A few weeks ago comedian Steve Harvey committed one of the greatest gaffes you’ll ever see on live television. After an afternoon of stellar hosting as the Miss Universe contest on CBS neared its end he had one job left to do- declare the winner. That’s where it all went wrong. In a moment that will live on forever in Youtube infamy, Mr. Harvey announced the actual runner-up Miss Colombia as the winner.
One of the best leadership skills you’ll ever develop is the ability to ask wise questions. The best leaders I know are ferocious question askers. They’re always looking to learn, and there’s no one they can’t learn from.
Leaders are readers sure, but the best of them are also questioners.
Questioners of the status quo, questioners of those who are succeeding in their field, and questioners of how much of what most would call impossible really is.
While I don’t know him personally, I imagine that Andy Stanley is a phenomenal questioner. A while back on the “The Art of Inviting Feedback” episode of the best leadership podcaston the planet, he actually introduced a question for leaders to ask their teams that was scarier than any I’d ever heard. In fact as soon as I finished the podcast, even though Andy’s challenge was for the leaders listening to go and ask this question to their teams my first though was, “There’s NO way I could ever do that!”
Where do you tend to spend your money? As Jesus once so memorably taught, because our hearts are where our treasure is, if we want to get a sense of what’s most important to us we need look no further than our bank statements. Which leads me back to my opening question, where do you spend your money?
While there’s no one “right” way to use our financial resources I do believe that some are more fruitful than others. As I look back over my own credit card statement each year I’ll confess that I too often see frivolous purchases that added very little to my overall well-being. But while there are any number of ways to waste our spending money there’s one use of my own that I never regret- vacation.
A 30 something American who was completely shut off to Jesus for most of his life who now helps direct a multimillion dollar ministry in Nicaragua. A 60 something woman who was running as far from Jesus as she could through a life of vicarious partying before an earthquake no one else felt woke her up and sent her to church where she came to know Jesus.
A 20 something biologist from the suburbs who has a heart for Hispanic students and wants to one day teach at a school in the inner city about the integration of science and faith. These are just a few of the stories I had the privilege to hear over the last week as I took two Graduate School classes at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus.
Plateaus, those moments where it feels like progress has stopped and the stagnancy of same has set in. Everyone experiences plateaus, but I’ve yet to meet the person who would admit to enjoying them. Whether in relationships, life, or leadership, getting stuck on a plateau can quickly strip all the joy of the work that came before it away, leaving only frustration and angst in its wake.
Painful as these plateaus may be they’re a reality of life that can’t be escaped, but I’ve found that with the right mindset any plateau can be pushed through. Want to make sure a plateau doesn’t keep you from accomplishing all that God has laid on your heart to do? Here are five ways to push through the next one you face.
Any leader worth their salt is well familiar with criticism. For leaders the question isn’t, “Will I be criticized?” but rather, “How will I respond when criticized?” I’ve certainly faced my fair share of criticism in my leadership journey, of both the constructive and destructive sort. While I wish I could say I’ve always handled it well, the truth is I haven’t. Even after countless hours spent learning about the value of criticism and knowing all sorts of Biblical texts that speak directly to the need to heed wise and godly rebuke by heart, criticism still has a way of getting under my skin in the worst possible way.
Recently, about a week after receiving some helpful criticism from one of our lay leaders, I realized that I’ve settled into a repeated process of dealing with criticism. While this process is by no means perfect, it has been healthy for me to learn to walk through, and I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of my own journey with you on this issue. Perhaps you’ll see some of your own journey reflected as you read. So here goes. I’ve learned that I’m responding best to criticism when I (in order) get angry, get processing, and get better.
I once heard a leader reflect that if you want to be liked by everyone all you’ve got to do is stand for nothing, say nothing, and do nothing. Unfortunately for those of us committed to making a difference in our world that’s just not possible. Leaders by definition are people of intense belief and committed action, otherwise you’re just not leading!
What I’m getting at here is one of the most fundamental truths of leadership there is. Namely, that if you’re a leader not everyone is going to like you. It’s one of the most difficult, yet most important realities of leading to accept, but coming to do so is necessary because a failure to will doom your leadership for these three reasons.
In the winter of 1347 the Catholic Church faced a crisis unlike any other as the Black Plague arrived in Italy. The plague brought with it an unparalleled outpouring of death and destruction and ushered in the “dark ages” for all of Europe.
It was a time of great human suffering when the Church should have been at her best, providing hope for the sick and dying. But instead the opposite was true, and this time is remembered now not as one where the Church was at her best, but her worst.
I’ve been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan for as long as I’ve been following the N.F.L. I love the Cowboys so much I spent a Sunday night in December last season at Soldier Field at one of the coldest games in league history just so I could cheer them on (they got shellacked!). Those sixteen weeks of the season from September to January are always my favorites of the year, and win or lose “America’s Team” has provided some of the best entertainment in football, as well as some of the league’s most memorable moments these past few decades.
While I watch the Cowboys mostly for entertainment, I’ve also learned some things from following them. Specifically, Head Coach Jason Garrett has taught me a few things about leadership as I’ve followed his much maligned career. Coach Garrett is not a perfect leader, but he is an excellent one, and the Cowboys management just honored that leadership with a rich contract extension. So without further ado here are the five things I’ve learned about leadership from Coach Garrett.
One of the greatest challenges every leader faces is the temptation of discouragement. Obviously the experience of discouragement is not limited to those in leadership, however leadership with its myriad of responsibilities and life under the microscope of others does have a way of magnifying and multiplying its influence.
If it’s true that leadership multiplies discouragement then I can think of few people who have to deal with it more than the President. Don’t worry, I’m not going political on you. Rather I want to share an amazing story with you about President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal struggle with discouragement, and how it almost kept him from becoming President at all.