My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #7

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.

Lesson #6: Followership is a prerequisite to leadership. If you have a difficult time following you will have an even more difficult time leading.

Lesson #7: Be patient. There are times when no action is the best action.

Leaders are those within an organization who take responsibility for making decisions and bringing change. They empower people to discover and utilize their natural gifting, talents, and potential. Leaders are eager to move their organization forward and anticipate results. It is easy to act impatiently. There are times when no action is the best action. Effective leaders understand their people and develop a pace of movement that benefits the organization, even if that pace is too slow for him/her. The correct pace of movement comes from studying an organization’s past successes, failures, hurts, and assessing current strengths and capabilities. A leader’s impatience can harm an organization.

I have learned this lesson firsthand in my years of pastoral ministry. Not every organization moves at the same pace. There are those within the organization who want to see things move quickly. There are times when a leader’s patience will be misunderstood as a lack of confidence, fear, or uncertainty. It shouldn’t be. Many want the leader to just “do something.” Effective leaders know it is important to choose the best over just anything. When the times comes for a leader to decide, he/she must be decisive and take responsibility for their decision. Until that point, patience must be exercised so the best decision can be made and the correct vision cast. There are times when no action is the best action until the correct action can be taken.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #5

Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Lesson #2: Be Last.

Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

Lesson #4: Listen and allow input. Never let yours be the only voice you hear.

Lesson #5: Leaders move forward and grow by looking back and learning. Leaders who are successful consistently evaluate past decisions to ensure better future decisions.

Leadership assumes movement in both leader and organization. An organization does not hire/call/secure a leader with the hope of standing still. The goal of any organization, whether secular or spiritual, is to move toward its decided upon purpose and mission. Leaders must also move forward in their personal growth. Leaders who become stale personally will quickly be leading stale organizations. It is important for leaders of organizations to be life-long learners. One way in which learning continues is by looking back to past decisions.

It is counter-intuitive to believe you move forward by looking backwards. I am not advocating living in the past. I am not talking about insisting the former ways are the best. I am talking about an honest assessment of past decisions. Leader don’t always get it right. For many, what seemed to be the right decision at the time turned out to be a costly mistake. An elementary life lesson is that we learn from our mistakes. The same is true in leadership. To ensure the same mistakes are not made in the future, leaders should often evaluate how their past decisions were made. Questions like, “Did I have enough information to make a good decision?”, “Did I make this decision based solely on emotion?”, “Did I seek the necessary counsel before making this decision?”, and “Did I consider how my decision would affect the organization in the future?” are all appropriate. Looking back over 18 years of pastoral ministry there are many bad decisions. I wish it were possible to have a “do-over.” There are no “do-overs” in life. We can only learn from the mistake and be better prepared for the future. Leaders owe their organization a commitment to learning from past mistakes. For a leader to assume they have made no mistakes is a mistake itself.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #3


Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Leadership Lesson #2: Be Last.

Leadership Lesson #3: Praise Publicly. Correct Privately. Encourage Consistently.

People are the critical component within any organization. Budgets, visions, capital, product, and sales have their place, but it’s people who move the organization forward. Knowing how to manage the different personalities, temperaments, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses of the people within the organization is paramount to its success. Leaders understand the constant and often stressful need for balance where people are concerned. The balance is two-fold. First, there is a balance between the people of an organization and the mission of the organization. Second, there is a balance between the praise, correction, and encouragement offered to the people of an organization. Effective leadership within an organization is like a tight-rope act.  Leaning too far to either side can have disastrous consequences. How does a leader strike the appropriate balance?

Praise Publicly. People need to be recognized for their accomplishments. Their successes deserve to be celebrated. In their minds, praise from the organization affirms their worth, value, and contribution to the organization. Public praise also fosters a better work environment. If the people of an organization know their efforts and hard work will be applauded publicly, they are likely to be more productive and satisfied.

Correct privately. At times, it becomes necessary to offer correction to a member of an organization for such things as poor job performance, refusal to work as part of a team, and divisive attitudes, to name a few. The faults and shortcoming of an individual should never be the subject of public discussion. The correction of these faults and shortcomings should never be witnessed by other co-workers and team members. Correcting privately boosts morale, provides motivation, and limits resentment between coworkers/co-laborers.

Encourage consistently. Leaders understand the success of their organization is directly linked to the people who serve the organization. An atmosphere of encouragement is key to productivity. People become discouraged, disheartened, and disappointed easily. Leaders must – day in and day out – encourage their people by letting them know that what they do matters. Leaders must consistently encourage their people to push themselves further, to follow their calling, pursue their hopes and dreams, and to never give up.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #2

Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Leadership Lesson #2: Be Last.

This is counterintuitive. We are taught by the world to look for our best interests.  We are taught to get all we can. We are taught the end justifies the means. We are taught the only person you can trust is you. In the context of leadership, “be last” is perplexing as well. After all, aren’t leaders supposed to be out front, you know, leading? Aren’t leaders to supposed to lead from the front, be visible, chart the path of an organization? Absolutely. This principle has less to do with a leader’s physical position within an organization and more to with his/her heart position before the organization.

There is an unwritten rule in the Marine Corps – officers eat last. An interesting phenomenon occurs when Marines gather to eat – junior Marines go to the front of the line while senior Marines go to the back. No orders are given. It just happens. This practice is symbolic of a critical battlefield truth – leaders sacrifice their own comfort – even their own survival – for the good of those in their care. I learned this lesson during my years in the Marine Corps and it is one I still practice today. In his book, Leaders Eat Last; Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Simon Sinek quotes retired Marine Lieutenant General George Flynn who explains this principle further:

“Leaders are expected to eat last because the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”

Effective leaders ensure their people have everything they need to be successful. Effective leaders display a willingness to sacrifice what they want so others may have what they need. When leaders inspire those under their care, they will in turn dream bigger dreams, invest precious time and energy in their organization, and will be far more productive and satisfied.

My Top Ten Leadership Lessons: Part #1

I have been in leadership roles most of my adult life. From leading Marines to leading churches, the privilege and responsibility offering guidance and instruction to is one I am comfortable with and enjoy. Positively, I have experienced solid and effective leadership throughout my life. I watched how these leaders interacted with people, motivated them to want to do better, and cared about the individual. I remember thinking these qualities were worthy of emulation. Negatively, I have experienced anemic and ineffective leadership along the way. I watched how people were discouraged, berated, and frustrated by these so-called leaders and remember thinking people deserve better.  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the ten leadership lessons I have learned and that have been reinforced in my life. These lessons have shaped/are shaping who I am as a leader today.

Leadership Lesson #1: If you feel it is necessary to continually remind people you are the leader, there is a real possibility you are not.

Within any organization (secular or spiritual), each person is accountable to someone else. There is an employee/volunteer and there is a boss/department leader. There are some who allow who they are on paper to effect how they lead and manage. An effective leader does not have to continually remind those they are leading that they are, in fact, the leader. Phrases such as “Don’t forget who is running this place”, “I’m in charge”, or “Just do it, I’m the boss” are foreign to the one who knows that people follow what they see modeled. A leader whose actions genuinely demonstrate care, compassion, and consistency will not have to constantly remind people to follow them. They will want to do so because of what they see. It was former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who said, “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to remind people you are, you aren’t.”

In 2013, Tom Hanks starred in the movie, Captain Phillips. It was the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the U.S.-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. A critical scene in the movie occurs when the pirates gain entry to the bridge. The exchange between the lead hijacker and Captain Phillips demonstrates this leadership principle.

Somali Pirate: “Relax, everything going to be okay. Look at me.”

Captain Richard Phillips: “Sure”

Somali Pirate: “Look at me”

Captain Richard Phillips: “Sure”

Somali Pirate: “I’m the captain now.”

When a confident and caring leadership environment is created within an organization, people will want to follow, not because they must, but because they see value and credibility in the leadership given to them and will want to follow.

Book Review : The Leadership Handbook–26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs

26lessonsArguably, John Maxwell is the most prolific writer on the subject of leadership in our world today. With over thirty years of leadership in religious and secular circles, he has helped countless leaders sharpen and hone their leadership skills and styles. I for one have benefited greatly from his books and conferences. Recently I finished this latest book, “The Leadership Handbook: 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs”. I have often found that authors don’t deliver on the promises of the book’s title. “The Leadership Handbook” is not one of those books. Without a doubt this book is a collection of his previous works that been put together concisely in handbook format. As the title suggests, there are twenty-six chapters which each leadership lesson given an entire chapter for explanation and application. Leadership lessons such as The Best Leaders Are Listeners, Keep Learning to keep Leading, Don’t Manage Your Time – Manage Your Life, The Choices You Make, Make You, among others, are included. Maxwell has included two helpful resources at the end of every chapter. First, each lesson has Application Exercises which are questions for internal reflection that challenge the reader on the subject covered. Also included is a Mentoring Moment. This resource helps the reader share the lesson with other he/she may be mentoring at the moment. Both of these resources are valuable.

There are a few drawbacks to this book. If you have read extensively behind Maxwell in the past, there is nothing new here. I was hoping for something I had not been read before. Instead I was reminded of what I already knew. The major drawback to this book is that it’s a re-print of Maxwell’s 2008 book Leadership Gold. If you have read Leadership Gold you should skip this book. This fact is contained in the fine print on the opening pages. I don’t mind revisions, but I would like to know beforehand if an old book was given a new name and published as new. This seems to be misleading on behalf of the publisher. With that being said, I would still recommend this book due to its timeless content which is challenging, encouraging, and applicable to daily life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : The Maxwell Leadership Bible

maxwellI must admit that I am a fan of John Maxwell. For years now he has been a personal source of encouragement and inspiration when it comes to matters of effective leadership. Many of his works remain best-sellers and have become timeless resources for leaders in all types of leadership positions. When I discovered that Maxwell had leant his leadership expertise to the creation of a leadership Bible, whether or not I would read it was never in question. The Maxwell Leadership Bible; Lessons in Leadership from the Word of God is Maxwell’s latest work which combines the NIV Bible with a host of leadership tips, secrets, principles, and strategies woven throughout. With all the Bibles available today, why is another one needed? Maxwell writes, “The best source of leadership teaching today is the same as it has been for thousands of years. If you want to learn leadership, go to the greatest Book on leadership ever written – the Bible.”

The resources contained with this Bible are immense. The best way to highlight them is to simply list what you will find within the pages of this NIV Bible.

• The Maxwell Leadership Bible offers dozens of “Profiles in Leadership”. These profiles highlight specific leadership traits of people such as Nehemiah, Samuel, Elijah, Priscilla, Elisha, and Paul to name a few.

• The Maxwell Leadership Bible provides a solid introduction to each of the Bible’s books looking specifically at the leaders, leadership lessons and highlights contained in each.

• The Maxwell Leadership Bible weaves his well-known 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership throughout its pages. Laws such as the Law of Influence (all leaders influence whether negatively or positively), the Law of Sacrifice (a leader must give up to go up) and many others. Articles and features appear throughout that highlight prime examples of these “laws.” A very helpful chart is found on pages 1282-1283 where Maxwell unveils “Jesus and the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. Excellent.

• Indexes highlight of excerpts from other books such as 25 Ways to Win With People, Talent is Never Enough, The 360 Degree Leader, The Difference Maker, and Winning With People to name a few.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible is a winner. Smartly assembled and written with leadership development in mind, the unique approach to this Bible will without a doubt pay dividends to the reader. The only negative points I could offer would be that there is almost no margin for personal notes as the reader interacts with the content. Also, I am not a personal fan of the NIV version. Aside from that, Maxwell has given us a tremendous resource that will aid each reader in becoming a better leader. I highly recommend to all.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harper Collins Publishers and BookLook Bloggers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”