Leadership is Under the Microscope

Our families, churches, corporations and our nation is built and shaped by leaders. In order to change our world, we first need to change the skill set and effectiveness of our leaders.

Consider the changing roles of our Pastors. Young people are called to enter the Ministry. They go to Bible College and Seminary to be taught by Biblical scholars. Then, with the God given gifts of preaching and teaching, they graduate and enter their life calling. This calling fast becomes a burnout job. Our churches expect these men and women to define a vision, motivate a team of volunteers, supervise staff and coordinate building projects. Then we add administrative systems, finances, changing demographics and instant email communication while our Pastors struggle to develop multicultural ministries. To survive, our Pastors are forced to stretch way beyond their gifts, strengths and abilities.

“Our interviews with nation-wide, representative samples of Protestant Pastors consistently show that most Pastors do not even consider themselves to be leaders. Fewer than one out of every 20 pastors believes he/she has the spiritual gift of leadership. Fewer than one out of every four pastors claims to serve the church as a true leader. Most of them feel they have been called, trained and hired to preach and teach. Leadership, for most pastors, is just one of those unfortunate duties they must endure as part of the deal that allows them to do that which really turns them on-preaching and teaching.” The habits of highly effective churches by George Barna.

Paul defined a number of leadership roles and illustrated the effect of the team working together.  He called the team a body.

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

Do your work, committees, assignments and budget decisions all work together to accomplish the vision of the church?

Leadership is everyone working together effectively.

As an effective member of the team, what can you do to support your Pastor today?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is Values

Dave, a young executive worked directly for the CEO of the corporation. He supervised seventeen staff and according to his annual performance review, his unit was doing an impressive job. As life would have it, after a re-organization he found himself reporting to a new boss.

The new boss supervised four executives. In his first two years he fired two and the third had a nervous breakdown. That left Dave. Hmm! As time progressed it became obvious that the two individuals had totally different values. The new boss asked Dave to falsify budgets, lie to the CEO when he called and to cover for him when he had had too much to drink. It became obvious that to maintain his integrity, Dave had to leave. His letter of resignation didn’t blame anyone and didn’t make any accusations.

Skip ahead two years, Dave was hired by another wing of this corporation in another city. His new boss illustrated one of the reasons he was called for an interview was because she recognized the challenges in the former department. Her call to Human Resources confirmed the young executive had resigned due to an unwillingness to lower his values, lie and cheat. The new boss, the Vice President confirmed that was all she needed to know and he was invited to the interview.  To conclude this value based example, this young Executive rose through the organization to be the next CEO. The rest is history.

Leadership is value based.  What values guide your leadership?

What values are so strong in your life that you would resign before you would compromise your values?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is Wisdom

You supervise thirteen employees within a corporation with several thousand staff. Your unit is responsible to consult with staff within your company and other related industries.

As part of the annual budget cycle you identify various pieces of audio visual equipment, computers and laptops that are surplus. The process in your company requires you to send the surplus equipment to an auction with the funds being returned to head office.  The systems are somewhat loose with no central listing of assets. As a Supervisor you are entrusted to make decisions in the best interest of the company.

Your Boss, in his volunteer role on weekends, is the president of a recreational ski club.  He tells you the club survives by dues and donations. He further illustrates that his ski club has had a tough year and is really short of audio visual equipment. He tells you that the ski club could really use the surplus equipment. He states that the corporation is big, growing, turning a profit and declaring it surplus is just giving it away.

Your Boss also reminds you that he’ll be doing your performance appraisal in a couple of months and it would be to your and his personal advantage if the surplus equipment were to be left in the hallway for him to take to his ski club instead of to surplus auction.

King Nebuchadnezzar describes Daniel and his three friends as, “…in all matters of wisdom and understanding about which the king examined them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers who were in all his realm.” (Daniel 1:20)

Leadership is defining wise choices in the face of conflicting options.

Would your staff confirm that you choose wisely in difficult circumstances?

Yours in Service
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is Exceeding Expectations

My wife Char’s gift is hospitality. Entertaining fifteen people for supper is a pleasure.  During our early years, we couldn’t afford a real dining room table. With my very limited carpentry skills, we used a square slab of plywood with four legs. We kept saving until we could afford to buy Char’s dream table.

We shopped furniture stores but no table. Our next option was a custom build. We dropped in to a local store and introduced ourselves.

Char described her Oak, single pedestal, five foot square table expandable to a rectangle seating sixteen. The table needed to be sturdy and decorative for long term consistent use. The sales guy drew a picture of what he figured Char needed, an oblong table seating 6. We call this a ‘preconceived solution to a preconceived need’.

I joined the conversation and apologized that I had forgotten to introduce Char. The sales guy looked puzzled. I continued, very politely telling him that Char went by a couple of different names. One name was Char, the second was customer and the third was profit. He listened having no idea where I was headed.

Next, I reminded him that he also had a couple of names. His given name was on his name tag and his other name was overhead. (I was prepared to tell him his third name was expendable but I didn’t need to go that far.) He apologized, pulled a new pad of paper and in five minutes drew the table that Char had described. He gave us a price, we paid and a month later Char had her dream dining room table. She is still serving unbelievable meals for sixteen people around her custom built table.

As a leader, whether you are an entrepreneur, a hospital administrator, church or furniture store guy, you need to remember who the customer or potential customer is. If you want the customer to return and bring their friends, then the experience needs to focus on their needs, not ours.

A lesson learned.  Leadership is knowing your role and working to exceed expectations.

Do you listen first and then work to exceed the expectation?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is… Responsibility

“The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose”, C. S. Lewis said in Devotional Classics.

The challenge is, many Christian leaders are acting more like our secular counterparts than the Servant Leaders Christ intended us to be. James MacDonald titled his article in Leadership Journal, I’m in charge here. He states, “Christian executives generally were more authoritative than their pagan counterparts (and) tend not to seek input from their subordinates as readily as do unbelieving administrators.” Further, David Lundy in Servant Leadership for Slow Learners, theorized that, “Many churches fail to grow because leadership is hoarded by the chosen few”.

As Christian leaders we need to live the Biblical model of Servant Leadership.  Autocratic management models and the newest fad from the leadership style of the month club are not for the Christian Servant Leader. According to C. S. Lewis and David Lundy, the responsibility for improving the health of our churches rests squarely with the Christian Leader. Note (Ephesians 4:11-12) “…Christ gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…”  Secular leadership styles do not produce effective character building or servant-oriented leadership. Christian leaders must be different. As effective Christian leaders, we need to demonstrate God’s love through our relationship with Christ, loving our neighbors and ensuring the spiritual health of those under our care.

I like to remind Elders and Leadership Boards that they are legally, ethically and spiritually responsible for their churches.

Leadership is committing us to a life of service integrated with prayer.

Are you leading responsibly?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is… Honest Use of Company Resources

An employee is responsible to visit clients in a large rural area. He visits individual homes each week, checks in daily, submits his reports electronically and arrives in the office for Team meetings every other Tuesday. His work is positive, reports accurately and is well respected by his clients. He lives on an acreage outside a small town a short distance from the city where his head office is located.

His employment package, confirms he gets a company vehicle for all his work related travelling. He has a company credit card for gas, maintenance and repairs. It just didn’t seem reasonable to expect the employee to allocate an hour every day to come into the office to pick up and return the company vehicle. So, he is allowed to keep the vehicle at home.  However, he cannot use it for personal business.

The challenge arrives when the employee is discovered, using the company vehicle to drive his daughter to specialty music lessons to a neighbouring town. This hour long trip has used the company gas and vehicle every weekend for the previous three years.

This example may seem too obvious. Is it? The point is, how is your record for honest use of company resources? You may not be borrowing/stealing the company car, gas, wear and tear. However, do you arrive late and leave early? Are your lunch and coffee breaks getting longer? Do company pens, pads of paper, computers and laptops find their way to your home and personal life? Speaking of personal life, are you representing your employer in a positive manner on your off hours? How much time do you spend on personal phone calls, email and internet use?

Check Romans 12:11 in the Living Bible, “Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

In Executive Influence, Crane and Hamel confirm that, “Christians are held to a different standard, no matter what their titles.”

Leadership is living a life that is beyond question setting an exemplary standard.

Are you are being totally honest in all your decisions related to company resources?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is… Prioritizing

In the business world of bottom lines, profit margins and shareholder meetings, we look for more effective ways of achieving results. The sincere desire to serve customers and make a profit is paramount. Executives and staff alike look for ways to eliminate duplication, reduce waste and work more effectively.

The 80/20 rule (Pareto’s rule) suggests we get 80% of our results from 20% of our activities. Put it another way, 20% of your activities are responsible for producing a full 80% of your results. The beauty and challenge of this little formula is to concentrate on the work that really has an impact. Then, we should reduce and eliminate those activities that have little impact on the ultimate purpose or vision.

We all have priorities, commitments, responsibilities and we try to work in a hobby and time for relaxation. The challenge comes with the realization that there are too many activities than the time available. Just like a budget we need to define where time is going then re-allocate accordingly.

We all admit and agree that the schedule is demanding and all encompassing. Take a look at your calendar this week. What are you doing that produces little or no results? Are you doing anything that is more based on tradition or the way we have always done it? Find a low productivity activity and replace it with a high priority one and you’ll be making progress. Now do this every week and over the next year you’ll find the transformation in your work and church will be significant.

Here’s a place to start, re-read Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”

Leadership is prioritizing all your activities.

What is your highest priority for today?

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is… Serving

It is an awesome privilege to coach leaders. Every leader is crafted in God’s image with a plan in place before birth. God designed each leader with unique gifts, skills and experiences providing a mosaic of latent ability to accomplish His purpose.

Ministry leaders have a wonderful calling. They demonstrate God’s love to other leaders, volunteers and friends. Christ demonstrated his leadership through service by setting an example. Note, “…Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Matthew 20:26-28)
Leaders, we are at a decision point. We cannot lead by tradition and ‘the way we’ve always done it’. It isn’t working. Haggai suggests we need to “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:3). Christ confirms, “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). We need Biblically based Servant Leaders who are effective. The sometimes leading, sometimes following, indecision style that leads with control or the guru of the month club doesn’t work. Christ said, “Every kingdom (church, business, corporation, family) divided against itself will be ruined” (Matthew 12:25).

Servant Leadership is alive and healthy in many church and business settings.  These value driven organizations recognize the individual gifts of their people. The service they provide is a priority and foremost in their thinking. Their vision, values and policies are infused with Servant Leadership. They live, breathe and duplicate themselves through loving and caring service.

Prisoners of Hope, Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer were asked, “But aren’t you really going to Afghanistan to try to convert people to Christianity? Isn’t the work with the poor just a way into people’s lives so you can preach to them?” Their response is typical of the Servant Leader, “the word ‘convert’ does not accurately reflect our intentions; it implies something vaguely manipulative, even dishonest. What we wanted to do was serve the Afghan people because we felt God had put a special love for them in our hearts”.

Leadership is serving.  The effective Servant Leader is consistent, future driven, results oriented and has positive character skills.  Effective leadership begins with each small transformational step toward Servant Leadership.

Look at your work and decisions today.  Are you serving?
Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

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Leadership is… Prayer, Heart, Vision and Values

Nehemiah was a layman, a civil servant, one of King Artaxerxes’ most trusted servants.  Tradition suggests the Cupbearer was young, articulate, knowledgeable and physically fit. As the King’s Cupbearer, he protected his boss by sampling the food and wine.  

Nehemiah’s brothers visited and shared that his city had problems, the walls were broken. The city of his people was in desolation. Nehemiah was concerned, his face and countenance showed it. However, concern alone was not enough. He made a decision to pray and seek God’s guidance. He waited for God’s timing and asked King Artaxerxes for his personal credit card to get wood from the King’s forest, safe passage to rebuild the walls and to return his beloved city to a place of commerce and spiritual beliefs.

Nehemiah’s success in building the wall is likely due as much to his care and concern for people as his building acumen. His emotional strength is demonstrated by his heart-felt love and concern for his brethren back home. He mourned, fasted and prayed day and night for them for four months.
Nehemiah pondered and referred to the things God had put in his heart. He used strong emotion in his prayer when he asked God to, “…give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins” (Nehemiah 4:4). Nehemiah set a tremendous example of his value and belief in prayer. He continually prayed before and during times of stress and decision “For some days… I prayed” (1:4-10). Nehemiah knew his power and strength came from God. He had a personal relationship with God. He looked to God for advice, resource and strength on a continual basis. The wall was completed in fifty two days and the whole project was such a success that even his enemies knew that it was done with the help of God (6:16).
Nehemiah didn’t need the latest Management guru. He led from his heart. With all the decisions, pressures and challenges leaders face in today’s world, we would do well to do the same. Chris Crane in his book Executive Influence says, “The next great movement in Christianity is demonstration. If we want people to believe in Jesus Christ, then we Christians must behave differently.”
Leadership is looking to your heart, defining your vision through prayer and living your leadership role according to your values. God had a plan for Nehemiah and his people and He has a plan for you.
What does God have in mind for you today?

Yours in Service
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

 

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