The Leader’s Pitfalls: What Disqualifies Leaders? (Part 2)

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Henry and Rochard Blackaby have been outstanding spokesmen for leadership and the Chrisitan faith for many years. Many have benefitted from Henry’s work on Experiencing God. That was a foundational workbook for my wife and I when we were “young” seminarians.

I have had the privilege of meeting and working with Richard Blackaby while I served with Cru in Western Europe. He addressed one of our emerging leader forums for Western European leaders during an intensive in Latvia. He is a humble servant leader who taught our participants well.

Several years ago they combined their efforts to write Spiritual Leadership, a landmark work for God’s servants. They revised and expanded this volume in 2011–and it is as relevant today as ever.

One chapter that a friend and colleague brought to my attention again was a chapter on “The Leader’s Pitfalls.”

I reviewed the first 5 pitfalls in a previous post. Here are the second 5 for your consideration. Pay careful attention to the application.

The Pitfall of Oversensitivity

“People who cannot handle criticism need not apply for leadership positions.  Being criticized, second-guessed, and having one’s motives questioned are unpleasant but inevitable aspects of leadership.”

“True leaders are more interested in doing the right thing than they are in their popularity.”

“True spiritual leaders fear God far more than they fear people.”

The Pitfall of Spiritual Lethargy

“Spiritual leaders are not haphazard people. They are intentional. Just as they plan thoroughly for important meetings in their work, they also plan carefully to allow substantial time for listening to their Creator.”

The Pitfall of Dometic Neglect

“Wise leaders strive to preserve their families in the midst of the pressures on their professional lives.”

“Conscientious leaders take their God-given responsibilities for their families seriously.”

“God is the family’s greatest advocate –leaders who seek God’s help will readily receive it.”

The Pitfall of Administrative Carelessness

“Ultimately it is the leader’s task to ensure that the organization is healthy.”

“Leaders must become adept in two areas, or their organizations will collapse within: conflict resolution and communication.”

“effective leaders are known for their aggressive problem solving.”

“Leaders need to develop the reputation for dealing with important issues promptly and thoroughly.”

The Pitfall of Prolonged Position Holding

“Wise leaders know when the time has come to exit graciously and allow a new leader to step in.”

“Leaders with integrity recognize when they have made their most worthwhile contributions. They graciously hand over the reigns of leadership to the next generation.”

“Older leaders tend to have difficulty giving their blessing to the emerging generation of leaders.”

Application

First, developing a healthy awareness of the pitfalls is the first step to avoiding them.

Second, putting safeguards in place will provide protection in times of indecision or temptation.

Third, leaders should have before them the continual reminder that:

  • their organization is more about people than it is productivity
  • they are not indispensable
  • the most effective, efficient thing they can do for their organization is to maintain a close, vibrant relationship with God

 

The Leader’s Pitfalls: What Disqualifies Leaders? (Part 1)

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Henry and Rochard Blackaby have been outstanding spokesmen for leadership and the Chrisitan faith for many years. Many have benefitted from Henry’s work on Experiencing God. That was a foundational workbook for my wife and I when we were “young” seminarians.

I have had the privilege of meeting and working with Richard Blackaby while I served with Cru in Western Europe. He addressed one of our emerging leader forums for Western European leaders during an intensive in Latvia. He is a humble servant leader who taught our participants well.

Several years ago they combined their efforts to write Spiritual Leadership, a landmark work for God’s servants. They revised and expanded this volume in 2011–and it is as relevant today as ever.

One chapter that a friend and colleague brought to my attention again was a chapter on “The Leader’s Pitfalls.” I will review all 10 pitfalls–in this post, we will cover the first five, with some brief commentary. My hope is that this will entice you to read this book for the first time–or again. I also prayerfully hope that this keeps you from one of the ten in your leadership life.

The Pitfall of Pride

“Pride may well be leaders’ worst enemy, and it has caused the downfall of many.”

Pride makes leaders unteachable.

“No matter how talented or how smart a leader may be, an unteachable spirit is the path to certain failure.”

Pride causes leaders to think they are self-sufficient. 

“Pride targets successful leaders, convincing them they have enough talent, wisdom, and charisma, to achieve whatever they set their minds to do.”

Pride leads to a loss of compassion.

“When leaders lose the passion to contribute to their organization and begin to focus instead on what they can receive from it, they are no longer authentic leaders.”

Pride makes leaders vulnerable.

“Pride is a sin, and pride will do what sin does. It destroys.”

The Pitfall of Sexual Sin

“If pride is the most insidious pitfall of leaders, sexual sin is the most notorious.”

Safeguard #1: Leaders make themselves accountable.

“Prudent leaders are proactive; they enlist at least two people as accountability partners and give them freedom to regularly question their moral purity.”

Safeguard #2: Leaders heed their own counsel.

“Spiritual leaders must understand that they are no more immune to moral failure than those they are leading.”

Safeguard #3: Leaders consider the consequences.

“Astute leaders cultivate the habit of regularly pondering the devastating effects of sexual sin.”

Safeguard #4: Leaders develop healthy habits.

“Careful leaders can take practical steps to protect themselves from sexual temptation.”

Safeguard #5: Leaders pray and ask others to pray for them.

“The most practical step leaders can take is to pray that God will help them keep their lives above reproach.”

The Pitfall of Cynicism

“Leadership is a people business, and people invariably let you down. Negative leaders spawn negative organizations. Cynical leaders cultivate cynical followers. True leaders focus on what is right and on what gives hope, not on what is wrong. Older leaders seem particularly susceptible to cynicism. It is crucial that leaders guard their attitudes.”

The Pitfall of Greed

“Like many things, money and possessions can be either good or bad in a leader’s life. The lure of material possessions has enticed many leaders to make foolish career decisions. As a result, some people will sacrifice almost anything in order to achieve material success. The hunger for wealth and possessions can destroy spiritual leaders. Wise leaders know that the measure of their success is not the size of their bank account but the quality of their lives.”

The Pitfall of Mental Laziness

“Problem solving is an essential function of leadership, so leaders cannot afford to become intellectually stagnant. Good leaders never stop learning. They seek the company of wise people. They read books and articles that stretch their thinking. They read the biographies of great leaders and thinkers. Great leaders are always learning how to become better leaders.One way Jesus helped his disciples grow as leaders was by teaching them how to make sense of their circumstances.”

There are the first 5 pitfalls. How do you stack up? Where do you need to consider more carefully? Where do you need to make course corrections? The next 5 will be posted soon!

The Power of the Leadership Narrative

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ryan Lochte, and Omran Daqneesh all have something in common from the past couple of weeks. They all had a measure of influence on us. They all began, sustained, or were caught in a leadership narrative.

We live in a narrative culture. We crave story. We are drawn to the heroic, moved by the tragic, tantalized by the scandalous, teased by the comical, irked by the ridiculous . . . and frustrated and angered by the fraudulent. The protagonist and the plot draw us in. The hero and the villain help us to choose and pull for one side or the other. It has been proven that the stories we long for most are those that redeem or reinvent.

Hillary Clinton can’t escape “Email Gate” nor the stench of The Clinton Foundation. This week it is Colin Powell’s fault that she maintained that pesky server. The Donald can’t shake why he won’t reveal his tax returns . . . or why he donated to The Clinton Foundation.  Ryan Lochte’s inconvenient truth will cost him a bundle in lost endorsements and reputation. And little  Omran Daqneesh  just wants safety and stability. He longs for a place to play free from the danger that other leader’s reign down. He too is a leader—because this week he carries influence. His survival and ubiquitous presence on the cover of every news outlet tells a story. His narrative is the most truthful. His is one we can trust. His picture of influence stirs us with compassion and makes us angry. We want better for him . . . and we want those responsible for his plight to pay. Some leader told a story that began a conflict that wreaked havoc on a little boy’s life.

Leaders always tell a story. They should. We need leaders to guide, provide, and protect. We need leaders to instill hope and confidence. These efforts begin with vision. They begin with a good story . . . one we can believe in. Hillary, Donald, and Ryan all failed that task this past week.

What influence do you have? What kind of story are you telling? You may think your actions don’t matter . . . that your words don’t carry weight. Your leadership role is too nebulous, too mundane, too small. This week, focus on telling us a story that has one or all of these three traits:

Redemption: To buy back. To free from captivity.

We long for justice.

We need leaders who can bring redemption . . . who can lead others into redemptive acts and restore a sense of dignity.

What needs redeeming in your sphere of influence this week?

Who can you bring a measure of freedom to through your leadership?

How will you communicate it to those around you?

Reinvention: To make new. To make over.

We long for beauty and purpose.

Do you ever wonder why “make-over” shows are so popular?

We want to see the ugly and mundane become beautiful.

We want to see the discarded become purposeful again.

What needs to be reinvented in your sphere of influence this week?

Who can you make better this week . . . as a person or at their job?

How will you communicate it to those who can join with you?

Hope: The confident expectation of something better.

We long for righteousness.

No more untruths or half-truths.

No more blaming “right wing conspiracies” or something being “rigged.”

Enough!

Who needs a healthy dose of hope around you this week?

Will you be the one to dispense it?

Ultimately we want noble . . . we want something greater than the mundane around us. We want truth. We long for beauty and righteousness. We want a better story.

Tell a better story of redemption, reinvention, and hope!

Tell a better story!

Followers deserve that.

The greatest story declares this: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us . . .

The Language of Leadership

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Janet Galore on Flickr

The language of leadership is valuable currency. A leader’s words matter. They matter a lot. Every word spoken by a leader is leveraged. That means that a leader’s words have great power and even greater consequences . . . more then the leader imagines. Therefore a leader must consider his or her words . . . every day. Do your words empower others? Or do they disenfranchise? Do they encourage? Or do they discourage and reflect merely a performance mentality? Do your words truly reflect what is important to you and to your organization? Do your words advance the well-being of every person in the organization and the organization as a whole?

Every person needs to have three questions answered on a regular basis: What are my role and contribution? What do you expect of me? How am I doing? The language of leadership seeks to answer these questions in the most positive and helpful way.

Consider the language of leadership listed below. Do these words regularly flow out of your mouth towards those you lead?

“Do you understand why this organization exists?”

“Do you see how your role clearly contributes to the mission of this organization?”

“Do you clearly know what is expected of you?”

“You made a difference today.”

“You are necessary to what we do and your best efforts matter.”

“How can I help you succeed?”

“Are you becoming more and more aware of who you are and how you fit in the longer you work here?”

“What thoughts do you have on how to make this a better organization?”

“What can I do to become a better leader?”

“How would you describe our organizational culture?”

“What do you think we as an organization do best?”

“If you could change one thing about the culture of our organization what would it be?”

“What personal development do you desire or need to make your best contribution?”

“Do you feel like a valued member of the team?”

“How can I serve you today?”

“Thank you!”

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11

 

Are We Getting The Leaders We Deserve?

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Thinkpublic on Flickr

It is a presidential election year in the U.S. I know I am stating the obvious because it has been one of the most interesting run-ups to an election in my lifetime. It was only two short months ago that there were  five viable candidates for the presidency. Yet the fascinating aspect was that none of the five had a positive popularity rating. Even now as we are down to the two presumptive nominees–neither one has a positive popularity rating. It clearly feels like “we the people” are having to choose between the lesser of two evils.

How did we get to this point?

Are we getting the leaders we deserve?

In a word, “Yes.”

Leaders create culture, and that culture must be sustained by future leaders. If it is not sustained then that culture will reverse the role and create the leaders it desires. When we ignore this fundamental truth we should not be surprised by the results. But in a democratic society where our leaders are elected officials, it should not surprise us that we ultimately get a reflection of ourselves. Every election year we demand character, but we don’t express character. Our leaders are a reflection of who we are. Here are three reasons why.

Civil Over Sacred. Civil means those things that relate to the citizenry. It is climate and culture established by law that is deemed appropriate by citizens. Sacred means holy, that which is highly valuable and important. We are rushing headlong towards ensuring that there is no such thing as moral constants. Postmodernity has come home to fully roost.

We are rushing headlong towards ensuring that there is no such thing as moral constants. Truth is in the eye of the beholder and you may not challenge my truth.

The problem is that we know this axiom is not true. We know this at our core. Or we would not be demanding change. When we refuse to believe there are moral absolutes we are left with the excruciating reality that civility comes unglued. You see, sacred is necessary for civil to function well. Sacred holds civil together. When sacred vanishes civil loses its moorings. Civil runs to the loudest voice and the most aberrant one. Romans 1 in the Bible plays out. Leaders begin to lead in the direction of “the greatest civil good”–except there is not “good” anymore. There is no baseline for “good.” “Good” is just a notion, a fancy, and individualized construct.

Leaders begin to lead in the direction of “the greatest civil good”–accept there is no “good” anymore. There is no baseline for “good.” “Good” is just a notion, a fancy, and individualized construct. “Good” is good for me, not for we. We desperately need leaders who value the sacred, knowing that this will actually lay the strongest foundation for the common good.

Immediate Over Consequential. I read an editorial the other day that talked about two markers of our current culture that betrays us into a false sense of moral security. Today we live by the twin principles of “consent” and “no immediate harm”. The first means that as long as there is some form of consent (this mainly lies in the eye of the initiator) any and every behavior is acceptable. The second means that if there are no immediate harmful consequences the first choice of “consent” is affirmed. This was clearly the thinking behind Brock Turner’s actions that led to a sexual assault.

This is thinking only in the context of “now.” This is not wisdom on display that says, “If I go down this path, this is what will happen in the near or distant future.” This is life at our fingertips. This is “on demand” reality. This is snapchat reality–it will disappear as soon as I have been satisfied. This is stupidity at its cynical best–to believe that our choices never have lasting consequences.

Leaders fall prey to this immediacy too. Do whatever it takes to get elected now. Say what you need to say–and if it proves ineffective, change your position. It doesn’t matter if you are a habitual liar, a racist, or an expedient pragmatist.

The problem is we know this axiom is not true either. Choices and actions always have consequences. We will always reap what we sow. It cannot be otherwise. Galatians 6:7-10 stands tall as unavoidable truth and why we must seek ultimate good. We desperately need principled leaders who demonstrate integrity and understand consequential thinking.

One Dimension Over Two. Culture screams that we are simply one-dimensional beings. We are no more than flesh. Therefore our highest good is our own pleasurable experience. Whatever brings us the most pleasure is worthy of being pursued, because there is no other dimension to take into consideration or which we might be harmed.

Again, we know deep down in our hearts–oh, wait a minute, there is no such thing. We are just flesh.

Deep down we fully understand that we are at least two-dimensional beings–body and soul. And every choice we make with our bodies fully impacts our soul. It cannot be otherwise. It is the reason we ache when we harm others or we are harmed. It is the reason we ache when we make choices towards ourselves that are only about bodily pleasure void of any moral compass. It is why Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart . . .” We actually long for eternity–this is where our soul relishes its fullest expression. We need leaders who fully understand that we were created for more than physical pleasure. We need leaders who understand and lead in such a way that every person’s soul is valued and honored.

Peggy Noonan wrote and insightful piece in her weekend column for the Wall Street Journal about the presidential election. She stated, “It is probably the case this year that most voters see the issue of character as null and void–neither candidate is admirable in that area. You can say that the old standards have been swept away, that when it comes to character we’re a changed nation, that Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton are the result of that decline, and that you pick from among the candidates on offer.” That is the leadership that our culture has created.

This is not just about politics. This is about good leaders in every realm of society–including the church.

We will always get the leaders we deserve.

Three Necessities For Eradicating Leadership Suspicion

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Paul Cross on Flickr

It is not uncommon to encounter teams or whole organizations that have a growing sense of suspicion towards their leaders.

To be suspicious is to have a feeling that something is wrong or that someone is behaving wrongly. 

Suspicion can mount over quick, impactful decisions. 

Suspicion can rare its ugly head over seemingly improper benefits or favoritism.

Suspicion can grow in the fertile soil of silence and isolation.

Suspicion can be nurtured in the absence of any viable process.

The reality is that lingering suspicion breeds an “us vs. them” mentality.

Suspicion will result in followers giving less than their best.

Suspicion leads to a lack of honesty from followers–therefore, leaders will never have a clear picture of team or organizational reality.

Suspicion kills trust.

Leaders can create suspicion without even thinking. Actually, that is the primary way in which leaders create suspicion. Often, the prelude to an atmosphere of suspicion is the desire for efficiency . Most leaders do not go about craftily trying to deceive their followers. They simply want to execute strategy and change at the speed of light. They communicate out of order. They circumnavigate organizational culture. They see the problem and the solution–but not the appropriate process. Their followers begin to surmise. Followers begin to attribute poor motives to the leaders above them. A spirit of suspicion is birthed and the consequences will certainly multiply.

If you are a leader who has knowingly or unknowingly created an atmosphere of suspicion–there is a remedy. Or better yet, there is a pathway to allaying suspicion before it begins. There are three things that are necessary to keeping suspicion at bay.

  1. Inclusion.  By definition, to be excluded is to be left out. When people feel left out they create their own narrative. Leaders must always assess a situation and determine who must be included in key decisions and information sharing. To assume that you can exclude key stakeholders that will certainly be affected is to certainly to sow the seeds of suspicion. Not every person you influence or have authority over must be included. But those that can make or break a decision or stall out a new initiative must be a part of the information chain and possibly the decision process.
  2. Transparency. This follows on the heels of inclusion. There must be a proper transparency in all of the communication that surrounds a critical decision or point of change. This communication must include the right people and the right means. Sensitive decisions are not best handled via email or social media. They must be communicated in such a way as to invite dialogue and feedback. Questions must have the opportunity to be asked and answered. This takes time. But it takes much more time to undo the damage of suspicion and mistrust.
  3. Formality. Agreed upon processes must be honored. Pat MacMillan, in his book The Performance  Factor, states “Processes are the ‘how’ we go about achieving the ‘what’ in our purpose. They are a sequence of step-by-step actions designed to produce a desired outcome. Processes, like other dimensions of organizational life, must be addressed with a determined intentionality.” Agreed upon processes can exist for a variety of organizational functions: hiring, decision making, conflict resolution, strategic planning, etc. When agreed upon processes are followed, suspicion is greatly reduced. When processes are violated for the sake of efficiency or expediency followers feel cheated and misled. Suspicion is the natural result. Carefully design necessary processes. Gain consensus around these processes. Embrace the formality of carefully conceived regimens that will save you a lot of heartaches later.

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17

3 Critical Components for Developing Leaders

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USFS Region 5 on Flickr

Organizational culture is comprised of the assumptions, beliefs, and practices of an entity or organization. Culture is reinforced through symbols, rituals, the stories that are told–and through what gets reinforced by way of training and development.

In an age in which leadership is touted over and over again as a critical variable in defining the success or failure of organizations, it becomes all the more important to look to the other side of the leadership coin—how leaders create culture and how culture defines and creates leaders. Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership

Schein makes the case that organizational culture is a transference process from leader to leader. Founding leaders embed culture and subsequent leaders ensure that organizational culture is valued and sustained. Therefore, good leader development is an absolute necessity.

There are three critical components for quality leader development:

Evaluate

This starting point is about assessment. One must assess the emerging leader towards their personal development and one must assess the organizational environment that will enhance that development.

The Emerging Leader

What are the foundational strengths, abilities, and personality traits of this emerging leader?

What is the nature of their current leadership presence? How do the present themselves? How are they received by others?

What leadership experience do they possess? What successes point towards a bright future? What wounds need to be addressed and redeemed?

How do they respond to authority? How do they view the concepts of power, privilege, and authority? Do they see these resources as something to wield or as pathways for servant leadership?

Do they have a vision for their life? Is that vision compatible with the calling of the organization?

What character traits need to be developed? What leadership competencies need to be acquired or refined?

The Development Environment

Do those who lead the organization at the highest level see leader development as a necessity?

Is there an organizational environment that allows time and money to be stewarded towards leader development?

Does the organization see people as their most precious resource or does it see them as simply a commodity to be utilized?

Is there a value on both a common and custom approach to leader development–meaning that there are certain core pieces that every emerging leader within the organization must learn and there is the freedom to tailor development towards a person’s needs?

Equip

This is the instructional element of the development process. Equipping must flow towards a leader’s character and their competencies. This reflects both the being and doing parts of leadership.

A leader’s core character matters more than ever. You can open your favorite news app and become instantly aware of the need for leadership character in politics, commerce, education, sports–or any other field you would choose. Edwin Friedman, in his book Failure of Nerve, has made the case that the greatest quality of a 21st-century leader will be the ability to bring a non-anxious presence into every setting. To do so will require solid emotional intelligence, great integrity, and a sense of strong identity.

In my opinion, there is no better description of needed leadership character qualities that what is listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. This biblical instruction lays out the reality that we cannot live duplicitous lives. We are the same people at home as we are at work. Our true character, our “being,” will always evidence itself through our leadership relationships, communications, and actions over time.

We must also insist upon rigorous competency training. A leader must be a continual learner. A significant portion of that ongoing learning must center around leadership skills.

Leadership core competencies must include the following: strategic direction setting, vision casting, dynamic problem solving, dealing with relational conflict in a healthy way, good public and interpersonal communication, strategy execution, and the ability to truly affect change. Other competencies may be heralded as necessary for growing leaderhsip over time. The goal is not perfection. Some leaders will naturally be better than others in living out these skills. But the effective leader must value these functions and ensure they are accomplished through themselves or others.

Empower

Empowerment is what takes leadership learning out of the classroom and places it squarely in reality. To empower an emerging leader is to risk. There must be permission to succeed and freedom to fail. Empowerment must include the transference of real decision-making authority, the allocation of adequate resources, and a healthy sense of accountability that focuses on leadership learning. Without these three aspects, there is no true empowerment.

Emerging leaders learn best through leading. It will be in the real world experience of leading that character will be revealed and tested. The daily task of leading will exercise competencies towards growth. Real responsibility must be given,

Real responsibility must be given, the opportunity to make a difference be granted, and actionable feedback provided. The emerging leaders around you will benefit from exposure to you and the education your provide. But they will really benefit by owning the mission and having the opportunity to make a significant contribution.

Take some time to consider your leader development efforts. Are you being intentional about evaluating, equipping, and empowering leaders around you? What will it take to move towards these components? Is there a valued leadership development culture within your organization? What will it take to make it so?

The Leader’s Mandate is to always be about the task of raising up more leaders. 

Create & Redeem: Two Purposes for Every Leader

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Uzi Yachin on Flickr

There are many themes when it comes to the biblical storyline. Two themes stand out in my estimation: creation and redemption.

Genesis 1:1 reads, In the beginning, God created . . . 

Revelation 10:6 states, (he) who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it . . . 

Exodus 6:6 reads, Say therefore to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

Hebrews 9:12 declares, he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible there is the  witness of creation and redemption.

God’s leaders are able to emulate God himself according to these themes. We stand as co-creators with God and we are able to act in redemptive ways when it comes to lost causes and people in need of deliverance.

Noah built an ark. This stands as both a creative act and ultimately a redemptive act. Noah’s creative leadership preserved a family on the face of the earth.

Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son. He did so at the command of God. Yet, this too was a creative act and a redemptive act. Abraham was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but God provided an alternative sacrifice that Isaac might become the child of promise.

David and his son Solomon built the temple. This too was both a creative act and a redemptive act. The temple served as the resting place for the very presence of God. The temple marked the people of Israel as God’s chosen people.

Nehemiah empowered many of his countrymen to construct a wall for the protection of Jerusalem. This was in concert with a rebuilt temple and a rebuilt people. A wall meant protection. A wall defined a city in the ancient Near East. This was a creative act and a redemptive act.

The Romans created the cross as a form of execution for known criminals. Unknowingly, it became a redemptive act as our Savior hung upon it for the sins of the world.

I think it is fair to say that all creative acts should have a redemptive purpose. That is the essence of servant leadership. Leaders should never create unto themselves. They should create in response to problems, deficiencies, injustices, and wrongs. Leaders are at their best when they are acting as problem solvers. The necessity of leadership implies the necessity for change. Leaders look out and discern what is broken and what requires correction. Then they create solutions–redemptive solutions that provide deliverance, that set people free.

Consider–what if every leader awoke tomorrow and pondered what needs fixing. What problem solved, if truly solved, would liberate people to take the next step towards being all that they were meant to be? What redemptive leadership step would allow more people to move towards their intended created purpose?

Try it on. Ask yourself,

How can my leadership actions towards creating redemptive solutions serve the world tomorrow?

How can I act with God as a co-creator to bring deliverance?

How can I right a wrong?

How can I bring greater flourishing?

How can I serve others in such a way that they move closer to their created purpose? 

This is leadership with purpose.

What will your leadership create and redeem?

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Nes Celeste on Flickr

Leadership in a Connected World

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Micolo J on Flickr

In case you haven’t noticed, we are in the midst of a political season. I am always amazed at the things that fly around social media that pass for fact. Speculation runs abundant . . . but hardcore facts are sometimes hard to come by.

Leaders are not only talked about on social media . . . they pay attention to social media . . . and attempt to lead by and through social media. I am not suggesting that social media is bad. It is simply the carrier of information.

The problem lies with leader discernment.

Discernment is the ability to see and understand people, situations, or things clearly and intelligently.

And there lies the problem.

Too often, even the well-intentioned leader communicates half-truths via social media or accepts as fact that which is merely speculation, or worse still, corrupts social media with known lies. It is if we actually believe the lightly held axiom, “If it is on the internet it must be true.”

Here are the two biggest principles I see that tend to undermine our leadership when it comes to reliance on social media for communication and decision making.

Knowledge Without Validation

Validation is to support or corroborate something on a sound or authoritative basis . . . to establish the legitimacy of something.

Not all knowledge is legitimate.

Not all knowledge is sound. 

Not all knowledge stands on an authoritative basis.

Take the time to fact check and validate before you stand on something as conviction, decide something based on sound bites, or pass on something that others will read simply because you are the one that passed it on.

Truth Without Verification

To verify something is to prove, show, find out, or state something as true or correct.

Not everything we see on the internet is true.

Not everything that is passed on to us via social media is true . . . or worthy of being passed on again.

Not everything coming out of Wikipedia, Breitbart, BuzzFeed or Mashable is verifiable. 

Take the time to verify something as true before you stake your reputation on it, risk your leadership capital on it, or communicate in mass.

The ultimate issue is leader credibility.

Credibility is the leader quality of being believed.

It is the ability or power to inspire belief. 

It is the capacity for belief in you by those that follow.

It takes a lifetime to build a leadership reputation worthy of being followed. It can be torn down or severely damaged in an instant.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Out of Africa . . . and Leadership Joy

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Worshipping together in Pader, Uganda.

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Elizabeth-a Ugandan child that Carrie and I sponsor through African Renewal Ministries

Joy is defined as a source or cause of delight.

Joy is different from happiness.

Happiness is circumstantial.

Joy can be experienced regardless of circumstances. 

I just returned from my second trip to Uganda in the past seven months. Our church has a partnership with a Ugandan-led church in Pader. I was privileged to lead a group of six residents into this setting in Northeast Uganda . . . where Joseph Kony once reigned in terror and havoc. The incidence of HIV is high. There are few men . . . thanks to the results of war. There is great poverty and life is day to day. Yet there is a thriving church plant led by humble pastors named Enoch and Ivan.

Pader Community Church is a holistic effort to bless the community in the name of Jesus. On 12 acres of land, there is a small church building, a pre-school, and a community well for fresh water. There are plans to build a child development center, a medical clinic, and a soccer field. Even in its infancy, there are over 200 congregants.

Leadership joy can come in many sizes. We forget that. We often think that success can only be defined with us at the center . . . in control . . . highly visible . . . leading out front. But I learned afresh that great joy can come from a different kind of leadership. This is leadership that allows others to lead.

Leadership joy can result from . . .

Seeing Others Lead

This trip has been in the schedule for months. One of the residents, Lauren, who serves besides the missions pastor at our church, took the lead to communicate and plan out the purposes of our visit. She did a great job arriving at a purpose, a strategy, and a curriculum to accomplish what God had placed before us. We were to help facilitate a youth conference for the youth of Pader. First, realize that “youth” are the equivalent to 18-30 years of age in Uganda. This was really about helping young adults better understand their identity in Christ. Lauren planned, prepared, and provided meaningful instruction so that all of us could engage in specific ways in ministering to the Ugandan youth. Four of the residents gave plenary messages. Every resident had an opportunity to share their personal story about how Jesus has changed their lives. They led small group discussions and modeled outreach to the youth leaders of this sister church. It was incredibly compelling to watch them engage wholeheartedly in this effort. It brought me great joy. I had the opportunity to preach twice in two different churches.

Seeing Lives Transformed

For two days we worked beside the Ugandan youth leaders in clearing fields and engaging in evangelism among the villages. Over the course of our time, we know conservatively that some 10-12 people gave their lives to Christ. On one occasion we had the opportunity to communicate the gospel to over 100 school children . . . the results are known only to God. Lives were being transformed before our eyes. This formerly war-torn region was experiencing new life. Single mothers were finding hope. Young men were discovering an eternal purpose. Communities were being united around the efforts of this fledgling Christian community. That is what the gospel does. It was incredibly joyful to participate and witness.

Taking Steps of Faith

It is good to cross cultures. Entering into new and unfamiliar settings causes us to trust God in fresh ways. That kind of faith will always produce growth. I have taken many such teams overseas before. My family and I have lived in another country for five years. But it never gets old exposing emerging leaders to new horizons and seeing them take fresh steps of faith. And . . . not to be confused that this was not a faith venture for me . . . it was a fresh step of faith to let others lead. And there was a profound joy in doing so.

Leadership joy can be found in many ways . . . and sometimes the greatest joy is in letting others lead!

Uganda-Leadership

The children of the pre-school excited about the fresh artwork created by two of our residents.