Communication

Row American Flags Half Mast Washington DC USA

Here we go again.

Another day.

Another crisis.

Another call for leadership.

Another round of half-mast flags…

Another set of news-bite wags…

A fresh supply of new #hashtags…

And another call for leadership.

More outrage at this

More outrage at your outrage at that,

Another mad rush of the gun shop owners to the bank…

And another call for leadership.

What do we mourn when we bemoan the lack of leadership?

Do we really know what are we calling for? [click to continue…]

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Geese Fog

The day was cold.

Cold and foggy.

Cold and foggy and damp and dreary and what in God’s name was I doing out in it?

Walking, that’s what.

Walking and praying.

Praying and walking.

And I didn’t care about how cold or foggy it was because on this day I was desperate and yearning for an audience with – and a word from – God.

Anyway, I had a jacket.

It was one of the last times that I walked the 20-acre boundary of the church I had planted. And on this day the cold heaviness of the West Texas air was only exceeded by the cold heaviness in my spirit.

I got about halfway down the fence row, asking the Lord to speak to my heart. I so desperately wanted to hear His voice.

What I heard instead was the honking of the geese overhead.

Listening for God, I could only hear the dissonant, grating sound of geese. Can you relate?

Looking up, there was no way to see them, the fog was so heavy and low-hanging. But I could sure hear them.

I laughed to myself because of a recent conversation I’d had with my wife. She hates the sound of geese.

Eventually I did see them in the mist – surprisingly lower than I had imagined. And they were dealing with the same fog I was dealing with. Nevertheless, they flew in perfect formation, in a straight line.

And that’s how the Lord spoke. [click to continue…]

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(A Brief Conversation about symbols and change and heritage and hate and other awkward things…)

What’s wrong with it?  It represents who I am.

It also represents some things you don’t want to be.

It’s my heritage!

Some would say it’s hatred. [click to continue…]

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Character word cloud

Maybe it’s because I had another birthday yesterday, or maybe it’s because that birthday was also Election Day.  Maybe it’s because I work with a school whose mission reads, in part, to “cherish character.”  But lately I’ve had character on the brain.

Character in leadership.

Character development.

Character habits.

Dr. King envisioned a day when Americans would be judged “solely by the content of their character.”  Our answer to that culturally is to try and not judge anybody at all.  That is, until the tide of public opinion breaks the dam of political correctness.  Or the electorate gets a belly full of whoever the incumbent is.  Or the arrogant, narcissistic preacher or politician or boss-person overestimates their awesomeness one time too many.

In spite of our fascination with techniques, charisma, methods, or technology, people of influence still have to deal with the Character Connection.

You have to deal with it when you look in the mirror, when nobody else is looking.

You have to deal with it when you’re on the pedestal, when everybody’s cheering.

You have to do it in the outhouse, when everybody’s jeering, or they have forgotten you.

In spite of our efforts to prove otherwise (and we’ve had some pretty spectacular efforts), character earns the politician the right to legislate and pontificate.  Character earns the right for the preacher to articulate truth. Character earns the business leader the right to profit in the marketplace of both money and ideas.

And a loss of character can undermine them all.

There are lots of ideas – good ideas – about what forms and sustains character when it comes to leadership. [click to continue…]

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Leader Communication

It’s almost a cliché – your leadership will never exceed your ability to communicate.  The same could be said for any other kind of relationship as well – personal, professional, political, and any other kind that starts with “p.”

Here is a little checklist by which you can reflect on your own communication as a leader – or your leader’s communication with you.  It’s meant more as a conversation starter or improvement guide than a “test,” so keep that in mind. [click to continue…]

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Six Signs of a Life-Giving Leader

by Andy Wood on March 24, 2014

in Leadership, Life Currency

Firstborn

I didn’t know how to describe it at the time. I was only in the eighth grade, for crying out loud, and a “lost church member” at that.  But on that February day so long ago a new leader – a new pastor – showed up at my church.  And for the first time in my life a preacher held my attention throughout his message.

I didn’t know that the adults in the church had been argumentative and divisive.

I didn’t know that we had been through months of spiritual lethargy, coldness and conflict.

All I knew was that there was something completely different about this man, this preacher, who to this day I consider my pastor.  What I know now is that he was and is a life-giving leader.

Compare that to a Christmas card I received from a church a few years ago.  This church had also had a new leader come to town.  And the impact was just the opposite.  For months people on the staff of this megachurch had jumped ship at the first opportunity.  And those who remained were desperate to be the next.  I’ll never forget is the hollowed eyes and prisoner-of-war expressions on the faces of the staff and employees of this church – not just one or two, mind you, but the entire staff.  The message was clear:  Merry Christmas! Sweet Baby Jesus, get me outta here!

What I suspected then, and know now, was that this church was being led by a life-sucking leader.

Regardless of the venue – Church World, Business World, even Disney World – every person in a position of authority or leadership has a choice. You can be a life-giving leader or a life-sucking leader.  Life-giving leaders create energy, enthusiasm, passion, and loyalty.  They have a contagious way of infusing a sense of purpose, motivation, and confidence in those who follow them.

Life-sucking leaders?  Just the opposite. In their wake you’ll find dispirited, defeated, discouraged people, divided organizations, and a general spirit of fear or powerlessness.  What’s scary is that on the surface, many of these leaders and the organizations they front appear successful, at least for a season.

How can you tell the difference? How can you know to what degree you are a life-giving leader?  The best way I know is to turn to the ultimate life-giving leader – the Lord Jesus Himself.  Based on His impact and leadership, I have discovered twelve ways to recognize a life-giving leader when you see one.   Here are the first six. [click to continue…]

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Soul to Soul

by Andy Wood on February 5, 2014

in 100 Words, Insight, Life Currency, Words

Communication

“In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.”  -Mark Twain

 In communication, clarity rules.

But logic is only one way people make sense of things. [click to continue…]

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leadership failure

Nobody who takes on a leadership role sets out to blow it.  I’ve never heard of a CEO who dreamed of halving his market share, a pastor who fantasized about getting the right foot of fellowship, or a government leader who longs to go from hero to zero.

But leadership failure happens.  Often. And while it can happen quickly at times, usually there are warning signs.  Unfortunately, most of the time we wait for hindsight to convince us of what foresight and insight have probably been hollering all along.

If you’re a leader, or have the ear of one, you may want to pay attention to these seven warning signals before it’s too late. [click to continue…]

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EA3623-002I have a pretty high tolerance for clutter.

Until I don’t.

Can you relate?

If you can, you’re probably what the Myers-Briggs people call Perceiving.  If you can’t, and the very idea of leaving stuff out in case you need it a month from now is deeply disturbing, you’re Judging (not judgmental – that’s a different animal).

The problem with being a clutterbug “P” like me is that the items on my schedule or the stuff on my desk start to accumulate until productivity-wise, it feels as though I’m in quicksand.  And then I just want it all gone.

Not organized.  Not streamlined. Not prioritized. O.U.T.

What’s true in life is true also in leadership. If you could imagine the whole sphere of your leadership activity – relationships, meetings, communication, conflict resolution, vision, more meetings, planning, etc. – as items on a desktop, what would your “desk” look like? And if you could compare your “desk” with the “desks” of others in your team or organization, how full is theirs?  And not to stretch the metaphor too much, let me add that wishing for a bigger “desk” is probably not going to solve the problem.

In leadership as in life, things have a way of accumulating. But you don’t have to surrender to clutter creep.  Here are seven ways to redirect your leadership T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and in the process free up more time to focus on those areas where you are indispensable: [click to continue…]

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SoapboxLast summer I was sitting in a meeting of professors and academics discussing a tricky issue at this Christian university.  The issue:  What do we do about the fact that the back half of the full auditorium crowd spent their entire time in chapel texting on their phones? Beyond discussing rules for courtesy and maturity, I remember blurting out something like, “What they’re telling us is that whoever they’re connecting to is more interesting and relevant than whatever is happening on the stage.”

I was reading a web site not long ago about a product or service or something that somebody wanted me to “invest” in. I kept wishing whoever wrote it would get to the point. What is this? What can it do for me? What do I need to do to get it and how much is it going to cost me? Instead, in true sales letter form, I kept reading stuff like, “But first, let me tell you about so-and-so’s experience.” After a while I found myself screaming on the inside, Stop trying to get me interested! If I wasn’t interested I wouldn’t still be reading! Just give me the message and get to the point!

Years ago I went to a seminar for professional therapists called “Crossing the Line.” It was an ethical seminar about counselors who got romantically or sexually involved with their clients – totally a no-no. Yet statistics say something like 33% of therapists do it.  They presented the facts to a huge room filled with people, and shook their heads and talked about how terrible it was and how to avoid it.  But if the stats were true, a third of that crowd were perpetrators – and nobody offered them anything as a solution other than more guilt and shame. I left angry and frustrated. Is that what four hours of my time was supposed to produce?

I don’t care who you are or how you choose to communicate, please tell me that on the other end of that is somebody you expect to be interested, gain understanding, take action or dare to dream. Whether it’s an email message, a speech, a sales pitch, or even a sermon to a captive audience, please tell me you’re not going to waste somebody else’s time and your credibility with communication that doesn’t communicate!

Before you hit the send button, seal the envelope or walk up to the podium, here are four questions you need to be prepared to answer, and then actually answer them: [click to continue…]

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