Executing Your Vision, Part Two

Martin West, Founder of XGAP, has had a profound impact on the way we approach our vision here at D+C. We recently talked about it on The Dunham Podcast.

Martin, tell us some things you saw in Dunham+Company early on and how things have changed.

Martin: Early on, I saw two big shifts at Dunham+Company. One of them was related to you, and one of them related to your dad, the founder. They happened almost in parallel.

I was seeing a founder who very much knew all the details… all roads led to Rick! That was a dynamic, and the other dynamic was with your own leadership. Your intentions shifted and you began to take the lead and get serious about why you were there.

The first time I saw Rick, in a very public way, acknowledge that he needed help was when we did an exercise at Dunham+Company. We had people stand in a room and we picked out three points in a room.

One point was vision, another point was exchange, and another point was fit. Really, we wanted people to stand in the room, relative to how they felt those three topics were going for them professionally. Vision: “I’m in a job that fits my vision for my life.” Fit: “It fits my strengths.” Exchange: “I’m getting back what I put in.”

If all those things were perfectly balanced, and they rarely are, then some people would be standing in the middle.

So I’m watching and looking for Rick in the room, and I can’t see him. I said, “Where’s Rick?” I look behind me, and Rick is standing in the furthest corner of the room, as far away from the exchange point as you could get. He was visually representing the fact that he was not getting back what he was putting in.

To me, that was the first time I’d seen him publicly say, “I’m done, I’m drowning, I need some help.”

Secondly, the first big manifestation of the change I saw in you was in a workshop, at a time when Dunham+Company was facing some challenges. Rick was definitely handing over more leadership to you and other members of the team.

And, essentially he got vulnerable again about some challenges that were going on inside the business, and he looked at you and your peers, and said, “I can’t solve this, you guys need to solve it.”

There, I watched you form a team, without any direction from Rick, and go about solving how to navigate the business through the next 12 months. That team, as far as I know, has pretty much stayed intact. And your style of leading and keeping the company on a strategic path was the second big shift.

Rick version one would have done that himself, and Trent version one probably wouldn’t have been the type of leader that could have led the organization through that change. So there are two big shifts I watched, you taking on a massive challenge in the organization and leading the team through it, and Rick’s moment of vulnerability.

Trent: In the midst of a global pandemic, what kind of advice do you have for leaders that find themselves in situations they’ve never been in before?

Martin: Two words: Messy and vulnerable.

There is no clean way to handle the changes we’re going through now. You can’t go through this in a clinical fashion. We’re doing Zoom calls, we’re looking into people’s personal lives, we’re seeing the kids run around in the background. So the idea that you can have a business face and a home face, I think, has gone.

If someone’s listening to this and they’re wondering whether their team is going to emerge stronger or weaker and they’re not sure, there’s a good chance they’re on the weaker side of the equation. If you’re going to emerge stronger, you have already experienced and perhaps implemented the changes that are going to help you emerge stronger.

I recently met with a team and planned to ask two questions, “How are you doing, personally?” And, “How is your team doing? We only got through the first question.

They began to share things about their families and personal lives, and after two and a half hours, that team was a different team. As a leader, have you asked your team members directly, “How are you doing?” Genuinely? Vulnerability is just so important.

And lastly I would add, try to simplify. Ask, “What is the one thing we need accomplish in the next six months?” Then, just rally around that.

For more helpful tips on building a stronger team and reaching your ministry goals, listen to the Dunham Podcast Episode, Executing Your Vision with Martin West.

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