John Mott on Leadership Traits – Part 1

Earlier this week I read some of the wisdom of John R. Mott, former President of the YMCA World Committee and recipient of the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize.

As you’d probably guess, Mott spent a vast majority of his time developing young leadership around him.  He put together a list of eight traits that he believed should be found in all young leaders.

This list was eye-opening for me as I saw a lot of truth and practicality in this list that still applies today.  I’m going to list the first four today along with some of my reactions and then talk about the other four tomorrow.

Mott believed that a leader should…

1.  Do the little things well. This echoes what Jesus teaches about the faithful servant (Matt. 25:20-21) — being faithful with few things will open up greater doors of opportunity in the future.

2.  Focus on priorities. In the words of Stephen Covey, “…keep the main thing the main thing.”  The leaders who reach that level of great impact are the ones who maintain that laser-like focus in their life and perspective.

3.  Use leisure well. For a lot of leaders, it can be easy to ignore your need for rest.  I fall into the trap of living 100 mph and realize that I’ve started to fray and wear.  You can get sick, lose your edge, and eventually not be as effective as you can be in the work that God’s called you to do.  Work hard first.  Rest when you need it.

4.  Have intensity. If you don’t have passion for the area that you lead, the passion to make a difference, it won’t translate to your team dynamics.  The great leaders of the Bible (David, Moses, Joseph) were passionate about their roles.  David showed his passion for justice against the Amalekites, Moses when he asked God to spare the Israelites, and Joseph with sparing his brothers and showing grace to them.  That takes passion.  That takes intensity.

More to come tomorrow…

Friday List – September 3, 2010

Happy Friday.  College football is here again.  Life is beautiful.

Enjoy the Friday List.

  • Teenage driver = SUV in swimming pool.
  • Apparently there is an Air Guitar World Championship.  This is for all the people who are Ted Nugent in their own minds.
  • Quote of the Week:  “When they discover the center of the universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it.” – Bernard Bailey  (Kind of mean but funny because it’s true.)
  • Picture of the Week:  Pagliacci.
  • Video of the Week:  Double Rainbow.
  • Think you’re awesome?  Now you can have someone call every single day and tell you that you’re awesome.

Friday List – August 27, 2010

The Friday List is getting out late today.  I spent the morning in New Student Orientation for grad school.  Classes start on Monday for my journey towards an MA in Leadership.  Happy Friday everyone.  Do your Friday dance.

  • A Beautiful Mind: Stephen Wiltshire has a gift.
  • A movie critic recently complained that the new movie Expendables is all about explosions and fight scenes and nothing else.  What were you expecting it to be about after you saw the cast list?
  • Picture of the Week: Name Win
  • Quote of the Week:  “I don’t have to be able to perfectly articulate exactly everything that I believe.  I just have to know that I know that I know.”  Wow.  Where do you start with picking apart that reasoning?
  • Video of the Week: Improv Everywhere – New York Library
  • Another great picture – Sweet Dreams, Sweetheart…

The folder I go to…

Can you remember the last time you felt discouraged?  Well, you probably do remember, probably too well.  In fact, you can probably remember the exact time that it happened and where you were when you last felt that way.

Discouragement has this bad habit of sticking with us for a long time.  It’s hard to shake sometimes.  Like a sickness or a disease, like a cough that just won’t go away.

Life can feel like a minefield at times.  God has been very gracious to me throughout this year and I haven’t had to face a lot of discouragement.  There have been times though where the times aren’t so sunshiny and joyful, times when you just want to quit and walk away from it all for a season.

There is one folder in my email account that I go to when I feel very discouraged.  I call it my encouragement folder.  When I get an email that has any encouraging word or story in it, I label it “encouragement” and archive it with the rest of the folder.

The encouragement is more than an “atta boy” or a “good job”.  Most of them are stories about people who were impacted by the ministry that God has allowed me to be a part of.  God used me in a unique way to impact the lives of these people, some of whom I have never met to this day, other than a thank-you in reply to their email.

I started putting this folder together at my first position in ministry and it’s been very helpful to me ever since.  These are the stories that I want to hold onto.  They remind me why I do what I do, especially at those times when the crap hits the fan.

If you don’t have a folder like this for your email or something like that, I would encourage you to put one together.  Be reminded of the work that God has called you to do.  And be encouraged.

Ministry Highlight – People of the Second Chance

I’ve noticed that with artist sketches or comics that the artist rarely includes blemishes on the people in their sketches.  Everyone has perfectly toned skin, straight teeth, nice hair, and only bad guys, the villains, have scars.  But only on occasion.

Why no scars for the good guys?  Why no blemishes?  Wouldn’t that be more indicative of real life?  Reality says that everyday people struggle with our blemishes, everything ranging from acne to the scars of a serious car accident.

We all have our scars.  They may not be visible.  They may not even be physical.  But we all have them.  We see scars and associate shame and disfigurement with them.

“They make me look ugly.”

“I was the victim.  I can’t believe they did this to me!”

“If only I could hide them so people won’t see my scars…”

“I can’t let people know what was done to me (emotionally, physically, even spiritually).”

We want to suppress and bury our scars with hopes that people will look past our past.  It might have been completely out of our control how we got these scars.  On the other hand it might have been entirely our fault:  a lapse in judgment, youthful ignorance, a rebellious time, some sin that we kept going back to over and over again.

People of the Second Chance is a ministry that was started by Jud Wilhite and Mike Foster, formerly of Deadly Viper Character Assassins (R.I.P. Deadly Viper).  People of the Second Chance is all about radical grace, scandalous forgiveness, and second chances.  They’re about celebrating your scars, not for their source or causes but for the changes that they can inspire in us.

No matter what you’ve been through, don’t allow your past hurts, failures, and scars keep you from allowing God to work through your back story.  Let great ministries like People of the Second Chance help you tell your story and celebrate what God has created through your past scars and failures.

Friday List – August 20, 2010

Friday is here.  Thank God.  It’s been a long week for a lot of people.

Happy Friday everyone.

  • Yes, it’s almost a requirement and necessary for me to be hatin’ on Justin Bieber every week.  This week his music actually sounds good…if you slow it down 800%.
  • According to Obamacare, it has been officially determined that “Bieber Fever” is not a pre-existing condition.
  • For all you Ph.D students out there, here’s a guide explaining your degree.
  • I’m pretty sure this video is fake but it’s still funny.  Don’t honk at old people.
  • With the new “scare” of Facebook Places, here are instructions on how to turn off Facebook Places.
  • Photo of the Week: No Shooting.
  • Video of the Week:  Dad Life.
  • Quote of the Week: “I did not take performance-enhancing drugs.” — Roger Clemens.  Time will tell.  As a fan of the Rocket, I hope he’s right.

Smartest Person in the Room

I heard a story earlier this week from Patrick Lencioni about a CEO who had flown over to Asia for a conference on economic development.  The CEO was a technology specialist who didn’t get involved or engaged in the conference but was there as part of a marketing strategy.

This CEO had taken his chief information officer with him.  She had a Master’s in economic theory and was absolutely fascinated with the conference since it was exactly in her area of expertise and interest.  She went to the sessions, was engaged in the conversations, and was able to be taught by economists from the region about the specific issues in their focus.

When the CEO and chief information officer got in the taxi on the way to the airport, the chief information officer began to explain to her CEO what was going on in Asia from a macroeconomic standpoint.

The CEO interrupted her, disagreed with her findings and learnings from the conference, and began to lecture her on what was “really going on in the macroeconomics of Asia”.  He had not be involved in the sessions or even been interested in learning from the local economists about the current issues that the economists were facing.

The chief information officer says that was the day when she realized that she would never be smarter than the CEO simply because he was “the CEO”.  He had allowed his education and position to supersede an opportunity to learn from an expert.

All of this stems from a very common disease among intellectuals, lifelong believers, pastors, teachers, anyone and everyone who has been involved in faith and studying for an extended period of time.  It’s the syndrome of believing we are “the smartest person in the room”.

How many times do we assume we are the smartest person in the room?  What level and twisted saturation of pride does it take for us to think this way?  How dare we assume that we have all the answers figured out?!

I’ve seen this in my own life and it has nearly destroyed many opportunities for me to grow.  I hope I have been cured of it but I won’t assume that’s the case.  As my mom would say, “Beware of the sin you’ve conquered.”

No matter your education, your years of wisdom, your spiritual victories or position of authority or expertise, never assume that you are the smartest person in the room.  God hates arrogance and being “the smartest person in the room” is one of its highest and most twisted forms.

Structured and Organized

Recently my best friend Randy and I had a discussion about structure and organization.  I made the comment that I’ve seen different companies and individuals who have been organized but not structured while some can be structured but not organized.  Both are required if you are going to be effective in the long run.

Being structured would imply that you have a hierarchy in place, a chain of command, as it were.  Structured might also mean that there are differing levels of responsibility in a given company, organization, ministry, etc.  Not every brave can be the chief.  Not everyone should be in charge.

The key part is that structure gives you an understood (or at least, implied) ladder of responsibility.  The one in charge has to be willing to make the tough decisions and feel the repercussions of those decisions.  It doesn’t matter how grand the plans are if no one is responsible for the outcome.

Being organized involves the details, the nitty-gritty of how things are run.  You can have a ship, captain, first mate, crewman, and a lookout in the crow’s nest but they are all largely ineffective without charts, compasses, clear communication, and a captain’s log to review.

For any group to be effective in the end, whether it be a company, an organization, or a ministry, you must have both organization and structure.

Leaders, if details are not your strength, find someone to fill that void in your group.  The difference between good to great is largely in the details.  Pay attention to details.

If you’re in a group that has great plans for the future but no one is stepping up to lead, pray for God to show you if you are called to fill that void.  If leadership is not your strength, pray for God to ignite the heart of a leader to get the momentum going.

Friday List – August 13, 2010

Happy Friday.  Do your Friday dance.  Sing your Friday song.  Do your Friday thing.  Enjoy the weekend.

  • Parents who wonder if they should send their kids to this school probably have second thoughts after seeing the crosswalk.
  • Yes, Chelsea Clinton got married but the biggest news were the bathrooms.  Drop a deuce for 15G’s.
  • Quote of the Week: “I think that all office buildings should be equipped with emergency exit slides so we can all be like the Jet Blue guy.” — Jimmy Kimmel
  • Picture of the Week:  Sign for County Coroner candidate for Douglas County (where I live).  Guaranteed I’ve never seen Lord and Coroner on the same sign.
  • Video of the Week: You might have already seen this on Facebook but this is Justin Bieber getting hit by a well-thrown bottle.  Fan, how I love thee.

The Leader’s Edge

Yesterday I watched one of Bill Hybels‘ talks called “The Leader’s Edge” from the 2003 Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  If you have never been to one of the Summits or seen any of their sessions online, I would highly recommend them for any type or level of ministry leaders.

The main theme throughout his talk was about maintaining your vision and momentum, your edge as it were, as a leader.  This is one of the biggest issues that leaders face: how to keep your leadership sharp and focused without drifting off course or fading out.  I know from my own experience that this is hard to do.

Here are some of his quotes and my reactions to them from Hybels’ talk.

“The hardest person you will ever lead is you.” — I would completely agree with that.  Sometimes the hardest person to sell your vision to is yourself, as strange as that might sound.  God shows you His vision for the next stage of your life and sometimes you’re sitting there wondering if it’s even plausible or if God even knows what He’s asking you to do. (Example: Moses)

“Self-leadership is still the biggest challenge in leadership.”  — Leading yourself to maintain your vision and reminding yourself of the reasons God has given to you is one of the hardest things a leader has to do.  By the way, if you go to remind yourself of the reasons God has given to you for a particular vision and you don’t know of any, then God might not be wanting you to follow through with what has now become a you-generated vision.

“When you’re starting something new, put your best people on it.  If the growth engine has some risk elements in it already, don’t add to the risk profile by giving it to a rookie leader.” — There’s a lot of wisdom in this.  Why add additional risk with an inexperienced leader if you don’t have to?  On the flip side, having a great leader who picks crappy team members isn’t much better.  Build a team wisely; build to fill your weaknesses.

“Leaders constantly live in the land of problem assessment.” — This pretty much speaks for itself.

Hybels says that he asks himself a ruthless set of leadership questions that help to direct his focus.  The questions expose the true answers that will help him get a better understanding of where his vision is and where it needs to be.

What do you think?  What are some ruthless questions that leaders need to be asking themselves today?