The Care and Feeding of the Heart: “Leaders, Leaders Everywhere, But are the Led Being Fed?” Part 1

41875_7006Welcome to the Training Table where you can depend on some spiritually-nourishing chow, carefully prepared, to help you run the Godly and good race! For what good is a good race, unless it’s a Godly race?

Check out “a headline of the times” which we should pay a great deal of attention to… Because it’s timeless!

“GM Culture: A Problem That Cash Can’t Fix?”
(Rueters, March 2, 2014)

“Do the Problems at the VA Stem from Long-Term and Systemic Cultural Issues?”
(USA Today, May 20, 2014)

“New Survey: Are the Majority of Employees Dissatisfied?”
(Forbes, On Leadership, May 18, 2012)

Short answer? Yes. Yes. And Yes.
Leadership is the Key to Unlocking the Led!

This Training Table is the first of five parts on the vitally [RE: life-giving] subject of leadership. Today’s feast is focused on the heart of leadership.

In Part 1 of this series, we’re going to begin with principles and practicalities at the 30,000’ level. Parts 2-5 will address leadership and those they lead in more and more detail.

Stephen Covey insightfully said, “In a very real sense there is no such thing as organizational [cultural] behavior. There is only individual behavior. Everything [in the culture] else flows out of that.” (Principled-Centered Leadership, parenthesis added)

Directly, indirectly, principally, practically, anecdotally…
LEADERSHIP and CULTURE are inextricably interrelated!

Since leadership’s #1 responsibility is to execute the Vision/Mission of the organization, understanding how he or she has a direct influence over the culture [how and why people behave the way they do] is #1 in importance.

From its inception, Dozier & Company’s leadership coaching, organizational effectiveness, and strategic planning and marketing consultancy focus could be summarized like this: “The Heart of Leadership is a Matter of the Heart”

This unabashed claim is not some form of “sloppy agape” or throwaway Hallmark Card sentiment about leadership sentimentality. It’s a claim about God’s design of the… yours… mine… humanity’s… heart… from which all else flows. If leadership heartwork is not the main and primary “inside-out” work of leadership, things will always / eventually go awry and the symptoms of a negative organizational culture WILL begin to germinate… and eventually dominate.

I promise you, it doesn’t matter if you think of yourself as a leader the likes of Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, Ella Baker, or Lao Tzu, there is something for you about the heart of leadership to feast and grow on here at The Training Table!

Speaking of anecdotes, at the time when I was busiest as a leadership coach, organizational effectiveness, and strategic planning and marketing consultant, Anheuser-Busch was one of my biggest and most interesting clients. Since the Busch family leadership had been in place for so long, and due to the very strong personality of August Busch III at the top, it was a prototypical example of Covey’s claim above:  “In a very real sense there is no such thing as organizational [cultural] behavior. There is only individual behavior. Everything [in the culture] else flows out of that.”

The individual leadership and personality idiosyncrasies of topmost leadership could be experienced NOT ONLY throughout Anheuser-Busch, but, to varying degrees, the entirety of the three-tier system: The brewery, the wholesaler family, and retail trade partners. A fascinating, fulfilling, and very challenging experience indeed!

Some Principal Level-Setting is Much-Needed in Our Day!

In the Bible, the HEART is the seat of the entire self. It includes our core commitments and our idealized image of how the world should be. The HEART contains our non-negotiables, our worldview, our belief system, core values, and what we think and dream about when we’re all alone.

This is Key: The “Western-world, head-heart dichotomy”—head = reason; heart = emotion—does not exist in the Bible. The Bible treats the heart like, “reason with me”, “consider then”, mind, soul, strength, “thinking”, “remembering”, “working it out” [reasoning] as ALL part of the same source, “organ”, or entity: The Heart.

God designed the heart as the first, primary repository of His Image, True Truth, and Love in humankind. Everything else flows from the heart.

Biblical wisdom verses akin to, “Above all else, guard your heart [God’s Love and Truth], for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23) is very plain and yet very high:

“Above all [Re: ALL] else, treat the sacred place where everything else in your life flows from with the utmost of care… and your life and legacy will ultimately please God, go well with you, and bless others!”

And the opposite is true as well: If you “Suppress* (v18) the True Truth in your heart [stuff down what your natural intuition tells you about God] and/or exchange* (v23) the True Truth in your heart [in favor of your idolatrous desires to be God yourself] and you will experience not only God’s disfavor* (*Romans 1:18-32) but you will be the source of the negative sort of leadership that is so common throughout history  and especially in our midst today!”

In so far as God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—is concerned, the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart! The word “heart” and its various synonyms show up over 2,000 times in the Bible. God cares very deeply for you and your heart’s desires(s): Him, His attributes, and His likeness in His Son.

What is it that God FIRST creates out of dust in Adam, and
when our conversion first occurs,
and sanctifies as we mature, grow in holiness?

The Heart. Our Heart. Yours and mine personally.

When Jesus Christ was asked what is the greatest commandment, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself”, He was using various words as synonyms [heart, soul, strength, mind] to emphasize the same thing:

“Your core beliefs in word and deed about My Father, Myself, and the Spirit reside in your heart; and all of your life flowing from your faith in The Trinity—beginning with how you treat God, yourself, and other Image Bearers—will be a righteous reflection… or a abysmal abomination if it’s missing… of that principle and promise.”

It all depends on what’s at the heart of your and my… all humanity’s… heart. Any leader who invests in the care and feeding of their own heart will always reap great rewards.

As an important aside that we will be feasting on more next week, when it comes to the EMOTIONAL component of how God created and wired humans to work, “SPIRIT” [Old Testament “wind”, New Testament “emotion”] is where our emotions, affections come into play.

As God would have it, the spiritual-emotional-mental-physical ecosystem of our life FOR Him and/or AGAINST Him goes like this:

OUR HEART CONTENT [flows into]
OUR EMOTIONAL MAKE-UP [which flows into]


If our heart is in the right place [Christ-centered], our spirit / emotional life will be God-honoring, people-blessing, and healthy [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control], and our everyday actions in word and in deed will be God-honoring, people-blessing, and healthy as well.

If our heart is in the wrong place [self-centered], our spirit / emotional life will be God-dishonoring, people-cursing, and unhealthy [indifference, despair, discord, agitation, hostility, corruption, disloyalty, contention, intemperance], and our everyday actions in word and in deed will be God-dishonoring, people-cursing, and unhealthy as well.

Like King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), when we sin and live purely out of our own selfish desires and reap the consequences of sowing only our ego, pride, pretense, and self-centeredness, by following God’s design we all have the ability to trace back from the chaos of our destructive emotions and actions to what is out of kilter within our heart. This is truly a reflection of “the wondrous mechanics” of how God so marvelously designed us!

Psalm 51: A Heart-Transforming Self-Awareness, Praise, and Process!

Know Your Heart…
“For I know my transgressions [my heart], and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (Psalm 51:3-4)

Desire the Heart God Desires…
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit [the fruits of Godly and healthy emotions] within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)

Restoration is Restoring and Redeeming the Heart… And Then Letting Others Know!
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:12-13)

HANG IN! No, we have not veered way off course in the search for great LEADERSHIP who has the ability to affect a great organizational CULTURE!

The wisdom and stewardship of the heart we have just reminded ourselves of above makes all the difference in the world in the pursuit of good-to-great leadership AND an organizational culture that reflects it.

Some Practical Level-Setting Should Always Follow!

Mr. and/or Ms. Leader… please begin by looking inside-out: Consider what your heart’s core beliefs consist of by answering / journaling about these sorts of principles, and their practical application for your life.

Additionally, would you take your life and leadership role and responsibility seriously enough to share your responses with someone who might be a listener, a sounding board, a confidant, and an accountability partner for you? Leadership cannot be done well alone… only poorly. If you would spend some quality and community time on just half of these sorts of questions, it would help your heart, your emotional state, your leadership, and your impact on the organizational culture where God has placed you to make a positive difference.

LOCATE Opportunities for Leadership Self-Awareness and Growth by LISTENING!

First and foremost, do I see a human being as, a) an Image Bearer of God or b) [Naturalistically] as an accidental by-product of nature; a result of matter plus time plus chance; with no reasonable reason for my existence; and all I face is death and being food for worms?

Does the difference between a) and b) have any bearing on my leadership role and responsibilities?

Am I a leader who leads people or manager who drives them? What response would my people have?

When with more senior leaders, do I stand by my convictions – and the data to support them – or crumble or compromise when confronted?

Would I rather work alone or with a team?

How do I inspire worker / team loyalty?

Does having authority inflate my ego? Scare me? Excite me? Humble me?

How well do I know the details of my life story?

In what specific ways do I apply my story and / or my giftedness to my work / calling  / vocation?

What role, if any, do core values play in my leadership and organizational authority and influence?

At what points have I had the most fun / fulfillment in my job? What were the circumstances?

What areas of my life / work do I perceive as being my greatest strengths?

What areas of my life / work do I perceive as being my greatest opportunities for growth?

How do I react if I have to take orders instead of giving them?

Can I easily put myself in the other person’s place?

Is my success well-founded, only propped-up, or some of both? Explain.

How do I deal with conflict resolution?

Do I enjoy my family and friends? My greatest blessings? My greatest challenges?

Whom or what do I tend to blame for my mistakes?

If I could start over, what would I do differently?

Would I go to pieces if forced out of my job?

If needed, could I build a new career at this stage of my life?

Is there a right or wrong about “work-life balance”?

Can I name five out of the top ten “Key Employee Satisfiers” [what people most need at work]?

Do I hope to emulate any particular leader, or type of leadership style? Who, which, and why?

Could I write what I aspire to as my own “Leadership Credo”? My “Leadership Legacy”? What I hope the people I have led would say about me?

Mr. and/or Ms. Leader… please consider how answering these sorts of questions… digging down deep for the gold they offer… can reveal what’s at the heart of the matter, in the matter and manner of your heart.

There’s in not one person on the planet who cannot benefit from recapitulating, or reminding, or renewing, or reinvigorating… or seeking to understand their heart for the very first time… by means of the principles above and practical outflow of answering questions of this kind with all their heart, mind, strength and soul.

Embrace it for its great heart, leadership, and cultural rewards… Ignore it at your own heart, leadership, and cultural diminishment.

We’ll see you next week at The Training Table to feast on Part 2, “Job #1 for Leadership? Execute the Vision”.


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