Friday, November 23, 2012

The Truth About Leadership - Kouzes & Posner

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The Truth About Leadership is written by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (2010). This blog contains leadership tips and leadership insights taken from this book. I highly recommend you grab a copy of this book, which is a great read and provides a decent broad sweep of the topic of leadership.

  • After critically analysing over a million respondents to a questionnaire Kouzes and Posner found that age made no difference on whether a leader was effective or ineffective. It is worth noting, that the context of leadership may change, but the content of leading (and how to lead) changes only slightly (page xvii). The fundamentals of leadership barely change, regardless of context!
  • It is much easier to write about leadership than it is to practice leadership (page xxv). I must agree with this. I could rattle off theory on emotional intelligence and how strong leaders are emotionally intelligent people, but to practice that theory is a step up from merely communicating about it.
TRUTH 1 on Leadership: You Make a Difference
  • Is leadership accessible to anyone? Yes. 'Leadership is much more broadly distributed in the population, and it's accessible to anyone who has passion and purpose to change the way things are' (page 5).
  • The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership (Kouzes & Posner) are
    • Model the Way
    • Inspire a Shared Vision
    • Challenge the Process
    • Enable Others to Act
    • Encourage the Heart (see page 13)
  • Marianne Williamson once wrote: 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us....Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you....And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.'
TRUTH 2 on Leadership: Credibility is the Foundation of Leadership
  • After years of research (Kouzes & Posner) amongst varied demographics, people groups, etc, one characteristic continues to rate the highest on what people seek most from great leaders: Honesty. People will willingly follow, good, honest leaders.
  • The top 4 characteristics of admired leaders are being honest, forward-looking, inspiring and competent (page 21).
  • Credibility is built when your actions and your words are consistent. See also John C. Maxwell on the Law of the Picture. He picks up on the same thing. 
--> Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

TRUTH 3 on Leadership: Values Drive Commitment
  • Kouzes and Posner quote Olivia Lai who writes, 'Becoming a leader is a process of internal self-discovery. In order for me to become a leader and become an even better leader, it's important that I first define my values and principles. If I don't know what my own values are and determine expectations for myself, how can I set expectations for others? How will I convey confidence, strong will, and empathy? Without looking within myself, it's not possible for me to look at others and to recognize their potential and help others become leaders' (page 32).
  • The authors quote another emerging leader, 'You have to understand what you really believe deeply. People won't follow you, or even pay much attention to you, if you don't have any strong beliefs' (page 33).
  • Values are what drive you, they are the essence of who you are. They affect every facet of your life, including things like whether you return the extra money the sales assistant gave you, or where you will invest your time and energy.
  • Values will drive your commitment. To drive this point home, Kouzes and Posner quote Arlene Blum, an experienced mountain climber. She said, 'As long as you believe what you're doing is meaningful, you can cut through the fear and exhaustion and take the next step' (page 35).
  • Some interesting research from Kouzes and Posner, show that if people have clarity of organizational values, but low clarity on their own values, their commitment to the organization will be lower than if they had clear personal values, but were unclear of the organizational values!
  • Integrity is maintainted when your personal values align with organizational values.
  • Leaders are good at building and affirming a 'community of shared values' (page 43).
TRUTH 4 on Leadership - Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart
  • The Truth About Leadership speaks of people who dream, who believe for a better future. The difference between a dreamer and a leader, is the leader takes 'dreams seriously and act to make them happen' (page 45).
  • Remember I mentioned the top 4 characteristics of admired leaders (above), and only second to honesty, is forward-looking.
  • Future-minded leaders know how to envision the future (page 50). In fact, they spend more time in the future (page 51). Leadership requires an element of being visionary. Also, see my post on 'What is a Visionary?'
TRUTH 5 on Leadership - You Can't Do It Alone
  • We are reminded by Kouzes and Posner, that, 'no leader single-handedly ever gets anything extraordinary done' (page 62). Leadership is always best expressed in a team context. In fact effective leadership is not effective without others!
  • Kouzes and Posner begin discussing the importance of emotional intelligence and how good employers seek to employ people who are good at working with others. They quote Egon Zehnder who writes that all the evidence, '....clearly demonstrated that the classic profile organizations look for in hiring a senior executive (relevant experience and outstanding IQ) is much a predictor of failure than success, unless the relevant emotional intelligence competencies are also present. In fact, serious weaknesses in the domain of emotional intelligence predict failure at senior levels with amazing accuracy' (page 64).
  • The point is, IQ is quite often overrated! You need emotional intelligence! Leaders must know who to interact with others! Kouzes and Posner write, 'When leaders are in tune with the emotions of others, they create resonance between leader and constituent and among constituents, much like the musicians in an orchestra create resonance when their instruments are in tune' (page 65-66).
  • This chapter is saying more than just having people along side you in order to achieve a vision. Good leaders  help others feel more confident and capable.
TRUTH 6 on Leadership - Trust Rules
  • Trustworthiness is a component of credibility (page 75).
  • The Truth About Leadership highlights four actions to keep in mind in relation to developing trust.
    • Behave predictably and consistently
    • Communicate clearly
    • Treat promises seriously
    • Be forthright and candid
TRUTH 7 on Leadership - Challenge is the Crucible for Greatness
  • Think about any leader and you can probably think of challenges that came their way; whether it be poverty for Mother Teresa, war for Winston Churchill, injustice for Martin Luther King Jr; challenge is present.
  • Brick walls test commitment and can strengthen resilience.
  • 'It takes determination and strength to deal with the adversities of life and leadership' (page 99) and this is what Kouzes and Posner label as grit. They quote Angela Duckworth who writes that grit is, 'perseverance and passion for long-term goals'
  • The authors assert that learning doesn't take place in the absence of mistakes. I would rather assert that leadership is strengthened when you learn from mistakes. Challenges are the building blocks to great leadership.
TRUTH 8 on Leadership - You Either Lead By Example or You Don't Lead at All
  • Kouzes and Posner like the phrase, 'Do what you say you will do'. Other ways of putting it are, practice what you preach, walk the talk, put your money where you mouth is, etc (page 107).
  • Tony Simons (a professor) calls this 'behavioral integrity', and he firmly believes that research shows that managers who lead by example and followed through on promises and demonstrated good values, were better leaders than managers who scored low on these aspects.
  • Good role models will always trump bad role models and good leaders understand this!
TRUTH 9 on Leadership - The Best Leaders are the Best Learners
  • Research completed by Bob Eichinger, Mike Lombardo and Dave Ulrich report that the best predictor of future success in management is 'learning agility'. They define learning agility as, 'the ability to reflect on experience and then engage in new behaviors based on those reflections (page 123). They are then quoted as saying, 'Learning agility requires self-confidence to honestly examine oneself, self-awareness to seek feedback and suggestions, and self-discipline to engage in new behaviors' (page 123).
  • The crux of the chapter in The Truth About Leadership is that if you want to be a better leader, then have the discipline to learn! You need to have what psychologist Carol Dwech labels as a 'growth mindset'. This is, 'based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts' (page 124). You can grow, and therefore you can learn, and your can improve in your capacity as a leader. If you fail to believe that simple princple, then you will not bother reading and learning.
  • There's no fast track to success. You don't become an expert pianist by looking at piano keys! Deliberate practice is needed. A great reminder, that as Jim Collins labels it, fanatical discipline is required.
  • Deliberate practice has five elements:
    • It is designed specifically to improve performance
    • It has to be repeated a lot
    • Feedback on results must be constant
    • It is highly demanding mentally
    • It is not all that fun (pages 128-130) See also Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else (2008).
TRUTH 10 on Leadership - Leadership is an Affair of the Heart
  • Without heart, leadership is void of something essential. No one wants to follow a leader who is not inspired by the path in which the leader wants others to embark on. Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt (author of Freakonomics) write, 'When it comes to choosing a life path, you should do what you love - because if you don't love it, you are unlikely to work hard enough to get very good' (page 146). I would note, if you don't love it, you are unlikely to be fulfilled in life, and you will be very unlikely be able to motivate others to follow your cause.

Let's finish this outline on The Truth About Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, by quoting them, 'Leadership begins when you believe in yourself and that you can make a positive difference in the world' (page 159).


Find more extensive blogs on leadership here, written by Pete Brookshaw.
Also: What's the difference between a manager and a leader?


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Woman, you be that Bishop! (Church of England, Please Do Not Read This)

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The Church of England synod in London have voted against the ordination of women as bishops. Anglicanism has come under fire today, after a two-thirds majority within the three houses of the General Synod did not eventuate. Ironically, the bishops voted 44 in favour of female Bishops (89.8 %), and only three against. The male bishops voted FOR the change. The clergy, they voted 148 in favour of female Bishops and 45 against (76.7 %). What caused the Church of England to fail to allow ordained women Bishops was in fact the 'laity' (that is, the people allowed to vote from within the church congregation). They voted 132 in favour of female Bishops, but 74 were against which failed to reach the required two-thirds agreement (64.1%).
Join the discussion happening NOW on Facebook. Disciples in Training Page.
The Church of England dates back to its separation from the Roman Catholic Church during the time of King Henry VIII in the early 16th Century. King Henry VIII resisted coming under papal authority of his day, and through the English Reformation, became the supreme head of the Church of England in 1534. Since those times, men have been appointed as bishops and priests and not women.
In fact it has only been recent decades in which the Church of England in various countries have began voting to allow women to be priests. It seems some parts of the Church of England still have a way to go before they recognise women in leadership. Complentarianism is still in vogue.
I have been asked on different occasions, 'What's your thoughts on females in ministry'? Call me simplisitc, but personally, I don't even think there is an argument to be had today. Women and men. Men and women. Either can be leaders and either can be in ministry. To me, involvement in ministry and/or leadership relates more to spiritual gifts and skill sets, than the sex of the person in question. I know full well that some Christian traditions still hold very passionately to only men being allowed in leadership positions. I rarely come across Christian traditions though that fail to recognise women's involvement in ministry.

So what is the big deal with women being appointed into positions of leadership? In the New Testament we know that the twelve disciples were male. Our assumption is that the Jewish leaders in the Synagogues were all male, and when and if they converted to Christianity, they would have kept their strong views on men in leadership. Though, for me, the message of Christ, and the freedom that is found in him, sought to challenge the Pharisaical views of his day. I would argue that if Jesus was here on earth today, he would not have an issue with women in leadership. This is an egalitarian view. While he did not challange every social issue of his day, that is noted, he was nonetheless very revolutionary in his approach to being a Rabbi in the first century.

I would like to comment and say, while women in leadership and eldership can be an issue in some Christian circles and a debate that flairs up occassionally, the fact is, women in ANY form of leadership in the world today find themselves in a minority (CEO and senior management roles mostly). More must be done to seek after equality (especially when men are chosen over women when the women clearly has the greater skill set, and is the better Godly choice).

To support my argument from a biblical perspective I quote Galatians 3:28 that says, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.' This was not a sudden burst of compassion for the Apostle Paul, but rather a shifting mindset in his previously strongly held Jewish faith. What a paradigm shift over time for the Apostle Paul! With all respect, it would be helpful if there were more people in the Church of England, that shifted their mindset on their view of women serving as Bishops.
For more on women in leadership, Bishop of Durnham, N.T. Wright pens the article, 'Women's Service in the Church' - Click here.  He unpacks 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 which is a prickly passage on women in ministry. I will not seek to delve into that passage here, but by all means, check that one out.

From being deeply involved in The Salvation Army, I have witnessed God use women significantly in ministry and leadership, and thank God for their contribution to the growing of the Kingdom of God. In fact, our current worldwide leader, the General, is a woman.

Church of England, please stop the nonsense. Woman, you be that Bishop!

See also:

--> ABC News report on Women Bishops.

--> Top 10 Reasons Why People Don't Go to Church


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Friday, November 16, 2012

Public Speaking Tips - So you 'wanna' Communicate Effectively?

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Depending on your line of work, you may well be public speaking. As a Salvation Army Minister, I am constantly speaking publicly, whether it is preaching a sermon, leading a commemorative service, being the MC of a fundraiser or sharing the vision to a bunch of leaders. Effective communication is vital in every instance.
If you value the importance of good outcomes when you are speaking, then you value learning to communicate more effectively.
Here are some tips of public speaking.
Begin Confidently
I remember reading Dale Carnegie mentioning this in his book on public speaking. If you have lacked preparation or are feeling nervous, try not to stand up and say, ‘Ahh, umm... I haven’t had much sleep trying to put my thoughts together...’ What does this achieve anyway? People literally slump back in their chairs and begin to consider whether they will even listen to the next part of what you have to say. You may not feel confident, but act yourself into feeling!

Finish Strong and Actually Finish
An old preacher in front of a congregation used to use the phrase, ‘And now in conclusion...’ The problem was, it was not a conclusion! It was another point! He would then ramble for another 5 minutes! Land the plane I tell you!!
If it is appropriate sum up the points you have made and sit down. Sometimes, mirroring the first couple of sentences you began with, to conclude with, is a popular technique. Plan beforehand to finish strong, and then... finish!

Know your Audience/Demographic
Whether you are a Christian or not, you must hand it to Jesus Christ of Nazareth, for his capacity to inspire a crowd, whether small or large, with content that challenged his listeners. He would use agricultural language to communicate to farmers, fishing lingo to speak to fishermen. He would inspire scores of people through his capacity to engage with his listeners.
You must know your audience. You speak differently to a group of teenagers than to a group of business executives. You speak differently to Baby Boomers than you do to Generation X.
Understand the demographic, and know a little of your audience before public speaking.

Understand the Event
Are you called to motivate and inspire or teach and inform? Are you meant to be reflective and contemplative or are you called to rouse the crowd? See, a funeral is different to a wedding. Being the MC of a large Christmas event is different to trying to convince a bunch of investors to lay down the money.
The reason I mention this, is because some people do not get it. Maybe you do, and that’s great. I have seen too many people speak at weddings as if they’re at a funeral. You know what I am saying, right? Understand the event, and speak accordingly.
 If the event or moment calls for you to inspire people, then INSPIRE people! Get them excited! Help them believe in the cause you are communicating about! Speak with conviction and passion about the topic!

Stop Fiddling or Repeating Words Unnecessarily
If you are unsure whether you fidget while public speaking, the best options are to either have someone give you positive, yet honest feedback, or film yourself and watch it back.
I have been known to repeat words like, ‘You know?’ My wife is known to fidget with the music stand (which is holding her notes). Maybe you are exempt from this category, but many are not. You actually need to do two things. Firstly understand whether you fit this category or not, and pinpoint what you need to work on. Then secondly, which is the most difficult, is you need to become aware of it WHILE you are speaking the next time. Then while you are considering what to say next in your speech/message, you need to make a concerted effort to stop doing what you just realized you were doing! Try not to be too frazzled at this point, but simply become AWARE of your fidgeting or your repetitious words WHILE you are speaking.

For more tips of effective public speaking, here are t
wo of my popular posts on public speaking:
For posts on everything leadership - Click here!


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Friday, November 2, 2012

Essential Qualities for a Church Planter - Charles Ridley

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What are the essential qualities need to be a great church planter? Following a study back in 1988 across church plants in the U.S.A and Canada, Dr. Charles R. Ridley (PhD - University of Indiana) produced a list of 13 qualities that church planters needed. Below are the 13 qualities, with descriptions under each. I wonder if you are a church planter, or a leader of a church, how many of these qualities you excel in.

This excerpt is attributed to Charles Ridley:

Visioning Capacity
  • Being a person who projects into the future beyond the present.
  • Developing a theme which highlights the vision and philosophy of ministry.
  • Coping effectively with non-visioning elements.
  • Not erecting artificial walls or limits either overtly or subconsciously.
  • Establishing a clear church identity related to the theme and vision.
  • Believing in God’s capacity to do great things.

Intrinsically Motivated
  • Having a desire to do well and a commitment to excellence.
  • Stick-to-itiveness and persistence.
  • Having initiative and aggressiveness without the negative connotations.
  • Having a willingness to work long and hard.
  • Being a self-starter with a willingness to build from nothing.
  • Having a high energy and vitality level; physical stamina.

Creates Ownership of Ministry
  • Helping people to feel responsible for the growth and success of the church.
  • Gaining a commitment of the people to the vision.
  • Establishing a congregational identity.
  • Avoiding stereotyping of the congregation by imposing unrealistic goals.

Relates to the Unchurched
  • Communicating in style that is understood by the unchurched.
  • Understanding the psychology or mentality of the unchurched.
  • Moving and functioning in the personal space of the unchurched without fear.
  • Quickly getting to know the unchurched on a personal level.
  • Breaking through the barriers erected by the unchurched.
  • Handling crises faced by the unchurched.

Spousal Cooperation
  • Having an explicit agreement regarding each partner’s involvement in ministry.
  • Having explicit rules regarding the use of home as an office.
  • Evaluating the consequences of ministry demands upon the children.
  • Functioning as a team through individual and collective action.
  • Having a strategy for dealing with strangers.
  • Modeling wholesome family life before church and community.
  • Agreeing upon and sharing the ministry vision.
  • Deliberately planning and protecting private family life.

Effectively Builds Relationships
  • Responding with urgency to expressed needs and concerns of people.
  • Displaying Godly love and compassion to people.
  • Getting to know people on a personal basis.
  • Making others feel secure and comfortable in one’s presence.
  • Not responding judgmentally or prejudicially to new people.
  • Appreciating and accepting a variety of persons.
  • Spends time with present parishioners without ignoring them for new people.

Committed to Church Growth
  • Believing in church growth as a theological principle.
  • Appreciating steady growth without preoccupation with quick success .
  • Committing to numerical growth within the context of spiritual and relational growth.
  • Recognizing that non-growth is threatening and self-defeating.
  • Establishing the goal of quickly becoming a financially self-supporting church.
  • Not prematurely falling into a ministry of maintenance.
  • Seeing the church project within the larger context of God’s kingdom.

Responsive to Community
  • Understanding the culture of the community.
  • Identifying and assessing community needs.
  • Responding to community needs on a priority basis.
  • Determining successes and failures of other attempts to respond to the community.
  • Not confusing what the community needs with what the church wants to offer.
  • Acquiring and understanding of the character and pulse of the community.
  • Adapting the philosophy of ministry to the character of the community.

Utilizes Giftedness of Others
  • Understanding the culture of the community.
  • Releasing and equipping people to do the task of ministry.
  • Discerning of spiritual gifts in others.
  • Matching the gifts of people with ministry needs and opportunities.
  • Delegating effectively in areas of personal limitation.
  • Avoiding personal overload by delegating effectively.
  • Not prematurely assigning ministry positions before people are equipped.
  • Not placing unwarranted restrictions on other’s spiritual giftedness.

Flexible and Adaptable
  • Coping effectively with ambiguity.
  • Coping effectively with constant and abrupt change.
  • Adapting oneself to the uniqueness of the particular church planting project.
  • Shifting priorities and emphasis during various stages of church growth.
  • Doing whatever is necessary whenever necessary.

Builds Group Cohesiveness
  • Developing a nucleus group or groups as a foundation.
  • Quickly incorporating newcomers into a network of relationships.
  • Engaging others in meaningful church activity.
  • Monitoring the morale of people.
  • Utilizing groups effectively.
  • Dealing with conflict assertively, constructively and tactfully.

  • Experiencing setbacks without defeat.
  • Riding the ups and downs (i.e. attendance).
  • Expecting the unexpected.
  • Rebounding from loss, disappointments and failure.

Exercises Faith
  • Possessing a conviction regarding one’s call to church planting ministry.
  • Believing in God’s action.
  • Having expectation and hope.
  • Having a willingness to wait for answers to specific prayer requests.


That's Charles Ridley's 13 Essential Qualities of a Church Planter.

--> 10 Reasons Why People Don't Go to Church

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