The Best Mindset for Training

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Do you ever think of something you wish you had said, only it was after the fact?

A few weeks back I hosted a youth worker’s meeting (one of only a couple I’ve done since starting). In my intro to the meeting I made a statement along the lines that I realized I had done a poor job training them.

Then one of the leaders asked, jokingly, “Do you think we’re doing a bad job?”

Again, let me emphasize I know this leader’s heart, and know it wasn’t aggressive, but meant to be funny. But still, it made me think. So, here’s my response, three weeks later.

I want to train to maximize, not correct.

At the end of the day, everyone has bad habits in need of correction. But, more than correction, training provides a way forward. When I’m able to help my adults steps forward and become better, stronger, more equipped leaders, then we both win.

Let’s put this another way. A fire extinguisher is not the best way to fight (correct) a grease fire. The best way to fight a grease fire is to implement proper protocols (training) to keep the grease from catching fire to begin with.

Or, let’s go agricultural (because that’s what I do). Good grazing keeps cattle in the pasture way better than good fences. So, when you do the work on the front end to have the best possible grazing, you spend less time on the back end chasing cattle.

It’s the difference between being reactive and proactive. Reactive people spend all their time reacting to what’s happening. Proactive people work to change the outcome from the beginning.

The same is true for student leaders. If I can train them to influence a room, then we make way more progress than if I simply spend my time trying to correct everything they’re doing wrong.

So do you spend more time helping those you lead put out grease fires, or teaching them how to prevent them in the first place?

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?

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.

Baby Steps

Baby Steps

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I’m a terrible parent.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve felt this way for a while, but it feels nice to be able to say it.

When our first child was still an infant, I distinctly remember a conversation with my wife. As our daughter was learning to take her first steps, I mourned the mobility that was looming ahead. Gone were the days of her being only where we led her. Coming soon were the days where we had to chase and keep up with her. And boy did those days come.

Granted, this conversation was tongue in cheek, but the sentiment was there. Those first few steps marked the end of an era.

Developing student leaders is a similar experience. As we teach students to influence a room, we are teaching them to take baby steps. There are times they are more than capable of accomplishing a goal by themselves, but they lean on our experience or expertise.

Sometimes these baby steps, however, are a little more difficult. And that’s okay. Everyone has to struggle at first. The things that come second nature to us, like including people in our projects, are an appropriately larger chore for a student who is just experiencing leadership.

The problem comes, however, when they never learn to walk on their own. Our leadership reaches the maximum potential when those around us discover their maximum potential.

One word from my current experience. As I’m teaching a new group of student leaders and trying to help them exert their influence, we are missing a key element. We have not had a chance for me to teach them the 3 questions, and I’m feeling it.

In case you’re not familiar, the three questions (for which this blog is named), serve as a framework to help students (and adults) look for and pursue opportunities to influence the room. The questions don’t make someone a leader, but they serve as a great place to start raising awareness of leadership opportunities. Check them out here. It’s always good to be reminded.

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