Train up a child…

I’m the father of three little kids, and we’re just starting school for them. I’ve wondered a bunch lately about the things that they will learn this year, and where they will be successful, where they will struggle, and how I can lead my family through both ends of that spectrum. I’ve wondered how well they will be reading and writing, what sort of social experiences they will have… you get the idea if you are a parent.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the things that my children need to learn: an understanding of football, baiting a fish hook, how (and more importantly, when) to throw a punch, how to safely handle a pocket knife (for my oldest, at least), for a few examples.

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Waiting on the World to Change

Waiting on the World to Change - 1Well, I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever heard a John Mayer song sung in church before the pastor got up to preach. Tomorrow, I won’t be able to make that statement. The song immediately preceding the message was “Waiting on the World to Change”. And many of you will instantly recall the lyrics.

I will forego evaluating the use of John Mayer music in a worship setting. I will only say that the band in church this morning did an excellent job with the song and played it with heart, soul, and passion.

This song is often misunderstood. Do a little internet research on the song and you will quickly see that it has folks who can be fairly polarized in their views on whether it is a statement, an expectation or a parody. Mayer himself has been somewhat elusive on the meaning behind the lyrics.  That’s some clever writing and marketing right there.

Waiting on the World to Change - 2One stanza says this:

It’s not that we don’t care
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
(Waiting)
Waiting on the world to change

So what is my point and what is the relevance to Leadership Voices?

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Leadership Lessons from a Godly Mother

883790I was reminded in church this morning of the importance of a Godly mother and the development of leaders.  Today was special not only because it is Mother’s Day and I had the chance to be in church this morning with not only my mother, but my mother-in-law as well.  I was also able to be there with my daughter-in-law and our son as they dedicated their son.  It was a special day.  But it also was an opportunity to consider the importance of mothers and to consider the impact of a mother’s dedication to raising a leader.

We worshipped in a typical Texas small town First Baptist Church.  The people were warm and friendly and it was refreshing to my soul.  The pastor spoke simply but eloquently and caused me to think again about the important leadership role that a mother plays in the lives of her children.  And I have borrowed liberally from his message this morning in writing this piece.

Consider with me for a moment the Godly example of Hannah from the Old Testament book of First Samuel.  The first few chapters tell us the following things and they are an example of the impact a Godly mother can have on her child for now and for eternity.  Here is what I see from looking at these first few chapters in the book of First Samuel.

Hannah prayed desperately for God to give her the desire of her heart.  She prayed deeply and earnestly that she would have a child – a son.

Hannah prioritized the raising of her child.  She made sure that she taught him the things that would be important to him as an adult and that would prepare him for great things.

Hannah dedicated her child to God and to His service.  She saw herself as serving a greater purpose than just feeding and diapering.  She believed that she was a steward of the gift that God had given her.

Hannah was faithful to the responsibility to parent.  She was dedicated and she was steadfast in her sacred task.

12748So, what are the leadership implications of this story? 

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Where have all the good (young) men gone?

Where have all the good men gone - 1

– Herman Melville, Moby Dick

I have had a few instances in the past few weeks where I have had to think to myself, what would your father think about that? Not only your earthly father but your heavenly father as well. Sometimes I get the idea that some young men (not all) don’t think they will ever have to be accountable for their actions. Back to that in a minute…..

First of all I want to thank a few of you fathers out there that are raising God fearing young men. I think it will save me a lot of time with a shovel, when my girls start to date. I ask you though, where did you learn the lessons you are sharing with your sons? I bet it was your father and grandfather. I am confident my parents would still be married today if my father was still alive, and I watched my grandfather sit beside my grandmother’s hospital bed as leukemia took her.

Where have all the good men gone - 2Please don’t get me wrong, I am not the perfect father, Lord knows, I ask for help. But sometimes I see or hear of something some young man has done or said, and my first thought is not, What would Jesus Christ think…..It is what does your father think? Is no one accountable anymore? Are we a soft enough society that a village no longer raises a child? I am pretty sure all of my neighbors had “Beat on sight when necessary” instructions for me when I was a kid.

We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing leadership, and I have come to think as leaders we are responsible to not only each other, but those without a good example. I said to someone, “…that really isn’t any of my business…” and their response to me was “Why isn’t it?” It has taken me all week to figure out that, maybe I should make it my business. Maybe we should all start making a few more injustices our business.

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LEAD – an Acrostic

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Everyone needs an acrostic every now and then to help us remember things or get a better grasp of concepts. So, today I present an acrostic to help us understand better how to lead.

LEAD Acrostic - 1L – Learn – Each of us must invest in ourselves in order to learn how to become a better leader. Although many folks are naturally gifted with leadership traits and tendencies, many are not so gifted. So it is imperative that we each develop ways to learn from other recognized leaders in our contemporary culture. And we must cultivate a good historical knowledge of leaders from our past. Read about leaders such as Jack Welch and George Patton. Do not necessarily get distracted by some of their personal or family foibles. But rather focus on the public leadership that they displayed.

LEAD Acrostic - 2E – Earn – Each of us must earn the right to lead. We must lead in the little things first before we can expect to be given great leadership responsibility. You don’t often make it from the mail room to the board room in a week. But, you will earn the right to lead through time and through trial and error. Unfortunately many in the younger generation have never experienced trial and error. They have grown up in a culture where everyone is a winner. And you are given a ribbon for just participating. The ribbon is conferred upon you and not earned by your efforts. Leadership is earned.

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Somebody is Watching You

Somebody is Watching You - 1

Somebody is watching you.  Somebody is always watching every little move you make, every step you take, every vow you break.  (Wow, I broke into a lyric there for a second.)

Such is the stuff of thrillers and horror movies.  But the same is true of the daily and the mundane.

Someone is always watching you.

As a leader, do you understand the power of your influence?

Do you know the ramifications of what you say and what you do?

Do you grasp the implications of how you do what you do?

Leaders have tremendous impact on the lives of the people that they lead. This is true in business and it is especially true in our personal lives.  A good leader can make a person feel as though they can accomplish anything. On the other hand, a poor leader can destroy the self-esteem of those they are called to lead and serve.

As a leader you are always being watched. Consider that today and be careful.

Photo credit: dayglowill / Foter.com / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: tk-link / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Courage

Ty Carter -1Courage — A vanishing trait?

While pondering this topic… I’m not so sure I’m all that qualified to write of it, but I will mount the challenge with courage.

Courage is one of those character traits that is not a necessity for leadership but is mandatory!

The development of courage in the right person is to first understand that there is a price pay for following the convictions of their heart. Consider the life of the most recent Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Ty Carter. When Carter spoke with the media he stressed the importance of supporting soldiers both deployed and when the return home from war.

“Know that a soldier or veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate and dedicated men or women you will ever meet. Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living when others did not,” Carter said.

How can we even connect to those thoughts or feelings or know the weight of a burden so heavy?

Here are a few traits connected to courage that need examined.

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Can You Help Me, Please?

Can You Help Me PleaseNature vs. Nurture — Leadership.

I have been pondering this ancient theme for some time and the evidence of its impact really came to light recently in Florida.

Let’s consider first for a moment if you will something equally ridiculous. The law of gravity (nature).

We could pass a law (nurture you), (if it is not already on the books somewhere), that prohibits you from falling. Now that would really be cool because you could no longer “fall down”. We have conquered gravity with the stroke of a pen! Imagine, no more being tripped-up, falling down stairs, or most importantly…no more huge masses of body’s during football games! Injuries would be in huge decline.

Now that law is as ridicules as the one that presented itself in the Florida “teenage bus beating” case a few weeks back. But when viewed through the prism of “nature vs nurture”, what did we really see?

I was involved caring for foster kids at point. To illustrate the nature vs nurture disorder I am drawn back to one particular situation that involved a set of three siblings we had for nearly two years.

There was a relative that lived down the street from us and to say the least the relationship was NOT “mutual”. They had a son (Matt) who was the same age as the oldest sibling (Joe) we were caring for at the time. For weeks on end Joe would come home frustrated because he was being bullied by Matt. I would talk with Joe and settle him down. To try and talk to Matt’s parents was futile at best. It went nowhere.

After about the fourth week and the frustration (nature) building in Joe and the attempts to get him to understand that we were (nurtured) not allowed to let them engage in any activity in which they may be harmed. The next day things come to a boil and the efforts to hold Joe back were failing badly. I took Joe aside…I said look, I understand the frustration (nature) you are dealing with. However, if it gets to the point that you must make a stand for yourself (nature), then you had better

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Elected Leaders vs. Influential Leaders – Part 2

Elected vs Influential - Part 2 - 1I promised a follow-up to my article last week. I was hoping for a little more input from you as fellow leaders before I provided this follow-up piece. But, this issue is once again very relevant to me and some folks that I know.

Many years ago (late 80s and early 90s) I experienced the phenomena of having to deal with “leaders” who were not the elected leaders of an organization. I call them “de facto” leaders. Although they were not elected or officially recognized, they were in fact significant leaders in their own right. And they actually wielded significant power.

The problem was that I didn’t know how to handle or really even recognize this kind of leadership. It was leadership based solely on the individual’s strong personality and influence on the rest of the organization. (Do you recall how John Maxwell defines “Leadership”?) And although he didn’t represent a majority, he represented enough and they were “verbal” enough such that they had to be reckoned with.

So, what did I do with a guy who was content to be the voice of the contrary instead of the voice of the constructive?

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Elected Leaders vs. Influential Leaders

Elected vs Influential - 1Here is challenge that you may have to face at some point in your leadership career. You will encounter two types of leaders. Elected leaders and Influential leaders.

Have you ever considered these two types? If not, consider them now.

Elected leaders are the ones that we may be familiar with the most. It is reasonably clear how they became leaders. Someone recognized leadership ability within them. The organization then went on and nominated or appointed them to a position of responsibility and leadership. That is fairly clear cut. Ability was recognized and a position was attained. This is generally a good model and it produces good results.

Elected vs Influential - 2Now consider the second type – the Influential leader. This person generally does not have real leadership skills. Yet they have a position of leadership in spite of it. They generally attain the position through shear force of personality.  That may be just a euphemism for being a bully. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it is because they possess a specialized skill.  Sometimes they attain it through longevity within the organization. Sometime they attain the role of leader through fame, notoriety, family or financial position. These are the leaders that are difficult to work with or work for.

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