Wednesday, March 29, 2006

::Leadership: more then just staying above water::

What you are doing might not be leadership if you are not pulling significance and worth out of people.

Every youth workers worst nightmare almost became a horrible gasping reality for our team May long weekend a number of years ago: at a youth event we almost had a student drown. It may have been that he couldn’t swim. It may have been that he didn’t know it was the deep end. It may have been that he has only one and a half arms. It may have been that he had too much trust in the lifeguards. It may have been that or something or anything else. The fact is, without someone pulling him off the bottom end of the deep-end he would have died. Most leaders dream of developing leaders, however, while many of these same dreamy-eyed leaders are wiping the sleep out of their eyes their leadership teams are slowly, and, sometimes quickly sinking to the bottom without rescue. A lucid nightmare.

It has been my experience that close to 100% of people I talk to are more ready for challenge, learning, and development then they realize. I have found that the majority of these people are simply teetering on the edge of drowning or waving waiting for someone else to draw out worth and significance from their life. Now imagine what happens when I observe and identify significance in someone’s life and I challenge them to teach me and help me learn what they are so proficient and first-class at? Leadership development happens; they are learning to teach, they are learning to have confidence in their worth, and I am learning from them. Notice that this isn’t generally in the realm of workshop or seminar but in the backyard swimming pool where there are no lifeguards; a place where we need to teach each other to swim.

Pulling significance out of people beginning in relationship is nurtured in trust and compounds in the slowness of history; this is living life together.

Leaders highlight significance.

27 comments:

Mark said...

The job is not really as complicated as we make it out to be. Leadership as a poet/gardner... sing and till...sing to the garden till the garden.

Mark said...

Might be good to poitn out ... and Jer I think you have pointed somethign out very key. Leadership development has a lot more to do with the things outside of 'ministry.' Here is a thought...If our 'leadership development' revolves around our ministry activities [ie worship leading, drama, discipleship program] we are not really developing leaders... thoughts?

Boomer said...

I agree Mark, when leadership revolves around activities we are developing skills and proficiency, not leaders. Leadership is more than being good at things. Being in a famous band doesn't make you a leader. Jer you identify that enabling people to teach develops leadership. So what are we developing? Do you think it more enabling people to be proficient at life?

Phil said...

great thought Jer, you have nailed something that we as leaders ourselves have to consider "are we developing leaders (as in ourselves and others) or are we just showing others or ourselves how to be like us, or like someone the world calls a great leader. not that this is a bad thing Jesus tells us to be more like him, but really how many of us really know how he was like, the sound of his voice, the smell of his hair, the way he talked to different people. mostly we just know him personaly but not how he is personaly with others. to the point, we have to teach eachother about leadership, but let eachother spash around in the water a bit so they can find their own style of swimming.

.:.S.:. said...

Hi Jeremy!

I love your metaphor here!!

You've tapped into something really cool-

You said, "when I observe and identify significance in someone’s life and I challenge them to teach me and help me learn what they are so proficient and first-class at?" then results of leadership shine!

It shows you have to take an interest in the person themselves too! Then they become more willing to learn. I've found that youth are desperately wanting to be acknowledged, and heard. "Blogger" and "My Space" are buzzing with activity, hosting sites for a broken generation to share parts of themselves with anyone who will listen!

My mentors took the time to listen to me, to care about me; and they genuinely wanted to learn from/about me!! That made a huge difference!

I learned how to teach, and I learned, quite honestly, how to learn again. I started growing in my relationship with Christ, and with other people. And like you said, confidence grows in the worth, and from there, sprouts leadership!

And while this whole process is lived out, you grow and learn yourself! It's a great circle!

And to the comments above, you guys are awesome!! Great thoughts!! The question, "So what are we developing?" was asked. Could it be confidence? --The confidence to unleash what potential/leadership is already inside them? Maybe?

Mark said...

Inside of every person there are seeds of destiny... the development that we are supposed to be doing is seeing those seeds and making way for a person to grow in that and allow that seed become rooted and established. Some of the key elements to see those seeds establish are things are character and consistency, holistic living. But not only that but creating opportunities for people to express and experiment with their dreams. The question arises in leadership is who around you are you carrying the torch for and rallying around their cause... even if it seems to be of little or no value to you?

.:.S.:. said...

Very well put!

Rob Petkau said...

You're talking character mannn!!! That is Paul's theme to Timothy I think... and a model for us too - "Follow my example as I follow Christ" (1 Cor 11:1)
You inspire me bro!

Jeremy Postal said...

Hello all
Thanks for all of the great comments and encouragment. Leadership is a wonderful position (yes, I said position) to be in and can be either incredibly destructive or beneficial. I'm not sure there is an in-between. As this leadership conversation continues I would love to be able to hear and dialogue from as many different perspectives as we can....so....let's continue thinking and asking questions. Anyhow...

Boomer said,
"Jer you identify that enabling people to teach develops leadership. So what are we developing?"

.:.S.:. was on track when they said that it develops confidence in a persons worth. I would like to take it somewhat further though; not only does it develop confidence in their worth it pushes and challenges them to clarify what they already know. For example, if you have ever had a great thought and then decided to write it down you would know that it is much much harder to write down then it is to think it.

I think the same is true or similar in leadership >> when we challenge people to teach what they are good at we are not so much teaching them how to teach as much as we are inisting that they clarify what they know.

Make sense? Maybe there is more to it...

Mark said...

Can you clarify that for me Jer...LOL

Chad said...

Jer you're talking about drawing significance out of people by challenging or giving them opportunity to teach what they already know - what they are gifted in, the things the Spirit of God has uniquely spoken and revealed to them as individuals, etc. I think this connects with what I've heard Mark describe as collaborative leadership - we all benefit from each other because we all have such a unique contribution to give. Whether we are in positions of leadership or not. So I see leadership development working in two ways and benefiting two parties:

The developer challenges or gives opportunity to the developee to work out/teach/write down something that is theirs. And using Mark's analogy you sing and till the garden ... pastoring this process. The result - a confident leader who feels they have something to offer, and the rest of us are blessed by God's grace in their lives extended to us. Yeah gardening is a good metaphor for this - takes patience, care, a nurturing heart, probably some weeding.

If you haven't checked out "How People Grow" by Henry Cloud it uses this metaphor and is a good read.

Paul & Wanda Moores said...

Something that hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet is the idea of how significance and worth are measured? I've seen generations of people considered worthy because they went to Bible College. I'm not sure if I understand the statement totally. My desire is to walk with people and to draw the characteristics of Jesus out of them.

At the risk of sounding OLD, let's develop leaders by leading ourselves like Jesus did. Faith, grace, love, justice, sacrifice. Let's not use language that points to a manmade checklist.

My unsaved neighbor is an incredible leader in her work place. I learn lots from her about what a leader is. But she learns lots from Wanda and I about how to leader "pastorally" when she's in crisis situations. We've actually helped her decide whether to fire people. The guy came back to her afterward and told her that the experience of being fired and HOW she did it changed his life. He decided to work on some of his problems that caused the firing in the first place. He's now getting counselling for his own self admitted problems.

Anyway, I love this dialogue. This is exciting stuff.

Mark said...

There are really two questions people are asking themselves... Who Am I? and What am I here to do? [persona and praxa] If we are able to help people discover the journey of finding out these key questions we begin to really develop leaders. Significance is a by product of this journey. Affirmation, experimentation and self-awareness are very important in this process. Its important to allow people to become self-aware and discover elements themselves... Many 'leaders' are more focused on gift identification and designation rather than actually allowing people to discover through a process, express who thay are and what they do. thoughts?

Jeremy Postal said...

Paul, I suppose you are right that it is interesting that there has been no conversation about "Jesus-style" leadership...

Mark mentions,
"Its important to allow people to become self-aware and discover elements themselves..."

Yes, important. Maybe more important to allow people to become Jesus-aware and discover elements themselves...

And maybe this is the most significant thing that we can pull out of people >> what they already know about following Jesus even though they might not know it's Jesus they are following.

Mark, without much thought I would add something to 'persona and praxa'; 'prya' - which is my own fancy word starting with 'p' for "why am I doing this".

Mark said...

I think these are maybe Pre-suppositions that we are trying to do this ... Jesus ... yes much of what we do revolves around this but again we need to be careful not to over spritualize what Jesus is about [I am tired with WWJD Crap]

Boomer said...

Speaking of crap. After reading all these comments, I was evaluating my thoughts on leadership, and what a 'good leader' looks like in my Nanaimo youth group context. I've discovered that to this point I've been attempting to develop 'leaders' with a specific skillset to fill a hole that I have. "I will make you into this so you can help me out." That's ridiculous. That's not making leaders, it's making workers who aren't really valued for who they are, but what they can do for me. No resolution for now...anyone identify? I don't really like the idea of using people. My fancy 'p' word is poo, for what that kind of leadership development is.

z said...

I like what you're saying about teaching others to teach. In one of my classes my proff pairs up the students that are struggling with the students that are doing really well. His reasoning was that it benefits both parties because the student who's not doing as well gets a tutor and the student who is doing well is solidifying what they know.
I think the same is true in Christ-like leadership. If we teach others to teach, and let them have opportunities to teach and explain to others what they've learned it forces them to clarify what they know. In the same way when I teach someone else I become more confident in what I know about God.
We develop ideas from learning, and theories and hypotheses from teaching; the theories and hypotheses from which we base our lives and our actions.

tommy : s said...

I like the way the 2 leadership threads have developed, and Jer your expertise in opening a subject in post #1(allowing some explosion of thought) and then the crafting of post #2 to bring some direction to continuing dialogue is wonderful.

I like the thought bubbling around in this thread of leadership development - affirmation, encouragement and creating opportunity for self-learning FIRST .. before greater directional "input/teaching". cf perhaps to models of "leading someone to Christ".

approach 1) "n" step logical teaching process (where n is probably too small a number). You're far from God, I know God, this is how you get here .. boom boom boom. decision.

approach 2) you're here, God's on your case, explore what God thinks of you, explore what other's think of you, hang about with some people who get this Christ-centred life thing, begin to pray, question God, think about what you do and why you do it. At the God-appointed time, here's Jesus, come meet Him

and i'm not dictating right or wrong here, just offering 2 approaches

transfer those 2 approaches into the sphere of leadership development. Do we often follow a model of approach 1) where approach 2) will have way more solid results, ownership and long term growth?

Paul & Wanda Moores said...

BOOMER,
Just remember, making statements about changing your leadership development direction might mean you will have to change your structures because now it's not you who calls the shots. The gifts come to the fore as we encourage them and encourage Christ in them. You may be opening "Pandora's Box" in a good way. That would be my P word.

Mark said...

Nice one Paul [another P word].

Boomer said...

I like the P's. Thanks for the inPut.

Mark said...

Here's is a thought... physics... leaders create space ... making room for people to move grow and try things. Leaders are entrepeneurs of ethos... They create atmospheres... in which people can do what they do... what they were made to do. Discovery of who they are [in Christ for those who need to add that]. Kind of like an offensive lineman makes room/space for the linebacker/quarterbck to run the ball. [forgive me for the sports analogy]

Jeremy Postal said...

Paul & Wanda Moores said...
"BOOMER,
Just remember, making statements about changing your leadership development direction might mean you will have to change your structures because now it's not you who calls the shots. The gifts come to the fore as we encourage them and encourage Christ in them. You may be opening "Pandora's Box" in a good way. That would be my P word."

And this is tough - way tough! The current speaking/teaching series that I am in was brainstormed, planned, and scheduled without me....and I am the main teacher and the big idea concept of the series was "mine". Talk about not getting to call the shots! There is something huge to be said for collective creativity...! It has been cool to see how stoked our leadership team is on this particular series though...

**changing thoughts here**

Mark, though physics may just be another clever "p" word I'm not sure it works as well as architect might. I love the idea of design and creativity that is atched to architecture...
How I do see the "physics" metaphore going is maybe in the direction of fusion or a time/space link. Maybe we could race Steven Hawkings to his grand unifying theory of physics and use it first for leadership development?! That'd be 'p'ositively charged!

Anyhow > I love this quote: "Leaders are entrepeneurs of ethos... They create atmospheres..."

Jeremy Postal said...

Tommo - you rock!

tommy : s said...

"Leaders are entrepeneurs of ethos... They create atmospheres"
that is totally a quotable soundbyte - i love it too!

of course as i consider what i wrote, and others' thoughts, leadership is one of those areas where we need to apply the right modes at the right moment. To stall at 'atmosphere creation' we are simply the facilitator. To direct and teach confidently at the exact moment that we see someone breathing in the "ethos atmosphere" and engaging with their world, that's leadership.

Good soil .. the stuff that God loves to sow into. Timely direction and teaching - Jesus model wins again!

Paul & Wanda Moores said...

Great comment Tom. It underlines what Jer calls "collaborative creativity". We can expect to have all the gifts within us. If one can create the atmosphere and one is the communicator and others serve the vision in other ways...

Mark said...

Tom/Jer/Paul - Tis Beautiful... I guess this blog can be called a 'collaborative space on leadership development.' I need to compile soem of these shared thoughts into a teaching.