Saturday, December 17, 2011

In Leadership: The Problem With This Generations Leaders

What does it take to be a good leader?  This is a question that many of us have asked ourselves, a question that takes more than one answer.  I know one answer would be people that are genuinely willing to follow us.  Because it is impossible to lead if there is nobody to follow you.  Another answer would be to be a good follower, because it is impossible to lead if you’re not willing to follow.  These are just two of the many answers to this one question and all of them require a lot out of the person asking.  

Being a leader is not an easy task, but it is a task that has great benefits for the person leading and the people following.  I say this with the mindset of; if you are an actual leader then you’re doing it correctly.  I do not refer to bad leaders as leaders because they might only be a leader because of their rank or position not because it’s a personality trait that they’ve adopted.  A real leader is somebody that has set out to better themselves and the people that they’re leading, not somebody that just so happens to be in a position of authority.  It’s like a man that is a sperm donor calling himself a father.  If you’re not present to raise the children then you’re not a father, just as if you’re not willing to go through the process of becoming a leader that people are willing to follow then you’re not a leader.

We live in a time where words have lost their original affect.  People don’t hold certain words with the level of respect that they used to hold.  Words like honor, love, faithful, loyal, and leader.  We no longer have respect for positions of authority, nor do we have the desire to earn our positions and respect.  Instead we are so impatient that instead of taking the time to develop ourselves as leaders and instead of taking the time mentor other people to help them become good leaders we try to rush to the top to prove we’re the best.  We move ahead by ourselves and stand atop of the mountain and scream this is what I did by myself.  We don’t acknowledge anybody and we don’t help anybody.  We are the captains of our own ships and we are unwilling to welcome anybody aboard.  This is the era of selfishness.  This is the time of “me”.  Who wants to help others when I can help myself?  

We are no longer believers of the principle of serving something greater than ourselves.  We instead are serving nothing greater than ourselves, and the whole world is suffering because of it.  There are people that will do so much for their organization and community just to get ahead.  So many people that will find one person to mentor just to have somebody that’ll look up to them and kiss their….  

To be a leader we cannot be motivated by selfish desires.  The bible says to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”  If we seek to do what’s right for our organization and the people we’re leading then success will come, raises will come, promotions, recognitions, adulation, everything that a selfish person desires, a selfless person will get just because he’s looking out for the interests of those around him and above him.  People will take care of you as long as you are willing to take care of the organization and the people within it.  Taking care of the people in the organization is not however blowing smoke up the bosses butt; it’s doing what you know to do to get the job done, and being an example and mentor to the newer less experienced people in your organization, even if those people aren’t in your direct chain of command or are unable to do anything to return the favor.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

In Leadership: Driven

Driven: Propelled or Motivated by something.

Apostle Ronald D. Howell Sr. is one of the most driven men I have ever known.  He is the senior shepherd for the church that i attend, Life Changers International New Horizon.  Here is a man that s  not only spiritually fit, he preaches well over 250 sermons a year, he's also physically fit; he can get up and run 3 miles in the morning, then come to the gym in the afternoon and lead us through a grueling weight lifting routine where a majority of the weight we're lifting is over 200lbs, and while we are resting he'll be doing another exercise.  Nothing about this man is normal.  He does all this and is over 50 years of age.  Apostle Howell has taught us that if we are comfortable than we're not operating out of faith, and his whole life is representative of this.  None of the 60+ leaders that he is over can say that they have surpassed him, no matter how hard we work, how far we go, he's always in the front leading the way. 

This is what a leader should be, someone whose followers cannot pass.  Once you are passed by the people that you're leading then you are no longer a leader.  In this I don't mean that you have to be the smartest or the most technical, but you have to be someone that is constantly leading from the front.  Someone whose followers know that when they look back they won't see you bringing in the rear.

Apostle Howell is somebody that is driven by a purpose and refuses to quit.  His whole life is  an example of Philippians 3:12-14 when the Apostle Paul said "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

As a driven leader this must be your attitude, even if you're not a christian you should still have a focus that you're driven towards.  The people that we lead must see that we are constantly moving toward a goal, they must see that our life is constantly pressing to the next level of accomplishment.  We can never appear to be complacent as leaders.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Leadership: Consider the Cost

Luke 14: 28-30 "28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."
As leaders we must consider the cost of what it is we're doing.  We have people's lives in our hands.  It may not seem that drastic on a day to day basis but we are responsible for the livelihood of everybody that is subordinate to us.  We are responsible sometimes for their pay, education, training, discipline, advancement, and even whether or not they keep a job.  We cannot take this responsibility lightly. 
While I was task lead on one of the jobs I've had, I was responsible for making sure people's time-cards were signed.  If I didn't sign their time-cards then they wouldn't get paid on time.  Instead they would have to jump through hoops in order to get the pay they knew was coming to them.  Before becoming task lead I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I used it as a  learning experience.  One of the main lessons that I learned was that I needed more experience.  This was something new for me.  I was a leader in the military, but while in the military I wasn't a single point of failure.  There were always people that I could seek advice from on any problem that came up.  However it wasn't like this for me once I was out of the military.  People would come to me for answers that I would have to get from corporate, the problem with this was they were in a different country and didn't always get back to me in a timely manner.  However not getting an answer from corporate wasn't going to be an acceptable answer for the people that I work with.  As I said this was a learning experience.
We never fully know what we're getting ourselves into, but we must learn to be more aware of the costs involved.  As leaders you can't just jump into something blind because people will follow you into whatever disaster comes up due to your lack of planning.  In Matthew 15:14 it says "Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."  No matter what our career is, if we as leaders are poor at planning then we are leading our people into disaster.  History is filled with examples of people dying as a result of poor planning on the part of leadership.
We cannot allow our subordinates to become victims of our laziness to plan.  If you want to be an example of what a leader should be or be somebody that people are willing to follow, then always have a plan.  As the saying goes, "He who fails to plan, plans to fail."  Without a plan you will fail, it's just a matter of time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Followership: Don’t get brought down by backstabbers

If you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing and you’re loyal to the organization then backstabbers can’t hurt you too much.  There are always going to be people that are opposed to you or what you’re trying to do.  They may not realize that that’s what they’re doing.    Sometimes people will set you up for failure by mentioning something you may have said to the wrong person.  Not all backstabbing is intentional, but it happens all the same.  The thing about working with people in an organization that you’re not in charge of is you will most likely end up being competition instead of a fellow laborer in the mission at hand.  We all, at one point or another, look at our coworkers or peers in whatever organization that we’re in as competition.  This is natural.  So we all, at one point or another, do something that can be perceived as throwing somebody under the bus or backstabbing, even if we were just trying to cover up something that we may have said or done.
We cannot let this type of stuff get us down, for the simple fact that most of the time it’s unintentional, and even when it is intentional, what can you really do about it.  We should be focused on how we carry ourselves around our peers and what we say so that when there is a misunderstanding or something is said about us to our boss that it isn’t true.  For example one time at work somebody told my boss that I was lazy because I didn’t do something that wasn’t in my job description nor was it something that I had training on.  I was upset at first but when it was brought to my attention, I was able to pass along the truth of the matter.  I didn’t go start an argument, and I didn’t let it bother me to the point that it would create any tension in the workplace.  I just let it go.  These things happen; we cannot let them affect our performance or attitude at work.  We need to just let it go, learn from it but let it go.
 I say let it go because these situations will occur more frequently throughout our career than we would like.  We can’t get upset and allow ourselves to be stressed every time it happens.  Instead we should use it as a learning experience.  We learn by knowing who not to talk to about certain things, who to speak with on a strictly professional basis, who to stay away from…etc.  Every time I feel betrayed by somebody I have to take a step back and replay the whole situation.  Usually it’s innocent.  Most people don’t realize what they’ve said could bring negative consequences to somebody else, or we don’t say “please don’t repeat this but” things just have a way of getting away from us.  As I said, we’ve done it to others just as they’ve done it to us.  We shouldn’t feel betrayed.  A part of being a follower is maintaining a certain level of discipline no matter what comes our way.  We are not the organization, but a part of the organization, we are not in charge but subordinate to somebody else.  So for us to cause tension or make a scene because we feel betrayed is disrespecting the organization and the people that are leading us. 
In the Bible God says that what you do to the least of these you do to me, and what you don’t do to the least of these you don’t do to me.  It’s the same in an organization, if somebody lies on you then they’re lying on the organization, but if they are pointing out a flaw then that’s a flaw in the organization.  We cannot carry ourselves as an individual when involved in something bigger than ourselves.  We must see the bigger picture always.  If somebody went behind our back and it was true then that is good for the collective.  I know this is easier said than done, and I probably wouldn’t want to look at it this way if I was the person going through this.  But it is a lesson that we must learn.  We were hired to do a specific role in an organization with a certain vision.  If we can’t live up to the role or if it comes out that we’re not living up to the role then the part that we play is in jeopardy of failing, which completely contradicts the purpose of us being there.  This must be exposed, so that the problem can be fixed.  We can’t take it personally. 
The only thing we can do to combat this is to be blameless.  As I said we must do what we know to do so that if somebody stabs us in the back we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing and it shows.  We as followers need to always have proof that we’re doing our job to the standard that was established prior to us showing up, or even at a higher standard than was established.  We must make ourselves a valuable part of our organization so that if somebody says something bad about us, it’ll be looked at by our leaders as a misunderstanding instead of a fact.  We need to remove any future doubt by our present work.