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The Journey of Everyday Leadership

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February 2018

The End of Poverty

In 2005, economist Jeffrey Sachs published a book called The End of Poverty. In it, he outlined how the Western world could alleviate extreme poverty by 2025 if certain measures are taken (especially increased aid).

Sachs’ book inspired responses ranging from praise to sharp criticism, including rebuttals in a number of subsequent books. As I’ve studied poverty, it appears that most seminal works are written from an economic perspective. This assumes that poverty is primarily a lack of financial resources.

Yet, on the contrary, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo suggests that no developing country has ever risen from the ashes and become an economically empowered state primarily through aid.

What does this have to do with leadership?

Leaders, especially those in Western institutions, often assume that problems can be “fixed” with money, strategy, vision, etc. Just follow five easy steps, and you’ll succeed! If this is true, then why has roughly one billion of the world’s population failed to “graduate” from extreme poverty, despite the best efforts of really smart people?

An alternate perspective on poverty may have significant implications for leaders. Bryant Myers (Walking With the Poor) suggests that financial distress is only one aspect of poverty. Poverty is emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and political.

Myers further posits that:

Poverty, in its essence, is when someone does not know who they are, or for what purpose they were created.

Those caught in cycles of holistic poverty no longer believe they matter, or understand that they have a purpose. And by the way – this definition challenges the idea that poor people are the only ones who experience poverty.

I wonder if our job as leaders, then, is less about trying to “fix” things, people, or systems, and more about investing in relationships such that those we encounter are challenged to a deeper understanding of who they are and why they were created. Of course, from a Christian perspective, this conversation cannot exist without the gospel message.

Does your leadership help followers find deeper meaning regarding who they are, and why they were created? How might you take steps to “end poverty” today?

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

Get Ready; Be Ready

In Rogue Heroes (2016), Ben MacIntyre tells the story of the formation of the British SAS (Special Air Service) in World War II. The SAS would eventually serve as the model for the U.S. Navy Seals and Delta Force as well as special forces in other countries around the world.

Rogue HeroesLieutenant David Stirling of the Scots Guards originally proposed to British High Command the idea of a small group of commandos who could parachute behind enemy lines, disrupt enemy operations, and quickly slip away—guerrilla warfare. It was a novel idea in World War II.

To prepare, Stirling recruited a small group of men and they “got ready.” The training regimen was unlike anything that regular military personnel experienced.

To simulate parachute landings in a wind-swept desert (and lacking a plane to make actual drops), Stirling and his men jumped off the back of Jeeps traveling at 35 miles per hour. Broken bones, sprained limbs, cuts, abrasions, and bruises quickly brought the haphazard training practice to an end. But they were “getting ready.”

Those first SAS troops studied maps and learned star navigation. In the deserts of northern Africa, where sand dunes swept as far as the eye could see, they could not navigate by landmarks…and nobody had GPS.

Then there were the long desert marches to build stamina and endurance. The unit would take minimal water, to condition their bodies to require as little hydration as possible. Later this would save the life of one SAS member, Jack Sillito, who was thought to be lost or captured but trekked 180 miles across the desert back to the base camp, on his own.

The extraordinary feats of the SAS required extraordinary preparation; learning about explosives, conditioning their bodies for grueling conditions, understanding weaponry, and developing nerves of steel. And the SAS had a profound impact on the Allied war effort.

Transformational leadership today requires no less dedication and preparation. The journey ahead for us (as parents, pastors, or business leaders) will involve unknown challenges, expansive stretches of desert, and minimal resources at times. What are you doing to not only survive the conditions but to complete the mission despite the conditions?

When God entrusts leadership to us, we have a stewardship responsibility to get ready and be ready. What might you do today and this week to prepare? What might you read, write, practice, or seek advice about? Intentionality is everything.

Leaders get ready; leaders are ready.

David Timms is Dean of the School of Christian Leadership at William Jessup University.

Friday Quote

 

“The point of simplicity is not efficiency, increased productivity or even living a healthier, more relaxed life. The point is making space for treasuring God’s own self.”
― Jan Johnson

Take a deep breath; sit for a moment; feel yourself living. There is time enough to live in the experience of His grace today. Make space.

The Pseudo-Connection

In a previous post, I referenced Henry Cloud’s book, The Power of the Other. Cloud presented an intriguing case for connecting as the essence of leadership. He asks 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. Cloud suggests followers often feel unheard, misunderstood, and unable to have an impact. In the second grid, Cloud describes what he calls the bad connection. It is not necessarily a connection with a bad or abusive person, though this does happen. It is a pull towards a person that makes one feel not good enough, defective, or inadequate.

The third grid describes a falsely connected leader, although the leader is unaware. As Cloud explains “no one wants to feel isolated, alone, or inadequate”. Therefore, the pseudo-connected leader looks for something to bring him the good feelings. Often this can be addictive behaviors, but more commonly the pseudo-connect or latches on to “good news”, for instance. The pseudo-connected leader wants to hear good news only. They surround themselves with staff and executives who tell them what they want to hear. Rarely is there ever a challenge, it is the beauty and the beast line all over again, “Gaston, you are the greatest!” Flattery becomes a drug that ends up shielding this leader from reality.

pexels-photo-820746

Every time there is a failure or setback, this leader comes up with another glitzy new strategy or campaign. Those around this leader begin to panic as the pseudo-connected leader tries to drum up more good news. The staff protect the leader from reality. There appears to be community, but on limited terms.

Cloud suggest these leaders end up chasing celebrity connections to fuel their need for positive acknowledgement. The need for self-fulfillment becomes more important than their teams and the real work.

What all three grids need is the realization that true leadership and success comes by working with and needing others.  However, the purpose is not to build their kingdom. We need others to become all that they can be. Disconnections, bad-connections, and pseudo-connections are all escapes from true relationship.

Christianity reveals a God that is more than a sovereign deity with supreme power. The God Christ reveals desires true connection.

Is there someone you know today who needs real connection? What might you do to model it to another?

 

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

3 Leadership Temptations

Greetings from Jessup Leadership! This week, Daniel Gluck shares a short video about 3 Leadership Temptations experienced by Jesus himself, and why they are important for leaders in our current cultural climate. Enjoy!

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