American author and presidential speechwriter James Humes once said “the art of communication is the language of leadership” (Paymar, 2012, para. 7). While a 2014 Gallup survey identified texting as the most dominant form of communication for Americans under age 50 (Newport, 2014, para. 1), verbal communication – and specifically listening – may be one of the most underrated and underutilized tools leaders can use to build a more engaged workforce.
Often, a simple thought progresses from a thought or saying to an adage and then to be almost an axiom that is universally accepted as true. Such is the case with the thought that one should “work smarter, not harder”.
Redefining the Road to Leadership with the Beatitudes
Several years ago I started my own personal quest to deal with life’s hurts, hang-ups and habits. After a while, this quest turned into more of a necessity to be able to thrive in this every changing world. I decided to join a group at my church. This group went through the book Life’s Healing Choices by John Baker. “The fact is that many of us are a mess. We’re scattered all over the living room floor, with no one to put us together and no idea where to begin the process of healing” (p. 1).
As you may know, leadership is simply the ability to attain followers. Leaders throughout history commonly possess certain traits and characteristics in order to create an environment where followers buy into the practices and ideas of their leadership. The uniqueness of the leader’s attributes causes them to emerge into this role. But what are these specific attributes and how can emerging leaders develop their skills?
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
Topics: ethical leadership
Traditional Christian values - those accepted principles and standards of behavior that America was founded on - have eroded to the point where they have become irrelevant in today's society. As one thinks about the future of this country, individuals (and society collectively) must begin to wonder what America will look like in 20 or 30 years if things continue as they are. Not that long ago, religion and family created universal values and norms (Kuczmarski and Kuczmarski, 1995). However, in America today there is a prevailing secular worldview that dominates society and as a result, traditional values based on Biblical foundations and Christian principles have been and continue to be under constant attack. From those advocating abortion rights and homosexuality to infidelity in marriage and blatant disrespect for those in authority, the values that the United States of America was founded on appear to be dying a quick death. With these thoughts in mind, leaders throughout American business, government, and the church must seek to understand where the values this country was founded on had their origins so today’s generation can, as it states in Deuteronomy 4:9, "teach them to our children and our grandchildren."
As consumers Americans have come to expect an incredible variety of choices… And we’ve got them. Every day we are faced with increasing numbers of choices:
- Which of the thousands of cable channels do you watch?
- How do you like your coffee? What drive-through do you get it from?
- Do you cook for yourself or choose to become a valued customer at Mighty Taco
Then there are the more involved decisions like who we add as ‘friends’ on Facebook or follow on Twitter and the weighted decisions we make that have budget implications.
Most of us began our careers either making widgets of some kind or selling widgets or delivering the services needed to make widgets work. If our work with widgets was good enough, many of us got promoted into positions of management. This created all kinds of issues in even the best organizations because widget making, widget selling and widget service delivery requires an entirely different skill set than management.
Now that I have retired, I have had the opportunity to reflect on what allowed Wegmans to be successful in helping people reach their maximum potential while achieving required business goals. My core beliefs of happy employees, happy customers, and a solid bottom line were helpful; they were simple ways to continually reinforce the values and business objectives of Wegmans. As I experienced ever-growing responsibilities, I learned that my role needed to evolve into one that committed the required time to strategic leadership—the people on my teams were expecting me to lead them in this critical business requirement. My teammates helped me think this through, and the end result was a process that:
Topics: Lesson in Leadership
“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” - Roy Disney
You can't lead others until you can lead yourself. You also can't motivate others unless you can first motivate yourself. The microcosm of the leader as an individual sets up the macro environment around them. Esteemed leadership author John Maxwell sees this fact as critical. In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, law number one (of twenty-one) is the 'Law of the Lid'. What it says is that the capacity of the organization and its people will be largely determined by the capability and motivations of the leader.