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The Journey of Everyday Leadership

Month

December 2017

Connection and Leadership

Some leadership characteristics never change.  The need for vision casting, strategic planning, and motivation are a few among many.

At this Christmas season, I am thinking of a leadership characteristic that marks the very God of Christmas—connection. Emmanuel is God connecting. Amazing.

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter says God is not willing that any should perish (be disconnected).  John, the Apostle remarks, “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world might be saved (connected) through him.” (John 3:16)

I suppose God, in his Trinitarian-self, could have been content to dwell in perfect divine unity. But God chose to connect. Furthermore, connecting with God is essential.

Yet, connecting with God should involve connecting with what God loves, should it not?  How can we say we love God and hate (not connect) with our brother? It’s not possible. The good news is that love connected God with people, and persons with persons.

Henry Cloud, in his book, The Power of the Other presents an intriguing case for connecting as the essence of leadership. He asked leaders to evaluate their leadership connections in terms of four grids: 1) disconnected; 2) in a bad connection; 3) in a pseudo-connection; or 4) truly connected to others.

Leaders in the first grid (disconnected) are frustrating to be around. Cloud suggests followers often feel unheard, misunderstood, and unable to have an impact. We all know the feeling. It promotes work arounds with the boss and side conversations with followers. More than that, it produces work place drag. Energy goes down along with productivity.

Granted, some leadership tasks are carried alone. The phrase “It’s lonely at the top” is born out of such leadership demands. But leaders must guard against self-imposed isolation.  It is not healthy and does not serve the greater good.

Cloud poses a deep question as a test for connection; “Do you have someplace where you can be 100 percent honest and vulnerable as to what you are going through in your leadership role , where you can totally be honest about struggles, conflicts, needs , weaknesses, etc.?”

So ask yourself, how well are you connected? Because of God’s love expressed at Christmas, we are never alone from his Divine presence. Emmanuel affirms that. But who else knows you?

We’ll look at the other three grids in future blog posts.

 

Dennis Nichols is the Lead Faculty for the Master of Arts in Leadership degree at William Jessup University

Giving and Receiving

On a recent Tuesday in November, amidst a hectic semester, something unexpected assaulted my week. I enjoy cycling, and a complication from a crash 18 months back surfaced out of nowhere.

Pain ravaged my hip, eventually driving me to crutches and altering my world for several weeks. Even as I write, the cause has yet to be identified.

As I leader, I prefer to live somewhat independently, avoid “burdening” others, and take care of my responsibilities. Yet, on that November day, all of these ideals came crashing down.

Classes were cancelled, deadlines missed, and I struggled just to eek by.

When hobbling into my “Self-Leadership” class one afternoon on 3 legs, I happened to notice a student’s textbook on the desk (one I’ve quoted before) entitle Leading With a Limp. The irony clanged like a gong.

I whispered a simple prayer, What are you up to right now, God?

Although His answer is still being revealed, I suspect God may be reminding me of my dependence on Him for every breath, every step, every task. That life and leadership is not only about giving, but also receiving.

The fact that Jesus put Himself at the mercy of others always strikes me as unusual.

To the woman at the well, he said “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7). About another who poured perfume on his feet, he said “She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6).

It seems that Christ, although He came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28), also understood the humility of receiving.

So, in recent weeks when a colleague has offered to cover one of my responsibilities, I’ve tried to say “yes, thank you.” When a group of students has offered to pray, I’ve said, “yes, I need that.” When my wife has offered to put the garbage out, I’ve said “thank you, that is so helpful!”

Which is easier for you – to give or to receive? How difficult is it for you to put yourself at another’s mercy? Where might you need to graciously receive, rather than solely give?

Daniel Gluck serves as Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Jessup, and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program.

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