Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How Important Is Vision?

Burt Nanus, in his book Visionary Leadership, defines a vision as “a realistic, credible, attractive future for your organization.  It is your articulation of a destination toward which your organization should aim, a future that is better, more successful, or more desirable for your organization than is the present.”  John Maxwell, in his book, Put Your Dreams to the Test, defines vision (or dream) as, “an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will, and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it.”  Nanus argues that the right vision “is an idea so energizing that it in effect jump-starts the future by calling forth the skills, talents, and resources to make it happen.” 

In speaking to the importance of vision, Michael Hyatt commented, “Vision and strategy are both important. But there is a priority to them. Vision always comes first. Always. If you have a clear vision, you will eventually attract the right strategy. If you don’t have a clear vision, no strategy will save you.”

How important is vision?  I believe that those companies that do not have a clear and compelling  vision for the future are doomed to a slow demise.  Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived said, “Without vision, the people perish.”  Here are some benefits that I have found for having a clear and compelling vision.

Vision gives us hope.
Vision gives us direction.
Vision gives us motivation.
Vision gives us reason.
Vision gives us unity.
Vision gives us priorities.
Vision gives us energy.

What are your thoughts about vision?  Do you have one?  Have you shared it with others?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Tell Me What You Think of Me

Respect and Leadership go together.  You can't have real leadership without respect.  One can lead from position without respect, but a leadership position does not necessarily mean the holder of that position is a leader.  Dictators rely on violence and powering up on people to get them to do what they want them to do.  That’s not really leadership.  The mark of a real leader is when people choose to follow a leader because they respect him/her and in turn he/she respects them.   When leaders show respect for others - they gain respect from others.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell says “gaining respect from others follows a pattern:

When people respect you as a person, they admire you.
When people respect you as a friend, they love you.
When people respect you as a leader, they will follow you.

It is wonderful when the people respect their leader, but it is even more wonderful when the leader respects his people.  The first and most important area of leadership is to show respect to others around you.

Earning Respect
One cannot demand respect.  Respect must be earned and that takes time.  Let me repeat this - Respect must be earned.  It is not given freely.  People don’t follow others by accident.  They follow individuals they respect.  One way to earn respect is to develop the traits in yourself that you admire in others.  Think about whom you respect and why?  Most people respect others that are honest, hard working, and are others centered.

I believe that one of the greatest sources of respect for a leader comes from his or her commitment to adding value to others.  This one thing is sure - followers value leaders who add value to them.  Great leaders will inspire respect in others by being a great example of showing respect.

Just as leadership and respect go together, so do success and respect go hand in hand.  My favorite definition of success is this: Success is having those closest to me love and respect me the most.  This would include my family but also those with whom I work every day.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Enemies of Team Unity

I spent the day today with my team in our annual staff planning retreat this week.  We began the meeting discussing what worked well this past year, what did not work, and how we can improve.  It was a good discussion and everybody participated.  The result was a very productive time of sharing.  In reflecting on the day I was thinking about the power of staff unity for any organization.  When a team is “together” much can be accomplished.  There really is power in unity.

I read an article recently that quoted Dave Ramsey saying  “few churches or organizations experience real unity”. He then shared five enemies to unity on a church staff team.  I want to share with you these five enemies to team unity with an additional one that I added.  I want to challenge you to rate your organization in these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.  Is the unity of your team poor or strong?

1. Poor Communication
Communication is the key to a strong unified staff.  When the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, strife sets in.  I’ve heard Rick Warren state many times, “People are down on what they are not up on.”  Poor communication can lead to mis-communication which can lead to hurt feelings and anger which will ultimately lead to no communication.

2. Gossip 
Ken Sande, in his book on conflict resolution, The Peacemaker, gives the following definition for gossip. “To gossip means to betray a confidence or to discuss unfavorable personal facts about another person with someone who is not part of the problem or its solution."  There is no place for gossip in a team.  It is a major enemy of team unity.

3. Unresolved Disagreements
Disagreements are inevitable and can be beneficial if handled correctly.  A disagreement can lead to someone not making a huge mistake.  Unresolved disagreement, however, is never beneficial.  This happens when one person is not willing to listen or forgive. It may also result from a leader not knowing a disagreement exists or because of the leader’s fear of confrontation.

4. Lack of Shared Purpose
It is the responsibility of the leader to make sure that all members of the team are on the same page with the purpose and mission of the organization.  Lack of shared purpose occurs when the leader doesn't restate the goal, the vision, and the mission early and often.

5. Sanctioned Incompetence 
This happens when the leader keeps an inefficient team member because he/she feels sorry for them.  This can also happen when a team member with a bad attitude is kept on the team.

6. My Space Comes First Attitude
This is when one member of the team is more concerned about their own area than they are about the success of the whole organization.  This attitude is a major enemy to team unity.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Leadership Lessons from a Tour Guide

I recently returned from a trip to Israel where we spent 9 days touring the country.  The group of 28 was led by a wonderful tour guide named David.  As I watched David I saw a number of qualities in this man that made him not only an excellent tour guide, but an excellent leader as well.

1. Leaders Serve
The Law of Solid Ground from John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, says “Leaders add value by serving others.”  David was our tour leader but he saw himself as a servant as well.  He added great value to our group.  He was available to help with any need anyone had during the entire trip.  He spent many hours going the extra mile to make sure that we had everything we needed and/or wanted.

2. Leaders Know the Way
The Law of Navigation says, “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course.”  Being a first time guest in Israel, I could have never led our group of tourists to the various sites because I didn’t know the way.  David knew the way to every site and knew which sites to see first to make the most efficient use of our time.  As we traveled he would point out landmarks along the way.

3. Leaders Strive for Excellence
Our guide knew his material.  He knew the history, the facts, and the details of each site.  He gave more and shared more than was required.  After a full day of touring we would all retire to our rooms for a good nights rest.  David would spend time reviewing the schedule and reviewing his notes so that he would be well prepared to teach us the next day.  David spent many years studying and preparing to be the best tour guide he could be.  This was seen in his performance.

4. Leaders Connect with Others
The Law of Connection states, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”  David shared many personal stories that touched our hearts.  At the end of the tour, all 28 of us felt as if David was our best friend.  Each person felt that he had their best interest at heart.  We would follow David anywhere he wanted to take us.  David made a connection with the entire group.

5. Leaders Communicate with Excellence
David was an excellent communicator.  David told many stories: some that made us laugh and others that made us cry.  His humor was timed just right to perk us up when we were exhausted.  He sang.  He demanded.  He answered questions.  He asked questions.  He taught.  David talked all day everyday and we never got tired of hearing him.

As I watched David throughout the trip I saw in him the qualities that are the marks of good leadership.  We are planning another trip in two years.  If it is at all possible, David will be our tour guide.