Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the month “March, 2015”

Success – A Leader’s Greatest Challenge

In 2 Samuel 8 we read about David and how he handled his success as a leader.  The following are several observations and principles that we can take away and apply to our own leadership should we experience success.

In vs 1-5 we see the listing of David’s initiatives against the Philistines, Moabites, and Arameans.  The results are summarized in verse 6 – The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.  David experienced great success in his military campaigns against the surrounding enemies of Israel.  In fact, he had success in everything that he attempted.

The resulting success of his campaigns led to David becoming wealthy.  Remember that this son of Jesse came from a family that raised sheep for a living.  This new-found wealth came quickly and could have turned the heart of a lesser man.  But we see David’s response in vs 11 – King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued… 

His successful military campaigns and growing wealth led to the seemingly inevitable conclusion as to how he was viewed by others.  In vs 13 we read – And David became famous…  Personal fame for the successful leader is a challenge that many leaders face, just as David had to deal with.

In vs 15 we see how David led after experiencing successful leadership efforts, growing personal wealth, and increased personal fame – David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people.  This is one of the reasons why David is a hero of mine.  He seemed to be able to handle success well.

Now immediately we are thinking of his low points in his adultery with Bathsheba or his counting of the army – yes, those were huge mistakes with huge consequences for his life and leadership.  And yet, through it all, he recovered and did not let those personal failings derail him.  He confessed his sin, humbled himself before God and men, and continued to lead.  All failures need not be fatal!

David was real – he had great strengths, also some glaring weaknesses.  Yet through it all he “did what was just and right for all his people.”  How are you handling your success?  Are you stewarding well God’s resources that have come your way due to this success?  What goes on in your heart when people point out your successes or publicly praise you?

Leading a Change Process

No leader is satisfied with the status quo. All leaders want to bring change. John Kotter in his modern classic, Leading Change (p 21) urges 8 Steps in the Process of Leading Change.

1. Establish a sense of urgency
• Examine performance against goals
• Identify and discuss crises, potential crises, or major opportunities

2. Create a guiding coalition
• Form a group with enough power to lead the change
• Form the group into a team

3. Develop a vision and strategy
• Create a vision to help direct the change effort
• Develop strategies for achieving that vision

4. Communicate the change vision
• Use every vehicle possible to constantly communicate the new vision and strategy
• Have your guiding coalition model the expected attitudes and behaviors

5. Empower broad-based action
• Get rid of obstacles to the change
• Change systems or structures that undermine the change vision
• Encourage risk-taking and nontraditional ideas, actions and events

6. Generate short-term wins
• Plan for visible improvements in performance, or “wins”
• Create those wins
• Visibly recognize and reward people who made the wins possible

7. Consolidate gains and produce more change
• Used increased credibility to change all systems, structures and policies that don’t fit together and don’t fit the transformation vision
• Hire, promote and develop people who can implement the change vision
• Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents

8. Anchor new approaches in the culture
• Create better performance by implementing the change initiative
• Articulate the connections between new behaviors and organizational success
• Develop means to ensure leadership development and succession

What change are you currently seeking to bring about? Where are you in relationship to the above eight steps? What do you need to do to move forward in your own change process?

Leader Development at West Point

Some time ago I had the privilege of visiting the US Military Academy (West Point) to learn how they develop leaders.  The following is a short summary of their development model.  Note the emphasis on spiritual and ethical leader development as part of their foundation for growing leaders.

“The West Point Experience (WPE) is the primary developmental vehicle for accomplishing the military Academy’s mission.*  There are two main ways to describe the WPE:  how the cadets experience it, and how it is organized and implemented by the Military Academy. The cadets experience growth in six primary areas: intellectual, military, physical, spiritual, ethical, and social. The three primary developmental programs are Academic, Military, and Physical.

“Three domains focus on acquisition and application of professional knowledge and expertise. These domains are Intellectual, Military, and Physical. The intellectual domain focuses on a well-grounded and wide range education. They are required and expected to think critically, and to anticipate and respond effectively to a changing world. The military domain focuses on the warrior ethos and the winning spirit. This domain trains for real combat and military context. The physical domain focuses on the physical development of the soldier.

“The spiritual domain focuses on two aspects: character is rooted in the essence of who we are as individuals, and discerning who we are, is a lifelong search for meaning. This domain has two areas it focuses on, spiritual fitness and opportunities for spiritual growth. The ethical domain focuses on linking ones spirituality to the ethical norms of their profession. The four areas focused on in this domain are the warfighter, servant of the nation, member of a profession, and leader of character. The social domain focuses on the “Do.” It is not enough to know everything needed, one needs to choose to act in the right way.

“Principles of leader-subordinate relationships are listed.
• Leaders and subordinates abide by the ethical standards of our profession
• Leaders and subordinates demonstrate mutual loyalty and teamwork
• Leaders and subordinates never gain or seek privilege at the expense of others
• Leaders and subordinates respect each others dignity and worth
• Leaders and subordinates accept responsibility for their own actions
• Leaders establish clear, attainable objectives and standards
• Leaders motivate and inspire subordinates
• Leaders enable communication
• Leaders promote self-esteem and provide constructive evaluation of duty performance, enabling improvement and development”

* United States Military Academy Mission:  To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of service to the Nation.

In Memory of Jelle

Jelle Jongsma photo Jelle Jongsma finished his race shortly before Christmas 2014.  It was my privilege to have known him and to have journeyed with him as a fellow pilgrim.  Below is an article I wrote for the Dutch Navigators about my memories of Jelle.

“In 2003 I began to travel to Western Europe and engage with some of the leaders of the various student ministries.  At the first event in Amsterdam I met a large Dutchman who introduced himself as Jelle Jongsma, the leader of the Dutch student ministry (NSV).  That began a journey together that has forever changed my life.

“My heart is flooded with many, many fond memories of our journey over these years.  It makes me smile just to remember Jelle’s boisterous laugh and overwhelming optimism.  Jelle was a contrast of seriousness regarding the advance of the gospel and the lightheartedness of daily life.  Jelle was a man who knew a big God and saw the world’s problems as very small by comparison.  His vision for the world and desire to be personally used by God were a constant theme in our times together.

“At a staff gathering at the Don Bosco retreat center we were discussing some of the problems facing a rapidly growing Dutch student work.  That morning we prayed over Ezekiel 36:37-38 asking that God would fill the Dutch universities and cities with ‘flocks’ of Dutch students and graduates who loved Him.  We prayed that they would carry this Navigator vision of laboring to Europe and the nations of the world.  While God was blessing the Dutch ministry, there was more…always more.  Jelle’s vision saw more opportunity for God to work everywhere he looked.  His faith and vision challenged me to trust God for more.

“I remember walking at Kinderdijyk with him praying for the Netherlands and the nations.  We visited his childhood home and I learned about his family heritage.  He invited me into his home and I watched him and Joke raise two beautiful young girls to become godly women.  We talked about everything from mission strategy to qualities of potential spouses for Myrthe and Susanne.  He and Joke made me feel a part of their lives and family.

“When Jelle and Bernard (Terlouw) visited us in Colorado, we laughed at the size of the large steak I cooked for them on our grill.  I remember laughing about me not liking Dutch krokets, my silliness at placing both peanut butter and jam on my sandwich, and him trying to teach me to enjoy red wine.  I’m so grateful for his patience and kindness when I called late at night asking him to please pick me up at the Den Hague train station, because once again I had gotten on the wrong train in Utrecht.  In many ways it seems that our roles reversed from me coaching him in ministry, to him teaching me about life and modeling Christlikeness.

“I would have liked to have had more time with Jelle, but I’m so grateful for what time we did have.  I’ll never be the same.  I will miss him and look forward to seeing him again when he greets me in heaven.  No doubt I’ll hear him before I see him, as his laugh will help me find him in the crowd.”

May we all have such friends in our journeys.

Development Through Tough Relationships

DAVID – LESSONS FROM RELATIONSHIPS: SAUL
1 Samuel 16-26

Character: Christlikeness; the fruit of the Spirit

“Character is developed in community, but tested in isolation.”
Bill Thrall

Lesson #1      Trusting God’s Sovereignty

1 Samuel 18:28-29
When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, 29 Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.

1 Samuel 19:9-10
But an evil spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, 10 Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.

David was approximately 20 years of age when he fled from Saul and for the next ten years, until anointed in Hebron as king, he was on the run from Saul (2 Sam. 5:4).

1 Sam. 19:1-2 – Jonathan warns David of Saul’s plot
1 Sam. 19:4 – Jonathan defends David to his father, Saul
1 Sam. 19:11-12 – Michal warns David of Saul’s plot
1 Sam. 19:23 – God spares David
1 Sam. 20:32-35 – Jonathan again warns David of Saul’s plot
1 Sam. 23:9-13 – David delivered through ephod warning at Keilah
1 Sam. 23:14 – God continually spares David from Saul
1 Sam. 23:26-29 – David delivered because of Philistine attack on Saul

Lesson: People, leaders, governments, or organizations can’t frustrate God’s plan for my life (cf. Genesis 31:6-7)

Romans 8:31
If God is for us, who can be against us?

Lessons #2      Submission to Authority

1 Samuel 24:5-7
Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’S anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way…May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.

1 Samuel 26:9-11
But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’S anointed and be guiltless? 10 As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11 But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD’S anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

1 Samuel 26:22-24
“Here is the king’s spear,” David answered. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORD’S anointed. 24 As surely as I valued your life today, so may the LORD value my life and deliver me from all trouble.”

Lesson: Leaders are God-appointed and therefore I submit to them, even if they seek to do me wrong, trusting that God will remove them and/or correct/repay them at the proper time (cf. John 19:10-11; Romans 13:1-2; Hebrews 13:17)

What difficult relationship has God placed you into that He means to use for good and for your development as a leader?  Are you embracing this or fighting against it?

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