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Leadership For a New Year

Courageous Leadership Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” highlighted a four-month period at the end of the Civil War in 1865 that is instructive for leaders facing a new year’s opportunities and challenges. The United States’ sixteenth president had declared that he hated the “zeal” for slavery’s expansion. “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself,” Lincoln said, and “I hate it because it . . . enables the enemies of free institutions, with

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Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Measuring Leadership Effectiveness

Leadership Metrics Leaders craft the cultures of their organizations – consciously or not – by what they consistently measure.  If leaders want something to become important – or remain important – in the minds and hearts of organizational stakeholders, they must figure out a way to measure it.  On the other hand, if leaders do not highlight a particular value or provide a means to measure it, that stated value will not likely be an

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Leading to Avoid Infectious Behavior

Leading to Avoid Infectious Behavior

Grumpiness and Stupidity are Remarkably Contagious Old-timers will remember that the Osmonds topped the pop charts in 1971 when they sang, One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch.” But when it comes to leading others to work together, this mantra just isn’t so. On the contrary, grumpiness and stupidity are remarkably contagious. Stanford professor of management Robert Sutton cited recent research that tracked employees’ moods.1 This study found that the impact of negative interactions

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How to use Technology in Leadership

How to use Technology in Leadership

The Leader’s Use of Technology Technology can be used for great evil or for great good. Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates. Goebbels shared Hitler’s virulent anti-Semitism, and avidly supported the extermination of Jews. Perhaps Goebbels was best known for his stirring propaganda speeches that were broadcast via radio throughout Europe.  He once stated, “It would not have been

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Stories Have A Bad Reputation

Stories Have A Bad Reputation

Using Stories to Communicate A recent group conversation was about about the use of stories to communicate truth. One person in the group said, “No way. We cannot entrust truth to be communicated through a story. We must convey facts and principles and concepts.” This statement comes from common myths and misunderstandings that prevent many people from viewing story as a viable means of communicating truth. When you mention the word “story,” many people think

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Keep “Healthy” Before “Growth”

Keep “Healthy” Before “Growth”

Healthy Growth “Healthy growth” is an arresting notion. If “growth” is preceded by “healthy,” then people, communities, and organizations flourish. I was raised in Cary, in eastern North Carolina. When my family moved to Cary in 1959, there were about 3000 people and one stoplight. Ashworth’s Drugs was our pharmacy and the main lunch counter for blue and white-collar workers alike. I rode my bike and chased chickens at Kildare Farm. Most people knew “Ricky,”

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Story Changes People From The Inside Out

Story Changes People From The Inside Out

“Worldview” is a collection of assumptions people hold about the world they live in and their place in it. More specifically, our worldview can be defined as a set of subconscious mental images that guides what we believe to be real, what we perceive to be important, and how we behave toward others. So how does a person’s worldview form? And how can one’s worldview change? Images A communications professor once told me that our

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Leaders Who See in 3D

Leaders Who See in 3D

Years ago a friend gave me a picture book that promised to enable the viewer to “see what is invisible.” It was my first experience with stereograms, those incredible 3D images that look like a collection of jumbled shapes and colors, until you adjust your focus. At first it was frustrating. I really had to train my eyes to see in another way, to look beyond the two-dimensional surface. But once I did, all of

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Stories Save Lives

Stories Save Lives

“Designated Driver Jay Winsten is an associate dean at The Harvard School of Public Health. He was the driving force behind the Harvard Alcohol Project, which introduced and popularized the social concept of the “designated driver” in the United States. In the late 1980s, Winsten, learned about the “designated driver” norm that was prevalent in Scandinavian countries. At the time the norm did not exist in the United States; nobody knew what a designated driver

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Lead With Meaning That Matters

Lead With Meaning That Matters

Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman was asked to oversee a group of engineers who were tasked to perform a seemingly endless series of tedious calculations. The math wasn’t especially difficult for these engineers, but the work proceeded very slowly, and was full of errors. Feynman realized the problem wasn’t the math, but that the engineers were disengaged. He finally convinced his superiors to let the engineers in on the secret – they were performing calculations that

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Seeing The Future Through the Fire

Seeing The Future Through the Fire

Carpus and Papylus In the second century after Christ, Carpus and Papylus were brought before a governor in Rome and charged with the “crime” of being Christian. The governor of the district had discovered that Carpus and Papylus did not celebrate the pagan festivals. The governor ordered the two men to be arrested and commanded them to accept the Roman pagan religion. The men replied that they would never worship false gods. Carpus, who was

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A Church Led By Scholars

A Church Led By Scholars

A group of church leaders are dynamically impacting a hostile tribe of eight million people in northeast India. They are putting their lives on the line every day as they proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel. And most of them cannot read. Sound familiar? Two thousand years ago, the first apostles were former fishermen, tax collectors, and at least one Zealot. We don’t know the occupation of all the others, but certainly Jesus did not entrust

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