The Care and Feeding of Any Heart: Leadership is Huge!

Leadership in word tag cloud on whiteFor the next several Training Table feasts 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.

There is little doubt whatsoever that leadership—or the lack thereof—is absolutely crucial to the welfare—or the harm—of any one person or the collections of millions of persons.

I’m quite certain, like many of you, that when it comes to grabbing a hold of one or several “leadership quotes” to help codify what it’s all about… I struggle: There’s so much… Too much said and written on the subject. Logically, one would have to infer: Leadership is a very important, ubiquitous, universal, and yet very personal subject matter.

Because it MATTERS a great, great deal. At the present time, employee satisfaction is at an all-time low. This is due to lackluster leadership—to put it very kindly. In fact, in all realms of the culture, satisfaction with all aspects of leadership in most every realm is pitifully lacking; it is rife with skepticism, cynicism, and caricaturization; the level of distrust in leadership and authority structures of any kind is abysmal and having profound consequences in all corners of the culture today.

Today’s feast of the heart at The Training Table consists of a message all leaders should embrace: The necessity of disruption.

Before we take a bite out of the interesting subject of disruption, let me point out the one main thing about how good-to-great leaders can… and do… risk being visionary, intentional, and compassionate about shaking things up—in order to get things back on track.

The Heart of Leadership is a Matter of the Heart 

The precursor or main attribute of the substantive and sustaining leader is his or her emotional intelligence [via Daniel Goleman]—or “emotional health” in the five key areas of:

1) self-awareness—Realistic self-assessment; Self-confidence; Self-deprecating sense of humor

2) self-regulation—Trustworthiness and integrity; Comfort with ambiguity; Openness to change

3) motivation—Strong drive to achieve; Optimism—in the face of failure; Organizational commitment

4) empathy—Expertise in building an retaining talent; Cross-cultural sensitivity; Service to clients and customers

5) social skill—Effectiveness in leading change; Persuasiveness; Expertise in building and leading teams

RE: The Heart of Leadership is a Matter of the Heart

BUT—please hear this—one’s ability to grasp and carry-out any, let alone higher and higher levels, of emotional intelligence is based upon the disposition of the heart: The repository of one’s worldview, ideologybelief system, of our core values, of any human being’s essential truths, doctrines, of yours and my own non-negotiables in life… And a person’s non-truths or false beliefs as well. It’s all contained in the heart. This is why the bible uses the words “heart”, “soul”, “mind”, “strength” synonymously… and over 1,500 times! It’s not a form of a sentimental, corny, or maudlin “Hallmark-card-heart”, friends… It’s absolutely critical and vital for life.

If… any leader—or human being for that matter—does not do the hard yet vitally important work of answering life’s seminal, life-and-death questions such as,  Who Am I? Where Did I Come From? Where Am I Going? then… we will not JUST be lost in a morass of living a meaningless life, but we will remain in bondage to the destructive, invisible, unknown yet captivating and enslaving EMOTIONS that flow from a HEART devoid of sounds and reasonable principles, meaning, purpose, and wisdom from the outside and above.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure [of his heart] produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks [his life proceeds]” (Luke 6:45, parenthesis added).

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth” (James 3:13-14).

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

“Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

The bible has a whole lot to say about the sort of servant leadership the world needs NOW more than EVER!
See: Matthew 20:25-26; Matthew 20:27-28; John 13:3-5; John 13:12-15; 1 Peter 5:2-4; Philippians 2:3-8; 1 Peter 5:5-7; John 3:30; Nehemiah 4:21-23; Luke 24:25-26; 1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Isaiah 53:12-17; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22-25; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; John 15:9-17… And lots more.

Leadership… of any kind, in any place, in any culture, leading any sort or amount of people doing anything of any sort… will under-achieve or fail completely at discovering and executing the ORGANIZATIONAL vision to the degree he or she has been successful at discovering and executing the PERSONAL vision for his or her life.

Please read and digest this last claim again: Have you taken the painstaking yet fulfilling time, talent, and treasure to create a Vision, Mission, Core Values, and Strategic Roadmap for YOUR OWN LIFE? If not, doing so for any organization will be nearly-impossible. If you have, please endeavor to “keep the personal vision, mission, core values, and strategic roadmap vital”: It will have a profound influence on doing so “at work”.

Once any leader has done the hard “inside-out heart work”, he or she can begin the “outside-in action work”… of LEADING as:

Visionary: “Job #1 for leadership is to execute the vision of the organization.” (CK Prahalad)

Intentional: “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.”  (John Gardner)

Compassionate: “A ‘Level 5 Leader’—who is intentionally moving from good to great—is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.  According to our five-year research study, executives who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.” (Jim Collins, Good to Great)

The Neglect of the Heart… of the Matter? 

“Why do so few leaders fulfill Collins’ ideal?  Perhaps because they were never really cared for themselves.  It’s the ‘abused leaders abuse others’ syndrome.  If you are an abuser and believe that people are just a means to your end, do everyone a favor and transition to an individual contributor role, like investment banking or consulting.

As you face the [sometimes] brutal truths and summon the courage to change, take heart in the fact that, by growing and serving others, you will also serve yourself.  As Jim Collins found, great leaders ‘love what they did, largely because they loved who they did it with.’” (Susan H. Cramm, former CIO and vice president of IT at Taco Bell and CFO and executive vice president at Chevys, a Taco Bell subsidiary…, emphasis added)

“It is one of the tasks of leaders to ensure the continuous renewal
of the systems over which they preside.”
(John Gardner)

Q. What do you believe is the bottom-line, net-net, most basic and admirable motivation for a good-to-great leader to promote and put in place principles and a process for continuous renewal?

A. “The release of human possibilities is one of the most basic of social objectives and leadership goals.”  (John Gardner)

The HEART of great leadership is [mostly] filled with the love and truth of God; and the supreme, often-burdensome and lonely, yet unspeakably fulfilling responsibility of leading and serving Image Bearers of God: Sacred human beings who a leader might influence in any way. This is a sacred stewardship of leadership.

The EMOTIONS of great leadership that flow from such a heart are, as we have said, highly “emotionally intelligent” and healthy. [The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) flow from a heart that is right with God.]

The ACTIONS of great leadership are then capable, competent, and free to “set a vision and use their authority to create an environment where people can contribute to the vision’s success and flourish doing so” (Gardner)!

Continuous Renewal Always Involves
[unintended and intended] Disruption!

Leaders, leaders everywhere, begin this new year—and commit to the regular stewardship of your awesome leadership self and responsibilities—by, 1) reminding your people of the Vision, Mission, and Core values of the organization; and 2) creating a process of asking the following sort of “disruptive questions”—in order to leaderly, lovingly, and intentionally create an environment where the people can FLOURISH!

Only leadership sound and secure at the HEART level… MATURE and INTELLIGENT at the EMOTIONAL level… and CUSTOMER- and EMPLOYEE-centered at the strategic and tactical level, has the ability to DISRUPT THINGS in a visionary, intentional, and compassionate fashion!

The leading indicator is leadership… and the lagging indicator—the business, church, organizational results—will follow.

10 Disruptive Questions for Instant Innovation

If you are in a leadership position, or have an influence on leadership in any way, please consider how you could best pose the following sorts of questions to a significant sampling and/or cross-section of employees. Consider how asking “disruptive questions” of this kind might be used in all sorts of ways to not only inspire innovation but get people engaged or re-engaged in the vision, mission, core values, and strategy like never before!

1. If you could only work on one project for a year to transform the business, what would it be and why?

2. What is the shortest path to the customer? How could we get there in 6 months?

3. What suffers more breakdowns: our products, our processes, or our people? How could we fix this?

4. It’s 2025 and we’re the best company to work for in the world: What two things did we do to earn this award?

5. Which parts of your job would you like to kill or eliminate?

6. What would our dream testimonial from a customer say?

7. What can we offer for free that no one else does?

8. You’ve just written a tell-all book about this company: Which secrets does it reveal?

9. How can our services be turned into physical products? How can our products be turned into a service?

10. If we could hire five more people, what unconventional skills would they have and why?

[10 Disruptive Questions for Instant Innovation, by Lisa Bodell, CEO, Future Think, a New York-based innovation research and training firm]

Don’t put off any opportunity to steward your leadership role and responsibilities well, my friends. It is indeed a rare and valuable thing to see leaders being leaders these daze. Your influence can have a more profound impact than you could imagine or hope for!

See you fine folks at The Training Table next week! Until then, leaders, laymen, race-runners, people people everywhere… remember:

“Defining the basic vision and purpose of any organization is very difficult, painful and risky.  But it alone enables an organization to set objectives, to develop strategies, to concentrate its resources, and to go to work everyday.  It alone enables an organization to be managed for performance.”  (Peter Drucker, The Essential Drucker, Harper Business Publishing)


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