Displaying items by tag: leadership management

Tasking volunteers?

by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President

volunteers“Let’s get the volunteers to do it. That will save a bundle!”

Volunteers are often seen as a supply of labor for almost any task or for the implementation of an action item. Leaders - board members and directors alike - often assume that volunteers are the least expensive option available. Think again.

Many moons ago, our pregnancy help center utilized a team of volunteers to accomplish the bulk mailing of our newsletters and appeals.  Trays of printed material and envelopes along with stickers and labels were distributed. Presto, some two weeks later the mailing had been delivered.

Upon closer inspection, we realized that, in addition to the volunteer time, two staff members had spent ten work hours (a total of twenty staff hours) each mailing cycle to coordinate the assembly, distribution, and postal paperwork for this process.  A local mailing service (also known as a fulfillment house) that had more sophisticated equipment could lower the postal rate and turn the same task around in three working days as opposed to two weeks. Cost comparisons revealed that, for just a few dollars more, we could improve our process, tighten our turn around, and release several volunteers to more personally rewarding tasks.

All leaders recognize the scarcity of resources to accomplish the mission and achieve the vision.  The good leader continually evaluates how to allocate the limited resources available for maximum return on the investment for the ministry and those involved. 

Adapted from DIRECT Well™, Heartbeat International’s manual for directors.

From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 2, Issue 2


Are you alert and oriented x4?

2bdbdefby Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services

As a social worker in the mental health field, I was trained to assess a patient’s level of alertness and orientation by asking them four questions: (1) Who are you? (2) Where are you? (3) What is the date and time? (4) What just happened to you?

This simple exercise helped determine the next steps in diagnosing the patient and constructing a treatment plan. But I have since discovered the value of asking the same four questions to those serving in ministry when I try to help them diagnose a problem and move forward in a clear direction.

How would you answer these four questions?

  1. Who are you?
    The simple answer Christians like to give is, "I am a child of God."  While this is true, it’s also true that we are uniquely created with specific gifts, talents and dreams. Living the abundant life Jesus promised requires us to further discover who we really are, and who we were created to be. Take time, through God's word, prayer and the counsel of others, to discover what you really believe about yourself, God and the world around you. Your decisions come from the core of who you are and what you believe — and that includes what you believe about yourself.

  2. Where are you?
    Is this the ministry, career and life that you are meant to be living? What are the dreams God has placed in your heart? Are you on your way to fulfilling those dreams and callings? Most of us lead busy lives and are trying to find ways to do the things we do faster, but it’s a healthy practice to slow down for a moment and make sure you’re where you belong.

  3. What time is it?
    There are seasons in our lives that require different commitments of our time and attention. For example, several years ago, through the leading of the Holy Spirit and conversations with my husband, we decided that it was best for our family if I focused most of my time, talent and attention on our children—even though it meant modifying my career ambitions. Then, once our children were in school, I devoted more time to ministry outside of the home, and to my career. Now that our children are grown, the time has come for me to engage more fully in the calling on my life, and I’m now able to chase the dreams of my heart. What is the time and season of your life?

  4. What just happened?
    Are you walking around in a haze—or a daze—and unaware of the world around you? What are you witnessing in the lives of those around you?  What are others witnessing in your life? Sometimes, we are so caught up with our goals and to-do lists that we miss opportunities to fully connect with God and the people we love most. 

I have found that spending a little time at the end of each day to review my answers to these four questions has been a great habit. You too may find this practice valuable in becoming alert and oriented x4.

Also check out the link to "The Daily Examen" by St. Ignatius:

Knowledge vs. confidence: What Smarty Pants doesn't know

by Leslie Malek

Any organization can stumble over the “Smarty-Pants” phenomenon.  You may have witnessed this in your pregnancy help organization. Your team gathers to brainstorm. One confident person has a lot to say, speaks forcefully, sounds convincing, and everyone else defers to her passionate solution. This is the solution that will “save the day” – in theory. 

In practice, it may be no solution at all. Smarty Pants has lots of ideas but quite possibly doesn’t actually know as much as she thinks she does. The real solutions that the less confident team members offered, or kept to themselves, fell under the imposing weight of Smarty Pants. Confident of intuition but without cause, Smarty Pants doesn’t know that she doesn’t know. A number of studies have explored the smarty-pants effect on groups and found over and over that people defer to information that comes from a confident person but in fact, there is an inverse relationship between confidence and knowledge. 

Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” by Justin Kruger and David Dunning of Cornell University documents this phenomenon. The authors suggest that overconfident people often lack social and intellectual skill and thereby not only tend to erroneous conclusions and unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.

More simply put, a lack of knowledge tends to lead a person to greater confidence than is warranted.  The over-confidence that Smarty Pants projects leads people to believe that she is actually more knowledgeable than Smarty Pants really is.

At Harvard University, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons carried out a number of experiments on this topic.  In one experiment known as The Invisible Gorilla (now a classic in psychology), two groups, one wearing black and the other wearing white, pass two basketballs around. The viewers are asked to count the number of times the basketball is passed, something that is easy to do.  Interestingly, half the viewers completely miss that a gorilla walks through the action and thumps its chest. Even more interesting, according to Simons, is the deep-rooted belief held by most people that they would notice something as out of place as a gorilla at basketball practice. In a survey commissioned by Chabris and Simons, more than 75 percent of a representative sample of American adults “agreed that they would notice such unexpected events, even when they are focused on something else.” Two things stand out from this experiment: people miss a lot of what goes on around them and they often have no idea that they are missing so much. They don't know that they don't know.

Another experiment by Chabris and Simon involved groups of people working together to solve a math problem.  Instead of deferring to the person with the greatest math knowledge, the group deferred to the most confident person, regardless of that person’s knowledge. In 94 percent of the cases, each group’s final answer was the first answer suggested, regardless whether it was right or wrong, and it was the most confident person present who offered this answer.

Teams make the most progress when they are able to distinguish between confidence and knowledge. Effective team leaders make sure that everyone has input. The leader does help the group recognize the relationship between opinions and the actual knowledge and experience behind that information and does not just allow the most confident person to sway the result. Great team leaders also know that they do not know everything: that is why great leaders surround themselves with skilled and knowledgeable team members who do know a lot about their area of expertise. The leader and team members must explore what the individuals of the group actually know -- before coming to a conclusion.

A team that defers to confidence instead of knowledge and experience can make some astoundingly bad decisions.

The take away? Pay attention to the opinions of the most self-effacing, best listeners, and weigh the real expertise and knowledge of the most confident members on your team.

Encouragement Changes Everything: Bless and Be Blessed

Encouragement Changes Everything: Bless and Be BlessedBook review by Debbie Schirtzinger, Heartbeat International Affiliation Coordinator

“What does true encouragement look like – the kind that changes lives forever? To encourage people is to help them gain courage they might not otherwise possess – courage to face the day, to do what’s right, to take risks, and/or to make a difference. And the heart of encouragement is to communicate a person’s value.  When we help people feel valuable, capable, and motivated we sometimes see their lives change forever – and then see them go on to change the world.

“God’s love for us gives us the reason to encourage others.
God’s love in us gives us the ability to encourage others.
God’s love through us gives us the way to encourage others.”

Encouragement is an essential part of growing a positive attitude and improving life; and providing that encouragement benefits both the giver and the receiver(s). This book is packed with timeless quotes, scriptures, and short but meaningful stories that illustrate the value of offering and receiving encouragement. Author John Maxwell shares ways to effectively provide the kind of encouragement that transforms individuals, families, churches, and work teams into happier, healthier, more affirming networks.

Executive Director

Heartbeat provides several resources and trainings that were created specifically for you, the Executive Director of a Pregnancy Help Ministry.

Executive Director resources available for you include:

New Director Training
Institute for Center Effectiveness
Staffing Essentials
A Vision for Your Organization

Salary Surveys
The Latest Reports and Publications
Take Heart (Encouragement pieces)


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