Leadership Friction

I want to talk about leadership friction.

Leadership Friction

















I want to talk about leadership friction. Transcribed

You know friction like when we rub our hands together on a cold day gives us warmth, but when you rub those same hands against sandpaper … goes beyond warmth to something destructive. So too much friction, too much banging up against each other as leaders trying to get something done causes some problems wherever we work. I see three areas in which leadership friction develops and I’d like to address those.


  1. The first is conflicting personalities and we all know we have different personalities and those tend to bump up against one another, the proverbial abrasive personality the person that just seems to “rob us the wrong way” a kind of interesting expression. They kinda get too much into our space or they just seem to push too hard or their words are more toxic than supportive and instead of just challenging us they kinda get abusive with language or demeaning with language. These can be abrasive personalities and that certainly can rub up against other leaders saying, “Whoa, you know, where you coming off here?”
  2. Sometimes it’s the direct person, the person who’s eager to simply communicate faxed and data or to tell you what to do with their supervisor. “Bob make three sales calls by three o’clock and report back to me.” “Susan, can you put that over there?” “Steve, I need to set up two meetings.” They never smile, they never crack a joke, they are just always direct and they don’t see this as abrasive but constant just pure direct can feel like a little bit of a poke over and over and over and begin to clash with other maybe warmer personalities in the leadership circle.
  3. Then there’s the condescending or elitist type person, again may not recognize it fully. They tend to look down on us so they tend to feel superior because of the performance or socioeconomic background, maybe there’s racial stuff going on. The point is they kind of look down there nose a little bit and that kind of personality robs up against those of us to don’t like that and we may perceive that that’s some sort of a one-upsmanship going on.


I also see some things that cause friction around contrasting styles of leadership. Bill Hybels did some good work in Courageous Leadership, a book he wrote about a decade ago to focus on ten kinds of leadership styles that he observes. And it’s important to look at those, matter of fact we’ve posted as you can see them on the site.

You have people for example with visionary styles or entrepreneurial or re-engineering styles go-getter start-up take the hill those kinds of styles, bumping up against people that are bridge-building, team building, collaborative, encouraging, motivational styles. So different styles of leaders can bump up against one another by virtue of we just lead differently. Now, we might get the same result done but we go about different ways but our styles can cause a little friction.

A third area is just competing visions in other words we see things differently. Get a group of leaders together in a circle and some may report to others or whatever but when you get those leaders in a circle they all have a sense of vision, there are all leaders, and they see a future that can happen and it may not be the same. One way to help with that a little bit I say is being together is seeing together. There is something about working on vision collaboratively that really helps that process and create more unity around the vision verses we each individually come with our own separate view of reality and then compete with one another to see whose vision wins.

So these are areas I see of friction or tension developing. How you address it, it’s pretty simple but it takes work and it’s simply saying let’s look at the strengths of each of these. What are the strengths that my vision brings? What are the strengths I bring in my style of leadership? What are the strengths I bring in my personality? And what do each of you bring? Focus on strengths, not the differences that kind of rub us a bit but let’s say okay the driver what’s good about that personality? The leadership style that’s team building what’s a strength we can leverage to get the job done from your leadership because your that kind of leader?

So work on your strengths, leverage those together, name the realities of the tension that you see and the friction that may be there and then get on the strengths side and see if that helps you lead better as a group of leaders.


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Leadership Styles and Leveraging Yours

Bill Hybels in Courageous Leadership lists 10 Leadership Styles he has observed in leaders.

Many possess more than one style, but often there is a primary style or a cluster of 2-3 that stand out. As you look at each of these, ask yourself, “What style(s) most describes my approach to leadership?”  If you truly are courageous, pass this along to teammates and fellow leaders (or a mentor) and ask them to choose the style(s) that best describes you. These are defined with Christian leadership in mind (especially Pastoral Leadership), most apply to any leadership context in which you might find yourself.


The 10 Leadership Styles:

Visionary Leader 

Has a crystal clear picture of the vision, is enthusiastic about the vision, casts the vision continually, is future oriented and believes the vision will occur if you discuss it enough. Not easily discouraged by set-backs, defections, etc. Gifts of faith, evangelism, prophecy.


Directional Leader 

Has the innate ability to choose the right path at critical moments. These moments can paralyze an organization, but these figures can do the right thing at the right time. This type of leader may or may not be a public figure. Sorts through the complexity of mission, resources, personnel, timing, external forces, etc. to make the right decision. Gifts of discernment, word of wisdom.


Strategic Leader 

Has the ability to breakdown the vision to a series of sequential, achievable steps. Followers respond when they see progress toward the vision by achieving these steps. Develops a game plan that all the players can understand and find their place in. Keeps the organization on cadence and aligned. Fights off fads and vision drift by highlighting the “fundamentals.” Gifts of teaching, discernment.


Managing Leader 

Able to organize the people, process, systems, and resources to achieve the vision. Monitors the whole system and measures progress according to appropriate mile-markers. Manages and analyzes details, sees critical resource shortages, etc. The natural complement to (and sometimes adversary of) the visionary. Gifts of administration, helps.


Motivational/Inspirational Leader 

Has the gift of inspiration and can transfer that to followers. Has the ability to know who needs training, encouragement, cheering on, refocusing and, when morale sinks, they think of new ways to inspire their followers. Sees lack of morale as a challenge to inspire rather than a defeat. Into “hanging”, training, helping people review and reflect. Gifts of exhortation, pastoring.


Shepherding Leader 

Has the ability to build a team (usually slowly), and the leader cares so deeply for the team and builds a strong sense of community. The vision gets accomplished because the team wants to respond to the leader’s love. Gifts of pastoring, exhortation, mercy, healing.


Team Building Leader (Talent Scout) 

Knows the vision and has a plan to achieve it, but understands that it takes a team of leaders to achieve it. Has the ability to put the right people in the right positions to achieve the right objective. This leader is driven by their insight into people. Values the precise placement of gifts/people for the achievement of the mission. Maximizes each

individuals greatest gifts and recruits others to fill the holes. Gifts of discernment, exhortation.


Entrepreneurial Leader 

Possesses some of the all of the listed styles, but functions optimally in a start-up mode. Once the organization gets too complex, this leader loses energy, focus and confidence and starts to look toward the next thing to start. Gifts of faith.


Re-Engineering Leader 

Possesses some of the above listed styles , but their challenge is to turn around an organization. Loves to find a situation that had bad leadership and revitalize it. Once an organization is fixed, they may or may not want to continue to lead. Keeps what is best of historic values, structures, etc. and is able to bring the fresh direction that the organization needs. Adept at change dynamics, refocusing and healing individuals, bringing in new players, etc. Gifts of pastoring, healing, discernment.


Bridge Building Leader 

Ability to bring a wide variety of people together. This leader is diplomatic and negotiates well. Has the ability to persuade each group to feel like they are getting their individual needs met while the entire entity achieves its vision. Works to bring a wide variety of constituents together so a complex organization can achieve its mission. This leader loves to work with a very wide variety of people and be the advocate for all of them.


How does your style interact with other leaders on your team? What kind of leadership is required now, and who are the right people to bring that leadership to the issues you face?


NOTE: For the full explanation of each style, here is the extended 6-page article by Bill Hybels




We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

The Power of Vision: Walking with Buddy the Elf

Power of Vision Image of a Man Flying Dreams and Visions. That is what we are made of.


Really. We are.

The power of vision starts when we are small, and we want to be a firefighter, or when we build a glorious castle from a life-less cardboard box, so amazing that even MacGyver would be proud of the transformation. We are filled with awe and wonder and an ability to embrace the unthinkable and envision the impossible.


I want to be seized by the possibility of a grand adventure, and I long to join Buddy the Elf and say to a wide-eyed audience of fellow visionaries, “I traveled through the seven levels of the candy cane forest, past the sea of swirly-twirly gumdrops, and then, I walked through the Lincoln tunnel.”


Wow! Can I do that, too? Can I travel with Buddy? Sign me up for “The Buddy Vision Tour.”


I have a confession to make. Something inside me wants Buddy as my travelling companion. Yes, I know it is childish. But I’ll take a trip with Buddy over a Carnival Cruise any day of the week.


Because Buddy believes. He unashamedly, unwaveringly, “foolishly” and enthusiastically believes! He radiates joy, humility, wonder, risk-taking, self-denial and an others-focused lifestyle that wins the most ardent skeptics to his vision and the he cruelest critics to his cause.


It’s always Christmas with Buddy, 365 days a year. It is not an event – it’s a lifestyle. Contrast his effusive, obsession with all things Christmas with Lewis’ White Witch who leads her naïve wanderers to a colder, darker destination where it is always winter, and never Christmas. (That would be Narnia, not Chicago in February.)


I want a room full of Buddy’s. I’d rather have overly idealistic, possibility-thinking, belief-obsessed, Elf-like leaders than the woe-is-me, “we are all just losers/sinners/failures” Eeyore-like sad sacks that too often populate our institutions, grad schools, churches and organizations.


I want to be with visionaries.

I want to be with let’s-take- the-hill zealots.

I want to be with let’s-light-this-candle types.

I want to be with fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.


I want to be alive…And that means I want to dream!



There is much to be said about the power of vision!  Are you open to it? Do you use it? How has this mindset helped you accomplish a goal or lead a group to accomplishing what they thought was unreachable?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

The Story-telling Leader

The Story-telling Leader Qutoe Don't underestimate the power  of a story. Dr Bill Donahue

The Story-telling Leader – Transcribed

Hey I was driving in Dallas, Texas consulting with a team there and I was coming to an intersection and it was absolutely one hundred-percent obvious as I went into the intersection that I was going to have a collision, a t-bone kind of collision, and in order to prepare myself for the impact there were some psychological prep that took place but also just a sense of terror as this happened because the car the oncoming lane decided to make a left turn in front of me. So as it did it did it very slowly, that’s what surprised me it wasn’t trying to cut through quickly as I was coming through the intersection of just kind of crept slowly in their SUV through the intersection. It became obvious that I was going to hit them and the person in the car looking out the passenger window knew it was obvious as well, that they were going to be impacted. And then at the last moment something happened it counter intuitive thought that for a moment, and all this happens in a split second, for a moment I basically wanted to dismiss.

But I did pay attention to it and that counter-intuitive thought said, “Don’t break accelerate.” Uh… excuse me because this was probably thirty to forty feet from collision time, I’m doing about thirty or so miles an hour, they’ve just pulled slowly in front of me and frankly that the pavement’s wet from a light rain that had been falling. But that was what ultimately saved me because had hit the brakes I would have slid and had the collision, instead slightly acceleration in a quick turn allowed me to bypass the person and go around them. It was a terrifying moment, the last thing I wanted was an accident or to hurt anyone. But that counter-intuitive thought, that insight, that maybe god moment, whatever it was allow me to makes some change in that particular circumstance.


See I just told you a story it’s a very revealing and compelling story to me. But it’s a story I can use in a number of ways and leaders should use their stories and the stories of their organization to lead. So I’m going to give you 3 or 4 types real quickly of stories that are powerful.


Campfire stories, that’s when you look to the past, the people who’ve been around for awhile say here’s what it was like when I got here, here’s how the organization started, and do you remember when we put this team together two years ago? We were scared; we never thought we could pull this off. Campfire stories go back into the past and remind people of the journey and how you got where you are today.


A second kind of stories is what I call an iconic story. It captures what it is you’re trying to do as a group, a team or an organization. Remember when Mike came into the ER room? He was on the brink of death but because of Sandy doing her job with triage work and because we were able to bring the right technology into the room and because you Stevie anesthesiologist did your work, and Rebecca you brought your surgical experienced to this; you go around the room and you say look because of all that we did he’s alive today or this person’s alive today.


That allows you to see that this is what we exist for and you can take an iconic story in turn it into kind of a third kind of story which is a vision story, though often vision stories come from outside the organization. We tell the story from another group, another team, a book we’ve read, something that says do you see this happening we can be like that so if you see something in another group or organization that you can leverage to inspire your people that’s a vision story those are very powerful.


And the fourth kind is simply what I told earlier, which was a personal story. Personal stories help the leader connect emotionally with their team, can be used for teachable moments like I did in the sense of the encouraging you to pay attention to those counter-intuitive thoughts sometimes. And sometimes they can just simply be humorous, it could be a fun self-effacing story that says hey I’m just like you, I have the same problems and issues and life and you get the connect a little bit more with your people and you lighten the room up a little bit with a humorous story.


A Story-telling Leader can leverage the power of story for their leadership and for the benefit of their group or team organization. Don’t underestimate the power of a story.


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Living an Integrated Life

Balance is a myth. Living an integrated life instead creates focus, authenticity and self confidence.


Living an Integrated Life - Image of Man Balancing on a Rope












Living an Integrated Life – Transcribed

Let’s talk about living an integrated life. It’s a concept Bill George brings out in his book True North. I use this tool among others when I work with the LeaderSync Group, my organization as we coach and help develop leaders, leadership teams and groups. One of the sections in there is this idea of bringing all the components of your life together and holistic functioning way. George says, “Don’t get this confused with balance that’s this is not a code word for balance, balance I believe is a myth that a misnomer.” But it is about focus an integration of the key areas like relationships, work-life, personal growth as a leader, leadership challenges, skill development etc. So George focuses on that, we do as we work with and coach leaders. He quotes John Donahoe who is the CEO of Ebay seceded May, Meg Whitman. Donahoe says, “The struggle is constant as the trade-offs and choices don’t get any easier as you get older. George says living an integrated life is a challenging thing to do and allows you to live a life that when the highs are high you don’t get cocky and when you hit the low moments now you don’t get depressed and go into despair because your integrating a number of components together so you have more of a whole life as a leader.

I focus on three areas when I do my leadership development work; story, soul and strategy. Story is mining things like you’re defining moments as a leader; you’re driving values, and some of the primary strengths that you have that got you where you are. Let’s mine those, let’s find out where they came from, you know, how they work, how they contribute to your leadership growth so we work a bit in story.

Then we look at soul which is code for inner life. It’s not necessarily a religious word though, people of faith that I work with like to delve into that a little more. But it’s the idea of, what is my emotional health like? What’s my relational capacity right now? What are the core practices I can engage in to help me create and a solid core inner life? So the character formation takes place in the present, in the now.

Story of course about past. Soul is sort of like where am I now internally and how am I addressing my world? And then the third area of strategy is more like helping people create a vision framework and look at what I call a focus map. Where do I put my energy and resources as I go forward? What are the potential resources I can mine? What can I do to take next steps in person personal growth and development and in my own leadership effectiveness?

So I look at story, soul and strategy as I … my organization LeaderSync work with leaders and teams.

So you might want to reflect on that today.


What about those three areas of your life do you need to invest more time and energy in to create this sense of integration so you can meet the leadership challenges that you need to meet in your world today?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

6 Shifts Happening in Your Organization

6 Shifts Happening in Your Organization image of change ahead


Your organizational culture is shifting – are you prepared to lead in these new realities? The following video discusses the 6 shifts happening in your organization and how you can engage these shifts in your leadership role.










I get to speak with and work with organizations and institutions whether they be larger churches, businesses educational institutions; I’ve observed these institutional and organizational movements over the last few years. Many have been written about, some of already taken place, some are emerging. I’d like to talk about a few of them and maybe some implications for your leadership related to those.


The first is from a focus on the organization to focus on the organism. You see that now with less focus around all the little slots and things that relate to the organization as something in and of itself to be maintained and more emphasis on what is happening inside the culture of where we work or where we minister or where we live. What’s happening with the people, what’s happening with emerging ideas and systems and the integration of those things? So it’s more organism oriented the culture itself the vibe that is coming from within that if you will than around maintaining the organization or putting too much emphasis on the structure of the organization.


That leads to a second one which is instead of being institutionally, driven being institutionally supported. The institutions important but what’s the role of the institution? Is it to drive everything and pass everything down or is it to support emerging ideas, new leadership developing, new teams, new formats, and new engagements? I use to have this mantra still do but for many years the structure serves the people, the people don’t serve the structure and so what we’re seeing is more of a shift to moving structures that can accommodate what’s happening within the organization, so to speak, or for the organization’s mission and shaping the institution to support people versus to make them support the institution.


That’s related to another one I’ve observed and that’s obviously the move from out more of a hierarchical to a flatter structure. I don’t think we’ll ever be totally flat in many institutions and organizations. I don’t want to be overly idealistic about that but I think there definitely is a movement away from strict oppressive sometimes hierarchies where power is centered in only a few and the many are just left as implementers. And you’re going to see a flatter leadership as we become organic as we continue to become more are shared in resources and in other strategies that we have. And frankly a younger emerging leadership corps desires that and I think you need to accommodate that. Another one is what I would call a shift from content to value. In other words it’s not just our message and what we think about it and how we deliver it, but what value we bring and what are the underlying values behind that? It’s more important for us to understand as a working culture, what are the core things at the heart of who we are verses simply what’s the message we’ve given, always given, how do we keep giving it, how to get the same message to more people? There’s truth in some of that and a need for some of that but what are the underlying values behind the message? People need to hear that and be motivated by it. It’s also the sense of a movement from an event to a lifestyle. Whether you’re in business or non-profit or whatever, this is particularly true in I think a lot of ministry situations but it’s not limited to that. Where the event for example in a church, the Sunday service or in a business, the sales transaction perhaps it’s not all about just the event it’s about a lifestyle. In other words we don’t just gear up to present something we’re trying to become something and as leaders and as an organization the emphasis is on how are we living out these values and beliefs that we have?


Another thing I see is a shift from creating just distribution channels, again core product or ideas being disseminated, to what I would call missional hubs, where ideas are being generated all around the organization and out in the culture so that we’re not just a centralized group finding more ways to create more distribution channels, that’s valid when we have a quality product or service, but it’s how do we create more hubs that are themselves generating product and ideas so it’s not always all coming from sort of central base.


And finally, from being more silo to being more integrated. I think we’ve seen that across a number of kinds of institutions and organizations instead of it’s just sales and marketing and distribution and R&D and so on in the corporate areas. Or in education where we just have administration and then there’s faculty and then or the disciplines I teach history you teach science or you teach theology, we don’t talk to each other. That’s breaking down to where we see more integrated aspects because educationally, developmentally we need the integration of ideas, we need to expose people to one another so more and more cross-functional teams, more ad hoc teams, more conversations around the lunch table from people from various disciplines helps each of us grow and develop in our leadership. The implications of these shifts are, as I mentioned, I think a flatter leadership, people who are more relational in their leadership, more able to build teams and connect with them. I think in general people who are more interested in modeling the values than simply disseminating again the information. So I think for us as leaders whatever my organization or institution is I need to embody that first and foremost. It’s more important that I live in the world of being what I am advocating not just doing some things around the principles and values.


And finally I think that we’re seeing ideas come at the core of leadership not just mandates and control and management but ideas. That’s the ideas for the future that will drive the future organization, the future institution.


So these are some of the things I think in our leadership which as it becomes more collaborative the more shared, not without authority, now without power, but I think these movements and shifts demand that kind of leadership.


I’m interested in what you think about these 6 shifts happening in your organization. So let me know, as I work with leadership teams and teach and do conferences I understand that these shifts are happening and I’m trying to help leaders and engage those things.


What are you doing to engage these shifts?


I’d be interested in hearing from you. So have a great day!



The 5 Principles of Ethical Leadership

I work in two environments – a faith-based graduate institution and in the marketplace. So I help leaders grapple with personal and cultural ethics on a weekly basis. I do this by focusing on 5 core areas that promote ethical leadership.

Quote - A leadership strategy without ethical clarity produces moral and economic bankruptcy. – Bill Donahue

As you face challenges in areas like decision-making, strategic planning, cultural transformation and leadership development, your ethical framework will reveal itself, particularly under pressure.

I confess that I do not like what I see in the mirror sometimes when I am frustrated, tired and weary of battling the challenges I face in work, life and personal growth. So it is important that I keep exposing myself to resources and people that deepen my ethical foundation and promote character growth. What I read, who I meet with, and how I go about my work all shape my approach to ethical situations.

Whether navigating a consultation, teaching students, or marketing my leadership development services to groups, teams and organizations, how I do this and the motives behind my actions sends signals about what I believe.

Since the time of Aristotle, says Peter Northouse, these discussions have focused on 5 core areas that have been the focus of many ethical systems. These are also described, bolstered or expanded personal beliefs, faith systems, and one’s philosophical or religious worldview.

Here they are: [i]

 Mindmap of The 5 Principles of Ethical Leadership - Respects Others - Serves Other - Shows Justice - Manifests Honesty -  Builds Community -


Respects Others: We might think we have this mastered, but we disrespect others when we interrupt them, show up late to meetings, only seek advice from our kind of people, or ignore the input of people lower in status or rank.


Serves Others: This is the goal of leadership, but many of us subtly exploit others. Some years ago a leader came to the organization I was a part of. He really did not care about the people – he saw us as a platform for his expanding his network, selling his resources, and gaining notoriety. It did not take long for everyone to see it and in a couple years he was gone.


Shows Justice: Justice is about “making things right” and leaders must act justly whenever they notice injustice in the team, community, church or organization.  An employee gets overlooked for a raise or promotion because their evaluation was not turned in on time by a supervisor. Make it right. You notice a minority person or woman gets shut down repeatedly in meetings because someone has a cultural bias (perhaps without even being aware of it). Make it right. You see a clear violation of HR practices or basic laws (like a banker I knew who was cleverly skimming fee income into his own personal account). Do the right thing and bring it to light.


Manifests Honesty: This is always a tricky one, particularly in the business world where corners are cut, backroom under-the-table deals are cut, and “bribes” for new business (let’s call it what it is) are routine, tolerated as “just the way things are around here.” Dishonest leaders create a dishonest culture. And a dishonest culture at work or anywhere else is an emotional drain to our people, a black eye on the organization and leaves scars on our families and communities.


Builds Community: This is an area I have devoted much of my life and leadership. Community is the result of shaping an honest, caring, truthful, engaging, fun and authentic culture. We move from narcissism and consumerism to being others-centered and creativity-focused.

Ethics matter. And you and I set the tone and shape the culture.


[i] Diagram can be found in Peter Northouse’s Leadership: Theory & Practice, page 431.


Where do you see ethical breakdown, and how can you be a force for change?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

Expectation Management

One of the challenges common to all leaders, I think, is in the area Expectation Management.

I mean we manage resources, we manage time, we manage energy, we do some self-management, we manage people. But one of the things I think we need to ­­­pay attention to is expectation management. Not every day is it that the expectations for us and others are put on the table in our organization or on our team, or our relationship with a supervisor or even someone were supervising and I think there’s a few things we need to get focused on around this.



One of the challenges common to all leaders, I think, is in the area Expectation Management. I mean we manage resources, we manage time, we manage energy, we do some self-management, we manage people. But one of the things I think we need to ­­­pay attention to is expectation management. Not every day is it that the expectations for us and others are put on the table in our organization or on our team, or our relationship with a supervisor or even someone were supervising and I think there’s a few things we need to get focused on around this.

Expectation Management Confused emplyoyee

First is, are expectations clear? I’ve been in settings where probably like many of you sometimes that’s been true, sometimes it has not been true. I remember working in a banking situation I was new out of the sort of the training department, in commercial lending, and I was down on the lending floor, in a corporate area, new business development, meeting with my supervisor after being there six months. And he said, “Bill I’m kind of frustrated with you because I expected you to be … do more relationship building with CPAs and other financial professionals in the area.” Well I’d only been a year or so at college had just, you know, come through sort of the training program had done very well, but this was never talked about in the training program and those expectations were never placed on the by him. There were a lot of other things I was doing but no one ever told me to go out and have regular lunches with CPAs meet financial professionals in other areas within the city. So I didn’t know what the expectations were so naturally I didn’t meet them. So we had to get clear about that, it’s frustrating when you’re not clear.

The second thing is do the right people know who or do the right kinds of people know what the expectations are for you. Certainly your supervisor needs to know and you need to know, but sometimes there’s others in the organization that need to know. You don’t want to have the conversation with a key board member or a key senior leader who says, “By the way what you do around here?” Now maybe in a very large institution or organization that’s appropriate. But if it’s smaller or if you’re kind of a person that around the organization quite a bit and key people don’t know what you do, why you do it, how you contribute, that some things you need to work on because maybe they don’t know how you make them successful or help make the organization successful.

Another area and probably a final one is just how are the expectations managed or measured? In the sense of how do I know I’m meeting the expectations and when do I know? What kind of rubric is there, what kind of way to know that not just my job description but sort of those the subtle expectations about how I carry myself, how I am in the organization with new people things like that. I just recently had to have a meeting with someone and have kind of a heart to heart about how they carry themselves because they’re an emerging young leader and I wanted them to know that how they present themselves in public and how they engage with people in a public settings says a lot about their leadership, at least as a first impression. Now that’s not written in any documents somewhere but it was one of those things I thought hey that’s an expectation you need to know that’s for me but also from others that are looking at you as a rising young potential leader.

So expectation management .. key thing. Hope this helps you think a little bit more about it and to manage it more effectively with yourself, with others in your team, group or organization.


Do you and and those you lead know what is expected of them?

How can you manage the expectations others have for you and you have for your team?


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.


The Power of Gathering

The Power of Gathering is really showing its effectiveness as we gather for a university discussion on economics, we are talking about the culture at large mostly in North America but certainly globally as well.


Well I’m sitting here in a hotel, actually up in Lake Geneva and we are here gathered together as a university to tackle some pretty big issues both internally and externally. We’re talking about economics, we are talking about the culture at large mostly in North America but certainly globally, and we are bringing some experts in to challenge us on how to think about economic realities in light of the new reality of our culture and just the systems of our world. But what I find really powerful here is the power of gathering itself so irrespective of where the content might take us and what we need to talk about related to this, and what some of our scholars are going to be doing to really delve into some of the challenging global economic issues of our world, there’s a power in just gathering. I’m headed off to breakfast in a few minutes with some people and I’m looking forward to that because something happens when a team or a group or an organization gathers. I just want to highlight a few of those to remind us that this is strategic, it’s important, it’s life giving. Now here are a few things to think about first of all clarity I find that when we come together we’re not asking as many how and when questions as we do when we’re sort of in the office, or in the organization. We tend to ask bigger questions sort of the why questions and at a gathering of your core people you get that clarity. Why do we exist? Why are we here? What are some of the big questions we really need to be facing and why should we be facing the now? So the big why questions I think are important for your organization or your group. Another question that you tend to ask when you gather is, “Who are we? What kind of group are we?” And because of the informality that takes place in a setting like this I think it’s, it’s a better opportunity to understand who we are. I think there’s an informality that helps us achieve some relational unity. In our particular case there are three schools in the university represented here the graduate school, the theology school, and the college. The law school is not here it’s in another part of the country. But the those three schools have come together to say let’s get to know each other  better, let’s understand how we work better together, let’s see what skills and resources we bring to one another so there is a relational unity, a getting to know each other and that’s really lifted up by the informality. So not only in the formal sessions, the small groups, the strategic sessions, but in the having coffee afterward, the one-off conversations, the meeting after the meeting, the kind of thing we experience around the office sometimes is really lifted to a new level here. And so there’s that informality, that relational piece, that helps us answer that who question. But I think there is also the identity organizationally of; who are we, what kind of place do we want to become, what kind of people do we want to be as we carry forward our mission? So we had the why questions, the who question, and I think alternately we will make that strategic turn, we do that tomorrow morning. But that’s the strategy question of; where do we want to go from here, what do we want to focus on specifically, are there some next steps we need to take? So we will be in groups in teams talking about that as well. So the power of gathering allows us to answer those big questions; why, why are we here, why do we exist, why do we do things the way we do, who are we and who are we becoming and then we really want to go? Hopefully you’ll think about those things as you put some gatherings together and get “off-campus” and do something together in a setting that allows you to really engage these things both in formal an informal ways.


We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.

The Discerning Leader

Some have the gift of being a discerning leader.

The Discerning Leader  a quote by Mel Lawrence, “…leaders with no discernment can do tremendous damage in a short amount of time.”  Others – like me – learned it in the school of hard knocks and many mistakes. And I need more of it. Maybe you do, too.

In his book Spiritual Influence Mel Lawrence writes, “…leaders with no discernment can do tremendous damage in a short amount of time.” I second that emotion!

Mel says that a discerning leader must be capable of guiding people into clearer understandings and levels of reality. He adds, “How much we all need incisive leadership today!…The discerning leader approaches challenges and opportunities with a mental and spiritual scalpel. To be discriminating without being discriminatory. To judge without being judgmental. To separate without severing.” Pg. 119



That really is the beauty of discernment. Without it leaders are rash, harsh and impulsive instead of patient, wise and incisive.

And there is the difference. I see it in others. I see it in me.

I need to practice discernment.

For my own leadership to be sharpened I practice discernment in community. The Quakers understood this, and practiced a kind of team discernment back in our pre-revolutionary war days in the late 1600’s. Soon they would be known for “clearness committees” where a person gathered closed friends as they processed a decision. Participants were allowed to ask questions but give no advice. It forced the would be decision-maker to consider all points of an issue, face hard questions and see what could not be see if making choices all alone.

Some today call such a gathering “a personal board of directors.” For others it is a small group or some mentors. Whatever the form, the process teaches each participant to practice the skill of discernment; to reflect, play out possible outcomes, weigh emotions and consider the relational impact of potential decisions.

So who is on your board or sits in your discernment circle?

Who brings unbridled input, mirrors truth and forces you to look at the less desirable components of potential actions and choices?

Who teaches you to practice discernment so that when you must act alone, you have the insight, wisdom and tools to make wise choices?



We would like to encourage your feedback as it helps us to identify the issues that are important to you. It also helps others who are searching to develop new creative ways of leading. Thank you in advance for your comments.