A Social Experiment: “Here I am!” versus “There you are!”

There are two kinds of people in this world. When entering a room full of strangers there are those who say, “Here I am,” and those who say, “There you are.” Try it the next time you’re in a situation where there is a group of people and see the dynamics.

The “Here I am” people typically make it known they have arrived. It’s all about them. Sometimes this can be as subliminal as meetings where an individual chronically makes an entrance 20 minutes late. The “There you are,” people tend to go right up to the people they don’t know, introduce themselves, and start the process of inquiring about that individual. In other words, it’s all about everyone else.

“Here I am” people should not be a surprise. Their behaviors correlate with an element of narcissism in their character. In a social setting it is more pronounced. Sometimes the situation can be as blatant, for example, of the hypothetical of a church directional leader going into a men’s clothing store and demanding more of a discount stating, “Don’t you know who I am?” Incredible as it seems this happens more often than you might think.

The “There you are,” people want no fanfare. They ooze humility and that’s the key to the differences in the personalities. They not only value others above themselves but they show it in everything they think, say, and do. The narcissistic personality can’t or won’t do this.

Next time you’re in a social setting try the experiment. Try to identify the “Here I am,” people and the “There you are,” people. This one little social exercise can be very telling for future interactions with these same people.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why Some Organizations Can’t Implement

Lots of good ideas come from within and outside an organization. Brainstorming sessions are an excellent way to get the best creativity from people. If staff meetings are run correctly people should exit invigorated and ready to let loose with trying out new initiatives.

Sometimes something happens in between when an idea is first cast with an ultimate goal that has the potential to knock the ball out of the park. Sometimes the implementation phase gets stuck or is nonexistent. Organizations may have great ideas but fail to execute. The question is why?

Having the right people in the implementation phase is critical for success. These are typically the detail people. These are the people who can visually see a destination and immediately start piecing together a roadmap to make things happen. One of the best directives any supervisor can give subordinates to implement something is to, “Make it happen.” No micro managing. No second guessing. Just make it happen. Sure it’s okay to have progress check dates or for leaders to be available for questions but by and large implementation is a creative process for those special people within an organization who can plan and know what is needed in a methodical step by step process. In essence, implementation is a gift. At the very least it’s an acquired skill and leaders need to immediately recognize who is skilled to implement. Sometimes this requires an assignment change to work with another team. The so be it. The success for one means the success for all.

Next, the proper questions need to be asked, answered, and acted upon. What’s the next step? What time frame are we looking at? Are there budgetary constraints? What resources are required and when? The list goes on but you can see some of the detail that needs to be addressed.

Proper implementation means breaking down the pieces of a project into smaller bite size pieces for others to understand and do. Implementation requires planning skills and focusing on what exactly brings the organization closer to achieving success in the project. In other words, if it doesn’t contribute to the overall completion of the implementation schedule then get rid of it and focus on what does.

When organizations have a difficult time with implementation it is because current leadership doesn’t know how or does not have the talent from within. That’s why implementation outsourcing is so successful. Certainly, there’s nothing like a finished project or design but the road getting there is equally as important as the destination. There is no magic formula for implementation. In the end, it just needs to be done with as much verve and excitement and detailed methodology as the idea creation and the execution of the finished project.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dancing With the Devil in Leadership

Have you ever wondered why a particular toxic leader or manager was kept by an organization or why his or her leadership team is still in place long after the toxic leader has done enough damage and is gone? There comes a time when people wonder why: 1) a toxic leader is being kept on by a board or an organization, or 2) why more employees aren’t leaving or the company losing more customers than it already has. The rationale varies with the individuals who are affected by the leadership but there is one reason that keeps on repeating itself. People would rather deal with the known rather than an unknown of someone new. Sounds crazy but it’s true. There is even an old adage that goes along with this: It’s better to dance with the devil you know as opposed to the one you don’t.

Wow. That pretty much sums it up. Rather than setting the bar high and saying that’s our goal for a leadership standard some people or organizations would rather settle for mediocre or average and in some cases below average. Having a vision for what true leadership looks like is a start. It’s important to get this right. Second, it’s important to have a clear method to get to the goal. This is where it gets fuzzy for some organizations. They know where they want to go but developing a plan isn’t as clear for some reason. Most of the time organizations don’t know how to achieve their long-term goals even relating to a leadership standard because the task seems too monumental.

It is mindful of the old joke, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.” Setting measurable and achievable goals is important. Over time the final goal is achieved and the organization can look back with pride knowing the best has been attained. Dancing with the devil is no way to run an organization.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Leaving A Legacy in Leadership

How do you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave? These are important questions to be asked of anyone especially those in leadership. Everyone wants to make a difference in some fashion. It’s just a question of how or what that looks like.

The entire point of leaving a good legacy is doing the job to the best of one’s ability on a day-to-day basis and not gloss over the seemingly smaller things. Any encounter during one’s day is significant. In my prior job in law enforcement I encountered officers who always waited for “the big call.” The “big call” is the armed robbery that just occurred or the burglary in progress. Some officers intentionally didn’t do anything else while working except wait around for the big call. What legacy do they leave? In education teachers want to do what they do best and that’s teach and be better teachers but, more often than not, administration does not put its focus in that direction. Just ask a teacher if he or she feels like a better or more prepared teacher after a year’s worth of faculty meetings. What legacy is left for administration? Sometimes churches get so bogged down in the business end of a church the real mission is forgotten or put to the side. What legacy is developed? Even those organizations that have a defined mission need to live it out in everything that is said and done even in the back office.

The entire point of even considering the legacy one leaves is not for accolades or kudos. Developing a legacy is a very fluid and dynamic process. Over time legacy takes shape and becomes defined with every meeting and every encounter as a building block. It boils down to making a positive difference every day and every minute and that’s key. What does your legacy look like?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 1 Comment

“Help! I keep hitting my hand with a hammer and my hand keeps hurting!”

I am ever amazed at human behavior especially relating to organizations and the people who lead and manage them. There seems to be way too much time in some organizations (public, private, and in church world), going over the same territory with the same challenges and the same mistakes happening over and over. Of course, this relates to the definition of insanity, i.e. doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

The same can hold true for a change in leadership. If a toxic leader is let go what makes people think the #2 or #3 in command will not mimic the behaviors of the toxic leader in some way? Sure, the words can be said. The sincerity of those vying for the leadership role might appear to be oozing from their pores but the reality is toxic leaders typically hand-pick and surround themselves with those who are either like-minded or yes people. Usually, they are the ones who carried out the directions of the toxic leader even to the demise of the organization. It can be obvious when put in positions of leadership after the departure of a toxic leader the minions who run the organization still carry the traits of the toxic leader.

What’s the cure?

The bottom line is to rid the cancer from the organization. End of story. That’s why you sometimes see an entire leadership structure leave along with the toxic leader. The risk of not doing so is the surfacing of bad leadership and the true colors of those who take over. At the very least the non giftedness of leaders is apparent. There needs to be a house cleaning. The extent of the house cleaning can further reach to middle management, the board, and even elders in the case of a church. Just like a person who keeps hitting his hand with a hammer and complains about the pain needs to stop doing the obvious and move on.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Top Five Truths of Leadership

1) Some leaders are born with inherent gifts or skills that make them leaders. Some leaders are made over time with a journey that includes experience and possible mentoring in some fashion. Some leaders are a combination of both. All have different styles and methods for how they lead.

2) Although education can be helpful but educational lettering following one’s name does not guarantee wisdom (the application of acquired knowledge) nor do educational achievements ensure integrity. Also, please throw in common sense to the mix. People can rationalize or justify most anything but doing the right thing for themselves and an organization seems to be a challenge for some highly educated people.

3) Leaders are transparent. There is no hidden agenda. There are no secrets. Leaders do not play escape and evade with people in their organization or outside their organization. They are open and honest about all aspects of their work.

4) Leaders consider everyone with whom they come in contact as important. They forgive easily. They encourage different points of view even from ardent criticizers for out of this group can come some of the most ardent and loyal followers.

5) Leaders do not bear grudges nor do they take criticism personally. What matters most is the success of the organization but the cost will never include a disregard for the people who devote their time and energy to the organization. Integrity is never compromised.

How many leaders do you know that fulfill these requirements?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Leadership in Church World

Women and Their Role in the Church

It’s difficult to have a discussion about women having a voice in our churches without having a parallel discussion about the theological basis (complimentarian versus egalitarian) or differences that exists with policy. Further, I would be interested to see the ratio of men and women in leadership in churches that say they do not gender discrimunate. Further, maybe we should really take a hard look at the ratio of men and women in leadership in the private and public sectors while we’re at it.

My opinion but in this instance regarding church leadership we see the flawed logic in strict biblical interpretations. Women CAN be and ARE good leaders and teachers in our churches. In fact, I have seen women who were better leaders and teachers than many men so the argument about disenfranchising half the population on the planet due to gender goes out the window. Giving women, or anyone for that matter, a voice is only right. Having women right beside men in leadership/teaching positions building the kingdom on earth appears to me as how God designed us. Anything less falls way short…by half.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment