You can't talk about missions without talking about leadership. Here at WorldVenture, we are finding more and more that many national churches all over the world don't need our help in evangelizing or church planting, but they desperately need leadership training. In fact, anywhere there is rapid growth in the body of Christ, there is a great need for trained leaders and teachers. Join Hans Finzel as he talks through some important lessons in leadership. Whether you are a leader in your church, your business, your small group, or at home, you will benefit from this program.
This is Hans Finzel, President of WorldVenture based in Littleton, Colorado. Welcome to our radio program Missions on the Frontline. Our website is www.worldventure.com. WorldVenture supports over a thousand mission projects and missionaries in over 65 countries. We’ve been sharing the good news of Jesus Christ around the world since 1943. This radio program is part of our new initiative to make you aware of new and exciting ways you can be involved in missions.
You know, you can’t talk about missions without talking about leadership. Our ministry has people involved in leadership training in over seventy countries of the world. People ask me sometimes, “Is missionary work successful?” “Have you guys been able to accomplish things in all these years that we’ve been sending missionaries and all this money all over the world?” And I say, “Absolutely Yes!”
I have traveled to over one hundred and thirty-five countries of the world and everywhere I go I see the Church of Jesus Christ is being planted and it is growing and it’s expanding. The thing that encourages me the most as I travel is to see the rise of National Church Leaders. To see leadership emerging… whether its among the Filipino, or the Chinese, or Kenyans, or the people in Madagascar, or in Rwanda, or in Argentina, or Brazil. You name the country, God is raising up His church.
You know, the number one need on the mission field today among those churches is leadership training. And the national churches tell me as I visit with their leaders, “Hans, please keep sending us missionaries. And especially send us people that can train us to be effective leaders.”
Today we are going to talk about the topic “The Top 10 Mistakes Leaders Make”.
Have you ever had a “bad boss”? Now I bet everybody listening today is saying, “Yes, I’ve had a bad boss.” So, as I became President and CEO of this huge mission agency, I said to myself, out of fear, “Lord, help me not to be a bad boss. Help me to learn the common mistakes that leaders make so that I can avoid those pitfalls.”
Today we are looking at the top ten mistakes leaders make. Here’s the mistake that I think leaders make, and boy it is so prevalent. It is the “Absence of Affirmation”. What could be better than a pay raise? Did you know that studies have shown that people would prefer affirmation over a general long period of time than a pay raise? It does more to motivate people. Everyone thrives on affirmation and praise. We wildly underestimate the power of the tiniest personal touch of kindness. We need to learn to read the varying levels of affirmation that our people need. I find that there are some people that need a lot more affirmation than others.
You know, I grew up in a German home. You probably figured with a name like Hans Finzel that I’m German and you are absolutely right. I grew up in a pure German home and I had a father, maybe like some of you had. My father expected me to excel. He expected perfection. And I didn’t have a lot of personal contact with my father. He never let me know when a job was well done. He only let me know when it wasn’t. So I would hear from him when I was out of line. But if I did everything that was expected of me in my family, he assumed ‘Well, you know…I don’t need to pat him on the back. That was expected of you.’
You know, there are a lot of bosses like that. And they are not very fun to work for. I find that everybody likes affirmation. And one thing that I kind of obsessed on when I became a parent, and now Donna and I have four children. They are all young adults now. Through the years as we have raised our children, you know, I kind of swung the pendulum the other way and we’ve worked very hard at affirming and encouraging our children all the time no matter what their behavior; to give them lots of hugs and tell them what great people they are.
You know my assistant who has been with me for over thirteen years, she saves little sticky-notes and little words of encouragement. I remember one time I was looking at her bulletin board, I realized and I said, “You actually save these little notes of encouragement.” She said, “Yeah, they just light up may day and make me feel good about my work.”
Well, I find there are two kinds of people that you have to supervise. Now, again, I’m speaking to leaders…but I am really also speaking to followers, because a lot of you who are followers today may be leaders tomorrow. But a lot of you probably are leaders and, by the way, I define leadership by one word, “Influence”. If you are influencing others you are involved in leadership, whether you are a pastor, or a businessman, or a leader of a fortune five hundred company, a manager of a department in some store, or working in retail… or just leading your own family, we have to learn all about affirmation. And one of the top ten mistakes leaders make is they forget how important affirmation is.
Well, as you lead people, I find two kinds of people. I find, if you could just imagine a continuum, and on one end of the continuum are what I call the “desperados” who are so low in their self-esteem and insecure and they just are desperate for affirmation. On the other end of the continuum, all the other way, are what I call the “autopilots”. These are the self-reliant people that you know don’t need a ton of affirmation. So, the desperados need more affirmation, the autopilots need less affirmation.
Let me talk to you for just a minute about desperados. We have some people in my organization… I’m not going to mention any names, but I know who they are. These are the kinds of people that lack personal confidence. It could be because of the way they are brought up, their family. In fact, it’s often because of their family and the kind of family they grew up in. It could be for some other hard things that have happened in their lives. But they lack self assurance, they lack confidence. They lap up praise…the more the better…and they tend to be fragile people. And I just know those people and I know who they are and I will just go out of my way to encourage them more than I would the other people at the other end of the continuum… the autopilots…that need less affirmation. These are self-reliable people. I find some people are even skeptical if I give them too much affirmation. You know they are suspicious that I have ulterior motives. They are the “leave me alone” kind of people, the “tough as nails” … that’s why I call them the autopilot. They run on autopilot and frankly, I love having people like that work for me because I feel like… you know, I’m going to do my job and you do your job and it’s not a high maintenance relationship.
But I’ve learned as a leader, both kinds of people exist and everybody in-between. So be sure and affirm people.
I read a quote by a person in a column one time, talking just about how much people need affirmation continually. You know, it reminds me of the old joke about the wife who says to the husband, “Oh, you just never tell me you love. Why don’t you tell me you love me?” And he says, “You know, I told you I loved you the day we got married. If I change my mind, I’ll let you know.” (Ha,ha,ha…)
You know, some managers and leaders treat affirmation that way. “I told you you did a good job on your annual review and next year on your review I’ll tell you you did a good job again.”
Here’s the quote, “One of the commodities in life that most people cannot get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can’t find a hole in which to plug a little praise. But compliments by their very nature are highly bio-degradable and tend to dissolve within hours or days after we have received them, which is why we can always use another.”
Here’s another quote from Leo Basigglio , Ph.D. who has written a lot of books. ”Too often we underestimate the power of touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring…all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Affirmation. It’s such a powerful force in leadership. And we, as leaders, no matter what our leadership responsibility have to affirm our followers.
I heard a story, speaking about affirmation …of a medical doctor whose name is, Dr. Michael DeBakie, a famous medical doctor that practiced for many years at M.D. Anderson in Houston [TX]. He was actually a brain surgeon. And one day he was showing some news people around the hospital and he stopped and he talked to the janitor who was washing the floor. The surgeon, Dr. DeBakie, stops and talks to the janitor, actually knows his name, and says, “Hey, how you doing, Joe? How’s your family? How’s Dorothy?” and then he walks on down [the hall] and the news crew goes with him. Well, later the doctor had to go into surgery and the news people went back down to the janitor and they asked the janitor…, “Was that just a show? Was that just a put on? Or is this world famous brain surgeon always this encouraging and friendly to you?” And he says, “Oh, yeah, me and the doc we fix peoples brains together.” He had convinced that janitor. He said, “If our hospital floors aren’t clean then we aren’t going to have a sterile operating room and I can’t fix people. So, we’re in this together.” I just thought that was such a great word of encouragement. Affirmation. One of the top ten mistakes leaders make is that they fail to affirm people.
This is Hans Finzel…the program is Missions on the Frontline. And why are we talking about leadership on a program about missions? Because missions needs great leaders. As I have traveled the world and visited so many countries. I’ve met Christians, and churches and national leaders in these churches all around the world. There is no greater need than the need for leadership training and leadership development.
I happen to believe that any local church is only as strong as its leadership. You have great leadership, you have a good board of elders or deacons, or however your church is organized, and you have a strong pastoral leadership you are going to have a strong church. So WorldVenture puts a lot of emphasis on leadership.
Today, we are talking about the Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. Well, here’s another mistake that is particularly close to my heart in the top ten mistakes that leaders make and it’s the mistake of making no room for mavericks.
What is a maverick? Well, I’m a maverick. A maverick… in a moment I’ll just give you a definition…but the word maverick came from a gentleman whose name was Samuel Maverick, who died in 1870. He was a Texas pioneer who did not brand his calves like everybody else. So the term became “a maverick”, an independent individual who does not always go along with the group. Some of you out there listening are “mavericks”. In fact, some of you out there are probably “frustrated mavericks” because I find another word for mavericks is a “visionary” or a “dreamer”. Got any dreamers out there or entrepreneur? Its people who have a lot of creative ideas about how we can make our organization better. How we can make our church better. How we can do missionary work better. And I find so often, these people are snuffed out…they’re discouraged. They leave an organization…they’ll leave a church and go somewhere else… because nobody will listen to them. You know what? We need mavericks! Mavericks are our way out of the slide toward institutional bureaucracy. Every organization, every local church starts with a dream, a vision, a passion, an idea. But you know what happens through the years? We become bureaucracies. We become so administrative, that we move from passion driving us…to policy controlling us…from an apostolic vision to a mechanistic bureaucracy. And mavericks are the very people that can save us from that slide toward boring, cold, irrelevant institutionalization.
Large organizations usually kill mavericks before they can take root. Mavericks make messes by their very nature. By their very nature they make messes the institution needs. Learn to recognize truly useful mavericks. We have learned, at WorldVenture, to recognize mavericks. I have been the CEO and president of this ministry for fifteen years and I have had a passion to make room for mavericks. Now they are messy and they are scary because sometimes half of their ideas are crazy and could never be implemented. But the reason I want to create a climate in our ministry where mavericks can thrive is because they are going to take us to the future. Because if we do not have new and creative ideas, we will never get to the future, we will never solve the problems of the future.
I have done a lot of study of organizational life and I actually have a doctorate in leadership and culture and when I studied the history of every organization I find they move from inspiration to institution. Every organization starts in it’s infancy…just like a little baby. And it’s crawling and trying to get on its feet. You know, I just had my first grandchild. That little guy, Asher, he’s so small and he’s only like two months old and he’s not even thinking about crawling, he’s just an idea that has been born. And that’s just what all organizations are at the beginning. A couple of people get together and say, let’s start this organization, … or a people will get together and start a home bible study and say let’s start a church. You know, there’s nothing as exciting as the early days of an organization, or the early days of a new church…or anything that’s fresh and new. And then they go through the go-go phase, where things are going and blowing and things begin to walk and crawl. And then, adolescence. You know, I’ve raised four adolescent children…and is there a time in life when there is more energy than in adolescence? More raw energy? More misdirected energy? And that’s the way a young organization is. It’s has sputters, and misfires and it goes in one direction and then another, but eventually things get organized and then it moves into its prime, where it has figured things out…it has grown…it has become stable. It’s making an impact…and its making a difference. That’s exciting!
The problem is, that’s kind of the top of the chart of the Bell Curve. Then things start going south. Then you move into institutionalism and bureaucracy. And our ministry is sixty-five years old and frankly, one of our biggest problems is our past. Anybody that is over fifty has got issues. And any organization over fifty has got issues. And its hard to be fresh and inspiring and new like in those early days.
Well, how do you maintain those early days of vibrancy? How do you maintain the vibrancy in an organization? Well, I think the number one way is mavericks. Now, sometimes the word mavericks has a negative connotation…that it is…a troublemaker. Now there is a certain kind of people that I call “troublemakers”. They are not useful mavericks because all they do is complain. And all they do is poke at you and tell you what is wrong with your church, what’s wrong with your ministry, what’s wrong with your company and how you’re not doing things right. So, to me, a useful maverick wants to be a part of the solution. So if somebody starts complaining to me, saying ‘We’re not doing it right.’ I say, ‘Ok, I want you to become part of the solution. What are you going to do to become part of the solution?” And you give them a part of the organization to prove to all of us that they are useful mavericks.
I think probably a better name would be “creative types”. We have to make room for the creative types. They may make us feel uncomfortable, but they are going to take us to the future, because… you know what….we have complicated problems in our ministries today…in our organizations…that it is going to take creative minds to solve. Everybody in business knows that if you are not coming up with new products and new services, you are going to be out of business within five years. And it is the same, I believe, in missionary work and in the church. I love when God brings us brand new missionaries and they are mavericks and they’re creative…and they go to a country like France or Uganda or Mozambique…you name it…Argentina, Brazil, China…and they figure out new ways to lead people to Christ. They figure out new ways to share the gospel using technology, using the internet and media. Or, they figure out new ways to start a church or new ways of worship that we never thought of. And you know what? God uses it. That’s exciting.
Here’s the three deadliest phrases for a maverick: “We tried that before and it didn’t work”. “We’ve always done it that way.” Or, here’s number three, “We’ve never done it that way.” Those are the three deadliest phrases for a maverick. Don’t tell a maverick, “We’ve always done it that way.” You know, the fact that we’ve always done it that way is our very problem! We’ve got to do it a new way. Don’t snuff out mavericks. If you think you are leading but no one is following you, you are only taking a walk. Make room for mavericks.
Well, this has been Hans Finzel, and our program is Missions on the Frontline. And we’re talking today about the top ten mistakes leaders make. Today we’ve been talking about the absence of affirmation and making room for mavericks. The absence of affirmation is a huge problem for leaders when they don’t encourage followers when they do a good job. I guarantee you, that affirmation is highly degradable. And you may have highly affirmed a person in your last annual review of them, they need to hear when they do a good job. The absence of affirmation is one of the top ten mistakes leaders make.
Now, the other mistake we’ve been talking about is making room for mavericks. And one of the mistakes leaders make is that they don’t allow for creativity. I can’t tell you of how many people I have talked to in my years of speaking on leadership who have told me how frustrated they are and how discouraged they are. Just the other day I was speaking in a church and I was speaking on this topic. I had a Q and A time and this gentleman said to me, “You know, I have a boss who just won’t listen to me, and he won’t listen to us. And he just wants to control everything and any idea that’s a good idea has to come from him.” And he asked me, with a plea of desperation, “Hans, what do I do?” I wish I had a simple solution for that question, “What do you do with a dictator who thinks that they are so smart that they are the only ones who have good ideas?” But you know what? You need to level with that person about how it’s making you feel. You need to say how he’s coming across. It’s a tough conversation but I’ve had that conversation with people that I’ve worked for. You know, it’s frankly not a lot of fun because you are not giving us piece of the action, you’re not giving us any ability to use our creative juices.
And the last thing I told that person…”You know what, if this goes on for a long time and there is no change, I really encourage you to go somewhere else because life is too short.”
You know, it is really sad, when I meet people that have shut down and they are miserable in their jobs. Its because, often times, they weren’t allowed to be creative, they weren’t allow to use their gifts, their abilities and their talents and they were dominated. They just shriveled up and they dried up and that is so sad. Life Is too short. If at all possible, I would suggest to a person like that, go find another opportunity. So one of the top ten mistakes leaders make is that they don’t make room for mavericks.
You know, I want to tell you a funny story about my own journey as a maverick, that happened a long time ago…back in 1982. Maybe some of you listening remember 1982. But that was the year that the computer revolution really began. I was a brand new missionary with WorldVenture living in Vienna, Austria…1982. It was before the advent of the PC. Apple Computers had just come out with their first Apple. A company by the name of Radio Shack had come out with the TRS-80 Model 3 Tandy Radio Shack Personal Computer.
I wrote my boss, back in America and said, I want to buy a computer. 1982. “Well, how much is it going to cost?” By the way, this wasn’t by e-mail it was by “snail-mail” because we didn’t have email. I wrote him a letter. I gave him my proposal. He wrote me back. You know … weeks go by…. So, how much is this going to cost? Thirty-eight hundred dollars ($3,800.00) That was a lot of money in 1982. So I wrote him back and told him how much it cost and he wrote me back again and said, ‘Now, why would a person need his own computer?” (Ha, ha, ha…)
So, see, I was a maverick…and we were publishing curriculum for the persecuted church in Eastern Europe…and I could just give him a lot of good reasons why we needed a computer. His name was Arno, and he’s still living here in Colorado. A great man. He’s been retired for a long time. And Arno granted my request. I’ll never know the battles that he fought back in the home office, but I was the first person in WorldVenture to have my own computer in 1982.
You know, I took a huge lesson that day from that man…my supervisor. He allowed this maverick to thrive…to flourish. He allowed me to use my creative ideas in ways that nobody had ever done before in our ministry. One reason I’ve stuck with WorldVenture for twenty-eight years is because when I was just one of the missionaries on the field there was room for mavericks. And today, I’ve strived hard in my own leadership to make room for mavericks.
So if you are a creative person, and you have great creative talents, check out our website WorldVenture.com. We have all kinds of opportunities. I’m not saying we’re a perfect organization…I’m not saying we don’t have our administrative headaches, but we are looking for creative types.
This is Hans Finzel and this show is Missions on the Frontline. If you want to learn more about our ministry go to WorldVenture.com.
Missions on the Frontline is here to serve and equip the church to do missions better…smarter…and more effectively. We here at WorldVenture are all about local churches both here in the United States and around the world. We love to partnership with churches. We believe that the churches are the ones who have the responsibility to fulfill the great commission. Through our people at home and abroad, WorldVenture has experts in just about every specialty you can think of when it comes to missions… missiology, leadership training, evangelism, discipleship…. This radio program is an effective tool for us to share the wealth of our knowledge and information with you, the members of local churches around the United States. We could really use your financial help so that we can broadcast this program on more stations. If you are committed to missions and would like to help us we would welcome you as our partners. Go to WorldVenture.com and look for Missions on the Frontline and click on the icon “Donate”. We have many new requests coming in to air this program around the country, but we do need financial resources to do so. So, think about partnering with Missions on the Frontline and go to our website…WorldVenture.com and click on the icon Missions on the Frontline and “Donate”. Thank you so very much for prayerfully considering this.
And don’t forget to drop me a note. I would love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at Frontline worldventure.com. This has been Hans Finzel, president of WorldVenture. We’ll see you next week on Missions on the Frontline.