The Care and Feeding of Any Heart: Leadership is Huge! Part 4
For today’s Training Table feast of the heart for those “running the good race” (2 Timothy 4:7), we will chow down on some meaty issues surrounding the attributes of great leadership—and some problems of sub-par or no leadership as well. This is the fourth in a Training Table series on leadership.
Today’s Training Table menu:
“Appetizer”: What is leadership’s #1 responsibility?
The summum bonum [the highest of chief good], numero uno [#1], first-things-first, most prized and important responsibility of leadership is to execute the vision of the organization! Easy and done, right? Hardly…
Executing the vision of any organization… of any kind… any size… any industry, service, goods or gear, anywhere in the world… on any planet… where human beings work together to achieve a common goal.
Get the point? Every organization—including, as we will see, “an organization of one person”—needs leadership to lead: To do Job #1: Execute the Vision.
For me, this rather daring and concise “line drawn in the leadership sand” at least begins to clarify where we have to begin the conversation. Given the riches piled upon riches of learning on leadership, this declaration and ensuing journey, aptly named “the devil’s in the details”, at least we know where the journey begins and which direction true north is!
Did you know that 70% of all CEO’s everywhere are relived of his or her leadership duties due to not executing the vision?
Job #1 = Dilemma #1
Now, I don’t know about you, but the very first question and wildly difficult dilemma that this definition of leadership forces me to ask is this: “Can anyone find that damn ‘vision-mission thing’ we hammered out—oh, when was it?—you know down in Cabo last year… or was it the year before?!”
That very real quote by Larry or Mary Leader is more common than we could imagine: How can one execute an organizational vision or mission that doesn’t actually exist—in real, every work-a-day life? Far too many Vision and/or Mission Statements serve only to fill a void under the “About” tab on a website or on the inside, front cover of an annual report. It’s not a living, breathing, guiding, or grounding thang: It’s a placeholder with no place in the heart of any stakeholder.
Is it just me or does anyone else know [by direct experience] or sense [intuitively and abusively at work] that the last thing on the mind of most leaders is the vision, mission, and core values of the organization that is entrusted to them [and often paid lots of loot] to lead
As we chewed on last week, “Leaders often see their role as protector of the status quo and measure their success by how well they ingratiate themselves with superiors and avoid embarrassing errors.”
And this definition of leadership protector of the status quo usually has nothing… NADA, ZIPPO… to do with Vision, Mission, Core Values.
So, if job #1 for all leadership is to execute the vision; and in most organizations the vision/mission is at least unknown or worse non-existent; where and how do we go from here?
“Entree/Main Course”: An OEM Plateful!
OEM = An Organizational Effectiveness Model: The structure required to be free… free at last… to lead.
The inset graphic / OEM pyramid depicted above is a model, principle, process, and proof of good-to-great leadership to help, a) organize any organization to be all it can be, AND b) organize any leader—more to the point—be all he or she can be as well!
Each and every segment of the OEM—Vision. Mission. Core Values. Strategic Roadmap. Alignment. Personal Responsibility. Alignment.—is intentionally and meticulously designed to start with, “Why do we exist?” [Vision] and “end with”, “How do we measure results in order to continuously improve?” [Results]
From Vision to Results, a model for organizational effectiveness is foundational… Sort of. Don’t forget: First things first… Applying the model to an organization must begin by applying the model to a self, a leader.
“What is most personal is most universal.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
Here’s the rub, all of you God-glorifying, race-running, marathoners for Christ: Just as we talked about the last time we met, the OEM is as effective for any organization… as it is for any individual leader… first.
If a leader… an individual leader… truly desires to do Job #1 well—to execute the vision, “top-to-bottom and over again” for an organization—he or she must execute the vision, “top-to-bottom and over again” for his or her own personal life.
[Consider this claim on a purely anecdotal level: Have you ever witnessed a leader speaking about Vision, Mission, etc. with very little purpose or passion or real, deep-down zeal in his or her heart? If so, this is due to a leader, any leader, never having gotten down-deep the principle and process on a personal level. There’s no connection…]
The very best, most enduring and “legacy-out-loud” [coming next] leaders have done the courageous, vulnerable, painstaking, often “life-threatening” [done properly it changes a person], and yet freeing and empowering work of applying the Organizational Effectiveness Model to their own PERSONAL LIFE first!
Please remember, “The heart of leadership is a matter of the heart.” And the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical realms of leadership are seen, understood, radically re-adjusted… often completely transformed… by the principles and process of applying an Organizational Effectiveness Model to him or her SELF… and then doing the job of applying the model to many other selves at work.
If we were to review the many “attributes of great, enduring, history-making leaders”, we would find emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical attributes and commonalities which accrue to a leader who has done the inside-out transformation part of life… first [no, not completely and perfectly…]: Before taking up the cause of Job #1 [or would it be #2?] within an organization.
In the painstaking yet infinitely rewarding chrysalis of forming and emerging as a leader [E.g., human being], grappling with self-defining and self-actuating questions like those below is of paramount importance.
“Why do I exist?”
“What is my mission as a human being—which will enable me to achieve my vision?”
“What are the specific core values that define my life, dictate my behavior, and set the boundaries necessary to free me to serve?”
“Who are the people I serve—anyone with a stake in my life, purpose, plan, and process?”
“What needs to those people have?”
“What competencies are needed on my part to satisfy those needs?”
“How will I satisfy those needs—physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually?”
“Are the people closest to me aware of, and closely aligned with, all of the above?”
“In what ways will I continuously communicate to my stakeholder entities in order to bring the plan along?”
“In what ways can I take responsibility for all of the above—and stay on course?”
“What sorts of ‘rewards and recognition’ systems are in place to help me stay on course?”
“How can I measure results in a way that reveals the fruitfulness [or fallowness] of my purpose and plan—while helping me to grow, continuously improve, and keep my vision vital?”
Get After Being a Rarity: Going Deep to Lead Deep!
Shallow leadership has become an old shoe…
Being aware, explicit, intentional, and relational about these sorts of life and leadership issues [“My OEM”] is as unique, as rare, a quality as great, enduring leadership is, my friends. Quite rare indeed—and it’s time to reverse the trend.
Leadership… of any kind, in any place, in any culture, leading any sort or amount of people doing anything of any sort, will only be as successful at discovering, executing, and keeping vital the ORGANIZATIONAL vision to the degree he or she has been successful at discovering, executing, and keeping vital the PERSONAL vision, mission, and core values for their own life.
“A Level-5 Leader [good… gone-great] is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.” (Jim Collins, Good to Great)
“Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” (Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf)
Lastly, for this section pertaining to an Organizational Effectiveness Model—the first-personal, then-professional structure required to be free to lead—please consider a vitally [life giving] facet of any process of leadership, self-realization, and continuous improvement: The help, community, fellowship… needed to stay on course.
Even though we live in a radically individualistic, isolationist, “lonely-at-the-top”, “boot straps”, “I did it my way” culture, leadership cannot lead or simply do life devoid of objectivity [ideas / someone from the outside to help us see reality—and the reality of our own subjectivity], community [people regularly gathered to speak the truth in love to and for one another], and transparency [a clear-headed grasp of our story, its redemptive characteristics, and a willingness to freely yet appropriately talk about it].
All of these characteristics [objectivity, community, and transparency] are meant to counter / balance the pride-power and emotional-allure of our individualistic culture [NO: objectivity, community, and transparency].
It requires that leaders maintain the likes of an objective “sounding board”, a work-life coach, a “corporate chaplain-coach”, a whole-life accountability partner… in order to lovingly and truthfully keep leadership on course from good to great.
Devoid of this principle and process, “organizational entropy” will result in: Leader as protector of the status quo. Been there; doing that; let’s do something more!
The only people who are truly objective admit their subjectivity—and then get on with doing life well in the midst of intentional objectivity, community, and transparency.
Warren Bennis, a business guru and prolific writer on leadership, said: “Coaching will become the model of leaders in the future. Coaches train, mentor, warn, encourage, empower and provide hope. I am certain that leadership can be learned and that terrific coaches facilitate learning.”
“Dessert”: As Sweet a Leadership Legacy There Is!
In the span of 15+ years that I have served as a friend in Christ, leadership coach-consultant, spiritual mentor, and Stephen Minister / Leader [a lay person trained to provide one-to-one, Christ-centered care to hurting people; 5 years], the notion of what sort of LEGACY, memories, impact, traditions, fruits, etc that a person wants to leave behind… will inevitably arise.
The desire for a God-pleasing, people-blessing, gift-derived, good and worthy and honorable and world-improving legacy emanates from deep within the human heart. But it will play out exponentially when we step up and step out to satisfy the roles and goals of leadership: The greater the responsibility, the greater the capability, desire, and rewards.
So, in your experience, what would be As Sweet a Leadership Legacy There Is? How would you put it? E.g., “For me, a legacy of great leadership would be [fill in the blank]_.” And why?
For me? This is really important, but let me put it in an indirect way: The following verbatim are taken from a Gallup Research Workplace Audit:
The Most Important People Issues for Achieving Success
– “The vision and values of the company makes me feel my job contributes.”
– “At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”
– “I have a best friend at work.”
– “At work, my opinions seem to count.”
– “My work associates are committed to doing quality work.”
– “In the last year I have been given opportunities to learn and grow.”
– “I have the resources I need to do my work right.”
– “In the past seven days, I have received recognition or praise for good work.”
– “The person I report to seems to care about me as a person.”
– “In the past six months, someone has talked to me about my progress.”
– “There is someone at work who encourages my development.”
As Sweet a Leadership Legacy There Is!
Steward the Three Most Valuable Assets God has Given You to Lead:
People, People, and People!
Each and every one of the “employee satisfiers” listed above has to do with the intrinsic rewards people most appreciate and flourish within at work—where they spend LOTS [most in many cases…] of their life.
Remember, PEOPLE are highly valued PERSONS… Image Beaers… at WORK [if you’re the CEO, COO, President, etc], at church [if you’re a pastor], on the school board [if you’re the school board president], on the train [if you’re a conductor], in the boat [if you’re a captain], in the plane [if you’re a pilot], on the battlefield [if you’re a general, superior / officer], on the playing field [if you’re a coach], in the school [if you’re a teacher], in a restaurant or retail store or lodging [if you’re the manager], on and on:
Each and every one of the “employee satisfiers” listed above can be tied directly to each “rung”, or part, of the OEM—An Organizational Effectiveness Model—FIRST done INTERNALLY by a leader personally, and SECONDLY done ORGANIZATIONALLY by a leader at work.
The greatest legacy for any realm or rank of leadership is to steward God’s Image Bearers [all people we influence] in ways that please God and bless people. Period. There is no more valuable asset under leadership’s influence or concern—and there is no person who doesn’t care deeply, and get deeply inspired by and about great leadership: It’s a win/win!
“Got a Lasting Leadership Legacy?”
If any leader does this [Job #1: execute the vision beginning with self] even half-way well, he or she will not only live an incredibly challenging yet wildly fulfilling personal and professional life, but a good-to-great leader of this sort will have a ton of [business, ministry, not-for-profit, club, etc.] success as well!
Good stewardship of the leading indicator [the people assets] will always lead to success in the lagging indicator [business, “organizational” assets].
It’s complicated. Yes, we have to break it down: As we have seen for the past 3 Training Table feasts, the challenges and blessings that leadership can avail themselves to [as the means to benefit others] is complicated, painstaking, a journey of humility, courage, perseverance and many rewards along the way… And one of the greatest blessings imaginable that counts in time, and lasts into eternity.
As John Gardner so apply put it, “Effective, enduring, and memorable leaders set a vision and use their authority to create an environment where people can contribute to the vision’s success and flourish doing so. Leaders are environmentalists.”
For me… and maybe you… a lasting leadership legacy that will never end would be words as a eulogy and the spirit of leadership written on the hearts of many people such as:
“He lived to please God and bless others in order to define reality and help create an environment where people could flourish in every way—spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.”
- As a leader, Job #1 is to execute the vision—beginning with his or her own.
- Logically, executing the vision requires having a pertinent, living, breathing vision, mission, core values, etc—and a process to get ‘er done.
- A model for organizational effectiveness applies to all organizations of any kind—beginning with me [ergo: you] as a glorious organization of one.
- The heart of any leadership is transformed, and is then much more ready to lead, when a leader has accepted that “what is most personal is most universal”—and a leader’s own emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical SELF is actually Job #1 before his or her WORK is #1.
- If and when any leader of any ilk takes on this challenge and its many rewards, he or she will guarantee him or her self a steward-leadership legacy… beyond compare!
- If not… There are far too many stories of “worked-to-death protector of the status quo leadership” who lie on their deathbed with nothing but a legacy of lonely and friendless regret and a litany of would-a, could-a, should-a’s colored by, “If only I had paid closer attention to the most important thing: People… not beginning with… but rather ending with… me. Then this lonely and cold place of my demise with be filled with an everlasting legacy of souls, family, friends and colleagues who flourished… and are now flourishing others… due, in part, to me.”
“Never before has leadership been so critical, and never before has it seemed in such short supply.” (Gary Hamel)
Start “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8): Get after the refinements; have no regrets; there are people who are languishing for the lack of leadership in your midst every moment of the day.
You can be the difference between good and great in everyone you meet!