Thursday, May 6, 2010

Your Only Authority

Andy Stanley argues in this clip that moral leadership is THE foundation of our influence in people's lives. Continuing, he says, "When people see a gap between what we say and what we do, it erodes our moral authority and our influence in their lives." I agree with him. Watch the short vignette at Catalyst and let me know what you think. Have you ever served under a leader that continuously created such a "gap" that you had to jump often. How do we prevent asking our followers to "jump the gap" that we create in the ways that we practically lead? How do you ensure the "gap" is minimized?

Go to the above link and click on the article entitled, "Video: Your Only Authority" to learn a powerful truth that may translate to functional wisdom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Little Leaders

Little Leader
by Louie Giglio

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.
Psalm 8:1

Little leaders are what we need.

As a result of the Fall, we all have a deadly preoccupation with ourselves. We are self-aware, self-focused, self-conscious, self-made, self-protecting, self-promoting, self-centered and selfish. Conversion to Christ is nothing less than getting over ourselves. That's why there is more than a subtle change that happens at the foot of the Cross. A death takes place there. Christianity is not about self-help but rather self-death. New life begins when we each abandon "me" and fall on the mercy of a God who loves us in spite of ourselves and a Christ who gave Himself in our place. In that moment, we embrace freedom from the perpetual doom of the flesh and take up the cause of living solely for the One who freed us. Such is the way of the Savior, who calls any who would be a recipient of new life to "deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me" (see Matt. 16:24).

Yet from my experience, self does not go quietly. Instead, it stubbornly rears its head and demands its way, looking for any opportunity to stand in the limelight and receive the glory. If left unchecked, self will stand in the light of God and somehow try to take credit for it.

Recently, I was stunned by a photograph in USA Today of what astronomers say is the perfect spiral galaxy. Taken with the help of a new telescope on the Big Island of Hawaii, the photo shows a breathtaking shot of a galaxy named NGC 628—slightly smaller than our Milky Way (it contains only a paltry 100 billion stars) and, get this, 30 million light-years away. Funny, the whole point of the accompanying article was our great achievement of taking such a great photograph with our two-week-old telescope. Aren't we great? Hmmm. Seems like all the wrong pronouns! Granted, we have done well to photograph anything 30 million light-years away, but let's get the point straight: God's hand put every one of those stars in place. An appropriate caption for this photo would have been, "Can you believe God made this stuff with His own hands?"

The psalmist writes:

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (Ps. 8:3-4).

Notice all the pronouns. Your heavens. Your fingers. You set in place. Get it? God is far from small. In fact, it's safe to say our self-limitation has never fully allowed us to think of Him as He is. Given His incomprehensible immensity, the fact that He is mindful of us at all is amazing!

So if you want a quick glimpse into how small you are as a leader, take note of which pronouns consume you: "His," "He" and "Yours"; or "I," "me" and "mine." Little leaders use "He" a lot. The big ones use "me."

A stage is a dangerous place to be, because a stage, by definition, is a raised platform. Stages are built so that little people can be seen more easily by larger audiences. The lights are bright. The sound is big. Yet if we are not careful, those of us who lead can allow the stage to succeed, making more of us than we really are.

It's not that we are nobodies. We're created a little lower than angels and are crowned with glory and honor—made in His image (see Ps. 8:5). We get to rule over all He has made. But we've only to look up to be resized in an instant. [don't Sailors intuitively know this while at sea?]

Rather than absorb the light that shines on leaders, we must continually reflect it back to God. One night my wife, Shelley, and I were flying home to Waco from Houston in a small twin-engine plane. Every time I looked out the window, I saw a massive searchlight moving rapidly across the ground below. At first I thought a police helicopter was tracking some criminals, but after an hour the light was still there. Finally I spoke up, wondering aloud what could be going on. The pilot, ever so confident, informed me that the moon (which was full at the time and pretty much right there, if I’d only looked up) was shining on the plane, reflecting a huge circle of light onto the ground.

I felt like an idiot! Embarrassed and a little humiliated, I went back to minding my own business. Then it hit me! Eager to get even, I remarked that actually the moon was not shining on the plane. Rather, the sun was shining on the moon (hah!), and the light of the sun was reflecting off the moon onto the plane. Thus the sunlight was making the huge searchlight on the ground. Brilliant!

Well, as far as leaders go, we need more little moons. Shine a light on them if you will, but you'll only see a greater reflection of His glory in all those around them.

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Ps. 8:1).

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Mark of a Great Leader

The Mark of a Great Leader
by Marshall Goldsmith

Years ago, when most organizations were based on the hierarchical business model of the Industrial Age, great leaders were those who were unemotional, rational, even mechanistic. Those days are gone. Today's leader, especially one who is in charge of a dynamic, global organization, finds himself or herself in desperate need of one key trait — self-awareness.

An organization's success today depends on such a variety of talents and skills that no one leader could possibly be gifted in simultaneously. There are technological issues, global issues, financial issues, human resource issues, leadership issues, employee issues, legal issues, and more. A leader who is self-aware enough to know that he or she is not adept at everything is one who has taken the first step toward being a great leader.

This sort of personal mastery entails having a heightened understanding of one's own behavior, motivators, and competencies — and having "emotional intelligence" — to monitor and manage one's emotional responses in a variety of situations. This variety of situations is not limited to the home office, or the boardroom. It is of a global nature, across cultures which are very different and can be difficult to navigate, especially for those who are not comfortable, knowledgeable, or willing to admit their individual strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has a shortcoming or two — leaders who are willing to admit these, who strive to improve, and who seek out a consulting team to fill in the gaps will 1) encourage followers to do the same and 2) make room for others whose talents lie where theirs don't.

Have you ever worked with a micro-manager? This is someone who thinks he or she needs to be involved in everything that happens within the company. These leaders are closing out the talents of others by not divesting themselves from the day-to-day problem-solving activities of the company. Great leaders let go of the day-to-day, problem-solving activities of the company. Rather, they choose to maximize strategic and relationship-building efforts. These contribute to the forward momentum of the company rather than causing a "bottleneck" at the leader's desk. No one person should do it all — and if they are self-aware, most people will realize that they really aren't capable nor knowledgeable enough to do it all.

Do you recognize the difference between what you need to do versus what you should pass along to your team? Does your boss?

Following is a short list of things you can do to achieve self-awareness and personal mastery in leadership.

  • Monitor your performance. Note areas in which you excel and need improvement. Communicate these to your team.
  • Realize that failures and mistakes are just one step on the road to success.
  • Recognize that being aware of the impact that your behavior has on other people is a critical leadership skill.
  • Remember that when criticism is difficult to accept, there is probably some truth to it.
  • And, finally, learn to give yourself and others credit for improving.

Readers: Have you worked for or known a great leader? What made him or her great?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

War & The Human Condition

Thought-provoking post at a newly found blog. Lots of good stuff to peruse at Remnant Culture - check it out for yourself. Consider the question then post your comments - I'm interested to hear from a few of my readers (it's been awhile).

Is War Inseparable from the Human Condition?

Last week military historian Victor Davis Hanson appeared on Uncommon Knowledge on National Review Online. Hanson discussed his new book The Father of Us All, and in the segment below claims that war is inseparable from the human condition.

Peter Robinson starts off by quoting Hanson next to his ideological opposite John Mueller. The quotes are as follows:

Hanson: “War seems to be inseparable from the human condition.” (from The Father of Us All)

Mueller: “War is merely an idea — an institution like dueling or slavery that has been grafted onto human existence…Unlike breathing, eating, or sex, war is not something that is somehow required by the human condition.” (from The Remnants of War)

Hanson’s argument rests, as he says, on empirical evidence. Even in mankind’s most peaceful and just societies we have always had war; therefore, we always will.

Do you agree or disagree?

Either way, what does this mean for the Remnant Culture? If war intrudes on individual liberty but is also inseparable from the human condition, how do we maximize the individual liberty of that human condition without promoting war?

What are your thoughts?

This video is part of a five-part series. See the remaining segments here.