Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Casting Vision

Once our desired future state is clear, it is the leader’s job to communicate this vision so that others can ‘see’ it along with them.  Tom Clancy’s book, “Into the Storm: A Study in Command” (page 504) provides a great illustration of vision casting by a leader.  Gen. Freddie Franks was leading the VII Corps in Desert Storm and in the midst of the fog of war it became apparent that the final outcome was not clear.  Gen. Franks provides that needed clarity as described below.

“But I’ve been around tired troops, and these troops were tired…though clearly not down.  They were running on fumes now, but they wanted to finish it.  I could imagine what the troops who had fought all night felt like.

“As I looked at the map, a piece of blue representing the Persian Gulf was just visible at the far eastern map sheet.  It caught my attention.

“Attack east,” I told them.  “Go for the blue on the map.  That is what is bringing the ships to take us home when this is over.  Go for that.  Here!” I said, banging on the map.  Not too military, but I wanted them—as clearly tired as they were—to have something to seize on to propel them forward another twenty-four hours.  As Greg Fontenot was to tell me later, my remark “Go for the blue on the map” got all the way to the battalion commanders, and maybe further.”

How’s your vision?  Is it clear?  Can you communicate it clearly and simply to others?  Where is the “blue on your map?”  Go for the blue on the map!

Strategic Leading

Not all leadership activity is equally strategic.  And by strategic activity we mean those things that we do that are moving us towards accomplishing our leadership mission.  Separating busyness from strategic activity requires wisdom and constant attention from the leader.  Below is a simple outline to begin to think and lead strategically.

A Strategic Leadership Process

 1.     Mission Statement  –  What is our mission we are trying to accomplish?

This answers the question, “Why do we exist?”  This is first and foremost in strategic leading.  It’s the picture frame on the wall of the Kingdom that separates and defines who we are from what others are.  It is our identity.

2.     Define Current Reality  –  SWOT Analysis

This sets the context for our strategic planning and initiatives by seeking to truly understand our current situation.  A SWOT analysis defines this situation by looking at current Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

3.     Vision Statement

This is where we want to go in the future – our destination.  It is the picture of the future that we see by faith, usually 5-7 years ahead.  It’s as if we are placed into the future and take a picture of that new reality – our desired future state.  Then, we try to describe this picture in detail.  This is the picture that is placed into the picture frame of our mission.  It is this future vision that we will begin to work towards and bring into reality.

A vision must have a faith stretch to it, but not so much overreach that it is seen as wishful thinking or a fantasy.  After describing this future reality, you want to craft a short vision statement that captures as much of this picture as possible.  Good vision statements should be clear, concise, and compelling.    e.g.   JFK’s vision for NASA  –  “We will place a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”

4.     Strategic Directions

Now that we have identified where we are going, we need to decide which roads we will take to get to our destination.  These are a few things (no more than 5 usually) that we focus on for the next couple of years that will begin to move us towards our destination.  These directions are not all that we will do, but they are key to taking us from where we are to where we want to be – our destination.  These strategic directions need to be re-evaluated every couple of years to decide if we continue with these or enough progress has been made that we can now focus on different things.  e.g.   For the next three years we will focus on:  staff recruiting, staff training, and staff funding

5.     Strategic Goals

With each strategic direction we will want to have some specific goals with metrics that we can use to assess whether or not we are making progress in our strategic directions.  These goals need to be concrete and clear.  e.g.  For the next three years we will hold three staff recruiting previews; recruit 50 full-time staff, train all towards the staff profile, dedicate 3 staff to be staff trainers; train all staff in personal fundraising; all staff will be up to full budget, etc.

These strategic directions and goals will then influence our yearly leadership plans.  All leadership plans need to be aligned with these over-arching directions and goals.  Again, we will do more in our leadership and plans than this, but each part of our work will seek to address these directions and goals.  Thus, we have strategic alignment across the work.

Are you busy in your leadership or are you strategic?  There’s a BIG difference!

Our God, a Recruiting God

The following was done by Doug Nuenke some time ago.  I’ve kept it for some time in my files as a reminder on the biblical basis for recruiting.

“From the beginning of time, our God has shown Himself to be committed to inviting men and women to join Him in His kingdom enterprise.  We don’t need to search further than the first chapter of Genesis to see this method at work in the lives of Adam and Eve.  As divine image bearers, they were invited to join God’s work as multipliers, fillers, subduers, and rulers of the earth.

“God is continually inviting His people into a close relationship with Him, and to a task.  For example, God invited Abram to a relationship of blessing and to a faith venture of leaving his homeland to go to a place God would show him (Genesis 12).  God invited Moses to join Him on a world-changing rescue operation, promising the blessing of His presence (Exodus 3).  Jeremiah was invited to join God’s purposes for his life as a prophet to the nations.  God assured Jeremiah that ‘I am with you and will rescue you’ (Jeremiah 1:4-10).  The apostle Paul was interrupted in the course of his life by a compelling invitation from God.  It made no sense, and who would have picked Paul, the murderer, to join God’s task?  Yet Jesus appeared to him, promising His involvement in Paul’s life, and inviting Paul to join Him in turning people from darkness to light (Acts 26:12-19).

“Year after year, throughout the centuries, God has been an inviting God, a God who recruits men and women to join Him in His kingdom endeavors.  Jesus did the same when He said to potential disciples, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).  Again, we see God inviting people to Himself and to a task worthy of their lives.

“What do we learn about God’s recruiting of individuals?  First, God invites people to join Him in His enterprise, for His glory.  His invitation is not so much about us as it is about Him and His purposes.  Second, God’s invitations are compelling and have an imperative tone. We can never invite with the same compulsion, yet we can help people discern God’s compelling invitation.  Third, God’s recruiting is personal.  Though He has plenty to say to us as a community of believers, His invitations are directed to us as individuals.  Finally, we see that God’s recruiting involves the promise of His presence and involvement.

“In organizations, we must make the distinction between the task of marketing and the task of recruiting.  God models both of these. Marketing is the public disbursement of who we are and what we are about.  It involves broad communications of a person or organization’s mission, vision, ethos, and character.  God communicates broadly, in this marketing fashion, through His creation, through His mighty acts, and through His miracles and wonders.  The Lord Jesus’ life on earth communicated in a broad and public way, the character and mission of God.  Recruiting, however is personal. It is more relational and directed to the individual.  Recruiting happens most effectively at a local level, and engages men and women where they live, pointing them toward God’s invitations and callings on their lives.

“Our God is a recruiting, inviting God. As God’s people and God’s fellow workers, we join Him in the recruiting process when we help our student, staff and alumni friends listen for the next step in which God is inviting them to join Him.”

Seeking the Right Applause

The following is the final excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“A bookmark of mine carries a thought that stayed with me throughout my term as president of Eastern Seminary.  It reads, “It doesn’t matter if the world knows, or sees or understands, the only applause we are meant to seek is that of nail-scarred hands.”   Leaders are exposed to opportunities to generate applause.

“As public figures, we receive both the undue criticism for the failures of our institutions, and the unmerited praise for their successes.  The true calling of leadership requires us to accept the former and deflect the latter.  That is, our job is to take the blame for mistakes made by those under our leadership and to deflect the praise and re-direct it to those most responsible for our success.  In this way we keep ourselves in balance, never taking the criticism too personally and not accepting the praise too easily.

“Only with God’s anointing can the leader listen intently for that one source of applause that really matters.  If we seek our affirmation elsewhere, the distracting noises that vie for our attention and tug at our hearts for allegiance will drown out all else.  And if we seek for this other applause, we will never hear the one from the Master’s hands.

“Two significant temptations come to play here.  The first is the fear of rejection that causes us to run from confrontation.  The second is the desire to make everyone happy and to measure our performance, our effectiveness and our ‘leadership’ on that scale.  The two are very closely related.  The first temptation is motivated by the idea that good leaders will not generate conflict, and that rejection of our performance in our role as leader is a rejection of our personhood and character.  These are significant pitfalls for a leader.  They are generated from that deep-seated desire to hear the applause of all with whom we work.

“The second temptation is to lead by reacting. We see which way the wind is blowing and steer that direction, regardless of the situation.  We do not want our people to be anxious, to question our decisions or disagree with our reasoning.  We want harmony and unity, which is commendable.  But left unchecked, this desire will cause us to sacrifice courage, vision and risk-taking.  It will bring us momentary applause, but will ruin us in the end.

“So we must ask ourselves just what kind of applause are we seeking?  If it is human applause that validates, that affirms and that encourages us, we will also find that same applause binds us, boxes us in and ultimately strangles the life out of us.  When our daily self-worth and the measure of our effectiveness come primarily from the reaction of those with whom we work, then we are finished as Christian leaders.

“The goal of the Christian leader must be to go to bed every night with a clear conscience and a right heart with God.  God only asks one thing of leaders, that we seek with all our heart to know and do His will.”

Time for a “cardiac” check up….how’s your heart?

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