Saturday, February 02, 2019

Leadership: Solutions Imposed Rarely Last

(-8* degrees, 1/30/19, Sterling State Park on Lake Erie)

General Martin Dempsey has been tweeting about leadership. I'm posting these for my own benefit.

Followers have to understand both how to take orders and to give advice. It’s not enough just to validate the boss’s thinking without trying to understand it, contribute to it, and sharpen it.

Leaders have to understand both how to give orders and how to take advice. There’s an old saying that when the leader begins a meeting on a particular problem with “I think” everyone else stops thinking.

Diversity produces knowledge, perspective, and strength. But not if it’s just a numerical metric on a PowerPoint slide. Real organizational strength comes in moving beyond diversity to inclusion. Nothing inspires and motivates like a sense of belonging.

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress” (Joubert). Influential leadership comes in illuminating and building on that which brings us together not highlighting and adding to that which drives us apart.

Leadership: the art of motivating people to act toward achieving common goals. Brinksmanship: the art of pushing a confrontation to the limit of safety to force a desired outcome. One is persuasive, the other coercive. One feels like success, the other like failure.

In solving complex problems and resolving contentious issues, the most effective leaders use their influence much more than their authority. The goal is to solve problems so that they stay solved. Solutions imposed rarely last.

“No man will make a good leader who wants to do it all himself or to take all the credit for doing it” (Andrew Carnegie). So organizations create processes to force collaboration and bring order. Effective leaders know and manage their systems to achieve objectives.

Trust. Years to build, seconds to break, forever to repair. The one, non-negotiable, indispensable, ingredient of leadership. An everyday, all-the-time factor in any productive relationship.

“Bandwidth” is an important leadership trait. That is, the ability to manage multiple problems at once and manage them to a positive resolution. Takes knowledge, discipline, perseverance, and teamwork. As Dabo Swinney says “there’s nothing less important than the halftime score.”

One important measure of a leader is whether they grow in the job. Takes a commitment to listen and learn. Requires an instinct to be inclusive and collaborative. Value most leaders who embrace change, especially in themselves

Big problems require big ideas. As Einstein said “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” That means leaders must be willing to learn and to adapt.

“Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway” (Mother Theresa). Great advice for everyone but especially for leaders.

As a leader, a simple thank you goes further than you think. Good leaders know when to cede the stage to others.

“Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree” (Joyce Kilmer). A call to humility. Great leaders are humbled by the enormous responsibility of leadership.

My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

I am editing a book of essays on the Holy Spirit, authored by my HSRM colleagues. Hopefully this book will be out by the end of May.

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.