Stronger Conference 2023 is now over and what a time it was! It is devoid of hype when I say it was truly next level! At the same time, it took everything out of me.
I am trying to be a better leader when it comes to what to do after an event that I lead. For most of my years in leadership and ministry, I would scarcely celebrate or focus on what just happened and would go bolting head-first into the next event at 500 miles an hour. A few years ago I asked myself why. There was an urgency to get things done and get busy on the next thing, but I realized I was doing myself and my team a disservice by racing into the next thing without celebrating the last thing.
Here are five things I’ve found it’s important to do:
I have observed that Pentecostals in particular seem to be not-so-good at this. I think part of it is the admonition that is banged into all of our heads to “give all the glory to God.” Do we need to give God all the glory? Yes. We do. At the same time, God’s people need to celebrate what He has done. And that includes celebrating what He has done through His people. We need to say, “Yay God!” and “Yay team!” and revel in the amazingness of what just happened. It brings no glory to God to devalue people. Don’t rush the celebration. We were meant to enjoy God. To enjoy leading. To enjoy our team. To enjoy the results. It’s okay to get excited and go a little crazy.
2) Take time to thank people
The larger the event the more time it will take. You may not have time to thank everyone appropriately on the last day of the event or even the day after, but try your best. Take time to write notes over the week or two following the event. Post on social media walls and give kudos. Text and make phone calls. Nothing outstanding happens without teamwork, so appreciate your team.
In addition to thanking people privately, I have a practice of publicly posting the social media walls of every single employee or volunteer, thanking them specifically and in a personalized fashion for what they have done. My reasoning behind this is, although people appreciate private thanks, it does something else entirely for them when their family and friends see what they are doing to serve in the world, and how they are valued by others. Unfortunately, people who serve behind the scenes in churches and organizations are often overlooked. So, this public appreciation seems to mean more to most people who give me feedback on it, much more than the private thank you.
I am drop-dead exhausted after an event but I try to get all these social media kudos out in the first 24 hours after an event. As our events have gotten larger, it is a greater challenge, but I start making a list ahead of time of who I need to thank and add to it as I notice people I have missed. I also ask our volunteer coordinator to give me a list of people I need to thank. I know that as we get larger, I could delegate this to other leaders, but I believe it’s super important for me to continue doing it. When the leader of a ministry/church/organization publicly thanks the people who are hauling boxes and picking up trash, it means a lot to that person. I notice that they don’t forget it. Some of them mention that simple word of thanks a few years later.
In years past, I got up at the crack of dawn the day after and showed up to the office the next day at regular time. It’s getting harder and harder to do that at the speed I’m running and quite frankly it’s a bad idea. So in recent years, I have made a change. Aside from one immediate debriefing, I rest most of the time for the next 48 hours. This is necessary to gear up for the season I’m getting ready to walk through. If you want your leadership to be for the long haul and not a sprint, this is essential.
4) Solicit feedback
You won’t sort through it all right away but start asking for it and prepare to listen and make appropriate changes. People who are afraid of feedback won’t reach their destiny. Can they be successful? Yes. But they will not reach the potential for which they were destined. If you aren’t afraid of feedback and you will take it seriously, you are unstoppable. We have a culture on our team of “fearless feedback.” This means, no one will ever receive any type of retribution for something they share that they believe will make us better, for those we serve. It means that even if someone shares something that they believe is one of my weaknesses that needs to be improved, I will not retaliate, but I will welcome their feedback and seriously consider it.
5) Know what’s normal for this time
Do you feel a little depressed?
Do you feel like you want to get away from people for a while?
Do you feel a little “snappy” or irritated when people ask you for things before you’ve had rest?
Take care of you, so you can gear up for the next big thing.