May 302016

humility and leadershipHumility Shmumility!

The last minute church elder’s meeting started a bit late. The pastor walked in to see several elders bickering over who should be in charge. Without saying a word, he motioned them all out of the room, down the hall, and with a finger to his lips, opened the door to the kindergarten room. A dozen kids sat in a circle singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of their lungs, big grins and wavy arms.

He quietly closed the door and said, “Unless you can love and worship simply like those kids, you have no place leading in this church. And, by the way, if you make one of them mess up, you might as well jump off the Noyo River bridge and drown. Oh, and don’t even begin to think you are better than they are. Their angels get special access to God the Father every day!

Read the real version in Matthew 18:1-6.

What’s this got to do with leadership and the workplace? Often, decisions and actions are based on the struggle for power and status over others. We feel our position must be maintained by pushing others down. Humility? That term gets restricted to religious discussions at church, if at all. This IS business, after all, LOL!

When Jesus teaches and models humility to His disciples, He is educating them about His kingdom and the fact that unlike most human organizations, His is based on loving and serving others. Those that are the most successful (the “greatest”) are those who serve and care for others the most.

Again, what’s this got to do with my workplace outside of the church? Maybe a lot. If one of my primary objectives is to serve, uplift, support those around me, regardless of the org chart- their success, their productivity, their job satisfaction, their employee engagement (Yes, Gallup users!) will make me effective and successful as a leader. Stepping on heads will only carry a person so far. Do leaders make it to the top by such stepping? Yes they do. But I would challenge their right to lead and whether their legacy will be a worthy one.

Think about your circles of influence. Is humility evident in your relationships at home? With friends? With coworkers?

Me? While I find new ways to fail every day, I want and pray for the ability to lead humbly, finding my greatest success and legacy through the success of those around me.

Jul 192015

equalEquality. Being viewed as equal. Demanding equal treatment. These are constant themes in our culture and certainly in the media. How important is it to be equal? When I focus on being equal, do I really mean greater than?

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.  -George Orwell, Animal Farm.

In our church, we practice a symbolic act called footwashing. We do this several times a year and just before a communion (Lord’s supper) service. Patterned after Jesus’ own example, it is to teach humility and even to allow members to right wrongs between them. Yesterday, I had the privilege of leading 15 shiny-faced, wiggly kids between 3 and 13. We learned about symbolism. We learned about Jesus serving the disciples by washing their feet. Yuck! We agreed that copying things that Jesus did was a good idea.

We learned that washing feet reminds us that no one, from a country’s leader to a child, is more important than another. We are all important and have equal value at the foot of the cross.

Regardless of your faith choice this morning, you may find direct application for this in all parts of your life.

When my daughter, and now, my son,  married, they washed each other’s feet in the middle of the wedding service, showing us all that they promised to serve each other in love. While roles in a family are not all identical, it is important for children to be highly valued and to learn to serve each other as they watch the example of their parents.

At UVMC, our senior leadership do a beautiful job of teaching servant leadership by example. It is not at all uncommon to see any one of them interacting with and serving a disoriented guest in the hallway or assisting a struggling front line employee. They teach value for each person in their actions and also their business decisions.

What is my focus at work? Do I want to ensure that I get my share? That I don’t work any harder than the next person? That I don’t do for someone else unless they have already done it for me? Acting in humility, being the first to apologize, going a step farther than another, these are things that create harmony in the workplace and result in better service for our customers or patients.

What is my focus at home? Do I let the dishes pile up because some one else should be doing it? Because I did it last time? Do I delay taking the garbage out, hoping that someone will take it out before I get to it? Or do I initiate acts of service that I know will please my wife, with no thought of reciprocity or reward?

My challenge for us as we begin a new week- find ways to underline value in those around you, at home and at work, through acts of humility and service!

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