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UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

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Interview with Yariwe in Bamako, Mali

Interview with Yariwe in Bamako, Mali

A Water Pump or Rice Field? We regularly hear about the impact of songs through New Music Monday (NMM) posts. However, what about the impact of the symbols used in Freedom To Lead’s innovative curriculum? In today’s video, Yariwe, a young Bambara pastor (and musician) talks about why he is so excited to see The Garden Project curriculum come to Mali. Yariwe talks specifically about the contrasting images of a rice field and a water pump. For this reason, featured here is the following song, “A Water Pump or Rice Field?” This song is recorded by Yariwe and the rest of the Bambara music team as the background music. We hope you can begin to see the significance of The Garden Project curriculum. The goal of this curriculum is for the training of leaders with wildly varying degrees of literacy in the underresourced world. We at FTL count it a great

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The Shadow of a Leader (Song)

Today’s song was created in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire by a team of Bete musicians. I continue to be amazed at the Bete’s use of vocal harmonies as a dominant feature in their music. (Many cultural groups in West Africa use little or no vocal harmony at all). The biblical story of Jeroboam Today’s song, “The Shadow of a Leader” is drawn from the biblical story of Jeroboam from 1 Kings chapters 11 & 12. Jeroboam was a leader who began well but then when became fearful he became a “big boss” type of leader. This song reminds the listener that the shadow (influence) of a humble leader is large, while the shadow (influence) of a “big boss” leader is small. If you listen closely, you can hear the name, Jeroboam used throughout the song. Today’s song repeats a core story from the first training module from an innovative leadership development

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Abigails in Ethiopia

Abigails in Ethiopia

Agents of Reconciliation Violence is dividing the Ethiopian people, but a cohort of Christian leaders is resolved to walk Abigail’s path to peace. Many Ethiopian people in East Africa are desperate. Demonstrations are fueled by widespread discontent over the declining quality of life throughout the country. Leaders of the opposition party have recently been arrested, leading to increased unrest. Electricity, water systems, and infrastructure are collapsing, and daily life has become difficult for many. Within the mayhem, a group of Christian leaders want to be agents of reconciliation. They are embracing Abigail’s example to avoid further bloodshed among their countrymen. Abigail the Peacemaker Abigail was a peacemaker in ancient times. According to the Bible’s Old Testament, she was Nabal’s wife. After protecting Nabal’s property, the warrior David requested assistance from Nabal . But Nabal was both arrogant and stupid; he refused David’s request. David was ticked, so he determined to

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Christmas: A String Around My Finger

Christmas: A String Around My Finger

My grandmother used to help me to remember by saying, “Ricky, tie a string around your finger.” The logic, of course, was that when I saw the string, I would ask myself, “Why is the string there? Oh, I remember.” A string around my finger was kind of hard to forget. Christmas, too, is like a string around my finger. I have a way of forgetting, so each year the celebration of Jesus’ birth is a reminder of at least three things: First, Christmas is a reminder to me that Jesus Christ is both Other and Personal. This One whose creative power spoke everything into being also lived humbly. Second, Christmas is a reminder of Jesus’ promise: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” With tomorrow’s uncertainty, He personifies hope that does not change. And third, every Christmas is a reminder to leaders that the loudest voices are

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Leading Through the Grief of Change

Leading Through the Grief of Change

Leading Change Through Grief A primary responsibility of leadership is to initiate and manage change. Like many of my peers, I have eagerly embraced this role of change agent during my career. In fact, I like change – that I initiate. On the other hand, I haven’t been so receptive of change when someone else is initiating it. My track record is pretty typical when another leader has initiated change that affects me. Getting in touch with this common reaction is helpful to guide others through the difficult process of change. Most people are uncomfortable with change that someone else initiates, because change – even good change – often brings a sense of loss and grief. How leaders help their people navigate the grief of change often determines leadership success or failure. Leadership and the Five Stages of Grief The experience of change is akin to the loss and grief

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Wise Leaders Rarely Opine

Wise Leaders Rarely Opine

Retired Air Force General Jerry White shared a leadership principle that he practiced over the course of his decorated career: wise leaders seldom express their personal opinions. In light of the post-election unrest in America, our political leaders could have benefited everyone by heeding this advice. Dr. Jerry White is a retired Air Force general, President Emeritus of the Navigators, and a noted author. Once Jerry shared with me an essential lesson from his years of noteworthy leadership: the inherent danger of leaders expressing their personal opinions. He maintains that opining is a privilege that wise leaders use very sparingly in order to better serve all the people they represent. Unfortunately, the presidential candidates and President and Mrs. Obama chose not to spare the public from their personal pontifications about the future potential leaders of the free world. Since the election both President Obama and President-elect Trump have taken on

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Save the Founder’s Mentality

Save the Founder’s Mentality

Founder’s Syndrome If this musing by an organization’s founder on the value of organizational founders seems self-serving, indeed it is. But with the conventional avalanche of driveling complaints I hear and read about “founder’s syndrome,” it’s high time to speak up about the invaluable asset that many organizations forfeit when the founder walks out the door. Examples abound of founders who become a liability to the organizations they labored hard to birth and nurture. They hang on too long. Or they don’t know how to keep their noses out of the successor’s business. Founders whose tenures are long and whose track records are stellar can be particularly annoying when it’s time for a leadership change. Boards, stockholders, and staff are regularly warned of the dangers associated with transitioning founders. We get the message: founders can be a pain! Another angle on Exiting Founders But there’s another angle on exiting founders that

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A Vote For Virtuous Leadership

A Vote For Virtuous Leadership

The pending election for the leader of the free world has been hotly debated. The results will determine directions for our nation and planet in years to come. But this time around, millions of us are more deeply skeptical of our choices. Perhaps it’s because “virtuous leadership” needs more attention in our public discourse. The term “virtues” does not carry much credibility because it sounds like a throwback to the Victorian era. In generations past, leaders spoke of virtues, those beliefs and practices that provided common rules of engagement both in public and private life. These virtues included honesty, humility, fairness, justice, and individual dignity. Although our leaders did not always live up to these benchmarks, at least we agreed on what they were. However, more recently the term “virtues” has been replaced by “values.” Now most leaders prefer to identify values that are distinctive to their particular brand. Behind

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Ordinary Leaders – Extraordinary Leadership

Ordinary Leaders – Extraordinary Leadership

Leadership Practices Inventory Assessment One of the requirements for my post-grad program in organizational leadership was to take an inventory to evaluate my own leadership practices. The results were predictable for an ordinary leader; I scored pretty well in some areas and not as well in others. But in one category my scores tanked! What do I do? I’ll try harder, but odds are not so high that I’ll ever excel in this area when leading others. Is there any hope for those who are led by ordinary leaders to experience extraordinary leadership? The Leadership Practices Inventory Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have developed an evaluative tool called The Leadership Practices Inventory. This Inventory is arguably the most trusted instrument available to evaluate exemplary leadership practices. It measures a leader’s behavior in five categories: challenging the process, inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, modeling the way, and encouraging

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Challenge Your Tribe

Challenge Your Tribe

Over the past forty years Americans have increasingly sorted themselves into communities of closely like-minded people: churches, volunteer groups, clubs, lobbies, and political parties. The result is a polarization that has transformed our historic preference for civil discourse into a vast echo chamber of hostile assault. We desperately need leaders who are persuadable, and can help challenge others in their own tribe. As far back as we know, people have belonged to tribes. This is how the human race survived; our tribes protect us, provide stability and predictability within community, and help us interpret reality.  It’s why we tend to be a part of tribes today. We didn’t consciously choose many of our tribe’s beliefs and positions. We adopted those beliefs, not through careful analysis, but mainly because it was normal and acceptable within our tribe. To illustrate, I grew up in North Carolina where collegiate basketball stars like Larry

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Much Practice Does Not Make a Perfect Leader

Much Practice Does Not Make a Perfect Leader

What does it take to become an expert? A popular writer cites the “10,000-hour rule.” According to this rule, if you practice for 10,000 hours, you will become an expert. But this rule is an oversimplification of important research: in fields as diverse as music, math, and leadership, deliberate practice is the only kind of practice that promises to produce excellence. 10,000 Hour Rule In his best-selling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell cited studies on expert violinists to promote the “10,000-hour rule.” He used Mozart as a prime example. Mozart learned to play at the age of four. Despite his musical genius – both as a performer and a composer – he practiced for thousands of hours to cultivate his art while other boys played with toy soldiers. So Gladwell does get the general concept correctly. To become an expert in any discipline – even for those with latent talent –

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Tying It All Together

Tying It All Together

The 2020 Vision Statement of Freedom to Lead: In five years we will see 5000 storycentric leaders in 25 under-resourced countries being transformed into competent Christ-centered leaders. We’ve come to the last of the FTL Summer Blog Series where we have been unpacking FTL’s Vision Statement for the next five years. To recap, FTL is offering under-resourced leaders the opportunity to walk towards freedom, suggesting solutions that go beyond the economic. We have seen how each one of these 5000 targeted leaders has a name and a story. And while we can cultivate, God ultimately does the transforming. Last week we even began exploring the competence issue, though only in part. In conclusion, what is the thread that ties all this together? Competent, Christ-centered leadership. If we tackled all of those other issues with precision but skipped the “competent, Christ-centered” part, we’d miss the entire point. Competent, Christ-centered leadership is the

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