Unlocking Value for Entrepreneurs

Category: Leadership (page 1 of 9)

Shift from working IN to ON your company

Over the years I’ve worked with a number of entrepreneurs looking to grow their companies.  One of the more common sticking points is that they need to transition from working in their company to on.  But often they don’t know how to do this or worse, they can’t let go of the stage of success they have had.  They only know how to do things themselves, make constant/rapid adjustments to stay in business and accept any  new client project regardless of the focus.

The very traits that make an entrepreneur successfully eventually become the very things that limit their growth.

Here are the 3 greatest challenges entrepreneurs face in making the shift from working in to on their company.

  1. Learn to Lead vs. Do – The hardest part about this shift is it involves how we see our self.  If I was an internet marketer that started a company, part of my sense of value of self is through my ability to do great internet marketing.  Letting go of this is a form of death and birth of a new sense of self.  This can be an emotional journey.  Learn how to lead better through Building a Culture of Engagement.
  2. Set Strategy and Let People Execute – Entrepreneurs have the unique gift to live in uncertainty.  This is part of the reason they started the company in the first place, they were willing to jump into great risk.  They’ve learned how to rapidly change course and direction to stay alive.  Most people can’t take this much change.  In fact, later people will start to see this as a major detractor of the leadership’s constant ‘shiny object syndrome’.  They always have a new idea or plan before the current one has a chance to be completed.  Learn more  3 Dangers to Avoid for Visionary Leaders.
  3. Say ‘No’ to Bad Business – Lastly, the pivot that most often that leads to breakthrough is learning which customers are the best and most profitable.  The more you can focus on serving a specific client with specific problems, the sooner you can be more efficient, laser focused on sales and marketing and able to scale.

It’s amazing that working on these types of things and transitioning from highly entrepreneurial organizations to one’s that have a spelled out mission/vision, clear values on how decisions are made, strong culture of engagement all backed with a methodical operational executional framework that I’ve seen companies double and triple in no time.  It’s a radically powerful shift from working in to one the business.


Building a Culture of Engagement

How do you transition or transform a culture to own the vision with you?  One of the challenges I see with many churches is that the Ephesians 4:11-14 passages are aspirational far greater than a reality.  Too few people are doing too much of the work with the rest sitting and watching.

 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Building a culture of engagement is critical, but how do you do it?Todd E at Austin Stone It was 8-years ago as a Pastor of a church we began a major transition toward a new way of being the church, through launching Missional Communities.  You can learn a bit about our experience when I spoke at an Acts 29 Bootcamp, in 2009 on the topic of Practical Missional Ecclesiology.  Yet the reality is that the transition was harder and many people did not make it through the transition.  I know I’m not alone as many of the people I’ve talked with have struggled in this transition.   I appreciate a lot of what Todd Engstrom reports on their experience at Austin Stone, including that after 2 years of launching MC’s only 10% were living out that vision and 5-years later this number grew to 50%.  Read his blog, very helpful! When we struggled because people didn’t buy in at the level we hoped, I was frustrated.  It left me scratching my head and feeling  the vision justified the shifts we felt compelled to make.  It was in the years to follow, upon reflection, that I felt something wasn’t right.   Lately I’ve read a couple books (see below for recommended reading) about influence and engagement that pinpointed some of the challenges we faced and how I’d do it differently.

How would I do lead change differently? top-6-actions-to-create-engagement

Step 1: Create Engagement:  Learn the top 6 actions to create engagement.

  • Communicating a clear vision of the future
  • Building trust in the organization
  • Involving employees in decisions that affect them
  • Demonstrating commitment to the company’s values
  • Being seen to respond to feedback
  • Demonstrating genuine commitment to employees’ well being

Step 2: Co-create:  I’d recognize we told, sold and at best implicated people in the transition.  We never really co-created what this future could look like.  When the leadership changes the vision abruptly, a covenant of trust is damaged unless this is led well.  I recommend you pre-order (comes out 10/14) a copy of Caesar Kalinowski new book Small Is Big, Slow Is Fast: Living and Leading Your Family and Community on God’s Mission.

In Small Is Big, Slow Is Fast, Caesar Kalinowski blows up assumed and accepted ideas behind kingdom growth and presents counter-intuitive models that demonstrate that at the end of the day, multiplication wins—not addition. Each of the chapters unpacks the natural process steps of kingdom growth: Engage, Equip, and Expand. You will discover the secret to starting out small and going (seemingly) slower—and not feeling guilty about it. And you’ll be encouraged to trust that when you lay the right foundations, multiplication will occur and it will always be “faster” and more successful in the long run. You don’t have to have the talents of a rock star or the wisdom of Yoda to effectively and naturally live a life on mission, making disciples who make disciples. Instead, it is the everyday ordinary things done with greater gospel-intentionality that will make all the difference…slowly, over time. Learn to respond to God’s call to each of us right where we’re at—in our own families and neighborhoods.

Four-Approaches-to-Engagement Step #3: Influence instead of Control: Learn how to leverage highly valuable behavior through influence.  Adapt the elements from Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, Second Edition with the gospel to make them less legalistic and more freedom-based. Six-sources-of-influence

I’m glad to have another opportunity to serve at a local church in helping shape the future transition to the missional community model using these ideas.  It’s definitely going to be a go slow to go fast approach.


Recommended Reading: Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, Second Edition, The CEO Chief Engagement Officer: Turning Hierarchy Upside Down to Drive Performance and The Art of Servant Leadership: Designing Your Organization for the Sake of Others.

3 Dangers to Avoid for Visionary Leaders

So you say you are a visionary leader. Every organization needs a visionary. This person sees the future possibility and can begin to construct what that looks like in broad brush strokes. Without this person, an organization will go into maintenance mode, which often is a slow steady decline into mediocrity. As I’ve been coaching and mentoring leaders I’ve found some common problems with visionaries that they often overlook. As a CEO and leader of several organizations, I speak mainly from what I’ve had to learn because I’ve committed all these mistakes to my own detriment. Here are the mistakes with solutions I’ve found to hopefully lead better.

Confusing Vision and Timing

The biggest mistake I’ve committed is confusing vision with the need to execute today. I’ve walked into several organizations that are frantically trying to keep up with a high-level visionary, but they are worn thin. This visionary often is disruptive, coming up with new ideas that everyone else feels compelled to chase. You can just look into the eyes of the team and realize how desperate they are because every time they put their hands to get work down, the visionary changes the game. Nothing will burn the team and organization faster than these constant changes.

Signs: Key leader turnover & burnout and for churches people will tend to leave after 2-5 years as they experience the constant change.

Solution: With the help of executional leaders, a visionary should focus farther out in their strength. At MonkDev, most of my time is spent on ideas/vision that is minimum 3 months but usually in a 6 month to 3 year window. I’ve had to learn discipline to allow the Quarterly plan to be executed upon and realize that if I try to change that plan it is highly destructive. Only make changes under extreme circumstances as needed.

Communicating Every Idea Equally

I can only imagine the stress on my team’s face when I’d walk into meetings with ideas. Rather than being open to new ideas, I felt several were initially resistant to new ideas until I tried to win them over. There was always confusion after I left, “Is he really going to implement that new idea?” or “Were we brainstorming, was he looking for my buy-in or does he think I agreed because we discussed this?” As a visionary you probably have a high-level of ideation of the future and as such you need to know how to use this gift properly.

Signs: A sense of resistance to new ideas, eye-rolling or struggle being free brainstorming with you.

Solutions: A simple solution we’ve implemented is a numerical scale to qualify the idea. This deals with how an idea comes across. This simple scale goes like this:

1 – An idea
2 – A good idea
3 – A good idea that I’m putting details to and considering
4 – An idea I plan to do unless something prevented me
5 – An idea I’m going after no matter what

It’s amazing how something as simple as this has freed us up to discuss ideas without the high stress and resistance.

The second part of this involves the timing of communicating the idea. This deals with the when it comes across. The better you can capture and communicate ideas when it’s ‘idea time’ the better. If they come up in an execution meeting, they are distracting but if captured and discussed during your vision meetings, there is much greater focus and energy in fleshing them out.

Forgetting the Power & Perspective of your Vision

Vision is a powerful thing and with this power as a visionary leader, you have the ability to wreak havoc. This is particularly true because there are so few of us. I recall hearing, that S is the most common result on the disc profile. Here’s the intro on this profile type:

S-style people tend to be more cautious and reflective than fast-paced and outspoken. They are also warm, sincere and accepting personalities. (source)

When you call people a new vision without working through implementation with other perspectives, you are asking for trouble. I can’t recall a time I did this without causing carnage.  A visionary has to recognize their willingness to face into chaos is a rare trait.  You have a unique perspective on the future, but these ideas need to be brought to people who understand how to implement them slowly and steward the idea without damaging people in the change.

Signs: Ideas not taking hold/lack of adoption, people feel hurt or unsafe

Solutions: Sadly, it is the visionary who typically says, “it’s my way or the highway.” They are driven by this future they can taste/touch/feel and are often willing to pursue this at the expense of people. People need time to buy into and belong to a vision. At MonkDev we lead our leaders to build the plan on how a vision is reached. Rather than coming at people top-down, involve them in seeing this future and coming back to you with how they can help get you there.


Leading is a great responsibility and blessing. As I’ve experienced levels of struggle and success, it’s required me often to die-to-myself to better lead others by putting them first. Certainly I’m not perfect but it’s a process I’ve found great reward in. At MonkDev we want to change the world, and that is worth the cost to get better. We have a big vision, but we’ve gotten clear on how the company, each department, each leader and person contributes to this vision being achieved. Putting these solutions into place allows me to better show up in my role and serve the vision we pursue.

The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

This weekend I was thinking about why missional community life often feels broken. More specifically, why do people resist or fight against the call to be missional in community? As I’ve thought about my own experience and gathering from some of what I’ve learned as part of the GCM Collective, I thought of the idea of The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. Agree? Disagree? I would love to hear your take on what I’m saying are the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community.

Working theory: Calling people to be missional or in a ‘missional community’, is the absolute wrong place to start. The very name puts the emphasis on the ‘results’ or fruit of the Christian life rather than who they are in Christ. (Aside: If I were to start over, I don’t think I’d call them Missional Communities.) Because, for many, the way of life of the missonal community is so foreign from their Christian/Church experience it ends up being a new law, or way of living they try to perform in their desire to please God. The issue becomes one of needing foundational discipleship for people in order for them to move to a place where living life on mission is a joyful result of a transformed life.

What common dysfunctions cause the mission to be derailed? Here’s what I’ve been toying with called the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. The pyramid on the left represents the corresponding areas of discipleship that would need focus on. The right upside down pyramid represents the ‘right-side’ errors that that need to addressed. (Another set of errors around licentiousness exist).

the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

So what should we do to address these potential dysfunctions? Go after the 5 truths needed that lead to a life of fruitful mission. I’ll unpack these from the bottom, up.

Identity: At the foundation, people’s identity needs to change. First and foremost this begins at conversion, but continues where people see the idea of ‘adoption’ into the family of God as Sons is critical. Often believers struggle with one foot in the world (eg. consumers) versus finding their identity as the Kingdom of Priests. Without this identity changing, it is difficult to move upward. (Part of the reason that I wrote Going Deeper: Preaching the Gospel & Your Identity)
Gospel: After the identity change, people’s motivations come into play. If they are not adopted sons, the legalism/licentiousness errors creep in as people find motivation for acceptance on what they do (orphan mentality) rather than who they are and the grace that changes everything. If the gospel isn’t the motivation, mission will be short-lived.
Glory: Next, people have to see and behold God’s glory and fear him. This will be the beginning of wisdom and cause them to live as God commands.
Worship: Next as these come together an attitude of joyful “I get to” takes place. Rather than duty, mission becomes an act of worship because we are loved by God and love Him.
Spirit: Lastly, we see we cannot do this by our own power. It is only through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit’s lead can we embark on mission. It is in our resting in God and His Spirit that spiritual fruit is produced.

So, right now my working theory is that we start at the bottom and work up as follows:

What foundational discipleship do you see necessary as you lead your people on mission?

Building a Church Movement of Gospel Centered Communities

I found the document posted below from years ago. It brought together a variety of resources and thoughts I and others have posted on leading Mission/Gospel Communities. It takes a lot of the writing/posts I did back in 2006-2008 on how Kaleo transitioned to Missional Communities. Some of these things looked great in theory, some worked and others are a work-in-progress.

It has been rewarding to hear of people over the years who have been influenced by some of these writings and the impact it has been to them. I have been blessed to hear some who were introduced to the MC-model through I’m blessed to have been connected to people like David Fairchild, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caesar Kalinowski, Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Mike Goheen and many others who shaped my thinking. Much of the thought has gone further than these ideas, and you can find them at the GCM Collective. The GCM Collective exists to promote, create and equip Gospel Communities on Mission. Today the GCM Collective is the largest organized community of missional leaders in the world.

For those who’d like to grab this pdf (see below), here’s an outline of some of what it covers:

The Values of a Gospel-Centered Missional Community
Forms of Expressing the Church
– Triperspectival Ecclesiology
– Plurality of Elders & First Amongst Equals
– Leading a Decentralized Movement
– Missional Eldership
– Leading a Movement not an Institution
The Community
– The Gospel work in Community
– Missional Leaders in Community
– Leadership Development in Community
>> Missional Community Leaders
>> Deacons/Servants
>> Counselors
– Missional Community Leader Assessment Interview
Multiplying Missional Communities
Organic Movement – Reverse Church Planting

Download: (Sample of some of the pages, full pdf is 34 pages long)

Hope this is helpful! One day I wanted to take this, edit it, update it and create a e-book of sorts. Here’s a sample of a graphic from the pdf:

Weekly Family Meetings

Each week our family meets to go through our family meeting. This gives us the time to reflect on the week, prepare for the week ahead, share goals, learn about each other and have fun with a family game. Here are some of the things we cover:

1) Our family mission, values & rules.
2) One Word Open about how we are feeling.
3) Review of the responsibility Chart (our boys earn allowance based on these responsibilities & bonus things assigned to them).
4) Our family charity. In addition to money we tithe, we selected a family charity we are giving money toward. We update this each week.
5) We go over the highlight, low point of each week as well as any concerns or things we are looking forward to the week ahead.
6) We all have 2 goals we are tracking. Here we update what took place during the week (status) and what we plan to do next.
7) We come up with a question of the week. (eg. What is your favorite thing to do as a family? Where would you like to travel to? What super power would you want/and why?
8. Family Fun Time. Each week we rotate who gets to pick the family game we play.
9. Lastly, we do a one word close to select how we are feeling now. It’s always cool to see the change from the one word open.

Leading Others for Results

How do you grow as a leader where more of your ‘results’ come through others, rather than the work you do? Specifically, how do you lead people versus supervise or manage. (I framed some of the personal challenges of going from doing the work,to leading others in the post: The Entrepreneurial Journey to Leadership.)

I had the chance to spend a day with Jeff Silverman, who is a leadership coach. Jeff has been the CEO of a national fitness company and a Divisional VP at YUM Brands/Pizza Hut. He also was a consultant at Bain & Co and MBA from Harvard Business School. It was in his 20 years+ of leading, particularly at YUM Brands that he developed a very simple concept called Leading for Results. There is ‘Macro Leadership’ (at an organizational or team level) and Micro Leadership (leading 1-on-1). Here’s the concept of the Micro Leadership:

Motivation + Ability = Capability

In order to lead a person, you first must understand their Motivation and Ability on a per project basis. Knowing this will help you appropriately lead them in a way that best serves them and sets them up for success.

Motivation: Awareness, Desire & Willingness
Ability: Aptitude, Training, Experience & Resources

Once you know these things, you can appropriately lead a person in the way that will get the best results. Here are the different styles of leadership based on a person’s motivation and ability:

What I’ve found is often my default style/desire is to delegate things, but when they didn’t work out I moved into a more directive style. If someone is motivated, there is probably nothing more frustrating then being ‘micro-managed’ with this type of directive style. So with people who have a high motivation, but maybe low ability in an area because of lack of experience, coming alongside in a supportive role works best. Or if someone has the ability but has a low motivation because of awareness, helping facilitate would serve things much better.

As an example of this, Jeff shared a story of knowing that several gym franchisees were getting low scores on the cleanliness. Instead of just telling them the problem, he picked them up in a van and took them to competitors sites, asking them to score their view of how clean the location was. It was easy to spot all the problems. At the end of the day, Jeff took them to their own locations. Quickly they became greatly aware of how messy their gym was without Jeff having to say a thing. Subsequently, each manager took to great lengths to improve the gym in this way. All this happened without Jeff having to say a thing. Jeff said if you were unclear of the person’s motivation and ability, facilitation is always the best place to start. At the end of the day, the goal is for greater clarity and clearer leadership that leads to better results.

I hope this simple but powerful approach is helpful for you.

Peer Coaching, Our Personal Blind Spots and Looking through the Johari Window

I am a believer in the value of peer coaching. I’m grateful to serve on the Board of three non-profit organizations where this is a central part of why they exist. In my experience, I’ve had tremendous growth personally when others know me better and I’m open to learn from them. One tool that describes the value of this process is the Johari Window. Now before you think, “Johari window, is Drew getting all new-age mystical on me?” The Johari window was created by two guys, named Joe & Harry [Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham] to help others better understand their relationship with themselves and others.

The basic premise is this. The more I share of myself and other get to know me, the smaller my blind spots, hidden (or facade) areas and the unknown are. Without these type of open relationships, Leaders are in a dangerous place because so few people have access to these windows. Their own perceptions of how things are become less able to be questioned, because they don’t see their blind spots. The facade or hidden areas become slippery slopes because they are able to live life with impunity to their personal preferences. Further, from my experience, the more we live in a facade, the closer we are to personal insanity. When who we are doesn’t line up with how we show ourselves, it is a dangerous place to be. And the other quadrant, the unknown stays large and unchecked when we don’t lean into these personal growth opportunities. All of us have experienced these pitfalls to one degree or another.

The principle I want to communicate regarding the Johari Window is the value of peers in our life. When we communicate with others, we increase our ‘open’ areas, decreasing the hidden quadrant. This allows us to grow in being vulnerable and authentic, which others through their reciprocation share with us, which decreases our blind spots. We all benefit from a larger open window.

Ready to learn from others? To be iron, sharpening iron?

If you are interested in leading missional movements in your city, I suggest you check out: GCM Collective
If you are a church communicator, look at: Conclave Sessions and the Center for Church Communicators: Local Labs.

Peer Coaching, Group Sharing & the danger of Advice

I’m trying to share a few of the things I’m learning along the way as I seek to grow as a leader. One group I participate in is EO, a peer group of CEO’s/Entrepreneurs who use a protocol called Gestalt to share learning and speak into each other’s business practices & life from a place of their experience versus giving advice. Advice-giving can be dangerous. For example, when I interacted with other church planters, often (in retrospect) I can think of several people I tended to give my advice/opinions more than I ought and it created tension in the relationship. Enter the Gestalt Language Protocol.

To begin, what I want to communicate isn’t so much a promotion of Gestalt (as you can research) which includes forms of psychology and worldviews. Phil Kristianson, an EO Trainer writes about Gestlat:

Gestalt is a German word for form or shape – and in English has come to mean ‘wholeness’. Built upon earlier theories by Hume, Goethe and Kant; gestalt theory emerged in the early 1920’s as a psychological belief system, in contrast to the behaviouralist & structuralistic approaches of the time that sought to explain complex ‘things’ by breaking them down to simple elements. Gestalt focuses on the selforganizing and intuitive mind that perceives wholes from incomplete elements. Gestaltists believe that context is key to perception.

I’ll share the part of Gestalt that I believe is valuable, particularly if you are meeting with other peers, such as Church Planters/Missional Leaders (such as through GCM Collective) or church communicators (Center for Church Communication) and want to discuss, learn and improve your context. While in Gestalt, I’ve found it supports a vulnerability in sharing and a deeper sense of owning the experience of the group collectively. Here’s the benefits of why I think this practice is valuable:

1. The group value of the shared experiences far outweighs the one-directionaly nature of the specificity of advice. If we were going to give a person advice on how to improve the engagement of their volunteers, that person would potentially walk away with a handful of specific tools/tips to try to implement. Instead, if we all shared our experiences of times when they saw volunteers be engaged and really ‘own’ the project they were leading, we all may walk away with aha’s that we could apply to our own context.

2. Advice is arrogant; the implication of advise is that I know what is best for you. It doesn’t build trust in the situation, because the subtle message is I trust myself because I have the answers and understand your context rather than your ability to take these shared experiences and apply them in your context.

3. Advice creates division and hurt feelings. As I said before, advice is dangerous, in that if a person takes it and it doesn’t work they can blame the advisor and if they don’t take it, the one giving advice stands in judgement of them.

Ultimately, these create a place where people withhold sharing because they don’t feel safe in a vulnerable place. What are the advice danger signs? Avoid opinion, “you” statements, future tense and words like “should”, “would” or “could”

So how do you adhere to the Gestalt Protocol?
1. Speak only from experience.
2. Use “I” statements.
3. Speak in Past tense.
4. Use Questions to better understand the problem, not give veiled advice that is leading to problem solving.
5. When sharing experiences, do so for the benefit of everyone. Posture should be group-centered, not toward the own who shared the problem.

This ‘experience’ sharing is helpful in many contexts. I’m not suggesting that it should be used for all conversations, for example if you are speaking about theological definitions. But, when you are doing peer coaching and want to share learnings or if you are stuck, it is a powerful tool.

The Entrepreneurial Journey to Leadership

How do you go from starting a business, church or other organization to transitioning to leading the staff or volunteers looking to you? I believe this is one of the more difficult work transitions people have; from doing the work, to managing others. This requires a paradigm shift. I believe this can be because what we do is wrongly tied to our identity and how we ‘value’ ourselves. I went to a training and wanted to share a concept I learned that goes through the steps that often take place. I’m generalizing, so of course this may not be everyone’s experience.

Often people start out as the Worker. In this role they do 90% technical work and 10% people interaction. If all goes well, soon things are growing and as a Supervisor they take on a person and work alongside them, 75% technical and 25% people interaction. The next phase is manager, where with a bigger team the Manager requires 50% technical skill and 50% people. This is where the barrier to moving from Manager to Leader emerges in the form of the drama triangle. Why? Managers and below find half or more of their energy being defined by what they do (technical) rather than their people leadership. Moving into the Leader role is a significant leap, one where 90% of your time is with people and 10% is on technical things. (see triangle with percentages of technical/people skills here.)

The Drama Triangle evolves when a person struggles to move from Manager to Leader. As they struggle with not ‘doing the work’ they take on a role of Hero or Village. The Hero often withholds information or put people in positions to ‘save them’ when they provide this info or do the work. On the flip side, the Villain plays a ‘Devil’s Advocate’ role or uses seagull management to fly by and do their business on others work. Both of these put the people that work for them in the role of Victim.

Where do you go from here? As a Leader you should be the holder of the vision and guider of the group dynamics as you pursue a common purpose. The Leader should shift from Hero to Coach that has no illusion that they can save anyone. The Villain role changes to one of Challenger that suspends judgement (a Villain often is motivated by being right and/or looks for someone to blame ie the Victim). And finally, the Victim needs to take ownership and recognize when they blame others, they give away their power.

Older posts

© 2018 Goodmanson

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑