Monday, February 24, 2014

It's not enough to be liked

Those of us in the communications business have worked hard on our craft so we can be an influence on our audience. To borrow a Facebook term we have worked on making sure the content of our spoken or written work is liked.

But as we enter 2014 the Facebook like is now not good enough.

Our goal is to get the Facebook share for our content.

And there is a big difference in content that is liked and content that is shared. Content that's liked is a simple transaction between the communicator and their immediate audience. It was a nice message, I liked his point about this. However we change our paradigm and produce content that is more than liked  but shared our sphere of influence grows exponentially. Not only was our content good but our audience wanted to tell others how it affected them and how it might be useful for their friends to know this.

Those who are students of Facebook or other social media know that organisations now produce content that is designed to be shared rather than liked. It will be the photo with an appropriate caption or some video image. These organisations are seeking to not only influence their existing audience with their message, but they are using this existing audience to share this material to a whole new audience. So the influence of the organisation grows exponentially.

So while many in Facebook strive for the like amongst their circle of influence, others are trying to reach further than this smaller audience. The same is also happening in spoken communication too. The best are seeking to produce content that reaches further than those within earshot. They are seeking the water cooler conversation topic the next day.

We need to realize there is a difference between content that is liked and content that is shared. Learn the difference and make the appropriate changes to your content to increase your influence. For example take a look at this image. If you posted just the text on Facebook or twitter you may get a like from your audience. Paste it as an image and you increase your chance from like to share or retweet. Just a little bit of effort and slight change to your content suddenly your influence reaches further. Photo: Just found this picture of the Queue for Food at a Syrian Refugee Camp.


And never has it been easier to get the share for your content than now. The only limitation is the quality and usefulness of your content. So whether you work in the media, church, politics or even a sporting organisation we are all in the content business with our messaging and we should be seeking to be not liked but shared.

Let me know how you go.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kids need to hear their Dad's voice

The other week I attended a communication master class where one of the topics was discovering your voice. The speaker talked about how every person has a voice that not only deserves to be heard but needs to be heard. Over the past few days leading into Fathers Day I have been revisiting this statement in my role as a dad. I have been realising that many men have lost their voice in the family. Sometimes it happens because the marriage has broken up, long working hours or feeling that they have nothing to offer as a parent. A sense of feeling inadequate.

As I have talked about this with my mates I have learnt that a fathers voice is essential to the development of a son and daughter. The voice of the father is where our children need to gain their affirmation. Mums will give voice to nurture but fathers give voice to affirmation. Think of the most famous father son quote in history 'This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased'.

Our daughters need the voice of their father for their development. Psychological studies show that daughters gain more self esteem from their fathers voice than their mum and often career decisions are shaped by fathers.

Our kids need to hear the voice of their father in their lives. In fact the best Fathers Day gift isn't what the children give us but what we Dads give our families. Our voice. Costs little but has eternal ramifications.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two stories of Sacrifice

I have always been intrigued by the coincidence that the two largest stories of sacrifice in the lives of Australians occur within days of each other. Easter and Anzac Day. There are many parallels in both stories of sacrifice. The willingness of a person to lay down their life for another. The other day I was pondering the concept of this type of sacrifice. It’s a given that I would sacrifice for my family, my wife and children as well as my siblings and parents. My friends I would like to think so. But a stranger? Hmm that caused me to pause as I examined my motives. It would be easier if I knew there was an acknowledgement of what I had done. If they were thankful and remembered what I had done.

This is where the Anzac Day message is different to Easter. Anzac Day is a day where the nation pauses and reflects on the sacrifices of many especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice of their life. Easter’s message of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is even more poignant and demanding of mankind to pause and reflect because He knew it was going to cost His life and He knew that many would reject or not even accept His sacrifice for them. I would argue that Jesus’ death, His sacrifice, ultimately gave mankind more freedom than that of the diggers and yet as a nation we give it little or no value. We don’t like to pause and reflect because we become uncomfortable because His death demands a response from us. We accept the freedom that the Diggers bought for us but we struggle to accept the freedom that Christ gave us.

Two stories of sacrifice that both demand a response. One story we as a nation generously acknowledge and pay our respects. The other we struggle to accept and in some ways bury beneath a long weekend and lots of chocolate. Anzac Day is an important day in our nation’s history. Easter is an important day in our eternal history. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Art of Followship

Plenty has been written and spoken on how to be a good or great leader. One key aspect I believe is often missed in teaching people leadership principals is the principal of Followship. The art of followship is about learning to be a good leader by first being a good follower of leaders. There are several key points to learning leadership through the art of followship.

Find a good leader

Obvious I know but it is integral to learning good leadership habits. Followship learning operates on the principal that more is ‘caught than taught.’ Find a good leader and stick to them like glue. Be a sponge and absorb.

Be observant

Followship is about learning how a leader leads. How do they make decisions, treat people, respond to problems and react to changed circumstances. It’s an invaluable Leadership 101 subject.


My experience is that many potential leaders want the power and position now. Fortunately leadership is a maturing process not a knowledge one. It is about serving your time in followship learning the craft. Where many people go wrong is they want to skip a few rungs in the ladder by taking short cuts. They might look good on the outside but the inside is empty.

Followship has a cost

Learning leadership this way has a cost in time, ego and pride. Serve your apprenticeship in following well and the opportunities will open without you having to create them. One of my favourite leadership quotes by Jeff Bezos is “You earn a reputation by doing the hard things well.” You gain your leadership credentials in followship by doing the hard yards.

Even great leaders follow

One thing followship tells you are that great leaders follow too. Most great leaders themselves were nurtured by someone else and still have a system of accountability around them. The lesson you learn to be a great leader is to deal with pride. Great leaders will have a succession plan. Poor leaders are insecure and consequently don’t raise up other leaders.

Final notes

If you are an aspiring leader you need to seek someone you admire and stick to them like glue.
If you want to raise strong leaders in your organisation, company or church then you need to identify potential in your group and then apprentice them to yourself. Make yourself to be available to counsel, teach and be watched as you lead. There maybe a cost to you in the short term but you will reap the rewards of your efforts.        

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Nostalgia is powerful

One of the hallmarks of our current society is the desire of many adults to relive their past. We see it in trends like house restoration, increasing numbers of people buying caravans, family tree research. Then there are events like Christmas carols and school reunions. As I have seen this growth in returning to our past I have realised there is a tremendous power in nostalgia.

This power of nostalgia presents a unique opportunity for churches to be in those places, to be part of those memories. Church initiated events such as Christmas carols, Sunday school camps and christenings are opportunities for churches to build happy memories into people’s lives.

One of things radio has taught me is that we have a unique place in being part of the soundtrack of peoples lives. The music and programs we produce are with them when they go to work, take the kids to school. We are playing in the background when they get good news and sometimes when they hear bad news. We can play songs that bring back happy memories as well as songs that cause them to reflect

Churches too need to learn how to place themselves in the soundtrack of people’s lives. Like a song or a smell or a taste suddenly takes a person back to a childhood experience we need to be in the good reminisces of a person’s life.

The challenge for us as leaders in churches is what happy experiences of God we are building into the memory banks of our community. Not just Christians but also the non Christians. The experiences of God should not just be confined to the auditorium but around the streets where we live.

Nostalgia is really people hitting the replay button on the sound track to their life to relive a past experience. My prayer is that you are doing something as a Christian to build a God memory in the life of non Christians in your community this year.

Ps: And as parents we need to be doing the same for our kids.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A key to being a good leader - humility

I was thinking the other day about how humility is one of those counter intuitive things. You know something that is seen as not popular or strong a bit uncool. But humility is actually strong and a desirable trait to have. John Dickson a professor in ancient history and Director of Centre for Public Christianity was talking about humility and what it is and isn’t. He defined it ‘as the noble choice to forgo your status and use your influence for the good of others’. He explains that humility is perhaps one of the most powerful tools a leader can have in their toolbox.

Aristotle in his story on the art of persuasion a long time ago essentially said that most people believe a good hearted man first. His template for communication style is still used today. He says that most people believe a good hearted man more than any other characteristic first.

I love my sport and I began to think about one of the most humble sport stars I know. Darren Lockyer. Now I am not talking about his words but about how he plays the game. Watch him play and you will see what I think the key to humility is. He genuinely wants his team mates to do very well and receive more plaudits than himself. When he plays he never ‘sells’ the dump to a team mate. He rarely passes the ball to their feet or above their head, rarely throws a punch. I don’t think he has been on report or taken a cheap shot.

In fact he spends his time setting up the play for his team mates to score a try or run through a gap in the defence. It’s all about putting his team mates into the very best position for them to play their game.

Can you imagine how transformed your workplace would be if you did your best to make others look good and do their best. Now isn’t that counter cultural or counter intuitive. That is what true humility is ‘influence for the good of others before yourself’. That is leadership that is inspiring and persuasive.

We are attracted to people who are great and humble rather than those who are great and tell you. Mandela, Wilberforce, Ghandi and Jesus. People with no legislative power but moved a great force of people because of their character.

Imagine how transformed your workplace would be if you chose to make other people in your team look good.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A new way of Church leadership?

As I watched this years State of Origin and the continuing success of Queensland I became aware of how much of this continued domination by Qld over the last 6 years is due to Mal Meninga and his style of coaching. Much has already been written about the new style of coaching Mal Meninga has brought to rugby league particularly at the high performance end. As an outsider it has the appearance of a manager like in European soccer. As the coach he brings in people with various levels of expertise and manages them as well as managing the players.

In some ways he is like a CEO/manager of a business. He doesn’t do everything. He compliments his own skill set with people who can do the things he needs done and realizes he isn’t always the best person to do some activities. He is not threatened by bringing in other mentors to do a specific task with a player/s.

As I have watched this unfold over the last couple of years it struck me that this model of coaching could work in a church too at a leader level. Rather than the pastor being the head and doing everything, the Pastor cultivates a team environment of leadership. Now before you say well I already do that, please hear me out. The difference here is that this style of management will mean that you will have people who are actually better than you being involved on your leadership team and in some public capacity.

I wonder if the manger pastor who is good at leadership but poor in preaching could have others in his church doing the bulk of preaching. The current model of church is the best preacher or the most theological qualified tends to be the senior pastor. I have been thinking that perhaps the best leader in the church should in fact be the senior pastor and the best preacher may be a mechanic or school teacher in your congregation. Then everyone can concentrate on their gifting and not have to do things which aren’t their strengths.

Too many of our pastors are focussed on working in the ministry when they should be working on the ministry. The church CEO who heads the organisation then has people involved in preaching, pastoral care and other activities like Mal Meninga does as the Qld coach. He is not doing everything. He is coaching the process of creating a successful team which includes lay leaders and the congregation.

This same model of leadership is replicated in schools. The Principal isn’t necessarily the best teacher in the school. He is the leader who sets the vision/culture for the school and will probably have far better teachers than them on the staff. The Principal isn’t threatened by that scenario and probably hopes that is the reality.

So am I saying Mal isn’t really the coach? No. What I am saying is that he knows his strengths and he is not threatened by bringing in others who maybe better than him in certain areas. He is very much the coach and the boss and sets the patterns for what needs to happen. He has determined the strategy for success. But he also surrounds himself with people to help make it happen. People who are happy to be Mal’s armour bearers. To do their part away from the limelight and for the greater good of the team. That only happens because Mal has created that culture. If you notice Mal has had many assistants across the 6 years and as some leave and others take their place the team hasn’t missed a beat. That is because Mal has stayed as boss and ‘employed’ people who are happy to be the armour bearer and stay in their role of expertise. They don’t want to be boss but they know they have skills to contribute to the success.

Now just maybe the future church congregation will be led by a Pastor who operates as a CEO who will empower the laity to do the work. Empowered lay people who share in the success of growth are more likely to want to contribute to the church and invite their friends to church. The job of the CEO Pastor is identifying the vision of the congregation and coaching the leaders and members into achieving that vision. I’m suggesting that perhaps the best theological trained person isn’t the lead Pastor but the person who has the best coaching credentials.

Just a thought. I would love to hear your comments and whether you agree or not.