#105: Is Selection of Leaders the Reason We Have so Many Poor Leaders?

Take a quick look at the world of politics and business and you might notice there seems to be no shortage of poor leaders.

Acts 6:6 Laying on of hands

I think the failure of so many people in leadership positions is due to one of two things: 1) the wrong people are being selected as leaders, and 2) the people selected are not being developed into good leaders!

The Bible provides a wonderful example of the selection process that businesses would do well to imitate!

Biblical Style Leadership Selection

Luke records a difficult situation facing the apostles in Acts 6. The church was growing with new converts to Christianity coming from both Hellenist Jews and Hebraic Jews. The Hellenist Jews were complaining because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This was a big problem that had the potential to divide the young church!

So the apostles got together to find a solution. They quickly realized that if they were to help out in the distribution of food, their primary task of spreading the Gospel would be neglected. They needed to expand the leadership pool, and they needed to do it quickly.

They brought the Hebrew leaders together and told them to select seven men who were known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. The Hebrew leaders selected the seven men, six of whom were Hellenists, and one man who was a Gentile proselyte. These men were presented to the apostles who approved of their selection and commissioned them by laying hands on the men and praying for them.

Six Key Steps to Select the Best Leaders

1) They recognized there was a problem. The apostles realized there was a problem and addressed it immediately.

Lesson for Us. The first step is selecting the right leaders is to recognize what the problem or situation is. How else will you know what leadership skills are needed?

2) They held a meeting to discuss possible solutions. The apostles gathered all the constituents together to come up with a solution to the problem.

Lesson for Us. Bring the people who know the most about the problem to work on the solution. That way they will be invested in the outcome because the solution is of their own making!

3) They delegated the selection of leaders. The apostles delegated the task of finding new leaders from amongst their own group.

Lesson for Us. Don’t be tempted to do work that takes you away from your primary responsibility. Delegate that work to those that are closest to the problem!

4) They established specific criteria for the new leaders. The apostles required that each of the new leaders be men known to be full of the Spirit and men of wisdom.

Lesson for Us. If you have defined the problem and developed a solution, then you can turn your attention to determining what skills will be needed to solve the problem.

5) They reviewed the proposed personnel selections. Before installing the proposed leaders, they reviewed the recommendations from the selection committee.

Lesson for Us. Delegate but stay engaged. Even though you delegate the selection of the people needed, stay engaged by making sure that the leaders that are proposed are the right leaders for the job!

6) They commissioned the new leaders. The apostles prayed over these men and laid hands on them commissioning them for their work in the ministry.

Lesson for Us. Once the leaders are selected and approved it is important to commission them for their work. Let them know what their duties and responsibilities are so they can do quality work. Finally, pray for your leaders. We all need God’s strength, and wisdom and prayer are the only way we can connect to God’s power and wisdom!

The result for the apostles was they were able to continue to do the work to which God had called them. The newly appointed leaders resolved the problem with the widows. And most importantly, the church grew rapidly and people were obedient in their faith!

We could use a little bit more of that today!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What has been your experience with leaders and the selection of future leaders? Have you worked for leaders who were ill-equipped for the job? What was the impact on the organization?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

#104: What Can Our Presidents Teach Us About Leadership?

Here in the United States, we are celebrating President’s Day today. Originally instituted in 1885, the holiday was designated to celebrate the birthday of our first president, George Washington. In 1971, the Holiday was renamed President’s Day as a celebration of all our presidents.

George Washington, Leadership

Novelist Michael Crichton is credited with saying, “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree.”

So to avoid being a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree, I thought I would share some of my favorite presidential quotes. I looked for the more unusual quotes—things you may not have heard before, but are worth a moment’s reflection.

Some are about leadership, some are about the role of government, and some are visionary. Whether you agree with their politics or not is less important than learning from the men who shaped our history.

 George Washington 1789-1797

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

John Adams 1797-1801

“I pray Heaven to bestow the best of blessing on this house (the White House) and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof”

Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809

“That government is best which governs the least because its people discipline themselves.”

James Madison 1809-1817

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

James Monroe 1817-1825

“National honor is a national property of the highest value.”

John Quincy Adams 1825-1829

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

Andrew Jackson 1829-1837

“I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way, but I am not fit to be President.”

Martin Van Buren 1837-1841

“It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”

William H. Harrison 1841

“But I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.”

John Tyler 1841-1845

“Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.”

James K. Polk 1845-1849

“Public opinion: May it always perform one of its appropriate offices, by teaching the public functionaries of the State and of the Federal Government, that neither shall assume the exercise of powers entrusted by the Constitution to the other.”

Zachary Taylor 1849-1850

“It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe.”

Millard Fillmore 1850-1853

“The man who can look upon a crisis without being willing to offer himself upon the altar of his country is not for public trust.”

Franklin Pierce 1853-1857

“The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution.”

James Buchanan 1857-1861

“There is nothing stable but Heaven and the Constitution.”

Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Andrew Johnson 1865-1869

“The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.”

Ulysses S. Grant 1869-1877

“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.”

Rutherford B. Hayes 1877-1881

“It is now true that this is God’s Country if equal rights—a fair start and an equal chance in the race of life are everywhere secured to all.”

James A. Garfield 1881

“I have had many troubles in my life, but the worst of them never came.”

Chester A. Arthur 1881-1885

“Men may die, but the fabrics of our free institutions remain unshaken.”

Grover Cleveland 1885-1889 & 1893 – 1897

“It is the responsibility of the citizens to support their government. It is not the responsibility of the government to support its citizens.”

Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893

“The disfranchisement of a single legal elector by fraud or intimidation is a crime too grave to be regarded lightly.”

William McKinley 1897-1901

“That’s all a man can hope for during his lifetime—to set an example—and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history.”

Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909

“The only man who makes no mistake is the man who does nothing.”

William Howard Taft 1909-1913

“Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution . .”

Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921

“We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers.”

Warren G. Harding 1921-1923

“Ambition is a commendable attribute without which no man succeeds. Only inconsiderate ambition imperils.”

Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929

“Character is the only secure foundation of the state.”

Herbert Hoover 1929-1933

“A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

Harry S Truman 1945-1953

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961

“There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure.”

John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.”

Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.”

Richard M. Nixon 1969-1974

“A man who has never lost himself in a cause bigger than himself has missed one of life’s mountaintop experiences. Only in losing himself does he find himself.”

Gerald R. Ford 1974-1977

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

James Earl Carter 1977-1981

“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”

Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

“We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. And that makes us special among the nations of the earth.”

George Bush 1989-1993

“If anyone tells you that America’s best days are behind her, they’re looking the wrong way”

William J. Clinton 1993-2001

“We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American dream will wither.”

George W. Bush 2001-2009

“Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential. We are not limited by what we have done, or what we have left undone. We are limited only by what we are willing to do.”

Barack H. Obama 2009-

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of these quotes means the most to you? Why? And if I missed a good presidential quote feel free to share!

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Learning

#103: How to Fail as a Problem Solver and as a Leader

It doesn’t take astute powers of observation to notice leaders who fail. They are all around us in business, government, and even in our churches.

Fail Leadership of Aaron Golden Calf

While the causes of leadership failure are many, there is perhaps no more surprising an example of leadership failure than that of Aaron, brother of Moses.

Let me set the scene for you. Moses and Joshua were up on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. During that time God was giving Moses incredibly detailed instructions for the construction of the tabernacle, the consecration of priests, and for the observance of the Sabbath (Exodus 24-31).

God appointed Aaron as the designated leader of the nation while Moses was up on the mountain. A month passed, and the people got impatient waiting for Moses to return. They approached Aaron about making foreign Gods out of gold to worship.

Mind you, the people still had the presence of God in the tower of clouds and the pillar of fire to remind them that He was in their presence. This is the same tower of clouds and the pillar of fire that had led the nation through the desert, but they wanted something man-made to worship.

So Aaron acquiesced to their demands, told the people to get their gold together, and made a golden calf. Then he told the people the golden calf brought them up out of Egypt (32:4)! Then to make matters worse, Aaron built an altar before the golden calf and proclaimed a day of feasting to the Lord. The next day he brought burnt and peace offerings. What was he thinking?!

Then, when Moses came down from the mountain, he found the people partying and the golden calf. Moses called Aaron out, and Aaron threw the people under the bus. Aaron told Moses “you know these people they are set on evil.” Then Aaron lied saying he just threw the gold into the fire and out popped the golden calf!

How Aaron Failed as a Leader

1) He Lacked Faith

Aaron was standing next to his brother through all the visits to Pharaoh and witnessed all the miracles as God fulfilled His promise to free the people. Then God led the people through the Red Sea, and He displayed His presence to the entire nation as a tower of clouds and a pillar of fire. Despite these clear signs that God was protecting them and right there with them Aaron’s lack of faith made him weak as a leader and allowed him to be swayed by pressure from the people.

What we should do. God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1). When being pressured by outsiders, a Godly leader must stand strong, firm in their faith, and trust in God, that where God leads He will protect.

2) He Facilitated their Corruption

Aaron failed as a leader again when he made the golden calf and built the altar. Instead of leading, he is now complicit in their corruption.

What we should do. Leading people in the wrong direction is never a good idea. It’s bad enough when a leader succumbs to the pressure of a crowd, but to join in with a bad idea strips away all your authority as a leader!

3) He Worshiped an Idol

Aaron furthered his error by leading the people astray in their worship of the golden calf and declaring a feast. Moses had already given Aaron God’s instructions (Ch. 20) that prohibited making and worshiping idols, and yet he does it anyway.

What we should do. Violating policy, or worse, breaking the law, is no way for a Christian leader to lead. But to lead others into bad behavior compounds the error.

4) He Didn’t take Responsibility

When Moses comes down from the mountain, Aaron blamed the people, accusing them of being evil. He then lied and blamed the fire for creating the golden calves!

What we should do. Leaders never try to cover up errors or blame the people in their organizations when mistakes are made. Cover-ups, deceitfulness, and lying are not part of a good leader’s toolkit!

Application

One of the challenges of being a leader and following God is that there will be times when we need to solve a particularly difficult problem. The leader was problem solver must remain strong and faithful to God’s direction. Aaron, as the designated leader, was confronted with a problem, but never took control of the situation, and in fact made the situation much worse!

When a leader makes a poor decision, they should stop, reconsider their course, and set a new direction for themselves and the organization.

Finally, a leader needs to take responsibility for their decisions! When mistakes are made, and they will be, leaders need to take responsibility for the error and take corrective action.

In Aaron’s case he may have thought he could keep the people happy by letting them have their idol, but ultimately this was the wrong path and he knew it!  He may have thought he could cover up and talk his way out of trouble with Moses, but God saw what he did and knew what was in his heart.

The consequence of his action was all those who he led into sinning against God were blotted out of God’s book. As leaders, we need to be especially mindful of our responsibility to set an example that leads people to Christ, not drives them away!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for a leader who failed in some respect? How did that affect the organization?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Problem Solving

 

#102: What I Learned on a Playground that Actually Helped Me as a Leader

Do you remember your grade school report cards? There were grades of “outstanding, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory.” And rather than just subjects, there were grades given for social skills and work habits. One of these skills was “works and plays well with others.”

Playground

I never thought much about being graded on “social skills” until I started working. Early in my career, I realized why it was so important that I know how to “work and play well with others,” this skill forms the basis for all corporate personal interactions! Who would have thought that a skill developed on the playground when I was six would be so important to my career development?

Of course in the business world, we do not refer to it as “working and playing well with others.” No, we created a whole field of study called “organizational development.” Organizational development tries to explain how people interact in the workforce, and how those behaviors affect corporate profits.

Interestingly, most of our formal education centers around knowledge, not on developing our ability to work and play well with others. While I was graded on this skill in first grade I don’t recall any teaching on the subject. Because of my business focus in college I did get some classes on organizational design and development, but mostly it was finance, marketing, and other such stuff. In my 36-year corporate career, I had a couple of seminars on diversity. But that’s about it.

Sad to say, but true, most of our ability to work and play well with others was developed on the playground when we were six or seven. Fortunately, the Bible provides a wealth of information on the subject. It provides guidelines for personal behavior, our interactions with others, and importantly, has a lot to say about employer – employee relationships.

Leadership Lessons from the Playground

If you want to get a grade of “exceptional” rather than “needs improvement” in working and playing well with others you need to know how build esprit de corps in your organization. The military describes esprit de corps as, “the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and a strong regard for the honor of the group.” Developing high group morale, or esprit de corps is not an easy task. Here are eight steps you can take to build esprit de corps from Dr. Alan McGinnis’ book Bringing Out The Best In People.

1) Place a premium on collaboration.

There’s a saying, “Two minds are better than one.” Encourage people to work together rather than separately. Reward those who succeed through collaborative efforts.

2) The need to belong.

Employees want to belong. They want to feel needed, appreciated, and accepted by the group. Make it easy for people to gain acceptance in your group.

3) Quality Control.

Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing for a leader. Peers will often hold each other to higher standards than the boss will. Don’t assume responsibility for quality control on every little thing, it is far better for the group to hold its own members accountable for high performance.

4) All for one and one for all.

Remember the call of the Musketeers? It was “All for one and one for all!” Leaders should be in it with the troops and every member of the group should understand that their performance is a reflection on the group. Army generals Patton and MacArthur, despite their shortcomings, earned the undying loyalty of their troops because they were devoted to the welfare of their men.

5) Promises.

Nothing destroys morale as fast as the broken promises of a leader. Don’t make promises you cannot keep, and be honest with employees on the day that you have to explain why the raises you promised won’t be forthcoming after all. A reputation for integrity can take a lifetime to make, and only seconds to lose so guard this characteristic with all your might.

6) Fairness.

Believe it or not, there are bosses who structure contests so that their favorite employees will win. They think no one sees through them. What fools! As a leader, your first job is to create a well-defined set of work principles and expectations that you can enforce with complete fairness across your organization.

7) The preservation of the individual.

While employees want to be members of a group they don’t want to lose their own identities. Make sure people are valued for their unique skills and specific contributions to the group.

8) Fun.

All work and no play mean increased employee turnover. While business is serious and the stakes are often high, make sure that work includes some humor.

One Final Thought

A group whose morale is high is stronger and more productive than any single individual. They can create more and do more, at a lower cost than individuals who are serving their own self-interests.

The writer of Ecclesiastes provides a wonderful view of the strength of a group; “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12).

The key to strength in numbers is unity of mind and purpose. But the key to morale is job satisfaction and satisfaction from our work comes from a focus on God. He meant us to work and gave us skills to make us successful. But success, no matter how you define it, is hollow outside of a personal relationship with Jesus. If you don’t think so look at the entertainment stars who have everything money can buy but search madly for meaning in life. They search with drugs, alcohol, and special causes but as Solomon said, these are all meaningless without God.

Bonus Whitepaper

What I Learned on the Playground that Actually Helped Me as a Leader is also available in the form of a bonus whitepaper. This 11-page bonus whitepaper includes more in-depth content covering the world-view of organizational behavior, Biblical principles of organizational behavior, 7-elements needed to build organizational morale, some great quotes, a case study, and a key points summary. You can download it here:

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome! Have you worked in an organization where there was low morale, strife, or poor relationships between employees and management? If so, what impact did that have on you as an employee? Have you had to turn around an organization with low morale? If so, how did you do it?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Categories: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships