Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wise Leaders

I believe wisdom is absolutely essential for good leadership.  Leadership demands consistent decision-making.  King Solomon of the Bible was a great leader who is also universally considered the wisest man who has ever lived.  King Solomon applied leadership principles that are as relevant and powerful today as they were in biblical times.  From him we can learn the characteristics of a wise leader.  Let me mention a few in this article.

Wise Leaders are Learners
Solomon said, “A wise man will listen and increase his learning, and a discerning man will obtain guidance.”  Leaders are learners.  Solomon understood that wise leaders value personal growth and development.  He also understood that leadership development is a process not an event.  He stated, “Listen to counsel and receive instruction so that you may be wise later in life.”  Solomon understood that wisdom doesn’t occur overnight.  It takes time to grow and develop to be a wise leader.

Wise Leaders Listen
Solomon said, “A fool’s way is right in his own eyes, but whoever listens to counsel is wise.”  Wise leaders understand the value of counsel.  Wise leaders understand that one of us is not as smart as all of us.  Wise leaders seek out counsel from others.  They listen to the ideas, thoughts, and opinions of others before making a major decision.

Wise Leaders Value Wisdom
Wise leaders not only listen, but they are careful in selecting to whom they listen.  Solomon said “A mocker doesn’t love one who corrects him; he will not consult the wise.”  Wise leaders want to listen to and learn from those who are wiser than themselves.

Wise Leaders Value Correction
Solomon said “Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Instruct a wise man, and he will be wiser still.”  Wise leaders want to know when they are headed in the wrong direction.  Wise leaders want people in their lives who will lovingly hold them accountable.  Wise leaders desire to have those around them who will steer them back in the right direction when they get off course.  The mark of wisdom is not in never making mistakes, that’s an impossibility.  Even King Solomon made mistakes.  The mark of wisdom valuing and receiving correction given when one has made a mistake.

Solomon says:"Without wise leadership, a nation is in trouble; but with good counselors there is safety."  These words are as true today as they were when he wrote them thousands of years ago.  Be a wise leader.  Be a learner, listen, seek the wisdom of other wise leaders, and value correction.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Five Questions Every Leader Should Be Able to Answer

I came across this article this week that I thought would be helpful. The article below which I have abbreviated is written by Kevin East.  I have recently read a number of Kevin’s articles and really like what he has to say about leadership.  Kevin is the Executive Director of Ministries for Pine Cove, one of the premier Christian camps in the country.  Pine Cove has 8 independent summer camps in Texas, partnerships with other non-profits, and runs camps in other countries as well.  To see more posts on leadership by Kevin you can go to

Five Questions Every Leader Should Be Able to Answer
By Kevin East

There are many good guys out there.  But being good can only bring you so far.  After that, precision is required.  It is the difference between being an amateur and a pro.  So what will bridge the divide?

I’ve sat across the table from many people looking to get a spot within our organization. Some were young, still in college.  Others were older, seasoned veterans who share the gray hair, wrinkles, and stories of failures and successes.  Whether young or old, I wanted to know if they had the answers to a few important questions.

In order to be an effective leader, you need to understand yourself and exactly what you bring to the table each and every day that you go to work.  Strong organizations have leaders that are comfortable being themselves.  They, in turn, help create environments where others can be comfortable “in their own skin” as well.

How well do you know yourself?  See if you could clearly write down on a piece of paper the answer to these 5 questions:

1. What are my spiritual gifts?
2. What are my top 3 strengths?
3. What are my top 3 weaknesses?
4. What motivates me?
5. What type of environment would allow me to thrive?

Too often, people bounce around from one job to another, never fully understanding what they are looking for.  They know they are unhappy, but don’t know why.  Their solution: Change.  Many times the change they get only presents a new set of problems.

Younger people aren’t too prideful to ask.  They can blame the fact they don’t know themselves that well on their youthfulness.  I’ve been on the receiving end of the question, “What do you think I’m good at?” many, many times.  Some that are older never want to come to grips with the fact they don’t have the slightest clue what these answers are to these questions.

Effective leaders are constantly learning and adapting.  They are studying the culture, their market segment, their competition, and taking note of any pertinent changes to them.  They are also a student of themselves, seeking to understand the necessary adaptations they need to make to better serve the people in their area of influence.

How can you know the answers?

I’ve found a couple of tests so helpful for uncovering these answers.  Over the years I have taken many different assessments such as the DiSC test, Map Profile, and even the animal personality test, and then spent hours pouring over what they found to see if I agreed.  They offer some good nuggets, but the best ones are very expensive.

Here are a couple relatively inexpensive ones that are good:

Uniquely You Inventory – I really like this test.  It costs $15, but does an assessment that combines spiritual gifts as well as the DiSC profile.  I think the results are very valuable.

Servants By Design – This one costs $35.  This assessment measures many different areas of the person.  Examples are: personality structure and strengths, motivators, abilities, settings, potential pitfalls and prime environments.  It is the longest tests like these that I have taken, but again, I think the outputs are very helpful.

I’d encourage you to get alone, take one of these, and then spend some time studying the results.  You’ll be glad you did.

Can you answer these 5 questions?  Why or why not?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Good Leaders are Good Communicators

It is a common question ... “How can I be successful as a leader?”  While there are, as John Maxwell says, many leadership laws that one must understand and do well to be an effective leader, I believe there is one that binds all the others together - Clear Communication.

Think about it … how do the best leaders motivate and inspire their people?  Through clear communication.  How do the best organizations promote their purpose, values, and vision?  With clear communication.  In real estate, the old cliché is “location, location, location.”  In leadership, you preach “communication, communication, communication.”

Good Leaders are Good Communicators
Regardless of whether you lead in a business, charitable organizations church, sports, or the military, the best leaders are great communicators.  So how do you communicate effectively?

First, understand that communication is always a two-way process.  Communication is not just about the leader doing all of the talking.  Good leaders are good listeners.  Good leaders understand that they have followers who want to be heard and understood.  How can you become a good listener?  Let me summarize it in one statement:  Walk slowly through the crowd.

Walking slowly through the crowd means taking the time to talk with those you lead.  Hear their stories, hurts, ideas, and thoughts.  Keep an open mind when they share their ideas.  Let them know how much you appreciate their ideas and thoughts.  Implement any idea you can.  This affirms that you value them.

Clear communication involves good listening but it also includes clearly sharing your message.  You message may consist of your vision, your goals, or your values.  Folllowing are some ideas on how to clearly and effectively share your message.

• Spend time thinking through and understanding the message yourself.  Your message must be clear to you.  If it is not clear in your mind, it will not be clear in the minds of others.

• Clarify the goal of the communication.  What do you want it to achieve?  What do you want the listener(s) to do once they’ve heard the message?

• Prepare how you’ll communicate your message.  Think through the best delivery medium.  Will you present the message personally?  Will you use power-point?  Will you use print media or audio/video media?  The purpose, size of group, available technology, etc, will determine how you deliver your message.

• Anticipate the receiver’s viewpoint and feelings and address these in the message.

• Deliver the message with passion and conviction.

• Relate the message to your purpose.

• Identify the action to be taken.  Make clear to the listener what you are expecting them to do once they have heard the message.

• Confirm the other person(s) understanding.

Why is clear communication so important?  Consider Thomas Jefferson and the other framers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They drafted documents that not only defined America and its mission, but also laid the foundation of ideals, principles, values and laws on which the nation operates to this day.  And, guess what?  They didn’t just sit down one day and dictate it to a secretary.  They worked the language and polished every word, over and over, and they used the process itself to promote alignment, consensus and collective buy-in.  With words, language and clear communication, they launched a revolution.  What’s more, on the shared values of liberty, individual empowerment and collective prosperity, these visionaries built a nation of unparalleled wealth and economic gain.

The bottom line is simple: clear communication is critical to a leader’s success.  So to succeed as a leader, you must learn how to be an effective, compelling, and clear communicator

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Leadership Is Relationships

Good leaders understand that leadership is the ability to influence others.  As John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.”Bob Burg says, “People will do business and refer others to those they know, like, and trust. ”This is true in the area of leadership.  People will follow leaders they know, like, and trust.  If leaders will get to know their people, respect their people, and value their people, their people will follow them anywhere.  In other words, the deeper your relationships, the stronger your leadership.

Six Powerful Relationship (i.e. leadership) Builders

1.  Practice the Golden Rule. “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12)  In other words, treat others the way you would want them to treat you.  Do you want more respect from those with whom you work?  Then give them more respect.  Do you want more appreciation?  Give more appreciation away.  Do you want more loyalty?  Be exceptionally loyal.  The best way to influence other people is through the awesome power of your best example.  Give away all that you most wish to receive.

2. Walk Through the Crowd Slowly.  Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines said, “The business of business is people.”  With the onslaught of new technology, we have more ways than ever to connect with people today, yet at the same time, we’ve never been less emotionally connected with people.  We cannot truly connect with people on a more intimate level through texting and Facebook.  I’m speaking of real human connections, the kind that cause people to believe in you—and go to the wall to help you win. There is extraordinary power in walking through the crowd slowly and getting to know people by talking to them.  Just being out there, having lunch with your teammates and breaking bread with your customers is important.  When people get to know you, they’ll be first in line to do some serious business with you.

3. Serve Your People.  Jesus, the greatest leader in history said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:25-27).  All great leaders understand that real leadership is servant leadership. One way of serving others is to help them reach their maximum potential.  The single best move an organization can make is to raise the leadership lid of every single person at every possible level.  Remember, anyone can lead, whether they’re the receptionist or the CEO. And one of the defining behaviors of real leadership is leaving everyone you meet better than you found them. Be one of those great leaders who inspire others to step into their best.  Treat everyone you know like they are VIP’s.

4. Listen, Listen, Listen.  Listening involves more than waiting until the speaker has stopped speaking.  Yet, few leaders have dedicated themselves to being a good listener. When you become good at listening, people feel that you care about them.  When they feel you care about them, they begin to care about you.  And when people care about you, your success becomes a part of how they define their success.

5. Practice Good Manners.  “Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization,” said management guru Peter Drucker.  “Please” means “I respect you,” and “Thank you” means “I appreciate you.”  Leading others requires that you strongly value them.

6. Give Credit.  Former President Harry Truman said, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.”  Leave your ego at home every morning, and just do some truly great work.  Few things will make you feel better than a job done with excellence.  And the more you focus on adding value to as many people as possible, the more all those ego pursuits, like a bigger title, more money and greater acclaim, will show up for you in the best of ways.

How to Be a REAL Success
In my upcoming ½ day Leadership Workshop on February 25, I will show you how you can become a better leader by strengthening your relationships.  Check out my “How to Be a REAL Success” workshop at