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Leadership

Leadership Light

In the last post I shared six signs of a leader who breathes life into organizations and followers, as opposed to those who have a way of sucking the life out of them.  Definitely worth a review if you missed it.  My guess is, you have probably experienced both types on a personal level, whether it’s in your workplace, your church, or your community.  We’ve certainly seen both types on a global or national scale as well.

What I’m more concerned about, however, is the leadership you show, even if you don’t think of yourself as a leader.  Everybody influences somebody, and you’re no exception.  And all of us can learn from the example of the ultimate life-giving leader, the Lord Jesus.  Here are six more signs of a life-giving leader. [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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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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Intercession

You probably won’t read about this in your favorite leadership book – even the Christian-flavored ones.  You almost certainly won’t read about it in the latest wave of business tomes or political memoirs.  And yet nearly every significant leader of every stripe in the Bible practiced this.

The politicians did it.

The prophets did it.

The priests did it.

The preachers did it.

The patriarchs did it.

I’m running out of things that start with “p,” but if you think of something, they probably did it too.

What’s this “secret weapon” of leadership?  This so-obvious-it’s-embarrassing-we-missed-it practice of every revolutionary influence I can think of in scripture? [click to continue…]

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You’re the Inspiration

by Andy Wood on January 11, 2014

in Half-baked Ideas

Footsteps 3

(Sort-of-random thoughts from the Gulf Coast after a memorable Christmas, my first real vacation in four years, and the delicious taste of clarity, vision, and blackened grouper…)

You know it’s time for something different when going through airport security seems preferable to the schedule you’ve been keeping.

Our recent travels have been a nice reminder that all of life doesn’t have to be lived in the bunker – even if you love the people or causes you fight for when you’re in it.

I’ve been reminded lately that life was meant to be lived connected with other lives.  The kind of connections may vary, of course, from lives that profoundly touch us once to love or friendship that lasts forever. Regardless, the bottom line is that “solo” equals “so low” or “slow go” if you stay in that gear too long.

Show me the lives you have crossed paths with in the last 24 hours, and I will show you the lives you have influenced somehow, to some degree – whether you necessarily want to be an influence or not. [click to continue…]

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Leadership TestIn his profile of University of Alabama quarterback A. J. McCarron, John Wertheim describes a scene that took place when the record-setting quarterback first arrived and joined the team as an 18-year-old freshman.

At his first intrasquad scrimmage McCarron was grouped with walk-ons, facing the defensive starters.  He was sacked early and often, and wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t even remove his cleats before marching into Coach Nick Saban’s office afterward.

“I need to talk to you,” he snapped.

“O.K.,” said Saban.

“You want me to show you what I can do, how I can play? Well, I can’t do s— when you put me with walk-ons who can’t even block. I don’t understand why you don’t put me with the [starters].”

“Why? Because today we were testing your leadership,” Saban said, barely looking up. “And you failed. Miserably.”

Life is filled with little tests (and big ones), and they aren’t always what they seem. Tests of faith. Tests of skill or knowledge. Tests of character.  Tests of performance. And yes, tests of leadership.

Most of these tests reveal themselves in the rearview mirror, not in the windshield. It’s only after the fact that we can truly see them for what they are.  What we can do, however, is use hindsight to identify when others faced tests of leadership and learn from their successes or “miserable failures.”  Here are five ways to recognize when your leadership was being tested: [click to continue…]

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med590079

I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,
Who gives salvation to kings,
Who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.

This comes from a victory song.

David celebrates victories he’s won to this point.

What now? [click to continue…]

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Half Full Half EmptyWhat do you do when you’re the leader and somebody on your team drops the ball? Or worse, in their zeal for your cause, they do more harm than good?  Every leader would relish having people with the strength of a bull on their team.  We just don’t want the bulls charging into china shops.

Leadership is forged during awkward times. During periods of public strain, pain, or frustration, our attention turns to those we presume to be in leadership. On a national scale, for example, people in the United States turn to the president to help make sense of their fearful or angry moments (and we’ve had our share of those lately).

They assume that leaders have something to say.  They watch instead for what the leader actually does.  They’re not looking for place holders. They’re looking for leaders who have a sense for how to please them as they lead them.  And as leaders throughout time have discovered, there is no such thing as private or secret leadership.  Heck, even the Secret Service isn’t that secret.

In between the stories of his giant killing and his adultery dodging, an obscure little verse in the Bible describes how people responded to its beloved King David.  It’s every leader’s dream come true: [click to continue…]

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Vision NeedIt was painful and ugly, Lisa told us.  She had left town to attend a school, presumably to train people to be worship leaders.  What she discovered instead was an unhealthy, “I’m always right” form of egotistical authority-wielding.  If anybody in the so-called “school” suggested an idea that didn’t line up perfectly with the ego-polishing done “on the stage,” there was hell to pay.  And the favorite punch(ing) line: “You need to buy into the vision.”

“We’ve been spending some time rethinking our organization’s vision,” John said.

“Why is that?”

“Because we need a better way of communicating to the public and to our people the essence of why we’re here.”

May I offer a polite suggestion? (If not, I’ll be happy to offer a rude one.)

Before you start planning or pontificating on what you, somebody else, or the organization “needs,” don’t you think it would be a good idea to have a clear definition of “need?”

And before you merge onto the leadership freeway, teeming with thousands of commuters headed, they say, in the direction of their “vision,” don’t you think you need to have a grasp on what a vision actually is? [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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