Leadership Lessons from the Easter Season

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

For many, and for Christians in particular, this is Holy Week. Today is Maundy Thursday. Many will attend a Tenebrae Service tonight. Tomorrow is Good Friday. And Sunday will be Easter.

When you are a blogger it can be sometimes difficult to tackle certain topics. When you are a Christian blogger, it is really a daunting task to write on the subject of Jesus Christ and His leadership. It almost makes that aspect of who He was, seem corporate or secular. But, this week, I feel that I must address it if I am to be true to who I am as a writer and as a person.

The Ultimate Leader

There are many aspects of Jesus’ life that I could point out on any given day. And I don’t begin to know how to prioritize a few of them as we approach Easter morning. But, let me point out one or two for our consideration as we approach the darkness of Good Friday, the quiet of Saturday and the joy of Easter morning.

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Leadership Lessons the Hard Way

Being Right Has Nothing To Do With It

Leadership Lessons the Hard Way

I awoke yesterday morning to the terrible news that I lost a dear friend overnight. My friend, Butch Sweeney, could no longer stand to be in this mortal shell. He had suffered tremendously for years. But, he is not suffering today. He is dancing on the streets of Heaven and his amazing tenor voice is being heard loud and clear once again.

But this article today is not merely a tribute to him and to his life. Rather, it is a brief story about one of the toughest leadership lessons I ever learned. Butch taught me that it is not a question of who is right or wrong. It is a question of including all of the stakeholders and “selling” the idea to them first.

The Idea

The idea was that in order to increase the effectiveness and reach of the organization that we both loved and served, a change was necessary to how we served the people of that organization. It was my idea that if we radically altered how we delivered the message to the members, we would see greater attendance, greater involvement, and greater engagement. At least, that was the idea.

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The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Or, if they do, they are too humble to mention it!

The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Last week was a blur. I spent the entire week in New Orleans at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) Summit & Salute.

According to their website, “WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program filled with a focus on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises for 2016.

An otherwise typical awards dinner took on special interest to me and to my colleagues when one of our peers was recognized for a life of leadership to various organizations. One of our colleagues had a friend who posted a great description of the award winner. She called her an “iconic and humblest of all souls.” Wow! what a description! Wouldn’t you like to have that said of you?

And the winner is . . . 

The winner of the award was my friend and colleague, Susan Stentz. Susan has spent much of her career supporting women and minority business enterprises. She is a “go to” person on our team. She is a wealth of experience and insight. I, personally, call her on the phone often to answer questions and get her feedback on thoughts and ideas that I have. Everyone on our team recognizes her leadership in this vital area of commercial dealings with potential suppliers.

What is the Leadership Lesson from this?

I think it is simply this. The greatest leaders are great without losing their humility in the process.

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Size Really Does Matter

But, maybe not how you think . . .

Size Really Does Matter

I recently got to spend some time at a working farm and family friendly venue with animals to pet, a hay maze, some slides, a little zip line, and some big trikes and pedal cars. The little track with the trikes and pedal cars provided an interesting lesson in leadership and human nature.

The little track had about 5 or 6 different sizes and styles of self-propelled vehicles. And, invariably, as kids entered the area, they were seemingly “drawn” to the biggest pedal cars on the track. It was almost a metal and magnet kind of attraction. Children would walk right past smaller pedal cars and big trikes and go straight for the biggest pedal cars that they could find.

I watched it happen and here is what happened next. A small child would get to the big pedal car and try to mount it. If they were successful in doing that, they then tried to have their little feet and legs reach the pedals. Only to be disappointed. Most of the time, they were not tall enough to reach the pedals. Oh, they would stretch and strain. But, in the end, their legs just weren’t long enough.

Size Matters

Either the cars were too large for the children, or the children were too short for the cars. I saw it with some of my own grandchildren. They wanted to ride on the biggest car that was out there. They couldn’t resist. But, in either case, there was a size issue. And whether or not it was the size of the child or the size of the cart, it just became frustrating and not a whole lot of fun. Fortunately, the wise old grandfather saw what was going on and was able to coax them onto a smaller and more “size appropriate” vehicle. Then they were able to have some fun.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

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The Value of Perspective

Leaders always need to keep things in perspective

the value of perspective

Perhaps this article today will deal more about life than about leadership. But, who knows? I am just going to let my thoughts flow and see where they take me. Hang on. Here we go!

Comparisons Can Be a Trap

One of the things that I have learned in life is to find a way to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself. However, every once in a while, I allow myself to fall victim to comparisons. I compare what I have (which is a lot by global standards) with that one person that I know that has that one thing that I would like to have. I compare my stuff to his stuff and I determine that I need more stuff.

Leaders Also Fall Into This Trap 

Sometimes we look around and we see that someone we know is really gifted with a particular leadership skill or trait. It is one that we wish we had as well. We compare ourselves and we become dissatisfied. Or worse, we become jealous. At best, it keeps us constantly looking for that one leadership book or seminar that will give us that leadership “mojo” that will surely make us a great leader.

I am currently reviewing an article soon to be published by a very talented organizational health and growth coach who is working out in the real world what he also teaches in the academic world. The opening paragraph of his article recounts his recent “Google” (it is a verb, don’t you know?) of the term “leadership.” He got almost 800 million hits!

Why is that?

I think it is because

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The Value of a Translator

Could you use a little help with your message?

The Value of a Translator

I had an incredible opportunity yesterday to speak on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I am currently on a business trip to Bangalore, India and I was given the opportunity to speak on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. — Legacy Leadership.

There was only one problem. I don’t speak Kannada. There are more than 51 million individuals from the state of Karnataka who do speak it natively and I was asked to speak at a place where the entire day’s activities would be among a group of people with whom there were precious few who had even a limited understanding of English. Most had no understanding at all. That is a tall order for one American who struggles himself from time to time with the English language!

Help! I need a Translator

Fortunately, my host was completely aware of my linguistic shortcomings. And he provided a person who spoke English fluently but was a native Kannadigaru. And he would be my translator and interpreter.

One of the things that became very clear to me very early on in the development of my message was that I had to be crystal clear in my message and concise and succinct in developing any supporting information.

An unexpected problem

I was given twenty minutes. No problem. I can deliver a wealth of information in 20 minutes. Oh, wait a minute.

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Leadership Lesson from the Flu

A Flu Shot Would Have Helped!

Leadership Lesson from the Flu

Influenza-B. The was the emphatic word from the nurse at the after-hours clinic last Monday. That certainly explained why I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. And one of the first questions that she asked me as I walked in was, “Have you had your flu shot?”

Her question bothered e a little. She didn’t ask if I had “A” flu shot. She asked did you have “YOUR” flu shot. She personalized it. She made me take ownership of something that I didn’t actually own nor had I taken advantage of receiving the many times it is offered to employees where I work and many other places for those of us of a certain age and stage of life. But, I had not taken MY flu shot.

Perhaps I should have taken MY flu shot. All of the real medical evidence seems to indicate that if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it will at least lessen the duration and magnitude of the symptoms. Unfortunately, I like so many, chose to believe otherwise about the efficacy of the annual flu shot.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

The key to learning a leadership lesson from this is to understand what the flu vaccine is, or was.

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Confessional Leadership

Confessional Leadership

Confession is good for the soul, right? If that is true, then here is a confessional moment. I have made many mistakes in the many leadership roles that I have had over the years. Fortunately, I didn’t make all of these at the same time! And some of them, I still make from time to time. However, leadership is as much of a journey as it is a destination. So, I continue on.

Nevertheless, here are a few mistakes that I have made, but more importantly, I have learned from. Maybe you will learn from them also.

I have often allowed poor performance from staff when I know they are capable of better performance or more output. Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them? So, I ask myself now – Am I doing everything that I can do to get the most and the best out of them?

I have tolerated unacceptable behavior, sometimes for a very long time. Here again is an area where it is important to resolve conflict and not merely manage through it. Depending on the situation and the person’s role in the organization, you may need “allies” or some of their peers to establish acceptable standards and to set limits. Most often, the imagined outcome is not near as bad as we imagine it will be. So, I ask myself now – What’s the worst that could happen if I take a stand with this person?

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Lincoln – An Uncommon Leader

When the Common Becomes the Uncommon

Lincoln - An Uncommon Leader

There is a lot of renewed interest in former presidents theses days. It has been said that THE greatest job in the world is the job of being the former President. I don’t suppose that I will ever have that job.

Abraham Lincoln and some other great Presidents are the topics of comparison and conversation lately. I heard on the radio today that every great President in history has been associated with a war in one way or another. George Washington – Commander in Chief of the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln – The Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt – World War II, Ronald Reagan – The Cold War. But Lincoln’s name always seems to rise to the top of any list. So, what is the deal with Lincoln? Was he really the greatest president of all time?

A Common Beginning

History tells us that he was born in a log cabin in the frontier area of Kentucky. And that lifestyle was common for so many who were drawn to the frontier in hopes of making a life and owning a piece of land in the expanding federation of states that was the United States of America in the early 1800s. He grew up moving around the Ohio River Valley spending time in the states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

Becoming an Uncommon Leader

Donald T. Phillips wrote a book in 1993 entitled, Lincoln on Leadership. The subtitle was Executive Strategies for Tough Times. In that book, he provides significant insight into leadership principles that Lincoln exhibited and cultivated in others.

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Accidental Leadership

Is that even possible?

Accidental Leadership

There was a famous novel written in 1985 that became an Academy award winning movie in 1988. (The Academy was won in 1989, but who is that picky?) It was called “The Accidental Tourist” and starred one of my favorite actors, William Hurt.

The plot of the story revolves around the dissolving marriage of Macon Leary, played by Hurt in the movie. He is a writer of travel guides. In the story, the logo on the cover of these travel guides is a winged armchair. The visual assumption created by that logo design is that all travel is involuntary, and therefore potentially unpleasant. Macon Leary attempts to spare these poor unsuspecting and involuntary travelers the shock of the unfamiliar by providing keen insights into the locations that will make the traveler more comfortable with their surroundings. For instance, The New York Ties Review said; “Macon Leary will tell you where to find Kentucky Fried Chicken in Stockholm, or whether there’s a restaurant that serves Chef Boy-Ar-Dee ravioli in Rome.”

Accidental

So, I suppose that the term “accidental” really means “involuntary” in the context of that book and movie.

But that thought raises a few very significant question in my mind. And it is this:

“Is it really leading if I don’t know it is happening?” 

Is it possible to be an accidental leader? Is it possible to be an involuntary leader? Can leadership happen and emanate from us and we be completely unaware of that fact?

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