If you’ve been following the PLG Blog, you probably understand to some extent that Leadership is Influencing People. There are different levels of influence that you can have on others, and they have the ability to influence you as well. Influence, or leadership, happens best through relationships. If you look at the life of Jesus and the people he influenced most, you will see that they were his closest apostles. He was a leader to multitudes of people, but it is those few He invested in who went on to change the world, building His church. Jesus influenced the sick and broken through healing and teaching.
As I was listening to the news earlier today, I heard that Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates at a juvenile detention center in Italy where Holy Thursday Mass was held (read about it here). This act of servanthood is likely to be the catalyst for change in at least one of those twelve inmates, and it is likely to influence many people who hear the story. When I heard the story on the news, they made a point to mention that many of the inmates in that prison are Muslims. Can you see what a difference that serving can have on influence compared to debating and arguing?…
Nearly every pastor of an evangelical church looks for ways to “make disciples”. It is one thing to have a mission statement that declares “discipleship” as the means of growing the church; the “how” of discipleship is much more complicated.
Some churches establish very detailed classroom environments with set days of the week where they share plenty of scripture and often times a component of teaching. Perhaps the participants interact around that scripture as well. However, some of the most effective churches in “making disciples” (based on the level of participation in all areas of the church’s life) have embraced the model where almost everything happens in a small group….
“What’s one thing you can know for sure about a turtle on a fencepost?”
I first heard this question my freshman year in college. It’s a question that is intended to inspire a journey into a multitude of questions and infinite unknowns. The question makes you wonder about meaning, purpose, and sacrifice. The answer to the question, however, sounds like a punchline to a joke, and, like so many other punchlines, it holds deep meaning.
“So, what is one thing you can know for sure about a turtle on a fencepost,” you ask?…
On March 4, 2013 an interview was published to YouTube. Chris Stark, a rookie reporter from a popular BBC radio show, sat down to interview Mila Kunis. Mila Kunis began her rise to stardom during nine seasons of That 70’s Show; since then, her career and popularity have grown exponentially.
Why do I mention this? Since the seven minute interview hit YouTube less than ten days ago, it has garnered over 10.4 million hits. [You can watch the interview by clicking here.] That’s an average of over 1 million hits a day. What has made this video of what should have been a fairly boring actress/reporter promotional interview something that more than 10 million people have directed their browsers to see?…
Much is written about the need to “persevere” in just about any kind of pursuit, but I believe this is especially true when it comes to leadership.
When you are in a place of influence of others and obstacles continue to block your path for a long period of time, people begin to wonder if anything is going to happen, if someone’s going to break the stalemate, if the obstacles will ever be overcome. That’s what leaders are known to do. They make things happen when it appears that it’s not going to be so.
Last evening, 3-12-13, the Pittsburgh Penguins played 53 minutes of scoreless hockey and were being written off by the national sports casters as not having their game in gear that night as they were about to be shut-out by the Boston Bruins. With less than seven minutes left, winger Chris Kunitz made a goal which cut the lead to 2-1. Remember, the Penguins had not scored in the first 53 minutes and were still 1 goal behind. All Boston had to do was continue to keep the puck in the Penguins end of the ice for the remaining 6+ minutes and the game would be over….
In my prior post, I proposed that leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character. How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn’t always mold character, but it certainly does reveal it. And adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. So it takes real courage to have character. Where does this courage come from?
Courage begins with an inner battle. Every test you face as a leader begins within you. The test of courage is not different. All significant battles are waged within one’s self. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” Great leaders take a stand when needed. Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over. Courage deals with principle, not perception. If you don’t have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you’ll never be an effective leader. Your dedication to principle must remain stronger than your desire to appease others….
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that people approach the responsibility of leadership in many different ways. It’s not unlike the way some of us head into the crashing waves of the ocean.
I know that for me, if the water’s warm enough, I head right into the waters and as soon as I know I’m deep enough into the breakers I go head first and just get soaked. My wife Carol, on the other hand, prefers to simply let the water touch her toes, and after a while her ankles, and then eventually her knees and then perhaps 20 minutes later she may go fully under! (From where I see things, hers is the most painful way to experience it and yet, she hasn’t changed in the four decades that I’ve known her!)
I have found people embrace leadership in the same way. There are some that look carefully at the circumstances and then with little prodding make a dramatic leap head first into the opportunity or challenge that’s before them. They don’t care about the initial shock of pain or perceived responsibility, they just want to get on with it and get the job done….
Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character. And yet, while a leadership position doesn’t give a person character, character can give him a leadership position. How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn’t necessarily mold character, but is certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. It takes real courage to have character. Every time a leader chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences. The development of character is at the heart of our development as leaders. Character is the foundation on which a leader builds his or her life. It all begins with character, because leadership operates on the basis of trust. People will follow a leader only so far as they trust him or her….
When you look at the math for calculating a vector, you either understand it or it looks like a secret code that’s impossible to decipher. What you may not recognize is that the vector is a great way to describe what leadership is. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines a vector as this:
Vector: a quantity having direction as well as magnitude.
New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition © 2010 by Oxford University Press, Inc.
When I was learning about vectors in middle and high school, it boiled down to direction and velocity. Without direction and velocity, a vector is nothing more than a point. This same idea applies to leaders. Without movement and direction, a leader is nothing more than a person standing still.
Leadership Requires Vision
Every person has their own unique blend of natural talents and learned skills. Some people are very organized people and thrive in structured environments where they can lead within an established structure. This is often referred to as management, but there are some necessary leadership qualities for a person to go beyond accomplishing tasks. Others may be more skilled in coming up with new ideas and methods for improving upon whatever it is that they are involved in. These people are often mislabeled as visionary leaders. Just because someone is great at coming up with new ideas does not mean that they can cast vision and influence people towards that vision….
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.
Proverbs 1:5 NIV
If we are to lead others effectively, we need to be committed to be lifelong learners. When you limit your learning, you limit your growth in every area of life. But with so many avenues available for learning, leaders do not have the time to learn just for the sake of learning. Collecting random knowledge may allow you to beat the average person on Jeopardy, but it will not translate into seeing your unique God-given gifts emerge. Instead, the best leaders focus their learning on the things that set them apart.
I have had the opportunity to serve as an executive coach to a number of senior leaders in a number of different organizations. My goal was never to identify their weakest areas and turn them into strengths. If a visionary leader has a messy office, it is a waste of his or her time to focus their learning on how to excel at planning and organizing.
When weaknesses are so distracting that they threaten to derail a leader, they must be mitigated. However, it is a futile exercise to try to turn weaknesses into strengths. Instead, executive coaching is best focused on how a leader can take the strengths that have propelled them to success and develop, leverage and maximize those strengths….