Thank You Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

My family stood in his jail cell on Robben Island. We witnessed first-hand the devastation of Apartheid. We saw what racism, oppression, greed, and anger can do to a nation. In post-Apartheid South Africa we saw the church rise up to join and often lead the restoration movement toward reconciliation among black, colored and white.

Thank you Nelson Mandela, for forgiving those who recklessly and intentionally destroyed your country. Thank you for being creative and winsome and shrewd in the face of those who had been abusive, evil and offensive.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/05/world/africa/nelson-mandela-sports/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

I made four trips to South Africa, teaching, serving, learning, listening, praying and crying. It was heartbreaking and hope-building at the same time. In South Africa can sometimes smell the poverty before you ever see it. It is raw and toxic and visceral. Admittedly I had but a brief look through a tiny window into the suffering of a people we have abused, neglected and exploited for centuries.

I felt ashamed. To feel anything less is an injustice. Repentance is the only response.

Sadly, I knew I had played a role in their demise. Every American did – by our ignorance or by our compliance. We stood by and watched corporations get richer as a people got poorer and sicker and lonelier on the world stage. Meanwhile, we took their wealth, their land and their heritage.

But thank God we could not take their faith, their dignity and their hope.

Nelson Mandela was an iconic symbol of these treasures. Of course he was a complex man, sometimes despised…sometimes revered. Yes, his work as a young, angry man was often brutal and dangerous. No one – including Mandela himself –blindly condoned this. He wanted to hurt those who hurt them.

But can we understand why? Are we so self-righteous we cannot imagine ourselves making similar error? Let’s be clear; most of us have never had our homes bulldozed into oblivion, our livelihoods take from us, our land corrupted and our leaders imprisoned. Angry young men do foolish things when they cry for freedom and justice in a world that cannot and will not hear. Like a rebellious teenager his actions cried, “Help! Look! Listen!”

Yes, Nelson Mandela’s early means were wrong. People like King and Ghandi chose different paths. And eventually so did Mandela.

But I must remember how hard it was. I have never begged for my freedom. I have never watched my friends and their sons beaten to death by a racist mob. I do not have to see my daughter raped by the very police who are supposed to protect her innocence. I was not sentenced to work a patch of limestone for decades that would virtually blind my eyes and break my back. But South Africans – like WW2 Jews in Germany and “dissidents” in North Korea today –endured this kind of suffering.

And many of us just watched. I know I did.

In 1976 I was a freshman at Princeton University. There were almost daily protests against Apartheid. I mocked them. These mostly long-haired hippie types were shouting and demanding for corporations to divest from SA to create economic pressure to topple Apartheid. I thought to myself, “Go to class…do something productive…get a job you losers!”

I was an ignorant fool.  I had no idea what Apartheid was, how it crippled a culture and raped a nation.

Thank you Nelson Mandela, for becoming a changed man. Thank you for not letting your anger and suffering become a weapon to inflict injury upon your oppressors.  Thank you for “leading from the back” as described in the book “Mandel’s Way.”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

And thank you for forgiving me. It reminds me of another great leader. The greatest leader, who had an even longer walk to freedom.  He came to earth, lived for justice and truth, but was abused, misjudged, beaten, imprisoned and killed by the oppressive elites of His day. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Perhaps Mandela gave us a contemporary example of this kind of forgiveness. I need that forgiveness. Because like I naively mocked those justice-seeking protestors, I took part in the mocking and death of righteous Jesus.

So today I say, “Thank You, Jesus—for forgiving us, saving us, loving us and now walking with us.”

Where are the Mandelas of today? You generally won’t find them ranting on FOX or MSNBC. There are few in congress or business or education. Thankfully, there are more rising up in the church. Men and women – great leaders, many of them quiet yet powerful – who care about the really big questions. But they are still a minority.

We need more people who are not caught up in so many petty debates discussed today by weak people with small minds. I know, because I can easily become one of them. Why? Because sometimes, instead of being a courageous leader I am a contented follower. No, not a follower of the radical, freedom-fighting, passionate Jesus. Rather, a follower of those who believe the fight is about our “brand” or a “model” or a “tribe” or a “theological viewpoint” or a “Bible version” or a “political system” or a hundred other distractions.

How lame and trivial. I hate when I get caught up in all that banter.

Mandela reminds me – reminds us – that there are longer walks and bigger issues and greater causes. I want to be more like him. Of course, ultimately, I want to be more like Jesus of Nazareth. A man of humility, justice, self-sacrifice, truth, beauty, forgive and, of course…LOVE. Mandela, a leader today we admire and celebrate today, was a world changer but only a shadow of what Jesus fully and perfectly embodied. And so are you and I. So we fix our eyes on Jesus as we become more of the leader, and follower, we long to become.

Can you help me be more like Jesus today? We need to remind one another of what is at stake, to call out the best in each other and set our sights on things above not on the things of the earth. In our ignorance or laziness we can never again allow another group of people to imprison and mock and oppress a rising generation of “Mandelas” who will courageously and humbly stand for freedom. For real freedom – Christ-centered freedom. Transforming freedom, inside and out.

It required a long walk for Nelson Mandela to get there, but he eventually got it right. I hope to get it right someday as well – hopefully sooner, but who knows. And I desperately need Jesus of Nazareth to walk the long road with me.

After all, He understands the long walk to freedom…all the way to the cross.

Is your leadership making this mistake?

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

 

A Common Leadership Mistake You Must Avoid!!

 

I see it almost everywhere I work with leadership teams. Let me tell you what it is and what you should be doing differently. And I will cite two great HBR articles that are helpful. (For more about HBR go here http://hbr.org )

Before I name the mistake, let me describe how it pops up.

You want to move ahead so you brainstorm a bit, read the latest books, review all the models, attend a conference or watch some videos. Then draft the new strategy., delegate responsibilities,  and launch the new plan.

And in six months you are…

How “Group Friendly” is Your Church?

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Is your church ” Group Friendly ?”

Group Friendly Small Groups

I work with dozens of churches each year as I work with their leadership teams about small groups, spiritual growth and transformational leadership. Often I am contacted and asked some variation of this question: “Bill, can you help us build/grow our small group ministry?”

Before I answer yes, no or maybe, I engage in a conversation, asking lots of questions and getting to know the current state of the church. As it relates to group life, I discover that churches fall into four categories:

  • Group-focused
  • Group-proficient
  • Group-wary
  • Group-hostile

You might be wondering why a “group-hostile” church would even ask me to help them build groups. Reality is, they do not see themselves as group hostile, but I do. So allow me to unpack each of these and see where your church is these days.

10 Risky Questions for Leaders

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

I am always intrigued by what is said in commencement speeches. Steve Jobs’ famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford is one of the most Googled.  His “stay hungry, stay foolish” theme really resonated with listeners. If you never heard it, it is a real gem. You can watch it here.

 

 

This June, at my alma mater’s graduation ceremonies, Princeton’s departing President, Shirley Tilghman, referred to Jeff Bezos’ commencement address to graduates in 2010. Though not as memorable or as well-known as Jobs’ talk, Bezos offered a series of questions for leaders or at least what every leader should be asking.

 

Bezos is Founder and CEO of Amazon.com and is a Princeton Class of 1986 graduate.  His remarks challenged graduating seniors to consider 10 key questions.  Here they are for your consumption.

 

1)     Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?

2)     Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?

3)     Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?

4)     Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?

5)     Will you bluff it out when you are wrong, or will you apologize?

6)     Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?

7)     Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?

8)     When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?

9)     Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?

10)   Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?

 

I certainly was challenge by almost all of these. I did not feel a sense of guilt or failure so much as new resolve to grow and risk in these areas. Numbers 1, 6, and 9 have particular meaning for me at this moment in life and leadership.

 

How about you? I suggest you reflect honestly on the list, and choose your top 2-3 questions for further investigation and focus. Leaders – especially those who share leadership or have collaborative styles – will have to take some risks that will cause discomfort and leave you vulnerable to failure or criticism.

 

But what other options are there? A life filled with woulda-coulda-shoulda regrets and a leadership legacy what-if’s and what-might-have-beens?

 

Not for me. And I hope not for you.

Extra Innings Leadership

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

SHAW_325_3OTwinnerWe are smack in the middle of baseball season heading to the July All-Star break. Despite this we are in the middle of the ice hockey finals. Still! Normally my interest for this drops by May because the season is too long, baseball is up and running and it is just too warm outside to think about ice hockey.

But my interest this year goes well past May because the Chicago Blackhawks are in the finals. Last night they played the Bruins in one of the longest playoff games in NHL history. At the start of the 3rd overtime period it was still 3-3.

 

Whether it’s baseball, hockey, or just the local beer softball league, everyone expects to play a normal game. But sometimes it’s tie at the end of regulation and the teams play overtime. In the playoffs you compete until someone wins or everyone dies from exhaustion.  (Of course, in the guys-over-40 softball league it’s just as intense– but if you run out of beer, the game is called and everyone heads to the bar.)

 

Playing extra innings is hard enough. Weariness sets in and sheer intensity of competition takes its toll on the body and the mind. Emotions run thin and a single mistake can cost you the game. Everyone has to take it up a notch at the time when they are least capable of doing so.

 

But leading in extra innings is even harder.

 

It is especially difficult for the player-coach, the guy or gal who has to perform at the top of their game while motivating and guiding the rest of the team. Overtime will test your leadership ability in ways that other challenges cannot for the sheer fact that so much more energy, stamina, and focus are required.

 

Here are a few tips on how to lead when there is more game left on the clock than there is in the players.

 

1)     Acknowledge the reality of the challenge. This is no time for fake, rah-rah cheerleading that basically communicates, “C’mon guys, this isn’t any big deal.” It IS a big deal. Getting the project done, preparing the presentation, or solving the crisis really matters. Let your team know that YOU know this is not just really important – it is also going to be hard.

 

2)     Discern what is “doable hard” versus “destructive hard.” Working harder in overtime does not mean everyone becomes a crazy workaholic and winds up quitting when the project is over. People have to juggle the extra work in a way that considers family commitments and personal health. If every week at work is another overtime crisis it will ultimately crush morale, deplete leadership resources and produce an inferior product or service.

 

Some organizations use abusive work practices to force “extra innings” for employees. Famously, it is Wall Street financial companies, urban hospitals and top-end law firms who create insane work hours to weed out the “weak” and get more bang for their buck. It is illegal in some cases and demeaning in at best. Organizations that pay “part-time” people for 32 hours (to avoid paying for health benefits) but “allow” them to work well past that are ethically bankrupt.

 

3)     Focus the energy. In sports you have to coach tired players and create a winning game plan. You cannot use all the resources in the first few minutes hoping for the quick kill. If you fail, you are in big trouble because you might have another 30, 60 or even 90 minutes of game time ahead. So get your team members focused on what they do best, and help them draft a long-term approach. Doing what they do best will leverage the energy they have. Don’t ask everyone to help with everything. It gets chaotic, and wastes time you do not have.

 

4)     Deal directly with complainers. When the going gets tough the complainers get grumpy. You and the team cannot tolerate this – it saps energy, wastes time, and damages morale. Pull the offenders aside, look ‘em in the eye and let them know that attitude is everything, especially in overtime.

 

5)     Outwork your team. In OT great captains and managers rise to a new level of commitment, energy, and focus. You cannot push others to stretch while you operate at the normal pace and level. Let the team see that you are willing to do the extra work to get the job done. It is demoralizing to serve on teams and staffs where you outwork the leaders, and get none of the perks, notoriety, vacation time, or income their leaders receive. It is sad.

 

6)     Finally, play to win, not just survive. Yes, look at the potential for a long overtime. You might need 6 pitchers in extra innings, so be strategic in their deployment. But don’t settle for survival. Get the team together and determine what the goal is, what “victory” looks like and then get after it.  If it just drags on, then energy wanes, the team gets distracted, and the victory goes to others.

 

The captains and coaches of the Blackhawks led well in OT. They rotated players on lines, using shorter shifts, called time outs, worked a clear strategy, and led by example. It was a winning combination.  A 4-3 victory well into the 3rd overtime.

 

Imagine how good that must feel today!

 Photo Credit: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=673963

Leadership Convictions – Vision & Values

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

The Starting Point Visions ValuesThe Starting Point for Discovering Vision & Values

 

 

Personal convictions are the seedbed for forging a compelling vision and shaping core values. These convictions must never be generated out of thin air or influenced simply by the latest leadership fad or trend. Somewhere deep down in the gut you will discover some things you believe in – some things that are non-negotiable about life, work, love, faith, relationships, leadership and the world. That is where you will find your Vision & Values.

 

So here are a series of questions first for Vision discovery and clarification.

 

1)     What does the future look like when things are working extremely well? Not perfectly…that’s idealism. You need a vision that can be rooted in reality. So describe the future when the vision is now a fact. What has changed? What problem have you solved?

 

2)     What does it feel like to be there? You probably have some sense of what it feels like as you imagine your dream coming true. Yes, what are your emotions? What wells up inside you as you see the vision becoming reality – joy, satisfaction, relief, hope, exhilaration, power, or freedom?

 

3)     Who benefits most from the vision becoming reality? Imagine the people your team is serving or helping or providing a quality service to. Will it be children in poverty, adults without meaningful work, people with disabilities, a company without quality management, a non-profit that lacks solid leadership? What is happening in these people and among them? What new world opens up for them because of the vision becoming reality?

 

4)     What change is taking place inside you? How are YOU different because the vision is a reality? What character changes are happening? How are you approaching your work? Have your priorities changed?

 

KEY VISION RESOURCE: Chapters 5 & 6 of The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes & Posner are worth the price of the book – and more – on the process of creating a shared vision.

 

 

 

Now for questions to help shape your core Values

 

1)     What is true for you? This means, deep down inside you, there are things that do not waver – core beliefs that define how you see the world. These may be the result of experiences, values handed down by parents or mentors, religious convictions, or simply things you just know to be true (treating others with respect is the right thing to do.)

 

2)     What makes you sad? This is a way of discovering values by looking through a different lens. When you view the world or work or you organization, what makes you sad? What do you wish would change? This is probably related to a value or belief you hold dear. For example, in a team meeting you see a weaker person get belittled by another member of the team. The strong personality of the culprit crushes the weak spirit of the team member, who does not respond in the moment but feels shame or intimidation. The anger you feel is tied to something you believe about justice, fairness, or perhaps kindness.

 

3)    What brings you joy? Now we flip the coin and look at those events or activities that make you smile. You see a need met, a new product developed, a person helped, an obstacle overcome, a friendship grow or a goal achieved. You smile because something feels good at your core.

 

4)    What gives you energy? Though similar to “what brings you joy?” above, this is a bit different. Yes, energy can be derived from people or events that bring me joy. But energy comes from other sources – adverse circumstances, a challenge, a loss, a unique opportunity, a new friendship, a family event, a kind of work, a new mission. What gives you a “rush” and makes you productive, excited about your work in the world, and givers purpose to your life?

 

KEY VALUES RESOURCE: Here is a short Forbes article on values-focused leadership by Jansen Kraemer that highlights four core principles leaders can use to lead from a values standpoint.

 

 

Answer these questions and record them in your journal. It will help you identify what’s in your gut, what makes you tick. Your personal Vision & Values will get clearer which will also allow you to sharpen the focus of your work and leadership.

 

So tell me – what are some of the answers to these questions for you? I’d love to hear what makes you tick and what you are giving yourself to!

Are You Ready for Shared Leadership?

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Shared Leadership Dr Bill I am a proponent of a flatter leadership culture. I believe in teamwork, shared responsibility, very little hierarchy and a more collaborative approach. Not only does it work – it works better. While a number of leadership “gurus” continue to act and teach like the Big Dog Leader model is a given (most then are well over age 50), a rising groundswell of leaders are opting out of the model. They are dropping like flies from organizations that thrive on hierarchy and the Command and Control model espoused at most Leadership Conferences.

So I am thrilled to see the changes that are coming. But here’s the question…

 

Are we – are YOU — ready for shared leadership?

 

Here are a few things that shared leadership implies. And you might have a few more so join the conversation.

1)    Shared leadership means shared blame. Ok, I know that you intellectually agree, but are you willing to take your share of the heat when things get hot? Or even more than your share?  When I coach organizations building a flatter leadership structure, the “underlings” are thrilled to be handed an oar or two, to row with the crew.  But I wonder if they are just as willing to grab a bucket when the boat takes on water in the storm? Are you willing to take the criticism, the blame for the loss or the downturn, or be confronted about the misfire?

2)    Shared leadership means deeper communication more often.  The more people involved in a process the more talking you need to do. That might mean more emails, more updates, more quick “check-in” meetings like Lencioni advocates in Death by Meeting. You ready for that?

3)    Shared Leadership means longer decision-making. I think this is generally good, but it takes some getting used to. I would advocate that, in the long run, you get better decisions and have less “clean up” to do when the solo leader goes rogue and makes a lousy hire or a bad decision “from the gut” (which is often code for “Let’s do it my way because I’m always right and I am in control). But decisions by a team take longer than solo leadership decisions.

4)    Shared Leadership means giving in and sometimes giving up. Of course, “real leaders” NEVER give up. Mandela is a great one to speak to this. In his book “Mandela’s Way” he has a chapter entitled, “Leading from the Back.” You need to read it. It comes after “Leading from the Front” so he is not opposed to being our front at times. But a willingness to step back and let other leaders have their way is an art that requires patience, trust and humility – a quality lacking in many “Big Dog” leaders. Are you ready to play second fiddle…or no fiddle at all?

5)    Share Leadership means shared success. Are you ready to share the glory, the rewards, the perks, the status symbols, and the “corner” office(s)? Many are not. If you have worked in a place where many people work longer and harder than the “point leader” but they get the special trips, income, organizational resources, power, freedom, vacation time, public recognition, and “benefit of the doubt” when stuff goes wrong, you know how that feels. It is a real demoralizing situation, especially when they pretend to be “a leader among equals” which again is code for “let’s share the problems but I get the goodies.” So are you willing to share the goodies equally among the leadership team? Even bonuses, and other rewards? We’ll see.

 

Shared leadership is more than an ideal. It is a commitment to becoming a real community of leaders with mutual accountability, vision, goals, trust, responsibility, blame and rewards.

 

It takes work, but it is really worth it. The team is stronger, the cause is more compelling, the results last longer and the process of “leadership succession” is virtually seamless, because there is no “mega-leader” to replace with another one. Instead, the team grows, changes, and new leaders are added as others move on. It is driven by much more than a person.

 

Are you ready for that?

 

Leadership Destroys Community

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Leadership Destroys CommunityWhat kind of leadership destroys community and fractures a team? What role do leaders play in the process of fostering (or inhibiting) a sense of unity among team members, group leaders and staff? Here are some pitfalls to personally avoid and to confront in others when individualism trumps community. I have seen too much of this kind of leadership lately, and so I decided to revisit this topic.

 

Blinded by Vision

A vision is only as good as the reality it produces. Leaders obsessed with an ideal picture of what could be, fail to embrace what truly is. They live on vision fumes. Teammates and followers become frustrated and soon trust in the leader vaporizes. Activist and Pastor  Bonhoeffer famously observed “the one who loves his dream of community more than the community itself destroys the latter.” We could paraphrase: “The who loves his or her personal vision more than the people being envisioned, alienates them.”  It is easy to idealize our cause, mission, product launch, set of values or our service to a needy community, while ignoring the impact of our self-centered vision on the very people we are called to help.

 

Pre-occupied with Structure

When the model becomes the master community building’s a disaster (a cute rhyme but a deep truth). I have witnessed this in too many places—model-driven versus value-led leaders get obsessed with “the way” instead of looking at the values and processes that get you there. The structure serves the people; the people don’t serve the structure. Fluent teams and shared leadership mitigate against this. Top-down, top-dog leadership models tend to reinforce ineffective structure and promote unhealthy leaders.

 

Decidedly Irresponse-ible,

Any initiative requires strong leadership from the leadership team designated to carry out the venture. Leaders are “the voice” for the initiative and the guide to others seeking to build it. But there’s more. A leader who shuns the input of others and fails to consider their collective wisdom and insights is no longer responsible, leaving followers disconnected and devalued. This lack of response is the result of a failure – or a desire – to listen with empathy, respect and for the purpose of learning. Michael Hoppe’s Active Listening is a big help here. It takes some humility – and that goes a long way.

 

Focused on “Self”- Improvement

The inclination to use people instead of empowering them kills any team or community. When leaders make decisions from self-interest or self-promotion others lose respect for those leaders and then passion for the shared mission fizzles. Team leaders design meetings to meet personal needs or interests; staff members focus mostly on numbers and the success of big events; senior leaders make decisions to enhance personal agendas, and all this happens at the expense of the people we are called to lead.

 

Let’s look at our own leadership approach and style – are we killing the very thing we are working so hard to bring life to? If, so it’s time to change.

Leading for the Long Haul

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Leading for the long haul.

 

Leading for the Long Haul – Transcribed

I want to talk to you today about staying power in leadership or … resiliency.

How do we stay healthy while leading for the long haul?

Well this is a topic we continue to need to pay attention as leaders because the pressures that we face. Whether you’re leading students as a teacher whether you’re leading groups or teams, you’re a CEO, you’re a pastor, whatever, it doesn’t matter resiliency is critical to long-term effectiveness. I recently was talking with some leaders about some research that they’re still in the midst of and still refining but it was primarily with non-profit leaders and church leaders but as we looked at it we realized it applied to not only all leaders but to all people. So I’m going to talk about six areas that were emerging from that study that they’re in the midst of that they are discovering that if you don’t pay attention to these you can really get into trouble.

 

The first one was just personal growth your own formation, your own development, your own sense of character formation.

Leaders need to pay attention to what’s happening in our souls, are we centered, are we clear, do we know what we believe and why, do we pay attention to those areas of weakness, are we aware of some things about us that kind of bump up against others and so that we’re cautious and were careful about how we relate how we talk which is paying attention to character. That was number one.

 

Number two is self-care.

The idea that we don’t eat well, we don’t sleep enough, we don’t exercise enough, we don’t control sort of our boundaries in our margin in our life and that the self-care issue is one of the main ones that seems to emerge for leaders and people in particular. Busy, crazy lifestyles keep us from the appropriate care. I’m doing this from home cuz I’m taking actually about four or five days off right now. I’m getting ready to I’m getting ready in couple hours to hop onto a plane for some vacation time with my family. So I’m looking forward to a little self-care time it’s essential as a person and as a leader.

 

Another one is emotional intelligence.

I know it’s a phrase kicked around a lot. Maybe Intelligent intelligence isn’t the best word sometimes but it’s paying attention to relationships and emotional health, how we deal with anger, how we deal with fear, how we deal with loss in our life, broken relationships that affect us, are paying attention to those things. And are we paying attention on how we relate to people on our team and in the marketplace or the church or wherever we work? Are we emotionally savvy are we relationally savvy with others?

 

Forth one was cultural intelligence.

Knowing what’s going on around us, knowing the issues that are shaping our world, knowing the issues that are shaping the context in which we work? What’s the culture of like, what are the ethical and moral issues, where are the trends, what  are the things we need to be paying attention to as we understand that were engaging culture at all times. We’re either trying to sell something to the culture, trying to learn something from the culture and sometimes we operate in a vacuum and can’t do that.

 

The fifth one was marriage and family, paying attention to those close dear relationships in our lives.

Neglected marriage and family a main, main killer of leaders and people in general and will wear you down if that’s not healthy and keep you from being a resilient leader.

 

And number six was just leadership and management skills.

Particularly those in the non-profit area sometimes lead with passion but not with leadership savvy and skills. So we need to be managers of our teams and our organizations, know how to do that well and have the skills necessary to do it and we need to be able to lead effectively not just believe in what we’re doing that have good leadership skills.

 

So look at those six areas and see … Where is that I need some growth? What do I need to pay attention to? Jot em down on a list and look at them frequently because they will help you stay in the game for the long haul.

Leadership Transitions – 4 Realities to Navigate

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

I’d like to talk to you today about leadership transitions.

 

« Leadership Friction Leadership Transitions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leadership Transitions – 4 Realities to Navigate – Transcribed

 

I’d like to talk to you today about leadership transitions. Even as I speak three major ones have taken place in my world and in our world even in the last two weeks. We have had a president of our university announced his resignation, a transition that will be happening in leadership up here. The second one is a global and huge one and that is the election of a new pope which is a great and huge transition for the Roman Catholic Church. And finally, a friend of mine just moved from one nonprofit organization that’s quite substantive to leading an even larger global nonprofit organization and is in the process of that transition. Transitions happen and there are things that affect us, affect our teams, affect our groups, and affect our leadership. So I’ll make a few comments about this and then I’d like to do a little more writing and blogging about this over the perhaps weeks and months ahead from time to time because I think it’s such a huge and essential area to understand in your leadership.

 

First of all transitions our normal they occur in everyday life both in family and in relationships as well of course in organizations and institutions and that’s the first thing for leaders to do is name that reality that this transition is normal. It’s not odd it’s going to happen again at some point in time so let’s learn from it now. I’ve learned a lot from William Bridges in his book Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Bridges advocates kind of a process through which transitions go and that sort of my second team it’s not just that they are normal, they have sort of a pattern to them and they have an ending, a period of uncertainty and a new beginning. That’s how Bridges describes it. There’s this sense of what is the ending how do we process that what is this transition time of awkwardness that he calls the neutral zone and then what about going into the future into the new beginning? Sometimes these things overlap sometimes there’s great distance between the ending and the new beginning. The point is to recognize that there’s a pattern to change and transitions. So let’s process ending’s well, do the relational work we need to do, make sure things are closed out, let’s not leave a lot of loose cannons. Make sure things are as best as we can leave them as we leave and not leave things in a mess, it’s really awkward in an organizational when a leader just takes off and leaves a mess behind. To have integrity in this is the process the ending well but also to live in the ambiguity of the uncertainty before the new fully gets functioning.  It’s an awkward time so we need a name that reality as well.

 

Another thing about transitions is they can be highly emotional in an organization or relationship. That can create anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment and some people don’t understand why the leader is leaving even if it’s for great and legitimate reasons. Sometimes a leader leaves under darker circumstances that create a lot. Sometimes it’s a very positive change even for the leader but that’s emotional too even the joy and the enthusiasm can create some awkwardness. So it’s important for you to allow your people or people in the process to process the emotion, journal it down, create a meeting or retreat or environment to sort of get things off your chest. Don’t ignore the emotional components, don’t try to stuff all that, you’ll just simply create tension in the organization that you do not need.

 

And finally, when transitions are processed well they’re great times for personal growth and change even though it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. Those periods of ambiguity and frustration challenge our leadership. We are required to step forward. Just talked to a friend yesterday where a leader was leaving a small organization. His comment was, “Everyone in the organization has stepped up to a new level to make that organization work well until the next leader comes in. I think that’s healthy, we get new responsibilities we take new ownership. So if we process transitions well we can learn from them, grow in them and help our groups, our institutions, our teams function more effectively.

 

Even as I speak three major ones have taken place in my world and in our world even in the last two weeks. We have had a president of our university announced his resignation, a transition that will be happening in leadership up here. The second one is a global and huge one and that is the election of a new pope which is a great and huge transition for the Roman Catholic Church. And finally, a friend of mine just moved from one nonprofit organization that’s quite substantive to leading an even larger global nonprofit organization and is in the process of that transition. Transitions happen and there are things that affect us, affect our teams, affect our groups, and affect our leadership. So I’ll make a few comments about this and then I’d like to do a little more writing and blogging about this over the perhaps weeks and months ahead from time to time because I think it’s such a huge and essential area to understand in your leadership.

 

First of all transitions our normal they occur in everyday life both in family and in relationships as well of course in organizations and institutions and that’s the first thing for leaders to do is name that reality that this transition is normal. It’s not odd it’s going to happen again at some point in time so let’s learn from it now. I’ve learned a lot from William Bridges in his book Transitions, Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Bridges advocates kind of a process through which transitions go and that sort of my second team it’s not just that they are normal they have sort of a pattern to them and they have an ending, a period of uncertainty and a new beginning. That’s how Bridges describes it. There’s this sense of what is the ending how do we process that what is this transition time of awkwardness that he calls the neutral zone and then what about going into the future into the new beginning? Sometimes these things overlap sometimes there’s great distance between the ending and the new beginning. The point is to recognize that there’s a pattern to change and transitions. So let’s process ending’s well, do the relational work we need to do, make sure things are closed out, let’s not leave a lot of loose cannons. Make sure things are as best as we can leave them as we leave and not leave things in a mess, it’s really awkward in an organizational when a leader just takes off and leaves a mess behind. To have integrity in this is the process the ending well but also to live in the ambiguity of the uncertainty before the new fully gets functioning.  It’s an awkward time so we need a name that reality as well.

 

Another thing about transitions is they can be highly emotional in an organization or relationship. That can create anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment and some people don’t understand why the leader is leaving even if it’s for great and legitimate reasons. Sometimes a leader leaves under darker circumstances that create a lot. Sometimes it’s a very positive change even for the leader but that’s emotional too even the joy and the enthusiasm can create some awkwardness. So it’s important for you to allow your people or people in the process to process the emotion, journal it down, create a meeting or retreat or environment to sort of get things off your chest. Don’t ignore the emotional components, don’t try to stuff all that, you’ll just simply create tension in the organization that you do not need.

 

And finally, when transitions are processed well they’re great times for personal growth and change even though it doesn’t feel that way in the moment. Those periods of ambiguity and frustration challenge our leadership. We are required to step forward. Just talked to a friend yesterday where a leader was leaving a small organization. His comment was, “Everyone in the organization has stepped up to a new level to make that organization work well until the next leader comes in. I think that’s healthy, we get new responsibilities we take new ownership. So if we process transitions well we can learn from them, grow in them and help our groups, our institutions, our teams function more effectively.

 

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