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 fingerprint 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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5 for Leadership (9/27/14)

medium_14138251450Here is a new 5 for the final weekend in September. We have new posts on leadership burnout, a new leader’s first 100 days, Moses and leadership transition, the leadership of Pope Francis, and what will it take to lead five generations all at once. Click on a few links and open some new windows of perspective on your leadership.

What Moses Teaches Us About Leadership Transition  This is a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog by Rabbi Evan Moffic. “Leadership succession is delicate and complex. It evokes deep emotions and fears. It raises questions of legacy, mortality, and self-worth.” Rabbi Moffic provides us with four rich biblical principles on leadership transition that will benefit any leader.

What A New Leader Should Do In The First 100 Days  This is not a new topic. There are other pundits and authors who have written to the importance of new beginnings. “There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them . . .” Eric Jacobson brings out some quality highlights from a new 3rd edition of The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan. This gives you a good peek at the book and some solid food for thought.

Why Pope Francis Is The World’s Most Effective Leader  You may or may not agree with the substance of this blog post title, but Jeffery Krames highlights five points as to why he believes Pope Francis is such an effective leader. “He has all the “stuff” that great leaders are made of. Let’s examine a few of his best characteristics so we can better understand what makes him tick—and what makes him so effective.” Take a look and see if you agree–and consider well the categories.

Managing People From Five Generations  “For the first time in history, five generations will soon be working side by side. But whether this multi-generational workplace feels happy and productive or challenging and stressful is, in large part, up to you: the boss.” This quote alone should get your attention. This is astounding reality that all leaders should think through. There are five great principles, a practical list of do’s and dont’s, and two case studies to bring it all home.

7 Painful Truths About Burnout and Leadership  “Ever wonder if you’re burning out as a leader? Or maybe you think it’s just a season and you’ll push through it. That worked for me…until it didn’t work any more. 8 years ago I experienced burnout for the first time. It was like I fell off a cliff and lost control of my heart, mind, energy and strength.” Carey Nieuwhof writes a very revealing and honest post about this important topic. He has also updated his web site recently–take some time to look around.

There are the 5 for this week. Take some time for yourself this weekend and rest!

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5 for Leadership (9/20/14)

medium_6208433197Here is a new 5 for Leadership. We have posts on mentoring, storytelling, collegiate ministry, credibility and of course Apple. There has to be something here for you. Read one or more posts and be encouraged in your leadership.

The Top 4 Qualities of Great Mentors  Dan Rockwell opens this post with this line, “Mentoring ignites boldness by answering doubt with relational learning.” That should be enough to force you to click on this one.

What Apple Gets Right With Its Smart Watch  “When people say Apple has built things people didn’t know they need, it’s not really true. Apple has built things that meet the needs people have always had. More than any other consumer company, Apple gets what people really, fundamentally need.” There are some strong leadership principles here-take a look.

Credibility Is The Foundation of Leadership  This is a guest post from Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner on Tanveer Naseer’s blog. Here is a quote to whet your appetite: “People are exceedingly clear about the qualities they expect leaders to demonstrate before they will enlist in a common cause and freely commit to action.”

The Power of Storytelling  “Stories are an integral part to communicating effectively with your employees. A great story goes a long way, because it’s memorable and helps create an emotional connection with the listener.  What we feel impacts what we do, so stories can be a great way to move employees to action.” David Grossman does a good job of showing the power of story and some practical ways to tell a good one.

7 Questions for Two College Pastors  “Why college ministry? What’s there to be excited about when it comes to college ministry in the local church? How does a church actually get after this kind of ministry, given all of the challenges? Two college pastors—from two very different ministry contexts—weigh in on these questions and more.” I lived and breathed collegiate ministry for over 25 years–so forgive me for pointing you towards some quality leadership advice in this arena. This comes from the Gospel Coalition Blog and contains some great insights.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy!

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5 for Leadership (9/13/14)

small__5333201756Here is a new 5 for your leadership learning. There are posts on being a perfectionist, being a team leader, a podcast interview with Andy Stanley, some great quotes from Truett Cathy, and some survey insights on the aspirations of American laborers. Check out a few of these articles to inform your day.

What New Leaders Should Do First  “Getting people to work together isn’t easy, and unfortunately many leaders skip over the basics of team building in a rush to start achieving goals. But your actions in the first few weeks and months can have a major impact on whether your team ultimately delivers results. What steps should you take to set your team up for success? How do you form group norms, establish clear goals, and create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and motivated to contribute?” This post is from the HBR Blog and contains some solid principles for new or old team leaders. It concludes with two good case studies that you could use with your team.

21 Leadership Quotes From Truett Cathy, Founder of Chick-Fil-A  “Truett Cathy was an amazing man. More than the founder of Chick-Fil-A, he was a great leader. Sadly, Truett passed away on Monday. Even with his passing, his legacy doesn’t have to fade away. We can remember the man and the leadership he taught us.” This collection of quotes are informative and inspiring. They are worth your time.

Majority of Workers Don’t Aspire to Leadership Roles  “Most American workers are not aiming for the corner office, according to a new CareerBuilder survey. ” This is a fascinating look at the American workforce. Take some time to analyze this for yourself and who you lead. There are some worthy insights to be made.

How Andy Stanley Keeps Growing As A Leader (and other stuff)  Here is Carey Nieuwhof’s first leadership pod cast, which is a great interview with Andy Stanley. Scroll down and you will also find a wealth of links and quotes. The podcast is 40 minutes long. Download it and make some time to listen to it all.

Chasing The Wrong Goal  “I am a recovering perfectionist. Not fully cured, but getting better every day. I recently made some noticeable progress when I read about the dangers implicit in perfectionism. The article explained that when I try to be perfect, I have believed the lie that I could actually accomplish that goal. I have somehow convinced myself that, with enough hard work or practice or knowledge, I could truly eliminate all mistakes and errors in my life.” This final post is from a leader and a friend–Terry Morgan. She writes well and prods you to think. I don’t know of many leaders who have not struggled with the topic of this post. Slow down and take a look.

There are the 5 for this week. Take some time to grow your leadership!

5 for Leadership (9/6/14)

small_101655312Here is a new 5 for your football watching weekend. Take some time and add depth to your leadership perspective.

Empowering Your Team To Take Initiative  Empowerment is a word being tossed around a lot lately. This post does a good job of adding some clarity to this important concept.

Lead With Your Feet  “Whether you move across the room to shake a hand or travel around the globe to partake in local cuisine and share in the culture of a partner, the significance and impact of a firm handshake and face to face interaction cannot be overstated.” Kent Landreth give us some very practical and timely advice about cutting the virtual cord and getting out among your people.

The Best Leaders Are Insatiable Leaders  “It takes a real sense of personal commitment, especially after you’ve arrived at a position of power and responsibility, to push yourself to grow and challenge conventional wisdom.” Bill Taylor highlights the power of a monumental speech and the desperate need of every leader.

Groups Vs. Teams: What’s The Difference  “Although you likely have been part of both groups and teams in the past, do you understand the difference? What are the key distinctions between a group and a team?” This post from Justin Irving gives us some great definitions, contrasts, and needed principles for knowing when you should want a group or a team.

How Pastors Get Hired Today  “Applying for full-time vocational ministry positions does not mean what you probably think it means. The days of dropping a hundred resumes in the mail (or e-mail) are gone.” This is a very insightful post on the Gospel Coalition Blog for any and all in full time Christian ministry.

There are the 5 for this week. Roll Tide!

5 for Leadership (8/30/14)

small__168206195Here is fresh 5 for your Labor Day weekend. We have posts on intolerance, leading above the line, how to keep moving forward, the inner leadership circle of Jesus, and words that can change lives. Take a few minutes and click your way through. And have a great Labor Day!

The Jesus Inner Leadership Circle  “Jesus had an inner circle of leadership. It sounds exclusive. And it was. But you should have one too.” Ron Edmondson points us to several reasons why we should have a inner leadership circle and principles for developing one.

Coaching Conscious Leadership  “The first mark of conscious leaders is self-awareness and the ability to tell themselves the truth.  It matters far more that leaders can accurately determine whether they are above or below the line in any moment than where they actually are.  Distortion and denial are cornerstone traits of unconscious leaders.” John Agno defines above the line and below the line leadership and why it matters.

How To Change Lives With Two Words  “Tell people they’re inadequate long enough and they’ll believe it. Undermine their confidence with constant correction, tweaking, and complaints and they’ll pull back.” Dan Rockwell tells us how to instill belief and confidence in others. Take a look!

Be A Pioneer: Five Power Tips For Moving Onward  “Somewhere around the junior high school years, our U.S. history classes cover the compelling stories of trailblazing people venturing west—crossing the plains ISO (In Search Of) new country and treasures. As I remember studying those narratives, I marveled at how these explorers relied on their smarts, determined to know more and go beyond the boundaries.” Deborah Parker share some great principles for resilient leadership from a historical context. 

Spiritual Leaders Fight Against Intolerance  “We live in a world that is increasingly intolerant, one in which violence, untruthfulness, hate, mutual criticism abound, and people constantly and deliberately do hurtful things to others.” Dr. Leonard Doohan helps us spot intolerance in others and ourselves and provides us with ways to reject intolerant behavior.

There are the 5 for this Labor Day weekend. I hope you have a refreshing one and that something in this post actually adds to your leadership refreshment.

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