Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

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spurgy quoteFaith and Work Quotes:

When work is your identity, if you are successful it goes to your head, if you are a failure it goes to your heart.  Tim Keller

At some point every one of us confronts the question: How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life? Os Guinness

  • Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. Vince Lombardi
  • Leadership is like coaching. Recruit great players. Train. Motivate. Keep developing. Help them have their best game. Celebrate wins. Ron Edmondson
  • As modern people we are all on a search for significance. We desire to make a difference. We long to leave a legacy. Os Guinness
  • In 1962 there were zero articles on self-esteem in the education journals. By 1992 there were 2,500 a year. David Brooks
  • In leadership, the quality of your success is often directly proportional to the quality of your investment in others. Ron Edmondson
  • A wise man will cultivate a servant’s spirit, for that particular attribute attracts people like no other. Andy Andrews
  • What I have learned about mentoring is that when you help others you learn a lot too. Be intentional about spending time with others. Ken Blanchard
  • I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance. Seth Godin.
  • What are you busy doing? As a leader, you should be busy serving others. Mark Miller
  • Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due every day. Coach K
  • Are you becoming the kind of person you want to be? Are you growing into the kind of person you admire? Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • To be successful, leaders have to fight (often enormous) pressure and expectations and discover how to effectively use the word no. Ron Edmondson.

Faith and Work News:

Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

 The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

I’m reading this book with a few colleagues at work. This time we look at Behavior 2: Mastering Conflict.

  • Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a bad thing for a team. In fact, the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.
  • Of course, the kind of conflict I’m referring to here is not the nasty kind that centers around people or personalities. Rather, it is what I call productive ideological conflict, the willingness to disagree, even passionately when necessary, around important issues and decisions that must be made. But this can only happen when there is trust.
  • When team members trust one another, when they know that everyone on the team is capable of admitting when they don’t have the right answer, and when they’re willing to acknowledge when someone else’s idea is better than theirs, the fear of conflict and the discomfort it entails is greatly diminished. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable. Conflict without trust, however, is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth.
  • But that’s not to say that even productive conflict isn’t a little uncomfortable.
  • Overcoming the tendency to run from discomfort is one of the most important requirements for any leadership team—in fact, for any leader.
  • Avoiding conflict creates problems even beyond boring meetings and poorly vetted decisions, as bad as those things are. When leadership team members avoid discomfort among themselves, they only transfer it in far greater quantities to larger groups of people throughout the organization they’re supposed to be serving. In essence, they leave it to others below them to try to resolve issues that really must be addressed at the top. This contributes to employee angst and job misery as much as anything else in organizational life.
  • As critical as conflict is, it’s important to understand that different people, different families, and different cultures participate in conflict in different ways.
  • When people fail to be honest with one another about an issue they disagree on, their disagreement around that issue festers and ferments over time until it transforms into frustration around that person.
  • When it comes to the range of different conflict dynamics in an organization, I’ve found there is a continuum of sorts. At one end of that continuum is no conflict at all. I call this artificial harmony, because it is marked by a lot of false smiling and disingenuous agreement around just about everything, at least publicly. At the other end of the continuum is relentless, nasty, and destructive conflict, with people constantly at one another’s throats. As you move away from the extreme of artificial harmony, you encounter more and more constructive conflict. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is the demarcation line where good, constructive conflict crosses over into the destructive kind.
  • The optimal place to be on this continuum is just to the left of the demarcation line (the Ideal Conflict Point). That would be the point where a team is engaged in all the constructive conflict they could possibly have, but never stepping over the line into destructive territory.
  • Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind.
  • When leadership team members fail to disagree around issues, not only are they increasing the likelihood of losing respect for one another and encountering destructive conflict later when people start griping in the hallways, they’re also making bad decisions and letting down the people they’re supposed to be serving. And they do this all in the name of being “nice.”
  • Even when teams understand the importance of conflict, it is frequently difficult to get them to engage in it.
  • One of the best ways for leaders to raise the level of healthy conflict on a team is by mining for conflict during meetings. This happens when they suspect that unearthed disagreement is lurking in the room and gently demand that people come clean.
  • By looking for and exposing potential and even subtle disagreements that have not come to the surface, team leaders—and, heck, team members can do it too—avoid the destructive hallway conversations that inevitably result when people are reluctant to engage in direct, productive debate.
  • Another tool for increasing conflict is something I refer to as real-time permission. When a leader sees her people engaging in disagreement during a meeting, even over something relatively innocuous, she should do something that may seem counterintuitive but is remarkably helpful: interrupt. That’s right. Just as people are beginning to challenge one another, she should stop them for a moment to remind them that what they are doing is good.
  • What it will do is give people the permission they need to overcome their guilt—and they’ll definitely be fighting off feelings of guilt—and continue to engage in healthy but uncomfortable conflict without unnecessary and distracting tension.
  • It’s important to remember that the reluctance to engage in conflict is not always a problem of conflict per se. In many cases, and perhaps in most of them, the real problem goes back to a lack of trust. Remember that when team members aren’t comfortable being vulnerable, they aren’t going to feel comfortable or safe engaging in conflict. If that’s the case, then no amount of training or discussion around conflict is going to bring it about. Trust must be established if real conflict is to occur.

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 19: The Leader and the Media:

  • But it really doesn’t matter which kind of leader you are—if you are a leader, the media is part of your world.
  • Never apologize for having a message and for wanting that message to receive the widest possible coverage and exposure. That is why you are leading. You are the steward of beliefs and convictions that your organization represents and to which you have committed your life. Your organization exists to serve the mission defined by those beliefs, and you have been charged to lead. So lead, and never apologize for leading.
  • Here is one of the keys to all communication: People simply tune out the things that don’t interest them.
  • If you send out a press release, it had better be interesting. Don’t expect an assignment editor to waste time on the boring or the ordinary.
  • If you want to get your message out through an op-ed column on the editorial pages, you had better have a good, clear point to make about an issue of very current concern, and your column had better be written well.
  • The best way to learn what kinds of news items make their way into print and what kind of columns get printed on the opinion pages is to read those same papers and magazines regularly, carefully, and strategically. There is no substitute for familiarity.
  • On the radio waves, you have one central asset—your voice.
  • You have a message, and you cannot ignore television. In terms of impact, nothing yet exceeds the nationally broadcast networks and cable news channels.
  • If you want to get your message out on these platforms, learn to face a camera with confidence, learn to immediately lead with something interesting, learn to answer the interviewer’s questions, and learn how to be warm and unflappable on the outside, even when you are frustrated and agitated on the inside. The camera reads emotions more quickly than the microphone carries words.
  • Leaders need to determine in advance what to do when a reporter calls, because you never know when one will.
  1. First, be honest.
  2. Second, be direct.
  3. Third, realize that you can say no.
  4. Fourth, respect the reporter or program host.
  5. Fifth, realize that reporters do not control the final form of a printed news story, and that radio and television reporters are also subject to editing.
  6. Sixth, realize that some media appearances don’t go as you expect, and some don’t even go.
  7. Seventh, know that everyone at every stage in this process operates out of his or her own worldview.
  8. Eighth, building on what was just stated, know that explaining what you believe is the very mission that brought you to this position of leadership.
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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