Leadership – The Strength of a Man

This man is larger than life. His expectations of those around him supersedes any lofty expectations we could ever have for ourselves and for our life. He is a father, a fisherman, a husband, a prophet, a teacher, a preacher, a friend, a workaholic, a mentor, a businessman, a builder, a bishop and a leader of leaders. I know I am missing some of the other things that describe him. To me, he is my spiritual father. I have attempted to make him my mentor, but that thought has been left behind and I embrace the father that he is to me.

Strength of a Man

Our paths intersected back in June of 2004, though I have been around since, January of that same year. Our paths, our first meeting was in June of 2004. I met with him and I knew I could learn from him after that first meeting. He is tough and has huge vision and expectations and I knew then I needed to be around him. I still need to be around him. Through a series of nudges from the Lord, in 2006 to be precise, I accepted that he was the father I needed in my life. I didn’t think I needed a father. My earthly father, the man that raised me was amazing in his own right and when he died in 1995, I was devastated. I have recovered and lived on with wonderful memories but I wasn’t looking for a replacement. So when God suggested this new father, a spiritual father, I was not readily open to the idea.

Back to him, this man embodies the qualities of a strong leader. Something we seem to have misplaced as a nation – strong leaders. We require very little from those we choose as leaders today. This man, this leader, my father, requires much from himself and those he leads. That’s the strength of this man. His accomplishments over the years are vast and include building a great church, maintaining his marriage of more than 40 years, building a women’s shelter, a men’s shelter, a food ministry that feeds thousands upon thousands of people. Building multiple buildings, rebuilding cars, 3 children that are successful in their own right, and multitudes of spiritual children that look to this man for guidance, and leadership – some on a daily basis.

One lesson of leadership I have learned from him over the years is that we should be a reflection of those that we are connected to. In other words, if he as my spiritual father is successful, then I should be successful too. One of my favorite sayings says, “successful people, model themselves after successful people.” I know that my spiritual father had great men around him and he was willing to submit himself and learn from those men. He is wise, he is a learner, a reader, a tinkerer, a teacher, a listener, a lover of God, a man of prayer, a man of worship, a man of God, and my spiritual father. These are the things – the strength of this man!

I am forever grateful that our life journey, in the economy of God, intersected now 10 years ago. I still have much to learn, but I know this, I can’t help but to be successful. By continuing to observe his life, learn the lessons he so freely teaches, and apply myself by working hard every day, I will be a builder too. Maybe not buildings or cars, but I will build the things, that God allows me to build – people. That is the strength of this man, this leader. He builds people. He calls himself a people mechanic. What a great moniker! He is still tinkering in my life. Yea!

Writing Challenge: Lost Love Letter

Hmmm, what is this? Oh my, it is a letter…but who uses snail mail these day? As I reach for the letter I see footprints, mud splotches and it looks like it may be torn. I am curious…someone took the time to write this letter and it is obviously lost. I peel back the pieces of the envelop that are left and there is one fold in this letter. A stale aroma of perfume wafts off the letter as I open it. There are incomplete sentences due to the tear, but the majority of the letter looks like it is still in tact.

Love LetterAugust 31, 2014

My Darling!

I enjoyed our time last night. The restaurant you selected…

I am amazed that you remember how much I love…

After all these year’s we’ve…

I spent hours preparing for our date night. Thinking of you and all that….

I love you so much! My passion for you is stronger than I really can put into…

I am forever yours! Just thinking about you makes my heart flutter! How can that be?

I pray you never stop loving me. I know I will never stop loving you!

All my love, your Darling!

This love letter is precious for the one who lost it. I wonder if there is anyway I can get it back to them….

How Long Do You Carry a Poor Performer?

What if you had a poor performer on your team? How long is too long to carry them on the team?

What If?One of my ducklings is leading a project. He has someone who is not performing and we are 2 weeks from the go live date on the project. As a mentor coach, I have recommended he remove the person from the project. The individual is not committed to performing at a high level (based on performance to date) and their poor performance will impact the project significantly. What would you do? How much longer would you attempt to coach this person through their obvious lack of commitment? Would you remove them? If so, how?

This post is a response to yesterday’s post, “What if you have a Poor Performer?” When you have someone who is not performing, it is critical that you handle the situation with some urgency. Too many leaders, including the one I am writing about today, make excuses and justifications for the poor performance of those they are leading. That is not good leadership.

When you are dealing with an issue, you must do something different. You must see the problem from a different perspective then maybe the perspective you were at when you made the decision to select this leader or when the project was assigned. Don’t expect that the problem will go away without your intervention. Without you making some hard decisions about the project and those who are handling the project, including and especially the project leaders. Here is one of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein

“The significant problems we face today, can’t be solved at the same level we were at when we created them.”

Too many times Novices and Experienced Leaders alike will put off making the hard decision because they are afraid of hurting the person’s feelings. They are afraid the project can’t possibly go on without that individual. That is just not true. Ultimately, it is critical that you make leadership decisions that ensure the best result for the project and  the people or persons. And sometimes removing the person is the best result for both. Fear will kill your leadership. Being fearful to make a decision will put your leadership in question. Leaders make hard decisions. Period.

When success is in jeopardy, assess the situation, identify potential options and solutions and make a decision. Yes, there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel. Yes, you should consider all the players, and the expected outcome of the project. But don’t let the project fail because you are afraid to remove a poor performer (project leader or otherwise). If you are two weeks out from the deliverable date on a project and the leader is the primary reason the project may not be successful – FIRE the leader and get someone else in there that can help the project be successful.

What If You Had a Poor Performer?

What If?What if you had a poor performer on your team? How long is too long to carry them on the team?

One of my ducklings is leading a project. He has someone who is not performing and we are 2 weeks from the go live date on the project. As a mentor coach, I have recommended he remove the person from the project. The individual is not committed to performing at a high level (based on performance to date) and their poor performance will impact the project significantly. What would you do? How much longer would you attempt to coach this person through their obvious lack of commitment? Would you remove them? If so, how?

I am looking for serious advice. I will add an aside tomorrow morning with my recommendations for novices and experienced leaders. Today I am looking for your input. Help me help my young leader. I look forward to your recommendations.

On A Personal Note: Step by Step by Step

In response to the Writing Challenge – A Room with a View – Where Would I Go? San Diego, California is my preferred destination! I chose a very unique way to get there! You begin your journey to join me from where ever you live to my ultimate destination – Ocean Beach, San Diego! I am in Baltimore, MD and I will begin from here! Where are you?

Our mode of transportation is our feet! We shall walk to San Diego, California and ultimately to the beach! You already said, “yes”. No backing out now! You are committed to the journey! Though, I know when I said we were walking you got this overwhelming feeling that you have bit off more than you can chew! But you gave your word…Let’s go! I can still sense you being overwhelmed by the magnitude of our journey, but let’s roll! All you have with you are your walking shoes and a journal and pen to document this phenomenal journey you are about to begin….step, by step, by step.

You have moved out your front door! Heading down the drive way and onto your street. You pause for a moment trying to figure out which direction to move in. But does it really matter you think? C’mon, get moving….you are having an internal war with the commitment, but you gave your word that you would meet me at Ocean Beach! Think about what that will look like when you arrive…. You ponder which direction is the shortest direction if you go left or right? But does it really matter? Given the sheer magnitude of the journey, you shrug and begin your journey down your street – you chose right. Step by step by step….

And you continue on, past familiar homes, stores and streets. You hear people chatting, laughing and is that a baby crying in the distance? But you don’t let that deter you, step by step by step. You’re moving, you’re walking to San Diego! Did that car almost hit you as it was speeding by, mocking you for this insane journey you said “yes” to…Who would know if you got a ride? They have room in their car, but where are they headed? Probably not to Ocean Beach in San Diego, step by step by step, you continue.

You made a commitment to walk using the feet God gave you! You’re feet feel like lead as you pick them up one at a time and put them down, one after the other, step by step by step….Who will you meet along this journey? What will you see? You push away the thoughts screaming at you, to convince you, you won’t make it…You don’t want to consider that thought, though it is screaming for attention in your mind. You only think about the next step and you hope you don’t wimp out and quit! Nope! Step by step by step – “San Diego, here I come!”

Where are you now? Step by step, you look around and you still recognize your surroundings. Buildings, and people moving about their day off to their various destinations! Why haven’t you gotten further yet? If only you could get to the highway, you would feel like you have made some progress. That there was hope that you really Ocean-Beach-Pierwould finish this journey….step by step, into the unknown. What’s between here and San Diego?

All of a sudden you can see it…there is the sign that says, “Welcome to San Diego”! You are getting closer to your destination. You smell the salt water and you can almost feel the warm sand between your toes as you head for the sparkling water, dancing with the waves and beckoning you to come explore the deep recesses of its mystery! You can see people shouting at you and cheering for you to finish the final leg of your journey!

You begin to tell yourself, “I can do this”…”I will do this”…”I will finish my journey, I will keep my word and finish what I started!” You can see yourself stepping into the cool water of Ocean Beach…the waves welcoming you as you begin to dodge them and play…deeper you go into the water, your tired feet and muscles applauding your gift – cool water…you’re laughing as you enjoy your accomplishment – You did it! You made it to San Diego! Step by step by step….you shake yourself, and the water disappears as you re-focus, you cross the street in your home town, the magnetic pull of Ocean Beach draws you as you’re heading west, step by step by step!

Leaders Can Burn Out

As I spent time this morning in our prayer room, this post began to formulate in me. I am working on improving my blog and I am in the midst of a 30 day writing challenge. This is the writing challenge for Day one “Free Write for 20 Minutes – Unlock Your Mind!” I am going to do my best not to edit this post and just write as it comes. Enjoy!

Unlock Your MindI began to think about why leaders get burned out. As I thought about it, these three thoughts came to me:

  • 1. Whose drinking from you well?
  • 2. How do you replenish your well?
  • 3. Athletes actually eat more calories than the average person because they burn it off.

Let’s start with the first thought:

Whose drinking from your well?

Who do you pour your life into every day? Your employees, your family, your neighbors, your students? Whose drinking from your wellspring of life? Do you find yourself on empty at the end of every day? May be you are already empty and all people are getting are the dregs of your well…You may be burned out or you are well on your way to being burned out.

How do you replenish your well?

Every leader gets tired or drained at some point. It is imperative that you take some time to replenish your well so that those that look to you for strength and sustenance can find it. Imagine being thirsty and dipping your cup in the only well that is available for miles and finding no water there to drink. That is unacceptable for leaders. When you are the captain of the ship, the lead dog, the head haunch, you have to have something to sustain your organization and the people that make up your organization. What do you do to replenish your well? Some people replenish their inner well with:

  1. Exercise
  2. Prayer
  3. Thinking
  4. Reading
  5. Getting away
  6. Reading a book
  7. Sleeping
  8. Writing

Athletes actually eat more calories than the average person because when they do what they do, they get depleted. In other words, their training depletes them. They need the extra calories for energy. So eating more calories helps them continue to grow and train for their next event. I believe this principle is similar for leaders. You may not be training your body for the next marathon or the next athletic competition but when you are the one people draw from every day, you better be increasing your “caloric” intake to ensure that your well does not run dry.

Prayer replenishes my well. I can see times in my life when I prayed consistently and there was strength in my life to show for it. I can also see times when my prayer life waned and I was easily depleted by the workload and lives of people I was leading. Prayer helps me recharge and feel strengthened. It is an inner thing. It helps me draw near to the creator of the universe. It helps me to hear and get downloads, much like this post. I was praying and these thoughts or this download came to me. I stopped praying and let the thoughts come and I captured them on paper right there in the prayer room.

What works for you? If you don’t know – you should. It is very easy for people to drain you – to drain your well. There are other people who help fill your tank. Be vigilant to know which people are which. Do what you must do to draw away on a consistent basis and get your tank filled again so that burn out does not become your portion!

It’s Better to Give Orders

LeadershipBack in January of 1983 my father told me, “it is better to give orders than to take orders.”  Those words have resonated in my life since that day. I have never forgotten them. I believe I have always been a leader, but those words my father spoke to me caused me to think….as I was headed to basic training as a private “no rank”.  What I realized while I was being trained by the Army is that I wanted to be like the drill sergeants who were large and in-charge. I thought, “I can do what they are doing.”

The problem was, I was a private. I had no rank, no voice, and no experience. I had nothing credible going for me that would allow me to be in charge. That being said, I began to wonder, how do I get to be the one giving orders and not just taking orders?” It took me about 2 weeks of Basic Training to get a “promotion” to being a squad leader. I honestly don’t remember how it happened, but I know I got the opportunity and I held that leadership role for the duration of the training. That minor distinction while going through Basic Training gave me the opportunity to be a leader to 10 other ladies and that was cool.

Leadership was in me and my father knew it way back then. I have been in countless leadership roles since that day. I will share my experiences on this blog. I have spent the last 30 plus years sharpening my leadership skills and growing others around me who are high potential leaders. The purpose of this blog is to share what I have learned both from my personal experience and the experience I have seen with those I get to groom. The topics of this blog will be vast. Ultimately my purpose is to provide nuggets of wisdom for experienced leaders and leadership principles for those who are inexperienced or novices.

I will eventually publish a book with my intellectual property for this blog. I believe I am an excellent leader and I want to share my knowledge with those who struggle to be strong leaders. As I look at my life, and all that I have accomplished, I can assure you that I am in agreement with my dad, “it is better to give orders than to take orders.”  I have enjoyed most organizations and groups I have led over the years. Some jobs have been easier than others but I have grown from every experience. If you are a novice, look for the nuggets that I have expressly targeted for you. Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences and/or struggles. If you are an experienced leader, you will find nuggets for you as well. I am very interested in hearing your experiences as well. Share your knowledge here. Ask questions and present scenarios that we can discuss here. My overall purpose is to pour my life lessons on leadership into the next generation of leaders. We need more leaders and I intend to do my best to influence as many young leaders as I can. Join me on the journey!