3 Critical Components for Developing Leaders

seedling-leader-development

USFS Region 5 on Flickr

Organizational culture is comprised of the assumptions, beliefs, and practices of an entity or organization. Culture is reinforced through symbols, rituals, the stories that are told–and through what gets reinforced by way of training and development.

In an age in which leadership is touted over and over again as a critical variable in defining the success or failure of organizations, it becomes all the more important to look to the other side of the leadership coin—how leaders create culture and how culture defines and creates leaders. Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership

Schein makes the case that organizational culture is a transference process from leader to leader. Founding leaders embed culture and subsequent leaders ensure that organizational culture is valued and sustained. Therefore, good leader development is an absolute necessity.

There are three critical components for quality leader development:

Evaluate

This starting point is about assessment. One must assess the emerging leader towards their personal development and one must assess the organizational environment that will enhance that development.

The Emerging Leader

What are the foundational strengths, abilities, and personality traits of this emerging leader?

What is the nature of their current leadership presence? How do the present themselves? How are they received by others?

What leadership experience do they possess? What successes point towards a bright future? What wounds need to be addressed and redeemed?

How do they respond to authority? How do they view the concepts of power, privilege, and authority? Do they see these resources as something to wield or as pathways for servant leadership?

Do they have a vision for their life? Is that vision compatible with the calling of the organization?

What character traits need to be developed? What leadership competencies need to be acquired or refined?

The Development Environment

Do those who lead the organization at the highest level see leader development as a necessity?

Is there an organizational environment that allows time and money to be stewarded towards leader development?

Does the organization see people as their most precious resource or does it see them as simply a commodity to be utilized?

Is there a value on both a common and custom approach to leader development–meaning that there are certain core pieces that every emerging leader within the organization must learn and there is the freedom to tailor development towards a person’s needs?

Equip

This is the instructional element of the development process. Equipping must flow towards a leader’s character and their competencies. This reflects both the being and doing parts of leadership.

A leader’s core character matters more than ever. You can open your favorite news app and become instantly aware of the need for leadership character in politics, commerce, education, sports–or any other field you would choose. Edwin Friedman, in his book Failure of Nerve, has made the case that the greatest quality of a 21st-century leader will be the ability to bring a non-anxious presence into every setting. To do so will require solid emotional intelligence, great integrity, and a sense of strong identity.

In my opinion, there is no better description of needed leadership character qualities that what is listed by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. This biblical instruction lays out the reality that we cannot live duplicitous lives. We are the same people at home as we are at work. Our true character, our “being,” will always evidence itself through our leadership relationships, communications, and actions over time.

We must also insist upon rigorous competency training. A leader must be a continual learner. A significant portion of that ongoing learning must center around leadership skills.

Leadership core competencies must include the following: strategic direction setting, vision casting, dynamic problem solving, dealing with relational conflict in a healthy way, good public and interpersonal communication, strategy execution, and the ability to truly affect change. Other competencies may be heralded as necessary for growing leaderhsip over time. The goal is not perfection. Some leaders will naturally be better than others in living out these skills. But the effective leader must value these functions and ensure they are accomplished through themselves or others.

Empower

Empowerment is what takes leadership learning out of the classroom and places it squarely in reality. To empower an emerging leader is to risk. There must be permission to succeed and freedom to fail. Empowerment must include the transference of real decision-making authority, the allocation of adequate resources, and a healthy sense of accountability that focuses on leadership learning. Without these three aspects, there is no true empowerment.

Emerging leaders learn best through leading. It will be in the real world experience of leading that character will be revealed and tested. The daily task of leading will exercise competencies towards growth. Real responsibility must be given,

Real responsibility must be given, the opportunity to make a difference be granted, and actionable feedback provided. The emerging leaders around you will benefit from exposure to you and the education your provide. But they will really benefit by owning the mission and having the opportunity to make a significant contribution.

Take some time to consider your leader development efforts. Are you being intentional about evaluating, equipping, and empowering leaders around you? What will it take to move towards these components? Is there a valued leadership development culture within your organization? What will it take to make it so?

The Leader’s Mandate is to always be about the task of raising up more leaders. 

Create & Redeem: Two Purposes for Every Leader

creation-leadership-purposes

Uzi Yachin on Flickr

There are many themes when it comes to the biblical storyline. Two themes stand out in my estimation: creation and redemption.

Genesis 1:1 reads, In the beginning, God created . . . 

Revelation 10:6 states, (he) who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it . . . 

Exodus 6:6 reads, Say therefore to the people of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.

Hebrews 9:12 declares, he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible there is the  witness of creation and redemption.

God’s leaders are able to emulate God himself according to these themes. We stand as co-creators with God and we are able to act in redemptive ways when it comes to lost causes and people in need of deliverance.

Noah built an ark. This stands as both a creative act and ultimately a redemptive act. Noah’s creative leadership preserved a family on the face of the earth.

Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his son. He did so at the command of God. Yet, this too was a creative act and a redemptive act. Abraham was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but God provided an alternative sacrifice that Isaac might become the child of promise.

David and his son Solomon built the temple. This too was both a creative act and a redemptive act. The temple served as the resting place for the very presence of God. The temple marked the people of Israel as God’s chosen people.

Nehemiah empowered many of his countrymen to construct a wall for the protection of Jerusalem. This was in concert with a rebuilt temple and a rebuilt people. A wall meant protection. A wall defined a city in the ancient Near East. This was a creative act and a redemptive act.

The Romans created the cross as a form of execution for known criminals. Unknowingly, it became a redemptive act as our Savior hung upon it for the sins of the world.

I think it is fair to say that all creative acts should have a redemptive purpose. That is the essence of servant leadership. Leaders should never create unto themselves. They should create in response to problems, deficiencies, injustices, and wrongs. Leaders are at their best when they are acting as problem solvers. The necessity of leadership implies the necessity for change. Leaders look out and discern what is broken and what requires correction. Then they create solutions–redemptive solutions that provide deliverance, that set people free.

Consider–what if every leader awoke tomorrow and pondered what needs fixing. What problem solved, if truly solved, would liberate people to take the next step towards being all that they were meant to be? What redemptive leadership step would allow more people to move towards their intended created purpose?

Try it on. Ask yourself,

How can my leadership actions towards creating redemptive solutions serve the world tomorrow?

How can I act with God as a co-creator to bring deliverance?

How can I right a wrong?

How can I bring greater flourishing?

How can I serve others in such a way that they move closer to their created purpose? 

This is leadership with purpose.

What will your leadership create and redeem?

create-lead

Nes Celeste on Flickr

Leadership in a Connected World

two-paths-leadership

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

Uganda-Leadership

Worshipping together in Pader, Uganda.

Uganda-Leadership

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!

Uganda-Leadership

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

5 for Leadership-March 19th

Blue-Bonnets-Leadership

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

Compassion-Leader

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

5-for-Leadership

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

Imprint-Leadership

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

Heart-Leadership

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.