Three Necessities For Eradicating Leadership Suspicion


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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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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:


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?


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.


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. 

Leadership in a Connected World


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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

5 for Leadership-March 19th


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Here is a new 5 for Leadership for the end of Spring Break in Texas. There is something here for you that will enhance your leadership.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged White Woman: 5 Leadership Lessons on the Way to Diversity

My friend Cas Monaco has written an excellent piece on this important and timely topic. This is a must read for any majority culture leader.

The Importance of Care in Leadership

“There’s an old line about every journey, even the ones of thousands of miles, beginning with a single step. Leadership, as a concept, really isn’t any different. It all begins from a single place — but oftentimes, getting to that initial step can be hard for many leaders.” This is a quality post from Marc Smith Sacks.

Out of Africa (And Four Lessons I Learned)

Kurt Bubna shares four great principles from his cross-cultural experience. There are principles here beyond Africa and another culture–there are some valuable principles for leadership and life.

100 Ways You Can Express Love as a Leader

“Many people believe that love doesn’t belong in business or leadership. But I have found that when leaders love their people, their people love them back. They remain loyal, they respect each other, they trust each other. It is the kindness you show and the appreciation you express that lets people know you value them.” This comes from Lolly Daskal.

The Secrets of Compassion for Leaders

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” Lao Tzu

“Today’s challenge: Be passionate about compassionate leadership. Compassion doesn’t ignore problems. It isn’t neglecting results or sacrificing forward movement. But leadership without compassion is tyranny.” The final post is by Dan Rockwell.




5 for Leadership-February 27th


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5 for Leadership is a collection of leadership posts from this past week. The topics this week cover the power of delegation, the necessity of listening leadership, the critical trait of self-awareness, a brief biography on Jackie Robinson, and a key infographic on readiness to lead. Take a look at one or more.

Infographic: Most New Managers Are Not Ready To Lead

“A new infographic from The Ken Blanchard Companies looks at the challenges individual contributors face when they step into their first leadership assignments.”

Five Things That Go Up When Leaders Listen

“Ears expand influence. Leaders spend too much time thinking about talking and too little working on listening.” From Dan Rockwell.

The Power of Self-Awareness

This is a very insightful podcast from GiANT Worldwide that touches on these three topics of self-awareness: Know Yourself to Lead Yourself, The Boomerang Effect, and Inhibition vs Prohibition.

Jackie Robinson: The Fearless and Determined Hero

I love biographies and learning the inside story of those who have had an outsized influence. Any leader can learn from the life story of another. This is a nice summary of a legendary life–by Jackson Krase.

5 Step Delegation Process for Leadership Success

“Delegation is a key skill every leader must master in order to be fully effective. From my observations it’s a skill that takes years to develop beyond being a simple means of shifting tasks from oneself to another. I’d offer that truly effective delegation – the kind that results in growth in employees and achievement of organizational goals – is an art.” From the General Leadership blog.

5 for Leadership-February 20th


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In this week’s edition of 5 for Leadership, there is an emphasis on generational leadership. But there are also posts on making a good first impression and creating a great leadership culture.

First Impression and Lasting Impressions

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know; which carries a lot of weight in today’s highly competitive market.  Proper networking is important. 55 percent of communication is non-verbal, your body language sends wordless clues ahead of your speech.” Linda Allen offers 10 great practical cues on how to make great first and lasting impressions.

A Cross-Generational Conversation on Work Ethic

“One of the reasons many leaders, teachers, employers, and coaches follow us is because of the “communication gap” that is often found between generations. Groups of people, only a couple decades apart can tend to see the world in drastically different ways. To that end, we wanted to utilize this difference of perspective for all of our benefit. We chose to take one Baby Boomer, Dr. Tim Elmore, and one Millennial, Andrew McPeak, and allow them to explore an issue together. We hope you enjoy this first of many future conversations between generations. Our subject today: Work Ethic.”

Six Rules Next-Generation Leaders Follow

“It’s probably flippant to say that leadership is changing in our day. The fact is, everything is changing and the organizations that survive will not only endure these changes, but employ them.” I am listing two of Tim Elmore’s posts–both are really good and they are important reads for considering generational differences in leadership.

Insights on Millennials From a Millennial Leader: An Interview with Jonathan Pearson

“So, what are the strengths and weaknesses of leaders under 35? Jonathan Pearson has written a book for Millennials and, at age 29, leads a campus of 1400 for a large church. He offers some honest, humble insights about his generation and how to work with them. Some insights on Millennials…from a Millennial leader.” This is an informative podcast on Carey Nieuwhof’s blog.

Interview with Deen Ann Turner: How To Build A Compelling Culture

“Dee Ann Turner has worked for Chick-fil-A for more than 30 years and currently serves as Vice President, Corporate Talent. Over the years, she has played an intricate role in growing Chick-fil-A’s unique and highly regarded culture while overseeing recruitment, selection, and retention of corporate staff and the recruitment and selection of Chick-fil-A Franchisees.” This is a very insightful interview about the impressive culture behind Chick-Fil-A–on Paul Sohn’s blog.

There are the 5 for this week. Take a look at more than one of these quality posts.

Quarter-Life Calling: A Book Review

51y5clB7A-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Paul Sohn has written an excellent book that provides very tangible principles for the Millennial generation that is seeking fulfillment and meaning in life. But don’t be dismissive if you were born before 1980. The sticky parts of this work will resonate with anyone trying to discern their calling in life and how they can best glorify God.

Paul leads out with this statement in the introduction,

Purpose and meaning is an issue that a lot of twenty-somethings grapple with.

He follows with these critical questions:

What does it look like to discover and pursue God’s calling?

What are some tools I can immediately use to better discover my calling?

How can I integrate my faith into my everyday work?

If you want to live in your sweet spot, it’s time to answer them.

Quarter-Life Calling is a treatise on what is core to our lives. Paul homes in on identity, stewardship, and life transitions as a front door to discovering your calling.

In some ways, Paul offers tried and true principles for knowing God’s will for your life. The key concepts will sound familiar. But his application to a unique audience seeking to deal with 21st-century realities brings a freshness that is necessary. Paul lays out five factors that are creating crises in this too busy, too many options, too information-saturated world. Along the way, he offers some practical exercises and provocative reflection questions that will prepare you for important theological and social grounding. A proper assessment and reorientation of life are posed through doctrinal reflection and life journey considerations.Paul places a needed emphasis on “being over doing” as a precursor to vocational calling.

The helpful paradigm of primary, secondary and multiple callings is well defined. This leads to a repudiation of three common myths about calling. The culmination of this part of his work is a careful unpacking of one’s vocational sweet spot by investigating four critical aspects of life. In my mind, this is the strength of his book and what will lead you toward personal clarity.

The final section of Quarter-Life Calling provides an important four-part foundation for the importance of work. Sometimes the Millennial generation is caricatured as lacking a strong work ethic. Whether fair or not, Paul’s ability to articulate some important principles regarding work are healthy for all of God’s children.

Paul has done a masterful job of leading out of his own insights and personal experiences concerning the elusive concept of calling. He has also provided a compendium of wisdom from a variety of thought leaders. This is a worthy read for anyone–the Millennial seeking fulfillment, the person in midlife crisis, the out-of-work person who is asking “why”, the one who is reinventing herself for a second career–or simply the person who needs solid grounding about God’s leading. You will not be disappointed. Click on either link above to grab your copy.

5 for Leadership-February 13th


maf04 on Flickr

5 for Leadership is a collection of thought-provoking posts on the principles and expression of leadership. Take some time this Valentine’s Day weekend to embrace your leadership. There is something here for you.

The Heart of a Leader

“Conversations about leadership are plentiful these days. I enjoy the many perspectives, wisdom, and insight I glean from so many leaders. People are interested in what attributes, character qualities, and talents make a great leader. Many questions are being raised: What makes a great leader? Can anyone lead? Who is best equipped to lead?” Angela Besignano shares some critical insights that every leader must consider.

Leadership-What’s Love Got To Do With It?

“In 1984, when I was launching into my pre-teen years, Tina Turner released her classic song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It. In some circles, this philosophy likely governs the work of leadership as well—keep love and emotion out of it.” See what else Justin Irving has to say on love and leaderhsip.

Frederick Douglass v. Slaveholding Christianity

“On this day, many, including Google’s homepage, honor Frederick Douglass’ legacy. Born into slavery, he heroically fought for his freedom, became a leader in the abolitionist movement, and even challenged “the Great Emancipator”, President Abraham Lincoln to end his moral equivocation and openly denounce slavery as a society evil. Upon reading his autobiography in college, I was particularly surprised by the appendix in which he qualifies his scathing critiques of American slave holders who draped themselves in piety. He embraced the “Christianity of Christ” and rejected “slaveholding Christianity” which he considered a fraud.” My friend Rasool Berry writes a very poignant piece that every leader should read.

9 Things You Should Know About Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016)

“U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died today at the age of 79. He reportedly died in his sleep during a visit to Texas. Here are nine things you should know about one of the leading conservative voices on the nation’s highest court.” This comes from Joe Carter on The Gospel Coalition blog.

Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse Is So Important

As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. I have witnessed this time and time again. Being effective at work or in ministry begins by being effective at home.” Michael Hyatt is a well known and respected leader. He gives us five principles and a ten day challenge on this important leadership topic.

There are the 5 for this week.

5 for Leadership-February 6th

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5 for Leadership is a collection of timely posts on the topic of leadership from this past week. Sometimes I will introduce you to new bloggers, sometimes I stay with tried and true. I always aim for quality and variety while staying focused on what leaders need.

Leadership Lessons From an NFL Exec

“You never know when someone is watching.”

“That could be Lake Dawson’s mantra, writes Poets&Quants’ staffer Jeff Schmitt. A personnel executive with the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Cleveland Browns, Dawson once toiled in the shadows. He focused on mastering his craft and helping his team gain an edge – always probing deeper and never sugarcoating his true beliefs.”

The Horizontal Leader

‘As the world gets flatter and faster, there are three changes that challenge the assumptions that made those leaders of the yesteryear appear in our bookracks.” See what else Raghu Krishnamoorthy has to say about the nature of leadership in the 21st century.

5 Rookie Pastor Mistakes

“Finally, after all your training and praying and longing, you receive a call from your first church. You are elated—and determined to do a great job. Here are the five most common rookie pastor mistakes I’ve observed.” Hershael York offers some great insights for every first pastor.

8 Personal Qualities for Success: A Coach’s Perspective

“In my experience, there is no one thing that makes someone successful. I believe real success involves a combination of eight critical components—and that a person needs all eight of these qualities to truly succeed.” Madeleine Blanchard shares some timeless insights in this brief post.

The Courageous Leadership of Winston Churchill

Churchill’s significance extends beyond his political victories and historical influence. I have argued for many years that Churchill represents, in many ways, a model of compelling leadership, even for Christians.” Read Albert Mohler’s excellent piece on this important leader. 

There are the 5 for this first week in February–enjoy!

5 for Leadership-January 30th


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5 for Leadership is a weekly offering of five quality posts from this past week on the topic of leadership. This week there are posts on leader accountability, life purpose and work, and interview with the grandson of Nate Saint, a perspective on introverts, and the most important question a leader can ask.

Always, Always Entangle Purpose with Life Work

“Have you ever picked up a book because of a few quick social clips you see? I have, and the latest one resonated within the prairies of my mind. When Breath Becomes Air is the story of a neurosurgeon who often thought about what career would deliver the most meaning with his life. Although he became a physician, he wasn’t certain. Being a writer was also calling him, as he felt the impact of literature on his life. As his story unfolds, it is disrupted by lung cancer. Now, the physician becomes the patient, and the person struggles with the question of what to do with his remaining time.” John Mertz brings a very interesting perspective on life and work–take a look.

Quit Focusing on Accountability and Follow These 5 Steps Instead

“I don’t like the word accountability. It’s always rubbed me the wrong way for some reason. I think it’s because it assumes the worst about people. When we talk about accountability, it always seems the assumption is a person is incapable of, or unlikely to, follow through on his/her commitments. So we spend a lot of time and energy creating systems, processes, or consequences to make the sure the person is held accountable.” Randy Conley offers these 5 principles to counter the accountability trap.

The Legacy of Nate Saint

I love reading biographical posts of great leaders. Nate Saint qualifies. Here is an interview with the grandson of Nate Saint–you won’t be disappointed.

4 Lies About Introverts

“I’m an introvert. Most people who don’t know me well wouldn’t guess this about me, but it’s true. On a practical level, being an introvert means I’m generally more energized by time alone than by time with people, and I have a preference for a less externally stimulating environment. I feel very alive in a quiet, empty room.” Aime Patrick writes a sensitive and very informative post . . . be sure and read the final point on leadership.

The Most Powerful Question a Leader Can Ask

“Yesterday, my 8-year-old son, Nolan, asked me a question about World War II. As I was explaining certain battles and what happened, he cut me off. “Dad, I know what happened, I want to know WHY they did it.” He had many questions and all of them dealt with why generals and leaders made the choice they did. That opened up a discussion about how to make hard choices and what he would do if he faced a hard decision.” This is a great guest post by Chris Turnley on Bob Tiede’s blog.

There are the 5 for this week as we close out the month of January.