A Leader’s Lament

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Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
I beat the drum often, not wanting others to forget
Not sharing in my passion, they insincerely acquiesce

Only a few things matter, yet my brain is scattered
One word of criticism, and my worth is shattered
When it comes to living, when it comes to teamwork
Everyone talks the talk, but the walk is misgiving

“We” are stronger than “I”, as long as “I” gets the credit
My humility most impressive, I’ll tell you all about it
I want the truth, desperately seeking transparency
Yet words are guarded, dishonesty flowered deceptively

I’m here for you, I’ve got your back
I believe in you, there’s nothing I lack
Unless someone disagrees, unless someone moans
Then I need to step away, I need courage on loan

A fish out of water, is a fish out of air
I have something in common, it’s something I share
Take care of my cause, take care of my needs
Then I’ll let people know, you are a wise man who leads

But leading isn’t popularity, it isn’t first to please
It isn’t taking polls, it’s not putting people at ease
It means having deep convictions, having secure beliefs
It means staying true to course, not taking relief

The hill I climb is lonely, often feeling stranded
The hill I climb is baren, often taken for granted
The hill I climb is noble, the hill I climb is inspiring
As long as it does not get in the way of your living

Females raped and murdered, where is the rage?
It seems important, but message gets back page
The church is the answer, the message of justice we bring
But the words get muted, arguing over the songs we sing

Children die before 5, $20 is the solution
My debit card is low, comfort my main concern
I have the money, but I’m keeping up with the Jones’
Car, House, Boat, busy paying off the loans’

The world needs billions, seems overwhelming
Billions would not compare, if Christians were tithing
I can’t do it all, but I can open the door
If I learn to say “No”, I can do so much more

Boys without role models, absent of fathers
They are not on my block, so why even bother
But the needs are great, the opportunities do not lack
I am the change I pray for, but my schedule is packed

Options are good, until there are too many
Poverty cries out, “I don’t have any”
America the beautiful, everyone given equal chance
Unless born in the hood, equality becomes a fat chance

More concerned about position, more about my security
My dreams are much more daring, as I live in my safety
Been told to be quiet, told “balance” is for the wise
There’s no more heroes, “well rounded” is our demise

I check my heart, I check by pride
I check my will, putting desires aside
I live in abundance, my challenges are few
When I say I have problems, I ask, “Compared to who?”

People want the world to be like them
I say, they should want the world to be like HIM
As soon as I say my theology is a lock
I have just put God right in a box

My faith is bigger than Republican or Democrat
My faith is stronger than where the world is at
Jesus created this world, then gave his life
He asks me to love this world, then give up my life

Sometimes I care too much, my ego trumps reason
Sometimes I don’t care enough, it depends on the season
But one thing I know, one thing I am sure
That loving orphans and widows is a religion that’s pure!

6 Paradoxes of a Leader

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Paradoxes can be funny like when comedian John Stewart said, “Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn up by religion” or when Yogi Berra said, “Nobody comes here anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Paradoxes can be funny but they can also be very important in framing an effective leadership strategy. Soren Kierkegaard talked about the huge impact paradoxes can have in our thinking when he wrote, “One must not think slightingly of the paradoxical…for the paradox is the source of the thinker’s passion, and the thinker without a paradox is like a lover without feeling: a paltry mediocrity.” 

I love what Danish Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr stated about how things begin to move forward when a paradox shows up, “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” 

Jesus was the ultimate paradoxical leader and turned the religious institutions of his day upside down when he stated “…that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat. If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. If you serve me, you must go with me. My servants will be with me wherever I am. If you serve me, my Father will honor you.” John 12:24-26

Lots of paradoxical statements in those three verses!

To be a paradoxical leader you have to learn to embrace the subordinating conjunction “while”. “While” means 1) at or during same time: at or during the same time that  2) even though: in spite of the fact that.

Here are six paradoxes that every effective leader must face. The question is, how do you live out the “while”?

PARADOX #1 You must be building and recruiting and investing in leaders and getting out of the way, WHILE still being in the trenches.

PARADOX #2 You must be the inspiration, positive, optimistic voice for your team, WHILE making sure you take care of yourself when you are discouraged or drained.

PARADOX #3 You must invest in other people’s gifts and talents, helping to bring out the best in them, WHILE making sure you are growing and stretching and getting better at your gifts and talents.

PARADOX #4 You must do something for a long period of time (consistency) in order to grow an organization that has deep roots, an enduring vision and a sustainable future, WHILE making sure you try new things that allow you to get out of your comfort zone and to experience other passions in your life.

PARADOX #5 You must be a big picture, structure building, org-chart expanding leader, WHILE remembering that the most important part of your life is about close friendships, family and a personal faith.

PARADOX #6 You must never get too high or too low, knowing that leading is a long journey, and that it’s not a sprint but a marathon, WHILE remembering that every moment counts and every encounter is sacred and all you have is the present.

Would love to hear how you live out these paradoxes and what it looks like in your life or organization.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
― Carl R. Rogers

A Leader’s Most Powerful Tool

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Effective leaders COLLABORATE.
Effective organizations reward COLLABORATION.

col•lab•o•ra•tion (n) kə làbbə ráysh’n -a working together: the act of working together with one or more people in order to achieve something

Leadership is about collaborating.
Managing is about administrating.

Collaboration is messy. Administration is neat.
Collaboration is fluid. Administration is constant.
Collaboration is a process. Administration is a moment.
Collaboration is flexible. Administration is rigid.
Collaboration is plural. Administration is singular.

Collaboration is LEADING. Administration is MANAGING.

Two different skill sets. There’s a big difference!

A leader’s most powerful tool is the gift and strategy of collaboration.

“Leadership on any team should be plural, not singular.”
Mike Krzyzewski, men’s basketball coach Duke University

Leadership becomes ineffective when it becomes an outlet for our gifts and talents, with little thought or energy devoted to working with others to build on our strengths and to compensate for our weaknesses.

Most leadership in America lives with this misconception: That if they are the central leader, everything depends upon them. God cautioned about the “I must do it all” mentality in the 18th chapter of Exodus. (Take some time to read the whole chapter)

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, shared a huge, key leadership principle: No single individual, even when called and gifted by God to serve as a leader, has all of the resources and abilities required to satisfy the leadership needs of a group.

“The graveyards are full of indispensable men.”
Charles DeGaulle

God has rendered all leaders incomplete in their ability to effectively lead people toward God’s vision. There is no leader alive who possesses all the gifts, skills, and abilities required to satisfy the entire package of leadership needs of any group of people or to do everything necessary to accomplish an important task.

A leader’s most powerful tool is the gift and strategy of collaboration.

THE EFFECTIVENESS OF COLLABORATION:
It prevents SILOS
It produces GREATER RESULTS
It creates BIGGER VISION
It increases GREATER RESPECT FROM OTHER LEADERS
It gives GOD GLORY

5 WAYS TO COLLABORATE:
Do a PROJECT TOGETHER.
Go to other PLANNING MEETINGS.
Sit down ONE ON ONE with another leader.
RESPECT, LEARN & UTILIZE the passion of others.
Stop caring WHO GETS THE CREDIT.

“The beauty of collaboration between older and younger generations is that we combine strength with wisdom—a surefire way to accomplish more for the glory of God.”  Brett Harris, author ‘Do Hard Things’

“Strategy is not really a solo sport – even if you’re the CEO.”  Max McKeown, The Strategy Book

“As Christians, we should be the best collaborators in the world. We should be quick to find unlikely allies and subversive friends, like Jesus did.”  Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?

“The company owner doesn’t need to win. The best idea does.”  John C. Maxwell, The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization