A Leader’s Most Powerful Tool



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.

It prevents SILOS
It gives GOD GLORY

Sit down ONE ON ONE with another leader.
RESPECT, LEARN & UTILIZE the passion of others.

“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

5 Attributes of Successful Non-Profit Leaders


1. They have a clear, uncompromising, passionate vision about what their organization is about.

Successful leaders make sure that they are the voice and keeper of the vision.

As Pastor Bill Hybels once stated “Vision leaks.” People who are in the trenches working heroically, fighting injustice, serving the underprivileged and defending the marginalized can become tired and discouraged and forget the overall vision of why they are there and why the organization exists.

When we are tired or discouraged, vision will seep out of us and fear and compromise will creep into us.

THE most important job as a leader is to keep the vision clear and find ways through celebratory stories, inspiring teachings, consistent systems and personal examples to remind people why they are there.

I call this “Creative Redundancy”.

One of the most effective tools for fundraising for non-profits is a clear vision. Resources flow out of  vision.

Successful leaders do this.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” —Proverbs 29:18

2. They leave managing things to others and they focus their time investing in, recruiting and leading people.

People are the most important commodity of any organization and especially a non-profit organization.

This is a fundamental philosophy that every leader must adhere to.

The strength of your people = The effectiveness of your organization.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a WWII hero, observed, “You manage things; you lead people.”

With all the demands of details, tasks and systems, leaders must make sure that the majority of their time is in growing people towards their greatest potential.

Great organizations have great people and great people will give their best and will commit to the long haul not because of pay or perfect systems, but because the vision is clear and because they feel invested in and valued.

3. They are suspicious of success and keep the organization grateful, humble and optimistically dissatisfied.

Short term success has killed more organizations than short term failure. One of the biggest responsibilities of a leader is to help his/her organization navigate success.

Success can make us sloppy with budgets, overestimate our abilities and comfortable with the status quo.

Successful leaders learn how to celebrate wins while reminding people that pending successes are not guaranteed and that humility and gratefulness lead to a sustainable, winning future.

Successful leaders learn to create a sustainable discord where victories are celebrated but the tension of uncompleted goals propel the organization forward.

4. They understand that talk is cheap and clearly defined results are the measure of success.

U.S.C. professor and leadership guru Warren Bennis says it very succinctly, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

Bottom line: If vision isn’t becoming reality, successful leaders take full ownership of the problem and spend sleepless nights trying to figure out how to make effective changes.

Mediocre leaders justify, compromise, pass the blame and learn to live with a lack of urgency  that infects those they are leading.

One of the most important things successful leaders do is they clearly define what organizational success is and then they evaluate their successes accordingly. This takes deep conviction and confidence in themselves to say, “I have failed, I can do better.”

Successful leaders live deeply rooted in reality while striving for and reaching for idealism.

5. They sacrifice ego to empower those they are leading to greatness, thus making the organization stronger and more sustainable.

Successful leaders learn to navigate the difficult transition from top down leadership to servant leadership.

Servant leadership involves making sure people are working in their strengths and passions.

Servant leadership involves helping people grow holistically.

Servant leadership involves allowing others to get credit while remaining quietly in the background.

Servant leadership involves collaboration, humility, inner strength, less fame and a commitment to a greater cause.

When servant leaders retire, their organizations usually transition well because values are deep, vision is clear, and structure is sustainable because it was not built on one person or one personality.

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” —Jack Welch

“The job of love is to help someone realize their potential.” Bono

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” Max DePree



And not in any particular order:

10. To acquiesce to evil is the same as perpetrating it.

It’s easy to preach about it, talk about it, know about it and even agree on it, but we are asked to put our life on the line for it. For sake of heaven and hell.

As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I’m tired of talking about it.

9. Feeling good does not nearly feel as good as doing good.

As we live on the shallow surface of feelings, true joy waits for those who mend hearts that have been broken and give hope to lives that have been forsaken.

Christians need to quit living their faith off of  feelings.

8. Narcissism 1) excessive interest in self & physical appearance 2) extreme selfishness w/grandiose view of own talents & craving for admiration

Narcissism: hmmmm….this might be our problem.

People who are narcissistic are really insecure. And people who are insecure are narcissistic. I don’t know which one comes first. I have been both.

7. Acronym for victim is witness. When we witness: to see, hear or know by personal presence & perception, then we have no time to be a victim.

Steve Maraboli shares this thought in a very subtle way, “Your complaints, your drama, your victim mentality, your whining, your blaming, and all of your excuses have NEVER gotten you even a single step closer to your goals or dreams. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of the delusion that you DESERVE better and go EARN it! Today is a new day!”

I think he was talking to me.

6. Find young people who want to change the world, spend time with them, mentor them, challenge them, dare them to be great and lead by example.

This new generation is looking for our validation, but they are also looking for a dare and at our actions. They need truth and a dare, a dare to change the world.

Quit looking on the surface of their lives and know that there is a thirst in their soul that can only be quenched by brave, selfless living.

5. Most are paralyzed by the moment. Visionary leaders liberate people to a better future.

Visionary leaders see the past as something to learn from but not to get stuck in.

Visionary leaders see the problems around them  as opportunities to make progressive change and not to get depressed from them.

Visionary leaders see the uncertainty of the future as glorious and hopeful and not immobilized by fear.

Martin Luther King Jr. was being a visionary leader when he said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

I’m tired of people pointing out the problems. It doesn’t take a genius to know we have problems. Someone point out the solutions and I will follow you!

4. One life, one opportunity, one change, one legacy, may we love mercy, walk humbly & act justly.

When it comes down to it life is pretty simple, so why do I complicate it? I am easily distracted.

3. Keeping your eye on the prize will not always make you popular, but it will bring you respect. None of us are called to be popular.

There is nothing worse than hanging around someone whose number one goal is to be liked.

Scott Boyle explains the difference between popularity and respect: “The simple difference between popularity and respect is that popularity is a state while respect is a trait.”

The state of popularity is fleeting and fragile.
The trait of respect is earned and durable.

2. Stay focused on your vision today. Many people will try to sidetrack you from the passion and purpose that you have been divinely given.

To do something great, to accomplish your divine mission will definitely not be easy, but God never promised easy.

Winston Churchill challenges me with these words, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”

You may be discouraged, not seeing things working out like you want them to but remember the words of Francis Bacon, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”

1. Justice is practical, relentless, courageous. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good but it puts you in the center of God’s heart.

It has been said that, “From ancient times the God of the Bible stood out from the gods of all other religions as a God on the side of the powerless.”

These are just a few thoughts bouncing around in my head, and they are edited, trust me.

You Have To Go Out, But You Don’t Have To Come Back

On Nantucket Island, there is a little museum devoted to a volunteer organization formed centuries ago.

In those days, travel by sea was extremely dangerous. Because of the storms in the Atlantic along the rocky coast of Massachusetts, many lives would be lost within a mile or so of land.

So a group of volunteers went into the life-saving business. They banded together to form what was called the Humane Society.

These people built little huts all along the shore. They had people watching the sea all the time. Whenever a ship went down, the word would go out, and these people would devote everything to save every life they could.

They did not put themselves at risk for money or fame, but only because they prized human life.

In fact they adopted a motto that said: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” Not a great recruiting slogan is it?

These were people who would risk everything—even their lives—to save people they had never met.

But over time, things changed.

After a while, the U.S. Coast Guard began to take over the task of rescue. Eventually, the idea that carried the day was, “Let the professionals do it. They’re better trained. They get paid for it.”

Volunteers stopped searching the coastlines for ships in danger. They stopped sending teams out to rescue drowning people.

Yet, a strange thing happened: They couldn’t bring themselves to disband. The life-saving society still exists today. The members meet every once in a while to have dinners. They are just not in the life-saving business anymore.

Two thousand years ago, a band of rag-tag followers of Jesus began to meet regularly to pray and strategize how they could rescue a ship-wrecked world.

It was a calling they took seriously.
Their motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”

The writer of Acts wrote as they embraced this slogan that “…they(the church) added to their number daily.”

Followers of Jesus were known as people who would adopt abandoned children, serve the poor, fight and die for justice, and stay in plague-filled cities to care for the sick, while others fled to safe places.

Rulers and governments were intrigued, confused and threatened by the willingness to give their life for others.

The early church left a permanent mark in the secular history books of the day.

What will history write about today’s church?
It was willing to go out, but it did not having to come back?
Or, it was judgmental, exclusive, irrelevant, fearful, turned it over to professionals, no longer in the life saving business but kept having meetings?

Peter Drucker says “It’s the human propensity to start with a clear vision and to get it muddied up along the way. It’s just kind of what happens to human beings in organizations.”

How badly the church is missed in our culture.
Yet there seems to be a church on every corner.
How can the church be missed when it is all around us?

The prophet Isaiah said that when the church is busy with meetings it becomes powerless.

The churches power comes from caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, fighting injustice, and protecting widows and orphans.

The impact of the church is not predicated on frequency of meetings and the eloquent nature of its rhetoric.
Its impact is not determined by a nice, accessible location.

The impact of the church has to do with its willingness to lay its life down for a ship-wrecked world.

When the church begins to re-live the motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”, it will become relevant once again.

Let me share with you the Green Valley Life-Saving “Dream”.

The Green Valley dream is a dream where those who are hurting, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated or confused can find love, acceptance, guidance, hope, encouragement and forgiveness.

It is a dream of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our community and beyond to the world.

It is a dream of thousands of people growing together in spiritual maturity through learning together, serving together, loving together, laughing together and giving together.

It is a dream where our love for one another would attract people to Christ.

It is a dream where people will look at Green Valley and say “Wow, church is a good thing!”

It is a dream where every person uses their time, talents, passions and resources for God’s purposes so that we honor God, by giving him our all, by giving him our best.

It is a dream where we continually reach back to invest in a new generation of children and youth who are our future leaders. It is where we look beneath the surface of their lives and see God’s gifts and potential in them.

It is a dream where we will serve the poor, take care of the sick, and love those who have walked down the wrong paths of life because that is where you actually meet Christ.

It is a dream that we will keep simple. LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE. And we will allow no other issues to get in our way.

It is a dream where we will constantly put ourselves in situations where we can’t do it ourselves, so that we will have to trust God and see him do amazing things.

It is a dream to never play it safe, but actually believe that God came to seek and save the lost. And actually believe that God told us that we must lose our lives in order to save them.


It is a dream where He says, “Make yourself fully available to me. Fully available in your worship, talents, passions and resources. Fully available to love one another, forgive one another and serve one another. Make yourself fully, wholly, unconditionally, unreservedly, unashamedly available to me and I will blow your socks off with the miracles that I want to do.”

God says today, “Dreams do come true!”