UNLEASHING POTENTIAL IN STORYCENTRIC COMMUNITIES

2020 Blog Series

What Sets “Christ-Centered Leadership” Apart?

What Sets “Christ-Centered Leadership” Apart?

  Christ-centered leadership (CCL) has become familiar verbiage over the past decade. Like “servant leadership,” its usage is ubiquitous, but its meaning varies among those who use the term. A quick Google search for CCL yields a range of definitions that include acting with integrity, hearing God’s voice, and being anchored in the presence, power, and ministry of God. What distinguishes Jesus’ leadership in light of more dominant leadership models of His day and ours? Certainly, Jesus influenced those He led by developing authentic relationships with them rather than resorting to strong-arm coercion or positional power. But is Christ-centered leadership really different?   After reviewing many leadership theories over the years, I propose the characteristic that most set Jesus’ leadership apart was His capacity to discern and to develop His followers’ potential. He saw people as God’s image-bearers. He saw the future fueled by their collective, Spirit-empowered genius, and consistently

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What Does Your Vision Undo?

What Does Your Vision Undo?

Effective leaders are known for their ability to inspire in others their vision for a preferred future. These leaders imagine how the changes inherent in their vision will benefit their employees, their target population, and their bottom line. But less often do leaders think carefully about what their vision will undo. In a recent discussion with friend Mike Metzger, President of The Clapham Institute, he reflected on a fascinating tendency among many leaders with whom he has consulted. Mike mused that most of these leaders describe with enthusiasm their vision to change their organizations. They talk about how this change vision will yield more profit or transform the world. But according to Metzger, these leaders do not typically give ample consideration to the impact of their change vision on values, core beliefs, or behaviors that are valued by key stakeholders. Only after the change vision has been activated do leaders

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Experience and Power Block Self-Awareness

Experience and Power Block Self-Awareness

A Rare Quality Self-awareness is a leadership buzzword — and for good reason. Leaders who are self-aware build stronger relationships, communicate more effectively, and tend to make better decisions. Yet self-awareness among leaders – especially among more experienced, higher-level ones – is a rare quality. Two Dimensions of Self-Awareness Self-awareness has two dimensions: internal and external. Internal self-awareness is how clearly we understand our own values, passions, aspirations. External self-awareness is how clearly we understand how other people view us. A person’s level of self-awareness is defined as  the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us. What the Research Shows Research by The Eurich Group, an executive development firm that helps companies succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders, found that only 10%-15% of the leaders they studied actually reflected a high level of self-awareness.1 Contrary to popular belief, this research has shown that leaders

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Leading Through Crisis

Leading Through Crisis

Episode 1 of our new video blog is here! A Roundtable Discussion. How a leader responds to a crisis deeply impacts the culture of the organization. It is not so much about how a leader acts in crisis, but about how he or she reacts. A leader’s reaction to crisis will inform people about what is most important and what is inherently valued. As we all face the current crisis of COVID-19, this is a continuing discussion for leaders. Because we want it to be a discussion we have attempted to talk about it and invite you into the conversation. This video blog is facilitated by Dr. Rick Sessoms, who holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Joining with him in this discussion are Freedom to Lead team members John Blausey and Michelle Sessoms who speak from their experiences in the business tech world and in overseas missions. As

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Leadership During the Downturn

Leadership During the Downturn

Leaders Facing Uncertain Times We live in uncertain times. COVID-19 is the earthquake that is rocking us at the moment, but the pandemic’s devastating after-shocks will shake people and societies for years to come. As the disease ravages many lives, the economic and psychological impact of this virus will likely wreak havoc on a much greater number of the world’s population. As leaders face the challenging months ahead, how will others remember us when the dust settles? Jim’s story is instructional for leaders during the downturn. Jim’s Story My friend Jim is a gifted engineer, inventor, business leader, author, philanthropist, and noted sculptor. Jim’s story will appear in a book soon to be published; here’s a very abridged version. Jim’s career included coming up with designs for requests from the University of Michigan for everything from a heart lung machine to a smart pump to control drug infusion during the

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Storying Your Data – Part 2

Storying Your Data – Part 2

You can read Part 1 here Organizations in virtually every sector have access to data that can offer an advantage for developing new products, helping coworkers reach their potential, and improving customer experience. Companies on average manage three times more data than they did five years ago. Many organizational leaders devote valuable time diving into these pools of data searching for patterns, problems, or potential opportunities. This analytical work can be energizing when it reveals nuggets of information to gain a competitive edge. But leaders who know how to communicate their relevant data through a story structure have better odds of convincing others to take action. Powerful stories have a similar structure. Whether it’s a personal story told to a friend, a Hollywood blockbuster, or a fable from classical literature, most effective stories have a common three-part structure. Part 1 presents the plot. The main character (the hero of the

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Storying Your Data – Part 1

Storying Your Data – Part 1

The organization I lead generates a bunch of data. We provide leadership development in under-resourced populations, so we have data about the number of leaders that are engaged in our programs. We have data about the number of events we conduct each quarter. We have cool data about the impact of our services on leaders. But when we began telling “Jairus’ story” to our stakeholders, the data has found a voice.  Stories Attach Meaning to Data We’ve heard the phrase “the data speaks for itself,” but the truth is, data almost never communicates clearly for itself. When leaders interact with customers, with funders, with their boards, or with their own teams, stories give them ways to attach meaning to relevant data. With Jairus’ story of leading in war-torn South Sudan, we are able to help audiences “touch and feel” our data.    Stories Improve Human Learning Story matches the way

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Leading with Excellence in Babylon

Leading with Excellence in Babylon

This is Part 5 of our 2020 Blog Series. You can read the previous posts here.   At times the grind of leadership can seem futile. One that could attest to that reality would have been the Old Testament prophet Daniel. He had every right to wallow in self-pity, thinking that his life and leadership were a waste. The Sunday School conception of Daniel’s days was like a continuous prime time flick of hanging out in the lion’s den, interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, receiving historic prophetic visions, and seeing handwriting on the wall. But all these experiences made up a very small part of his work life. Most of his nights and days – week after week, year after year – were spent much like yours and mine. He performed minor routines.  In fact, he had a pretty awful job. Daniel’s boss was the despicable king of Babylon. Daniel’s workdays

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A Gospel of Work

A Gospel of Work

This is Part 4 of a Multi-Blog Series. You can read the previous posts here.   The biblical idea of the “gospel” is more than simply the individual salvation of men and women. Rather, the gospel impacts everything, including our work. This more robust idea of the gospel can be seen through a four-chapter biblical narrative: (1) Creation, (2) Fall, (3) Redemption, and (4) Fulfillment.   Chapter 1: Creation In the first chapter of Genesis, the writer recounts the six days of creation. According to this Book of Beginnings, God created all things very good. When God originally placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, he ordered them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). God had also delegated

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Trajectory is Critical

Trajectory is Critical

This is Part 3 of a Multi-Blog Series. You can read Part 1 and Part 2.   “One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” About 600 million people heard these words live from Neil Armstrong when he stepped for the first time onto the surface of the moon. As the iconic news anchor Walter Cronkite narrated this historic moment over CBS News on July 20, 1969, grainy images transmitted over television screens of an other-worldly space capsule touching down made the event seem simple and serene. But NASA engineers at Cape Canaveral were anything but calm as the lunar module and its crew made their final approach and landed safely. Trajectory Matters These experts at Mission Control knew that a slight error in setting the trajectory of Apollo 11 on its launch pad in Florida could have caused the rocket to veer perilously off target by the

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Making a Mindset

Making a Mindset

This is Part 2 of a Multi-Blog Series. Read Part 1.   I am grateful for my church heritage that prioritized disciple-making around the world. Introducing men and women to the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ and cultivating them to become mature, reproducing  leaders have been the privilege of my personal and vocational life. But the church’s penchant for lionizing missionaries and pastors – like myself – because of our status as “full-time ministers” has created a collective myopia in our ranks. This poor lens hinders us from seeing the broader landscape that is richly populated by Christian believers with enormous potential to advance the Kingdom as mechanics, marketers, mothers, and medical technicians. The Roots of a Faulty Perception What are the roots of this faulty perception? This mindset certainly doesn’t reflect the New Testament emphasis on the “priesthood of all believers.” How did the idea that missionaries and pastors

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Higher Calling

Higher Calling

“Children don’t judge their own lives. Normal for them is what’s laid before them day by day. Judgment comes later.” -Charles Frazier, Varina. This is Part 1 of a Multi-blog series A High Calling? The church of my childhood graced me with priceless truths. But in church I also heard a half-truth. It is the notion that people who work in vocational Christian ministry have a high calling, and those who work in secular jobs don’t. This half-truth was more implied than overt, more caught than taught. It led me to choices I didn’t know I was making. Only later did I come to know how much this half-truth shaped my life, and how for countless others it has shut off whole worlds that might have been. The Church of My Childhood My father went to the University of North Carolina on a GI Bill to study accounting. He worked

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