Category Archives: Development

5 for Leadership (8/10/12)

Today’s 5 will expose you to some new authors for me.  I have included a powerful leadership story, some great leadership principles, and some timely leadership quotes.  Enjoy.

Red Marbles and a Very Kind Leader  You must read this post.  I found it on the Teamwork and Leadership blog.  It is the story of personal leadership with influence and great generosity.  For me it highlights well that all leadership is influence and that generosity in leadership is often a forgotten component.

Overcoming The Fear of Asking  Are you an inquisitive leader?  If not, why not?  This is something I struggle with at times.  I either think that I am wasting someone else’s time or I fall into the trap that I don’t have time to be an asking leader.  This post from the Leadership Solutions blog provides some very practical reasons and practices for becoming a more inquisitive leader.

Leadership By Choice  I have often highlighted the Leading Blog for it’s quality content.  This offering is a simple four part evaluation to better determine if you are leading with great intentionality.  It is a brief summary of a book written by Eric Papp.  I think all four parts are critical and worthy of our reflection.

Can A Church Be Both Attractional and Missional?  This comes from Tony Morgan’s blog and is an interview with Dave Ferguson.  Dave and Alan Hirsch recently co-authored a book entitled On The Verge.  This is an insightful interview on this ongoing and very important topic.  It will give you a taste of the book.

Leadership Summit: Bill Hybels  The well known Willow Creek Leadership Summit is currently in progress.  I returned to Tony Morgan’s blog for this offering because he has been capturing some of the key principles and quotes from the summit for our digestion.  Here is Tony’s gleanings from Bill’s opening address.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

3 Types of Leadership Decisions

This is the 2nd post on the topic of leadership decisions.  In the first one I discussed the nature of leadership decisions and offered some diagnostic questions to help you in thinking through every leadership decision you make.  In this post we will look at three types of leadership decisions.  Sometimes leaders look at decision making like a game of rock, paper, scissors.  We use the same approach in every situation and we leave it up to chance.  But there is a way to think through the type of decision that should be made for the best possible result.

1. The Directive Decision  This type of decision is where the leader alone makes the decision and announces it to those he or she leads.  This is an autocratic approach that should be used very sparingly, but does have it’s place.  This type of decision is probably most useful in times of crisis.  This is when there is chaos and people are looking to a single person or body to make a command decision.  Someone needs to take charge and provide clear direction to meet the need.

2. The Consultive Decision  This is where a leader presents a tentative decision and invites input that will affect the final outcome and execution.  This may be the most common scenario for leaders in the decision making process.  Leaders should rightly see things from a unique perspective that is more encompassing of the whole.  They should have some unique insight that can put forth an initial idea that may need refinement and specificity to actually work.  Gathering pros and cons and thinking through the consequences as a team can help to insure a better outcome.  These types of decisions build ownership and trust.  They also tap into the collective brain power and creativity of a team.

3. The Delegative Decision  This is where the leader provides freedom for making the decision within a prescribed responsibility.  This can often take place at the execution phase of leading.  This is where you have developed a strong sense of trust with those you are leading and you are able to empower them to make decisions for themselves in how things get done.  You may have collectively determined what needs to be done over time-but you provide freedom in how those goals and plans are accomplished.  This is a great leadership development tool and will help to multiply the leaders necessary for fulfilling the mission.  This requires a servant leader who can give away power and control and trust others toward the fulfillment of the mission.

When you are thinking through what the decisions that you need to make as a leader-ask yourself what type of decision is this?  What would work best for this problem or opportunity?  Is this a directive decision, a consultive decision, or a delegate decision?  The desired outcome will help determine the approach.  Lead well!

My Top Posts For June

Here are my five most popular posts for the month of June.  Thanks so much for visiting this site.  I hope you benefit from what is published.

Sometimes It Is Good To Feel Small  This post is about a leader’s constant need for perspective.  So much of leading is about bigger and better.  Sometimes it is good to think small.

5 For Leadership-June 19th  Two out of the top five this month are from my series “5 For Leadership.”  I began this series several months ago to expose you to some great posts from around the web on leadership.  I am really glad that you are finding them so helpful.  This particular one includes some very good advice from Ron Edmondson, Jesse Lyn Stoner, and Dan Rockwell.  Enjoy them again, or for the first time.

Delegation vs Empowerment  This is my most popular post of all time.  It continues to get a lot of hits from around the world.  Please add your thoughts to this important topic in the comments section.

Leadership Is Like A Marathon-Part 1 Preparation  This post kicked off my “Marathon” series last week.  My attempt was to draw out some clear leadership principles by analogy to running a marathon.

5 For Leadership-June 11th  Here is another “5” that was popular.  This post features some sage advice from the likes of Scott Eblin, Chris Brady, and Vikram Manasharanami.  Take another look!

There are my set for June-lead well!

Leadership Is Like A Marathon: Part 2-The Start

This is the second in a series of comparing a marathon race to leadership.  As I mentioned yesterday, I have run ten marathons in my lifetime.  I have run Austin four times, Columbus once, Boston three times, Rome once and Florence once.  I have always been intrigued with some of the parallels between running and leading.  Today, we will take a look at the start.  Here are three ways in which the start of any marathon and leading are similar by principle.

1. You Can Get Out Too Fast.  This is the number one temptation with any marathon race.  This is especially true if it is your first race.  You have been preparing for this day for up to 18 weeks.  You are typically surrounded by thousands of other hyped up runners.  The atmosphere is electric because the end result is still unknown.  There is some guy on the public address system whose whole job is to get you pumped up for the race.  The adrenaline is readily flowing.  And there lies the problem.  I remember my first marathon, which was in Austin, Texas.  I covered my first mile in seven minutes flat.  I already knew that I was in deep trouble given my age, training regimen, and natural abilities.  I still had 25.2 miles to go.   Needless to say, the “wall” came quicker than I anticipated.

I always cringe a little bit when I see a young leader whose star rises quickly.  Usually they are naturally gifted in some way.  Often they are good public communicators.  But the character preparation has not been fully formed yet.  All of the accolades and early successes can go to their head pretty quickly.  You literally have to take a long view on leadership.  It really isn’t about how you start but about how you finish.  Many leaders go up like a rocket and come down like a rock.  Many are even viewed as successful in their leadership endeavors but their lives are a mess.  There is a marathon axiom that is relevant here-“slow is fast.”  Beginning with my 2nd marathon, I often passed the rabbits around mile 18.  In my mind I was thinking, “I will see you again.”  They simply got out too fast.  The leadership analogy would be if they out ran their character and maturity.  More than anything, this requires feedback from those that love you and care about you more than they care about the results.  You need people like this who can “slow you down” in your leadership.

2. You Can Forget To Replenish Your Resources.  The second mistake I made in my first marathon was to not hydrate until about the 4th water station.  Why should I slow down when I was doing so well?  They have water and sports drinks every mile-I’ll catch the next one.  That thinking came back to haunt me.  By the time you are actually thirsty it’s too late.  You have to anticipate your body’s needs-not wait until the warning signs.  You can’t skip a water station, even if you only take a sip.  Cramps are the natural result.  I have seen many a prepared runner have to bow out of the race due to cramps which often result from dehydration.

Leading is similar.  You can’t out lead your resources.  You have to stay fresh in your learning and character growth.  You have to anticipate your needs and not cut corners.  This is where a coach or mentor can come in handy.  You need training, experience, coaching, assessment, feedback-and rest.  You need someone around you that can keep you grounded in the midst of success and encouraged in the midst failure.  This part of leading never ends.  It can actually become more difficult the longer you lead-because the tendency is always towards isolation and self sufficiency.  The greatest need here is often refreshment in the form of true rest.  Rest provides an opportunity for evaluation and reflection.  This has the added advantage of keeping you on course.  The goal is not to burn out in your leadership pursuits.  You want to make it to the end.

3. You Can Pace Off The Wrong Person.  It’s easy to be judgmental at the starting line.  You look around and try and size yourself up against the other runners in the field.  You pick out the one who “looks” like a veteran runner.  The one who has all of the running accoutriments-water bottle, Gu packs, dry-fit running attire, etc.  And usually you pick the person who can actually sustain a seven minute pace for 26.2 miles.  And you are dead-before you ever get to your first mile.  The most efficient race I ever ran was in Columbus, Ohio.  They had pace groups throughout the race.  I picked my desired time and stuck with the group.  I finished exactly when I wanted and qualified for Boston.

Young leaders who are just getting started also need to pace well and pick the right models.  Don’t look for flashy.  Look for steady.  Pace off of leaders past and leaders present.  Thanks to the internet you can have models from near by and models from afar.  Read and study their lives.  Learn from their successes and mistakes.  Discern the leadership principle at work more than the particular leadership practice.  We were not meant to go it alone.  Leadership is isolating enough-determine to pace off of someone.  This is where leadership cohort groups can be really profitable.  This could be a small group of people with whom you check in regularly.  They are fellow leaders and learners.  But choose carefully.  Character always succeeds.

Near the end of his life the Apostle Paul said these words as he sought to encourage a younger leader, ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  May this be our goal.

Leadership Is Like A Marathon: Part 1-Preparation

Today I am beginning a five part series on how leadership and running a marathon share several of the same principles. To date, I have run ten marathons. That does not make me an expert. But it does give me enough experience to suggest some parallels worth considering. Over the next five days we will look at Preparation, The Start, The Proper Perspective, Hitting The Wall, and Making It To The Finish Line. Today I will focus on the Preparation stage.

Preparation is everything in desiring to complete a marathon. You can’t just wish your way to the finish line. You have to engage in a routine that will prepare your body and mind for the whole 26.2 miles. Most marathon trainings are between 16 and 18 weeks in length and include speed work, cross training, and distance running. One regimen alone will not ensure a good race. Let me say quickly too that equipment matters-a lot. It’s critical that you purchase running shoes to match your body and running style. It’s important that you wear the right clothing on race day. And you have to train your mind for both the known and the unexpected to make it to the end. Consistent running requires some learned skills. It helps greatly to know what a good stride looks like so that you can run efficiently and effectively.

Some people are more gifted runners. They are better overall athletes. I once stood at the starting line with a 72 year old man who was running his 54th marathon. That simply takes a certain kind of body to endure all those miles for so many years. But even the most gifted must train well to tap all of the potential that is within them.

The greatest temptation in marathon training is to cut corners. The truly gifted are the most susceptible. Early on you will want to run only three days a week or shorten your long runs by a few miles. Your legs are going to hurt. The key is faithfulness. You need to follow a designed training program that values balance and your experience level. It helps to do those once a week long runs with a friend. A 16 mile training run can get pretty boring by week nine.

As a leader it helps to know who you are. An assessment of your gifts, abilities and natural leadership acumen can be helpful in having your maximum impact. In leading, you mainly learn by doing with feedback. There are no shortcuts in leadership preparation. Again, the naturally gifted leader will be tempted to short circuit the process. Learning to be a good leader requires preparation. Look for opportunities to lead. It is best if the initial opportunities are small in nature and scope. This is where you see if others also believe you can lead. If people are recognizing your leadership abilities then determine to design a plan. Read a lot, ask for regular feedback, seek out a mentor, and be wary of proclaimed success. Expect to fail. You can learn far more from your failures than your successes. Create your own emerging leader cohort. Like marathon training it makes sense to learn to lead in community with others. Take advantage of formal leadership training-take advantage of informal leadership trying. Actually, you are never fully prepared for the next leadership setting or situation. Leadership preparation is a lifelong process. You need to take a marathon perspective on leading. Again, faithfulness is the key. Stay faithful to the leadership responsibilities you have now. Don’t always be looking to the next opportunity. Faithfulness will help to build character and character is what will help you make it to the end. There are no short cuts to character. Every marathon I have ever ran ultimately took it’s toll on some would be finishers. We all know of spiritual leaders who did not finish well.

The Apostle Paul communicated a powerful perspective when he compared the Christian life to running in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

5 for Leadership

Here is a fresh 5 for the third week of June.

4 Reasons They Don’t Want to Learn . . . and 5 Suggestions  If you are not already following Ron Edmondson on a regular basis-you should.  Ron provides some great insight about how to approach non-learners.  These insights can apply to a leader at any level-includeing the parent!

1001 Mid-course Corrections  I have highlighted Jesse Lyn Stoner before.  I really enjoy her posts because they are so relevant and practical.  This one is no different.  In this post she highlights the reality of change in the midst of pursuing your vision that will require some mid-course corrections.  This post includes a brief 2 minute video.  She concludes the post with some excellent evaluative questions.

Leadership Caffeine-Look To Workplace Partnership to Support Growth  This post comes from Art Petty.  This is a great post on the value of peer level partnerships for personal growth.  I find that personal growth and development is an area that is all too often neglected in the life of a leader.  Art offers some great “do’s” and “don’ts” for building these kinds of beneficial relationships.

Authentic Leadership Development: You Past, Present and Future  This is by Dan McCarthy on his blog Great Leadership.  I like this post because I like how Dan especially highlights the value of one’s leadership journey.  Dan takes a holistic look at how your past influences your present leadership and your future leadership.  He also highlights being over doing.  Take a look.

The Revealing Power of Fear  I will conclude this post with some thoughts from Dan Rockwell.  He hits on a topic that I think on often-leading from a foundation of fear.  I am finding that this is a common leadership disease.  Dan offers some very good insight about how to move away from this impostor.  He also provides some very good evaluative questions for discerning and dealing with fear.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

5 for Leadership

After a week of vacation, here is a fresh 5.

12 Bible Verses for Leaders  Ron Edmondson provides twelve verses from Scripture that are foundational for biblical leadership.  These are certainly worthy of consideration.  Also check out Ron’s current five part video series on his blog as he interviews Dr. John Laida, who was Ron’s pastor growing up.

3 Leadership Lessons From Queen Elizabeth II  Scott Eblin writes a nice piece on the “footprint” of a leader and uses the recent Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the UK as an example that how one leads really matters.

The Top 10 Reasons People Have Lost “The Art of Vacation”  This seemed timely.  My family and I just returned from 9 days of vacation and enjoyed every bit of it-yet I did notice it was truly hard to unplug.  This post is from Chris Brady which highlights aspects of his upcoming book, A Month of Italy.  This is a very good list and worth pondering.  As leaders there has to be down time.  Take a look.

How Do I Lead A Team?  This post comes from the Talent Technologies web site and highlights five useful expectations of team members from their leaders.  These principles are foundational to a good team experience.

All Hail The Generalist  This is a great piece out of the Harvard Business Review blog and makes a great case for why the era of the generalist may be returning.  Vikram Mansharanami writes that the need for generalists who can see the interconnectedness of many things may be the leader of the future.

There are the 5 for this second week in June.  Lead well!