-coming entrepeneurial leaders like Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes and Chip and Dan Heath. Inspirational young leaders are also featured, like Christine Caine - fighting to end human trafficking, Bono and Jessica Jackley and the KIVA Story - working to end poverty.

There are, of course, many good conferences out there. I'm going to share some links to the most recommended conferences that I've heard about; I'd appreciate it if you'd share your favorite conference experience with the rest of us. For those of you from Clearview Community Church, I'll be attending the Canadian version of the Leadership Summit at the end of September. If you're interested in attending, let me know.

The Global Leadership Summit

The Orange Conference

The Catalyst Conference 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Levels of Leadership

This is from John Maxwell's classic lesson called "The 5 Levels of Leadership." I first heard this lesson over twenty years ago and have used the material often myself. It's good common-sense information.

Below is a quick summary:

Level 1: The Position Level - Rights. People follow you because they have to. Many aspire to have a title, not recognizing that this is the lowest level of leadership. We've all worked for bosses who weren't good leaders. We follow them only to the extent that our job description demands. Move from this level as quickly as possible.

Level 2: The Permission Level - Relationships. People follow you because they want to. At this stage you are actually leading. People like you, so they will follow you beyond their job description. They will do what you ask not because they must, but because they want to.

Level 3: The Production Level - Results. At this level people will follow you because of what you have done for the organization. You have demonstrated that you are good at what you do and that you are able to generate results. At this level people believe in your abilities and will allow you more leeway.

Level 4: People Development - Reproduction. You reach this level with people when you've made a difference in their lives. They are willing to follow you because of what you've done for them. At this level you've demonstrated not just your ability, but that you care, and followers at this level want to be like you.

Level 5: Pinnacle - Respect. When I first heard John Maxwell teach this, he called Level 5 Personhood; those who attained this were legends. It was reserved for people who had built life-long legacies of effective leadership - people like Billy Graham. Those who have reached this level are sought after by other leaders because they have proven themselves. They represent excellence and integrity.

There are a whole series of lessons that can be taught based upon the 5 Levels of Leadership. John has recently written a book on this subject. I have not read it as yet, but  I will soon. These lessons are highly recommended for anyone in leadership, and especially for those who are developing other leaders. Below is a link to the book.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Turning Points

I was reading my friend Dewayne Hamby's blog about the impact a recent message by Andy Stanley had on him, and it got me thinking. What are the moments that I remember that had a profound impact on my life? There have been a few of them, but one immediately leapt to mind - first a little background.

I began my pastoral ministry at a very young age, and have learned many of my life-lessons the hard way - by experience. By 25 I had already pastored two churches, assisted at another and was starting out as a Youth Pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. Like many young people starting out, I believed that I had all of the answers - or at least a lot of them. I was of the opinion that the reason I didn't have more success in my ministry was a lack of opportunity, or resources, or the right people around me, or... You get the picture. My Senior Pastor in Florida signed us up for a Pastor's Conference (I believe in Birmingham, AL) featuring John Maxwell as the keynote speaker. At the time, John was already a household name in the area of leadership development.

John began to speak, and I believe I had a front-row seat. It was one of those times when it felt as though John (and God through him) was speaking directly to me. I don't remember all of the details, as this was 23-24 years ago now. But what I do remember has had a lasting impact on me.

John spoke about personal responsibility and about being honest with ourselves. One of the quotes that I remember is this: "Your problem is not the problem, you are. Face it and fix it." He was talking about pastors who spend two years at a church and then, all of a sudden, hear God "calling" them to move on. Then two years later the cycle repeats itself, and so on, and so on... He went on to say that the reason for this cycle is that most pastors enjoy a "honeymoon" period at a new church, and once three years were up, the problems they faced could no longer be blamed on their predecessor. I have to admit, this was one of those "ouch" moments for me. I thought back over my few years in ministry and realized that there was a lot of truth to what he was saying.

I made a number of commitments as a result of that conference. One of them was a commitment to develop my leadership abilities, another prominent theme of the conference. From that one commitment has followed many lessons learned that have radically changed my life and ministry. I have made it a part of my life to attend at least one leadership conference a year and read leadership material on a regular basis. Another commitment was to not run from my problems but to face them head on and with grace. This has lead to two long-term pastorates, both of which have been extremely rewarding.

It's amazing the difference that one lesson can make. I am eternally grateful to John for his influence from a distance. Thanks from the guy in the front row.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Where's A Good Mentor?

I've had a number of people express to me their need for a mentor and ask me how they go about finding one. Because I value the art of mentoring so highly, I wanted to address this. Generally, where a few are asking, many are feeling the need. Let me begin with some general principles that I've picked up over the years.

Everyone needs mentoring.
Asking for a mentor is not an admission of failure or weakness, it is an expression of a willingness to learn. Someone stated that "the self-taught man has a fool for a teacher." Each of us has room to grow and mature in various aspects of our lives. Mentors can be a great benefit to help us grow.

Mentors aren't perfect.
If you're looking for the complete package, the person who has the right answer to every question, you'll be looking for a long time. The reality is that each of us has strengths and weaknesses.

You may want more that one mentor.
Different people have different strengths. You may look to one individual to help you in a certain area of your life, say finances for example. You may choose another mentor for advice in helping you with your relationships. You also may actually outgrow a mentor. In that case, maintain the friendship but find someone else who can take you to the next level. A wise mentor will see this coming and perhaps even recommend someone else.

When you choose a mentor, reach up.
What I mean is this: the point of mentoring is to help you improve. Reach out of your circle. Aspire to a better place than you are today. Look for the best possible mentor and take a risk. Which leads to the next point.

When I was making the transition from my previous church to Clearview Community, I had to attend some orientation meetings for my new denomination. The sessions were lead by the then District Superintendent, Bill Morrow. Bill and I had crossed paths a few times. He had a background in counselling and had been a successful pastor and leader for years. One of his sessions was on mentoring. At the end of the session he said that while he heard a lot of people talking about needing a mentor, he did not see a lot of people asking. So, I asked.

That was 15 years ago, and since that time Bill moved on to be the General Superintendent of the PAOC and is now the President of Masters College and Seminary. I have met with him over the years - usually when I've been in a crisis of decision or needing advice on how to face a ministry challenge. He has always been there when needed and has often referred me to someone who could help me in a specific way... But I had to ask.

How does one find a good mentor?
Firstly, if you're a Christian, pray that God would guide you to the right individual(s). Another key is to ask the right questions. What exactly is it that you're looking for help with? Identify that need. Is it with life in general? Is it with developing your spiritual life? Is it leadership? Is it in family life?

Once you've asked the right questions, look around you for someone you admire in that particular area. Make sure that they share the values you feel are important. Do you honestly feel that they have something they could teach you and are you willing to listen?

Buy them a coffee or an ice capp and ask them. Talk about how you see this working and how often and ask them if they're interested. Don't set anything in stone until you've given enough time for both of you to determine that it's something you want to pursue. Think about what you bring to the table. Perhaps that means buying them lunch once a month or at least expressing your appreciation.

Finally, look around you for someone into whom you could pour yourself. We ought to be reaching up to those who can teach us, but also reaching down to those who are now where we were. I believe that this is true ministry. It is a picture of Biblical community that is uniquely powerful and attractive. We can teach people from a distance, but we impact them up close. Let's grow together.

Filter Bubbles - Don't Get Stuck

The 8 Nations of Innovation - Rick Warren

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Welcome to Leadership Central! I decided to launch this blog to create a place where developing leaders can find development tools and information to help with their personal growth.

As this page becomes fully functional there will be a section for leadership quotes; favorite leadership sites; the best leadership conferences; new leaders to watch out for; the best leadership resources, etc... If you navigate along the top bars you will find the permanent pages. There will also be regular blog postings on leadership which will be posted on this spot.

I would love to have your feedback. As a leader, what is it that you are looking for?