Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

enemy of unity

Whether you are leading a business, a competitive team or whatever your context for unity might be, your team is a big deal.  Teams lacking in unity rarely gain any sort of momentum, and will either fail or live in the misery of mediocrity.

A couple of years ago Dave Ramsey unpacked what he calls The Five Enemies of Unity on an Entreleadership webcast: 

Poor Communication: If one half of your team doesn’t know what the other half of your team is doing, or only a few know what’s really going on, you have communication issues.  Providing timely information about what is going on throughout your organization allows your entire team to have clarity, accept challenges and celebrate wins together.

Gossip: I like how Ramsey’s team handles gossip: the first time it happens, you get sat down and warned, the second time it happens you are fired.  They have a policy of “handing negatives up, sending positives down.”  This policy has a great ring to it, but effective implementation of that policy requires you to handle the negatives when they come up quickly, and effectively.  Responsive leadership kills gossip every time.

Sanctioned Incompetence: When one team member struggles, the entire team struggles.  When a team leader ignores the obvious shortcomings of a team member they send a message that says performance doesn’t matter.  When performance doesn’t matter, people begin to question why they are working as hard as they do.  Acknowledging, and addressing performance issues (whether through training, reassignment, or termination) ensures your team will function at a high level.

Unresolved Disagreements: Letting issues smolder under the surface will kill your team.  As a leader, you need to kill the elephants in the room whenever they creep up by addressing issues head on.  One uncomfortable conversation can spare your team years of dysfunction.

Lack of Shared Purpose: If your team is not headed the same direction, you really don’t have a team.  Being committed and enthusiastic about your vision, mission, and strategies help keep your team stay on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Where have YOU seen the enemies of unity wreak havoc?

Written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/theenemiesofteamunity

Pike with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a pre...

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a press conference after the march to Selma, Alabama. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my mind easily goes to the topic of leadership.  On this day we pay tribute to the life and work of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

In what is often referred to as the “I Have a Dream” speech, there are some profound insights into what it takes to be a truly great leader.

Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo: In fact, I would say that this is the defining characteristic of real leaders.  They are not indifferent; they are active and unwilling to agree to their status and circumstance.

Great leaders do not sugar-coat reality: This speech came at a critical point in the civil rights movement.  Dr. King did not pull any punches.  He faced the most brutal facts of his current reality.

Great leaders engage the heart: While logic may require the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart.  This is the difference between sharing information and inspiration.  Dr. King was a master of captivating hearts.

Great leaders call people to act with their highest values: It would have been easy for the civil rights movement to change strategy and resort to violence as some did.  However, just like Nelson Mandela when he became president of South Africa, Dr. King called people to a higher ground.

Great leaders refuse to settle: It would have been easy for Dr. King to surrender his principles and to have settled for less than his vision, but he was stubborn in a good way.  He was persistent and called people to persevere.

Great leaders cast vision and hope for a better tomorrow: Leaders can never grow tired of sharing their clear and relevant vision.  They have to help their followers see a vivid picture of hope as Dr. King did so effectively.

The “I Have a Dream” speech is full of lessons in leadership. 

In the spirit of this holiday, take time to sit down with your family and read or watch the entire speech.  You may find it on YouTube.

It will change forever the way you understand Martin Luther King Day.

written by Jim Shearer for Leading Hearts: the Spirit Ranch Blog; http://spiritranch.us/reflectiononagreatleader

Chicago’s Urban Prep Academy (an all-male charter school) just pulled a THREE-PEAT announcing that ALL of their graduating seniors have been accepted into four-year colleges!

At a time where faith in the traditional educational system is beginning to waiver for many, Urban Prep Academy on Chicago’s south side must be doing something right.   Once again, 100% of its 2012 graduating seniors are heading off to college in the fall.  And by the way, this school is the only all-Black, all-male public prep school in Chicago!

This is the third year in a row that the school has achieved the feat thanks to hard-working teachers, parents and of course…the amazing students.

The school started with students whose futures had been left for dead by their public schools: Only four percent of the school’s incoming freshmen were reading at grade level when they arrived on campus.

The young men at this incredible school are reason for hope and celebration as they continue to break barriers and defy the odds!  What an inspiration!?

See Chicago Tribune Letter to the Editor: Success stories

Educational Leadership:Poverty and Learning:The Myth of the Culture of Poverty.

The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  He is even more delighted when we turn inward and destroy ourselves.  Heighten those facts with the victim being a person in leadership with the ability to transform others.  I have become aware of at least three tactics used to destroy the leader within.

The first way to destroy our leadership potential is when we begin to think those we lead exist to serve us.  As a servant leader, we exists to serve those we lead.  As Transformational Leaders, we want to demonstrate extraordinary and passionate servant leadership focused on helping every member of the group succeed.  Being a transformative leader is not about telling people what to do; it’s about exemplifying what we are asking our followers to do.

The second way to destroy our leadership potential is to surround ourselves with weak “yes” people.  If we don’t have someone on our leadership team with authority to correct or challenge us, we can easily become a self-absorbed, authoritative leader.  Our leadership teams must be composed of strong, courageous, gifted, humble leaders who will speak the truth to us.

The third way to destroy our leadership potential is to stop learning and developing as a leader.  As leaders, we are in a role to reproduce who we are in those we lead.   If we don’t like the culture of our company, organization, or school we should not look around at others to blame.  

As the leader, we often have created, through our leadership, what we perceive as a problem.  As we grow and develop as healthy leaders, our influence will go viral throughout the organization we lead.  

The opposite is true as well.  Unhealthy leadership can go viral throughout the organization just as easily.  The title and hook from one of my favorite Ice Cube rap songs is very good counsel for leaders, “You better check yo self before you wreck yo self.”  As transformational leaders, let us replenish ourselves regularly with the same hope, compassion and justice we need to reproduce in those we serve.

Do you feel compassion for those who are less fortunate?  Do you want to really make a difference in the lives of others?  Do you feel called to serve the poor or teach in an urban school?  Are you sensing a prodding to invest yourself in an under-served community?  Do you have a driving compulsion to reach at-risk youth and/or young adults in need?  If you feel the tug of these questions, you may be hearing your calling to serve.

Recently I was digging through some old files I used previously for training in youth outreach and educational settings.  I found an old document, titled “What Being a Youth Worker Ought to Do for You.” This one page of ought to statements have been passed around youth ministry circles for years.  When I worked for Young Life these words repeatedly helped challenge and encourage myself and others to serve.

These ought to statements are such a realistic, powerful and challenging set of truths.  I have used this piece and adapted it to fit many different scenarios; whether it has been working with privileged youth, under-served youth, schools, or whole communities.

Instructions: Read, allow time to marinate, and digest slowly.

WHAT SERVING THE POOR OUGHT TO DO FOR YOU

  • Ought to seem so unreachable and big that you can only see it through the eyes of Christ by faith.
  • Ought to be harder than you can handle on your own, to make you more dependent on God.
  • Ought to give you enough disappointments to make you humble and break your spiritual pride.
  • Ought to be difficult enough to make you weep for others, that you might become more compassionate.
  • Ought to have enough demanding, insensitive, ungrateful people in it to make you love like Jesus loves.
  • Ought to have enough impossible, insurmountable obstacles in it to teach you the goodness and power of God.
  • Ought to teach you how to love when you are tired, give when you are spent, and pray when you are weary.
  • Ought to teach you the power and truth of His word, the strength of His voice and the might of His commands.
  • Ought to teach you how to turn your mourning into dancing, your sadness into joy and your sorrow into laughter.
  • Ought to teach you to love the only One worthy of all our love – the One who became poor that you might become rich and unjust so that you might become just.

I offer these challenging reflections to any who feel called to be in service to the poor.  I offer them as a way to know the power of God, and hoping that this knowledge will lead us to move forward in renewing the city with compassion, hope, and justice.

Proverbs 29:7 NIV – The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.