Three Reasons to Develop Leaders (Including You)

There’s so many more, but here’s three reasons for pursuing leadership development (not leadership training….but that’s another blog): 1)   People are looking for a guide, not a map

It is so hard to take people where you’ve never been.  And it’s hard to venture into unknown territory.  What if you could make the path easier through a developmental assignment that got someone ready for the next part of the journey?  Could they lead a company project with others before becoming a supervisor?  Could every new employee work in the manufacturing plant their first week on the job, so they know how things get made?  And for you - will you better be able to lead the company or your area into new territory if you’ve invested in learning something new?  Could you find a mentor or a coach to help you develop your skills?  What about being on a board of another company or a non-profit?

2)   I want to be like you, dad…

Yeah – that “Cat’s In The Cradle” song still gets me.  When your son or daughter says that yes – mom – I want to be like you, where does that come from?  We all look up to someone.  I bet that others look up to you.  What are you teaching those around you?  If you keep developing yourself, you’ll always have something new to pass on to others.  And if you encourage those you work with to develop, just think about the multiplication!

3)   Let’s not always do what we’ve always done

It happens to the best of us.  When we’re no longer new at what we do, we’re…well…no longer new.  That means some good things – we know what’s worked and what didn’t work – and we also can run on autopilot in so many areas.  When the world shifts in IT, marketing, sales, operations, engineering, new distribution methods, new business models, how do we question things again?  By putting ourselves, and those around us, into new situations, pairing that with permission to question, and expecting ourselves and others to explain, brings amazing clarity.  There’s nothing like a production teammate working in marketing and asking “what causes us to talk about our products like that when they do so much more?” to make you realize how you missed a few things along the way.

What’s your reasons for encouraging leadership development?  What has made it effective for you?

4 Reasons Why it is Important to Grow as a Leader

How many of you were enthralled by watching the Summer Olympics in 2012? I know I am. It was thrilling to watch the Fab Five win the gold in gymnastics, Michael Phelps winning gold and then losing gold by centiseconds in two of his individual events, and who didn’t fall in love with Missy Franklin, the swimming sensation and sweetheart from Colorado? Despite all of their natural ability they worked hard to hone their craft. I wonder what kind of leaders we would be, if we devoted as much time and energy to grow as these Olympians did?

As I prepared to attend a recent leadership summit, I thought about why I carve out time to hone my craft. Growing as a leader does the following:

  1. It raises my game. There is nothing like the stress of working hard to break through a plateau and reaching a higher level of performance. Several years ago I could barely bike 20 miles at any one time. Today I’ve completed several century rides and think nothing of going out for a 50-mile bike ride. Certainly part of this improvement was achieved by practicing, but I also needed to learn more about pedal stroke efficiency, interval training, heart rate training and the things I needed to do off the bike to become a stronger and better rider.   The same is true of leadership – we practice every day, but what are we doing to improve our game? 
  1. It motivates others to follow me. People are not interested in following leaders who are stagnant. They are much more interested in following leaders who are energized and have great ideas and vision that expands over time. Certainly character and competence are prerequisites if we expect others to follow us, but if we’re not growing, the people we lead will soon become disinterested in following.
  1. It helps me identify my blind spots. We all have blind spots. The other day I was talking to my coach about an area of improvement I saw in someone else. As we processed the issue, it became clear that I had a blind spot that was preventing me from addressing the issue in a timely manner. It reminded me again that leadership is not a solo sport; we need other people to help us identify what we can’t see in ourselves. Input from others helps me see things from a different perspective.
  1. It helps me reach my God-given potential. Don’t we all long to be all that God created us to be? Part of this includes being intentional about our growth and seek opportunities for growth. There is a 2012 60-Minutes interview with Michael Phelps. After the 2008 Olympics, he spent little time in the pool. He didn’t practice to to point where his coach didn’t know if he was going to make it to the Olympics despite his natural talent. Michael’s challenge was to learn to grow beyond the accolades and medals he previously won.

Being a great leader takes discipline and diligence, even in the face of success. You can be good at what you do, but you can never be all that God intended until you cooperate with His purposes and are intentional about your growth and development.

Share Your Thoughts: What types of things do you do to develop your leadership and your character?

Relentless Attention to Vision: a Charge to Entrepreneurs and Leaders

Vision plays out in a specific context and via a specific organization, under the auspices of a specific leadership configuration. Context is messy. Organizations are complex. Leaders are not perfect in judgment or execution.  Combined, these forces collude, often unintentionally, to prevent vision from finding its way.

This is why we must be relentless with vision.


How about some additional words and phrases to drive the point home?

Bull-dogged Dug-in Stick to the knitting Un-fazed Chained to it Persistent Geeked-up Our North Star Anchored Fuzed

Without the courage to consistently return to vision, to draw upon it, to let it open and shut the gate to what you will do next and defend the why of a thing, the vision disappears. We will think we remember something about a vision we once developed, but it will cease to operate as the leading light.

This is why we work through complexity to express vision in the starkest terms possible. It helps us sort the the messy context, the complexity of developing an organization and the inconsistent waffling of being human. Entrepreneurs, especially when completing original business plans, need to develop clarity of vision and the disipline to use it. CEOs, especially because they move in and among all of an organization's components and constituencies, must be absolutely relentless about communicating and holding to vision--even if it means not doing other important things.

Perhaps you have heard someone talk about the traps leaders sometimes fall into, making use of the ready--aim--fire metaphor, and describing some leaders as "ready-fire-aim" or "ready-aim-aim-aim." What this post intends to convey is that whether steady, all too ready, or stuck in an eddy, a leader with a commitment to be relentless about vision puts on clean glasses before they ever pick up the gun.

Changing the Landscape

Recently driving to our family vacation in Colorado I was struck by a virtual sea of wind turbines that dotted the horizon for miles along the panhandle highways of Texas. Having grown up in Texas it occurred to me how much these three armed giants have changed our landscape! Traveling these highways as a boy we saw an occasion tumbleweed, some grazing cattle and a lot of nothing! What struck me as I marveled at the spinning rotors was the thought, isn’t that what we are called to do as Christian Leaders and that is to change the landscape? What was even more remarkable was that a cost of over $1,000,000 each, how many of them stood idol, not really doing what they were made for.

As Christian leaders we understand the ultimate price that Christ paid on the cross and that cannot be measured in dollars. Our calling is to make a difference in the market place, to make a difference….and change the landscape! Are you up to the call? How do you measure up?

As the parallels continued I thought about what these turbines are designed for and that is providing power to millions of households and business throughout the land. As Christian Leaders we are called to not only share the saving power of Jesus but be transformed!

Romans 12:2 NIV says….Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is ---his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So the question is, how are you changing the landscape? Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit and how is that power impacting your leadership? Here are 10 simple reminders:

  1. Share your vision
  2. Live your values
  3. Lead with compassion
  4. Do what right for your people
  5. Serve others
  6. Lead by example
  7. Develop others
  8. Invest in yourself
  9. Be Salt & Light
  10. Pray daily for your team

Keep in mind on a wind turbine that the rotors spin to produce the power. In your life your three sources of power are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. May you lead in that power every day!


THE ANNUAL PEOPLE PLAN: A LEADERSHIP TOOL Talent Management: Why? Because it focuses on the most important asset – people – and can be the single most impactful factor for organizations in achieving their goals. Leadership must be able to develop its people to successfully achieve its goals.

Growing and successful organizations spend some leadership and management time on strategic planning: where they want to go, and how they plan to get there. They also spend a significant amount of time on their annual operating plan (AOP) or budget: how much will we need; where will we get it; how will we expend it. But few spend an equivalent amount of time on planning the best ways to manage and utilize their talent – even given that it is their talent that will be the key management factor to achieving the strategic objectives. My premise is that organizational leadership should emphasize an Annual People Plan (APP) as a necessary and equal adjunct to the AOP and to the business objectives.

Successful organization leadership practices stewardship: it is a biblical standard (I Cor. 4:2 ). That stewardship should also be evident in the managing of the organization’s talent: it is often the largest single expenditure in the annual financial plan and merits that level of attention. It is also true that talent can be the catalyst to maximize the leverage of other resources and plans most effectively and efficiently. Today’s workforce is asking of prospective employers, ‘what will you do to help me grow and develop professionally?’ It is an awesome responsibility to be encouraging and coaching employees to develop to their God – given potential. It requires leadership and support at the senior executive level. Leadership’s single most important responsibility may be ‘who do we let in the front door?’ The hiring process is key because the talent we hire will be the tipping factor in how well the organization achieves it goals. In addition, when we employ someone we as an organization have the responsibility for the professional – and related personal – growth and development of that person. It is ineffective to hire and then not to develop and nurture talent.

Performance management is already practiced by many organizations; it is, however, not talent management, though there is overlap. In the former we focus on job performance compared to job expectations over the past year; in the latter we look forward to identify the talent needed to achieve the organization’s goals and then build a plan to be certain we have that talent available and that we develop its potential.

The initial construction and implementation of an APP requires significant thought, work and energy. For most organizations it will be a major cultural change because its focus is new. Dealing with employee talent in a significant and new manner may be uncomfortable for many managers.

First, senior executive and human resource personnel must be the champions of the APP. They must believe in and be committed to the stewardship activity, participate in it and hold participants accountable for implementation and follow through. Depending on the size of the organization the APP may be led by only the CEO or by the CEO and one or two other executive managers. (Note that the CEO, too, must be a participant in the APP as it relates to his/her responsibilities and direct reports. In fact, because of the direct link between talent management and succession planning the board of directors – who are responsible for the CEO portion of any succession plan – should be strong encouragers of any talent management initiative).

The APP will have its best contribution to an organization’s growth and success if it becomes an integral part of the organization’s culture and DNA. That means continued support from senior executive management - the first 2 or 3 years are critical. It means integrity and involvement towards everyone touched by the process. It means using the APP results and plans whenever a new talent placement is considered. It should mean involvement by the board of the organization to assure proper talent at the senior level.

Many organizations recite the phrase, ‘our employees are our most important asset’; many do not know how to maximize the talent resident in those employees. The introduction of an Annual People Plan will be a significant beginning to grow the talent for the organization’s goals and to contribute to the personal and professional career growth of those employees.

All organizations want – need – leadership talent in place to face well the shifts in the world’s mission fields so that the mission effort can move forth successfully.