Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years resolutions can be slippery things

New Years resolutions can be slippery things. Some are goals, others just ideals, and a few are even dreams. I prefer the former over the latter. So, along with swimming a mile once a week (that is a realistic goal, not a dream) I also plan on taking one of the following on line MBA courses. You may want to check them out - they are free, but offer no credit upon completion.

I have been browsing courses at MIT's SLOAN school of Management and have identified a number of courses available FREE through the opencourseware consortium. For ease of access I have listed a number of on line courses I am interested in taking this year.

15.279 Management Communication for Undergraduates

15.281 Advanced Managerial Communication

15.316 Building and Leading Effective Teams

15.394 Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization

15.967 Managing and Volunteering In the Non-Profit Sector

So, what commitments are you making to your personal development this year?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What You Don’t Know About Making Decisions

Leaders show their mettle in many ways—setting strategy and motivating people, just to mention two—but above all else leaders are made or broken by the quality of their decisions. That’s a given, right? If you answered yes, then you would probably be surprised by how many executives approach decision making in a way that neither puts enough options on the table nor permits sufficient evaluation to ensure that they can make the best choice. Indeed, our research over the past several years strongly suggests that, simply put, most leaders get decision making all wrong.

The reason: Most people treat decision making as an event—a discrete choice that takes place at a single point in time, whether they’re sitting at a desk, moderating a meeting, or staring at a spreadsheet. This classic view of decision making has a pronouncement popping out of a leader’s head, based on experience, gut, research, or all three. Say the matter at hand is whether to pull a product with weak sales off the market. An “event” leader would mull in solitude, ask for advice, read reports, mull some more, then say yea or nay and send the organization off to make it happen. But to look at decision making that way is to overlook larger social and organizational contexts, which ultimately determine the success of any decision.

The fact is, decision making is not an event. It’s a process, one that unfolds over weeks, months, or even years; one that’s fraught with power plays and politics and is replete with personal nuances and institutional history; one that’s rife with discussion and debate; and one that requires support at all levels of the organization when it comes time for execution. Our research shows that the difference between leaders who make good decisions and those who make bad ones is striking. The former recognize that all decisions are processes, and they explicitly design and manage them as such. The latter persevere in the fantasy that decisions are events they alone control.

In this article, we’ll explore how leaders can design and manage a sound, effective decision-making process—an approach we call inquiry—and outline a set of criteria for assessing the quality of the decision-making process. First, a look at the process itself.

Check out the rest of this article here

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Do We Develop Spiritual Leaders?

One of my great frustrations has been the lack of understanding of Spiritual Leadership on the part of many congregational leaders and the lack of training for leaders to help them grow as spiritual leaders. Here is a great study series that takes this challenge seriously- it is a long and intentional process but well worth it - at the end of this intro are the links to this free down loadable resource.

The Leading Edge: A Study Series to Develop Spiritual Leaders

Spiritual Leadership is developed through relationships and applying the truth in our lives. We seek to develop leaders using "Focus Groups," which is a gathering of 4-5 emerging leaders and a mentor, using mutual accountability and a series of studies. "The Leading Edge" study series is the basis for developing leaders in the context of ministry to the business world.

The leader and the members of the focus group must discern the needs of the group as well as the individual and select a course of study that will be effective. This material is designed to help each grow as a leader.

The Leading Edge begins by focusing on your assessment of yourself, then our relationship with God. Next it examines personal issues of character, looking at how to build a team, and next we examine various aspects of our calling. Finally we look at the competency of casting vision. Flexibility is offered to let this material serve the members versus being a overwhelming study.

You can download the full study here.

You can download the inventories here.
Spiritual Leadership Inventory - word document
Spiritual Leadership Inventory - PDF

You can download the study chapter by chapter here.

Unit 1 Spiritual Leadership

1. Spiritual Leadership Inventory
2. Foundations for Developing Leaders
3. Spiritual Leadership - Christ at the Heart of a Leader

Unit 2 Servant Leadership

4. Servant Leadership - Being a Leader with Character
5. Servant Leadership - Building a Ministry Team

Unit 3 Visionary Leadership

6. Visionary Leadership - Calling
7. Visionary Leadership - Competence

Unit 4 Leaders Guide

8. Application - Focus Groups
9. Appendix - The Call of God

Ropewalk: 7 Strands for Creating leaders

This is a great article written by my friend Rick Bartlett, it is well worth the read.

While living in the UK, my wife, Karen, and I saw many new sights. One was an extremely long, narrow alley behind a shop in the village where we lived. When we asked about it, we were told, “It’s the ropewalk.” I did a bit of research and discovered that the ropewalk was the name of the place where rope was braided for industrial and nautical uses. The ropesmith would place the long cords into a frame, which would rotate, thereby twisting the strands into a rope.

I see these following seven strands of leadership development practices like the fibers of a rope. On their own, they’re easily broken. But when they are brought together, they’re difficult to break. My dream is that every church would create a “ropewalk” in their context.

Seven strands

Based on biblical, historical, and developmental issues, these are seven key practices for training young people to become leaders in the church:

  1. discernment,
  2. calling,
  3. rite of passage events,
  4. mentoring,
  5. spiritual formation,
  6. service/leadership opportunities,
  7. and commissioning.
Read the whole article for greater detail on the 7 strands.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great , and its very important supplement Good to Great and the Social Sectors (35 pages), has a free Good To Great Diagnostic tool on his website for a free down load. If you are providing leadership in a not-for-profit-organization or a church, read this his 35 page supplement is a must read!!!

Below are some excerpts of material in Good to Great and the Social Sectors This material can be found at www.jimcollins.com

We must reject the idea—well-intentioned, but dead wrong—that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become “more like a business.” Most businesses—like most of anything else in life—fall somewhere between mediocre and good. Few are great. When you compare great companies with good ones, many widely practiced business norms turn out to correlate with mediocrity, not greatness. So, then, why would we want to import the practices of mediocrity into the social sectors?

I shared this perspective with a gathering of business CEOs, and offended nearly everyone in the room. A hand shot up from David Weekley, one of the more thoughtful CEOs—a man who built a very successful company and who now spends nearly half his time working with the social sectors. “Do you have evidence to support your point?” he demanded. “In my work with nonprofits, I find that they’re in desperate need of greater discipline—disciplined planning, disciplined people, disciplined governance, disciplined allocation of resources.”

“What makes you think that’s a business concept?” I replied. “Most businesses also have a desperate need for greater discipline. Mediocre companies rarely display the relentless culture of discipline—disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action—that we find in truly great companies. A culture of discipline is not a principle of business; it is a principle of greatness.”

Later, at dinner, we continued our debate, and I asked Weekley: “If you had taken a different path in life and become, say, a church leader, a university president, a nonprofit leader, a hospital CEO, or a school superintendent, would you have been any less disciplined in your approach? Would you have been less likely to practice enlightened leadership, or put less energy into getting the right people on the bus, or been less demanding of results?” Weekley considered the question for a long moment. “No, I suspect not.”

That’s when it dawned on me: we need a new language. The critical distinction is not between business and social, but between great and good. We need to reject the na├»ve imposition of the “language of business” on the social sectors, and instead jointly embrace a language of greatness.

The pivot point in Good to Great is the Hedgehog Concept. The essence of a Hedgehog Concept is to attain piercing clarity about how to produce the best long-term results, and then exercising the relentless discipline to say, “No thank you” to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test. When we examined the Hedgehog Concepts of the good-to-great companies, we found they reflected deep understanding of three intersecting circles: 1) what you are deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what best drives your economic engine.

Social sector leaders found the Hedgehog Concept helpful, but many rebelled against the third circle, the economic engine. I found this puzzling. Sure, making money is not the point, but you still need to have an economic engine to fulfill your mission.

Then I had a conversation with John Morgan, a pastor with more than 30 years of experience in congregational work, then serving as a minister of a church in Reading, Pennsylvania. “We’re a congregation of misfits,” said Morgan, “and I found the idea of a unifying Hedgehog Concept to be very helpful. We’re passionate about trying to rebuild this community, and we can be the best in our region at creating a generation of transformational leaders that reflects the full diversity of the community. That is our Hedgehog Concept.”

And what about the economic engine?

“Oh, we had to change that circle,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense in a church.”

“How can it not make sense,” I pressed. “Don’t you need to fund your work?”

“Well, there are two problems. First, we face a cultural problem of talking about money in a religious setting, coming from a tradition that says love of money is the root of all evil.”

“But money is also the root of paying the light and phone bills,” I said.

“True,” said Morgan, “but you’ve got to keep in mind the deep discomfort of talking explicitly about money in some church settings. And second, we rely upon much more than money to keep this place going. How do we get enough resources of all types—not just money to pay the bills, but also time, emotional commitment, hands, hearts, and minds?”

Morgan put his finger on a fundamental difference between the business and social sectors. The third circle of the Hedgehog Concept shifts from being an economic engine to a resource engine. The critical question is not “How much money do we make?” but “How can we develop a sustainable resource engine to deliver superior performance relative to our mission?”

I do not mean to discount the systemic factors facing the social sectors. They are significant, and they must be addressed. Still, the fact remains, we can find pockets of greatness in nearly every difficult environment—whether it be the airline industry, education, healthcare, social ventures, or government-funded agencies. Every institution has its unique set of irrational and difficult constraints, yet some make a leap while others facing the same environmental challenges do not. This is perhaps the single most important point in all of Good to Great. Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.

Business executives can more easily fire people and—equally important—they can use money to buy talent. Most social sector leaders, on the other hand, must rely on people underpaid relative to the private sector or, in the case of volunteers, paid not at all. Yet a finding from our research is instructive: the key variable is not how (or how much) you pay, but who you have on the bus. The comparison companies in our research—those that failed to become great—placed greater emphasis on using incentives to “motivate” otherwise unmotivated or undisciplined people. The great companies, in contrast, focused on getting and hanging on to the right people in the first place—those who are productively neurotic, those who are self-motivated and self-disciplined, those who wake up every day, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it is simply part of their DNA. In the social sectors, when big incentives (or compensation at all, in the case of volunteers) are simply not possible, the First Who principle becomes even more important. Lack of resources is no excuse for lack of rigor—it makes selectivity all the more vital.

Copyright © 2005 Jim Collins, All rights reserved.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Leadership Training Presentation

For those of you participating in The Alberta Leadership Training Day for church leaders, here is an edited version of my PowerPoint slides.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A very accesable survey of leadership thought and approches

What is leadership? Here Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith explore some of the classical models of leadership. In particular they look at earlier approaches to studying the area via the notions of traits and behaviours, and to what has become known as contingency theory. From there they turn to more recent, ‘transformational’ theories and some issues of practice.
  1. introduction
  2. trait approaches to leadership
  3. behavioural approaches to leadership
  4. situational or contingency approaches to leadership
  5. transformational approaches to leadership
  6. authority
  7. charisma
  8. conclusions
  9. further reading and reference

Links to 3 great academic articles on leadership

Defining Leadership: A Review of Past, Present, and Future Ideas, by Matthew R. Fairholm - this is a 49 page document that surveys leadership theory - it is cheaper and easier to digest that buying a text book for an MBA course

Defining leadership is a recent pursuit. And many researchers lament the progress (or lack of progress) made in understanding and defining leadership. Bennis and Nanus conclude that “[n]ever have so many labored so long to say so little.” Rost is even more indicting when he comments that “these attempts to define leadership have been confusing, varied, disorganized, idiosyncratic, muddled, and, according to conventional wisdom, quite unrewarding.”

Many people are satisfied with the well known definitional concept of “I know it when I see it.”

This 49 page summary first provides a review of four historical threads of leadership thought and discusses the debate about the relationships between management and leadership. It then turns to a discussion of broader philosophical trends of leadership theory, such as values based transformational leadership, leader/follower interactions and followership, and sense-making conceptions of leadership.

Four V’s of Leadership, by Matt Fairholm -

According to Fairholm the Four V’s of Leadership are: Values, Vision, Vector, and Voice.
  • Values trigger behavior and reflect meaning, purpose, and commitment;
  • Vision operationalizes values;
  • Vectors operationalize vision and add direction;
  • Voice cements the leadership relationship.
In today’s organizations it makes sense to focus on what is meant by leadership and management. “Leader" is a title an individual may have. It may connote someone who practices leadership or it may merely connote the head person of a group, regardless of the functions and role he or she performs. Thus, leader and leadership do not necessarily reflect the same thing.

Leader is a title, while leadership is an action, a phenomenon, a relationship, that is not necessarily related to position. Manager is perhaps more straightforward.

A manager holds a position of authority and because of that hierarchical status can do some things in an organization that others cannot. Doing the stuff of management is the qualifier for who may be a manager, but merely being a manager, however, is not ipso facto leadership.

Regardless of the perspective of leadership and management one holds, using the concepts of the Four Vs discussed in this paper provides a useful framework to understand and apply both tools to the organizations in which we function.

Themes and Theory of Leadership: James MacGregor Burns and the Philosophy of Leadership, by Matt Fairholm -

A professor of management once told a friend, that if he comes upon an article on leadership and notices the bibliography does not include Leadership by James MacGregor Burns (1978), he dismisses it as unthoughtful and incomplete. That is quite a litmus test. Nevertheless, many share the view that anyone who claims to have thought seriously about the concept of leadership, must wrestle with the ideas in Burns' book. It is a seminal work; perhaps it is the one book that secured leadership theory and practice as a legitimate field of study.

This article reviews the major themes of Burns’ book, discuss the two concepts that are most often debated and studied (i.e. transactional and transforming leadership), and suggest that these two concepts are important mainly as they help to elucidate the real focus of the book -- a general theory of leadership that is inherently based on interpersonal relationships, motives, and values. Doing this will help explain why some who focus on the checklists and measurements of organizational effectiveness often confuse the distinctions between the concepts and functions of leadership and management.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Little Theologies & Where The Rubber Hits The Road

“Way back Mexican Mennonites [a very culturally conservative and separatist brand of Mennonite] developed a great little theology of rubber tires [they didn’t use them]. About the time they developed this great little theology of rubber tires they stopped doing theology. So when drug use became an issue they failed to develop a great little theology of drugs.” Alfred Neufeld (no relation)

After the laughter subsided we knew that a keen observation had been made and that great wisdom had been spoken. The setting of this conversation was a gathering of global church leaders (it was refreshing to find the North Americans outnumbered both as participants and as presenters – it was truly global). Over the next few days we testified to the wisdom and importance of having “great little theologies” by jokingly talking about having a “great little theology of coffee breaks” “a great little theology of blunt talk” and “a great little theology of (you fill in the blank)”

Question: What challenge or issue are you facing for which you need a “little theology”?

“Little Theologies” look through the lens of faith and address the challenges and crisis that specific communities find them self caught up in. Do you have a theology of conflict resolution? Do you have a theology of change? Do you have a theology for technology? Do you have a theology to deal with the changing ethnic or economic complexion of your church or organization? Do you have a theology of weekends and holidays?

We are in desperate need of “little theologies” At times we look back in amusement at the “rules” placed on previous generations of Christians by their churches. If the context has changed and these rules still cast a shadow over believers our amusement is well placed. But often these “rules” pointed to a church that was actively addressing the situations it was facing at a specific time and place. Rather than laugh we should celebrate a thinking church that seriously believed that God through scripture and the community had something to say.

So… how are you, how am I, how are our churches connecting what we believe about God with the day to day challenges we face. Pause for a moment and ask your self if you have little theologies that inform how you channel surf, navigate a car pool conversation, or deal with a crisis in the ICU. These days I am asking myself three questions:

1. What little theologies do I need as I play in the mud of my culture?

2. What resources can I draw on so that my little theologies are biblically sound?

3. Who are my conversation partners as I sort out some little theologies that work?

Laugh if you want at having a theology of rubber tires. And rue the day when you only posses out dated “little theologies” or have no theology at all to address with the changes and challenges you are facing today.

Friday, May 04, 2007




Recently we designed the first systematic evaluation system so that NFL players could evaluate their coaches. Over 30 years ago Jack Wallace and I developed the first computerized evaluation system so that students could evaluate faculty members at a college. We were at Washington and Lee University and today that evaluation system is widely used throughout the United States on hundreds of college campuses.

In order to evaluate a group or an individual, you need to know what are the key elements of that person’s job or responsibility. We have compressed the leadership literature into list, in a checklist format. This list describes what leaders do in an organizational context. We understand fully that a critical component of leadership is successful leadership of one’s self, although this checklist does not delve into the “lead yourself” aspect of leadership. We hope that you find this checklist useful in rating leaders, in developing leaders and, most importantly, in becoming a more successful leader yourself, starting today.

Checklist 1: People Management:

1.1 Clearly communicates expectations
1.2 Recognizes, acknowledges and rewards achievement
1.3 Inspires others and serves as a catalyst for others to perform in ways they would not undertake without the leader’s support and direction
1.4 Puts the right people in the right positions at the right time with the right resources and right job description
1.5 Secures alignment on what is the right direction for the organization
1.6 Persuades/Encourages people in the organization to achieve the desired results for the organization
1.7 Makes sure not to burn out people in the organization, looking out for their well being as well as the well being of the organization
1.8 Identifies weak signals that suggest impending conflict and deals with the sources of conflict effectively
1.9 Holds people accountable
1.10 Encourages the human capital development of every person in the organization and allocates sufficient resources to this endeavor
1.11 Correctly evaluates the actual performance and the potential of each person in the organization
1.12 Encourages people in the organization to stand up for and express their beliefs
1.13 Creates a non-fear based environment where all persons in the organization can speak the truth as he or she sees it without concern for retaliation
1.14 Able to empathize with those he or she leads

Checklist 2: Strategic Management

2.1 Flexible when necessary to adapt to changing circumstances
2.2 Sets, with input from others including all stakeholders, the long term direction for the organization
2.3 Understands the competitive environment, social trends, competitors, customers and all stakeholders
2.4 Correctly analyzes the risks of all decisions
2.5 Correctly analyzes the returns of all decisions
2.6 Has the ability to focus without losing breadth in his or her ability to see at the outer edges gathering worthwhile information that others miss or fail to see as significant
2.7 Understands the strengths and weaknesses of the organization; how to exploit the strengths and address the weaknesses successfully
2.8 Can develop and implement strategies to improve the strengths and to combat the weaknesses of the organization
2.9 Can identify appropriate partners, strategic alliances and outside resources to tap into to help further the organization’s goals
2.10 Can articulate the values of the organization and develop strategies consistent with the core values
2.11 Demonstrates a strong commitment to diversity and change, improvement
2.12 Demonstrates a strong commitment to creating and sustaining a learning organization (Learning is the foundation for all sustainable change).

Checklist 3: Personal Characteristics

3.1 Lives with honesty and integrity
3.2 Selects people for his or her team who are honest and have high integrity
3.3 Will, passion and desire to succeed
3.4 Willingness to shoulder the responsibility for success (without being a “thunder taker”) and failure (without casting blame)
3.5 Innovative and open to new ideas
3.6 Not willing to accept the ways things are since they can always be improved; never satisfied completely with the status quo
3.7 Smart, intelligent, emotionally strong
3.8 Confident without being arrogant
3.9 Able negotiator
3.10 Willing to be patient
3.11 Decisive when necessary
3.12 Able to think analytically
3.13 Quick learner
3.14 Respectful to all
3.15 Perceptive and sensitive to the needs of others
3.16 Diligent, disciplined and has strong perseverance capabilities
3.17 Comfortable with ambiguity
3.18 Willing to be original
3.19 Informed risk taker

Checklist 4: Process Management

4.1 Able to manage change
4.2 Promotes innovation
4.3 Able to secure resources
4.4 Able to allocate resources
4.5 Great problem solver
4.6 Able to anticipate crises
4.7 Able to handle crisis when it explodes
4.8 Can create and manage budgets
4.9 Can create and manage timelines, work plans
4.10 Great project management skills
4.11 Can translate long term vision into step by step plan
4.12 Able to measure results
4.13 Knows when a process is not working
4.14 Willing to redesign processes as often as necessary

Article by Herb Rubenstein
CEO, Herb Rubenstein Consulting




Sting, the rock star, has put together world class bands throughout his career. Recently, Sting and his band had a concert scheduled in San Diego, California. Bob Hughes, President of Compass Radio, and CEO of K-PRI - FM, arranged an interview with Sting for his radio station.

In preparation for the interview Bob Hughes attended the Sting rehearsal scheduled the afternoon before the concert. Hughes, an accomplished musician in his own right, had heard Sting play many times and knew Sting’s music and great musical talent.

During the rehearsal, Sting raised his hand and stopped the band. He said, “Something is not right. The song doesn’t sound right. Let’s go around and let me know what you think is wrong. Each member of the band then explained why the song was not being played well and made suggestions for how to make it sound better.

After all of the other members of the band gave their ideas and suggestions, Sting then said what he thought was not right with how the song was being played. There was no further discussion about what anyone else said, but everyone got to say what they thought was not right about how the song was being played.

The band immediately jumped back into the song and it sounded great. Rehearsal ended and Bob Hughes went up to Sting to start his interview.

The Interview

Bob began his interview by telling Sting that he noticed that Sting had stopped the band and asked each member what he thought was going wrong with the song. Bob, then said, “Sting, it is obvious that a person of your musical talent knew exactly what was going wrong with the song and you knew exactly how each member of the band should change the way he was playing to improve the song, including yourself. Yet, you stopped, took the time and asked each member of the band to tell what they thought was wrong with how the song was being played and how they thought the band could improve the way it was playing the song.” Bob, then asked, “Why did you do this? Most band leaders of your stature would have just told the members of the band what to do to improve the music.”

Sting said, "We have the best musicians in the world in our band. I would be a fool not to ask every member of the band for their views on how we sounded and for their ideas on how we could sound even better. When you ask each member for their views and suggestions, you can expect them to play better than if you just tell them what to do.” Sting also said that he never thought he had all of the answers to make his music the best it could be and always asked all of his band members to share their ideas for improvement on a regular basis.


Sting’s answers demonstrate the key principles of servant-leadership. The “leader” using the servant-leader model seeks to lead by consensus and always solicits the views of everyone in the group. Sting treated every member of the group as a “leader.” Sting, knows that people directly involved in crafting a solution, perform better in implementing that solution than those who are given a solution created solely by the leader and just told what to do by the leader.


Bob Hughes knew something “different” was going on when Sting asked every member of the band to participate as a leader in making the song better. No wonder Sting is able to attract the best musicians in the world to his band. Sting’s music is listened to all over the world. Sting proves every day that servant-leadership works in the music world. Sting may seem to an unlikely model for servant-leadership. However, his deeds speak volumes about how leaders in the music industry and in other industries can produce better results by using servant-leader principles.

by Herb Rubenstein
CEO, Herb Rubenstein Consulting

Monday, March 05, 2007

Why Being a Mentor Matters to You

There are many roles we play or hats we wear in our lives. Many of these roles are a given – we don’t have much choice of having the role – they come with being a responsible adult. And because of these many roles, we find ourselves very busy.

With these two factors, many roles and little time, it may seem absurd listen to someone who encourages you to take on yet another role and adding another task to your over-booked life. But that is exactly what I am going to do. I am convinced that despite the competition for our time and energy, being a mentor is one of the best things you can do.

Of course there are many reasons why being a mentor is valuable to the other person. While these are altruistic reasons, they don’t say anything about how you benefit. And while we all like to help others, sometimes we need to see what is in it for us as well.

Following is a list of benefits that you might derive from being a mentor. These include:

You’ll develop a close relationship with your mentee. We can never have enough close relationships. And chances are the person you mentor will be someone you benefit from being around. After all, they are interested in improving themselves, care about learning, and are likely excited about the possibilities in their future. Which brings me to the second benefit…

You’ll be re-energized personally. Get around someone enthusiastic, and you naturally become more enthusiastic yourself. Some activities sap our energy while others spark it. Being a mentor is like carrying a book of matches with you. If you want to re-energize yourself to your own possibilities, be a mentor.

You’ll learn more by talking about and teaching things. It is funny how our brains work. When we teach something or explain something to someone else, we then understand it more clearly ourselves. As a mentor you will relive experiences, teach or share ideas. And when you do this you will learn and re-learn these concepts for yourself. Often you will find yourself “taking your own advice” to your great personal or professional benefit.

You’ll expand your impact in your organization. Not only will your personal commitment grow, but as you help others be more successful, the organization will succeed at higher levels. Think of the satisfaction you will get from knowing you are playing a part in making that happen.

You’ll enhance your self-esteem. It just feels good to help others. You will feel better about yourself and your abilities when you share your wealth of knowledge and experience with others. Your self esteem will rise because you are doing good things for someone else.

You’ll increase your skills. As you mentor others, you will become a better mentor. The s
kills that make you a better mentor; empathy, listening, caring, building trust (to name just a few), make you more effective in many other parts of your life. Being a mentor is actually great training in itself!

You’ll grow more confident. The culmination of many of these other benefits is that your confidence will increase. You’ll be more confident in many sorts of interpersonal relationships and conversations. You’ll know that you can have a positive impact. You’ll know that you can make a difference.

You’ll leave a legacy. Successful athletic coaches do more than grow their teams and win lots of games. The best also create a linage of coaches that leave their staff to become head coaches as well. This is an important legacy that they leave – a statement of their influence and impact. By mentoring others with care and compassion you will be adding directly to your legacy.

Take minute and think about yourself as a mentor. Identify what you see as being in it for you. Envision how it will feel to give back to someone else. Then go out and become a mentor – you will be glad you did!

Authored by Kevin Eikenberry (http://kevineikenberry.com/)

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

From Leading to Being Led: Avoiding the temptation of Power

More Gathered wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen

You all know what the third temptation of Jesus was. It was the temptation of power. When I ask myself the main reason for so many people having left the Church during the past decades in France, Germany, Holland and also in Canada and America the word “power” easily comes to mind. One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave in to the temptation of power – political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power – even though they continued to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to his divine power but emptied himself and became as we are.

The temptation to consider power an apt instrument for the proclamation of the Gospel is the greatest of all. Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the Church, such as the Great Schism of the eleventh century, the Reformation of the sixteenth century, or the immense secularization of the twentieth century, we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.

Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. We have been tempted to replace love with power. Tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.

The temptation of power is greatest when intimacy is a threat. Much Christian leadership is exercised by people who do not know how to develop healthy, intimate relationships and have opted for power and control instead. Many Christian empire-builders have been people unable to give and received love.

Jesus has a different vision of maturity: It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go. The servant-leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places. The way of the Christian leader is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending on the cross. The downward-moving way of Jesus is the way to the joy and the peace of God, a joy and peace that is not of this world.

It is not a leadership of power and control, but a leadership of powerlessness and humility in which the suffering servant of God, Jesus Christ, is made manifest. I am speaking of a leadership in which power is constantly abandoned in favor of love. It is a true spiritual leadership. They refer to people who are so deeply in love with Jesus that they are ready to follow him wherever he guides them, always trusting that, with him, they will find life and find it abundantly.

Excerpts from:
In the Name of Jesus
Reflections on Christian Leadership
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Crossroad Publishing Co.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Leading in the Love of Christ

Gathered wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen

The Christian leader of the future is the one who truly knows the heart of God. Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begin to invade the human soul this is not something that comes from God. Many contemporary movies and plays portray the ambiguities and ambivalences of human relationships, and there are no friendships, marriages, or communities in which the strains and stresses of the second love are not keenly felt.

If there is any focus that the Christian leader of the future will need, it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, “Do you love me?” It is the discipline of contemplative prayer. Through contemplative prayer we can keep ourselves from being pulled from one urgent issue to another and from becoming strangers to our own and God’s heart. Contemplative prayer deepens in us the knowledge that we are already free, that we already found a place to dwell, that we already belong to God, even though everything and everyone around us keeps suggesting the opposite.

The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness? Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice, and guidance.

Jesus says, “Feed my lambs, look after my sheep, feed my sheep.” Having been assured of Peter’s love, Jesus gives him the task of ministry. In many ways, he makes it clear that ministry is a communal and mutual experience.

First of all, Jesus sends the twelve out in pairs (Mark 6:7). We keep forgetting that we are being sent out two by two. We cannot bring good news on our own. We are called to proclaim the Gospel together, in community. There is a divine wisdom here. “If two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:19-20). You might already have discovered for yourself how radically different traveling alone is from traveling together. I need my brothers or sisters to pray with me, to speak with me about the spiritual task at hand, and to challenge me to stay pure in mind, heart, and body. Whenever we minister together, it is easier for people to recognize that we do not come in our own name, but in the name of the Lord Jesus who sent us.

Ministry is not only a communal experience, it is also a mutual experience. He wants Peter to feed his sheep and care for them, not as “professionals” who know their clients’ problems and take care of them, but as vulnerable brothers and sisters who know and are known, who care and are cared for, who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved. Somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead.

We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God. When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. The world in which we live – a world of efficiency and control – has no models to offer to those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd. It is a servant leadership in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need him or her.

Excerpts from:
In the Name of Jesus
Reflections on Christian Leadership
By Henri J. M. Nouwen
Crossroad Publishing Co. 1997

Monday, February 19, 2007

Expand your shrinking world

To the degree we get "inside of ourselves" and "caught up in our own contexts" we shrink. Often our worlds are little more than our routines. Leadership requires something more of leaders. Here is a great way to enlarge your world and think new thoughts - some of them engaging, some disturbing, some maddening and some that open up new vistas and frontiers.

Each year, TED hosts some of the world's most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. Each week, TEDs releases a new talk, in audio and video, to download or watch online. For best effect, plan to listen to at least three, start to finish. They have a cumulative effect... most videos are 12 - 24 min in length - check it out

TED: technology, entertainment, design

Friday, January 26, 2007

Connecting Shared Values and Every Day Behaviors

In an earlier post I have mentioned The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. Great book!!! If you want to know why check out my earlier post about this great resouce.

Kouzes and Posner identify five key practices that great leaders share. They are
  1. Personally modeling the way,
  2. Inspiring a shared vision,
  3. Challenging the process,
  4. Enabling others to act,
  5. And encouraging the heart.
Each of these five key practices are linked to Commitments leaders make. Their second chapter "Set an Example" calls for leaders to commit to "set the Example by Aligning Actions with Shared Values" this is one of those important "your actions speak louder than words" reminders.

According to Kouzes and Posner there are "5 essential aspects" to a leader's behavior/actions that leaders "need to be conscious about in their efforts to align shared values through the example of the actions they take:"

  1. Calendars: "How you spend your time is the single clearest indicator, especially to others, about what's important to you." (pg.85)
  2. Critical Incidents present opportunities for leaders to teach important lessons about appropriate norms of behavior (pg.86)
  3. Stories, analogies, and metaphors: They are engaging (even if you are not) and help others understand what is important (purpose and values) and how things are done. (pg.88)
  4. Language: Choose your words and questions deliberately, they communicate what we hope for and what we expect of others (pg.90)
  5. Recognize that what gets measured gets done (pg.92)
So pause for a moment and look at your day, your context, your relationships, your imagination, your words and the results you monitor. Are you experiencing a connection between your values and your actions? Others will have already decided if the connection is there.

Monday, January 08, 2007

How Leaders See - an interveiw excerpt from Ronald Heifetz

Q. There is so much hunger for leadership in business today. Everyone wants better leaders. What do great leaders do?

The real heroism of leadership involves having the courage to face reality -- and helping the people around you to face reality. It's no accident that the word "vision" refers to our capacity to see. Of course, in business, vision has come to mean something abstract or even inspirational. But the quality of any vision depends on its accuracy, not just on its appeal or on how imaginative it is.

Mustering the courage to interrogate reality is a central function of a leader. And that requires the courage to face three realities at once. First, what values do we stand for -- and are there gaps between those values and how we actually behave? Second, what are the skills and talents of our company -- and are there gaps between those resources and what the market demands? Third, what opportunities does the future hold -- and are there gaps between those opportunities and our ability to capitalize on them?

Now, don't get the wrong idea. Leaders don't answer those questions themselves. That's the old definition of leadership: The leader has the answers -- the vision -- and everything else is a sales job to persuade people to sign up for it. Leaders certainly provide direction. But that often means posing well-structured questions, rather than offering definitive answers. Imagine the differences in behavior between leaders who operate with the idea that "leadership means influencing the organization to follow the leader's vision" and those who operate with the idea that "leadership means influencing the organization to face its problems and to live into its opportunities." That second idea -- mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges -- is what defines the new job of the leader.

Read the full interview in Fast Company

Better leaders are better listeners

In a recent conversation I became keenly aware of what it was to not be heard, and to talk with someone who didn’t listen (or was is couldn’t or wouldn’t listen). They say that confession is good for the soul, so here it goes… I confess that my listening skills need an bit of work too.

Jim Collins underlines this talking listening tension when he tells the story of a mentor of his who stung him with the remark "it occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting, Why don't you invest more time being interested?"

Being interested, or listening, is an important skill in life and an essential skill in leadership. But the sad truth is that most make little effort to develop our ability to really listen. We will practice endlessly our verbal and written skills. We want to talk, we want to say what we think, we like the sound of our own voices, words and ideas more than we are interested in true communication – something that requires really good listening.

I believe we can all practice the art of listening and develop it into a skill. The best communicators I know are also the best listeners. Below are some tips for developing better listening skills.

steps to improve your listening
  1. Attention and focus Give your full attention to the speaker. When you are on the phone, just listen (don’t catch up on email). Focus on the speaker and what he or she is saying. Do not plan what you will say next. By planning what you’ll say next, you’re not listening.
  2. Let other person finish. Do not begin talking until the other person is finished. It’s okay to ask them if they are done.
  3. Pause. Don’t start talking immediately. Digest what other person has just said and then think about what you want to say. You don’t need to fill the silence.
  4. Summarize important points. Review the important points of the speaker. Make sure you heard them correctly. This also gives them the chance to clarify and even change what they want you to understand.
  5. Ask questions. People love to have others ask them questions. Questions value and validate a person. Questions assume that someone has something to contribute.
  6. Give feedback. Let the other person know what you think about their comments and ideas. Feedback can be focused on the content (words) of the persons communication or about the messages and meaning (this requires more careful listening and more artful summarizing)
  7. Other centered. Focus on others. What are their strengths? What can they contribute? And how can I allow them to be the center of the conversation?
Much more can be learned about listening. I strongly encourage leaders to become students of the art of listening. It makes a world of difference

Work is part of life, isn’t it?

Work/life balance is an odd and variously employed idea. I bet you think you know what it means. I certainly do. One problem - I bet you and I have different ideas about "work/life balance" maybe even opposite ideas.

Placing the words, "work" "life" and "balance" in the same phrase assumes that there is the potential for these two things to be out of whack, even in opposition to one another. Isn't work a part of life? or are you only alive after hours? We live in a dualistic world and the notion of work/life balance is one contemporary manifestation of this either/or way of living.

So time for a wake up call: If your life only begins when work ends you have a problem. Work is an essential part of life - expressing our creativity, our generativity, our productivity is part of the Creator's intent for us. We are not designed to for a chez lounge life. We are designed for a fulfilling life with work and integral part of what we do and who we are. This may be more a theological concept (stewardship) as it is a management/leadership concept.

So the next time I hear about work/life balance I think I am going to puke. Yes, I think we need balance, but balance is not an end in itself, it is a means. We need to ask 'what larger ends require us to balance?' Let me suggest setting priorities and boundaries. These of course require that we practice our ability to balance. But they are ends worth a real conversation.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Developmental Assests - a foundation to build on

Over the years I have noticed how rites of passage have been delayed and diluted. This has serious implications for the formation of identity and the development of leadership. Often we wonder why someone seems "immature" or why they aren't at the place/stage we think they should be given their age or experience.

Exactly who gives these developmental gifts to young people to encourage them to be healthy, caring and responsible? What rites of passage need to occur for a youth to reach their potential? The follow list was formatted in the ToTheSource email newsletter I subscribe to.


The young person’s family (1) provides high levels of love and support where (2) communication is positive, and the young person seeks advice and from parent(s). He or she (3) also has three or more non-parent adults they receive support from, along with (4) caring neighbors.

The young person’s school (5) provides a caring, encouraging environment where (6) the young person’s parent(s) are actively involved in helping them succeed in school.

The young person (7) perceives that adults in the community value youth. He or she (8) is given useful roles in the community, (9) serving one hour or more per week.

The young person (10) feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
The young person’s family has (11) clear rules and consequences, and monitors the young person's whereabouts. The young person’s school also (12) provides clear rules and consequences. Neighbors (13) monitor the young people's behavior as well.
Parent(s) and other adults (14) model positive, responsible behavior, as does the young person’s (15) best friends.

Parent(s) and teachers (16) encourage the young person to do well. Besides school, he or she (17) spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts, another (18) three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations, and (19) one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.

The young person also spends lots of time at home with their family. He or she (20) is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.


The young person (21) is motivated to do well in school. He or she (22) is actively engaged in learning, doing (23) at least one hour of homework every school day and in general (24) cares about her or his school.

The young person (25) reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

The young person (26) places high value on helping other people and (27) promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.

The young person (28) acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs, (29) "tells the truth even when it is not easy” and (30) accepts and takes personal responsibility.

The young person (31) believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

The young person (32) knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
Interpersonally, the young person (33) has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.

They also have (34) knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

They young person (35) can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations, (36) seeking to resolve conflict nonviolently.

The young person (37) feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me." They (38) report having a high self-esteem and (39) that "my life has a purpose."

Because of the above, the young person (40) is optimistic about her or his personal future.

for more information go to
The Search Institutes page on 40 Developmental Assests
or spiritual development center

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Leadership Challenge

James Kouzes and Barry Posner developed a survey (The Leadership Practices Inventory) that asked people which, of a list of common characteristics of leaders, were, in their experiences of being led by others, the seven top things they look for, admire and would willingly follow. And over twenty years, they managed ask this of seventy five thousand people.

The results of the study showed that people preferred the following characteristics, in order:

* Honest
* Forward-looking
* Competent
* Inspiring
* Intelligent
* Fair-minded
* Broad-minded
* Supportive
* Straightforward
* Dependable
* Cooperative
* Determined
* Imaginative
* Ambitious
* Courageous
* Caring
* Mature
* Loyal
* Self-controlled
* Independent

The main part of the book discusses the five actions that Kouzes and Posner identify as being key for successful leadership:

Model the way

Modeling means going first, living the behaviors you want others to adopt. This is leading from the front. People will believe not what they hear leaders say but what they see leader consistently do.

Inspire a shared vision

People are motivated most not by fear or reward, but by ideas that capture their imagination.
Note that this is not so much about having a vision, but communicating it so effectively that others take it as their own.

Challenge the process

Leaders thrive on and learn from adversity and difficult situations. They are early adopters of innovation.

Enable others to act

Encouragement and exhortation is not enough. People must feel able to act and then must have the ability to put their ideas into action.

Encourage the heart

People act best of all when they are passionate about what they are doing. Leaders unleash the enthusiasm of their followers this with stories and passions of their own.

Overall, it is difficult to ignore the combined views of 75,000 people. The placing of honesty first is notable and highlights the importance of telling the truth to those they would lead. The overall process identified is clearly transformational in style, which again has a strong focus on followers.


Transformational Leadership


People will follow a person who inspires them.

A person with vision and passion can achieve great things.

The way to get things done is by injecting enthusiasm and energy.

Working for a Transformational Leader can be a wonderful and uplifting experience. They put passion and energy into everything. They care about you and want you to succeed.

Developing the vision

Transformational Leadership starts with the development of a vision, a view of the future that will excite and convert potential followers. This vision may be developed by the leader, by the senior team or may emerge from a broad series of discussions. The important factor is the leader buys into it, hook, line and sinker.

Selling the vision

The next step, which in fact never stops, is to constantly sell the vision. This takes energy and commitment, as few people will immediately buy into a radical vision, and some will join the show much more slowly than others. The Transformational Leader thus takes every opportunity and will use whatever works to convince others to climb on board the bandwagon.

In order to create followers, the Transformational Leader has to be very careful in creating trust, and their personal integrity is a critical part of the package that they are selling. In effect, they are selling themselves as well as the vision.

Finding the way forwards

In parallel with the selling activity is seeking the way forward. Some Transformational Leaders know the way, and simply want others to follow them. Others do not have a ready strategy, but will happily lead the exploration of possible routes to the promised land.

The route forwards may not be obvious and may not be plotted in details, but with a clear vision, the direction will always be known. Thus finding the way forward can be an ongoing process of course correction, and the Transformational Leader will accept that there will be failures and blind canyons along the way. As long as they feel progress is being made, they will be happy.

Leading the charge

The final stage is to remain up-front and central during the action. Transformational Leaders are always visible and will stand up to be counted rather than hide behind their troops. They show by their attitudes and actions how everyone else should behave. They also make continued efforts to motivate and rally their followers, constantly doing the rounds, listening, soothing and enthusing.

It is their unswerving commitment as much as anything else that keeps people going, particularly through the darker times when some may question whether the vision can ever be achieved. If the people do not believe that they can succeed, then their efforts will flag. The Transformational Leader seeks to infect and reinfect their followers with a high level of commitment to the vision.

One of the methods the Transformational Leader uses to sustain motivation is in the use of ceremonies, rituals and other cultural symbolism. Small changes get big hurrahs, pumping up their significance as indicators of real progress.

Overall, they balance their attention between action that creates progress and the mental state of their followers. Perhaps more than other approaches, they are people-oriented and believe that success comes first and last through deep and sustained commitment.


Whilst the Transformational Leader seeks overtly to transform the organization, there is also a tacit promise to followers that they also will be transformed in some way, perhaps to be more like this amazing leader. In some respects, then, the followers are the product of the transformation.

Transformational Leaders are often charismatic, but are not as narcissistic as pure Charismatic Leaders, who succeed through a believe in themselves rather than a believe in others.

One of the traps of Transformational Leadership is that passion and confidence can easily be mistaken for truth and reality. Whilst it is true that great things have been achieved through enthusiastic leadership, it is also true that many passionate people have led the charge right over the cliff and into a bottomless chasm. Just because someone believes they are right, it does not mean they are right.

Paradoxically, the energy that gets people going can also cause them to give up. Transformational Leaders often have large amounts of enthusiasm which, if relentlessly applied, can wear out their followers.

Transformational Leaders also tend to see the big picture, but not the details, where the devil often lurks. If they do not have people to take care of this level of information, then they are usually doomed to fail.

Finally, Transformational Leaders, by definition, seek to transform. When the organization does not need transforming and people are happy as they are, then such a leader will be frustrated. Like wartime leaders, however, given the right situation they come into their own and can be personally responsible for saving entire companies.

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, (Winter): 19-31.
Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Harper & Row

Bass' Transformational Leadership Theory

Bass defines transformational leadership in terms of how the leader affects followers, who are intended to trust, admire and respect the transformational leader.

He identified three ways in which leaders transform followers:
  1. Increasing their awareness of task importance and value.
  2. Getting them to focus first on team or organizational goals, rather than their own interests.
  3. Activating their higher-order needs.
Bass noted that authentic transformational leadership is grounded in moral foundations that are based on four components:
  • Idealized influence
  • Inspirational motivation
  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Individualized consideration
...and three moral aspects:
  • The moral character of the leader.
  • The ethical values embedded in the leader’s vision, articulation, and program (which followers either embrace or reject).
  • The morality of the processes of social ethical choice and action that leaders and followers engage in and collectively pursue.

Below are a number of behaviors common to transformational leadership

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectation. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, (Winter): 19-31.
Bass, B. M. and Steidlmeier, P. (1998). Ethics, Character and Authentic Transformational Leadership, at: http://cls.binghamton.edu/BassSteid.html

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What is Spiritual Leadership?

It differs from plain, ol' leadership. Henry Blackaby's checklist.

by Henry and Richard Blackaby

While spiritual leadership involves many of the same principles as general leadership, spiritual leadership has certain distinctive qualities that must be understood and practiced if spiritual leaders are to be successful.
  1. The spiritual leader's task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be. This is influence. Once spiritual leaders understand God's will, they make every effort to move their followers from following their own agendas to pursuing God's purposes. People who fail to move people to God's agenda have not led. They may have exhorted, cajoled, pleaded, or bullied, but they will not have led until their people have adjusted their lives to God's will.
  2. Spiritual leaders depend on the Holy Spirit. Spiritual leaders work within a paradox, for God calls them to do something that, in fact, only God can do. Ultimately, spiritual leaders cannot produce spiritual change in people; only the Holy Spirit can accomplish this. Yet the Spirit often uses people to bring about spiritual growth in others.
  3. Spiritual leaders are accountable to God. Spiritual leadership necessitates an acute sense of accountability. Just as a teacher has not taught until students have learned, leaders don't blame their followers when they don't do what they should do. Leaders don't make excuses. They assume their responsibility is to move people to do God's will.
  4. Spiritual leaders can influence all people, not just God's people. God's agenda applies to the marketplace as well as the meeting place. Although spiritual leaders will generally move God's people to achieve God's purposes, God can use them to exert significant godly influence upon unbelievers.
  5. Spiritual leaders work from God's agenda. The greatest obstacle to effective spiritual leadership is people pursuing their own agendas rather than seeking God's will.
Too often, people assume that along with the role of leader comes the responsibility of determining what should be done. They develop aggressive goals. They dream grandiose dreams. They cast grand visions. Then they pray and ask God to join them in their agenda and bless their efforts. That's not what spiritual leaders do. (They) seek God's will, then marshal their people to pursue God's plan.

—from Spiritual Leadership
by Henry and Richard Blackaby
(Broadman & Holman, 2001)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Servant Leadership

Robert Greenleaf is the leader that many others have built their work upon. He gives credit to Jesus for originating the practice of servant leadership, but it is Greenleaf that has unpacked the meaning of servant leadership for us today.

After carefully considering Greenleaf's original writings, Larry Spears, CEO of the Greenleaf Center has identified a set of 10 characteristics that he views as being critical to the development of servant-leaders. These 10 are by no means exhaustive. However, they serve to communicate the power and promise that this concept offers:

  1. Listening - Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their communication and decision making skills. Servant-leaders must reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to listening intently to others. Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being and said (and not said). Listening also encompasses getting in touch with one's inner voice, and seeking to understand what one's body, spirit, and mind are communicating.
  2. Empathy - Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize with others. People need to be accepted and recognized for their special and unique spirit. One must assume the good intentions of coworkers and not reject them as people, even when forced to reject their behavior or performance.
  3. Healing- Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the potential for healing one's self and others. In "The Servant as Leader", Greenleaf writes, "There is something subtle communicated to one who is being served and led if, implicit in the compact between the servant-leader and led is the understanding that the search for wholeness is something that they have."
  4. Awareness - General awareness, and especially self-awareness, strengthens the servant-leader. Making a commitment to foster awareness can be scary--one never knows what one may discover! As Greenleaf observed, "Awareness is not a giver of solace - it's just the opposite. It disturbed. They are not seekers of solace. They have their own inner security."
  5. Persuasion - Servant-leaders rely on persuasion, rather than positional authority in making decisions. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than coerce compliance. This particular element offers one of the clearest distinctions between the traditional authoritarian model and that of servant-leadership. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus within groups.
  6. Conceptualization - Servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to "dream great dreams." The ability to look at a problem (or an organization) from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must think beyond day-to-day realities. Servant-leaders must seek a delicate balance between conceptualization and day-to-day focus.
  7. Foresight - Foresight is a characteristic that enables servant-leaders to understand lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision in the future. It is deeply rooted in the intuitive mind.
  8. Stewardship - Robert Greenleaf's view of all institutions was one in which CEO's, staff, directors, and trustees all play significant roles in holding their institutions in trust for the greater good of society.
  9. Commitment to the Growth of People - Servant-leaders believe that people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as workers. As such, Servant-leaders are deeply committed to a personal, professional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual within the organization.
  10. Building Community - Servant-leaders are aware that the shift from local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human lives has changed our perceptions and caused a sense of loss. Servant-leaders seek to identify a means for building community among those who work within a given institution.
For a couple of short articles that unpack this further check out the links below.