Proof of Leadership

Is there a “test” for leadership?

It is easy to look like a leader when everything is going well. I think we can make the argument that everything is not going well. We are living in difficult days. I am speaking globally. And I am speaking about our nation. And I am speaking about the great state of Texas. And I am speaking about my own little life.

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.

Publilius Syrus

Nobody panic. All is well in my home. I just love a great quote and this is one of my favorites. What does it mean? To me, it is about the difference between being a leader and just looking like a leader.

To my friends and family, there is no need for alarm. I am very blessed. But here is the reality of life as I see it.

Globally – We are seeing world events take place that may bring to resolution a conflict that my father was a part of 68 years ago on the Korean Peninsula. The world watches and waits.

Nationally – Our nation is on the verge of cultural and class warfare.

Texas – Here in Texas we are engaged again in a battle to see if we are conservative enough. Is there a “litmus test” for conservatism? I don’t know for sure. And if so, would I pass it? Would you?

Home – Home is where I find joy and contentment and love and acceptance. I am blessed beyond measure with a family that is strong and courageous and loving and caring. But there are still struggles every day that are common to many of you who read these words.

So, is there a test that determines if you are a leader or not?

It is easy to lead when times are easy.

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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

Another perspective

Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. During my adult life, I’ve found myself doing all three at one time or another. By my very nature, I tend to want to lead. Sometimes that is truly the case because I have the passion and feel I also have the experience, knowledge, or skill to move things forward in a positive direction. It may also be because I see a void of leadership that I feel an obligation to fill. Other times, truth be told, it’s probably more of a self-centered desire for the adrenaline rush that comes from being in the middle of the action.

Follow

The “follow” part often does not come as easily for me. Call it a type-A personality or a distrust of others’ intentions, I can find it hard to be inspired to get behind another’s efforts. Add to that a series of uninspiring leaders in my past along with a failure on my part to seek out a successful mentor that I could utilize not only to learn but also to develop trust. I’ve also spent a significant portion of my professional career working in a zero sum environment where acknowledging another’s leadership and helping to move their agenda forward often comes back to be viewed as your own lack of vision or initiative. There have, however, been a few bright spots where I have been able to trust another’s interests and motives and take a subordinate part on a team just to be around the leader and to be part of something greater than myself.

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Leadership Focus: A Reminder

What sitting in a recent training session reminded me about my leadership focus.

leadership-focus

I have said many times, and I repeat again right now. You never know from where your inspiration for writing will come. For me, over the last two Sunday afternoons, it has come from some Discipleship Training that was hosted by a church near where I live.

The training was for them and for their people. But I got a chance to sit in and observe. I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to the topic. So, I was not expecting to really “learn” anything. Boy, was I wrong!

What did I learn? And how was I wrong?

Truthfully, I didn’t really learn anything radically new or different. Instead, I was able to view the topic of leadership development in much the same way that the presenter was able to view the topic of discipleship. 

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Leadership Comes From Experience

NOT from Exposure!

leadership-comes-from-experience

As a leader, I am always seeking experiences that will make me a better leader. As a “follower”, I crave experienced and proven leaders. What we need is something that prepares men and women to actually lead and not just to think about or read about leadership.

Young developing leaders need opportunities to actively and personally explore and/or experience what they should have already learned in an academic setting or observed in a practical setting. These opportunities should be “performance practicums” and represent a safe environment for young leaders to grow and gain the practical experience that we as followers desperately want them to have. How else do we develop and grow the best young leaders in our organizations?

A Perspective on Experience

Frequent readers of this blog will know how much I love a great quote. And, it is said that John F. Kennedy produced a notable one as he was battling perceptions that he had a marked deficit of leadership in his 1960 presidential campaign. He is quoted as saying:

“Experience is like tail lights on a boat which illuminate where we have been when we should be focusing on where we should be going”.

That is a great quote, isn’t it? And it is highly inspirational. Especially to the young and to the up and coming.

Another Perspective on Experience

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How Important Are YOUR Results?

What should we be doing as followers?

How Important are YOUR Results?

It is easy to follow a “winner.” And it is easy to follow when everything is chugging along nicely and the organization is experiencing success, growth, profitability, everyone feels valued and appreciated by their leader.

So, what do we do when our leader isn’t leading us in a positive direction of if there are not positive and measurable results? That is a very different situation, isn’t it?

Who is at fault?

That is probably the first thing that jumps to most of our minds. (OK, maybe that is only in my mind.) And I suppose there is a time and there is a place for that kind of an assessment. But, what if we are in a crisis mode? Then that is not the time to be assigning blame. That is the time to rally around the leader, get things fixed, and get the ship turned around.

What is MY responsibility at this point?

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Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

All three may be viable options

Lead, Follow

We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. During my adult life, I’ve found myself doing all three at one time or another.

The “Lead” Part

By my very nature, I tend to want to lead. Sometimes that is truly because I have the passion and feel I also have the experience, knowledge, or skill to move things forward in a positive direction. It may also be because I see a void of leadership that I feel an obligation to fill that void. Other times, truth be told, it’s probably more of a self-centered desire for the adrenaline rush that comes from being in the middle of the action.

The “Follow” Part

The “follow” part often does not come as easily for me.

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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Wise Leaders Keep an Eye to the Future

Wise Men Leadership

We are close to Christmas Day. And we are given an opportunity each year to review the greatest story ever told. Also, there are leadership lessons that are in this story that are present if you will look for them.

Consider today some leadership lessons from the Wise Men.

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Why Would Anyone Want To Be Led By You? Or Me?

 

Why Be Led By You - 1The year is nearly over. Many leaders and leadership teams are taking their annual step back to do a deep-dive assessment of their organization’s progress against the goals and objectives of their strategic plans. (What? You don’t do that at your organization?  Maybe that is part of what is holding the organization back.)

As part of your end-of-year strategic progress review, consider including another area of assessment — one that will require a different kind of evaluation and be much more introspective in nature. Why not take some time to also consider how you personally are progressing as a leader? After all, an organization’s strategic performance is, in large part, a direct reflection of the effectiveness of the person at the top.

If you want to silence a room of pastors, executives, or any group of leaders try this small trick. Ask them, “Why would anyone want to be led by you?”

Without fail the response will most likely be a sudden, stunned hush. All you will hear are knees knocking and crickets chirping.

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Talkative Leadership

 

Talkative Leadership - 1This past Sunday I stood up in front of a large group of people and talked.  And talked, and talked, and talked.  I ended up talking for 10 minutes.  I was trying to encourage people, and to lead them.  I was trying to be the leader I thought I was hired to be.  I really did.

The problem is that I wasn’t hired to be “that” type of leader.  I wasn’t hired to talk a lot.  I was hired to lead, but in a completely different manner.

So what’s the problem you ask?  If I was trying to do something positive then all is well, right?  Well yes and no actually.  Trying to do something positive is good, but when it is done at the expense of something better it’s less good.  By taking so much time talking, I stole time from the person who was hired to lead by talking, and therefore robbed the audience of more leadership from him.

Talkative Leadership - 2Which leads me to my point.  

Sometimes good leadership means

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