Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday's Answer: Overthrowing Dictator Tendencies

"How do you lead a group without becoming a dictator?"

True-to-life nightmares can begin while working under a leader who acts like a dictator. Their controlling spirit leads others by fear, intimidation and micromanagement. Members have to salutely follow or get out of the way while watching their backs.

A wise homeschool group leader never wants to come close to being a dictator, but does desire to truly lead others selflessly and compassionately. Don't worry; the balance between surpassing weakness and avoiding oppression can be achieved by keeping in mind these simple points:
  1. Lead with Confidence--In my desire to not be tyrant-like, I can struggle with being too easy-going--shying away from asking others to help bear the load or taking too much time to make a decision. Remember (as I do to overcome this tendency) that others do need and expect you to lead, take charge and make good decisions. You can earn respect with thoughtful decisiveness.

  2. Lead with Heart--Care about your members. Spend time getting to know each family (including the children). Nothing can replace the knowledge that you care for them and have their best interests at heart. They will see your genuine love and happily follow your lead.

  3. Lead with Freedom--Allowing the free flow of ideas encourages creativity. Say "yes" as much as you can (as much as it fits with your vision statement) and stimulate self-motivation. Give your members the chance to learn and grow, succeed or fail, in a safe environment. Step in only when necessary to help them succeed.

  4. Lead with Courage--Stand quietly confident in all situations by giving the complete control to the Lord. When difficulties come, pray. Don't resort to anger or fear. These inferior responses will only lead to the intimidating tactics of dictators and tyrants. Overcome anger and fear through prayer and love and a pure heart. When you have done all, stand.

Sometimes your biggest criticisms and conflict will stem, not from you, but from a member who has a controlling spirit. I have seen some members who bucked against answering to any type of authority (from getting approval for projects to any of the groups' rules). I have seen these members go out and start their own group, running it with complete, absolute authority. They always want to be in control.

Wise leaders know it is truly about God being in control. These leaders lead with courage, freedom, heart and confidence, overthrowing any tendencies towards fear or anger. They are free and you can be, too!

Caring for you,
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Caring Makes Sharing Easy
When new homeschoolers know that you care, then they will care about what you know. Through-the-fire experiences and great resources are easier and more natural to pass along within a trusting relationship.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday's Answer: Motivated from Within

How to get parents to help out?
Being married to a youth minister, I have had a lot of opportunity to work with parents and try to get them involved.

The secret key is motivating them to get involved. But how do you do that?

I have discovered that people will act when they feel motivated from within. My job as a leader, then, is to inspire that inner motivation--to help them get excited about something. The truth be told, most of us get excited when something benefits us.

So, make it benefit your parents to get involved. Let me give you a recent example that illustrates three simple ways you can motivate your parents to help out.

Just yesterday I was working on our youth group newsletter that we hand out to the teens and their parents each month. There's secret number one: personal touch. We all need to feel cared for and loved. I like to personally hand the newsletters out to the parents and make eye contact with each one, engaging them with a simple question about their family. I have found that appropriate, personal touch, no matter how simple, is a great motivator.

In the newsletter, we run a column called "Parent Corner." In that column we've run some pretty cool and helpful stuff. Do the parents read it? I'm not sure. So, I'm on a mission to find out. Here's secret number two: pave the path to action. Since my husband wants to get the parents used to regularly visiting the youth group web site for information, I am going to ask them in the Parent Corner to answer ONE question. The trick is that they have to go to the web site to answer it, following the link we post in the column. We will regularly have a new question or interesting poll to help the parents get used to going to the web site.

A third secret to getting parents to help out is to reward them. You may balk at this (and I don't blame you), but hear me out--it works. People are motivated when they get something for their effort. My husband did some quick math last night in his head and figured that if he offers a gift certificate each month to a randomly-drawn answerer, it will be money well spent because of the benefit to our whole group of having parents willing to act when asked.

So, I suggest three ways to get parents to help out:
* personal touch
* pave the path to action
* reward them

Motivating members to move from apathy to action is a fun challenge, and a very do-able one. Be creative, be personal, be generous and let us all know how it goes and what you tried. We'll be watching for your helpful comment! :-)

How's that for a call-to-action? Now, what am I going to give you? . . .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Taming the Gossip Monster!

If you hear gossip, do not be intimidated.

You can diffuse the negative talk with a strategically-placed, simple, positive statement. . . or, if you can't do that, just walk away. Standing there and listening only serves to feed the gossip monster.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday's Answer: We Love Our Readers!

Who won the very first Homeschool Group Leader giveaway?

Drumroll, please. . . Carol Topp's name was drawn as our very first winner.

Congratulations, Carol!

Read Carol's winning comment here.

If you're new to this blog and are wondering "What giveaway?," we contacted everyone who has signed up for our free mini-course "The Top 4 Traps for Homeschool Group Leaders to Avoid" and encouraged them to leave a comment on one of our Friday's Answers here on this blog. We got some excellent comments. Be sure to read each of them!

Carol got to choose one of the two books we've recently reviewed. She chose Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America. It's a really good read. If you want, you can pick up your own copy in our leader store!

Thanks for sharing your great comments with leaders everywhere--we love you for it!
Kristen & Denise

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

Extra! Extra!

Always bring extra copies of your newsletter to the meetings. You will be prepared if visitors show up or if your members missed it in the mail.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday's Answer: Connect, Listen, & Reward

How do you get the majority of members to get involved?

Servant leaders, including all homeschool group leaders, are always looking for their members to be involved. This is not because they want to impress with large numbers, but because they wisely realize that to lead successfully they must have followers and to serve faithfully they must have people to serve.

Promote your group's percentage of member involvement by consistently following these 3 vital guidelines:

  1. Help them feel connected. Families that have at least 2 other friends in the group will be comfortable and excited to participate and join the activities.

  2. Listen to their needs. Know the needs of your members by getting to know them, asking them regularly, and taking polls. As specific needs are met, involvement will grow.

  3. Reward them with praise. A warm smile, a word of appreciation and a sincere compliment will lift their spirits and draw them to you and your group again and again.

There are so many ways to promote member involvement that we are writing an ebook about the subject! We pray that it will truly meet your needs and serve you as you serve others.

We would love to hear and include your ideas on how to improve member involvement. Please share your experiences with leaders everywhere by leaving a comment here on this blog.

Thank you for serving and sharing,
Denise & Kristen
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

True Support
Incorporate prayer for one another in your meetings. Taking your cares and concerns to the Lord together is true fellowship and true support that we all need.