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!

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

5 for Leadership-March 19th

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Sandy Horvath-Dori on Flickr

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.

 

 

 

Passion and Compassion

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knitsteel on Flickr

Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something.

Compassion is defined as a feeling of wanting to help someone. It is a conscious sense of another’s distress and a desire to alleviate it. 

A leader can be a person who possesses either one of these traits. A leader can demonstrate influence through either one of these traits. But may I suggest that a true servant leader must possess compassion.

Leaders can be excited and enthused over many causes and from a variety of motives. A leader can be enthusiastic about the next hill to climb or objective to be reached. A leader can also be motivated by the excitement of a new title or position. A leader can become enthused by the very nature of power. Therefore, passion requires a strong governing center.

Compassion is other-centered. Its focus is on the wellbeing of another. True compassion has little chance of being about the leader.

Passion only requires an outside stimulus. Something that taps into what already lies within–positively or negatively. 

Compassion requires focused observation. Compassion requires deep listening. Compassion by definition is aware of need in someone else.

It is stated in the Bible that there were seven instances in which Jesus felt compassion. Certainly these were not the only occasions where Jesus felt this sensation. But these are the ones recorded for us to study and understand. The compassion of Jesus was a feeling always expressed towards the crowd or an individual. The action of alleviation was varied. In one instance Jesus fed the crowd. In another, he requested prayer for the crowd. On another occasion, Jesus healed the sick that were part of a gathered crowd. Once, the corresponding action Jesus took was to teach the crowd. On one incredible occasion, Jesus raises the dead son of a grieving widow, because he felt compassion for her.

Twice, Jesus tells a story of compassion to make a teaching point for his hearers. Both stories are quite familiar to us. One is the story of the Good Samaritan. The other is the account of the Prodigal Son. One story teaches us that our compassion should lead us to meet the needs of anyone who comes across our path, the one in need. The other teaches us about the gracious and lavish love of a father–literally God, our Father.

The common Greek word for “passion” in our Bibles is almost always negative in its connotation. The Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:5 tells us to “put to death that which is earthly in you . . . (including our) passion.”

Our life in Christ is the governing center that allows our compassion to well up and be expressed in the most generous way. Compassionate leadership serves because He served.

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.     Henri Nouwen

We live in a passion saturated world.

Not every passion is bad.

But we could certainly use more compassionate leaders today!

5 for Leadership-February 27th

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Anna Levinzon on Flickr

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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Archangel12 on Flickr

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

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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

Central-Park-Leadership

fiat.luxury on Flickr

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!

Your Greatest Gift & Your Greatest Wound

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s_mcdeid on Flickr

Leaders are often defined by two things.

Celebrity leaders . . . even more so.

These two aspects of every leader’s life will define them for better or worse.

These two aspects of a leader’s life are observable, verifiable, and experienced by those who follow . . . or fall within a leader’s wake.

The outcome can be humility, courage, and compassion . . . or it can be pride, self-loathing, and control.

These two realities can feed the vision of a hopeful, other-centered future . . . or can cannibalize itself towards an ultimately despairing, self-centered present.

Every leader carries both of these realities . . . they are unavoidable . . . the choice lies in the heart response.

I am talking about a leader’s greatest gift and a leader’s greatest wound.

A gift is something you are born with. It’s your created ability. For some, this may be the gift of communication. For some, it may be the gift of seeing the potential in others and understanding how to develop them. Or maybe it is the ability to empathise deeply with those in need. It could be your natural ability to adapt to any and every situation. Or it might be your natural ability to mobilise others into action. This is the most natural aspect of who you are. It finds expression through your leadership influence without you even thinking about it. It is part of what makes you unique . . . and a unique and special leader. This gift may be your most powerful form of leadership influence. But just having this gift doesn’t ensure that you will use it for good. Many gifted leaders have wreaked great misery and destruction on the lives of their followers. Others have stewarded their natural gifting towards blessing . . . the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

A wound is usually something you also don’t choose. Often, wounds just happen. They are part of living life as broken people living and leading in a broken world. They may come by way of your own choices . . . but they are impossible to avoid. They may be physical, emotional, social, or spiritual in nature. But every person . . . every leader . . . has one that is worse than all the others. A wound could come in the form of a broken relationship, loss of something or someone dear, being bullied when you were young, or ignored and overlooked when you were older. Maybe your deepest wound is simply a lack of love and acceptance that has led to a profound sense of fear. Many leaders lead out of fear. Like our greatest gift, our greatest wound can be a source of great blessing to others . . . or a source of great harm to those around us. Wounds can allow us to be more vulnerable, authentic, and sensitive . . or more harsh, hypocritical, and reactive. The real issue is in our heart response to what comes our way.

For me, I believe my greatest gift is the ability to think systematically and strategically. I can naturally look at a problem or opportunity, see the beginning and the end, and intuitively determine the three best ways to get there. My greatest wound is a lack of confidence . . . maybe from an emotionally absent father . . . maybe from a series of small defeats that add up to the belief that I am simply not good enough.

These are powerful elements, which in combination can lead to great influence . . . the essence of leadership. A friend of mine once made the statement that leadership always works. And I think he is right. If you bear a title or simply carry great influence, then your leadership is leveraged and it will always work. It might work for great good or it might work for great bad . . . but it will work.

It comes down to our heart response. Our heart is not just that part of us that contains our emotions. That is a western way of thinking about the heart. But the people of the Ancient Near East thought about the heart in a much more holistic way. Our heart is our governing center. It is that part of us that chooses every day. It is our mind, will and emotions working in concert to encounter, respond and choose. Our hearts are not perfect, but they can be redeemed. Our governing center requires a governor.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:3-6

“Not good enough” is a banner that leads to striving, fretting, worrying, and blaming. And I can be very strategic in my futile efforts to overcome. Several years ago I was awakened to the fact that I could carry another label, another banner that was more than I dared to dream–“treasured possession.” That is the nature of redemption. Belonging can overcome inferiority. The ability to be strategic can bring blessing. The greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Are you able to name your greatest gift and your greatest wound? 

Have they been redeemed?

Your leadership life may depend upon it.