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UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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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 with bosses and coworkers on employees’ feelings were five times stronger than positive interactions. Rotten apples drag down and infect everyone else. Effective Leaders Intervene The upshot is that leaders can make a difference, and need to intervene quickly to deal with rotten apples before they spoil the whole bunch. Here are four smart tips to expel the infection: Show them the love. Many leaders spend endless hours attending meetings, managing conflict, and shuffling papers,

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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 possible for us to take power or to use it in the ways we have without the radio.”  His influence through the use of available technology led millions to tolerate mass genocide. But the technology Goebbels intended for evil would be used by another leader for great good. Three years after Hitler’s Reich crumbled and Goebbels committed suicide in the spring of 1945, Paul Freed was appointed to work with Youth for Christ in Spain.

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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 of nursery tales or the kiddy corner of a bookstore. Stories are perceived as “just for fun” and are often relegated to children’s bedtime or elementary school. Stories also suffer from a bad reputation. In politics, business, and church, it is often assumed that people use stories if they have a weak case or in order to put a spin on something. Stories are seen as a device to stretch logic, and are not effective

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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,” so Dad usually got wind of my shenanigans before sundown. Although I have been all over the world, I again live off of Kildare Farm Road, now a multi-lane thoroughfare that runs through the heart of Cary. Where the farm was, a shopping center is now. Condominiums have sprung up where tobacco once grew. A mall now sits on our former baseball field. My cozy “town” is now the seventh largest “city” in North Carolina,

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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 most firmly held convictions are in the form of mental images. These images that reside in our minds are developed and remembered based on past experiences. For example, try this experiment. Ask someone:  “What comes to your mind when I say the word ‘wedding’?”  If your conversations are like mine, responses you get will be quite varied, but they often include “bride,” “white dress,” “vows,” “rings,” “flowers,” and “dancing.”  Some will recount portions of their

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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 a sudden the hidden image “appears” in 3D right before my eyes. Leadership Focus Adjusting our focus to see into a stereogram is an appropriate metaphor for leadership. Demands from ministry stakeholders are placed upon leaders to succeed. Therefore, it is easier to see the people we lead as useful only insofar as they contribute to the organization’s success. This pressure motivates us to view associates subconsciously as mere cogs in the organization’s machinery. But

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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 was. But within three years after Winsten launched the “Designated Driver” campaign, 90% of Americans were familiar with the term. Thirty-seven percent of those polled said they had acted as a designated driver, and 54% of frequent drinkers indicated that they had been driven home by a designated driver. How did Winsten do that? What was the secret for his phenomenal success? 

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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 would enable them to complete the race to build the atomic bomb before the Germans did. Their work would win the war. From that point forward, the engineers worked 10 times faster than before, with few mistakes and with fierce commitment. Does your leadership provide people with meaning that matters?  The question might sound more like this: What is the overarching purpose that sustains our collective commitment to excellence in the tedious, less glamorous tasks

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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 a leader in the church, said, I am a Christian. I honor Christ, the Son of God, who has come in the latter times to save us and has delivered us from the madness of the devil. I will not sacrifice to these devils.” Not even torture could persuade him to change his mind. He simply kept repeating, I am a Christian and because of my faith and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

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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 the future of the church exclusively to scholars. Blue-collar workers led powerful faith communities. So why is the church today led primarily by scholars? The main reason is the printing press. The government once controlled the church, but that ended when the printing press was invented and people could read the Bible for themselves. Since scholars were the only people who could read, they got the job of church leadership by default. Church leadership went

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Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Six Stories Every Leader Should Tell

Several years ago, my wife Tina and I visited Broadway to see the musical Wicked. This show is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and her early history in the land of Oz. Born with an unnatural shade of green, Elphaba is misunderstood and ostracized. When she goes off to school, she ends up rooming with the popular Galinda, later to become The Good Witch. Galinda inspires Elphaba to travel to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. Elphaba’s only desire is to work with the Wizard, the Great and Powerful Oz. Of course, the Wizard is not so great and powerful. He is in fact a fraud who turns out to be the most insidious sort of evil there is. The matinee show we attended was packed; the story and the music were superb. To date,

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Leaders Who Self-Sabotage

Most leaders say they want to finish well. Yet the majority don’t.  Money, sex, pride, power, family problems, and stagnation are big barriers facing leaders who want to finish well. But what causes leaders to fall prey to these pitfalls?  Why do successful, talented, and bright leaders so often sabotage their professional and personal lives through immoral and destructive behavior? Self-Centered Leaders In most cases, a fall from grace is neither sudden nor without warning. On the contrary, the path of leaders to bad behavior is often a predictable process. The first step toward a downward spiral is growing self-centeredness. Leaders become increasingly confident about their accomplishments until they start to believe that they have all the answers. As a result, they make most decisions in isolation, discounting the contributions and abilities of others. When self-centered leaders become convinced that they alone can steer the ship, they stop managing their

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