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Obedience: Another stepping stone toward Servant Leadership

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The argument has happened on more than one occasion and for more than reason. The premise of the argument is that I am the adult and you are the child. This discussion revolves around the fact that I pay the car insurance and he preforms that chores that I assign. When the chores don’t get done, I complain about I am holding up my end of the bargain and you didn’t hold you yours. “Fine” he says, “then I will just give you the money for the insurance.” Then, here it comes, I blurt out, “I don’t want your money, I want your obedience.” Wow, did I say that? “I want your obedience.” Really? My dad said that to me. His father probably said that to him. Then it dawns on me, our Eternal Father has said that to us “I want your obedience.”

So Samuel said: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”  – 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)

Being demanding, dictatorial and authoritarian doesn’t sound very “leaderly”, if I can coin a phrase. We are supposed to be communicative, empowering, enabling, supportive. How can I stand there and demand obedience? God expects obedience and I do my best to give it, not because God requires it, but because God has earned it.

As leaders we can expect plenty of things out of the people we lead. Respect, obedience, performance, attention, concurrence but that is positional authority. We are instilled with positional authority by title or rank only, it’s power comes primarily out of fear of retribution. There are plenty of  “leaders” who wield that type authority but not Servant Leaders.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. – Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)
If we want to be Servant Leaders, we must earn the right to be obeyed. Our leadership is conditional on leading with a servants heart, to build a rapport with others, to show that we strive to make lives better by our willingness to serve others. Leadership is influence over the hearts and minds of other people. As servant leaders, we must instill confidence and obedience in those we hope to lead, by showing our integrity and our commitment to serve others  “because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” We as servant leaders know that we will have to give an account in this world as well as the next.
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Ten Building Blocks for Foundational Leadership

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We have heard it before, Leadership is influence, nothing  more, nothing less. Developing the building blocks of effective leadership for young leaders is often a challenge. Positional authority is mesmerizing and intoxicating. We grow up experiencing a world of positional authoritarians. Young leaders may believe that authority is control whereas experienced leaders grow to realize that authority is responsibility, responsibility to engage, connect and to energize. Young leaders must learn that it is not about themselves, it is about others and leadership is about them.

10 Building blocks for Foundational Leadership:

  1. Building influence is a “from the ground up” proposition. Build credibility at every level of the organization.
  2. Build genuine report with the worker bees. Learn their trials and tribulations, their hopes and aspirations. We all have them and theirs are just as important as yours.
  3. The “doers” in the business, the ones that get their hands dirty, are the ones that ultimately deliver the goods or service to the customer, remember that.
  4. Since the doers deliver the goods or service to the customer, they are vital to the success of your company. Thank them for that.
  5. The “doers” are the ones that will get you out of binds in the future, remember that. Remember to thank them for going the extra mile, they will remember that.
  6. Help everyone to understand their importance to the business so that they can connect with the big picture.
  7. Engage everyone in developing a vision of the future. Most people want the business to succeed, if they are engaged in the future they are committed to the present.
  8. Celebrate successes, no matter how small, for successes breed confidence and passion.
  9. Take note of and root out indifference. Ambivalence is a sign of disengaged individuals. Connect with these persons to see what motivates them.
  10. Foster relationships with those that have a positive passion for growing and building and are willing to take the responsibility to make it happen.

Building a strong foundation is vital for success and longevity for so many aspects of our lives. Realizing that the success and failure of a business, in many ways, is dependent on the leadership provided at every level means that we must, as leaders, lay our foundation at the bedrock of the organization.

Leadership Lesson from Captain Picard

Captain Picard

Leadership lessons come from all sorts of different places.  Persons, events, articles, conversations, quotes, scriptures. Some intended as motivational and inspirational, some happenstance and epiphanic.

As a fan of the sci-fi genre, I have spent too much time traveling “where no person has gone before.”

While those hours at first blush may seem like time lost that could have been “sharpening the axe”, there is, however, at least one leadership lesson that can be learned from Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise.

With the immense scope of the universe laid out before them and untold adventures and dangers awaiting them, the crew poised at their posts awaiting the command to go to warp, Captain Picard stands stoically on the bridge and barks out the order, “Engage!”

A recent poll by Gallup describes the incredible challenge that faces business leaders.

According to Gallup, a majority of American workers are not engaged at work, only 29% of workers polled are engaged at work, 52% are not engaged and 19% are “actively disengaged”. These results are similar across many demographics, are not influenced by earnings level and have held relatively steady for years.

Years ago I took an executive position at company that had been profitable for years but lacked effective leadership. Within the company I found several persons of influence that had “checked out.”

As I began to connect with them, to understand where the company had been, where it had been successful and get a history of the company; I heard a lot of “whatevers” and “don’t cares.”

Those responses showed the depth of the indifference within the company. These individuals had become disengaged.

“The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. Indifference is the complete lack of passion.”

Love and hate are both passion words. Both indicate strong emotions or passion regarding the subject. Both can be channeled into positive actions. Indifference can not be controlled or predicted.

“Indifference is a cancer to your organization.”

As leaders we are compelled to engender interest, excitement and passion in the persons within the organization. For the good of the individuals and for the good of the organization. Curt Rosengren at Passion Catalyst , defines passion as

“The energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.”

The natural question then is this:

What can we do as leaders to engage our people, to engender passion in them, to get them to bring more of themselves into what they do?

The leadership trait best associated with this is charisma.

Charismatic figures almost indescribably draw people to their cause, make people want to follow them, to believe in their purpose, to go beyond normal means to assist.

Fortunately for us mere mortals, charisma is not simply a God-given gift, it is not an angelic stream of light that shines from above illuminating the head and shoulders of the anointed few. Charisma is the ability to:

  • Be genuine
  • Be caring
  • Be communicative
  • Be passionate
  • Be “other person” centered
  • Be committed to a common-good goal
  • Be tireless in seeing that all individuals are rewarded equally

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On Leadership and Dominance

I recently had the opportunity to interact with a “successful” local company and they asked me to review a questionnaire that they require prospective hires to compete.

There were 8 or 10 sort of boiler plate, interview-type of questions, which were all well and good but there was a particular question which stood out to me as curious.

The question was:

Assertiveness & DominanceThe ability to express one’s ideas and opinions with conviction and authority is a key element in building the confidence of other people. How have you used these to get a group to do what you wanted?

This question quickly conjured up a couple of mental images. The first was the scene from the movie Snow Dogs where Cuba Gooding Jr. bites the ear of the lead dog to establish his dominance. The second was of a smoke-filled conference room with employees caught in an epic struggle to shout the others down in a cage match for control.

  • As I pulled myself back to reality, I began to wonder have I softened over the years?
  • Is it possible that assertiveness and dominance have a place in strong leadership values?

Those terms certainly seem antithetical to the concept of servant leadership.

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Courage or process: Your decision!

Recently, I have been watching an organization in transformation attempting to make significant decisions. Decisions that will impact the direction and effectiveness this 80 year old entity. At the core of this transformation is the competing and oft times conflicting interests of two groups. Add to this a new leader, coming to the organization within the last year and half, put in the position of having to mediate the years old disagreement.

Leadership requires that we make difficult decisions that come to us at a cost. According to John Maxwell, knowing the right decision is easy, making the right decision is hard and I would suggest that living the right decision is hardest. Having courage is not the lack of fear but rather the belief that there is something more important than fear. Having courage to make a decision, that you believe in your heart is the best decision for the organization, is the onus of all great leaders. This is one of the reasons that they say that it is lonely at the top.
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Lead from within

Leadership can be a baffling concept to some and elusive to others. How can I lead when I am “just …”? How can I lead when I don’t know how? Leadership is not a position or status. It is a calling of the heart to lead those around you by example and with principle.

To be an effective leader you must first earn the trust and respect of those you wish to lead. A trust and respect that can only be earned through servant sacrifice. As it says in Mark 9:35,

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

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Anointed to Lead

Anointed to Lead

Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down form the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him . . . Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.          Exodus 34:29, 32

When Moses brought down the commandments, his face shone with the glory of God. The nature and character of God had begun to rub off on Moses, and the glory took such a tangible form that he had to wear a veil over his face. The Israelites sensed both God’s presence in Moses’ leadership and a divine anointing to lead.

Do others describe your leadership as “anointed”? What does it mean to be anointed? Here’s one way to break it down. Anointed leadership is characterized by:

  1. Charisma – The anointed enjoy a sense of giftedness that comes from God. It seems magnetic.
  2. Character – People see God’s nature in your leadership. They trust you.
  3. Competence – You have the ability to get the job done. Your leadership produces results.
  4. Conviction – Your leadership has backbone. You always stand for what is right.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible

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