Thursday, November 17, 2016

leadership through a theological lens

As I was talking with a group of people from the Emerging Leadership Academy at HHSC this past week, the discussion came up of how one's view of God shapes one's leadership.  As I have thought more about that over the week, it has struck me how true this might be.  Here are a few examples of how one's view of God might impact leadership understanding and behavior:

  • there is no god...this view puts humans at the very center of the universe, a place that leaders might find themselves more vulnerable than they should be
  • there might be a god, but it is of no importance to me...similar to above, hubris is the downfall of many who find themselves in a leadership position
  • there is a god, but he/she has very little to do with my life...leaders are in positions of power and authority (often a god-like position); a theological view of a god who is not important could put a leader at a disadvantage if they see their role in that same way
  • god is a judgmental figure who punishes those who are bad and rewards those who are good...leaders can sometimes see their role in this same light and begin to base their actions toward others in a similar way
  • god is a nice person who looks over people and protects them from troubles and hardships...leaders can end up in a similar role, always rescuing others from making mistakes or not holding them accountable
  • god is someone I can call upon when I am in trouble...followers might see leaders like this and, if leaders accept that role, will find themselves fixing problems rather than moving the organization toward the future
  • god is both king and shepherd, one who rules the world with might and cares for people through love and mercy...this paradoxical view of god might provide leaders with a balance in their lives - or could lead toward dualistic behavior and actions
This list is not exhaustive by any means...nor is it meant to pigeonhole one's belief system with their style of leadership.  It is a reminder for all those in leadership roles that the better they understand themselves and their relationship with a greater being or entity, the more conscious they will become of how their style of leadership impacts others. I am a firm believer that everyone has a theological view of the world, and when leaders take the time to think through their view they begin to better understand themselves and be better leaders of others.

Friday, November 11, 2016

how to lead when more than half of your followers don't like you

Awkward blog title...awkward presidential campaign.  No matter who would have won this year's presidential election, they would have faced less than a majority of the voters choosing them as their next leader.  What a strange feeling - whether voted on or put in place by a board of directors (or an electoral college) - to take charge when so many of those who work with and for you are against you from the start.  What's a leader to do?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • don't be deluded...knowing that you are starting your role in this position is important toward understanding the job ahead
  • know who your supporters are...they will be your cheerleaders when others are actively working against you
  • know who your enemies are...most of those who don't want you are not your enemies - they just liked someone else better.  But know who your true enemies are so you can navigate the territory ahead
  • start by listening...and not just to your supporters.  Listen broadly and deeply to understand what people want and need
  • build coalitions...bringing people of differing opinions together will show everyone that you are a leader of and for the entire group
  • act something to show that despite having less than a majority mandate you are a person of action.  People appreciate a leader who gets things done
  • accept your matter how you might have been chosen for a leadership position, you are now the person to whom people look to be their leader.  LEAD...because that is your new responsibility
I will pray for the new president of the United States...I will pray for those he chooses to work with and for him...I will pray for the future of the people whom he leads...and I will pray for justice and mercy to be hallmarks of the presidency and the country, just as I have always done.

Friday, November 4, 2016

backs up against the wall leadership

Pinch me!  The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions for the first time since 1908.  For over 57 years I have been waiting for this moment, and when it arrived it felt so surreal...and perhaps is just now sinking in.  Even as I watched game 7 for a second time last night, I was still stressed watching the multiple times the team had their backs up against the wall, ready to once more become the lovable losers.  Only this year WAS different...this was not the same Cubs team with whom I grew up.  All three series had that moment when I wondered if it was over...and then they came back to win and move on.  Down 3 games to 1 in the World Series, the chances were slim - only five other teams had done that in all of baseball history.  They had their backs up against the wall...and prevailed.  All hail The Cubs...all hail Theo Epstein...all hail Ernie Banks...all hail Chicago!

Leaders often find their backs up against the wall, having to lead through a crisis that must be faced for the good of the organization.  In those times decisions have to be made that can make or break the leader and her team.  Based on what I watched over the past month, here is a list of items for leaders to consider when their back is up against the wall:

  • never give sounds cliche, but I watched a Cubs team that never gave up.  Multiple times they came back from a seeming loss to win the game.  Down 3 games to 1, with all the odds against them, they never gave up,  Even at the very end, after blowing a lead in what seemed to be game that was theirs to win, they kept playing as they had all season...and eventually won the championship.
  • support those who got you there...many of the players who were all-stars during the season seemed to have lost their touch early in the playoffs.  Just as the experts were calling for them to be benched, Joe Maddon stuck with his best players and they delivered.  Showing confidence in your best people, even when their work is less than stellar for awhile, can pay big dividends in the end.
  • look for unlikely heroes...names like Contreras, Almora Jr, and Montero may never make it into the Hall fo Fame, yet they were key to the Cubs success over the course of the playoffs.  Given the right oportunity at the right time, people can rise to the occasion and do spectacular things...all they might need is a chance.
  • let others lead...when a rain delay was called after nine innings in game 7, Jason Heyward called the team together for "the talk" that changed momentum.  Manager Joe Maddon never saw this as as threat to his leadership; instead, he had created the culture where all could particpate in making the team better.
  • take a wild-hair chance...after being out for the entire season due to injury, Kyle Schwarber announced he was ready to play for the World Series.  Rather than laughing him off, the Cubs took a close look, invested in his return, and he became one foof the many heroes of the Series.  No way should he have played...and yet there he was, contributing to the end.  Risky decisions can be one's best decisions.
  • celebrate the end...when one's back is up against the wall, it does not stay there forever.  There is an end in sight, and no matter the outcome, it is time to celebrate the hard work that went into the process of making hard decisions.  As I watched the Cubs' players hug one another and rejoice, I too hugged those around me, popped open the bottle of champagne, and shed a few tears.  This was the moment I had been waiting for for 57 years, and it felt all that much better because the team's backs had been up against the wall.

If you are a fan of the Chicago Cubs (or of baseball in general), take the time to thank the gods for removing the curse of the goat...and for all of you who read this blog regularly (or not), take a moment to watch this video and celebrate with the author on this historic occasion.