Very insightful thoughts here on personal effectiveness.
Very insightful thoughts here on personal effectiveness.
Very insightful thoughts here on personal effectiveness.
There are two books that have greatly impacted both my views and practice of leadership. One is Barry Kouzes and Jim Posner’s classic work, The Leadership Challenge. If you are responsible for a team of people, which makes you a leader at whatever level, get The Leadership Challenge read it and put into practice because it is practical and inspirational. (Their idea of ‘celebrating small wins’ is one that I have used quite a bit because it builds momentum and confidence in people. )
The second book, and perhaps lesser known to many is one that I encountered in my graduate work in the early 1990′s in a course that I dropped and then used as a text in a directed readings course and which set me on a mental journey of paying attention to certain dynamics in organizations that includes churches as well as other non-profits. It is Edgar H Schien’s Organizational Culture and Leadership.
In Organizational Culture and Leadership, Dr Schien devotes an entire chapter to the issue and place of founders in organizations. The chapter is, in fact, entitled, How Organization Founders Shape Culture and in that chapter he compares the founders of three companies to one another and how their management styles affected their companies’ future. It was one of those chapters that has stuck with me over the years as I have observed and participated in leadership succession.
In one congregation I have served the founding pastor returned to serve out his career as pastor after a 10 year absence. It was a challenge to me because he had very definite ideas as to what was going to happen. I left after one year with him. From what I could understand later, his final tenure ended on mixed note. In another congregation, I worked with a pastor who had moved an established congregation to a new location and continued to pastor that congregation for another 15 years, including a church split. but resigned due to health issues after 20 years of service. I was only there 11 months when he stepped down. He too, had very definite ideas as to what was to be done.
What I also observed (and experienced) in the aftermath of their departures, was a tumultuous experience for those who followed them. Neither successor exceeded the length of service of their predecessors, both of whom I call founders.It seemed to me then, and now, that the shadow (and I use this word in a positive light), cast by the founders was long and deep.
Both of these men were strong personalities and led with them. And as Schien points out in his book with the case of a strong central leader, hesitation and uncertainty on the part of the successors make for a bumpy ride for an organization.
All of this was swirling around in my head yesterday and today as I listened to Bloomberg and Fox Business News discuss the resignation of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO. The issue of culture constantly came up in discussions about profitability, market share, and product development. No doubt Jobs will leave a long shadow over Apple, and the computer and technology industry, for many years to come.
So what I am thinking is that the legacy a leader leaves in an organization can either inhibit or advance the organization in the years to follow.
We shall see with Apple.
These are my Thursday Thoughts
In article published this week at Christianity Today.com entitled, “Choosing Well,” Gordon MacDonald said this:
I would estimate that the life of any leader is 95 percent navigation in relative calm waters (the routines of daily life) and 5 percent sheer terror as we face the unexpected and the uncontrolled. Yet in that 5 percent, much is revealed about the kind of people we have become and are becoming and the integrity of what we say we believe.
That statement comes on the heels of a breath taking story he tells of an encounter with a parishoner as a 26 year old pastor of a small Western town church.
As I drove into the barnyard area, I was confronted by a sight that remains fresh in my mind 45 years later: The husband was carrying his wife, obviously dead, the victim of a horse-spooking event out on the prairie. Talk about a storm! What was I to say to this man who was in shock? What was the next thing to be done? How could I provide leadership (practical, emotional, spiritual) to this suddenly-motherless family that included small children? How would I guide the congregation that would have to come together and offer support? No seminary class, no book, was able to offer much help in that moment. It was all something to be learned in a “boat.”
It got me to thinking about lessons I have learned in the boat over the years and what I learned from them:
One that comes to mind as I write this is of a first date with a girl I was really interested in (and did not marry her, just to let you know). The first date was to a revival service at her parent’s small Baptist church in a small village. There was no pianist for the service and with a query from the preacher if anyone could play she uttered, “Jim can play.”
I was stunned! I had not touched “The ivories” for a while and while I had been vitality involved in the music ministry of my church as a teenager, I left my playing skills “under the bushel” when I went to college not wanting to use them at all. “What if I did not know the songs?” I thought to myself. It was a get out of the boat experience for me.
Well I went forward and played and I did fine.
The lesson learned, as I sit here 30 years later, is that one should never disregard the skill sets one has developed over the years. The Lord will use them in His time and way as He needs them!
I still play, every Sunday, as I have for the past 10 of the 11 years I have been in my present congregation!
These are my Thursday thoughts.
Here is a link to the MacDonald’s article, a very worthy read. http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2011/summer/choosingwell.html
This morning in my Twitter feed I found an intriguing link via the Harvard Business Review (twitter.com/HarvardBiz ) for an article entitled, “Three Networks You Need,” by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback. You can find it here: http://blogs.hbr.org/hill-lineback/2011/03/the-three-networks-you-need.html
In it they describe three kinds of networks:
Your operational network: “the network of those you and your group need to do your day-to-day work.”
Your developmental network: “the collection of individuals whom you trust and to whom you can turn for a sympathetic ear,”
and Your Strategic network which they say “is about tomorrow. It comprises those who can help you do two critical tasks: first, define what the future will bring and second, prepare for and succeed in that future.”
Most of their emphasis is on this third network, the Strategic one, as they believe ” the forces that drive change in your field will probably come from outside your current world.” (Highlight theirs.)
As I read the article I thought about an exercise I did in seminary based on a book regarding pastoral care (whose title I have long forgotten) that asked the question, “Whose holding your trampoline?” in the context of who would you rely on and seek to have beside you in an emergency situation.
One of things that I have learned over the years is that I need to have a network of people in place to make sure that I am moving in the right direction as a person who is a husband and a dad, as well as a pastor and a leader. And I have been made aware of the need for some kind of “360 degree” leadership that allows me to see 360 degrees and have a greater self-awareness.
Reading this article has prompted some questions that I need to think about (and, if you are involved in leading others, formally and informally having “thinking time” is very, very essential.)
One that is very prominent in my thinking right now is this one: “As one gets older both chronologically as well as professionally, is there a change in the priority and mix of these three networks?”
In other words, as I age and have more experience, is it more important to me to have a stronger strategic network or an operational one or is a balance of all three most important ?
I appreciate this article as it gives me a fresh and vital perspective to my development as a leader.
These are my Thursday thoughts.
May 26, 2010: What I Am Reading Today
A better way of leadership includes the disciplines of careful observation, vibrant imagination, and demanding collaboration that forge a unique vision based on what God is uniquely doing in each church’s unique context.Will Mancini Church Unique (from the introduction)
May 25, 2010: What I am reading this week…
“When you get criticized you are given the opportunity to show kindness in return, which is a character trait of some of the greatest leaders in the history of the world. In other words, you are being thrown a knuckle ball that few batters can hit, but you can hit it, and sooner or later, people are going to be amazed at how well you hit the knuckle ball. If nobody criticized you, you’d never be given the opportunity to return kindness to an insult, and thus never be given the opportunity to shine as a leader.”Don Miller “A Leader Loves Their Enemies” post on May 25, 2010
“Does being mild-mannered, soft-spoken, and laid-back disqualify us for leadership? Should we promptly resign so the church can find a bulldog pastor and finally fulfill its destiny?”Judson Edwards The Leadership Labyrinth: Negotiating the Paradoxes of Ministry
As I read to my two boys tonight about Moses, I thought about the Israelite leaders during the time between Joseph and Moses:
What kept them going? What sustained their faith? What was their faith like?
Did they remember the God of their ancestors? Did they feel like failures? How did they know Moses was truthful?
Did these Israelite leaders feel like failures? Should they have?
How many pastors who faithfully pastor a congregation between pastors of great effectiveness feel like failures?
I am not personalize this at all. It just came to my thoughts as I read the passage. I am relearning the value of reading scripture aloud!
Published by The Alban Institute, Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power, is a book devoted to helping churches, develop their unique and God given ministry as a church that is one of purpose, presence, and power. The Rev. Dr. Standish is the pastor of the Calvin Presbyterian Church outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Divided into three sections: Becoming a Blessed Church, Forming a Church of Purpose, Presence, and Power, and Leading a Church to Blessedness, Standish challenges the common operating assumption of “rational functionalism” in today’s churches. What he proposes is an alternative idea of the “blessed church” that means “discerning and doing what God is calling us to.” While Standish further defines what a blessed church is, the strength of the book to me is on his emphasis on prayerful discernment to, as he quotes Henry and Richard Blackaby “to find out where God is and join Him there.” His constant re-emphasis of discerning God’s will and purpose for a church’s particular mission and ministry I believe is a liberating word to pastors and church leaders who have struggled with what I respectfully call a “plug and play” approach by trying the latest ministry program in a setting that it does not fit. The final section, “Leading a Church to Blessedness,” had much to say to me, and to the reader, as a leader. Standish’s focus is on a wider range of qualities such as humility, trust, and the like in addition to the ability to discern a vision. Written I think primarily to a mainline audience, but with sources across the spectrum of Christian thought, Becoming a Blessed Church is a thought and heart provoking book that pastors of all backgrounds would benefit from. (Note: I received this book as part of a seminar led by the author that was sponsored by the Northeast Center for Congregations. I wrote the review solely for personal reasons and to share the book with others.
One of the best personal development programs is Gallup’s Strength Finders based on the work of the late Donald O. Clifton considered the father of strength psychology.
Now from a theological perspective, we also have weaknesses and a flawed nature and I think that our strengths can become liabilities given ‘our dark side.’ However, I think, and others do as well, that affirming our strengths is a part of our personal and spiritual development. God gave us these strengths and they are to be, in my opinion, given back to Him for His purposes and plans.
I bought Buckingham and Clifton’s book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, in 2005 and then the faith-based version by Wiseman, Clifton, and Liesveld, Living Your Strengths, in 2006. The following year Strength Finders 2.0 by Tom Rath came out and I bought it.
I took the test and discovered that ‘empathy’ was in the top five all three times! In addition, the following strengths appeared two of three three times I took the test: ‘positivity,’ ‘connectedness,’ and ‘adaptability.’ Other strengths that appeared at least once were: ‘woo,’ ‘realtor,’ ‘learner,’ ‘belief,’ developer,’ and ‘individualization.’
Then, out came Strengths Based Leadership written by Rath and Barry Conchie. This book brought it all together for me because Rath and Conchie created four ‘domains of leadership’ to quote Michael McKinney.
The domains are “Executing strengths, Influencing Strengths, Relationship Building strengths and Strategic Thinking strengths.” (McKinney quote) I have strengths in each of the domains but the majority of them are in the relationship-building domain.
This explains, in part, why social media is a big deal to me (Connectedness?) and why I survived three pastoral changes in the three congregations that I served as a staff pastor! (Adaptability!) It also reflects that I am in a profession, the ministry that utilizes my major strength, ‘empathy.’
I believe that this tool would be a very important tool for not just churches and denominations who ‘call’ their pastors but to those who ‘appoint’ them as well! The same holds true for staff hiring as well as leadership development.
Even churches who use ‘nominating committees’ would do well to assess, formally and informally the leadership needs of the church using the four domains as a well of insure a God-directed balance where needed.
The other day I began to think, “Am I bringing my strengths to my blogging? And to Twitter? Perhaps I am, but I am not sure?
What do you think? What are your strengths? Does your use of social media reflect those strengths? Have you used Strength Finders in your work? In your ministry? In your church? I would love to hear from you!