Advertisements
“Developing Leaders, Not Functionaries.”

“Developing Leaders, Not Functionaries.”

I have been reading “A Year With Peter Drucker” by Joseph A. Maciariello. The book is subtitled 52 Weeks of Coaching foe Leadership Effectiveness. Week one is entitled: ‘Developing Leaders, Not Functionaries.’ In this chapter the author asks, “are you developing leaders in your organization, or are you developing bureaucratic, rule-following functionaries?” I think it is a great question to ask of leaders, but it is also important for leaders-in-training to assess whether they are being trained to lead, or to simply follow instructions. In the early part of Jesus’ ministry he called men who would be disciples. Peter, Andrew, James and John did not understand what they signed up for when the Master called them. He simply said, “follow Me” and they did. In fact they left everything to follow Jesus.

Applying Peter Drucker’s principle that “leadership is having followers,” Jesus was an exceptional leader. He started with 12, but lost one along the way. He called thousands but at the end of his earthly ministry, He ended up with only 120. On the day of Pentecost however, 3000 were added and His following has been growing ever since. Today, His numbers are so impressive, it’s hard to count, though it may not seem so at times.

Looking at the roster of people whom Jesus called at first, it is hard to imagine the church becoming what it is today. The disciples were  fishermen (some of them) – Matthew was a tax collector – they were simple people. And they started out being “rule following functionaries.” Take the story of the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5). After standing in a boat and  teaching the people who had gathered to hear Him, Jesus asked Peter to put out a little into the deep water to catch some fish. Peter, a fisherman all his life, knew a little better. He had fished all night and caught nothing – so he said as much. He added however, “because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (NIV)

Very often when this story is taught, it is from the perspective of obedience – Peter was obedient to Jesus – and quite rightly so. He is after all the One to whom we must be obedient. But let’s engage our minds here a bit (that’s what Encquip is about). In this account, Peter followed an instruction, and if you look at the disciples’ performances in the early days of their calling, that is all they did.  There is no question that good leaders start out by following rules, and doing what is asked of them. But they should never stay there. Peter did not stop at being a rule follower; he eventually became the leader of the early Christian church.

Growth in leadership means moving from being a rule follower to one who sets the rules. According to Drucker, “leadership means getting the right things done.” (p 4). People who simply follow rules get things done but it ends there. Sometimes they are not even aware of why they are doing what they are asked to do!

CALL TO ACTION

Step 1: Examine your performance to decide if you are a leader or a rule-follower

Step 2: The next time you are given a task, try to find why you are being asked to do it

Step 3: Look for lessons to be learned in the assigned task

Step 4: Implement the lessons learned

Advertisements
Priorities

Priorities

What is important to you? This may seem like a simple question, but in reality it is not. Most people have a a clearly defined idea of the things that are important to them; many people don’t. It is however, important for leaders to know what are their priorities in life.  If you were to examine the daily habits of successful people you will quickly learn that their lives are centered around a set of priorities. They may or may not have a list but you will notice that their days  always begin with the things that are most important to them; the things that will most likely help them achieve the goals that they have set for themselves.

Whether you know it or not everyone – including you – has a set of priorities. I believe it is a part of human nature to prioritize things; to do things in the order of importance. From the busy executive running a large corporation to the homeless guy on the streets, people naturally put things in an order of priority from the most important to the least.

And since there is only so much that can be done in a particular period of time -say an eight hour work day- some things will get done and some things won’t. A problem occurs when priorities are out of order and the the things that are most important, fail to get done. So prioritizing is not a skill that leaders have to learn; rather it is taking a natural ability and turning it into  a catalyst for success.

Let’s take a lesson from Jesus in Matthew 6:33 in which He says: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”  This is a verse on putting first things first. Do that, He implies and everything else will fall into place. If things are done in the correct order of priority, the rest will be taken care off. If they are not done in correct order, time will be wasted in trying to catch up and efficiency would be lost.

According to The History Channel, on December 1st 1913, Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line for mass producing automobiles. Through this innovative system Ford was able to cut down the assembling of a motor car from 12 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes. However the assembly line process would never work if there wasn’t an order of priority in how the various parts were assembled. To achieve this Ford had broken down the process of building the Model T into 84 discrete steps  and he trained workers to do just one. When he introduced his moving assembly line concept it revolutionized the way cars were built.

CALL TO ACTION: Determining What is important to you.

Step 1: Make a list of the things that you do on a daily basis

Step 2: Consider how much time you spend on each activity

Step 3: Determine how each activity contributes to what you want to achieve

step 4: Eliminate the things that do not contribute to what you want to achieve.

Being Decisive

Being Decisive

We have all watched in horror the events of the last week, when a deranged gunman full of hate and racial animosity, entered  the Emmanuel church in Charleston, South Carolina and took the lives of nine worshipers. Photos of  him posing with the confederate flag – a symbol of pride to some but a potent symbol of southern racism – soon appeared in the news. It was clear to everyone what the young man’s motivation was but it also propelled to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness the issue of race relations  – one again – but this time a symbol of it’s racist past was also exposed. Like the scab on a hard to heal wound people were forced to confront what some have chosen to ignore, others have thought was laid to rest, and many have had to deal with every day.

According to the reports, the killer wanted to start a race war among blacks and whites. What he achieved  was the opposite. First we saw a stunning display of the love of Christ, when one after the other family members of those killed offered forgiveness and grace to to the young man. Next we saw people of all races coming together in unity and support  of those who were taken in such a horrific act of violence. A few days later, Nikki Haley the governor of South Carolina stood with a cadre of leaders, both black and white and declared that the Confederate flag so proudly flying at the state capitol must be removed. Within days calls for the removal of these symbols of slavery, racism and segregation went up in other southern states – Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland – with politicians on both sides of the aisle declaring that the time is now.

On the part of Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s  female Republican governor – a minority herself – it was decisive moment. We can argue that she made the call to score political points, which she certainly did since her political capital increased dramatically – but I think she should be commended for acting swiftly. According to the law she does not have the power to order the flag’s removal, but that’s not the point. The issue will eventually play out in the legislature but the discussion – long overdue, or drowned by dissenting voices – has started. All because a leader led – decisively!

Procrastination is the bane of every leader! We put off things, we are not sure, we ignore, and things don’t get done that should be done. If we are to turn knowledge into action we must learn how to act decisively. In the Old Testament story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17), a Philistine giant terrified the Israelite army for more than a month. For forty days Goliath would come out on the hill and challenge the Israelite forces. The scripture says that when King Saul and all the Israelites heard his challenges, they were “dismayed and terrified.”

A young boy by the name of David came to the camp to bring food for his brothers who were soldiers in the Israelite army. When he saw and heard Goliath he asked about him. His brother who heard him enquiring, chided him for his brashness but David kept pressing the issue. The King, when he heard about David’s queries, sent for him. When David met the king the first thing he said was: “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”  The rest is – as we say, – history! On that day, David was faced with a decision. An enemy was challenging him, his people and his God. He decided that he had to do something about it, immediately!

The ability to act decisively is a trait that all leaders must develop. If one is to turn knowledge into action, being decisive is absolutely necessary. For the good people of South Carolina, many knew in their hearts that such a symbol of oppression was unacceptable. But it had been up for so long and its racist history was diluted by a sense of southern pride. If governor Haley had said what she said two weeks before the murders the response might have been “yeah, yeah!”  If she had waited until the shock and horror of the killings had dissipated from the national consciousness (in about a month), the effect would most certainly, not have been the same. Some have described the shootings and the resulting discussions to be a “watershed moment” for the nation; it most certainly is for the south!

CALL TO ACTION

Step 1: Think about one thing you have been putting off for some time.

Step 2: Create a plan to put it into effect.

Step 3: Take steps to accomplish your goals.

Turn Knowledge into Action

Turn Knowledge into Action

 

One of the things I often hear people say – especially when they are being corrected – is, ‘I know that!’ It seems like  a standard response, particularly from people who don’t like to be told what to do. When I am given such a response, I want to ask: “Well if you know, why didn’t you do?” The Apostle James once said: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). The author clarifies his statement by saying that people who hear only,  are like someone who looks at himself in a mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like when he walks away. That’s a serious case of forgetfulness, if you ask me.

So its not good enough to just to know, but to do as well. In fact one of the easiest ways to increase knowledge, is to do. It not only helps to retain knowledge of a particular process, it provides an opportunity for learning new skills. Most people who teach any discipline, whether it be mechanics, construction or even the art of teaching itself, will agree that one can never teach everything, and likewise, students will never learn everything. However as the process of doing is engaged, it opens to individual to a variety of learning disciplines, problem solving skills, creative thinking and so on. So turn knowledge into action. If you have learned something put it into action.

One of the greatest teachers who ever lived – and is still living – is Jesus. He called a group of men and  encouraged them to follow Him. In the process, their minds were opened up to learning far beyond their limited experience and eventually their experience outgrew their knowledge. When the time was right, He sent them out to do; to put into practice that which they had learned. These simple men – fisher folk by trade (some of them) – literally turned the world upside down for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therein lies the power of turning knowledge into action.

CALL TO ACTION:

Step 1: Learn something new.

Step 2: Put it into action.