Leadership selection is often described as an art.  If that's the case, artist still need tools to create their work.  When evaluating the readiness of young leaders it helps to have an idea of what your organization needs and what you are willing to do to develop their gifts. Is Vision enough? Vision and passion are rarely in short supply for younger leaders.  They will need it to create something new.  It provides the fuel for moving through challenges and reaching goals. But is it enough?  Successful development and execution of a plan also requires time which is often spelled p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e and requires persistence.  How do we select leaders with patient endurance?  What should we be looking for? While assessing potential church planting leaders I look for a laundry list of strengths, but I run them through the following filter. I ask: • Are they called? • Are they gifted?...[ Read More ]
When I first started coaching church planters, almost 20 years ago, I had an office in an unused space on the top floor of an old church building. Across the hall from my office was a small five foot access door that connected the church with the parsonage. It was like a secret passage way. In the infinite wisdom of the church elders they reasoned that their Pastor may need access to the sanctuary without going outside, down the block and around to the front door of church. So they created access on the third floor between the two buildings. Eighty years later that same door was used by a church planter I was coaching for our frequent conversations about theology, ministry and life. I learned to listen to the angst and excitement and evolving vision of an ambitious young leader who desperately wanted to do something new to reach...[ Read More ]

Self-Assurance as a Leadership Strength

Posted December 17, 2014

What happens when leaders use their strengths? Things happen.   Whether they think of their strengths as natural abilities that need to be developed or acquired talents that are intentionally sharpened, leaders rise to places of influence using their strengths.  What happens when they use their strengths to start a new business or organization or church? One of the most widely used strength identifiers is the Clifton Strengths Finder inventory. In Strength Finders 2.0, author Tom Rath, provides a detailed look at the way our strengths effect the way others see us or respond to the way we lead. This week we’ll look at the strength of Self-assurance. Self- Assurance Defined... Rath says Self-assured Leaders are confident in the direction they want to go and they sell it to others.  In start ups, they are so certain about their direction that they tend to inspire courage in others. Rath suggests...[ Read More ]
When leaders use their strengths as a platform, what happens when they start something new? This article is the beginning of a four part series highlighting the way four types of leaders start new organizations and how their start-up style effects others. One of the most widely used strength identifiers is the Clifton Strengths Finder inventory. In Strength Finders 2.0, author Tom Rath, provides a detailed look at the way our strengths effect the way others see us or respond to way we lead. This week we’ll look at the Activator strength.   According to Rath, Activators take charge, leave little room for ambiguity and get the ball rolling. They usually give very little attention to the process; instead they focus on achieving the outcome. When using this strength group members may feel energized by getting the job done, but some may feel left behind. Activators need to know when...[ Read More ]

Leaders Build Trust

Posted October 30, 2014

It occurs to me that great leaders build trust with others over many years and in many ways.  When storms come, which they invetibly do, then relational equity can be spent.  Wise leaders know how to build their base, invest in others, propel their partners forward. Selfish, egotistical leaders use others for their own purposes. An example of spending relational equity in the face of a firestorm is what Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, has experienced while handling the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson cases.  The WSJ reports, "But no owner has broken ranks and joined them (critics asking for a resignation). Inside the small, elite circle of owners, nothing much changed. That is because, in a job in which you work for owners, no one has worked for owners better than Goodell." This is not a commentary on how or what he should do with these cases, but rather the...[ Read More ]

Onward and Upward

Posted August 26, 2014

In a recent spiritual conversation, my friend asked, "why do religious people so often focus on the Do’s and Don’ts of their religion."  He wanted to talk about the 10 commandments and then painted me into a corner regarding the position I must take if I subscribe to those principles.   Later I thought about that  "Do and Don't" conversation and realized I focus much more on the  benefits I receive from following Jesus, rather than the restrictions.  Then this thought hit me, the thrust of scripture and even Jesus’s  own teaching seems to be on our growth process as individuals, not putting us in penalty box.  Jesus teaches us how to grow, not remain stuck. I reflected on Jesus’s words, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” In this teaching, I see a relationship and a trajectory toward becoming better, not worse.  Its an instruction,...[ Read More ]

Leadership Bias

Posted August 1, 2014

What's my bias? I ask myself this question frequently, but maybe not frequently enough. The fact is all of us have a point of view that’s limited in some respect. We are limited by where we live, work and play and who we live, work and play with. Last week I met Andele from Nigeria. We spent one afternoon walking through a Mexican city together. Unlike tourists we shopped in a grocery store, priced the cost of motorcycles and walked through neighborhoods. I asked Andele how things we saw compared to his city back home. For those moments I stepped out of my bias and into another point of view. Together we asked different questions about what we were seeing. He saw everyday life through his African eyes and I saw them through my American lens. I like to say that Leaders see more. When our bias is challenged or...[ Read More ]

Talking with Strangers

Posted July 14, 2014

Last week a friend asked me how I knew an influential builder in our city. The questions came on the heels of an extended conversation about information I had about his plans for constructing a building on Main Street in our city. It wasn’t insider news, or even facts that weren’t available to anyone else. I happened to know because I asked questions that resulted in an extended conversation that produced insights. So… how did meet the builder? I talked with a stranger. LeadershipOnRamp seeks to develop leaders with a heart for their city who take time to meet people and know the issues faced in their neighborhoods. As a way of meeting people I often walk my neighborhood, as well as others. When I meet people, I look for common areas of interest to build a relationship. FYI… I don’t know why this works, but walking with a dog...[ Read More ]

Subversive Leadership

Posted June 9, 2014

Let me be clear about something, I’m talking about Subversive Leadership in this note. You be the judge. I heard David Watson, a teacher on organizational strategies, talk about a spiritual exercise that he does while traveling by plane. It was almost a throw away comment as part of a much larger discussion, but it stuck with me. He says he makes it a personal act of service to clean up the restroom in the airplane before he leaves. It’s his way to serve God and the other passengers without anyone knowing who did it. When I heard about it, I thought, I do that sometimes. He’s a fellow subversive! The next time I flew I was on an unusually cramped and uncomfortable flight. It felt kind of demeaning, dehumanizing, decentering, etc. During the flight I took a stroll back, way back to the restroom did my thing and then…...[ Read More ]

Leaders Embrace Brevity

Posted May 2, 2014

Sign language is brief. According to the new book, Brief, our attention span has been compressed to an 8 second sound bite. I was talking about this observation with some leaders last week and we wondered what it means for reaching people with a message and then what happens after that. We think compressed communication has something to do with high touch, high relationship gatherings. Brief is what happens when we share a "postcard" about ourselves.  Life happens when we get into a room together.  Brief helps us make the choice. What do you think? More on the book… http://www.thebrieflab.com/