Friday, November 20, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Learning to Lead by being Led

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

For the Christian Leader, this may be a “Well, Duh!” verse. Of course! Really? Interesting conundrum here: we have a responsibility to think and act; but in our doing so, we never contradict God’s sovereignty.

As one moves through management and into leadership, bosses, processes or initiatives, which seem to be outside the spiritual realm, most often direct steps. This verse is one of those very tough leadership verses for we supposedly “know the way.”

You’re the leader: Strategy has been formulated. Implementation is in process. The vision is shared. The team is focused on the mission. Actions are shaped by the core values. You inspire and motive. You lead. But it’s not autonomous.

The key here is that this verse is PERSONAL – it's our individual steps that God controls. He works in all things – our bad decisions as well as our good ones – for His glory and purpose.

Scripture makes it clear: to lead, we must first be willing to be led, which demands of us a constant dependence on God. When I stop depending on Him and just venture out with a “Griff-generated-thing,” it most often results in being all about me. Not good. That’s “walking by sight” – not by faith.

Are you joining God, in prayer and by faith, to direct your “steps” – even at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Fighting Gossip

The internal politics of an organization can damage an otherwise healthy culture. Conflicting views of business strategy, for example, often yield pettiness, personal attacks and the politics of the destruction. Leaders, in both “sacred” and “secular” organizations, must deal with the human tendency to devour gossip.

Proverbs 18:8 (MSG) Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?

When leaders allow the team to eat the cheap candy of gossip, the work environment becomes charged with negative energy that discourages at best and destroys at worst. Consequently, people loose faith in the leadership, and even good ideas for solving business problems are viewed skeptically.

When Adam and Eve realized “they were naked…and hid themselves,” we humans have developed a lust to expose the nakedness of others by telling stories that tear down the character of the person, or build ourselves up. The sinful result of having the “knowledge of good and evil” is judgmental behavior – gossip being one expression of it.

Leader, here are some tips to handle office gossip:
· Make certain you are not providing cheap candy to those with a “sweet tooth.”
· When making tough business decisions, collaborate effectively.
· Air conflicting strategic views.
· Ask hard questions, without demeaning, that demand critical thinking.
· Then, after a path is chosen, ask each team member how he or she will help motivate and inspire people to follow the direction just set.
· If team members cannot get behind the decision after this process, they don’t belong on the team. It’s a cliché, but applies: there is no “i” in team.

Most importantly, gossip is a spiritual battle; therefore be sure that you fight it with spiritual weapons – or you will loose.

Are you armed correctly to fight spiritual battles, like gossip, at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 16, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Heart of a Leader is the Key

Proverbs 16:21 (NAS) The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Definitions of leadership include words like influence, persuasion and motivation, i.e. the ability to inspire others to do what they normally may not consider doing.

Those writing about leadership agree that the simplest definition of a leader is a person who has followers. Street gangs have leaders. Criminal organizations have leaders. Organizations of followers have a leader. Right. Our focus then, is not about leadership, per se; it is about the right kind of leadership.

Wise leadership develops from other-centeredness that flows from a commitment to purpose greater than self; an ethical framework that cares about others first; and a view of the world that recognize individual lives have meaning.

Leadership is about - heart. Motives are changed. Perspectives are different. The intent of this heart yields “sweetness of speech” that increases impact – speech that motives, inspires and transforms listeners from hearers to heeders.

Transformational leaders are first committed followers. When your heart is in sync with God’s heart, your persuasiveness takes on a winsomeness that results in mobilized action in your followers.

Do you want willing, motivated, and committed followers? Start with your heart.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, November 13, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Understanding and Prudence

There are many expectations followers have about their leaders: one in particular is the leader’s ability to “understand.” A well-rounded leader wins the favor of followers by faithfully communicating, “they get it.”

This is a leader who has learned to both manage complexity well and lead clearly through the tensions inherent in the structural conflicts involved in change. Careful! Success here can lead to personal hubris. The “prudent” remembers that it is their Creator who has equipped them, not they, themselves.

Effective leaders understand that the tension between continuity and change is perceived differently by each follower and is based on how each were “hard wired.” The aware leader can inspire and motivate in a way that “wins favor” because this leader recognizes the communication style that will get through and get action for each member of the team. Jesus employed different approaches based upon the listener to whom he was speaking. Shouldn’t we?

Proverbs 13:15-16 [PGL] Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the social deceiver whose conscious is warped does not endure. The prudent acts with knowledge, but the fool lays open his foolishness.

Those practicing manipulative management and self-serving leadership have become slaves to their own ego. They are fools. The music of life is not in the baton of the maestro, but in the musicians in the orchestra.

The prudent leader with good understanding is the maestro we favor. The score of the music is the common purpose. The musicians’ take personal responsibility for fulfilling their portion of the purpose. Remember, tuning the orchestra does not produce pleasant music, but is necessary. The music begins when the conductor, with a clear understanding of each musician’s role, and knowledge of the author’s intent with the piece, raises the baton to start the music.

Are you a maestro trying to be an orchestra?
Do you know the “author’s intent” in the score of life and it’s expression at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Guided by Integrity

Leaders who are driven by integrity make a difference – they are the ones who manage change well. Completeness I believe, has at its core an obligation of each leader to “know self” and this is a journey of three, interconnected phases:

Understanding Purpose:
· Do you know why you are here?
· What is your purpose? Have your written your personal vision statement?
· Why were you created?

Establishing Personal Ethics:
· What are the guidelines that direct your intentions and behavior? Do you have a list of words that you hold fast and dear?
· Do you believe that personal truthfulness, accountability and respect for the individual are without variation even in the face of changing circumstances?
· Have you written your core beliefs? Do you read them?

Developing a Worldview
· Why are humans on earth? How did we get here? Have you thought this through in a way that will help you motivate, inspire and challenge followers?
· What is the human condition? Are we just blank slates imprinted by environment and DNA? Are all humans sinners?
· What is the answer - the solution - to the human condition? Is our salvation a good education? Riches? Government? The Lord Jesus Christ?

Proverbs 11:3 (AMP) The integrity of the upright [righteous] shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them.

“Integrity,” here meaning not only complete, but also ethical straightness and perfection, is from a Hebrew word used only in this verse in Proverbs and four times in the book of Job - notably when God challenged Satan that Job would continue to “hold fast his integrity,” and Job’s wife challenged him by asking, “Do you still cling to your integrity? Curse God and die.”

Job apparently wrestled well with these questions. Even in the midst of horrific circumstance, he knew who he was, what guided him and how that fit into his worldview. He was an authentic leader.

Who and what guide you?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Wise Words Inspire

All sorts of people can inspire, motivate to bring about change. Sometimes, the oasis of hoped for change is just a desert illusion.

Proverbs 10:11a (NKJV) The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…

Not so with a righteous leader: this person draws from a well of “living water” and motivates people to move (change) quenching their thirst with “the healing water” from the Giver of Life.

According to John P, Kotter, (Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management), a leader sets the direction, aligns the key factors that will yield success, motivates and inspires and produces positive change. To do these things, words take on great power. If a leader’s words are colored by discouragement, hesitancy based on current circumstances and an almost fatalistic recognition of present conditions, motivation is lost. Followers are not inspired. There is no joy for the words are not drawn from the “well of life.”

Yes, in the year 2009, we are going through economic hardship – some of us. Not all. There are still “winners” in the stock market. Some businesses are counter-cyclic.

Regardless of your season, the personal focus must be on how the Lord is showing up even if we are in the “winter of our discontent.” Christian leaders must first communicate joy - because the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” Effective leaders speak first of what is going well (in a church or ministry context, it would be a conversation about God’s goodness) before s/he communicates the trials that must be faced and overcome. We can only truly motivate and inspire when we draw first from the “well of life.”

Leader: do your words result in joy, hope and inspiration to bring about positive change?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Skilled Living is a Significant Life

Proverbs 9: 1, 10 (MSG) 1Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home... 10Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-GOD, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.

A special house has been built for Believers and it should be enough - but many times, we spend time looking out the window at other buildings that seem bigger, better, bolder.

The world does this as their practice of living. Never content. Always wanting more.

Building, per se, is not wrong, misguided or to be ignored. Leaders are often called "to build." Building a meaningful, significant life is important. That's building to the model of Wisdom's house. Skilled living - that’s the key.

Christian business leaders have the opportunity to demonstrate what God can do with a business wholly committed to him -- one that thrives, grows and is profitable - an enterprise run for His glory. Dickens would not have had much material to use if Christians, at the time his novels were placed, were committed to running Christ-enabled businesses.

Building a businesses, or simple building a life, God's way should be better - the leader more skilled at living because she/he isn’t trying to build a house on a foundation of the shifting sands of relative values.. We are called to build lives of significance at home, at work, at play - and success in this arena is measured by how well we walk down the path of skilled living.

Are you walking on the path that leads to the house Wisdom has built?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Absolutes

Whom you look to for wisdom when leading your team, your small business, your ministry determines – well, everything. Your understanding of personal purpose, your core values and your worldview all merge at this intersection.

Biblical business ethics adheres to the underlying principle that there is absolute, foundational truth upon which you must build your thought life and behavior. Solomon of old never assumed that truth was relative and that morality was a function of personal choice: his worldview drove his proverbs.

Proverbs 5:1-2 (NIV) My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Finding and assimilating Godly Wisdom drives two actions: first, that your view of others will not be self-serving (maintain discretion); two, what you say actually builds the continuity of useful knowledge (your lips may preserve knowledge).

Leadership that honors others and builds a legacy begins at the source. Pay attention to what God teaches first then you’ll be better able to understand and avoid the situational, shifting ethics of man.

Who is your source for wisdom: mankind or God?

Copyright © 2009 P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 2, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Fundamentals of Leadership

Business schools demand certain perquisites to take advanced classes. Those “fundamental” classes lay the foundation for the deeper thinking required.

Prov. 2:2 (NAS) Make your ear attentive to wisdom; incline your heart to understanding;

So also, Biblical Leaders have foundational classes; not only are we to “tune into” wisdom, we are to apply wholeheartedly what we have learned – it is an action consisting both of reason (thinking) and will (behavior). Inclining [our] heart goes to our purpose – why we were created. If the "chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," we start that journey by acknowledging we need to first learn wisdom from our Creator.

Prov. 2:9 (NKJV) Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path.

The result? Effective and Godly leaders will develop an understanding of the impact of four attributes that shape leadership.
  • Righteousness – here meaning conformity to an ethical standard. Word most often used in reference to judges who, looking at the law (standard), rule without partiality. Leaders have an ethical standard that is absolute and grounded and does not shif depending on the situation.
  • Judgment – here emphasizing the application of the standard, even in a state of ambiguity. Ethics is lived out in the real world where all things are not black and white: it is one of the ramifications of eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s tough out there. Our ego will often cloud our judgment – at least that’s been my experience. I, too often, make decisions based on what Griff thinks – not what God thinks. Conforming to the image of Christ is an every day commitment of will.
  • Equity – here used in a clear legal context means simply level or straight. The drive to “know ourselves” (wisdom) gives birth to behaving in a way that is “true.” I understand the difficulty here: one can have the best intentions: behavior, however, is what makes the impact. Can’t be a “straight-shooter” unless the heart is plumb, level and straight. That takes lifelong work.
  • Knowing every good path. Every. Catch that. Take it from one who has stumbled along. Fallen often. “Every” is a tough standard. Interesting that this word for “good” has a practical meaning – economic benefit. I’m sure that “a good path” was presented as an option that I choose to ignore. It’s that “heart” thing again. One must will to choose the good path. Every time.

Have you taken your fundamental classes yet? Need a refresher course. I know I do.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell