Look Back and Learn: Investing in Wisdom Equity

In researching and working on some leadership development material for an ongoing writing project, I came across the following:

Christianity is a religion of change. Jesus’ call in Mark 1:15 (the kingdom of God is at hand) was a call to change – change of mind and heart, of conduct and character, of self and society. By its very nature Christianity is a religion for a changing world and has always had its greatest opportunity during times of upheaval.

The Christian leader has no option; he must face a changing world. If the leader is to render maximum service, he must both adjust himself to the phenomena of change and address himself passionately to the business of producing and guiding change. Here are some elements that constitute the changed world in which the Christian leader today is called to fulfill his ministry.

Changed world outlook

Changed economic philosophy

Changed social consciousness

Changed family life

Changed community conditions

Changed moral standards

Changed religious viewpoints

Changed conceptions of the church

Changed media for molding public opinion

Changed demands made upon the leader

Pretty good list, right? Dead on. Taken from today’s headlines.

Nope.

courtesy the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

courtesy the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The author was Gaines S. Dobbins, distinguished professor of Religious Education at my alma mater, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville KY.

Written in 1947.

As the introduction to the book “Building Better Churches: A Guide to Pastoral Ministry.”

Dr. Dobbins retired before I was born, but while in seminary in the early eighties I had the privilege of sitting under a couple of professors who were students of Dr. Dobbins. When I came across this book in a used bookstore, I bought it on impulse. After flipping through it, I realized it was a treasure of leadership wisdom.

At Auxano, we talk about a concept called “vision equity.” As developed by founder Will Mancini in his book Church Unique, it’s realizing that the history of a church is a rich resource for helping rediscover what kinds of vision language past generations have used. That language is very useful for anticipating and illustrating God’s better intermediate future.

As I read Dr. Dobbin’s book, I think there is also a concept called “wisdom equity.” It’s realizing that there have been some great leaders and deep thinkers over the past decades and centuries whose collective wisdom would be a great place to start as we struggle with the new realities that face us every day.

It’s why I love history – I see it not as an anchor that holds us to the past, but as a foundation to build a bridge to the future.

Go ahead – look back and learn.

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Create an Inner Circle to Help Develop Your Leadership

It has been said that the people close to us determine our level of success. Moses learned this lesson in the wilderness and so implemented a plan to put competent, godly leaders next to him. David had his mighty men. Paul had Barnabas, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, and Phoebe.

When ministers decide to be leaders, they cross a very important line. They no longer judge themselves solely by what they can do themselves; the truest measure of the impact of a leader is found in what those around them accomplish. In God’s economy, our personal development happens most as we are developing those He has called around us.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Developing the Leaders Around You, by John Maxwell

Why do some people achieve great personal success, yet never succeed in building a business or making an impact in their organization? John C. Maxwell knows the answer. “The greatest leadership principle that I have ever learned in over twenty-five years of leadership,” says Maxwell, “is that those closest to the leader will determine the success level of that leader.”

It’s not enough for a leader to have vision, energy, drive, and conviction. If you want to see your dream come to fruition, you must learn how to develop the leaders around you. Whether you’re the leader of a non-profit organization, small business, or Fortune 500 company, Developing the Leaders Around You can help you to take others to the limits of their potential and your organization to a whole new level.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

There are no Lone Ranger leaders. If you’re alone, you’re not leading anybody. Think of any highly effective leader, and you will find someone surrounded by a strong inner circle. Hire the best staff you can find, develop them as much as you can, and hand off everything you possibly can to them. When you have the right staff potential skyrockets. You see, every leader’s potential is determined by the people closest to him. If those people are strong, then the leader can make a huge impact. If they are weak, he can’t.

Most leaders have followers around them. They believe the key to leadership is gaining more followers. Few leaders surround themselves with other leaders, but the ones who do bring great value to their organizations. And in the process, their burden is lightened and their vision is carried out and enlarged.

An inner circle of leaders becomes a sounding board to me. As a leader, I sometimes hear counsel that I don’t want to hear but need to hear. That’s the advantage of having leaders around you – having people who know how to make decisions. Followers tell you what you want to hear. Leaders tell you what you need to hear.

I have always encouraged those closest to me to give advice on the front end. In other words, an opinion before a decision has potential value. An opinion after the decision has been made is worthless.

Leaders around you possess a leadership mindset. Fellow leaders do more than work with the leader, they think like the leader. It gives them the power to lighten the load. This becomes invaluable in areas such as decision-making, brainstorming, and providing security and direction to others.

John Maxwell, Developing the Leaders Around You

 A NEXT STEP

The following list of characteristics has been adapted from study material in John Maxwell’s Leadership Bible. The author developed the acrostic below for use when developing an inner circle.

On a chart table, spell the word “Inner Circle” down the left hand side of the page. After reading the following qualities, write down the name or names of individuals you know who exhibit those characteristics.

Influential – Everything begins with influence. If you want to extend your reach, you must attract and lead other leaders.

Networking – Who people know is just as important as what they know.

Nurturing – People who care about each other take care of each other. Your inner circle should prop you up.

Empowering – The members of your inner circle should enable you to achieve more than you could alone.

Resourceful – Inner-circle members should always add value.

Character-driven – The character of an inner-circle member matters more than any other quality.

Intuitive – While every person is naturally intuitive in his area of gifting, that doesn’t mean everyone uses his or her intuition.

Responsible – Those closest to you should never leave you hanging. If you ask them to carry the ball, they must follow through.

Competent – You can’t get anything done if your people can’t do their jobs. You don’t need world-class performers exclusively, but all of your inner-circle people must perform with excellence.

Loyal – Loyalty alone does not make people candidates for your inner circle, but lack of loyalty definitely disqualifies them. Don’t keep anyone close to you whom you cannot trust.

Energetic – Energy covers a multitude of mistakes, for it helps a person to keep coming back, failure after failure.

After you evaluate this list, ask yourself:

  • “How can I sharpen these characteristics?”
  • “With whom has God given me influence for this season?”
  • “Who on this list can teach me and inform my leadership?”

Now identify 2-3 members of your inner circle and commit to spend at least three hours over the next three months developing them with intentional conversations, observation, and measurable goal setting.


Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 44-1, published July 2016.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. I’m going to peruse back issues of both SUMS and SUMS Remix and publish excerpts each Wednesday.

Does Your Church Make Straight A’s When It Comes To Volunteers?

How does your church bring new volunteers onboard?

Onboarding is the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating, and accelerating new team members, whether they come from outside or inside the organization. (Onboarding, Bradt and Vonnegut)

Onboarding1

There’s actually another “a” word that is a perquisite: align. Here’s how the authors of Onboarding define the key processes listed above.

  • Align– make sure your organization agrees on the need for a new team member and the delineating of the role you seek to fill
  • Acquire– identify, recruit, select, and get people to join the team
  • Accommodate– give new team members the tools they need to do the work
  • Assimilate– help them join with others so they can do the work together
  • Accelerate – help them and their team deliver better results faster

Now that’s a list of “straight A’s” I will take anytime!

Though this list comes from a business book, there are great correlations for ChurchWorld as well.

For example, if your church values your volunteer team members, then they would make sure something like the process above is a part of your volunteer leadership development program. The role of bringing new volunteer leaders onboard shouldn’t be an afterthought.

My church considers the role of a team coordinator to be a volunteer staff position. In that role I may not receive a paycheck, but the importance of my role in the total scheme of what we do is not diminished one bit.

What’s it like at your church?

 

It’s Always Easier When You Work With Someone Who’s Been There Before

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the size and complexity of some tasks you undertake.

…like planning a week-long visit to Walt Disney World.

That’s the place I found myself in five years ago, when my wife and I began planning a Walt Disney World trip for our 22-year old daughter, as a delayed college graduation gift.

I had been to the Magic Kingdom once. As a senior in high school. For a day. In 1976. A long time ago…

Some things had changed a lot, and my memory wasn’t that good about the trip anyway. Being the research kind of guy, I began looking online at various websites about 9 months prior to the trip. I also checked out some guide books from the library. But the hands down, absolutely best way to plan a trip to Disney World is to use a travel planner. Better yet, a travel planner whose specialty is the Disney Empire, and is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

Enter Annette at Small World Vacations. When some good friends found out what we were going to do, they heartily recommended I get in touch with Annette. I’m so very glad I did! She walked me through the basics, helped me choose the best options for a fun week, made great recommendations for things to do and places to eat, and generally helped created a great week for us.

Amy WDW2011

This picture pretty much speaks for itself.

Through her services, we were able to get a fabulous room in a great resort, get all the dinner reservations we wanted, and plan plenty of surprises for our daughter. Annette’s service didn’t stop in the preplanning, either. When I had a couple of questions just before I left, she was quick to answer them. And waiting for us when we got back was an email welcoming us home and wanting to know how our week went.  And so, over the last five years, in preparing for many return trips to Walt Disney World, my first call has always been to Annette. Whether it’s a year in advance (planning a week-long trip for my immediate family of 13) or a week before (a last-minute change in schedule allowing me a day in the parks), the help and guidance of an expert is invaluable.

Planning is easier when you work with someone who’s been there before.

This takeaway doesn’t just apply to planning to go to Disney – I also found out it applied to what Disney itself does in their development for future attractions. While they are reluctant to just “copy” what has worked in one Park and transfer it to another, they do learn valuable lessons and apply a continuous learning cycle to all their operations.

The takeaway also applied to how they staffed Disney World prior to its opening in 1971: a year before the Park opened, they hired several hundred college sophomores for seasonal work; the next year, they went after juniors, and the following year, when the Park was really hitting its stride, they hired seniors. The best of this experienced group were offered entry-level management positions after graduation, and many went on to achieve high-level positions all across the Disney companies.

How do you take advantage of experience in planning and staffing at your organization?

 

Oh, there’s one other thing: Even with the best of outside help, you still have to do the work yourself.

AFAWDWPlanning

World Class Leadership Takes Place Off the Court

Yesterday the 2016 version of March Madness kicked off.

College basketball is not my favorite sport, although spending 6 years in between supporters of the Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats, and now in my 21st year of ACC basketball craziness, I do get excited as the tournament rolls around in March.

My wife (who is actually the biggest sports fan in our house) and I do a bracket each year just to see who gets closest to the winner.

So as the tournament gets going in earnest, my thoughts are on…

John Wooden.

John Wooden and his historic UCLA dynasty won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including 88 straight games. Named Coach of the Century by ESPN, his honors and milestones cover 2 pages.

But it’s not his basketball coaching skills that draw me in – it’s his philosophy of world-class leadership that takes place off the court.

Practicing character-based leadership before the term was invented, John Wooden consistently led his legendry teams to victory and has since taught countless business leaders his fundamentals for achieving and sustaining success.

Coach’s Pyramid of Success is one of the most popular and effective motivational tools around.

Pyramid of Success

Corporations use it. Speakers laud it. Books have been written about it. Coach Wooden talked about it as often as he could. Many of his former players point to the Pyramid as the key to their personal success, both on and off the basketball court.

When Coach Wooden talked about the Pyramid, he always started at the cornerstones of industriousness and enthusiasm. He moved up the Pyramid one block at a time. Before reaching the top (success) he always talked about the mortar elements of faith and patience.

Sounds like a good plan for success to me.

The past is for reference; the future for dreamers. The present moment is where you create success: make it a masterpiece.

John Wooden

 

Reading the Year Out

Leaders are readers.

Today and tomorrow’s posts are an annual tradition at 27gen – all about reading and my favorite books of the year. Here are a few links to previous year’s posts – click and follow the link for a few thoughts on the importance of reading – and how to read!

Reading 101

Getting the Most Out of Reading

Put Down the Duckie

Read to Lead

When You Find a Leader, You Find a Reader

Thomas Edison on Reading

Reading Requires Deliberate Practice

I Read to Cheat Old Age – What About You?

I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He and my mother insisted we go to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.

Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful to my dad for.

I enjoy books as a multisensory experience – you not only read the words on a page, you feel the binding and turn the pages, hear the crackle of a very old book being opened for the first time in a long time, and then there’s that “book” smell – a combination of age, dust, maybe a little dampness – but all telling you an adventure is waiting.

For books connected with my role as Vision Room Curator, I use the margins to have a conversation with the author – writing comments, questions, and references to other books. I also use Post-It notes to mark certain sections. Marking in books was definitely a “no-no” in school, but I have found the practice to be a great help to me in experiencing the book.

Although I’m an early adopter in almost everything else, it’s just that “experience” that has kept me from moving into the eBook world all the way. I’ve been dabbling in eBooks for several years, moving ahead with a Kindle, and I’m glad I did. Having a library at my disposal in one volume has been very rewarding – but I will always be a “book” guy at heart.

So in wrapping up 2014 and looking forward to 2015, you’ll find me with a Kindle in my backpack – and several volumes of traditional books as well!

Next: my favorite books of 2014.

This is One Secret that is Not Meant to be Kept

Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s 10th Anniversary edition of The Secret is definitely not meant to be kept to yourself!

An updated version of their classic business fable, The Secret captivates the reader through an intriguing narrative centered around a simple but profound secret: “great leaders serve.”

Some of my earliest professional training during graduate school was based on the writings of Ken Blanchard, and his works continue to both line my shelf and inform my leadership activities.

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In much the same way, for the past few years Mark Miller’s writings have been an influential factor in my ongoing leadership development.

With The Secret, the authors have once again crafted a learning device that is not only a pleasure to read but filled with practical helps applicable from the volunteer team leader to the C-suite. In addition to these helps, the self-assessment included at the end of the book is a quick, useful tool to use at both the beginning and end of any mentoring or leadership development program.

The “secret” to The Secret is a simple acronym that successful leaders follow:

See the Future

Engage and Develop Others

Reinvent Continuously

Value Results and Relationships

Embody the Values

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Your continual journey as a developing leader developing others will benefit greatly from practicing the “secrets” from The Secret.