Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

April 29, 2016

This week witnessed the annual reunion of the world’s largest manufacturing trade show. Many of the brightest minds in manufacturing technology gathered. These were people who are changing the way we’ll be doing manufacturing in the future.

I know many of them. It’s exciting to meet with all these people and share ideas, learn, grow.

I’ve also had the opportunity to meet people changing the face of how we do mission work, how we serve the poor, how we bring other people to discipleship.

God meant for all of us to change the world around us for good. There are numerous stories of developing and using whatever talents we were born with.

While I was pondering this on the 9-hour plane ride home yesterday, I thought about all the people who sell themselves short.

While I was in the Customs line entering the country (30 minutes before I learned I had been accepted into the Global Entry program and could have avoided the queue, sigh), I saw a small group of maybe three older couples. All their faces were shaped into pictures of bitterness, sadness, negativity. Same with body language. My heart ached for such loss of life before their loss of life.

How many people do you know who blame other people for their lack of success? It’s never their fault, right? “They” are always against them. The “breaks” never came their way.

Can these people be reached with hope? The self-help gurus of the 80s and 90s certainly tried by using preaching skills. Get you all fired up and ready to take charge–until you got home and reality set in again.

Then read the New Testament and stories of the first and second century Christians. Here were ordinary men and women who turned their lives around and did extraordinary things.

It is so important that we reach people early in life with the message of hope. The message that despite any adversity they, too, can change the world around them. That’s called leadership on a personal level. Or mentoring. Or making disciples.

Leadership By Delegation

April 15, 2016

What is the hardest leadership lesson to learn? Actually, more than learn (we all can memorize words and regurgitate them), what is the hardest leadership task to do?

Pause, while you think…

I’m betting on delegation.

It is for me.

I’m a get things done sort of person. Give me a task and I dive in and do it.

Even as a leader. Often I would just do the task. Until I found myself just totally swamped. Then I’d take a breather–no, literally, with Yoga breath–and gain perspective. Then say to myself, self, you could have asked someone else to to this. They’d have loved the task. You’d have been able to work on something more important to your own goals.

So, you have your trusted place where you write every idea, task, next action, request. And you process those into lists of next actions (to-do list). Oh, yes, and then you have to actually do the items, one by one.

What if you added one more thought consideration to your process? What if on every item you thought, “Can someone do this better, faster, easier than I can?”

What’s the trouble with delegating?

  • You think it’s too much trouble to explain to someone else how to do it or just exactly what you want.
  • You don’t trust someone else with the task.
  • You’re a control freak–you know who you are.
  • You think they are already too busy.

Why should you delegate?

  • You only work on items that you do best.
  • You work on items that further your goals, and by extension, your organization’s goals.
  • You will be developing the skills and value of someone else.
  • You will strengthen the team by including more people on it.
  • You will prepare for future leadership transitions.

This is hard. I know it. Been there, done that, have a T shirt. But you and your organization will become so much more effective if you do it.

Why You Do The Things You Do

February 11, 2016

“You’re doing it for all the right reasons,” he said to me.

That remark made me pause. I’m still thinking about it.

When I take on a leadership role, what is my inner motivation?

Do I have a need to feel important?

Do I have to be the boss?

Am I just contributing from my set of skills?

Especially in my church work, but also in my profession, does the work bring me closer to God? Or does it bring me closer to my narcissistic self?

Do I lack the ability to say no?

Do I just have a passion for that work?

In my professional leadership role, I work with other visionaries who are sincerely trying to move the industry forward with no other self interest. None will become exceedingly wealthy. But we care about the advancement of manufacturing and production. There is no room for an overly large ego.

In my church role, I can look inside and say that I really care about the spiritual development of other people. If I can get them involved, it could be life changing. It’s a missions role. Going outside the walls of the church building and helping others, even if it’s just through painting, building walls, constructing a wheelchair ramp so a person can more easily get inside their homes, these all have a deeper meaning.

When you focus on others and work in tandem with God, you actually succeed no matter the results or your personal gain.

Your motivation determines your reward.

Act Without Murmuring or Arguing

January 25, 2016

Watch out for small groups of people in the organization who gather to criticize, back bite, and argue. Have you noticed this phenomenon? Worse, have you ever been in one of those groups? Or been a leader in gathering them?

I am by nature an analyzer (ENTP). I have to be very careful and aware of whom I talking with as to whether I’m merely analyzing or “murmuring” or arguing. Occasionally someone has accused me of cynicism. But that stance ascribes motivations to others. I try to just describe actions and probe reasons. I don’t automatically think people are duplicitous.

Paul offers an antidote to this attitude that can be so hurtful to people and organizations. Writing to the Philippians (2:14), he says, “Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world.”

Nothing beats negativity or (non-clinical) depression like action. One of the key Spiritual Disciplines is service. When you’re out serving others, doing for Jesus, you don’t have time for complaining and murmuring.

A good leader will organize such that there is a bias toward action. Don’t give people time to gather and complain. Get the teams moving in a positive direction.

Several years ago, there was a company I knew that had pathetic leadership. I’m being kind. Employees had all kinds of time to go online and comment on Websites. The negativity, hate, complaining, finger-pointing was terrible. People in other companies wondered how they had all that time. Part of the problem of the leadership was that they weren’t focused on pushing ahead and getting commitment of people.

It is often our fault, though. In the end, we are responsible for ourselves. We need to have some self-awareness of when we are slipping. When we sense this negativity happening, it’s time to look for a service project. Get busy. Get focused. Get positive.

Leadership Through Mentoring

January 22, 2016

We think of a leader as someone who has many people reporting to them. Maybe 10 or maybe hundreds. We picture them out front of the infantry leading the charge.

Surprisingly, often a leader is someone without an official position, yet they exert influence and direction through their ideas, conversations, persistence, relationships, and character.

But we are still thinking about influencing many.

Great leaders often are also great mentors. They find someone coming along with potential and begin to nurture them. Think perhaps of Mr. Miyagi in the “Karate Kid.”

Think back in your life. People came into my life, often briefly, who guided me often without my even knowing it at the time. There was my first supervisor at Airstream, John, who put me in positions to learn. Then Jack came along. He did things for me to get me promoted into increasingly important roles, but I never realized it at the time. Awakening came later, but not too late.

Lately there has been someone where we share from our varied experiences.

When you mentor someone, it should be intentional on your part. But with full knowledge that you are not a teacher just taking knowledge from your brain and trying to enlighten the mentee. Rather, mentorship grows with a relationship. As you work together or have conversations, often it’s just a question you ask or a point you think that they should think about that works. You have to let them grow at their pace. Force does not work.

The quality of character counts for much. Paul, the apostle, described both in 1 Timothy and in Titus a good leader.

  • Not violent
  • Blameless
  • Not accused of debauchery
  • Not rebellious
  • Not arrogant
  • Not quick-tempered
  • Not greedy for gain
  • A firm grasp on the Word
  • Trustworthy

I get a picture of a strong, yet gentle, person. Quiet in demeanor. Observant of others. Passionate with being overly emotional. Intelligent and wise. Concerned for the welfare of the other before even his own.

Gosh, I’m describing myself—-I wish. Perhaps I’m describing you. If so and you do not have a younger person you’re mentoring, find one. Pray intentionally. God will provide someone.


How We See Others

January 15, 2016

As a leader, how do you see your group? Not as a group, but as individuals.

Do you see them as hard working, dedicated, intelligent people? Or as lazy, slothful, needing constant supervision people?

I had a job once where I could get more done working from home than coming to the office. My boss said, “Well, as long as you’re working.” I thought, “Sheesh, no one puts out more work than I do, and he makes that comment.”

This phrase just popped up in my reading, “Your perception of me is a reflection of you.”

If you are looking at the team you are leading as a bunch of people you can’t trust to do their work. Maybe the problem really is you. Maybe you know that you’d like to slack off and are suspicious of others who might.

There was a story about a man traveling the back roads of the Midwest in the early 20th Century. He came across a farmer. He stopped and asked, “What sort of people live around here?”

“Well, what sort of people lived where you are from?”

“They were a lying, thieving bunch of people.”

“Well, I guess you’ll find people here about the same.”

A second traveler came by later and stopped. Asked the same question. The farmer asked what sort of people there were where he was from. “Honest, hardworking, trustworthy people,” came the response.

“Well, I guess you’ll find the people around here to be about the same.”

It is a great story pointing out that our perceptions are often colored by our emotions, thoughts, and opinions. We see what we want to see.

When I’ve dealt with people as a leader, whether as a parent or manager, I always just have this expectation, usually unstated but clear by insinuation, that people will live up to being what they were meant to be. I expect the best for other people.

When you deal with others, how do you view them? If the results are not forthcoming, perhaps a good look in a mirror is in order. Change your attitude toward others and watch how their attitude changes.

Great Leaders Have Great Interpersonal Skills

January 8, 2016

We were at a dinner. It was a special dinner with several courses each paired with a wine. The idea was to teach a little about wine and also sell the wines, of course.

It was a group experience. Most of us came as couples, not as a large group. We entered the room to discover it was set up with several long tables. We were going to share a table with six people whom we did not know.

The man adjacent to my wife was an owner of a local company. He was personable. Asked a lot of questions of my wife and the other people. Seemed genuinely interested in the other people’s lives.

My wife has been to many business dinners with me by now and has met many business owners or ranking executives. She comes from a working class background, so it was initially all new to her.

After the dinner on the drive home, she said, “Men like him are always interested in other people. They make others feel at ease. They are interested in others.”

An astute observation.

Recently while reading on leadership, I ran across this observation, “Great leaders have great interpersonal skills. They care for their people. As a leader, you need to know how to listen quietly and hear what people are really saying, by asking questions and being open to the truth. When challenges come, it’s especially important to open up and show you care.”

I’m watching a friend start a new business. He really cares about all the people he has hired for the team. He guides those who need a little help. He encourages each one. It’s a joy to watch.

No matter where you are called to be a leader, this is a great role model. Leadership isn’t all about me. It’s really all about them. How can I help them? How can I nurture them? How much do I care?


What Kind of Person Will I Be This Year

January 4, 2016

Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. … All the widows stood beside  [Peter], showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made.

This is a story found in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter brings a woman back to life.

Let’s consider the woman, Tabitha, in the context of thinking about looking forward toward our new year. Who do I want to be this year?

First, she–well let’s pause there a second. She. To all those rigid people who misread Paul and other texts, here is an early example of an important woman disciple.

OK, I’m not going to be a she, but I can certainly learn from her example.

She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. I don’t write enough about the spiritual discipline of service. But if I could be known as a disciple who does good things for people, that would be good.

Sort of reading between the lines, it appears that she was a leader of a group of widows. Women who had lost their husbands were at the mercy of others in that society. Remember how the apostles wanted Paul to raise money to support widows back in Jerusalem? One of the powerful acts of service of early disciples was caring for the unfortunate, such as widows.

She must have been a leader of the group, discipling them, doing good works such as making clothes for them most likely out of her own wealth.

For this next year, i’d like to be like Dorcas–do good works, lead a small group into discipleship, help people out of my wealth.

That would be a good year.

Leadership: What Do You Look For In People

December 11, 2015

When you are building a team for your business or task at church or for community service, what do you look for? A warm body? Particular skills? Relatives?

There has been a consistent theme to my reading and conversations this week. It has been around people.

Andy Stanley says that you should look for who before what. Look for good and talented people first. Then figure out what to put them to work at.

Google looks for curiosity.

An interview I heard on the radio with the head designer at Go Pro talked about learners. When asked about her own learning, she said it’s the people she hires. They are learners. When they learn something new, they want to teach it.

Chuck Price, leader at Campus Crusade and a friend, says to hire character. You can teach skills. You can’t teach character.

When I’ve hired or brought people into  teams, I look for a basic skill set. I want people who can teach me something. I’ve learned the hard way to not hire people with agendas. Especially when that comes with weak character.

Family and friends? Be careful.

Personality also counts. It depends a little on how customer-facing they will be. But still, they must fit in with the team. Avoid people who are negative, arrogant, or, on the other hand, weak and timid.

Hiring is a major decision. It’s game changing. Make a wrong hire and you can destroy an organization, business, or committee.

Take is seriously. Make it first priority when you have to hire or are building a team.

I like the philosophy of these characteristics: Character, Curiosity, Learner.

Productive or Busy

November 27, 2015

Seth Godin asks:

Is productive the same as busy?

No one complains of having spent an entire day doing ‘productive work’. Busywork, on the other hand, is mindnumbing.

It’s possible that if you have a job where your tasks (your busy-ness) is programmed by someone else, that being busy is your job.

For everyone else, though, busy might be precisely the opposite of productive.


David Allen has updated his classic book, “Getting Things Done.” Recommended–highly.




How do we wind up on the “productive” side of Godin’s question?


We do it by thinking. And then by defining “next actions.” The key is to think through all the “stuff” you must do or accomplish, defining just what the desired outcome looks like, and then figuring out all the things you must do next–“next actions”–to further your project.


Few things contribute to work anxiety more than finishing a task and then wondering what you should do next. If you have disciplined yourself into a way of life like GTD and are using a support application (I use Nozbe with great success).


As we reach the end of the year and we begin to reflect on what we accomplished relative to what we had hoped to accomplish, perhaps now is the time to get serious about productivity.