“There weren’t really any women in leadership and so there was no path for me to follow. That didn’t stop me because I was very passionate about our ministry, and I was very passionate about just being able to step in and help wherever it needed to be. And so that I blazed my own path in that.” -Lisa Entz
[00:00:00] Lisa Entz: Give yourself grace. Forgive yourself. Ask for forgiveness too. Acknowledge, own your stuff, even if you’re mostly right, you still have some stuff to own and grow in.
[00:00:11] Tommy Thomas: Our guest today is Lisa Entz, the Senior Vice President for Talent and Culture at World Impact. In full disclosure, World Impact is a current client of mine. I met Lisa on one of the calls I was having with their senior leadership team. She was very articulate on that call, but the thing that piqued my interest about her being a podcast guest was when she talked about how competitive she is now during that call, she also said that she’d played intercollegiate athletics
[00:00:45] Tommy Thomas: During that call, she also said that she had played intercollegiate athletics. My thoughts immediately went to the subseries, the coaches in my life that we are doing on the podcast. I knew I wanted to get to know more about the coaches in Lisa’s life and how that impacted her journey as a nonprofit leader.
[00:01:03] Tommy Thomas: Lisa, welcome to NextGen Nonprofit Leadership.
[00:01:07] Lisa Entz: Hi Tommy. Looking forward to visiting with you.
[00:01:10] Tommy Thomas: What’s the weather like in Wichita today?
[00:01:15] Lisa Entz: It’s super cold and it’s windy and it’s getting colder.
[00:01:21] Tommy Thomas: A good day to be inside doing a podcast.
[00:01:24] Lisa Entz: Yes, absolutely.
[00:01:26] Tommy Thomas: Before we dive too deep into your professional career, I always like to go back towards somebody’s childhood and so maybe give me two or three experiences that you remember from your childhood that’s contributed to you being the person you are today.
[00:01:40] Lisa Entz: I was blessed to grow up with a lot of cousins around me and I had two parents who loved me. I had grandparents who loved me and among my cousins, especially on my mom’s side, I was the ringleader, and so we would just torment each other but then the, probably the biggest thing was my grandmother, who was a godly woman, sent me to Bible Camps in Arkansas.
And it was at that Bible Camp when I was like an eighth grader or a freshman of high school that I really understood how to grow in the Lord. And I think that really set my course. And so that’s probably one pivotal thing that happened.
[00:02:20] Tommy Thomas: When you went to college how did you decide on your major?
[00:02:23] Lisa Entz: After that camp experience, I really felt called into some sort of mission and I was reading old books by Nikki Cruz, Run Baby Run. I read Keith Phillips book – They Dared to Love the Ghetto and then I found out a distant cousin of mine was actually a missionary with World Impact where I’m currently employed.
[00:02:42] Lisa Entz: And when I read the books, they talked a lot about Tabor College and my mom had gone one year there. And so that was really what pulled me to Tabor was I was hoping that there would be an emphasis on urban ministry or a way I could channel in there. I wasn’t excited about going to college per se, but I was excited about learning more about how to work with people.
[00:03:03] Tommy Thomas: When you got to World Impact did you think it would be a career?
[00:03:06] Lisa Entz: Before we came on staff, we thought it would be, but then when you move into the city, we moved into an impoverished neighborhood here in Wichita with two little girls and it hit me. What had we just done? We were outsiders, and we thought, okay, if we can make it five years, that’ll be a good thing.
So, we just thought we’ll evaluate every five years because it was such a struggle to cross cultures, to come into a community and be learners and not know anything and trying to do the work of the Lord, yet realizing that if we aren’t learners, so that learning process is difficult. And it was a difficult start, but we both felt really called to the mission of World Impact.
[00:03:49] Tommy Thomas: Fast forward, I don’t know, two or three years, three or four years till you got your first management job, when you had people reporting to you, what do you remember?
[00:03:59] Lisa Entz: I remember probably more the mistakes I made then, and I fear for those people who will hear this podcast possibly.
But yeah, you jump in and you try to be as clear as you can, but you realize when you’re leading others, if you’re a little bit self-aware at all, it’s a mirror reflecting back on yourself. And the things that they’re, things that they struggle with usually could be traced back to something I need to make it.
In other words, the mistakes, if they made any mistakes, they could be traced back to me. It was a huge learning curve. I loved it. I loved the people I worked with and a lot of the indigenous pastors I worked with, but we all kinda learned together and it was a challenge, but it was a great experience.
[00:04:43] Tommy Thomas: So, before I probe too deeply into your sports part of your life I’m always curious about everybody’s job title. What does a Senior Vice President for Talent and Culture do at World Impact?
[00:04:54] Lisa Entz: We have our umbrella of my department is, ideally we want to be in contact with a person from when they apply to come on staff with World Impact.
And if they make that journey into being on staff, we want to walk alongside of them and with their supervisors. Their whole journey. And so when they leave or when they’re called away, that they look back and they can say they’ve grown by being here, that it was a good experience. We have pastoral care under my department the shared spirituality of our staff.
We do monthly prayer times; we have things built in because we’re in a high intense ministry and we need to care for our staff so that they. They can do their jobs well. And then we also have professional development in my umbrella. So, it encompasses a lot. And the name captures most of it.
[00:05:43] Tommy Thomas: So let’s go to sports. You would be the third or fourth person that I’ve spoken with that had some sort of reasonably significant sports in their background. What’s your earliest recollections of organized sports?
[00:05:55] Lisa Entz: I think the Title IX. Was passed in 1972, and in 1973 I was in seventh grade.
[00:06:05] Lisa Entz: And they decided to have girls’ basketball because they had to have girls basketball now that they had guys basketball. And so of course, I went out for it. I’d watch games with my dad, we’d go to the high school games, but I really didn’t know the sport, but it was there and so I was going to go out for it.
And it was, I kept waiting for the coach to explain the game but the first game we had, the A team, which was the eighth graders, they went in and I was the first sub that he put in, which I was really excited about. But I went in there and immediately froze. And so, he pulled me back out, put me on the bench, but it was right then I knew I was cut out for sports. That was just a natural fit.
[00:06:44] Tommy Thomas: Of all the coaches that coached you, who got the most out of you?
[00:06:48] Lisa Entz: I’d have to say my high school coach Dave Smith. He was a runner, and he was an algebra teacher, so he probably got saddled with coaching the girls basketball team.
And he was just an awesome coach. Not in your face. Very quiet, very reassuring, very patient. And I just look back with our team and the way the team, it just seems so natural, but I know nothing happens just naturally. And so that was, I must attribute it to him.
[00:07:19] Tommy Thomas: What’s the best athletic team you’ve ever been a member of?
[00:07:22] Lisa Entz: It’d have to be the high school team. I played in college. But in college it was a whole different nature to the game. The high school team, I knew these girls from junior high, from elementary school. We grew up together.
We lived in the same small town. We some of ’em were my best friends and. It just seemed like we really operated as a team, and I have to attribute that to the coach. We had a strong bench. There was, we were competitive. We did well in our, in our district. But the things I remember is not our games that we won, but just the energy we had altogether.
[00:07:57] Tommy Thomas: What was a major difference between playing high school and playing at the college level?
[00:08:00] Lisa Entz: I played volleyball at a junior college. I had thought after high school I wouldn’t do sports anymore. I thought, okay, I’m just going to focus on following the Lord and I’m going to just be serious about that and do that.
And just, sports is not going to be my main thing. I went to a junior college my first year because that was what everybody in our town did. And I thought what? I’ll just walk on the volleyball team and see. I was bored and I made the team.
I was one of the only people who made the team walking on, but it was so competitive. Which I could hang with the competitive part, but there was no camaraderie between the players. And that was, I think, because the nature of a junior college. Yeah. You’re trying and I wasn’t trying to get a scholarship to go play volleyball for their college.
I was still, thinking, oh, I’ll just do volleyball then I’ll go on, but that was probably my least enjoyable event. Not that our team was very good, but it was just, there was no camaraderie between the players. And then when I went to Tabor when I was touring the campus, again, I wasn’t thinking about playing sports because I was going to just do my thing with the Lord.
And the girl who was touring me found out that I played B balls. So, she called the coach and he had me just borrow some clothes and play a game of pickup ball and I walked away with a scholarship. So that was, so then I was playing volleyball. I was playing basketball. And that was a fun, I had fun at Tabor. I did, I had fun, but it just never hit the team feeling that it did in high school.
[00:09:27] Tommy Thomas: As a person of faith, I’m always curious about how we deal with competition and how does that play into our faith walk? What’s your thoughts on that?
[00:09:38] Lisa Entz: Competition is, I think people are either wired with it or they aren’t.
I have four children, and one of our kids was running cross-country and he does not have that competitive nature. And so, my husband and I had a just really just watch with, keep our mouth shut, because we’d want to yell. You can take that guy in front of you, but.
I think competition is expected a lot of times in the if you’re a man and in ministry or in business. I think competition in women sometimes we haven’t known how to handle it because we don’t want to be competitive against other women. especially because sometimes there’s fewer women in leadership and so we sure don’t want to have that.
But for me, the competitive part is I have to be really self. Because it’s just, it’s a drive that is going to be there. And if you’re not aware of it, it can affect relationships. You can put the task or the goal ahead of the people around you. And I’m not a personality who does that, who steamrolls over people, but I could see where I could be.
That could be something would happen. So, it’s in our ministry, it’s what’s helped it is it’s given me initiative. To go out when I was church plant director and meet with pastors of a different culture and be able to actually pull the mentor ministry and actually lead them. because of that nature.
And it, I think it helped me being a woman, it put that on a shelf because what they sensed from me was that drive to help them be successful versus any weirdness between a woman leading a man and in some of our churches that we work with, we want to be real sensitive to that, and I think that’s helped in that and it’s helped when I’m working on the executive. With it up until just recently it was all men and me. And so, if you’re not going to be competitive or a little bit assertive, you’re just not going to have the place.
[00:11:32] Tommy Thomas: From thinking back on team sports some, what lessons have you learned there that you’ve brought into the nonprofit sector management and leadership?
[00:11:41] Lisa Entz: The thing with team sports, is that in order to have a good team, you’ve got to have decent bench. You don’t have to have a superb bench. You don’t have a bench that’s so good that they’re just frustrated. They aren’t playing as much, but you have to have a good bench that helps you get better as a team and they’re valuable.
In an organization, especially like ours, we have a lot of staff who work behind the scenes and. The value that they offer to our organization is essential. And if you look at it as a sport, our frontline players are the A teamers that go out there, but they really can’t go out there and be effective if the whole team isn’t operating.
I think the thing with team is also when you think about a team, you all have to be on the same page to accomplish the goal. And so if it’s, if the coach comes in, the coach never gets on the floor to play. So, they have to empower their team and they can’t micromanage you. Your coach can’t follow their player around on the court.
And so you really do have to trust and empower and then let them go. And then when they make a mistake, or they do something you come back and you keep coaching.
[00:12:47] Tommy Thomas: What do you look for in a leadership role and how do you decide if it’s right for you?
[00:12:53] Lisa Entz: I think for me is that I need to be in a place where I feel valued. Where I don’t feel like I’m being under scrutiny to perform. I don’t think that’s healthy for anybody. I don’t do well being micromanaged. I don’t mind being managed or having, my boss in partnership with me on a lot of things. But that trust needs to be there, and I think it has to be something that’s in my.
I’m, my personality type is that I can do something and I can do it for a certain amount of time, and I can do a decent job at it, but if my passion isn’t there, if I don’t see how that’s really affecting our mission and my value in it, I’ll get bored. And so that’s not going to be good for anybody.
So that I look for if it if it just looks like something that I could see myself. And I’ve worn a lot of different hats here in this ministry. A lot of times you step in positions because it’s needed and then that’s valuable and you do your best until you can get somebody who can do it better to come take your place.
[00:13:47] Tommy Thomas: Have you had any leadership role models? And if so, take us to one of those.
[00:14:05] Lisa Entz: That’s a good question being I have the women in my life, my mom, my grandmother. They were role models. They were leaders in their own rights within our ministry and the time in which I joined our ministry There weren’t really any women in leadership and so there was no path for me to follow. That didn’t stop me because I was very passionate about our ministry and I was very passionate about just being able to step in and help wherever it needed to be. And so that I blazed my own path in that.
There have been leaders like Dr. Davis who have invested into me and Dr. Sanders, who’s my boss now, who you know, he’s a great leader, a great boss, but in thinking of role models, I just can’t think of one. I’ve had people, out there like Corey the Boom, from The Hiding Place. She’s my hero. And so, I have people like that I look at and I, that hold the bar high. But within this context it was a little bit difficult to find a way.
[00:14:56] Tommy Thomas: So if I had the privilege of sitting in on one of your staff meetings, say after Christmas when y’all get back together and I could talk to the individuals, maybe we would ask you to leave the room.What would they say would be the most challenging thing about working for Lisa?
[00:15:10] Lisa Entz: They would say, and I know they always roll their eyes at me, but they would say I tend to be overly optimistic and visionary and, I tend to jump first and then say, we’ll make it happen. Now I’m learning to not do that as much and I’m also learning to encourage my team to, to adapt to that too more.
But that would be the number one thing, because they, they’ll just look at me and think, No, we’re not doing that. And. Probably, if it would’ve been a number of years ago, my team would’ve said, we need her to be more crystal clear on what we’re doing. And not vague, and I don’t think I’ve been vague but that being crystal clear as a leader is important.
[00:15:55] Tommy Thomas: So, on the flip side, what would they say would be the most rewarding part of being on your team?
[00:16:01] Lisa Entz: I think they like the flexibility. I don’t micromanage. I give people freedom. I trust my team. I’m over two different teams right now. And, but both teams I lead about the same way. the people on my team were amazing and both teams and they do beyond what I could ever do myself. And so I don’t micromanage ’em and I trust ’em. And I think that’s what they would appreciate.
[00:16:23] Tommy Thomas: Dr. Martin Luther King said that the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of convenience, but where they stand in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy. What’s the greatest challenge, crisis or controversy that you faced, and how did you come out of it?
[00:17:00] Lisa Entz: I’ve had a number of different crises and controversies in the ministry because due to the nature of my department and our ministry has gone through some changes. We adapt. We have to keep adapting. And that makes it difficult if you’ve done something one way for a lot long time and then you’re adapting. And so I would say one of the biggest challenges was a number of years ago. We just had to maneuver through a lot of staff issues. It was very difficult because there were people I loved, people I cared for, and they’re all over the country because it was affecting our ministry, changes were affecting from coast to coast.
And to navigate that and to be loving and gracious in the midst of it I learned a lot about myself. I, and that was a very difficult time, another difficult time, which. Right before that time as I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that comes out of the blue.
You don’t know that’s coming. And I remember the morning after I was diagnosed. I was in my office and I was crying and I was scared, I was worried. I had grandchildren, I was just like, and my husband was doing his own grieving and praying as he was out walking. And the Lord just was so good and so gracious and so kind and he gave me a picture.
Our oldest son had gone into the Marines right after high school. He went into Iraq, went into Ramadi. He was on the front line. And when he left for the Marines, the Lord gave me a picture of that day that he left. And then I thought, I’ll never stop crying. And then I thought in light of my son leaving for the marines, going to interact, breast cancer was second
It was like and it immediately, I don’t think I cried a day after that. I just thought, no, this is not as hard as that. But then right on the, when I was going through my recovery of my breast cancer, this is when we had a huge earthquake on staff and so it was a lot with physical stuff going on and with heart issues, with the love I have for our staff and with strategic things that needed to be done in our ministry.
So that would probably be one other than most difficult times. But, you, your team gathers together. You pray together, you talk, you keep yourself honest, that you’re loving people. Even in the midst of hard things. And if hard things are said about you or to you, you can’t take it personally. You have to keep loving. So that was a very difficult time.
[00:19:06] Tommy Thomas: Most of us would probably say I hope that we’re on the backside of the pandemic. I guess time will tell, but so thus far, what’s the most important lesson that you and your team brought out of the pandemic that you think can take forward?
[00:19:20] Lisa Entz: I think we were like a duck on the water. I think my team looked steady, but we were paddling hard underneath. We were adapting, we were working hard. We were adjusting because we were, at that point in time, my team was starting a program of trauma healing, which we started before the pan pandemic in partnering with another ministry.
And so, when the pandemic hit, we had to go completely. We had no idea if that would even work. And so, we worked terribly hard, but we had to keep calm because of the ministry we were doing. And so, I think the pandemic showed that when things come, and the world around us seemed to be shutting down, we were working all the harder, we were just working terribly hard because the ministry needed to go on and we had to adapt.
I think even as a result of the pandemic, we’ve incorporated things into our ministry. And into my department that have changed this forever, and I think we’re actually reaching more people because of it.
[00:20:21] Tommy Thomas: Let’s go to a higher level of observation maybe. And as you think back and leaders whose careers have been derailed over the years gimme some of your observations on what goes into derailment.
[00:20:36] Lisa Entz: Yeah, it’s, it’s so hard because you love people and they’re your friends and it still happens. I would say the number one thing would be a lack of self-awareness. because in a leadership position, if you’re not self-aware, especially when it gets stressful, if you don’t understand how you act when you’re stressed or if you don’t understand and read when you become defensive.
You will shut down your team and you will wound them. And there’s sometimes, there’s no coming back from that. We’ve had leaders that have derailed for you name it. But I would say the number one thing is knowing yourself reading yourself and reading your team.
Look at them and look at their faces when you’re talking. If they’re shutting down and you’ve got to be able to read them so you can hear ’em. And, but, because what’ll happen is in our organization anyway, the, which I’m really proud of, the fact is that we really value the people we lead.
We value the people in our organization. We value them more than our leaders. I would say our executive team. We know that we are second to our. And so there’s nobody’s it that’s going to be, you can’t be a jerk and stay around. Cause it doesn’t matter if your position. And that self-awareness, I think, would help people to not derail as often.
[00:21:56] Tommy Thomas: Is anything y’all do to help people in their self-awareness?
[00:22:01] Lisa Entz: We do. My department we meet with our staff. Every one of our staff people throughout the year just to see how they’re doing.
We also meet with the leaders throughout the year. And so we play the role of a safe person. We can ask people not only how you’re doing in your role, but what do you need to improve? and they’ve communicated a lot of these things with their leaders too, but sometimes they just need a sounding board.
But if we start hearing sounding boards from people and we, and then we give them tools, how to talk with their leader, how to go and, Hey, this is what, let’s practice this. You could maybe say, but if those don’t work then, we become a little bit more intentional. But as we meet with the leaders, we do the best Christian Workplace survey every year, and it gives.
Really good tools. And so a lot of times it’s just meeting with a leader and saying, how are your meetings? Are you keeping up with your meetings with your staff? Are you so busy you keep cancelling meetings? Are you meeting with them one-on-one? Are you meeting with a group?
How often? How frequent? And then even to, they can help. A lot of times leaders come to us and say, I do not understand the staff person. They do great work, but we’re not getting along. So, then we talk about it and sometimes we can add insight and just give ’em some tools and it’s that kind of relationship.
And usually for the most part, people do want to improve. And we are not the experts, my team, but we’re just a mirror or a sounding. and most leaders do listen and they do adjust.
[00:23:29] Tommy Thomas: When you’re getting ready to hire somebody on your team, what’s the main thing you’re looking for?
Lisa Entz: We’re looking for a fit to the organization. whatever position we’re hiring for. We know that the person they’re going to work under that supervisor is going to make sure they’re competent in some of those skill areas that we don’t know about those, but what we’re looking for is a fit, and we’re looking for that person to be mature because in a missions organization we get a lot of dear people who really just want to love the Lord and do mission work, but we need to make sure that we’re a fit for them and they’re a fit for us and it’s equal. Because we don’t want to bring somebody on and not have it be a fit, because that just disrupts their life. They’re valuable people. We don’t want that. So, we look for their, emotional, spiritual, mental health, their competencies.
And, if they’re enjoyable to be around, cause we’re going to have to be around them. I don’t do most of the hiring anymore. My team does that. I think they do a much better job than I do. one of the questions that we would ask that I always enjoyed the most was, name, a recent conflict you had and how you resolved it.
And so you find out a lot about people, cause some people will say they will have had a conflict, but they either didn’t deal with it or they overly dealt with it, or they didn’t deal with it where they wanted and they saw areas where they need to grow. And that’s what we want to see. We don’t want to see perfection.
We just want to see that openness and that people get back to self-awareness that they’re aware of themselves. So that’s kind of what we look for.
[00:25:01] Tommy Thomas: One of my favorite podcasts I listen to often is Alan Alda’s Podcast, Clear and Vivid. At least he says, I hope it is. He closes out his podcast with a kind of lightning round of getting people to respond to different communication things. I’m not going to go the communications line, but I do have some quotes that I’d like for you to respond to as we wrap this up.
First one from Thomas Edison. Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.
[00:25:33] Lisa Entz: That’s for sure. There’s no way I’d be in this role if it was just according to my genius. It’s a lot of, yeah. Hard work. There’s, we look at people who are, some people are really highly talented, just amazing ability, but if they are not willing to work hard and be flexible, it’s just not going to work.
[00:25:51] Tommy Thomas: When you’re sitting around the table with your leadership team, you never want to be the smartest person at the table.
[00:25:57] Lisa Entz: Yeah. Fortunately, I don’t have to watch that too carefully, but I have, I work along some smart people but yeah. You want to be somebody who listens more than they talk.
[00:26:05] Tommy Thomas: Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles he has overcome. Booker T. Washington.
[00:26:16] Lisa Entz: Yeah, that’s a good one. That’s a good one. I think. I think it comes down to, your character is always going to be the most important thing, not your job description, not your level that you’ve risen to in leadership, but your character.
[00:26:29] Tommy Thomas: Progress always involves risk. You can’t steal second base while keeping your foot on first. Frederick Wilcox.
[00:26:38] Lisa Entz: Yeah, there’s there there’s a risk. Because when you jump into new things and if you’re going to innovate, you’re letting go of something. I used to coach volleyball for my daughter’s high school team even after she graduated.
And one of the things that the girls would a lot of times want to have it both ways. They want to be able to have their social life and also, start on game day – and to be able to skip practice because of something going on. And one, one day a girl came up to you, she said, yeah, I’m going to have to miss practice.
And for something it wasn’t legitimate, it was something, high school girls, I understand. But I said, that’s fine. You can be there. And she goes, okay. I said, but you need to understand you won’t be start. She goes, what? And I said no, we must understand what we say yes to.
We’re always saying no to something else. It’s what you say no to, what are you saying yes to? So, it’s that balance of you can’t have it all. You got to let go to move forward.
[00:27:29] Tommy Thomas: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to anybody in our audience who’s getting ready to go into their first senior leadership role?
[00:27:39] Lisa Entz: I. I would I’ll tell you what the Lord told me, when I stepped into this role, because it was a significant move to be on a leadership team in an organization that had never had a woman on a leadership team before. And in that role, and I knew there were a lot of people who were questioning it just with the whatever and I knew also there were a lot of people who were singing my praises. And what the Lord told me was – Lisa, never believe your own hype. Catch yourself before you start thinking too highly of yourself. So, I think the thing is, in being in leadership, you’ve got to look at it as a servant position.
We’re not here to get our way. We’re here to reflect and move forward the vision and. to me is that’s the thing to remember, that we’re servants and it’s not about us. It’s about the mission. And so to listen, to hear, to be self-aware of when you’re getting defensive when you’re getting territorial. And you don’t have to be the smartest person. You have to just listen and then reflect.
[00:28:43] Tommy Thomas: What’s the one thing you wish somebody had told you, yay, those many years ago when you started out in leadership?
[00:28:51] Lisa Entz: Give yourself grace. Forgive yourself. Ask for forgiveness too. Acknowledge, own your stuff. Even if you’re mostly right, you still have some stuff to own and grow in. Give yourself grace and refuse to think that you always know what’s right. Also, with my competitive nature, I have lost relationships because of m me becoming offended by some, it might have been a just offense.
I might have the right to be offended, but I didn’t have I own that offense too much, and it cost a relationship. So just don’t take yourself too seriously. Forgive others. Forgive yourself.
“I think we were like ducks on the water. I think my team looked steady, but we were paddling hard underneath. We were adapting, we were working hard.” -Lisa Entz
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