Oct 2014

Do You Overestimate Your Ability as a Leader?

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How accurately do you estimate your ability as a leader? Do you think too highly of yourself, not highly enough, or about right?

Recently I came across the concept of “illusory superiority.” Illusory superiority is “a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive qualities and abilities and to underestimate their negative qualities, relative to others… [It is also called] the ‘Lake Wobegon effect’ (named after Garrison Keillor’s fictional town where ‘all the children are above average’).”

According to the research, 80% of drivers will rate themselves as above average. Other research demonstrates the same lopsidedness in people’s estimation of their own teaching ability, IQ, test scores, memory, job performance, relational capacity, punctuality, sensitivity, consistency, popularity, health, and more. Frighteningly, only 18% of drivers believe they are below average drivers while using a phone for texting or email.

Of course, the simple statistical fact is that only 50% of people are above average in anything! Ironically, people also tend to consider themselves less “susceptible to bias” than other people. We’re not only out of touch with reality – we also pat ourselves on the back for how “in touch” we are!

This shouldn’t surprise us since the Scriptures teach that we are inherently prone to both self-deception and pride.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jer. 17:9-10)

The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end? (Jer. 5:31)

…There is no fear of God before their eyes. In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin. The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good. Even on their beds they plot evil; they commit themselves to a sinful course and do not reject what is wrong. (Ps. 36:1-4)

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers” (Matt. 7:21-23)

You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev. 3:17)

In Christ, we are made new in His image but this is a daily growth toward maturity – it does not happen instantly.

So it’s no wonder that many Christian leaders believe that various mistakes and failures only happen to average or below average leaders and that they themselves are immune to the types of problems that have plagued leaders for centuries. It comes naturally for us to assume that spiritual burnout, doctrinal error, relational failure, crippling or even fatal stress-induced physical collapse, moral compromise, etc. only happen to “other, weaker” leaders.

The simple fact is: you’re probably not better than most other leaders!

The first task of the leader is to face reality – including reality about himself. Now, again, how accurately do you estimate your ability as a leader?

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)

Reflect:

  • Think about your past life and ministry – what specific negative situations could been avoided by a more accurate understanding of yourself?
  • In what ways did God speak to you before or during those times (perhaps through His Word, through the words of others, inwardly by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or through circumstances) but you didn’t listen?
  • What accountability do you need in your life to avoid self-deception in the future and what will you do in order to get it?

Sep 2014

What Is the Best Leader Development Advice You Can Give?

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The fifth Leader Development Consultation (LDC) was held in Asia in October 2013 with about 240 participants from 20+ nations. Prior to the event, participants were asked, “What is the best leader development advice you can give?” The following are some of the very beautiful and wise responses. The original answers are given with minor editing.

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Sep 2014

Significant Trends in Leader Development

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The fifth Leader Development Consultation (LDC) was held in Asia in October 2013 with about 240 participants from 20+ nations. Prior to the event, participants were asked about significant trends they see happening in Christian leader development work. The following is a summary analysis of their responses. As much as possible, the original answers are given word-for-word in bullets.

1. A broad recognition of the central importance of leader development:

  • Everyone is talking about leader development.
  • Increased awareness by major organizations of the critical need for developing leaders to meet the demands of a rapidly growing church
  • There seems to be an increased awareness of the need for leader development within the network of my relationships.
  • People are awakening to the need.
  • There is a hunger for training and good material in the two-thirds world like never before. Quality education has become a high priority among leaders.

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Aug 2014

Designers of Leader Development and Users of Design

Probably everybody who is reading these words has the ability to sit in a car and be driven somewhere by someone else. Everybody can benefit from the car. Whether or not we understand how the car works or even how to drive, everyone can benefit. But how many people can drive the car? Quite a few, but it’s not everybody. Then, how many people can change the oil in the car and do basic maintenance work? This is a significantly smaller group. How many people can fix the engine when it breaks down? Even fewer.

Now, think about when the car was built. How many people have the knowledge and skills to work on the production line and produce the car? Very few. Then, how many people have the ability to precisely engineer the various parts of the car? Not many. Finally, how many people can invent something like a car in the first place? Hardly anyone.

In another analogy, very few people can write a truly great book, but multitudes can read it and benefit from it.

Leader development is like this.

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Jul 2014

Simple Design and Complex Design

By God’s grace, for the second time in a row, LeaderSource SGA was recently selected as one of the recipients of the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards for 2014 “for outstanding achievements in leadership development and programs.” In addition we were selected as a “Top 10 finalist” in the Non-Profit Organizations Category . The complete list is here (we’re on page 12). We thank God for this honor.

In our last Letter, we began to look at how to design transformational leader development. Let’s continue now…

Simple Design and Complex Design

An intuitive grasp of the principles of gravity and aerodynamics is sufficient to catch a ball that is thrown to you. But it’s not sufficient to design an airplane, even though the same principles are at work! To design an airplane you need a considerably greater (and conscious) mastery of the principles.

In the same way, there is both simple and complex leader development design. Just as you can catch a ball without knowing anything about “lift” and “acceleration,” so you can intuitively harness the power of 4D design (incorporating spiritual, relational, experiential and instructional dynamics) without being able to design a full-time, multi-year curriculum for training.

Anyone can do “simple” design.

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Jun 2014

Designing Transformational Leader Development

In this Letter, we will begin a new series, looking at how to design transformational leader development.

Transformational leader development requires more than classroom instruction. Life transformation takes place through a combination of the “Four Dynamics of Transformation”:

  • Spiritual Dynamics – including prayer, worship, reflection, meditation in the Word;
  • Relational Dynamics – including encouragement, accountability, examples, mentors, coaches;
  • Experiential Dynamics – including learning by doing, challenging assignments, and pressure;
  • Instructional Dynamics – the teaching of the Word of God in an engaging and interactive way.

Traditional training, however, almost exclusively uses the Instructional Dynamic.

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May 2014

The Power of Pressure in Leader Development

In our last Letter we looked at the power of pressure in leader development.

There are several cautions we must observe as we introduce pressure into the lives of emerging leaders:

  • It is not true that “the more we make them suffer, the more they will grow.” God allows suffering in our lives, but He does so wisely. We should not just callously or arbitrarily throw people into the fire, thinking this will automatically improve them. We should be intentional and careful about exposing emerging leaders to various forms of pressure. A boxer said to his manager, “I want to fight the champ.” The manager said, “No, you’re not ready for the champ.” “But I want to fight him. I’m ready. Why can’t I fight him?” “Because,” said the manager, “you’ve only so many fights in you, and it’s my job to pick the right ones.” In the same way, we need to protect our emerging leaders by carefully designing what they experience.
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Apr 2014

True Leadership is Forged in the Fire

Many biblical leaders such as Joseph, Moses, David and Paul were built in the fire of suffering.

You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Tim. 3:10-12)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Cor. 1:8-11; see also 4:7-12; 11:21-29; )

These are the ways of God: healthy leaders are built – and lead – in the fires of suffering.

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Mar 2014

Jesus Showed Us the Path of Suffering

Leaders are built through fire. Godly leaders know that sufferings can build spiritual maturity, brokenness and genuine faith in God; thus, they do not shy away from the cross in their lives.

Accordingly, Jesus showed the way of suffering to the leaders He was building. He personally demonstrated sufferings to them:

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Feb 2014

Leaders Are Built Through Fire

Leaders are built through fire – like steel is made hard in the fire, like gold is purified in the furnace, like carbon is formed under pressure into diamonds.

Pressure reveals the impurities in one’s life so they can be dealt with. It is far better to put the emerging leader under pressure before he is given significant responsibility and authority than to wait until the time when failure under pressure will destroy both the leader and those with him. Therefore, the leader development process can intentionally put the participants under a certain amount of pressure to squeeze heart contaminations to the surface so they can be revealed, confronted and removed.

Significantly, the formation of diamonds from carbon requires three things: (1) extreme pressures, 100 miles or more deep under the earth’s surface, (2) high temperatures, 2000 °F or more, and (3) time, diamonds are formed very slowly.

Of course, this is not only true for leaders; this is how God deals with all of us. He has always used suffering as a vital part of the Christian life.-

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