Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Leaders, You’ll Rarely Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Leaders may or may not be subject matter experts in their given field. I was rarely, if ever, the smartest person in the room when working with my teams. A leader’s primary responsibility has to be to provide a compelling vision of a better future for their particular area of responsibility (team, division, organization, country, etc.). This has to be a vision that attracts others who believe that the leader has the ability to bring it to fruition. Thus, the leader needs to influence others to follow them. Leadership expert John Maxwell has often said that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”.

Why do I say that the leader may not be a subject matter expert in their area of responsibility? That seems to go against what I have previously written that we want our leaders to have both competence and character. Wouldn’t a leader need to have an understanding of the area they are leading in order to be competent, and earn the trust of their followers? Continue reading


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Leadership Attributes: Humility


What makes a great leader? A few years ago, I asked a few colleagues at work to tell me what they thought were the attributes of a great leader. As you can expect, I got a wide variety of responses, from motivator to inclusive to risk taker and problem solver. In this new series on leadership attributes, I will write about several of these attributes. The first one will be humility.

Jim Collins, author of the business classic Good to Great, in looking for what made the difference in companies that were able to move from “good to great” and sustain that greatness, identified two distinct characteristics among the leaders of those companies, one of which was humility. At first, the importance of humility seems surprising. Think of some of the leaders you have worked with. Would the attribute of humility describe them? I hope so, but I’m not sure. Or consider some of our national political leaders. Humility may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them. Continue reading


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Leaders Who Fall: And What Can We Do to Prevent Falling Ourselves


Recently, another high-profile pastor has fallen, causing much harm to the church, the body and bride of Christ. Over the past few years we have heard about a number of pastors falling, and I’m sure that there have been many more that we have not heard about. Some of these falls have been a result of sexual infidelity, such as Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor in the denomination I belong to. But others have tended to be pastors who founded their churches, such as Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels and more recently James MacDonald. Their falls are a result of what I would call an ego problem. These pastors started their churches which later grew in size and influence. Each man then became what is referred to as a “celebrity pastor”, writing best-selling books and speaking at conferences. It’s not hard to see how someone in that situation could end up with an ego problem. But let’s face it, this problem is not limited to pastors, but can afflict a leader in any sphere. Continue reading


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Do You Have a Teachable Spirit? Here are 3 Areas of Your Work Life Where You Need One

proverbs-on-criticismDavid Murray has written that the one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life is teachability. He states that those who are teachable and remain so usually succeed, while the unteachable usually fail. He goes on to say that it doesn’t matter how much talent and gifting we have. If we are unteachable, we will never reach our full potential in the various facets of our lives – Christian growth, callings, relationships, etc.

My friend Kevin Halloran has written on the characteristics of a teachable spirit. You can read his article here. He states that another word for teachability is humility.

There are many areas of life in which we need a teachable spirit. Here are three of them in the workplace:

  1. In your performance. Do you get defensive when you receive performance feedback? Do you blame others, instead of taking the feedback in the spirit it was intended and growing from it? Or, as one of my former leaders often said, do you look at feedback as your friend and use it to improve?
  2. In your development. Do you listen to your mentors on what is needed to help you get to the next level and then take the appropriate action? I recently worked with a very teachable emerging leader. When they didn’t get an interview for a position they had put in for, they demonstrated their teachability. They looked at what experiences and education those who had gotten an interview had and took immediate action to make themselves more competitive. The next time the job was posted, they got an interview. They worked hard on their interviewing skills with their mentors and got a job offer, all due to a teachable spirit.
  3. As a leader. Have you created an environment with your teams in which they can challenge you, and provide you feedback? As a servant leader, are you willing to learn from those you lead? Or have you created an environment in which your team members do not feel comfortable approaching you? Leaders need to be teachable, and can learn a lot from those they lead. Check out this article from Dave Kraft “Leaders are Teachable”.

Those are just a few areas in our work lives in which we need a teachable spirit. Can you think of others?