The Inner Thoughts of a Leader (2)

small__232647148This is a really challenging season in my leadership life.

Some days feel really draining and demotivating. Some days lack color.

My leadership life is filled with difficult people, and really great people.

My leadership life is filled with work decisions, personal decisions, home decisions . . . decisions.

My leadership life is not a straight line. Nor is it smooth.

To lead to the best of my ability is a worthy endeavor.

To lead with integrity and with an orientation of empowering those around me can create a climate of trust, faithfulness, and creativity.

I want my aim to always be to raise up more leaders . . . leaders who can out lead me.

I believe that my small story fits into a much larger one. The larger story is full of meaning. It is truly significant. It wreaks of destiny.

Therefore my small story must have meaning too. If there is an ultimate Author, then my daily words and works matter.

I am a treasured possession.

I am beloved, well pleasing in His sight.

My leadership matters.

For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. Psalm 31:3-5

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5 for Leadership (4/19/14)

small__4284694062Here is a new 5 for this Easter Weekend. We have posts on great leadership, leadership language, leadership calling, healthy leadership, and leadership reflections on Good Friday. Take a look at one or all.

What Great Leaders Do  “What does a leader look like? Think of two leaders, famous or not, whom you admire and respect. What do they do that is so different? What traits do they have that help them excel at a high level? Leadership is not a great mystery. Great leaders have specific traits in common. These traits can be learned and developed—by you!” Read more from Joel Garfinkle on the N2Growth leadership blog. 

The Language of Leadership  “These days, we talk a lot about the benefits of embracing diversity in the workplace. Of how intermingling people of different cultures, beliefs and nationalities can allow us to tap into the diversity of thoughts, ideas, and perspectives that go with these unique demographic elements. Of course, sometimes it can be difficult to appreciate just how these differences can help us to discover new insights, particularly if we live in a fairly homogeneous population. As such, I’d like to share the following four words from languages found in different parts of the world to not only show how these diverse viewpoints can benefit your organization, but also how they remind us of the underlying commonalities that we all share.” This comes from Tanveer Naseer and is a thought provoking read for the 21st century leader. 

A Leader’s Reflection on Good Friday . . .   “For many Christ followers, Good Friday is merely the warm-up act to the main event; Easter Sunday. But I believe there is tremendous “soul-filling” value for leaders in focusing on a key moment in the Good Friday narrative.” This post by Scott Cochrane is worthy this time of year–for any leader.

4 Tips For Staying Focused On Your Calling  “Many things can distract us these days from what God is calling us to. We live in a fast paced technologically fueled and noisy world; for many our minds and senses are on overload. The demands of our work schedules, the cares of our families, and the pressures of day to day living often keep us very busy. So how do we keep our focus sharp, priorities in order, and discern God’s calling in the midst of it all? This can be challenging for many of us.” This post is by Angela Bisignano, whom I have highlighted before. This is a critical topic for every Christ-centered leader. 

Quit Playing Good Cop/Bad Cop  “When we perpetuate a good cop/bad cop scenario, we create heroes and villains.” This is from Jenni Catron and is a valuable perspective on healthy leadership. “Jenni’s passion is to lead well and to inspire, equip and encourage others to do the same.” Take a look at some of her other posts while on her site.

I hope and pray that this Easter weekend will be a meaningful one for you. If the reason we celebrate Easter is true, everything changes. Take some time this weekend to consider well.

5 for Leadership (4/5/14)

small__3559519488This week in 5 for Leadership we have posts dealing with the dumbing nature of leadership power, fresh leadership books, leadership development, managing leadership energy, and the pathway towards vibrant ministry. I hope you find something that will inspire your leadership!

7 Reasons Smart Leaders Get Dumb  “Power makes leaders dumb. The more power you gain the dumber you get. There are at least seven dumbing effects of power.” This is from Dan Rockwell–always good!

First Look: Leadership Books for April 2014  Each month the Leading Blog provides its readers with a peak at some new leadership books, each with a little bio and summary. Take a look for April.

Let’s Stop Pushing “Development” As A Cheap Replacement For Training  This is a very interesting perspective from the Great Leadership blog. Organizations must make wise budgetary decisions regarding employee development. But there are times when good, solid training is necessary. See what you think.

How To Create An Energy Management List And Why Every Leader Should Have One  Carey Nieuwhof provides us with a three step process to getting things done. The key is to manage our energy and not just our tasks. “The secret to increasing your joy: do what you’re best at when you’re at your best.”

3 Pillars of a Strong, Dynamic Ministry  “When it comes to leading a strong ministry and building a healthy church, it takes more than solid theology or smart strategy. In fact, it takes a combination of those, plus the Spirit’s leading and empowerment. I think of these three as pillars of a dynamic ministry.” This comes from Brandon Cox on his personal blog. Take a look at some of his other posts too.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy.

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Top Posts for March

imagesHere are the five most popular posts from my blog for the month of March. Thanks for reading and contributing. My hope is that you become a stronger leader in the process.

Delegation vs Empowerment  “To delegate means to choose or elect a person to act as a representative for another. To empower someone means to give power or authority to someone else. Do you hear the difference?” This is the most popular post in the history of my blog.

Four Critical Questions for Strategic Planning  “My aim to help everyone engage is to keep the process simple. To do this I think there are four main questions that every strategic planning process must answer.” Maybe this will be of help the next time you need to lead a team through the planning process.

Close: Leading Well Across Distance and Cultures  This is a book review of Ken Cochrum’s new book. He addresses the growing reality that all leaders face, and he does so in an insightful and practical way. This is a great book for any leader. Take a look at the review and learn more about Close.

Innovation & Faith  “A leader is not always recognized for his or her innovation immediately. Somethings are more important than recognition.” Here is a six and half minute video that will give you some fresh perspective.

Ken Blanchard on Collaboration  “I have admired Ken Blanchard for many years. I have never had the privilege of actually meeting him, but I have at least come to know much of his thoughts on leadership through his wonderful writing. Here is a 16 minute video that was a TEDx presentation in San Diego in 2012. The topic is collaboration.”

5 for Leadership (3/29/14)

images-2Here is a new 5 for the last week of March. I hope your weekend includes some Sweet 16 craziness and some warmer weather. And I hope you find something here that will enhance your leadership.

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Leadership  This comes from Stephen Blandino’s blog. “It’s very easy in leadership to grow increasingly dependent on our own abilities and skills. This tendency exists in all arenas of leadership whether business, education, media, or the church. Because of this temptation, leaders often fail to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in leadership.” This is a good read!

Urban Church Plantations  A colleague passed this article on to me as we were discussing issues of diversity. I think this is one that every spiritual leader should read. Christena Cleveland gently, but clearly challenges the suburban church in how it views urban ministry. “The empire says that our church needs to be present in every community, our church has the answers, and our church’s resources are our resources alone. If we follow this path, power dynamics remain unchanged and urban church plantations ensue.”

10 Critical Leadership Battles (And How You Can Win Them All)  This comes from Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie. You will like this list of common dichotomies that show up in every leadership world. Take a look.

12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean  This comes from Ron Edmondson, whom I reference often. In light of the social media battles that erupted this past week over World Vision’s stance on marriage and hiring (which they then recanted), this might be timely. See what you think.

3 Communication Tips That Every Leader Should Use  This is a very practical post by Joe McCormack on the Great Leadership blog. “Who needs to get the message that talking less and listening more is an essential 21st-Century leadership skill? What can professionals do to avoid the lure to be long-winded?”

There are the 5 for this final week of March-is it really spring yet?

Authority Unplugged


Peter on Flickr

Leadership positions rightly come with vested authority.

If you don’t have some discernible measure of authority in your leadership position, run and get out now! Yet, power and authority are intoxicating.

Authority can become the drug of choice for a leader.

Leaders can see their positions and titles as synonymous with their authority.

The wrong view of authority can lead to domination, manipulation, and outsized ego.

The consequences for followers are subjugation and servitude.

This picture of abusive authority can be equally true for the spiritual leader as the secular one.

Sometimes the spiritual leader can be even more manipulative because of the spiritual element. 

What should be the correct view and use of authority?

As spiritual leaders how do we channel our authority towards serving others and not towards placing others in servitude to us?

What does leadership authority unplugged from all of its cultural trappings really look and feel like?

I am on a biblical journey to discover how Scripture addresses the topic of leadership authority. I still have a long way to go. The primary word for “authority” in the New Testament is “exousia.” It means “the right to do something or the right over something.” It is the power to decide and act.

There are two principles I have discovered that I want to highlight in this post. The first is found in the example of Jesus and the second is found in the teaching of Paul.

In John 5:25-30 Jesus is recounting for the Jews that he can do nothing of his own accord. All that he does he does at the behest of and according to the will of the Father. Jesus is demonstrating that there is a functional authority in play between the Father and the Incarnate Son. In verse 27 Jesus specifically states that the Father has given him the authority to execute judgment, because of his identity as Messiah. In verse 30 Jesus continues to highlight his functional submission to the Father by stating “my judgment is just . . . because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Here lies the first principle of right perspective on authority:

Our positional authority must always be submitted to the will of God who granted it to us.

It aids us to remember that all authority is derived authority. We only have positional power because a sovereign God granted it to us. Therefore it is rightly used when it is properly submitted to him. This is a sure check on misplaced and misused authority. This does not mean we will not have to make some hard and unpopular decisions. It does not mean that we can shirk our leadership responsibilities. It simply means that we begin each day by submitting the authority that is on loan to us back to the Father who granted it.

In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul is reminding the Corinthians of his rightful authority as an apostle of Christ. Through both 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, he has had to deal with some specific problems among the congregants of the church in Corinth. It is clear that there were some among the church who doubted Paul’s apostolic authority. In the midst of his defense Paul gives us our second principle:

The primary purpose of our positional authority is always to build up and not to tear down.

In verse eight Paul states, “For even if I boast a little too much of our authority , which the Lord gave me for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.” Paul clearly points to the aim of his apostolic authority, which is to build up the community of believers. This does not mean that you can avoid the necessary hard conversations with individuals. it does mean that you do so with a proper motive. Your aim is correction and restoration, not shame and condemnation.

If we remembered these two principles alone related to our use of authority we would be well on our way to living out a Christ-centered servant leadership. Our starting point is the submission of our positional authority to the Lord. The purpose of our positional authority is for the edification of others.

This will ultimately allow you to lead from a foundation of granted authority from those you lead, rather than an authority based on your title alone.

What are your thoughts?


Innovation & Faith

small__281370534A leader is not always recognized for his or her innovation immediately. Somethings are more important than recognition. In the spirit of March Madness . . . watch!

“Kenny, a ninety-one-year-old Wyoming native, is widely credited as the inventor of the jump shot. After being told by his brother that he was too short to play basketball, five-foot-seven Kenny thought to jump up with the ball in order to score despite his height. His innovative tactic led him to a pro career in the NBA, where he found fame and success. But along the way, Kenny learned there are more important things in life than sports. Over the near-century of his life, Kenny found one thing stood the test of time…”

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5 for Leadership (2/15/14)

small__5780056202Here is your post Valentine’s Day 5. There are posts on the soul of leadership, leadership mistakes, Olympic gold, the purpose of leadership, and leadership character. It’s a good week to take a break and learn.

What Is The Ultimate Goal of Leadership?  “What is the ultimate goal of leadership? This question seems simple enough at first, and then begins to get tricky because it can’t be answered in one simple statement.” Linda Fisher Thornton provides us with four different possible perspectives on the purpose of leadership–and her thoughtful conclusion.

12 Common Mistakes in Ministry Leadership  Ron Edmondson, over a two month period, interviewed a number of people about ministry mistakes they had made. They also passed on some good advice. Take a look at the themes that emerged.

How an Olympic Gold Medalist Learned to Perform Under Pressure  In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, here is an interview with Alex Gregory, an Olympic rower. Sarah Green dives in with a number of questions surfacing how Alex overcame his personal limitations to win the gold.

Arranging Flowers to Nourish the Soul  Since we are only one day past Valentine’s Day, this seemed like an appropriate post. It comes from Bethany Jenkins on the Gospel Coalition Blog. She interviews Esther Larson, who paints a beautiful picture of the intersection between faith and work–through the role of a florist.

The Most Important Part of Leadership . . . That’s Rarely Discussed  “If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. If this is true, why does leadership character get so little attention?” Mark Miller, a Vice President with Chick-Fil-A, dives into this important topic, with a very personal perspective. Take a look at Mark’s blog-there are many great resources here.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy.

5 for Leadership (2/8/14)

small_2509498406Here is a new 5. There are posts on leadership focus, leadership integrity, some tips from the former commissioner of major league baseball, unhealthy expectations of your leaders, and critical questions every leader should ask. Enjoy.

Andy Stanley on 6 Questions Every Leader Should Ask  This comes from Paul Sohn’s blog. “Andy Stanley says that when it comes to being a great leader, the questions you ask are as important as the answers you give. In fact, the questions reveal what you value and reinforce what you want valued.”

Fay Vincent: 10 Tips for New Executives  Fay Vincent has been the President and CEO of Columbia Pictures, Executive Vice President of Coca Cola, and was the 8th commissioner of Major League Baseball. In this Wall Street Journal editorial he shares some very good leadership principles for young leaders.

Integritas  “It is often said that the only thing that is constant in the present day is change. Societal norms play a large part in our personal norms, beliefs and philosophies. While in some cases it may be a good thing, for instance the way technology has improved our methods of doing business, more often societies norms slowly erode the basic values that are foundational and fundamental to society and organizations.” This post is from David McQuistion on his blog Vanguard-Leadership. David uses a historical analogy to awaken our senses to what is happening in our culture and in leadership today. Take a look.

The Danger of Unhealthy Expectations to Leadership  “Leadership is a privilege but it is also a decision. People choose to follow you or you make a choice to lead them. Anyone can become a leader but because of the so-called “big expectations,” many of us back off of the responsibility to lead. Leadership is not complicated. Rather it becomes complicated if we associate it with unhealthy expectations.” This is from Candace Meyer on the Lead Change Blog. What are your expectations of those who lead you?

Two Words That Create Focus Quickly  This comes from Dan Rockwell. “Some, perhaps many, on your team have the attention span of Tee Ball players. Frankly, I weave. Don’t you? But, leaders create and maintain focus.” In the middle of the post Dan provides us with three great questions that can help you get to focus.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy the Winter Olympics!

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Top Posts for January

imagesHere are the five most popular posts from my blog for this past month. Take a 1st look, or a 2nd! Thanks for visiting and entering into the conversation.

Delegation vs Empowerment  Month in and month out this is my most popular post. It was true again in January.

Leadership Titles You Never Want To Hear  This post looks at four leadership titles that are floating around the media that you would never want attributed to you. But if you are not careful someone just might.

Leadership Development-How Is It Done?  This is actually a 2010 post that was recently revised. It was well read this past month and shows the importance of this critical topic.

Virtuous Leadership  This post looks at three crucial aspects of leadership according to 1 Peter 5 in the Bible. Values are not enough, we must also know why we lead.

Leading New  Most leaders arrive at a new role or location and are eager to make a difference. In this post I give you four important first year priorities that will slow you down and help you lay a good foundation.

There are the 5 most read posts for this past month. I hope you are off to a great start to your 2014. Lead well!