A MODEL FOR RELATIONAL LEADERSHIP

According to Cavett Robert, “fifteen percent of the reason [people] get a job, keep that job and move ahead in that job, is determined by [their] technical skill and knowledge regardless of their profession.” What about the other 85 percent? Robert quotes Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation as having proved that 85 percent of the reason people get a job, keep that job, and move ahead in that job has to do with [their] people skills and people knowledge.” (Zig Ziglar, Top Performance)

That's impressive. It underlines the importance of human relationships to the work force. If relationships are that important on the job, then they're crucial to the role of servant leaders. Leadership is about influencing people through relationships.

Return with me to the first century. A Jewish traveler from Tarsus came to the northern Greek city of Thessalonike (today Salonika). He spoke courageously and convincingly of his conversion to Jesus Christ. People responded to his invitation, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ---merchants, businessmen, career women, the artistic and laborers, philosophers and teachers. A church was born. About two months later the traveler moved on to Corinth where he wrote a letter back to the believing community, reminiscing about his time there. The letter is First Thessalonians written by Paul the Apostle.

The letter is warm, personal, and inviting, describing the manner Paul lived and worked among the Thessalonians. It's a classic model for building and developing relationships for leaders who lead by serving.

Relationships are INTENTIONAL.

Meaningful relationships don't just happen. Paul initiated his visit to Thessalonica (2:1); he dared to take the initiative to speak the Gospel above much opposition (2:2); he initiated treating the people as a “mother” (2:7) and as a “father” (2:11). It was his call.

Servant leaders don't wait for others to build relationships. They make it happen. They take the lead. . . suggesting coffee or lunch, leading in prayer, making the visit, saying, “Let’s talk some more.” When it comes to relationships, leaders seize the opportunity.

Relationships are NEED BASED.

Relationships reveal people's needs. Servant leaders are sensitive; aware of personal needs when building relationships. Paul knew the Thessalonians needed, at times, a gentle, caring leader, who would treat them like a nursing mother (2:7). Nursing mothers think nothing of their own needs; it’s about the infant. At other times, the community needed a leader who wouldn’t burden them financially (2:9). They couldn’t afford to pay Paul a salary. No problem. Paul supported himself. And verse 11 says “. . .we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting, and urging” them on.

THINK ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU LEAD. Do you know what life is like for them? Their struggles? Heartaches? Decisions they have to make? Issues they face? Burdens they carry from the past? Leaders are at their best when their spiritual antennae are up, attuned to others. They listen carefully, read between the lines, ask the right questions. They’ve learned how to read facial expressions. They’re sensitive, knowing how to weave wisdom, grace, biblical insight, and understanding into the relationship. Pity the leader who checks people off like agenda items; who gives in to the major enemy of SELF PREOCCUPATION.

GETTING ALONG WITH PEOPLE

Definitions of leadership abound. Let me attempt a one-word definition----INFLUENCE.

Leadership is influence; in two words inspiring influence; nothing more, nothing less. Leadership isn't about titles, positions, prominence, corner offices, and reserved parking. Leaders who lead well influence others to think, to feel, to act in certain ways. They move people to follow, to work harder, to accomplish more, to sacrifice. They take people to places they would never go on their own. Oswald Sanders wrote, “One man can lead others only to the extent that he can influence them.” (Spiritual Leadership)

Have you noticed?

  • Husbands/fathers of influence inspire their wives/families.
  • Good coaches influence well. Their teams bust themselves to strive for and achieve excellence
  • Teachers of influence motivate their students to accomplish more than the students ever imagined.
  • Influential sales managers motivate the sales force to meet their quotas monthly.

Servant leaders in ministry influence people to become effective in Kingdom work for the glory of God and the good of the church.

Influence has little to do with temperament or style. Some servant leaders are loud, hard-charging, fast moving, go for broke. Others are quiet, often soft spoken, more lay back, yet strong in leadership. There are leaders who lead by extrinsic motivation and are successful. Others despise that approach, preferring to motivate by intrinsic appeals. Some leaders are highly intelligent, well read, scholarly. Other leaders are not as sharp intellectually, but they are well seasoned, wise, and just as effective as the brilliant leader.

Regardless of your temperament or style, influence begins with involvement. Effective leaders get involved with others.

The secular field agrees. Read what some leaders have said:

I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” (John D. Rockefeller).

Some years ago, the American Management Association, surveyed 200 managers, and the majority said, “. . . the single most valuable ingredient---the paramount skill---was the ability to get along with people.” This was rated higher than intelligence, decisiveness, job knowledge, or technical skills.

85% of managerial failure is due to ineptness in dealing with people.”

The kiss of death on anyone's personnel file is they don't know how to get along with people.” (Lee Iacocca)

If leadership is influence and influence begins with involvement, the place for involvementlies in relationships.

SERVANT LEADERS LEAD OUT OF RELATIONSHIPS

QUESTIONS: Are you a loner? Do you ignore relationships? Are you withdrawn? “He who separates himself seeks his own desire.” (Proverbs 18:1)

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 6

Here's a final trait that makes for an effective team. Great teams do life together. Great teams are communities where team members know each other deeply, serve each other willingly, and care for one another genuinely. On a team like this, each one realizes they are not alone; someone has their back.

Here are some principles of a life-giving community. Read each one carefully, slowly, reflectively. As you read, think about your team, the team you lead. See how well it measures up. See if you are creating these team dynamics.

LIFE-GIVING COMMUNITIES:

l Give others what they don't deserve. It's called GRACE.

l Trust and value each other.

l Express gratitude and appreciation freely.

l Allow others to be themselves.

l Find ways to serve each other.

l Empower others to complete a responsibility.

l Make building community an ongoing priority, not an after-thought.

l Never stop looking for ways to do life together.

When you get down to it, great leaders lead great teams. Leaders alone don't make anything great. Leadership is a shared responsibility. The leader needs team members, and team members need the leader.

A closing thought. . . .

AT THE CORE OF EVERY THRIVING ENTERPRISE (ministry, athletic, business, political, educational, family oriented, military, etc.) IS A UNIFIED LEADERSHIP TEAM THAT LOVES

EACH OTHER

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 5

Before sharing another trait of a great team, read Chuck Swindoll's teamwork illustration. Don't assume it's for the birds!

It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.           

1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies the point.

2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.

3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.

4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it. As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.

I appreciate that last part. “. . . “it is the natural instinct of geese to work together. . . the flock is in it together. . . which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.” That describes a healthy team, a great team following your leadership direction, working together, flying together, accomplishing what it set out to do.

Great Trait # 8: Great Teams Affirm the Strengths of Other Team Members and Protect their Weaknesses.

Unfortunately, many organizations adhere to the opposite of this principle—being jealous of each other's strengths and taking advantage of each other's weaknesses. In that environment, the leader uses his/her strengths to get their own way and exploit weaknesses to gain competitive advantage. Where there is good leadership, protection, not control, characterizes the team environment. Bill Thrall distinguishes between protection and control this way:

 Protection says, “I love you and accept you for who you are, and I will stand alongside you in your weaknesses to free your potential.” Control says, “Your distasteful behavior stands between us and you must change before I will love you or let you love me.” (Leading from Strengths: A Manual for Christian Leadership Teams)

Leadership guru Peter Drucker wrote, “The purpose of the team is to make strengths productive and weaknesses irrelevant.”

I’ll share a final trait next week. It brings together all the other traits

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 4

The Battle of Britain, lasting from August 8th to October 31st, cost the Germans 2,375 planes destroyed in daylight alone and more at night. It cost the British 375 pilots killed and 358 wounded. A handful of RAF fliers had saved Britain, and perhaps the world from destruction. Do you remember how Winston Churchill spoke for his people? “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few!” That victory was achieved, you see, not by the top-ranking generals, the brass hats, the big shots, but by young men---a team---playing and fighting . . . and dying together. (Peter Marshall, Mr. Jones, Meet the Master)

Your leadership succeeds with the teams, the men and women God knits together, sharing the same vision, communicating and listening well, enjoying each other, and valuing each other's contributions. Ken Blanchard says, “None of us is as smart as all of us together.”

Great Trait #6: Great Teams Value Constructive Disagreement and Healthy Tension

Every team, even the great ones, have disagreement and conflict. It's a given. If there are no disagreements someone isn't thinking.

Patrick Lenconi (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) suggests there are real differences between teams that avoid conflict like the plague and those that approach conflict productively.

TEAMS THAT FEAR CONFLICT:

·      have boring meetings

·      ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success

·      fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members

·      play politics outside the team meetings

·      take forever to solve problems

TEAMS THAT ENGAGE IN CONFLICT:

·      have lively, interesting meetings

·      extract and explore the ideas of all team members

·      solve real problems quickly

·      minimize politics

·      put critical topics on the table for discussion.

The issue is handling disagreement properly. DISAGREEMENT is necessary, but it must not grow into DIVISION.

Here are some pointers:

·      Members must be free and feel safe to express opinions even if they disagree with others.

·      Allow for differences to be expressed.

·      Don't avoid differences or make compromises to benefit the short term.

Great Trait #7: Great Teams Believe in Shared Work/Shared Glory

On a great team, everyone shares together in the joy and glory of an accomplished task. No soccer player wins a game by himself or herself. All the players are needed to score the goal and all the players share in the victory.

MY PERSONAL SUCCESS AS A TEAM MEMBER IS MEASURED BY THE SUCCESS OF OUR TEAM.

NOT: “Look what I did”

BUT: “Look what we accomplished

SERVANT LEADERS ALONE DON'T MAKE ANYTHING GREAT. SERVANT LEADERSHIP IS A SHARED RESPONSIBILITY.

The last two traits of a great team next time. . .

Great Traits of a Great Team- Part 3

Have you noticed? Leadership teams that “click,” work well together. They get along and have a leader who believes leadership is a team effort, not a one-man performance.

Moses thought leading the people was up to him. I call it “The Moses Syndrome.” Daily “he took his seat to judge the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.” (Exodus 18:13) and daily he wore himself out. Moses’s father-in-law, Jethro, saw the long lines and concluded, “This is crazy!” He told Moses, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (18:17, 18) Call it “The Jethro Solution.” He set up teams of gifted, capable leaders and divided the work. “That will make your load lighter, because they (the teams) will share it with you. . . You will be able to withstand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (18: 22, 23) It worked!

TEAMS ACHIEVE MORE TOGETHER THAN INDIVIDUALS DO INDIVIDUALLY.

GREAT LEADERSHIP TEAMS:

·         Share the same vision

·         Communicate honestly, openly, transparently

·         Have good listeners

Great Trait #4: Effective teams enjoy each other.

When effective teams meet, the atmosphere is informal, relaxed, comfortable. It doesn't mean the team isn't serious, accomplishing little. It means there's not the tension, stiffness, and boredom. Good teams have good chemistry.

Times together are fun. Team members enjoy being together, seeing each other and working together. There's laughter, sometimes lots of it and that's good. Fun energizes a team.

Each member is involved and attentive, sharing in a discussion, or listening to what others are saying.

Good teams thrive on building personal relationships by spending time together. Jesus did this. He appointed 12 that “He might be with them.” (Mark 3:12)

The spiritual vitality of the team evidences itself in deep relationships with one another and effective service to others.” (Stephen A. Macchia, Becoming a Healthy Team, p. 24)

Great Trait #5: Effective teams value each other's contributions.

NO ONE ON THE TEAM IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYONE ELSE ON THE TEAM. Every member is valued by you the leader and the other team members. Every member is treated as needed by you and the team. Every member is loved by you and your team.

No one describes this trait better than the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12. I've changed the word body to team for emphasis. Read it slowly, carefully.

            Now the team is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say,  “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the team,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the team. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the team,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the team. . . If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12: 14-16, 26 NIV)

EVERYONE ON THE TEAM IS CRUCIAL TO THE TEAM.

SERVANT LEADERS CARE DEEPLY ABOUT GOD EXTENDING HIS LOVE AND LORDSHIP THROUGH UNIFIED TEAMS OF MEN AND WOMEN.

More next time.

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 2

The man isn't a FLUKE, not the men's basketball coach at DUKE, Mike Krzyzewski, “Coach K.” It would take a full page (maybe several) to list his credits. The man knows how to lead and lead well.

He said, “I think leadership is never singular. In a good organization it's plural.”

Servant leaders agree with Coach K. Solo leadership isn't their bag. They build and developteams to lead with them. They've learned the crucial lesson that YOU CAN'T DO IT ALONE. Leadership is a team sport. There may be a captain, but without the team working together no one can score the winning goal.

So what are the traits of a great team?

Great Trait #1: Unifies around a Shared Vision.

The vision of the team is crystal clear and accepted by everyone on the team. There is direction.

Great Trait #2: Practice H.O.T. Communication

Great teams know how to communicate well, not just talk. The communication is H.O.T.

Honest. Team members speak the truth, not what they “think” is the truth. They don't lie or twist the truth to look good.

Open. Team members speak freely without being criticized, embarrassed, or ridiculed.

Transparent. When someone speaks they can be real, themselves. They don’t fake it out of fear they may not be accepted.

Many leadership teams limit their effectiveness by poor communication or worse, no communication. The servant leader must look for ways to open up team communication, encourage the discussion of key issues (yes, even problems), then model a non-judgmental response.

Ephesians 4:15, “Speak the truth in love.”

Ephesians 4:29, “Let NO unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.”

Great Trait #3: Listens well

The single most important distinctive of effective teams from ineffective teams is the ability of team members to listen to each other.” Glen M. Parker, Team Players and Teamwork

Catch this. . . .

FEW PEOPLE ARE GOOD LISTENERS:

· Only hear 50% of what is said to them.

· Only pay attention to 25% of what is said.

· Only understand 12% of what they paid attention to.

· Only believe 6% of what they understand.

· Only remember 3% of what they believe.

Great teams master the art of listening well. They pay careful attention to each other while reserving judgment on what is said. They allow a speaker to finish without interrupting. In meetings, they don't carry on side bar conversations when another has the floor. Years ago to talk when someone else was talking was rude. Still is!

James 1:19, “Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Maybe that’s why God gave us two ears and one mouth. He wants us to develop big ears, not a big mouth!

More next time. . ..

Great Traits of a Great Team - Part 1

Ever notice how some of the great philosophies of life are etched on T-shirts? You might say TRUTH ON A T. Here's one. A bunch of guys are clinging to a rope for dear life with the words, “TEAM: 24 Guys Hanging on the Same Rope.” That's it. That's team attitude. If you don't hang together, you'll hang separately.

So you're a leader, hopefully a servant leader relinquishing whatever it takes to serve. . . LIKE JESUS. How's your team? JESUS HAD ONE. Do you have one or are you still hung up on the idea that leadership is a one-man show?

We were designed to function in connected, interdependent relationships with other people. God started it years ago when He said in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone”; so He created for Adam a helper, someone suitable to him, i.e. a team member. Human beings (male and female) were created with a need to intertwine their lives with others.

We were made to be team players. A marriage is a team. A family is a team. A ball club is a team. A business is a team. A government office is a team, and so is a church.

What makes a good team? Why do some teams click and others don't? What's the difference between effective and ineffective teams? Someone asked baseball philosopher Yogi Berra, “What makes a good manager?” He responded, “A great team.”

GREAT TRAITS OF A GREAT TEAM

Great Trait #1: Unified around a Shared Vision.

Vision is a clear and compelling picture of the future, which produces passion in the leader. It's this passion people want to follow. VISION LEAKS OUT.

Everything starts with a vision God gives the leader, who in turn passes it on to the other leaders. Vision gives direction. If you don't know where you're going, you may wind up somewhere else. Vision keeps you on target.

Vision is the essence of leadership. Knowing where you want to go requires three things: Having a clear vision, articulating it well, and getting your team enthusiastic about sharing it. Above all, any leader must be consistent. As the Bible says, no one follows an uncertain trumpet.”

Father Theodore Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame University

Nehemiah never blew an uncertain trumpet. He was one of the great ones in the Old Testament Hall of Fame of Servant Leaders. His leadership vision started with a gruesome report about his beloved Jerusalem. The city was under great distress---walls broken down, gates burned to ashes, temple smashed, few survivors, others deported to Babylon.

Nehemiah confesses the mess and the nation's sin to God, then schedules an Uber ride to Jerusalem. Once there he hangs out for three days touring the city at night, just walking around, perhaps praying out loud, wondering what God has in mind.

In 2:17 of his book, Nehemiah rallies the city leaders and people together and casts a powerful vision. “You see the bad situation WE are in. OUR city is wiped out. Come. Let US rebuild the wall of Jerusalem.” That's the vision---a clear and compelling picture of the future. The leaders and people bought it. “Let US arise and build!”

In Chapter 3, everyone worked together—city leaders, religious leaders, families, everyone working, no one working alone.

Catch this. In 6:15, “the wall was completed in 52 days;” in 6:16, “The enemies/nations surrounding us recognized THIS WAS THE WORK OF GOD.”

Anyone said of your work lately? “IT'S THE WORK OF GOD.”

TEAMWORK BEGINS WITH A SERVANT LEADER'S VISION.

More next time. . .

Servant Leaders Think Team

I'll always remember him—Robert Turnberger, my high school baseball coach. Rumor had it he paid a reporter to spell his name correctly. In 1962, our team won the South Jersey Region 2 title under Coach T's leadership. School Board wouldn’t let us go to State. We were THE Pleasantville High School Greyhounds and we were good. No brag, just fact!

The ‘Hounds weren't a mass collection of superstar athletes. The only “star” on the team was the team. Coach took what he had and built us into a winning unit. Everything we did we did as a team. We played as a team on the field and teamed together off the field.

We sat next to each other in classes, studied and ate lunch together.

We never left the locker room for practice unless we went together.

We even had team songs, which we knew better than the school Alma Mater.

We were a team and we were successful.

When servant leadership invades your life, you discover leadership is a team effort, not a one-man show. No individual is as strong or as smart as all of us together. SERVANT LEADERS COMMIT THEMSELVES TO BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM WITH A SHARED VISION, PURPOSE, AND METHODS.

Vision may be initiated by an individual (a pastor, coach, president, supervisor, manager) but vision is best fulfilled by a team which shares the vision. A leader's vision is only as good as the team that fulfills it. Coach T embraced a vision for us to be the best team in South Jersey in 1962.  The Greyhounds caught his vision and got it done.

God believes in teamwork.

The Trinity is a team: Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Exodus 18: Moses' division of labor

Gideon's 300

David's Mighty Men

The 12 Apostles

The Missionary Teams of Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, Barnabas and John Mark.

Paul's leadership teams of elders and deacons after he planted churches.

How wise are Solomon's words: “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.” Ecclesiastes 4: 9, 10.

SERVANT LEADERS DO ONLY WHAT THEY CAN DO AND THEY SERVE OTHERS TO HELP THEM DO WHAT ONLY THEY CAN DO.

Peter Drucker wrote:

Effective leaders never say 'I.' They don't think 'I'. They think 'we'; they think 'team.' They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept the responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'we' gets the credit.”

Coach T. would agree. Do you?

Servant Leadership in Action

It was the night before the execution, Roman style; not a lethal injection, but a public hanging on a cross, for the world to see and remember. But first, the Passover Meal.

Jesus and His disciples make their way to an Upper Room along a dust-covered street. At the house, a servant stood at the front door to wash the feet of guests as they arrived. This night the foot washer didn't show and no disciple volunteered to replace him. Ever wonder why? Maybe they thought. . .

I’m not a foot washer; not me; not my job.”

I'll do hands---maybe; not feet.”

I'm not a slave.”

Have a slipped disc; Doctor recommends no bending or stooping.”

I'm hungry. Need to eat.”

Each one walks in the front door, looks around the room at the dinner table, and takes a seat.

Then Jesus enters. He walks to the table, sitting between John and Judas. He notices the dirty feet of his men reclining at the table. He doesn't say much. Maybe He remembers His sermons, His challenges, His teachings about serving one another, about greatness. Maybe he thought. . .

Did it do any good?”

Will no one have the humility to wash even my feet?”

My death is imminent.”

Will no one serve me?”

When no one makes a move, Jesus makes His. Quietly, as the others ate, He slips away from the table, removes His outer robe, wraps a towel around His waist, and takes in hand a pitcher of water, a basin, and towel. Without saying a word (until He gets to Peter) He carefully washes the feet of each disciple.

NO FANFARE, NO HYPE

NO BELLS AND WHISTLES OR HORNS BLARING

NO MEDIA PHOTO OP

NO ATTENTION DRAWN TO HIMSELF

NOTHING IS BENEATH THE DIGNITY OF A SERVANT LEADER. THEY SIMPLY WANT TO SERVE.

Jesus even washed the feet of Judas. JUDAS! Backstabber. Betrayer. Backslider. Conspirator. Double-crosser. His picture hangs in the same Hall of Shame as Benedict Arnold.

Knowing what Judas the Fink was up to, Jesus stooped down, removed Judas’s sandals, and washed his feet without a word.

Servant leaders stoop to meet needs. They're foot washers. They get involved in people's lives. Servant leadership is doing---not talking about it in board meetings, or preaching it in sermons. Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. . . Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF YOU DO THEM.”

SERVANT LEADERS ACCEPT THE CALL TO SERVE WHETHER OTHERS DESERVE TO BE SERVED OR NOT—EVEN A JUDAS!

WILL YOU?

WOULD YOU HIRE JESUS TO BE YOUR LEADERSHIP CONSULTANT?

Is servant leadership just a “church” thing, something only for pastors, their staff, ministry leaders? Does servant leadership fit into the world of business leadership? Do the principles of servant leadership work for:

            · A corporate executive at AT&T?

            · A president of an airline?

            · A business entrepreneur?

            · A general manager at Starbucks?

            · A doctor, dentist, lawyer?

            · A school principal? A schoolteacher?

            · A little league coach?

Jesus knows your environment whether it's pastoral, business, athletic or school related. Remember, He spent the first thirty years of His earthly life in the family's carpentry business. He knew what it was to work with His hands, earn a living, make decisions, deal with customers, and be exhausted at the end of a day.

 Would you hire the Lord Jesus to be your leadership consultant? Does He have the expertise to deal with the leadership issues you face every day? Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges in their fine book Lead Like Jesus (pages 16&17), reflect on some leadership challenges Jesus encountered:

            · Working with or living and caring for imperfect people.

            · Taking time to train, develop, and delegate

            ·  Under constant scrutiny and testing of commitment and integrity

            ·  Facing fierce competition and conflicting demands from friends and foes

            · Tempted by instant gratification, recognition, misuse of power

            · Facing serious personnel issues, including turnover and betrayal

            · Commitment in a multicultural environment.

            · The need to challenge the status quo and hierarchy to bring about change

            · The need to call attention to poor leadership at great personal risk

            · The need to put career or relationships on the line to serve a higher purpose

            · In your darkest hour, to be abandoned by your friends

When you hire a consultant, you want the best. So why not bring in the Lord Jesus, who is perfect in everything? He's not just smart, He's brilliant. He's the smartest, the wisest man who ever lived. He always has the best information on everything and certainly on the things that matter most in human life. AND, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. . . For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15)

Why Are You in Leadership?

So, you're a leader. Congratulations!  And with your leadership come certain perks and benefits; maybe: a nice salary (more than others on your staff), reserved parking space for your company car, comfortable office with picture windows, expense account, iPhone and iPad, laptop, gasoline mileage, health club membership, etc., all provided because you're a leader.

Imagine for a moment that you didn't have this lifestyle and these benefits. Would you still be a leader?

What if no one had to think your way was always the best way? What if you didn't always have to have the final word? What if you had to listen more than you spoke? What if being “in charge” meant that your job was to see others succeed, to put them and their interests first? What if those you led got ALL the credit and you weren't acknowledged?  Would you still want to lead?

What if all you received was the pleasure of seeing others grow to greater character, achieve more than even they imagined, and you were the spark, the catalyst, the mentor throughout the process? They received the applause, the “well done,” the pat on the back, and respect from others. And no one knew what you did or cared. Would you still be motivated to lead? Could you handle NOT being in the spotlight?

Servant Leadership is hard work; it's a tough deal; impossible at times. Perhaps it should come with a Surgeon General's Warning: Servant leadership may cause headache, nausea, loss of appetite, loss of sleep, anxiety, indecision, loneliness, depression, and stress.

Here's a question every servant leader must ask, “What am I in it for?” If we're in it only for ourselves, we'll do more getting than giving, expect more from others and less from ourselves, be more willing to be served than to serve. Servant leaders are into self-sacrifice, not self-promotion, like the Lord Jesus, who “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of the servant. . . and became obedient to death----EVEN death on a cross!” (Philippians 2: 7, 8) He served so well it killed Him.

Integrity Takes Guts

You're a leader--CEO of a corporation, president of a bank, principal of a school, head coach of a football team, military general, lead pastor, Bible study leader, parent of teenagers, or owner of your own business. Do you want to shock the world you live in? I mean really rock it? Then. ..

Have the guts to stand strong with integrity in a culture lacking moral fiber

Have the guts. . . . to tell the truth all the time. . . to say what you mean and mean what you say every time. . . to not cut ethical corners or take shortcuts. . .to not compromise under pressure. . . to not mess around when you're out of town. . .to keep your words when no one checks up on you. . .to keep your promises . . . to be financially accountable, personally reliable, and privately pure. . to be honest at all costs. . .to do what is right when no one else is looking or when everyone else is compromising. . . to not cheat on exams or plagiarize a paper. That kind of life radiates like a brilliant star lighting up the universe (Philippians 2:15)

INTEGRITY ROCKS!!

Three things to remember about integrity:

·         INTEGRTITY STAYS IN PLACE WHETHER TESTED BY ADVERSITY OR PROSPERITY. Of the two, prosperity is the more difficult. With adversity, life gets simple, basic … fast. The goal is SURVIVAL! With prosperity comes a variety of temptations and inducements. Remember Daniel managed his integrity at the top of the ladder as well as at the bottom of the lion's den. He went in with integrity and came out with it.

·         INTEGRITY IS CONSISTENT whether you are a husband, wife, or parent, an employee or employer, a leader or follower, a teacher or student, a pastor or a ministry leader.

·         INTEGRITY BEGINS NOW. Now is the time:

to be above reproach

to change your attitude

to be pure, honest, trust worthy

to maintain an unbending walk with the Lord.

“As a man (a leader) thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Integrity is a matter of our hearts.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) Jesus told His disciples they were to live before the world so that the light of their character would be so apparent that people would give thanks to God.

An Unbending Walk with God

John Maxwell, a noted writer on leadership, writes, “Your gifts and skills might get you to the top, but only your character will keep you there.”

That's why Daniel's bio intrigues us. His character was flawless when he was at the top of the ladder and at the bottom of the lion's den. He went in with integrity and came out with it in tact.

Daniel had a superb work ethic, both in his attitude and performance. He did his work well because he saw it well. The two always go together. Also, Daniel had a blameless character. His peers did their best to dig up dirt to discredit Daniel in the king's eyes. Didn’t work. The guy was squeaky clean---morally upright, honest, above reproach, trustworthy. THAT'S INTEGRITY. Remember CHARACTER ALWAYS COUNTS.

The peer group didn't back down. Not this bunch. Daniel 6: 5 reads that the only way the mob might find any basis for charges against Daniel was in something tied to “the law of his God.” The “dirt team” appealed to the king's ego and manipulated him to sign an irrevocable law, ordering the people to pray only to the king for 30 days. If they didn't, they would be the evening meal for lions.

Daniel wasn't deterred by the new law. It was his daily practice to pray three times in front of a window facing Jerusalem. Even a death threat couldn't stop him. For Daniel, it was a no-brainer. Maybe he reasoned, “I'll pray, why shouldn't I? Always have, always will. If I die, I die. Gotta go out some way.”

That underscores a third mark of Daniel’s integrity--AN UNBENDING WALK WITH GOD.

How's your walk with the Lord? Do you have one? Are you consistent? What distracts you? Too busy? Have you ever thought that if you're too busy for God, you're too busy?

Do you worship regularly or is it hit and miss? When you worship, do you really worship, connecting your heart with God's heart or is your worship perfunctory, routine, boring?

Beyond Sunday worship, do you allow personal time for God to speak to you through His dynamic Word?

Do you pray? Is it because you have to or because you can’t live without it?

CONSISTENCY IN YOUR WALK WITH THE LORD JESUS BREEDS INTEGRITY IN YOUR LIFE.

Servant leadership and a walk with God go hand-in-hand.

How's Your Personal Character?

INTEGRITY---It's sadly missing today.

   People feel they can't trust anyone anymore.

Business leaders can't trust their employees; employees can't trust their leaders.

Some well-known church leaders have failed miserably in their integrity.

Political candidates talk, but do their lives match their talk?

 

Integrity is hard to find because it's so easy to compromise. We compromise integrity by:

LYING, saying something is true when we know it isn't.

LUSTING, inappropriate sexual thoughts.

LOITERING, hanging out with the wrong crowd.

LOOTING, taking something that isn't ours.

Daniel is a great model of leadership integrity. His work ethic was flawless, both in his performance and perspective. And the king promoted him to the top position in the kingdom.

THAT'S WHEN IT HIT THE FAN!

As long as Daniel did his job, everything was fine. Instead, he excelled above the others, and things changed---dramatically. The managers under Daniel and the two vice presidents, formed an investigation committee looking for hidden dirt in Daniel's life. They stalked him, talked about him to others, gained access into his computer to check his files, went through his desk, checked out his closets, unlocked his iPhone, and who knows what else.

They found NOTHING. ZERO. NADA---no hanky-panky, no secret funds, no fraud, no hushed cover ups, no corruption, no scandal in the making, no goofing off on company time. Daniel met his deadlines on time. He left work when he should not when he felt like it. He didn't make it a habit to take extended lunches on company time. The guy was squeaky clean which reveals another quality of integrity---A Blameless Character.

How's your personal character?

Are you reliable? Negligent? Getting by with things you shouldn't?

Do you keep your promises to your kids? All the time?

Are you truthful when your spouse asks about your spending, your time?

Do you answer emails, texts? Return calls when you say you will?

Are you careful where you go, who you are with?

Are you personally holy?

 

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LEADERSHIP INTEGRITY

Some believe personal character has little to do with leadership. Do you agree? If so, then ask yourself these questions:

Do people of low character influence and inspire you to action?

Do you get along well with people of low character?

Do you admire people of low character?

Would you welcome them leading you?

Like it or not, agree or disagree, character counts in leadership. Warren Bennis, who studied and wrote extensively on leadership, said, “Leadership is character in action.”  Character is what people will remember about you more than your brilliance, ingenuity, competency, and energy.

Integrity is one of the greatest qualities of a leader's character. Integrity (or lack of it) is a leader's legacy, what people remember about them. Integrity doesn't cut ethical corners, tell subordinates to lie, cheat, falsify records, shift blame to others, or compromise under pressure. Integrity doesn't fear the light of scrutiny.

Daniel was a leader who incarnated integrity. At the age of 80, he was a VP, a top-level position under Darius, the Persian king. Power was at his disposal. He had respect and elite status in this God-hating Persian system.

Daniel maintained a fabulous work ethic. Daniel 6:3 says that he excelled among the other leaders and managers so much that the king planned to promote him over the entire kingdom. Daniel stood out like a healthy thumb on a withered hand. He wasn't like everyone else. He did his work well because he saw it well. When review time, Daniel got promoted.

  • How's your work? Do you do it well? Are you the best leader you can be?
  • How's your attitude? Granted we all have bad days, but is every day a bad day? Is the problem a bad day or a bad life?
  • Are you easy to work for or with? How would others rate your leadership performance?  
  • Are you a tough guy, the boss, control freak, or a servant leader who is considerate and respectful of others and their ideas?
  • How's your spiritual perspective toward your leadership? Does God fit into your leadership role every day? How?

A MARK OF INTEGRITY IS EXCELLENCE ON THE JOB, BOTH IN PERFORMANCE AND ATTITUDE

A LEADER'S INTEGRITY

“In a president, character is everything,” writes Peggy Noonan, speechwriter for both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. She continued, “A president doesn't have to be brilliant. . . he doesn't have to be clever; you can hire clever. . . You can hire pragmatic, and you can buy and bring in policy wonks. But you cannot buy courage and decency; you can't rent a strong moral sense. A president must bring those things with him.”

What she says of a president is true of any leader regardless of their leadership responsibilities. Leadership character is not optional; it's essential. You dare not lead without it.

If one character trait stands out above the others, it's INTEGRITY. Embrace this one and you embrace many of the others. Integrity is wholeness . . . entireness. . . completeness . . . soundness. It's what personal health is to your body, what 20/20 vision is to your eyes. Integrity has nothing to hide. It's an open book.

Psalm 78:72 says of David, “And David shepherded them (Israel) with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” That's a perfect balance for a leader. David skillfully handled situations that had no rules, no boundaries, no precedence. And in his character, he had a heart of integrity. He wasn't perfect; no leader is. But David was complete, whole, sound.

Integrity:

·         Tells the truth every time, not just when it's convenient.

·         Means what it says and says what it means.

·         Is financially accountable, wise in handling money, especially another's.

·         Is personally reliable; it keeps its promises. When it says, “I'll meet you at 9:00, it's 9:00 not 9:05.

·          Is privately pure. No double life that causes shame and disgrace to the family if known.

“He who walks with integrity and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart. . . will never be shaken.” (Psalm15)

THE COMING OF JESUS, THE SERVANT LEADER

When the greatest leader of all time came on the scene, hardly anyone noticed . . . or cared.

The obstetrician was the baby’s earthly father, the delivery room, an animal courtyard.

No protocol or pretension.

Angels weren’t flying about, only flies.

Important CEO’s or big names weren’t hovering around; only donkeys, some cows, sheep, maybe a camel, and a horde of barn mice.

He was born in lowliness, lived in meekness, died in humility, and yet raised from the dead in awesome splendor.

That’s Jesus, the One we magnify in our worship this Christmas . . . Jesus, the Name above all Names. . Jesus, our Redeemer. . .

Jesus, the prime example of a servant leader for leaders to follow.

WHAT DRIVES YOUR SUCCESS?

What drives your success as a leader? You might think it’s your impressive skills. They are important, but the lack of skills is not what derails many leaders. Skills are too easy to learn.

When leaders fail to thrive, the culprit is often their leadership character, not their lack of skills.

Mark Miller uses the picture of an iceberg to illustrate leadership. 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water and 90% below. Let the part above represent leadership skills, the things leaders do and people see all the time (set the vision, establish goals, plan, resolve conflict). Let the part below, the unseen, represent leadership character, what a leader is on the inside.

90% of a leader’s effectiveness is determined by what’s below the waterline. Leadership character ultimately drives what a leader does and why they do it. It colors everything we do as a leader.

Many leaders spend most of their time and energy developing the 10%. They earn BBA/MBA degrees from prestigious universities, take in leadership seminars, hire professional consultants, whatever it takes to make them successful, good, prosperous in the 10% above the waterline.

Yet, little or no effort is spent developing the 90% of leadership character, who they really are as people. They’re like the man who built a nice house—beautiful, big, comfortable, loaded with luxuries. Foolishly the house was built on beach sand. You’ve heard the story. When the hurricane hit, the house collapsed, the valued client said “no,” the business went bankrupt, key people left the company, a marriage ended, the family fell apart, a life was shattered.

“Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.” Henry Cloud.

The real stressors of life are not the business issues, but the character issues.

Character always rules

A LEADER’S CHARACTER

Character is the #1 issue in leadership. Howard Hendricks has said, “The greatest crisis in the world today is a crisis of leadership, and the greatest crisis of leadership is a crisis of character.”

            We see characterless leaders in corporations, like Enron, Andersen, Worldcom

            Characterless leaders in government like Richard Nixon

            Characterless leaders in athletics like Tiger Woods, Johnny Manziel

            Characterless leaders in finances like Bernard Madoff

            Characterless leaders in many marriages and families

            Characterless leaders in big churches and large ministries

These leaders didn’t fail in their competency; they excelled in what they did. They failed in their character. “99% of leadership failures are failures of character,” (General Norman Schwarzkopf.)

Servant leadership is character based. It deals with the heart, the center or inner core of our being from which our thoughts, actions, and habits flow. Servant leaders don’t just act differently. They are being transformed in their inner being which affects their leadership. It’s the inner life that counts.