Sep 212013

If Mama aint happyIf Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Have you ever heard that statement? I picture a frazzled and furious housewife, screaming and swinging, causing kids and Dad alike to run for cover! I brought this up last week while teasing one of my hardworking, spirited, but, uh, certainly even-tempered colleagues. During the conversation, I did have to admit that this was so not true in my house. My girls are blessed with a Mom who keeps evil feelings in check and while teaching, playing, working with them, models love in an untiring and self-sacrificing way.

Nevertheless, it is certainly true that Mom’s spirit and attitude set the tone for the day. When Mom is in good spirits, kids respond in kind and Dad, too. When Mom obviously missed her happy pill [NO! not suggesting a pharmaceutical solution, just an expression!], the kids wonder what’s wrong. This is especially true when Mom and Dad are at each other’s throats. Kids act out, feel insecure, get unexplained illnesses, and eventually kick the dog. Moms, and leaders, set the tone for those around them.

But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.  When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.  But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14:24-29 NIV

This is a popular story used to teach various things. Let’s look for something completely different. The disciples are straining at the oars, fearing for their lives. When they finally recognize that Jesus is the One they see, they notice that He is calmly walking on the waves, seemingly oblivious to the danger.

Calm is catching. It’s contagious. It’s confidence-building. Peter, one of the more radical disciples, becomes so confident that he asks Jesus if he can join Him walking on the waves! Jesus agrees and Peter jumps out of the boat!

A few weeks back, one of my staff came to me and said, “Bob, are you mad at me?” I had said something very unintentional the day before, maybe with a tone she wasn’t used to. Several days ago, another said,”Is everything okay? You seem awfully quiet, more serious than usual.” I don’t know about you, but my staff pick up things from me. They are always watching, listening. Especially in challenging times, they watch to see how I react to stress, how I am affected by what’s happening around me.

Last week we talked about values and how leaders communicate them in everything they do and say. Today, this is something more intangible, less objective. My question for today- My tone, my body language, my vibe- do they communicate fear or confidence? Calm or unrest? Jesus exhibited such peace and confidence that it inspired Peter to leap from a perfectly good boat! Take special note that the storm was still raging when Peter jumped!

Will my staff be more likely to act with initiative, serve with caring, think outside of the boat, due to my influence, my leadership? What vibe do I export? What infection will they catch from me? Fear, uncertainty, distraction, unrest, negativity? Or calm confidence, sure focus, joyful affirmation?

shared in the workplace. 9/16/13.

Related post: Where to go when your attitude isn’t right for leadership.

Sep 112013

Do you recognize the Shema? No, it is not a golden-garbed wise one from the mountains of Nepal. No, it is not the skin some people use to wipe down cars after washing. That’s a chamois.

The Shema is the most important prayer in the Jewish faith. It is used daily as an expression of faith and devotion. It is probably one of the first learned by Jewish children. It speaks of priority, what’s most important. It goes like this-

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heartand with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9. NIV

Jesus quoted the Shema in answer to a trick question from religious leaders of the day. A question about values.

One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?”

 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:35-40 The Message

I have a book entitled Get Everyone in Your Boat Rowing in the Same Direction. It states that a key leadership function is deciding “What’s important around here” and communicating that. Deciding what’s important around here is a critical function for our CEO. She can’t delegate it. However, as a leader here, I am bound to join her in communicating “what’s important around here”. There is no way I can avoid making that decision for my department and for my circles of influence.

Fact: Values are always being demonstrated. Whether we are conscious of that fact or not, they are being taught. Shared by every word and action. What are my top one or two values? Integrity? Profit? Reflecting God’s love? Excellent Service? Quality? Uniting against a common enemy? Have I made a conscious choice? If I asked my staff what my values were, would they name different ones based on my actions?

Whether at work, school, or home, I have a responsibility to lead based on my values. Let them be pleasing to my Father in heaven.

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