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Posts tagged ‘Ministry’

Examine the Connection

Recently I was reading a Leadership communication forum and agreed so much with what was said I wanted to expand on it in my blog today. The subject of the forum concerned the difference between communication and connecting. The question was asked, “Do you communicate or do you connect?” In the realm of Leadership this is a crucial question! If all you are doing is communicating and not connecting with the Team, you may as well save your breath!

The key to Leadership is relationship and you can’t have a relationship without connecting with your Team. So much of a person’s communication is lost by how they deliver the message they are trying to get across. Too often we put little thought into how we say something while putting a great deal of thought into what we are saying. I would venture a guess that the rapid development of technology has some to do with this issue. We are living in a world of ‘super connectedness’. We “connect” via mobile phone, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Skype. However, I find it that we have many ways and means of communicating, but we are often never truly connecting.

Connecting is more than just communicating. Communicating is getting a message across. Connecting is how you get the message across. Connecting means that you care for and take an interest in the person you are communicating with right now. It has been said that if we would do more connecting, we would have less correcting to do! The more we connect to people, the better our chances of influencing them and making a positive difference in their and our outcomes.

Technology has made it easy to no longer have face to face communication. It is commonplace to see and hear misunderstandings because of a lack of connecting with a person in a face to face, or at least on the phone, complete conversation. When a Leader has a message to communicate he/she must take into to consideration that communication styles of the people they are trying to reach. The best way for this to happen is through an Extended DISC process for all involved. (PLEASE CONTACT ME FOR MORE INFO ON THIS WORKPLACE REVOLUTIONIZING TOOL!!) If you don’t take into consideration those who will hear the message and how they receive that message, half to two-thirds of your impact is lost!

Next time you have a message to communicate, think first about how you are going to connect to the people that need to hear your message. If you start there, your success rate with your communication will sky-rocket!! Remember: People may hear the words you say, but what they will remember much better is the attitude you displayed while saying those words.

Until next time, care enough to connect, don’t just communicate!


Say What? Part 2

So what does active listening entail? How do you do it?
Listed below are a few tips to help us all be better listeners and for those talking to know that we are doing more than a surface job of hearing what they say. Remember, hearing is what most everybody is able to do in a conversation, listening is what the sincere Leader does!
Pay attention.

Give the speaker your undivided attention, respect, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly.

  • Look at the speaker directly. Make eye contact if possible.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. Concentrate of what is being said.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language. Observe the non-verbal’s but don’t let it take you away from the conversation.
  • Refrain from side conversations when listening in a group setting. Focus, focus, focus!

Show that you are listening.

Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.

  • Nod occasionally.
  • Smile and use other facial expressions.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting. Don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.

Provide feedback.

Our life experiences and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said and put aside prejudices. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions for clarification.

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is.” and “Sounds like you are saying.” are great ways to echo back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically, just don’t cut off the speaker to do so.

Tip: If you find yourself responding emotionally to what someone said, say so, and ask for more information: “I may not be understanding you correctly, and I find myself taking what you said personally. What I thought you just said is ***; is that what you meant?”.

 Defer judgment.

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message.

  • Allow the speaker to finish no matter how you may feel about what is being said.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments. This makes the entire conversation useless and puts those around you on edge and an understanding becomes farther away if not impossible.

Respond Appropriately.

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. You add nothing by verbally attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down.

  • Be candid, open, and honest in your response but remain respectful. Remember that diversity is valuable in all areas of life.
  • Assert your opinions respectfully. Keep in mind that everyone has opinions and your’s is no more important that their’s.
  • Treat the other person as you would want to be treated in the same situation.
These are just a few ways to enhance your active listening skills, not to mention your personal and professional relationships.
Until next time, Listen, Listen and then Listen again!!!

The Villain in the Workplace!!

There is an evil villain that lurks in many workplaces today. Often times he/she can be found hiding in the shadows watching your every move, checking up on you and waiting for the prime time to pounce! Worse yet this villain often times does not hide at all but is right out in the open for all to see and often we feel powerless to do anything to stop him/her.  Who is this age-old villain I speak of in the workplace……. it’s………………MICROMANAGER!!!!

Some would say that occasionally micromanaging is needed. This would be true with a new Team Member or someone venturing into an area they have not encountered before. Otherwise a true Leader never has to micromanage because he/she knows the Team and each ones unique abilities and therefore assigns tasks to each one accordingly. Thus, the true Leader can trust the Team Member will move forward and succeed or at least the Leader knows that he/she and the Team Member have an open line of communication to the point the Team Member feels free to come and ask for help. No need for the Leader to be constantly checking in or making suggestions. He/She knows that the project will be done correctly and has already set up times to come together with the Team Member to discuss their progress and/or roadblocks they have encountered.

Are you wondering if you might be the villain, MICROMANAGER? Is your Leader the villain MICROMANAGER?

Here are some symptoms that can be observed in those who are micromanaging:

  • They appear frustrated that nobody is “getting it” or taking things as seriously as they do.
  • They want frequent status updates, even when things are operating normally.
  • They are quick to point out errors and mistakes of Team Members.
  • They have an overloaded task list, but their teams are looking for things to do.
  • They get upset if they’re not consulted before decisions are made.
  • They’ll take back delegated tasks to do them quicker or better themselves.
  • They assign a task and then go out first and do the task they assigned to someone else
  • They show up unannounced and often change directions you have given your team
So, what do you do if you are micromanaged? 70% of the respondents of a recent random survey feel they have been or currently are working for a micromanager. The sad part of this is that fact that as long as an organization is seeing results from the department that is being micromanaged, they often will not do anything to the one doing the micromanaging. If that happens, it is up to the Team Member to adjust, here are some options:
  • Take a critical look at your own performance. Is there anything you are doing that is adding to the problem? Self-identified micromanagers often claim that they wouldn’t have to micromanage if their people would just do what they were supposed to do. It may not fix the problem, but delivering your best may give you a little more breathing room.
  • Play by their rules. Admittedly, spending your day requesting permission for every action, justifying every decision or rewriting every sentence is not productive. However, fighting it will be even less so. Figure out the hot buttons, pet peeves and sticking points and try to abide. Sadly this may mean spending more time on the non-value-added appeasing tasks, but if you can streamline them, you may be able to create a workable relationship.
  • Try not to take it to heart. Assuming your work is sound, try not to let the constant nit-picking affect your self-confidence. The problem is the manager’s, not yours.
  • Talk to them about their behavior. You may want to attempt a frank, but respectful discussion with the Leader about the issue. Come prepared with recent examples and ideas for how you can work better together. Be aware though, that they may be unable to recognize that their behavior is problematic and their inherent lack of trust may create a contentious discussion.
  • Take it up with a “higher authority”  Often this approach may end up doing more harm than good. At the very heart of micromanagement is a lack of trust, and going over the Leader’s head, potentially making him/her look bad is a cardinal sin in the eyes of this type of Leader. Although it may buy some momentary relief, chances are you will suffer in the long run.
  • Leave the organization. This option may be the only choice in some situations. Assume your Leader is not going to leave. If you find that your work, your family and most likely your health and well-being are suffering because of a work situation that has become intolerable, looking for a better job may be the best thing you could do for yourself and your long-term career. Ultimately, you are in control of your own future and can make the decision to leave for greener pastures.
No one likes to be micromanaged because, generally speaking, if you were hired to do a job, trained to complete that job and have on open communication line to your Leader and the resources need to complete the job; then you should be allowed to do the job!
Until next time, if you are micromanaging…stop it! If you are being micromanaged, hang in there and send the Leader this blog………….


Strong Relationships

Leadership is about relationships! I suppose if you frequent this blog you could begin to get tired of seeing me type that phrase, but that phrase is the key to any Leader’s sustained career! Nothing can overcome the most difficult of situations in a workplace environment like a strong relationship based Team. Everyone in the office can still be uniques, have differences and even a few simple confrontations, but it will be the strong relationship that will help everyone understand each other better and will aid in a much quicker resolution to any and all problems in the office!

So, I guess you might be wondering what makes up the foundation of a good relationship in the workplace. There are several characteristics that make up healthy working relationships:

  • Trust – This is the foundation of every good relationship. When you trust your team and colleagues, you form a powerful bond that helps you work and communicate more effectively. If you trust the people you work with, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions, and you don’t have to waste time and energy “watching your back.” Trust is something that often is the hardest part of a relationship. Realize that to trust, one has to allow themselves to be vulnerable and that is a risky move. However, if you do not extend that trust, that open door to your emotions and feelings, you will never have any synergy, cohesiveness or support in your workplace. Yes, you might get hurt a time or two, but pain is a part of  learning, learning is a part of growing and growing is a part of success. If you want to be a success as a Leader, you will have to endure a bit of pain along the way. Take heart though, if you allow it to, it can make you a much stronger and better person because of the journey you will take with it!
  • Mutual Respect – When you respect the people whom you work with, you value their input and ideas, and they value yours. Working together, you can develop solutions based on your collective insight, wisdom and creativity. Mutual Respect is a huge part of Synergy, (the process of two or more minds coming together to create a solution that is greater than any one person could come up with on their own), which every working environment needs to have. Without respect or synergy in the workplace, you and your Team are going nowhere fast!
  • Diversity – People with good relationships not only accept diverse people and opinions, but they welcome them. Any workplace that respects, invites and encourages diversity will be the a workplace that experiences frequent success and will be a pool of idea generation! It is paramount for the Leader to instill in all Team Members that each and every one of us were created with a unique skill set and valuable insight. As everyone seeks to include all thought processes and viewpoints, collaboration and projects soar to new heights!
  • Open Communication – Whether we’re sending emails, text and IM’s, or meeting face-to-face it is crucial that we stay positive, constructive, open and honest The better and more effectively you communicate with those around you, the richer your relationships will be. All good relationships depend on open, honest communication. As a Leader you should only want the very best for your Team Members and often that will involve some very frank conversations. Even thought it is tempting to avoid the hard talks, it is detrimental to the Team as a whole. Just as in a personal friendship, if you are a true friend you will be honest, even with the hard stuff. The same holds true for your work relationships. If you have established the trust and respect with those around you, it opens the door for honest, open communication. However, if you have not established trust and respect, you in no way can have open communication. It is the trust and respect that will help you approach the other person with the hard subjects in a way that they know you are only trying to help them. It is also the key elements that will allow them to receive it in the manner you truly intend it to be.

If a Leader will utilize this recipe above, model it and instill it in his/her people, they can revolutionize the workplace environment. Until next time, keep building strong relationships!!


Levels of Commitment

The 6 Levels of Commitment

       Commitment is a verbal signature of a heart and head process. Lying at the heart of the coaching process, commitment is designed to stir up excitement about possibilities and potential.


The two kinds of Commitment:

  1. Relationship Commitment- A willingness to work with the other person.
  2. Outcome Commitment- A willingness to work on a plan of action


The 6 Levels:


A highly committed person is an “activist” –someone who wants the plan or agreement to succeed. Activists will do whatever is required to make things happen in order to, “pull it off.” Caution needs to be observed as many activists have a tendency to take things too far and actually ruin the synergy of the Team


People who are enrolled are advocates to a degree. They want to achieve the plan, and work very hard to see that it is accomplished. In short, they will be low profile champions.


          Sponsors are supportive; they accept the challenge of the task, and they can visualize the benefits of doing so. They may not spend a lot of extra time and energy on the task, but they will meet the basic expectations and are valued by the group.


Actors go through the motions and make it appear as though they support the plan. Often times, the actor will give “lip service” to the task, but real action and commitment are not yet established.



Resistors don’t test at all; they don’t even want to try. Something is holding them back- apathy, lack of interest, low energy, lack of reward, fear of failure or they feel overloaded and are unable to prioritize. They likely won’t work on the plan at first, and they may take the position that no one can make them. Generally these people work under the “victim” mentality.


These are people who have no commitment or interest in seeing that the plan succeeds and may in fact work contrary to the consensus of the group. The rebel has a very clear and strong identity. They usually are proud of this identity and want to protect and uphold it at all costs.


Real lasting and deep commitment does take time to solidify and is not going to appear overnight. Just as a farmer must plant the seeds and water them, as well as allow the warmth of the sun’s ray to do their part; so too must the Coach, plant, nourish, and provide the supporting “rays” to your partner in coaching. Developing this mindset is a very satisfying process and sets a coach-minded person up for repeated success in all of their coaching relationships.

Until next time,


Common Leadership Mistakes

Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.
– Oscar Wilde

It’s often said that mistakes provide great learning opportunities. However, it’s much better not to make mistakes in the first place!

In this blog, we’re looking at the first 5 of 10 of the most common leadership mistakes, and highlighting what you can do to avoid them.  Contact Ascend Business Strategies to learn effective ways to avoid these costly mistakes!!

1. Lack of Feedback

Sarah is a talented sales representative, but she has a habit of answering the phone in an unprofessional manner. Her boss is aware of this, but he’s waiting for her performance review to tell her where she’s going wrong. Unfortunately, until she’s been alerted to the problem, she’ll continue putting off potential customers.

According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, failing to provide feedback is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t provide prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

To avoid this mistake, learn how to provide regular feedback to your team.

2. Not Making Time for Your Team

When you’re a manager or leader, it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your own workload that you don’t make yourself available to your team.

Yes, you have projects that you need to deliver. But your people must come first – without you being available when they need you, your people won’t know what to do, and they won’t have the support and guidance that they need to meet their objectives.

Avoid this mistake by blocking out time in your schedule specifically for your people, and by learning how to listen actively to your team. Develop your emotional intelligence so that you can be more aware of your team and their needs, and have a regular time when “your door is always open”, so that your people know when they can get your help. You can also use a 5 min morning rally combined with spot coaching throughout the day to stay in touch with your team.

Once you’re in a leadership or management role, your team should always come first – this is, at heart, what good leadership is all about!

3. Being Too “Hands-Off”

One of your Team Members has just completed an important project. The problem is that he misunderstood the project’s specification, and you didn’t stay in touch with him as he was working on it. Now, he’s completed the project in the wrong way, and you’re faced with explaining this to an angry client Many leaders want to avoid micromanagement. But going to the opposite extreme (with a hand-offs management style) isn’t a good idea either – you need to get the balance right.

4. Being Too Friendly

Most of us want to be seen as friendly and approachable to people in our team. After all, people are happier working for a manager that they get along with. However, you’ll sometimes have to make tough decisions regarding people in your team, and some people will be tempted to take advantage of your relationship if you’re too friendly with them.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize with your people. But, you do need to get the balance right between being a friend and being the boss.

5. Failing to Define Goals

When your people don’t have clear goals, they muddle through their day. They can’t be productive if they have no idea what they’re working for, or what their work means. They also can’t prioritize their workload effectively, meaning that projects and tasks get completed in the wrong order.

Avoid this mistake by learning how to set SMART Goals for your team. Chart your course to specify where your team is going, and detail the resources it can draw upon.

Tomorrow we will look at the nest 5 common mistakes.

Until then, keep moving forward!



If you are interested in how successes and successful people are made, I am here to help! I believe that the journey of success has 4 general ingredients that make the journey possible. The first letter of each of the four words make the acronym, M.A.D.E., see below:

M-Mindset. To be successful in anything one must first have the mindset to think big and out of the box. Success calls for exploring all avenues to reach your goals, no matter how unconventional they may seem. It is important to be open minded and ready to try new things as no one has a lock on total intelligence and creativity! Without an open mind, your success will be limited!

A-Attitude. Nothing can replace having a positive, can-do attitude! However, obtaining this type of attitude is often difficult for most people. Due to the negative slant the World we live in has, combined with the fact that, for what ever reason it is, we often find it our second nature to jump to a negative thought before we do a positive one. Negativity is so ingrained in our mind that studies show it takes 5 or more positive inputs to erase just 1 negative input. Astounding! So why not start today to retrain yourself, and apply a can do, positive attitude to all you attempt during your day!

D-Direction. It is always best to know where you are going, that way you will know when you have arrived! When setting out in life or on a project it is valuable to begin with the end result in mind and then you have a direction that you can follow right to the doorstep of success! Think about it this way: If you are going on a journey to a destination, which is more useful to have, a compass or a clock? You may make really good time, but it that won’t matter if you never arrive at where you originally wanted to go. Seek the compass and let it guide your footsteps to success! NEVER discount direction in your life.

E-Effort. This seems like a no brainer, but is often the area people lose footing in. Many a great idea has stalled out because someone was afraid to make the effort towards that first step. We can blame all kinds of things for why something doesn’t happen, or why we were unable to be successful in a certain area, but, blame is lame. This is exactly why effort is so crucial in the journey to success. Effort means taking the first step but also taking the second, third, forth and so on. Effort means when a roadblock comes up and it seems there is no way around, you don’t let that stop you. Successful people find ways around, over and through roadblocks. NOTHING will keep them from their goal! They recalculate, reformulate, rethink and reboot to a new and different strategy. We to need to never be deterred on our journey to success!

Until next time, apply this acronym to your life and soon see what a difference it has M.A.D.E.


Welcome to Ascend Business Strategies!

We are new at this Blog process, but we catch on quick! LOL In the coming days there will be various articles about Personal Development and HR hints and tips for success. Ascend is based in Jefferson City, MO and our President is Matt Cowell. You can find more out about Ascend by visiting our website, (which will be redone shortly, so be patient if you follow this link and it is under construction.)

Here is a little bit about who Ascend is:

Matt Cowell, President of Ascend Business Strategies has been in the Leadership and Professional Training field for over 15 years designing and developing training programs to allow people to accomplish their goals. Matt serves as an adjunct professor at William Woods University in the Business Department. He has been teaching graduate and undergraduate classes for the past 7 years. Having developed and delivered many programs in areas of risk management, leadership, process improvement and performance management, Matt decided to help other companies reach their goals.

In addition to his training background, Matt has held various leadership positions in public and private organizations. Matt is also certified to teach and utilize the Extended DISC Assessment Tool. DISC is a key assessment tool helping organizations communicate effectively and deliver results.

Amy Reinkemeyer, Business Analyst with Ascend Business Strategies; has been in the Human Resource Management field for over 5 years. Amy has served in a variety of human resource rolls. She currently serves as the liaison for human resource policies, benefits, compensation, training and procedure questions. In this role she is a resource for all clients and helps to answer inquiries that are specific to many employment situations.

Amy also serves as the contact for applicants that are recruited through Ascend Business Strategies for a variety of clients. As the point of contact, Amy screens applicants based on the criteria provided by the recruiting company. This roll is an important time-saver for busy clients who need their candidates narrowed to ensure that they spend their time interviewing quality candidates.
Amy began her human resource career at Central Missouri State University where she served as a human resource clerk. There she was available to all university staff and fielded questions relating to their policies and benefits. She also assisted in developing staff orientation packets and affirmative action reports.

Rodney Long, Consultant with Ascend Business Strategies; specializes in helping people become the best they can be through personal growth classes, individual Mentoring, Leadership Coaching and Motivational Speaking. Rod draws on over 20 years of successful Business Leadership experience, which includes 10 years as an Ordained Minister. He has helped many Businesses and Churches become more productive, develop winning cultures and grow to new heights through his Coaching.

During his years of Leadership Development he has been privileged to work in varied fields and help establish great Leaders in many areas across the U.S. and Canada.  His skills in producing classes that are motivating, relational and centered on solid Business principals have been vital to his success and the success of those around him.  Rod is Certified in Extended DISC, (DISC is a key assessment tool helping organizations communicate effectively and deliver results.), and Franklin Covey.

Keep an eye out for our next post!!

Rod Long