Important Leadership Lessons
One of the great privileges of Seattle summers, for those of us who get to enjoy them, are the mornings. This morning, up at 5:30 AM, I brewed some coffee and went outside to sit with my trees, my Bible, and the Seattle Times. With the bacon on the BBQ, the morning is a sensual feast of smells (bacon, redwood, coffee, dry air), sights (sunrise painting the trees and the neighborhood) and sounds (lost count of how many different bird calls there were, not to mentions squirrels).
For me, this the best classroom, the best office. I sit and read. In the past 24 hours, I've enjoyed reading two great articles on leadership. The first is found here, and is about Nelson Mandela's "Lessons of Leadership". At 90, and instrumental in changing the course of a nation, when this man speaks, I listen. He has some very good things to say, including priceless insight on consensus building (leading from 'the back' and 'the front'), diplomacy, and courage.
The 2nd article is found here, in this morning's Seattle Times, and is about the changing face of public schools. One paragraph is worth the price of subscription: "When businesses fail...it's usually because they're highly proficient at - but have great difficulty abandoning - the processes they've excelled in. So rivals develop radically new products, often inferior at first, but reaching previously unserved customers and improving over time, disrupting and eventually taking over the field."
There's a lot to ponder in that paragraph. I wonder what I do well, what our church does well, that we need to do differently because of the changing forces of both our broader culture, and the culture of our growing church? For example, we might shepherd well in a church of 200, but if we try to apply the same tactics in a church of 2000, we'll fail. We need to learn to adjust, and this is, of course, dangerous, because with every adjustment we're also in danger of losing our essence, our core, our identity. That's why we need to be in the word and in prayer even more than we need to be in the Times and Time magazine. But both are needed if we're to bridge the gap between eternal truth and present culture.
Both of these articles are great reads for leaders, and I'd encourage anyone who is in a role of influencing others or steering a unti (family, small group, committee, church, organization) to take some time and ponder what good leaders have to say, seeking to find ways of applying their stuff to your own situation. Lots of us know our craft (teaching, engineering, writing, producing, creating, cleaning, repairing, etc.) but leadership is the other critical piece of the puzzle. If we don't have that, we're missing a mission critical component.