Leadership As Helping

Leadership As Helping

Everyone needs some help with something. Some people need money; others need wisdom; still others just need a chance. You know what I mean, because right now if you were to take the time and consider the question you could probably produce a list of things you could use some help with.

I also remind you that the help you so often need resides in some person you already know. Putting it another way: you have some gift, some talent, some ability, some provision that can help someone else. That’s the beautiful thing about this world and the way it was created is that within our collective grasp are the tools to help one another in many meaningful ways.

The hard part is

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Motivation and the Greater Good

Motivation and the Greater Good

I want to take a moment to examine the heart, character, inner thoughts and motives of one who desires to lead. This is a helpful practice that we each ought to engage in on a regular basis. Without self-examination, accountability and attention to moral development even the best of leaders will slowly drift and become overtaken by the allure of power, pleasure, greed and self-satisfying behaviors.

At the heart of every leadership attitude and behavior should be the inherent desire to help our fellow humans. Leadership is not some kind of encapsulated behavior that gets things done without human interaction or personal influence. Instead leadership is with and for people. Leadership is for the purpose of getting something done (for the purpose of the greater good of humanity) or for the purpose of shaping and influencing someone (for the purpose of the greater good of that person). And so we must examine our own hearts.

leadership is with and for people

Why do I lead?

Much of the time we lead others because it is part of our job description. In some way, shape or form our position requires us to “lead” a group of people in order to get a job done for the organization for which we work. However, if we begin digging down,

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Livin’ for the moment . . .

Living for the moment

I’m just livin’ for the moment . . .

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?

One of the definitions that I found for this phrase is as follows:

“To live or act without worrying about the future.”

So, I could say that I am living for the moment[.] – Period. Full stop.

To live in the moment, or to live in the now, means being conscious, aware and in the present with all of your senses. It means not dwelling on the past, nor being anxious or worrying about the future.

When we concentrate our attention on the present we focus on the task at hand. We give our full attention to what we are doing and we let go of outcomes.

Seizing each moment in life allows us to prolong its value and make it more meaningful. Rather than seeking quantity of time, when we live in the moment we enjoy and savor every minute. We don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

I am fully onboard with the sentiment expressed in these thoughts. As long as we don’t overdo them with psychobabble that no one really understands. In fact, I can embrace the sentiment. Living in the moment allows me to focus on what is before me. My wife, my children, my grandchildren. The thrust of this is to put away the distractions and focus on what is present and not what has happened or may happen.

Or, I could say that I am living for the moment [. . . ] – Ellipsis. To show an unfinished thought.

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How Does a Leader Motivate?


In life, it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from. What is important is this: Where are you going and how are you going to get there?

Aside from what you want to accomplish, what kind of a person do you want to become as the result of all your work and effort?  Men and women who achieve great things in life are almost always those who give thought to their own evolution and growth.  They become great people by design, not by accident.  They are like master craftsmen, continually shaping and polishing their character and personality so that they grow into someone important and worthwhile.  And so should you.

The highest goal you can have for yourself is to become a leader, to become an outstanding man or woman who is looked up to, admired, and respected by the people around you.  Motivational leadership is the ability to uplift and inspire people to perform at their best.  Personal leadership on the other hand, is the ability to motivate you to do the things, and be the kind of person that is a motivational leader.  Both are necessary, they are flip sides of the same coin.

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Leading With Humility


Leading with Humility - 1We have just experienced a bit of a momentous election here in the U.S.  And we are seeing changes in the upcoming Congress such as have not been seen since Herbert Hoover was president.  Regardless of your political affiliation and whether or not your side gained or lost, how will our newly elected or re-elected representatives lead?

I have written in the past on the recently elected pope and I would suggest again that Pope Francis may have some more words of wisdom for our elected leaders.

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose the name “Francis” when he became the first Jesuit pope of the Catholic Church in March 2013. Inspired by the modesty of St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis anchors his philosophy and approach to life in humility.  After the selection of Argentinian Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope in March 2013, his humility, caring and willingness to be vulnerable captured the fancy of Catholics and non-Catholics around the world. Pope Francis, who labels himself a “sinner,” famously asked, “Who am I to judge?

Leading with Humility - 2In his nearly 40 years as a priest in South America, Bergoglio was as an unpretentious man who took public transportation to visit Catholics and non-Catholics in Argentinian neighborhoods. Fifteen months after he turned 75 – and submitted his mandatory resignation to Pope Benedict XVI – Bergoglio was elected to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, stepping in to head a church plagued by controversy. His tenure as pope thus far exemplifies some important leadership lessons.  Humility is one of them.

Pope Francis believes that humility is the single most important leadership characteristic and that everyone should learn to be more humble. For his first public appearance as pope, Francis chose not to stand on a platform that would raise him higher than other cardinals.  Before addressing the crowd, he requested a prayer for himself, a decidedly untraditional gesture. Few corporate leaders demonstrate that kind of humility.

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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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How to Love at Work and Not Feel Totally Awkward

(This is a guest post from Rodney Mills, a leadership coach and speaker and close friend of Leadership Voices. You can read the original post on his blog or find out more about his services by clicking HERE. Sign up for his blog and get his latest eBook – The Personal Mastery Resource Kit – absolutely free!)

You know how a fish looks when you take it out of water? That’s how I look when I’m in the water! No kidding. So what am I doing signing up for a Triathlon?


That’s what I keep asking myself over and over. I’ve been running and cycling rigorously for a couple of years now, and I’ve even done a couple of duathlons. This triathlon thing has been on my bucket list for a long time, so I thought now is as good a time as ever to get it done.

But I can’t swim. Well, I can swim, it’s just not a very pretty sight. As I’ve been trying to explain my plight to family and friends, hoping for some sympathy, it dawned on me the reason I’m so uncomfortable with this skill.

Swimming is not a natural thing for me to do. I didn’t grow up around pools or lakes. For a few weeks, in the sixth grade, the school loaded us up on busses once a week to take us down to the local YMCA for swimming lessons. Then, one week each summer, I’d go to camp and get about an hour a day in the pool. That’s about it for me. No wonder swimming isn’t natural.

We learn to run fairly quickly. My mom says when I was two, I was so efficient at running, I scaled a ladder leaned up against the house and ran up and down the roof line, evading my dad’s best efforts to rescue me, while my mom nearly died of heart failure. Running is natural for me.

Now, riding a bike? That wasn’t very natural at first. But it didn’t take much time until the training wheels came off. Before long, I joined the other Evil Kenevils of the world, screaming out, “Look Ma! No Hands!” Cycling is very natural to me now.

The reason I’m not comfortable swimming yet is because I haven’t done it enough. I’ve got to work on my breathing and my stroke. I’ve got to be okay with keeping my face down in the water. I’ve got to stop worrying about what everybody thinks of how I look in my Speedo. (Okay. I don’t wear a Speedo. I promise you: I never will!) 

Why am I telling you all this? Hang in there with me a minute and I think you’ll get it.

In my last post, I talked about the Four Pillars of Trust: Integrity, Humility, Gratitude, and Generosity. If you didn’t get a chance to read that, click HERE to go back and check it out. My argument is that trust is the “currency of leadership” (or any relationship for that matter). Trust is the basis of permission-based leadership as opposed to positional leadership which relies on command and control.

In that post, I also promised we would talk about the Foundation of Servant Leadership. It’s a very simple concept – just one word – yet it is profoundly difficult to fully grasp. That foundation is: love.

Since I first started studying servant leadership several years ago, one thing has puzzled me more than any other: What is the motive for servant leading? Other than believing it seems like a noble way to lead, how could it ever be natural? Well, the answer is found in this foundational truth of love.

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Leadership and Sacrifice

Leadership and Sacrifice - 1I recently spent an afternoon with some other former, retired military men, and we went to see the Lone Survivor movie. I guess it never occurred to me before the sacrifice made by Lt. Michael Murphy. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I won’t spoil it for you, but in a nutshell, he made the ultimate sacrifice for the rest of his team. Couldn’t he have commanded another to do what he wanted? Surely he wasn’t the only member of the team capable of making that call. It occurs to me that maybe sacrifice is the most important piece of leadership. I am sure we have heard this before, but I think it bears repeating.

We have all heard and read great pieces by our members about servant leadership, and covenant leadership, leading by example and I am sure sacrificial leadership as well, so if I repeat anything in these ramblings I apologize up front.

I started doing some research on this topic, during the football games, and here are some of the things I discovered.

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“Servant” Leadership in Business

Servant Leadership - 1First, let me say how honored, and humbled I am, to be asked to blog for Leadership Voices. When asked to speak or write, I am always shocked that someone would want my opinion, and always afraid that I might not be worthy of the task. I do however feel very passionate about “servant” leadership, so I was excited when asked to share my thoughts on this topic, and promise I will try not to go off on any “rants”.

I think we need to define management in the context of business, and what makes it different than leadership. I always like to say, “We lead people, we manage things”. If you are trying to manage someone, you are trying to control them to get what you what you need or want. This is not very conducive to a long term growth of the employee, which means their value to the organization will stagnate. This also tends to impede their ability to contribute to the health and growth of the company by making them more of a task master instead of a thinker. It creates someone waiting to be told what to do, and how to do it, not someone who is always looking for ways to improve the company, or adding value through their unique understanding of the business. No one wants to be treated like a number, or a tool, they want to be respected, and valued.

Servant Leadership - 2Leadership means doing and saying the hard things. It means doing the right thing, no matter what. It means setting a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly example. It means teaching. It is the ability to bring out the greatness in others, and be willing to not take credit for doing so. Leadership ultimately means putting others before yourself, for the good of the whole, not for your ego. Notice I have not used the word servant yet? I think it is kind of redundant when put in front of leadership. Leadership is serving by its very nature. Every leader serves those whom they lead. Why else would you need a leader?

The biggest mistake I see young leaders make in business, is

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Being a Servant Leader – A Theme

Servant Leader - A Theme - 3My theme for this year is simply one word: Serve.

It’s an ideal I want to pursue more than anything. Still, I have to admit – serving is also the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to get my head around. Here are just some of the reasons I’m struggling. Maybe you can identify with me:

  • Being a servant requires sacrifice
  • Being a servant requires more time with people
  • Being a servant requires me to be selfless
  • Being a servant may require me to give up my own agenda
  • Being a servant requires me to be more observant
  • Being a servant requires me to be more vulnerable
  • Being a servant requires me to listen more carefully
  • Being a servant requires me to know people beyond a surface relationship

Servant Leader - A Theme - 1Traditional leadership styles can avoid almost everything on the list. Managers can sit in their office and simply order people to do what they think needs to be done. I don’t want to

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