Jul 212016
 

Leadership and GraceGrace? Sounds like weakness, right?

The factory owner had many employees. He spent a lot of time on the factory floor checking, encouraging, advising. They were very important to him. One day his assistant informed him that one of the assembly line operators didn’t show up for work. Bill was normally a hard worker… but he had heard rumors that the man had a drinking problem. He wondered, concerned.

Shocking his assistant, he rose from his desk, pulled off his tie, tossed his suit jacket onto his chair, rolled up the sleeves of his perfectly pressed dress shirt, and trotted to his car.

He drove to Bill’s house, knocking on the door, no response. Slowly driving up and down each street in the neighborhood, he searched carefully. Finally, he saw someone hunched over, sitting on the curb at a street corner a couple of blocks away. It looked like Bill, but he wasn’t sure. Pulling the car to a stop close to the corner, he got out and sat down next to Bill. His clothes were a mess. He had vomited in the gutter and reeked of it and the alcohol that caused it.

Bill looked up, recognized his boss, and groaned in shame. “Let’s get you home,” he heard. Then he felt strong arms lifting him up, walking him to his car, getting him safely belted in. The owner walked him into his house, got him into the shower, dug around for clean clothes, brewed a pot of coffee.

The next day, the owner saw Bill on the factory floor, on time, working harder than anyone in his section. “Funny,” he thought to himself,”I’m more pleased about Bill’s performance today than any of the other employees!”

Read the real version in Matthew 18:12-14.

Grace in the workplace? But we have policies and procedures, human resources guidelines, discipline, termination. Yes. Yes we do. And they have their place.

With this short story, Jesus attempts to teach his disciples about the high value He places on each person. He teaches that the more someone falls, the more we care for them. He shows them that EVERYONE is worth dying for. He gives them yet one more glimpse of a kingdom unlike anything they’ve ever imagined. Grace? Yes. Seeing through the faults. Seeing the intrinsic value of another person. Someone worth helping.

I have been blessed by seeing colleagues blossoming and succeeding at work in ways no one thought possible. Because of grace. Yes, it’s a dirty job sometimes. Yes, they fall again sometimes. Yes, they don’t always show appreciation. And yes, living and leading through expressing grace still has its own reward.

My failures, my shortcomings, remind me every day of my need for grace. Grace extended from colleagues, from my family, from my Jesus. How can I not do likewise?

This is Part 2 of a four part series.  Part 1 is Leadership and Humility- Contradiction in Terms?

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.

Dec 212013
 

Several months ago, I was having a really bad day.  I had received some challenging news that I was unprepared to face.  With feelings of depression, hopelessness, and no small amount of anger setting in, I was unable to face my staff who depend on me for leadership and support.

So what did I do? I went straight to my boss, burst into her office, pushing for some serious talk time. And she did exactly those things that cause me to count on her. She validated my feelings. She did a reality check on my facts. Immediately went to the source to correct the issue. Sent me on my way confident in the work we had already done together.

Jesus knew about this need. He was very clear about the source of His power.

“I have received authority from my Father”. Revelation 2:27 NIV.

Jesus knew that without regular time spent with His Father, to renew, to refocus, to remind, to repurpose, He would lose strength and lose sight of His mission. He was on a three year game-changing mission. He had an impossibly short time to do something so shocking, so unique, and finally, so violent, that it would change the thoughts of a universe for all time. 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35 NIV.

He knew where to go. He had no question to Whom He should turn.  Through His short life, he modeled this for us over and over. He proved it’s value finally through a victorious mission.

Someone told me something about leadership once, and I’ve found it to have lasting value.

When you’re down, go up!

When you’re up, go down!

What do these cryptic words mean? When you are emotionally down, when you’re mission focus is blurry, when you are confused and discouraged about your value or direction, go up! Up the food chain, up the org chart, up to your boss, up to your Heavenly Father, up to a caring parent. Someone who can handle all of your garbage, your discouragement, your confusion, and your anger. Someone who can remind you of who you are. Someone who can get you standing upright again.

When you’re up, when you are clear on the mission, when you have value to share with those around you, when you are strong enough to support and affirm,  go to those who count on you for leadership. They could be employees, children, fellow students. If you’re not ready to do that, go up! Rant in your boss’s office, take a prayer moment in the car before entering your home, go where you need to go to get your game face back on.

Jesus knew where to go for renewal, to get His game face back on. And so do you.

shared in the workplace 12.16.13 Thanks Heather!

Related posts: about the importance of my leadership vibe and leading with my values.

Dec 082013
 

I had an idea at work the other day. I know that’s shocking to some of you… but I did! I was kind of proud of it and was looking forward to having my name linked with it. And then, the most shocking thing ever! Someone else had come up with my bright idea! MY idea! My personal, brilliant, creative, innovative idea.

 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me,  for whoever is not against us is for us. Mark 9:38-40

So…. apparently Jesus didn’t have that problem. He was trying to teach His disciples that the mission was more important than the man.  The message more than the messenger. Effect more than credit. That’s kindof tough on the old ego.  We naturally want to be recognized for our brilliance and creativity, don’t we?

Jesus kept His eye on the mission: to reflect His Father’s loving character and to heal and save idiotic humans who were trying to kill Him. No time or energy to waste on ego or fame. If something or someone furthered that mission, He was for it… and them!

So how can I copy this? When an employee comes up with a great idea that I have also generated, acknowledge them for it with affirmation both privately and publicly. When a colleague promotes a new concept or cause that you were planning to initiate, find a way to team up with them by your willingness to follow their leadership. Support them with creative effort and cheerfully compliment them to others.

As a church family, are we willing to support community efforts that don’t have our name on them or do we feel the need to duplicate every service to ensure that our denomination or congregation is recognized?

What about within the home? As a parent, do I really need to be the guy with all the bright ideas, or can I lift up my children by leading questions and conversation, ready to praise them when they have a lightbulb moment.? As a marriage partner, are you willing to take second chair, acknowledging your spouse and supporting them in an idea that could have been yours?

Father, let me copy your Son by letting others succeed rather than seeking recognition, by letting good be accomplished around me, no matter the source.

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.

Jul 282013
 

Many years ago, a CEO gathered his leadership team for a strategic meeting. They sat around a large table, sharing a meal. He knew his company was facing a crisis, a truly whitewater crisis. He began by starting conversations to measure the commitment of his leaders; commitment to the organization, commitment to him. He could feel the tension mount. He could see the fear written on many faces. He began to speak, speaking strong words of encouragement, reminding them of what they had learned together, charting a strong course, painting a picture showing a bright future.

And this is what he said:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” -John 14, NIV.

Jesus was talking to His core leadership team. He was casting a vision for the future through troubled and dangerous waters. He reminded them of what made His kingdom different, what key principles would make them successful. 

We are a leadership team not unlike Jesus’ Twelve. We face a whitewater challenge. We face an uncertain future. But what makes our organization different? What can make us successful in a different way from others around us? I believe it is our mission.

If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the mission.

Is this statement true for me?

Do I lead in a way that clearly reflects the mission of my organization? Do I challenge those around me to do the same?

Related posts about my leadership vibe and about leading based on my values.

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