5 for Leadership (12/13/14)

medium_2249355370Here are 5 new posts on the topic of leadership. The topics cover digital media and leadership, the importance of time, ethical leadership, leadership and the battle for civil rights, and whether you have what it takes to lead. Take a few minutes and grow your leadership.

7 Traits That Indicate You Might Not Be Leadership Material  “Being an effective leader is a task not everyone can do. At least not without guidance from mentors, experience, desire to think of others first, and the will to absorb his or her staff’s positive and negative traits. Are you leadership material?” See what else Rosalinda Randall has to say on the Great Leadership blog.

Making Time For Time  “Time is a non-renewable resource; a fixed asset. If you’re diligent, you can earn more money—but time, once it’s spent—is gone.” Brian Sooy gives us four priorities when considering the stewardship of time–on the Lead Change Group blog.

Digital Media and the Future of Your Leadership  This is a six and half minute video that walks through the power of digital media for leadership in the 21st century. A full transcript is provided within the post also. This will get you thinking.

9 Questions for Ethical Leaders in the New Year  “As we head into the New Year, use these questions to plan how you will transform your leadership, your workplace and your world. Ethical leadership is not something we will ever “finish” or check off a list. It’s a lifelong quest. Take the time to plan now for your ethical success in 2015. Get ready for the future of ethical leadership.” Lind Fisher Thornton gives us some great evaluative questions to grow our leadership.

The Final Civil Rights Battle: Ending Police Brutality  If you don’t think recent issues surrounding Furguson and the Eric Garner case are not leadership issues you would be wrong. Leaders, especially majority culture leaders, must be aware of the deeper narrative that this issues reveal. Thabiti Anyabwile writes a powerful post that every leader should read.

There are the 5 for this week. There is something here for you–maybe more than one post will inform your leadership.

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5 for Leadership (11/22/14)

medium_10422357596Here is a fresh 5 for Leadership for your Thanksgiving Week. There are posts on defining leadership, the two faces of leadership, the proper place of leadership, and some important rules of leadership. There is some great content this week–take some time and be inspired.

The 10 Golden Rules of Leadership  “Michael Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas have reviewed the writings of the Classical philosophers and selected ten ideas that will positively impact our leadership effectiveness in The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership. Not surprisingly, the philosophies of classic figures remain relevant in today’s workplace.” This was found on the Leading Blog and is a testament to rules of antiquity still being relevant today.

The Two Faces of Leadership  “Too many leaders are out of balance – focusing primarily on the future or primarily on their organization. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you lead? If your followers aren’t able to follow, who are you leading?” This comes from Jesse Lyn Stoner, who always has quality content.

What Is Leadership? 30 Definitions  “Leadership has always been an elusive concept to define. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to learn and great leaders are in such short supply. There really is no one “right” definition of leadership – so instead, here is a collection of my favorite definitions, from both the famous and not-so-famous.”  This comes from Dan McCarthy and will stimulate your thinking about the essence of leadership.

You Can’t Lead From Behind  “As a leader, your place is in front of your team. Think of a lead sled dog, a Drum Major for a band or the leader of a 4-ship of F-15s. Does it mean you always have to be physically in front of the herd? No. But you have to be with your team, experiencing the same situation, to understand the issues and know how to guide your team.” This comes from the General Leadership blog, which I have referenced several times before–and always has thought provoking content.

The Definition of a Great Leader  “Everyone has an idea in their heads of what a great leader looks like. They have the picture-perfect image in their minds. Sometimes this idea of a great leader is easy to express. Other times, words are elusive and you just can’t pinpoint what makes a great leader.” See how Joseph Lalonde defines leadership through a number of leadership traits.

There are the 5 for this week. Have a great Thanksgiving–and truly give thanks!

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5 for Leadership (11/15/14)

small__136782490A new 5 for Leadership is out for this 3rd week in November. There are posts on servant leadership, leadership trust, distracted leaders, a leadership metaphor, and leaders as dreamers. Take a few minutes and grow your leadership.

A Leadership Secret for Today’s Distracted Leader  “Now I cannot remember the person who said this many years ago. But, I will never forget writing down the words in my notebook when I heard the speaker declare them from the platform, ‘When you’re in the room, be in the room.'” This comes from Roy Saunderson on the Switch & Shift blog.

Trust As The Differentiator  “82% percent of people don’t trust that their leaders tell them the truth. This statistic is sobering, sad, and at the same time an amazing opportunity for those leaders who want to differentiate their organizations on the basis of trust – both with employees and with customers. What if transparency and trust were truly seen as differentiators in the workplace?” This post comes from Jim Haudan, also on the Switch & Shift blog.

One Metaphor That Taught Me Everything About Leadership  “Who is a better leader? A clock builder or time teller?” Paul Sohn reflects on some timeless principles from Jim Collins and amplifies them. Take a look at three truths that will transform your leadership.

Great Leaders Are Dreamers  “We were all taught in Supervision 101 that managers are directors of stuff—policies, materials, numbers, and systems; while leaders are influencers of people. People have hearts and souls rather than programs and sums; people are emotional, not just logical. And, that is where the dream part comes in.” See what Chip Bell has to say that relates directly to self leadership.

Servant Leaders Are Authentic-Acronym Model   “The next principle in the SERVANT Leadership acronym is Authentic. Authenticity is all about transparency. A great leader is the same in private as they are in public. What they speak behind closed doors matches what they say on stage. The authentic servant leader is consistent in message and transparent in intent.” This is number 5 of a 6 part series on what it means to be a servant leader. After you read this one, link to the previous four.

There are the 5 for this week. Take some time this weekend to strengthen your leadership.

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5 for Leadership (11/8/14)

medium_5936900121Here is a new 5 for Leadership. There are posts on calling and purpose, leadership disciplines, toxic leaders, the heart of a leader, and the ultimate test of leadership. Take a few minutes and restore.

The Four Disciplines of the Heart  “Recently, I met with a leader who was in the process of losing heart. I have seen the look in his eyes a hundred times before. (I had seen it in my own mirror on more than one occasion.)” Michael Hyatt shares some necessary leadership practices for all of us.

How To Recognize Toxic Leaders  “There are good leaders, excellent leaders and, sad to say, there are some really bad leaders. How would you know what to look for to recognized a really bad leader?” Dave Kraft shares some insightful words from Thom Rainer on this important topic.

The Ultimate Test of Leadership  “The ultimate test of leadership is this: Do you as a leader have the ability to help common people achieve uncommon performance? Can you help a follower or a weak leader become a strong leader?” This comes from the LeadToday blog and will certainly get you thinking about the effectiveness of your leadership.

4 Surprising Disciplines a Leader Must Master  “Some of the best leadership advice I have ever received was on what I was doing when I was not leading. What was my pace of life? Was I resting well? Did I have moments of fun with family and friends? These items release pressure and breathe life into a leader.” J.T. Ayers provides some great advice for every leader–and it may not be what you think.

Change Your Circumstance, But Not Your Calling  “How do you connect the dots between your daily actions and your greatest calling or purpose? Do your daily actions and responsibilities force you to be something you are not? Or do they line up with your purpose?” Mike Henry, on the Lead Change Group blog, gives us sound advice and the example of his own life to spur us on.

There are the 5 for this week. Take another look.

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5 for Leadership (11/1/14)

medium_11058473186Here is a new 5 for Leadership. There are posts on fearful leaders, losing the support of senior leadership, being the best boss you can be, how to create joy at work, and the importance of keeping commitments. There is something here for you.

How To Be The Best Boss  Here is a great infographic that shows you what the benefits of being a good boss looks like–and five steps on how to get there. This comes from the Linked2Leadership blog.

6 Ways To Create More Joy At Work  “Great leaders are joy inducers. Not the giddy kind of joy, but deep-seeded joy that comes from inspired and meaningful contribution. Inspiring joy is a pragmatic pursuit. I’ve yet to encounter a truly joyful poor performer.”

7 Common Ways To Lose The Support of Senior Leadership  “What causes senior leadership to lose confidence in people they are trying to lead? How do you lose the support of senior leadership?” Ron Edmondson gives us clear advice on how not to do it.

Fearful Leaders Are Bad Leaders  “Leaders are called to be many things. Leaders need to be brave. Leaders need to be honest. Leaders need to be innovative. But one thing leaders cannot do is to let fear rule their decisions.” Joseph Lalonde writes an insightful piece about a common leadership problem.

Hey Keeping Your Commitments Is Critical To Your Influence  “When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.” This is vintage Michael Hyatt.

There are the 5 for this week.

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Winston Churchill on Leadership

medium_3082707918Winston Churchill was certainly one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. But it was not without trial nor failure. His leadership character was forged in the crucible of suffering and fatigue. Trying times will do that. He brought a nation through the horrors of war and led them with a resilient spirit. His fingerprints are still keenly felt upon the United Kingdom even today.

A worthy read is Churchill on Leadership, by Steven F. Hayward. He succinctly distills crucial leadership principles that stand the test of time.

According to Hayward there were four essential aspects of character that set Winston Churchill apart from other, ordinary politicians.

1. Candor and plain speaking. I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.

2. Decisiveness. Ponder, and then act.

3. The ability to balance attention to details with a view of the wider scene. The longer you look back, the farther you can look forward.

4. A historical imagination that informed his judgement. An efficient and successful administration manifests itself equally in small as in great matters.

Here are few quotes from Churchill that I believe directly apply to leadership in any age:

An accepted leader has only to be sure of what it is best to do, or at least to have made up his mind about it.

We must learn from misfortune the means of future strength.

Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

There ought to be ways of reforming a business, other than by merely putting more money into it.

It is essential that you should beforehand give the decisions which allow your lieutenants to act effectively.

I would rather be right than consistent.

It is a good thing to stand away from the canvas from time to time and take a full view of the picture.

Say what you have to say as clearly as you can and in as few words as possible.

Laugh a little and teach your men to laugh . . . if you can’t smile grin. If you can’t grin keep out of the way till you can.

There are plenty of good ideas if only they can be backed with power and brought into reality.

There is never a good time for vacation so take one anyway.

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The Importance of Leadership Hospitality


One of the early leaders I reported to was strong in personality, creative, energetic, a good communicator, and never short on ideas. In other words this leader could at times be very intimidating. At least from my perspective. I remember early in the relationship I would over prepare for our appointments, feeling like I needed to get every aspect of the encounter just right. I quickly realized that none of my concerns were necessary to gain an entree. Why?

This leader was a hospitable leader.

There was a spirit of generosity that encompassed nearly all of our meetings. I began to see that my well being and development were at the top of his agenda. He took time to discern my gifts, abilities, and desires. He looked for ways to maximize my contribution towards the organization’s mission. There was space for my trivial complaints and there were words of correction that were delivered in such a way so as to bring hope. In a word I felt “safe.” To feel “safe” is to feel free from harm or risk–to not be in danger. It is be secure.

Hospitality is defined as “the generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests.”


Leadership hospitality includes the necessity and obligation to create “safe space.”

4 Areas Where Leadership Hospitality Matters

1. Safe space is necessary for new ideas.  Some of the best ideas today are coming from some of he youngest and newest members of your team. A culture of change is so embedded in our society that innovation is necessary. You may miss out on the “next big thing” if your leadership produces a tried and true approach to getting things done. And you may never capture that innovative spirit if your leadership makes it a dangerous place to bring up new ideas. Not every new idea is gold. But most new ideas, if they are anchored in your vision, mission and values, will contain golden threads that are worth your attention. That requires safe space for even the youngest and newest team member.

2. Safe space is necessary for difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are usually corrective conversations. They often reflect the need for change in conduct or character. Those conversations become less than hospitable if there is the threat of punishment. Those you are seeking to correct will further hide their behavior next time and begin to poison the team atmosphere. A hospitable leader will create the safe space for honest, developmental conversations to take place.

3. Safe space is necessary for divergent points of viewIt is difficult to go against leadership. It is much easier to live in compliance. But healthy confrontation can lead to growth, both organizationally and personally. Do you invite alternative points of view? Do you challenge your own assumptions through the voice of others? Are you able to be wrong? Are you open to a different point of view? Subordinates can tell when there is room for healthy defiance.

4. Safe space is necessary for trying and failing.  The first job of every leader is to raise up more leaders. That happens primarily be way of empowerment. That means that you provide enough resources, decision making authority, and feedback to let someone lift their leadership wings. That may mean they crash and burn. Is it safe where you lead to do so? It feels dangerous to always be controlled. Can you risk elements of the mission for the sake of an emerging leader’s development? It is life giving when trying and failing is acceptable.


4 Keys To Unlocking The Door To Leadership Hospitality

1. Make time to get to know someone at a heart level.  People feel safe when you get to know them beyond their HR summary. People feel valued when you make time to get to know their story. People are ultimately your most important resource. They are worth your time as a leader. Invest in getting to know their history, motives, passions, and fears. To do so will only invite their authenticity and belief in you as a leader. To be truly known is to be on the safe path.

2. Listen well without interruption.  Many leaders like to hear themselves talk. Their ideas are always the most important ones. We need to listen well as leaders to the input of those we lead. We need to hear them out completely. We need to listen not just to the idea, complaint, or excuse. It feels risky to say what’s on your mind. We need to listen for the attitude or motive behind it. We need to pick up on the passion or anxiety that stands behind the passionate communication. That will ensure that future communication will come out into the open, and not just around the water cooler.

3. Normalize feelings without judgment.  Every person on your team has life happening to them–all the time. And there is no way to divorce what life throws at us from our job obligations. We are whole people. Sometimes this can express itself in sheer joy over something wonderful, or it can be revealed in dread over an uncertain future. All of this comes into the team. Is there room under your leadership for people to feel OK about all that they are going through? Is your posture one that can respond with a non-anxious presence that communicates celebration or compassion? A hospitable leader can allow his or her followers to be themselves without predetermining their future value in the midst of trying times. And they can communicate safety.

4. Find the “thread of goodness” in every crazy idea, every complaint, and in every defense.  This takes work. People take their cues from all corners of the internet and beyond about how to take the organization to new heights. They can also become instantly agitated about the smallest thing. Their core fears will rise up and cause them to create the most robust defense. But a safe environment allows for a measure of insanity. The hospitable leader learns to read between the lines and discern the part that is worthy of further discussion. Most rants have a valid point. Most “great” ideas are attempts to solve valid problems. Many a defense stands in front of a valid fear. Hospitality gets beyond the noise to find the “thread of goodness” so that danger is averted.

Leadership hospitality begins with your front door. Is it open or closed?

The Bible also speaks to this notion of hospitality.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

What are your thoughts?

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5 for Leadership (10/11/14)

medium_2872158529Here is the latest 5 on all things leadership for this week. I hope you find something that will enhance your ability to lead. We have posts on the importance of Ops, how sincere leaders get sabotaged, some advice from Chick-Fil-A, leadership seasons, and work and life integration.

The Number One Career Advice From The Former President of Chick-Fil-A  “I want to share with you the best career advice I ever received. As a youngster, I was constantly searching for career advice, tips and directions on how best to advance my career. I read books, listened to cassette tapes and attended seminars searching for the secrets to success.” This is an excellent guest post by Jimmy Collins on Paul Sohn’s blog.

The Seasons of Leadership  “The calendar page turns, and the seasons change. While these seasons are more drastic and obvious in some places than others, there are always four seasons. And your experience tells you that the seasons are all needed, different things can be expected, and different value is derived from each season.” Kevin Eikenberry makes some great leadership connections to this natural phenomena we call seasons. Check it out.

5 Common Beliefs That Sabotage Sincere Leaders  “Wrong beliefs sabotage sincere leaders. Sincerity doesn’t compensate for ignorance. Sincere people adopt beliefs and practices that block success. Everyone does. With time and reflection you learn and adapt, or you crash.” Dan Rockwell shows us how to adapt and optimal motivations.

What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks Like  “Too many people believe that to achieve great things we must make brutal sacrifices, that to succeed in work we must focus single-mindedly, at the expense of everything else in life. Even those who reject the idea of a zero-sum game fall prey to a kind of binary thinking revealed by the term we use to describe the ideal lifestyle: “work/life balance.” The idea that “work” competes with “life” ignores that “life” is actually the intersection and interaction of four major domains: work, home, community, and the private self.: Stew Friedman provides some great insights and quality examples of what this might look like.

Don’t Ignore The Ops  “Operations are like the oil to the ministry engine.  Without effective operations, the ministry engine is not going to run well and eventually poor operations will burn a ministry engine up.” Are you paying attention to Ops? Jenni Catron gives us solid reasons for managing and monitoring well the operations of our ministries.

There are the 5 for this week.

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Take The Long View

IMG_1772I fly a lot for my job. Over the past few years I have certainly noticed a change in airline passenger behavior. It is common now for most of  the window shades to be pulled down for the entire flight. It took me awhile to figure this out. The primary reason for this behavior is so busy people can see the screens of their laptops, tablets and phones. I actually think this is sad on several fronts. While air travel has become much less enjoyable since 2001, it is still amazing to see planet earth from 30,000 feet. But you have to look out the window to notice. I also think it is sad because it means busy people never pause. They keep their heads down, focused on a small screen straight in front of them. They don’t notice the person beside them or anything else going on around them. All that matters is what is right in front of them.

Leaders need to look out the “window”. If leaders keep their head down all the time, focused only on what is right in front of them, they will miss the important aspects of their leadership.

Here are 3 reasons leaders need to take the long view:

1. It helps to clarify direction.

When you lift up your eyes as a leader you can see beyond the daily obstacles. You can see the vision horizon. You will begin to remember why you took this role, why it matters that you lead well in your current endeavor, what’s at stake. The problems and distractions right in front of you can take you off course. They can sap your energy for doing what is important by demanding you do what is urgent. You can provide hope for those that follow you, rather than wear them out by daily demands. One of the great obligations of a leader is to give continual direction for those who follow. You must always be able to point them to magnetic north. That is your role. You have to look up on a regular basis to live out your calling.

2. You can see potential instead of simply problems.

Let’s face it. Leaders are the last to get the good news, and are always problem magnets. Potential means something exists in the realm of possibility. It means there is something there that can be tangibly developed. If you only keep your head down you will miss the potential and the probable. Being problem driven produces fear in you and your followers. Keeping your focus on what could be allows for hope. And hope points to potential.

3. It’s refreshing and life-giving.

Every now and then it is good to feel small. You are not the center of the universe. You are not ultimately in control of anything. Power and authority are temporary illusions. When you look at the world from 30,000 feet you realize how insignificant you and your problems really are–and that is good for the soul. To take the long view means you think more about sustainability and legacy–and less about your own image. You focus on others and their well being, because that is the future of the organization. That is life-giving. You can only give yourself away and truly empower others when you ultimately see the desired destination in the distance. That is life-giving.

How does a leader take the long view?

1. Build in “think time” every week.

You can’t truly lead if you do not create space for yourself to think and consider. I usually tell leaders to spend from two hours to half a day each week in reflective thought. This is time for you to see the current demands in light of the vision. This is time to anchor your leadership in your calling and gifting. This is time to remember all of the “why’s” of the mission. What do you want to be true 90 days from now? Six months from now? A year from now? What do you want it look like, feel like, sound like? What is success? This is the long view.

2. Read relevant material every week.

If you are like me you need to be stimulated on a regular basis to think fresh thoughts. If I am not on a steady diet of diverse reading I find that my leadership vision runs dry. I read biographies, strategy books, faith based books, journals, history books–novels. I am not a fast reader–but I persevere because I need to front load my leadership brain. It is amazing how future oriented I can become when I am reading on a regular basis. It is also remarkable how stuck I can become in the daily demands of leading when I am not.

3. Schedule regular conversations with a peer for no reason at all. 

It is also good to tap the peer community of leaders around you. Only other leaders leading at your level or beyond will fully understand the challenges you are facing. All too often leaders are isolated and left to figure our their leadership lives on their own. We have to choose to seek out leadership community and allow others to feed our endurance. Leadership is too hard to go it alone.  We will certainly get caught “looking down” if we lead in isolation. We were made to live and lead in healthy dependence.  Shoulder to shoulder is a strong leadership posture.

Next time you fly put up the tablet and close the laptop and stare out the window. Someone will complain but they will get over it. You need the view! And so do they!



5 for Leadership (10/4/14)

medium_5964467160Here is a fresh 5 for the 1st week in October. There are posts on the celebrity pastor problem, empowering leadership–or not, principles from the Catalyst Leadership Labs, lousy leader traits, and qualities of a powerful servant leader. There is something here for you.

The Top 10 Characteristics of Lousy Leaders  “If you look at the major news stories in business, politics, diplomacy, whatever, it’s pretty hard to miss that most of the crises we face are crises of leadership.” Michael Hyatt provides us with some well worded points worthy of consideration.

7 Powerful Qualities of Servant Leaders  “Every act of leadership is an act of service. Anything less is exploitation. The higher you go, the more people you get to serve.” Dan Rockwell give us fertile ground for defining servant leadership in his usual pithy style. Take a look.

Leadership Lessons Form The Catalyst Leadership Labs 2014  Joseph Lalonde gives us an inside look at this year’s Catalyst Leadership Labs, highlighting three different lab speakers and their salient points.

12 Indicators You’re Not An Empowering Leader  “Here are 12 reasons you may want to reconsider calling yourself an empowering leader . . .” Ron Edmondson give us a good check list on how not to empower.

The Celebrity Pastor Problem: From Mars Hill To Me  “It’s not about popularity, this celebrity thing. If that was the case, then Jesus himself could have been censured for having a public ministry with mass appeal, capped by fans waving palm leaves and laying their cloaks before him. Personally, I hope the folks in our church listen to certain popular pastors like Keller, or DeYoung, or Chandler, or Piper. Especially Piper. Popular spells available, so I’m glad they’re popular.” Dave Harvey give us some early warning signs towards the real problem.

There are the 5 for this week. I hope you find something that will help shape your leadership in new and effective ways.

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