Monday, March 26, 2012

Without Vision, There is No Leadership

In his book, The Power of Team Leadership, George Barna states, "Vision is to a leader as air is to a human being: Without it, you die.”  This is true.  Effective leaders have a clear and motivating vision for their organizations.  More than that, effective leaders understand the necessity for their team to understand and catch the vision if it is ever going to be realized.  A leader may see the vision clearly, nevertheless, that vision is of little value if the people cannot see it clearly.

A vision of any value that is worth achieving cannot be accomplished solo.  Worthwhile visions require a team, working together, to realize the dream.  An ancient Chinese proverb put it like this: “If your vision is for one year, plant wheat.  If your vision is for a decade, plant trees.  If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.”

It is the responsibility of the leader to articulate the vision in a clear and compelling manner.  Barna says, “If you cannot articulate a clear picture of what you are seeking to achieve, how can you lead people there?”  Leadership is about taking people somewhere.  Without a clear and compelling vision, where would you lead them?

In his book, Barna shares four vision statements that all leaders should remember:

1. Vision inspires people by providing them with hope, meaning, and significant challenges; the absence of vision robs them of inspiration.

2. Vision attracts people to a cause by giving them something worth investing in and something to focus on that transcends the mundane endeavors of daily life; the absence of vision relegates them to a life of insignificance and disengagement from things that have eternal meaning.

3. Vision builds community by providing people with a common purpose and putting their natural competitiveness and pettiness in perspective; the absence of vision prevents them from building life-changing relationships and from diminishing the tendency to see the worst in others.

4. Vision sustains people by giving them a compelling reason to persevere and to stay focused on what really matters; the absence of vision facilitates majoring on the minors.

Become a person of vision.  Find your vision and always remember that you are the champion of the vision.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Add Value to Your People

If you want to build a great organization you must build great people.  If you want to add value to your organization you must add value to that which makes your organization most valuable, people.  Adding value is the essence of equipping others.  Good leaders understand the necessity of adding value to their people.  Good leaders intentionally add value to people around them every day.

Today you are either adding value or taking value from people.  Ask yourself this question, “Do I add value or do I subtract from the people around me?”  The greatest sin of a leader is to put himself/herself  first.

Think about the people in your life that you look up to or always want to be around. I’ll bet that they contribute to your life.   When we enrich others, we become someone of value to them.   In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell lists four ways to add value to others.

1. To add value to people, you have to value people. The only reason to lead people is to add value to them.  If you don’t value people, you will devalue people.

2. To add value to people you must make yourself more valuable.  Get better, keep growing and learning so you can add value to others and teach them.

3. To add value to people you must know and relate to what other people value.  How do we know and relate to what our people value?  We listen.  Listen to your people’s stories.  Find out their hopes and dreams.

4. To add value to people you have to do the things that God values.  They are the things that have eternal value.  We need to touch people the way Jesus touched them and teach people the way Jesus taught them.  We have to be there for them when they need us.

Do you desire to become a better leader?  Start by adding value to your people by serving them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Leadership is a Choice - NOT a Position

Leadership is a choice.  The position does not make the leader - even if the position is CEO.  Making the choice to lead means you have made the choice to serve others and build others up.  You have made the choice to be a positive example.

If you want to be a people builder, start by giving people an example to follow. Leadership begins with you and with how you live.  At its most basic level, leadership is about being a model for others.

Why?  You can only take a person as far as you have gone yourself.  You cannot take others up the mountain if you have never been up the mountain.  You cannot help others grow until you have grown.  That’s why the first person you need to lead is yourself.  The first person you need to develop is yourself.

The problem today is we don’t know the difference between being a leader and a boss. Being the boss does not make you a leader.  A boss who doesn’t understand leadership is called a dictator.  He demands.  Leaders model.  You don’t lead by demanding.  You lead by influence and example.

Jesus, the greatest leader in human history, stated it very clearly, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you.  On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

Jesus never asked anybody to do anything he hadn’t already done, wasn’t already doing, or wasn’t willing to do himself.  After modeling servant leadership he said to his disciples, “I’ve given you an example to follow.  Now do as I have done to you.”   Jesus said he did it, now you do it.  Jesus taught it, then he modeled it, then he expected it from his disciples.

As leaders, what do we need to model?  Here are just a few of my thoughts.  I’m sure you can add much more to the list.

1. Speech. How do you talk to people? Do you talk down to them or do you talk with them?  Do you listen when they talk?
2. Respect. Do you value and respect the people around you?
3. Care. Do you show authentic care and compassion to other people?
4. Character. Do you live a life of integrity?
5. Excellence. Do you model excellence in your work?
6. Serving. Do you serve others?  Are you interested in helping them achieve their goals and dreams?

Are you modeling those behaviors for your family?  For your co-workers? Leadership is a choice.  The role of the leader doesn’t come automatically when we’re given a title. There are plenty of bosses who aren’t leaders.  But you can be a leader.  It starts by making choices that other people choose not to make and providing that as an example to others.  Anyone can be a leader.  The issue is, do you choose to be one?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

7 Ways to Stay on Task

The following article is revised and abbreviated from an article by Rick Warren listing “9 Ways to Stay Motivated for Ministry.”   You can read the whole article here at
7 Ways to Stay on Task
Staying on task can sometimes be very difficult.  This is true in any area of work.  Below are seven steps you can take to help you stay on task.  There is nothing unusual or ground-breaking on this list, but I’m confident these will work for you.

1. Put your plans on paper.
Write out what you want to accomplish. Dawson Trotman said, “Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague.  Just putting what you have to do down on paper will often relieve some stress and allow you to focus on your task.

2. Break big tasks into small steps.
As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.”  When you know you have a task coming up, write down the specific steps you need to take before the project is done.

3. Decide where you want to start.
After you’ve broken down the task into steps, ask yourself what needs to be done first. Once you know what needs to be done first, it’s easier to get started.

4. Start on the task whether you feel like it or not.
The hardest part of any task is getting started.  Usually when we say we can’t do something, we really mean we don’t want to do it.  At least not right now.  Most of the people who succeed in this world are those who don’t feel like doing what they’re doing. Successful people have developed the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t feel like doing.

5. Remind yourself of the benefits of completing the task.
When things seem boring, tedious, or mundane, remember the joy of a completed task that’s been done well.  Remind yourself what the benefits will be.  Think of the people it will help, the difference it will make, and the satisfaction you will have at the moment of achievement.

6. Be optimistic.
Optimism creates energy.  Optimism can make any job more fun and enjoyable. Optimism will cause people to want to come along side of you to work with you on the task. Optimism can make all the difference in the world.

7. Establish an action environment.
Create a place in your office where you can get all of your tools together for your task. You need an environment where you can focus on the task at hand.  Success comes from focusing on one thing at a time. Clear your desk of anything that is not related to the task.  If you have things on your desk that are not related, they can become a distraction.  This includes closing email and social network programs on your computer desktop.  Continuous email, twitter, and facebook notifications can become huge distractions.