Many years ago I was given the incredible opportunity to work very closely with some guys and to take a radical look at how leadership looked and worked in the local church environment. Not before, nor since then, have I had the opportunity to have such an impact.
I worked most closely with a young officer in the military. His name is Capt. David G. Woods. He and I are the same age and and at the time were at somewhat the same station in life. Albeit his station was military and mine was civilian. We had similar circumstances and views of leadership at the time. We were young. We were passionate. We were energetic. We had boundless energy. We had very little patience with those not exactly like us. We were foolish at times.
One of the things that we noted was that not everyone who has the ability to “see the big picture” can then execute a plan to accomplish the vision that is seen in the big picture. Strategic and tactical planning are leadership skills that are not often found in visionary leaders.
I did not consider myself to be a visionary leader at that time nearly 20 years ago. I was much more strategic and tactical. I have developed visionary skills as I have grown older. But neither of us had them at the time. I won’t speak completely for David, but I know that I had brief flashes of vision and I had an innate sense that things could be and should be different. But, I struggled to see that big picture.
David and I were very fortunate to have an older guy be a part of our little brain trust. His name was Robert Spalding and he was one of the FBI’s preeminent forensic experts. I will not go into his area of expertise because some may be a bit squeamish to learn of his expertise. But he was brilliant, analytical, steadfast, and had the respect of the rest of the leadership that worked alongside us.
Together we produced some evaluation tools and a methodology for helping that local church move from a great vision and begin to put together specific, actionable, and measurable steps that would take us to where we felt that we were called to go. Dave and I, especially, burnt gallons of “midnight oil” in the basement of my office building in a little office hovering over demographic data, membership data, leadership tools and together we developed the material that was introduced the to the rest of the leadership team and was later used at a leadership retreat. The result of all of that was a dramatic restructuring of the roles of the various leaders that enabled them to really focus on their areas of strength and really begin to accomplish the goals that so many of them had – building the church spiritually, numerically and financially.
The results did not come over night. But they did begin to come.
Bob, David and I, along with our families, moved away before we were able to see all of the fruit of our labors. We never saw the harvest. That was sad. But that is the way it is in leadership.
And in the end, the leaders that followed us made changes to the structure as necessary. One of the key things that was part of our methodology was a periodic review of how we were progressing and how we were measuring up against our goals and objectives. So, change was to be expected.
So what is the leadership point?
Leadership comes in many flavors. One of the flavors of leadership is in helping an organization translate visionary thinking into actionable steps. And the book that was born from that work so many years ago is as relevant and valuable to leaders today as it was in 1996.
The problem is that, in many organizations, it is not popular to admit that as a leader you do not know everything and that you do not possess every skill necessary for success. Only humble leaders and servant leaders will take the principles to heart that are outlined in this book. We also championed the idea of analyzing and evaluating what we were doing to spot trends or identify what was working and what was not. Sadly, this also is not popular in many organizations. It is almost as though we are often afraid of what we may discover.
This book will have limited appeal. I do not expect it to be a commercial success. That is not why I wrote it. Leadership Voices is all about helping folks become better leaders than they are today. But if you are a servant leader, I hope that you will click on this link and visit our page on Amazon and download the kindle version of this book. If you are not an “ebook” lover, then you will be able to order the paperback version, also from Amazon, very soon.
Please visit my Author page on Amazon and see a preview of the book. And stay tuned for the launch of the paperback coming very soon.