Leadership 101

simple insights for those in leadership

Quote of the Day :: 04.30.08

People with integrity have nothing to hide and nothing to fear. Their lives are open books.

– John Maxwell

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April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Thoughts :: 04.29.08

John Maxwell says in his book, Developing the Leader Within You, that “Integrity is the factor that determines the daily struggle between what we want to do and what we ought to do.”  Integrity is who we are and who we are not.  It is not just what we do and not just what we say.  Rather, it is what we do and what we say and who we are.  And all of those things need to match up.  When we say that a building has integrity we’re saying that it is structurally sound.  Everything has to fit together just right to make it strong and safe and usable.

How do we know if a person has integrity?  How do we know if they don’t?  While probably several more, I have identified eight signs to look for in a person – and in my life – to determine if integrity is present or if there is a problem of some sort that needs immediate attention and corrective action.  We’ll cover four this week and four next week.

1 :: Being faithful in the little things
It’s in the little stuff that we often find what a person’s made of.  Are there little cracks surfacing anywhere?  It’s the small tasks that we’re responsible for that show whether we are or are not persons of integrity.  If one cannot be trusted with the small, day-to-day, less-than-glamorous tasks, it is highly unlikely that they can be trusted in other areas as well.  The person who is caught telling “little white lies” or stealing paper clips or making personal copies on the copy machine or using company letterhead for personal letters has a character glitch that will likely manifest itself in other, larger, more visible areas.  We’re not just talking about the person who cheats on his taxes or robs the store at gun point but also the person who consistently disregards the speed limits or steals 15 minutes at a time on the front and back ends of the work day.  A person’s character can often be tested in the little, day-to-day stuff that he or she does.  Can you be found faithful in the little things?

2 :: Honesty
Anything less than total truth is not honesty but a lie.  And that includes the omission of truth or information in order to 
make something sound a little better.  G. Raymond Carlson said, “Another aspect of integrity is veracity, a habitful truthfulness.  I place great stock in whether a person’s word is his bond, because if it is, that says something about what is deep within him.”  In Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, “Simply let you ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.'”  Sounds so simple.  The person who can never give a straight answer or who is always “altering” the truth or who is caught in even little lies displays a cracked character, when that cannot be trusted.

3 :: Modeling
Leaders often find themselves in the position of teacher.  
It comes with the territory I think.  Leaders say many things that they expect their followers to do.  However, it becomes scary when a leader tells his people what top do but doesn’t do the same in his own life.  Leaders with integrity model what they teach and tell others to do.  I am reminded of a time when I came to face-to-face with a decision that called to question my integrity.  About three years ago, I led a group of my high school students on a two-week summer mission trip to a place called “Place of Promise” just outside of Boston, MA.  Several years earlier when we had a group there, my wife befriended one of the residents there who was a recovering addict.  As we were there three years ago, my wife inquired as to how this person was doing.  We were told that Anna was back out on the streets using again.  Completely strung out.  In fact, she was living in a crack house down in one of the very worst parts of Boston.  Place of Promise’s director, Beth, said that she was still in touch with Anna from time to time, often visiting her when she found herself back in prison.  While there with our students on this particular trip, Beth asked my wife is she wanted to visit Anna.  The invitation came with a warning.  Apparently addicts who are strung out on dope don’t like the light, they prefer to live in physical darkness, only coming out at night.  The visit would be late at night, at this crack house, where there would obviously be dealers and users and the types of people that can pose a real threat to a person’s well being.  Beth said the decision was ours as to whether or not my wife wanted to go.  As we prayed about it and talked about it (remembering that our two children were back home – could it be possible that they might never see mommy again?), we realized we only had one choice.  I had been teaching recently at our church and with our students that we were never called by God to live safe lives.  The very essence of faith and trust prohibit a life surrounded by nothing other than safety.  In fact, I would argue that safety is nothing more than a mirage that we buy into.  Anyway, we realized that, after teaching and preaching this for months, that if my wife didn’t go or I didn’t allow her to go because it wasn’t safe, than we needed to go back and apologize for what we were teaching.  God was calling us on the carpet to model what we were teaching.  Integrity was at stake.  My wife did go and did return home about 2:30 in the morning unharmed.  Modeling is part of what leaders must do.  Those who lead who do not model what they teach and say will find cracks in their character.

4 :: Living above reproach
The word “reproach” is one found in some translations of the Bible in discussion qualifications for church leaders.  In essence it means that everything done is done in the open leaving no room for accusations.  In other words, everything a leader does not only has to be right, it also has to look right, leaving no room for anyone to question his or her actions.  The leader who is concerned about living above reproach takes extra measures and are careful, sometimes painstakingly careful, to make sure that nothing they do is questionable.  They take extra steps to make sure that no one could question their dealings with money, the opposite sex, motives for decisions, and the like.  Those leaders who tend to ignore those extra steps, who let the defenses and walls down and go about not worrying about being above reproach usually find themselves in trouble.  The man or woman who does not keep everything he or she does in plain view of the world and begins to do somethings in secret or even with a carefree attitude will likely find the blameless life, the one lived above reproach, eluding them.

Next Tuesday we’ll conclude with four more signposts along the road toward integrity in the leader’s life.

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.28.08

A pastor (or any leader) who is neither an embezzler nor an adulterer tarnishes his name nevertheless by forgotten appointments, rudeness, broken promises, unpaid bills, fitful office hours, fibs, gluttony, disorganization.

– Craig Brian Larson

April 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.25.08

Leadership integrity is built or destroyed by small day-to-day things that become a pattern.

– Richard J. Leider, The Leader of the Future

April 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.23.08

Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty.  Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming our reality to our words – in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations.  This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life.

– Stephen Covey

April 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Thoughts :: 04.22.08

There are many aspects to leadership that must be mastered if one is to lead well.  Some of those come naturally to some while others need to develop such traits.  One such characteristic of a great leader is integrity.  In fact, I would argue that integrity is the most crucial measuring stick of leadership.  Unlike some other areas of leadership that we can “grow” in, integrity is one of those things you either have or do not have.  We choose whether or not integrity will be a part of our lives and our leadership.  Leadership guru, John Maxwell says that “Sadly, integrity is a vanishing commodity today.”  All we need to do is look around us over the past couple of decades to see what becomes of a leader who lacks integrity.  As one who was in high school and college in the ’80s, the stories and images of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker and their indiscretions left a permanent mark.  These were Christian men who publicly preached and claimed to be one thing but privately lived very different lives.  Their respective scandals of sexual indiscretion and financial games brought both men down.  And they fell a long way.  In more recent years it is hard to forget former President Bill Clinton’s scandal, the Enron debacle, or recent President of the National Evangelical Association Ted Haggard’s screw-up .  To think that these events and others stand in isolation and effect only the individuals involved is fantasy.  A leader’s lack of integrity has profound effect on the entire organization, those impacted by the organization, a nation, even a generation.  

Author of the book, A New Kind of Youth Ministry, Chris Folmsbee, speaks to the reality of leadership as seen through the eyes of this generation of students.

I think the word leader makes most teenagers shake and shiver.  And I think their fear is based less in their presuppositions about what leadership is than in a distrust and skepticism spawned by their own wounds.  By the time most children reach adolescence, they have often had the unfortunate and tragic experience of learning that key leaders in their own lives are not, in fact, at all the people they have claimed to be. . . . many youth distrusts almost anyone who claims to be an authority or leader – for good reason.  They live in an age where many people in positions of authority and leadership in the church and in our world (parents, pastors, youth pastors, presidents, teachers, etc.) have not exactly been model citizens with a commitment to morality and justice.  The very public nature of the failings of our leaders has shaped this generation like none before it.  Most of these young people are very wary of anyone who claims to be a leader – or who tells them they need to become leaders.  I don’t think one needs to be a sociologist to grasp this common trend among the emerging generations.”

If leaders are to regain trust and respect from people, thus enabling them to really lead, a new focus on being a leader of integrity has to be the foundation. Integrity must be woven through the very fabric of a leader’s being if he or she is to truly lead well.

Over the next few weeks on Tuesdays, I want to spend some more time developing this idea of integrity and what it looks like in the leader’s life.  But as I conclude today’s thoughts, I leave us with this story found in R.C. Sproul’s book, Objections Answered.

There was a young Jewish boy who grew up in Germany many years ago.  The lad had a profound sense of admiration for his father, who saw to it that the life of the family revolved around the religious practices of their faith.  The father led them to the synagogue faithfully.

In his teen year’s, however, the boy’s family was forced to move to another town in Germany.  This town had no synagogue, only a Lutheran church.  The life of the community revolved around the Lutheran church; all the best people belonged to it.  Suddenly, the father announced to the family that they were going to abandon their Jewish traditions and join the Lutheran church.  When the stunned family asked why, the father explained that it would be good for business.  The youngster was bewildered and confused.  His deep disappointment soon gave way to anger and a kind of intense bitterness that plagued him throughout his life.

Later he left Germany and went to England to study.  Each day found him at the British Museum formulating his ideas and composing a book.  In that book he introduced a whole new worldview and conceived a movement that was designed to change the world.  He described religion as the “opiate for the masses.”  He committed the people who followed him to life without God.  His ideas became the norm for the governments of almost half the world’s people.  His name?  Karl Marx, founder of the Communist movement.  The history of the twentieth century, and perhaps beyond, was significantly affected because one father let his values become distorted.

April 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.21.08

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he would never be found out.

– Thomas Mcauley

April 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.18.09

Success breads complacency.  Complacency breeds failure.

– Andy Stanley

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.16.08

Listen while you can so that you can lead when you must.

– Tom Peters

April 16, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quote of the Day :: 04.14.08

What makes a successful corporation is not a great product or a great leader, but a great culture in which people are empowered in creative goodness, innovative beauty, and unyeilding truth.

– Leonard Sweet

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment