Saturday, June 05, 2004

leadership development

One of the pastors in our area with whom I've worked a lot contacted me and asked if I would work with him on his leadership skills. I was honored that he would ask.

While I was on staff at Cedar Ridge I started reading The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z Posner and it just rocked my world. It's the best, most comprehensive, most helpful thing I've read on leadership before or since. Here's the one pager based on the book that I keep on my m130, on my wall @ work and on my work and home laptops:

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The Five Practices of Leadership

Challenge the Process

Search out challenging opportunities to change, grow, innovate, and improve.

Experiment, take risks, and learn from the accompanying mistakes.

Inspire a Shared Vision

Envision an uplifting and ennobling future.

Enlist others in a common vision by appealing to their values, interests, hopes and dreams.

Enable Others to Act

Foster collaboration by promoting cooperative goals and building trust.

Strengthen people by giving power away, providing choice, developing competence, assigning critical tasks, and offering visible support.

Model the Way

Set the example by behaving in ways that are consistent with shared values.

Achieve small wins that promote consistent progress and build commitment.

Encourage the Heart

Recognize individual contributions to the success of every project.

Celebrate team accomplishments regularly.

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Here's another similarly brief page on the Five Practices that's on the Leadership Challenge website.

I was so impacted by the book that I thought I would outline it and ended up writing a Leadership Primer, pulling in information from some other books pertinent to leadership.

(Interestingly, Jossey-Bass just published Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge featuring comments by John Maxwell, David McAllister-Wilson, Patrick Lencioni, Nancy Ortberg, and Ken Blanchard. See the table of contents here.)

And so my pastor friend and I this AM @ breakfast decided that we would use Leadership Challege tools for evaluation purposes and to provide some structure and discipline to our conversations. We selected The Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)-Deluxe Facilitator's Guide Package to assist us. This package includes the Leadership Practices Self Inventory, the Leadership Practices Observer Inventory (for 360 degree evaluation), the Leadership Practices Inventory (hereafter LPI) Facilitator's Guide, a Participant's Workbook, a Development Planner, a CD-ROM with software for scoring, some visuals and forms, and even a Poster and a pocket-sized reference card.

Now by all this, I don't mean to suggest for a moment that leadership development results from program or structure or from information transfer. This approach is just using some tools and providing a context for a process that I see to be primarily relational and one that will focus on intentional acts in the real world, NOT just great conversations and knowledge accumulation. In the real world, of course, is where leadership development actually occurs. All else is mere prolegomena.

Interestingly, Kouzes and Posner are now also emphasizing even more how crucial relationship is to leadership formation. They are now stressing a new theme in their Leadership Challenge work - "Leadership is a Relationship". They write:

"We have always maintained that whatever the circumstances, leadership is a relationship. Whether it's one-to-one or one-to-many, business as usual or challenges in extraordinary times, leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow. North, south, east, or west, success in business, and success in life has been, is now, and will be a function of how well we work and play together. We are emphasizing "Leadership is a relationship" as the theme for the third edition of The Leadership Challenge because over the last few years new research in such areas as "emotional intelligence" has demonstrated that it's social skills and not technical or intellectual skills that account for the success of leaders. Also, since we began our research over 20 years ago, we have had reinforced over and over, time and again, that personal credibility — that is, the belief others have it us - is the foundation of leadership. "

Part of my own interest in this process, beyond helping a friend, is to work toward putting together a leadership development protocol that I can call into service in future. We plan to meet weekly initially as my friend has some immediate leadership challenges he's going to tackle and then eventually segue to monthly for six to twelve months (not sure yet how long). I'll blog here from time to time about our progress and learnings. Your comments on leadership development strategies you've successfully deployed are most welcome!

5 comments:

djchuang said...

working for a foundation intent on leadership development for Asian Americans, I'm just beginning my journey in looking at techniques, processes, programs, philosophy, and so on, with regards to developing leaders.. having attended a weeklong Leadership Development Program at Center for Creative Leadership, they're researched-based program with heavy interactive scenarios does give growing leaders a great intensive, and while I'm strongly biased about the relational aspect of leadership, I'm finding that there are so many different dimensions and ingredients that go into developing a leader.. and I am frankly disappointed when one named John Maxwell reduces leadership to a one-word summary of "influence"..

Stephen said...

Thanks DJ; please let me know what you come across in your research / experience. I do believe the best model for leadership development is "attach yourself to a leader, become their friend, follow them around"!

Anonymous said...

"techniques, processes, programs, philosophy"

I guess I am wondering if this is a Christian blog and the authority of Scripture is the focus (I mean, this is the core are between Christian and unbeliever right?) then why the emphasis on so many of the above? It seems that if one is a real leader, or seeks to be, he/ she will be a follower of The Leader Jesus and walk in the Spirit. So many of the things I've read about leadership align with common sense when one is consistently walking in the Spirit. It just seems a slap or punch in the Spirit's face to walk outside of Him and devote all one's listening to other sources as the main influence. Think about it.

Personally, almost all the guys I see into the latest books have a terrible prayer life and are selfish (seen as ambitious in the world meaning they are into their own life and leadership in the church is just like rising in the corporate world--it's all about ME).

Stephen said...

I think that when we are seeking to glean insights outside of the Scriptures, we must always be careful to avoid the dross and only grab the gold. Thanks for these helpful cautionary words.

Stephen said...

Heard a great quote today relevant to this discussion:

"Relationships are the oxygen of human development."

Peter Benson