May 2013

Engaging with Other Cultures

One of the best parts of my role in Leadership Connextions International is to spend time with others who connect with what we are doing.  This past week Joanne and I had the opportunity to open our house to Fred and Rebecca Sekyewa from Uganda.  We are blessed each time we have the chance to host others in our home.  Fred and Rebecca have been in the United States for the past 3 weeks meeting with supporters and churches who have partnered with their ministry in Uganda. 

I was able to spend a significant amount of time walking through some of the Conversations lessons during their three day visit.   Engaging in 'the things that matter most' is always a blessing and my time with Fred proved to be another time of growth for both of us.  He is a significant leader in rural Uganda and has a desire to share with the pastors and ministers under his care.  Even though many of them haven't had the opportunity to have an education, there are still a number of teachings and models that will be useful in their walk and ministry. 

Avoiding Burnout Seminar for Chileans

Being in the ministry is inherently dangerous to your health.  The statistics are staggering in terms of those who have experienced discouragement, disappointment, and depression.  Here are some of the more profound examples from a survey conducted with over 1,000 pastors:

  • 100% had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in the church or from a moral failure
  • 90% Indicated they were frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis
  • 89% Said they considered leaving the ministry at one time
  • 72% Said they only studied the Bible when they were preparing for sermons or lessons

and the list goes on to describe marriage failures, family stress, affairs, lack of friends and more.  It is disturbing to think that so many pastors are struggling with maintaining the day to day balance in life. 

Healthy Leadership

The Signs of Healthy Leadership
This is a follow up post from the one yesterday, where I listed the signs from de Vries, that a leader is in trouble. Here are the attributes or SIGNS of a generally healthy leader.

1.  A capacity for love and work.

2.  A capacity to cope and adapt to difficulty.

3.  A stability of identity which includes a clear differentiation from others and from the organization.

4.  An ability to "test reality" and see what is real from what is imagined, wished for or aspirational.

Signs of Danger for Leaders

Leaders, Fools and Impostors: Essays on the Psychology of Leadership.
That is the name of a short and excellent book by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries. Manfred is a Dutch psychotherapist, leadership consultant, who is simply brilliant. While I can't say that I follow (or understand) the Freudian origins of the leadership dysfunctions he discusses, when it comes to describing the nature and experience of those dysfunctions - he is EXCELLENT.

Manfred deals with issues of power, authority, control, fear, loss, sexuality, hubris, isolation, emotional nullness (Alexithymia - your new word for the day, I am sure!), narcissism and more. Late in his book he lists the warning signs that a leader is no longer managing the balancing act and is skirting with danger (and disaster). Here are some of the signs he lists.

Making Bad Decisions

Here are a few stats from researcher Paul Nutt of Ohio State University. HIs research was on why business decisions fail.

One third of all failed decisions were because they were mainly driven by the promoter's ego.

Two thirds of executives never explore other options once they make up their minds on a matter.

81% of managers push their decisions through by persuasion or coercion, and not on the merit of the idea.

This of course is why Patrick Lencioni speaks of great teams being able to have fierce ideological debate on important matters. Where such debate does not exist, bad decisions are much more likely.

Solitude and Leadership

Here is a vey thoughtful article on Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz. It was a speech given to the Unites States Military Academy at West Point, october 2009. I find it quite interesting that he writes, not as a Christian who has a spiritual tradition of silence and solitude, but as an author who was speaking to future military leaders. This was first published in The American Scholar.

What do you think about his themes and reasoning?

On Good Work

In Five Minds for the Future, Howard Gardner describes the characteristics of "good work." By good, he means work that is:

Excellent - high quality, disciplined

Ethical - takes into account the well-being of the wider community

Sir Ken Robinson on Escaping the Death Valley of Education

If you missed it when it was shown on public TV, be sure to watch the video by Sir Ken Robinson on Escaping the Death Valley of Education. There are two reasons to watch this. First, he is an outstanding communicator and it is just good to learn from the best. It is amazing how many communication tools he uses in a few short minutes.

Second, he has some very significant things to say about education. Three main principles are (1) Diversity in those who learn, (2) the power of Curiosity for learning, and (3) Creativity. He believes that current education works against all three of these essential qualities.

The Sin of Envy

"We prefer a king we can see, and the one staring back at us from our bathroom mirror seems like a fine candidate"  Jeff Cook

I have been drawn to the "Seven Deadly Sins" lately.  I guess drawn is not really an accurate word.  It is more like a painful realization that I am impacted by those sins everyday, almost hourly or more.  It is a revelation that is continuing to invade my soul.  This quote is a good one.  How many times have I done this? Maybe I haven't used these words but the intention was there, the attitude is clearly there and it takes me to bad places. 

Writing as a Way to learn

I am a writer. I write all the time. This goes as far back as the time when I began to be a "serious learner." No one told me to write. I just started doing it. And I found that writing was a CORE pathway, a technique for me to:

  • learn,
  • to process,
  • to reflect in a way that produced forward movement.
  • to advance my understanding,
  • to refine my ability to communicate the ideas to others.

Later I became an avid (Raving) fan of journaling. I journal (almost) every day. My journals are a wonderful mixture of prayers, reflections, drafts of posts, articles, essays, lessons... they reveal my thinking, my affections, my struggles, my journey... they are a record to which i return and from which I move on.

So I was intrigued with the quote from John Calvin that comes from his Institutes.