Three Online Leadership Workshop Insights

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Last week, I did an online training for my student leadership team. It was something I talked about for two Thursdays in a row (here and here). So I thought I would finish this mini series with three key insights about our time together.

  1. Time invested in training is a win. There was something about getting a group of six students on a call, fostering discussion and thought, and helping them work through some servant leadership concepts. Just as a reminder, as I’ve established this team this semester, one of my biggest regrets was not having a training of some sort, so our time together last week was well worth it!
  2. Working through leadership concepts is a win. The framework for our training was simple: the three questions. While I don’t think the three questions are a magical framework, they provide a common language to put us all on the same path moving forward. And that’s the point. We were able to talk through what answering the questions may look like in our “old” (in person) format, and what it might look like in our online meetings.
  3. Nothing beats in person connection, but online training works. At the end of the day, our student ministry Zoom call was better last night because of the time our student leaders spent together on Thursday. We set one specific action step, which most of them followed through, and their influence and engagement last night was felt.

So, let me ask you a simple question: What are you doing to train and develop student leaders right now? You may not have the structure or infrastructure to have an online training, but you can connect with students who show potential. We have an incredible opportunity to make the most of time for at least another month. What can you do to train leaders?

And for what it’s worth, I would be thrilled to talk through some options if you need a sounding board. I’m here for you because I want you to expand your leadership influence. You can do this, now do it.

Train Student Leaders

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Last week I shared a couple thoughts I had about developing student leaders during this unprecedented experience. Today, I’m executing one of those ideas.

I’m doing an online leadership workshop for my small group of student leaders. Just to recap: they applied to be on the team in January, and we started meeting twice a week: a follow up to our midweek program (about 10 minutes max), and each Sunday before small groups for prayer.

The follow up meetings are something I’ve done (and valued) in the past, but as we got a few weeks into the process, I realized the question I was asking had no real frame of reference with this group. So today I’m teaching the 3 questions over a zoom call.

I’m a little apprehensive about the delivery method. Teaching to a computer screen, even if I can see everyone else, still feels like I’m talking to myself. The content is going to be pretty simple, and I’ve taught this multiple times before (not to mention blogging about it), but again, the delivery is going to be most interesting.

At the end of the day, my biggest goal is to introduce these students to some shared language. If we can all get on the same page and move forward with it, then it will be interesting to see where we go from here.

So, what are you doing to train student leaders? If you were going to set up a Zoom call and do an online leadership workshop/training, how would you approach it? What are you waiting for?

Even if you don’t work with student leaders, how can you gather and train those you influence in the coming days?

Leaders Cast Vision

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Leaders cast vision. In the midst of uncertainty, when no one knows what may come next, leaders cast vision.

I am fascinated by COVID19 and the rapid pace of change all around us. Every day new information bombards us, causing more shifts in reality. So, as a leader, how do you make sure you are leading others to move forward?

Leaders cast vision.

When I started in my current role just over a year ago, one of my goals was to set out some goals and some targets I wanted to aim for. This morning, as I was thinking about the road ahead, I realized my goals have not changed; my delivery method may change, but my goals remain the same.

My job, as a leader in my own context, is to make sure those I lead are on the same page, moving in the same direction. Chaos, by definition, is the absence of a unified movement. We are living in a time of chaos.

So, my role, as a leader, is to cast vision.

You are in the same spot. In a world dominated by chaos, casting vision is more important than ever. Return to the base line of your goals. If everything changes (which it is), what do you still want to accomplish? Now, communicate that to those you lead.

And remember, leaders cast vision.

Student Leadership Development and COVID19

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Back when I was starting to help develop what we now call Horizon Leadership Camp, I set out to ask as many youth minsters as possible one question: What are you doing to develop student leaders?

In the process of asking the question, I came to a conclusion: developing student leaders, while important, doesn’t take a front seat in the midst of the demands of student ministry. Instead, it gets pushed back into the realm of “if I have time”.

I wonder if in the midst of the chaos of self-isolation and social distancing we are once again pushing developing student leaders to the back. It’s only natural. I’ll confess that this week, in spite of my passion for leadership, I’ve not spent much time trying to come to grips with what student leadership looks like in our current context.

Thankfully, for today, I get to turn my focus to it. Here are two opportunities as we move forward:

  1. Gather student leaders, however possible, to evaluate. Our student ministry hosted a Zoom call last night, and it went pretty well, but I treasure evaluation. If I can get student leaders to help me think through things that went poorly and things that went really well, then everyone wins. The great thing about Zoom is everyone gets a voice.
  2. Gather student leaders to train them. I’ve mentioned previously that I regret not having a training with these student leaders to give us shared language, so guess what? It’s time to schedule a training! We don’t have conflicts for a few weeks, so now is a great time. It may not be ideal, but the opportunity is undoubtedly there.

As time rolls on and as our next steps become more and more clear, I’m sure that I will come up with other plans, but the biggest key is to not let leadership development go dormant in the midst of the chaos of ministry during COVID19.

So, what are you doing to develop student leaders during this time? Comment below!

Increasing Awareness

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I’ve enjoyed getting to work with a new group of student leaders over the past couple of months, and I’ve been sharing my thoughts as I go along.

Last week I mentioned missing having a shared language (not in those words, but that’s the idea). So, I’ve slowly been trying to teach a few of these new students to look for opportunities. And it’s working.

Actually, what I’m doing, without them knowing, is teaching them the three questions. And we are starting at the beginning. I’m trying to teach them to walk into a room and ask themselves what needs to be done–simply increasing awareness.

Why? Because when a student can learn to ask (and answer) that question on their own, it empowers them to meet the need. Then, as they grow and mature, their awareness grows and matures with them.

Ultimately, if I (or we) can teach students to look for and meet needs, we are moving in the right direction.

Initially the needs being met may be as simple as arranging chairs or changing where they sit. But, over time, as those things become an intrinsic part of who they are, the growth that takes place is incredible.

I’m actually getting more and more excited as I think about how these students, over the course of about 5 weeks of 10 minute program follow up meetings, have already shown incredible signs of improvement.

And the sky is the limit. That’s why I love working with student leaders.

But it all starts with awareness.

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