This past week I spent four days in Phoenix, Arizona with 9 other people watching three different spring training baseball games. The attached picture was taken Monday afternoon as we were nearing the place where we had parked the car. Yes, we had attended a Chicago Cubs game…yes, I am a life-long fan of the Chicago Cubs…and yes, I was obnoxious throughout the entire day…(and no, the Cubs did not win, but they looked good while the starters were in the game).
The person who took the picture said to me that based on this picture, he would probably buy a used car from me…which got me to thinking about the title of this blog. I am not going to write about being the Chief Executive Officer…this blog is about being the Chief Evangelism Officer. With apologies to Guy Kawasaki who first made this term popular, the head of any organization must be more than the executive in charge…he or she must be their biggest cheerleader as well, sharing the story and enrolling others in the mission and vision of the institution.
I have often said that when I meet new people, they will know within the first 10-15 minutes that I am a Chicago Cubs fan telling them all the reasons I think they should consider becoming. I hope that I am the same way for my institution, letting people know that not only am I the President and Chief Executive Officer at Concordia University Texas, but that I am the institution’s biggest fan as well…and then invite them to join me as a fan of CTX!
What can leaders do to become the CEO (Chief Evangelism Officer) of their institution? Here are a few ideas:
- When meeting new people, don’t always lead with your role and title…let people know more about you so that they are the ones who begin to ask about what you do and why you do it
- Have your stories ready…just as I relate stories of growing up as a Cubs fan, so my stories about my institution should be about the great things that happen and why that gets me excited
- Understand that people are fans of other institutions…while I find it hard to comprehend why someone would NOT be a Cubs fan, I have come to appreciate people’s love for other teams (with the exception of the Cardinals, White Sox, and Mets). Letting others talk about why they love a particular institution allows you to talk about what is important to you
- Wait for the right moment before asking people to join you....they first need to see and understand your passion, before they can even consider joining you. It may take several conversations before you are able to ask them to be a part of what you love so dearly
- You cannot be a lukewarm fan. Just as I have always believed that there were no such things as ex-Cubs fans (however I did meet one this week), leaders need to be “all in” regarding their institution. Someone once asked me if I would send my child (if I had one) to Concordia…the unequivocal response was a strong YES! How could I work for a place that I did not fully believe in?
- Finally, understand that a proud humbleness will serve you best as a Chief Evangelism Officer. I am the proudest of Cubs fans…and the fact is that my team has not appeared in a World Series since 1945 or won a championship since 1908. Staying humble while being proud provides a certain winsomeness towards which others will be attracted.