Leadership Values and Commitment

ldr_valuesAs a result of a class on Biblical Leadership I recently took I have expanded my leadership values. I have enjoyed refining my thoughts on leadership and how I steward the gifts God has entrusted me.

Christian Leader Definition

A Christian leader is a steward of resources and relationships that have been entrusted to him or her by God, and who intentionally influences others in a particular context toward a particular purpose.

Core Biblical Principles

My understanding and practice of leadership is informed through the biblical metaphor of a steward. Living and leading as a steward leader recognizes that God is the owner of everything.  The steward leader has been given authority over and is accountable for how they use their talents, how they treat others and how they manage the resources entrusted to them. The steward leader is at the same time a bond slave to God and a servant leader to the people he or she leads.

Core Characteristics and Responsibilities

With this understanding steward leaders:

  • are accountable to God for their time, talents, treasure, truth, and relationships.
  • are aware of themselves and others. They are able to manage their feelings and actions in a mature manner.  They are also able to read others and manage the relationships in a healthy manner.
  • have strong resolve.  They believe strongly in a cause or a concept and are willing to see it through even in times of discouragement and/or lack of progress.
  • are creative.  They are able to perceive and process information at hand in a new way that is novel, useful and reproducible.
  • are curious. They explore different or new ideas out of curiosity. This goes beyond their area of expertise which enriches their overall effectiveness as well as promotes a level of well roundedness.
  • orient others toward a compelling vision of the future.  They make the future a reality as they exercise their influence by involving others in strategic and appropriate ways.  This is usually accomplished by methods fitting the cultural context.
  • exercise a variety of useful tools, means and methods  to be used for different situations. They are able to think flexibly and adapt their behavior to effectively accomplish the goal.

My personal leadership profile includes my values and my style which includes my strengths as well as weaknesses:

Values: All external behavior is a manifestation of internal values.  The core values I hold are that of affirmation, involvement, and the concept of the partial or incomplete nature of people and information.

  • Affirmation: Affirmation is the confirmation or declaring the truth or validity of something. Affirmation is directed at the individual person recognizing they are created in the image of God resulting in treating them as a person with respect.  This extends to highlighting and working toward their strengths with a view toward encouraging professional behavior and development and in appropriate cases, personal holiness.
  • Involvement: Involving others in information gathering and in decision making when it directly affects them demonstrates that their unique contribution is valued and important.  Involvement creates a level of ownership and healthy pride in the work of the people. This fosters a synergistic working environment that values the contributions of others.
  • Partial or incomplete nature of people and information: The value of partial or incompleteness has two sides, the first side views everyone as having a special contribution yet incomplete. This recognizes people who excel in certain areas that can make an immense contribution to the project, team or company. This also acknowledges that any given person, including the leader, is not perfect and therefore needs others to round them out. The second side views that the information with which we operate is also incomplete.  This is seen as we communicate with others, as we work with presuppositions in completing a tasks and planning how to accomplish new goals. An appropriate amount of humility is needed working with people, including our awareness and understanding of ourselves, and information that is partial.
  • Spiritual- Sin & Sanctification: While not a part of my values per se, it is a core belief I hold that there are spiritual factors present even if unseen. Sin and its ramifications play a destructive and distracting factor in interpersonal relationships and societal structures.  Sanctification occurs only in people who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Those sanctified are able, with God’s help, to contribute in ways that overcome sin in relationships and society. Given this reality, there are some problems and conflicts that can only be resolved through the work and power of God.

Style: My primarily leadership style is leading through encouraging.  Leading through encouraging emerges directly from the values I hold. This style focuses on inspiring others with courage or confidence in order to stimulate them to think or act. I lead and manage people by encouraging: relationships, effective behavior and improved effectiveness. Leading through encouraging should not be confused with laissez faire leadership, rather it is the mode in which I approach people as goals and standards are set, achieved and evaluated.

Strengths & Weaknesses: I lead with my strengths with the awareness that an overemphasis on my strengths turns them into a weakness.  The strengths will be mentioned first, followed by the weakness of an overemphasis or over application of the strength.

My top strengths can be seen in my actions as a shepherd, a presenter that prepares information with a detailed-focus in order to communicate clearly, an organizer that initiates structure for improved effectiveness and a facilitator for building teams in order for optimized collaboration and cooperation.

  • As a shepherd I view the personal well being of those in my sphere of influence as part of my job description. Nurturing these people to greater personal holiness, professional development, and people building take primary importance as I lead and serve. In certain situations an over focus on nurturing can result in a loss of focus and diminished effectiveness not allowing people to grow in needed areas.
  • Much of my leading is communicating to others through presenting necessary information clearly, concisely, and persuasively in order to influence others through verbal, written and various media venues. In certain situations, detailed preparation is not necessary and even detrimental to moving forward, especially when decisions need to be made quickly.
  • I have a knack for creating structure where there is none or improving effectiveness to current structures and processes. This is a strength in organizations that are growing quickly and in their “adolescence” stage. In certain organizational situations like pioneering or start up contexts and during needed entrepreneur phases in an organization, an over focus on organization and structure can hinder and bog down processes that need more freedom in order to reach maximum effectiveness.
  • I excel in building teams through pre-wiring and facilitating meetings, brainstorming, one-on-one conversation, emphasizing and modeling skills and attitudes which foster team work. Not every work, project or process is better in a team setting. I tend to get impatient when I am in a team that I am not leading that is making progress slowly which is the result of laissez fair leadership style or a team that is afraid to act as a result of authoritarian leadership.

Leadership Commitments

My mother always pointed out how it never made sense for married people to hurt each other with insults or making life difficult.  If you have to live together why not be smart about it, even when there are differences. While not as permanent as marriage, I believe the same principle can apply to working relationships.  Since we are working together in some fashion why not work smart together. Following is a list that guides me in fostering positive working relationships.

  • People have intrinsic value and deserve respect. I believe each person bears the image of God which makes them valuable.  People are important no matter what position or opinion they hold and should be treated with respect.  I will treat you with respect even if I do not agree with what you say and I expect you to do the same with me. I believe there are ways to work even if we don’t see everything eye to eye.  I am motivated by mutual respect and will work toward showing you the respect you deserve.
  • Honesty, integrity and trust are essential in everything that is done.  Character and trust are important as they are the motivating force behind all actions.  I intend to work with honesty, integrity and make decisions that build trust rather than undermine trust. If you feel I have not acted in this way, I will be open to your correction when it is pointed out.  I expect you to exercise these values as you work with me and the organization.  Misunderstandings and miscommunication are to be expected, but actions that go against these values will be addressed.
  • Every member should commit to the mission. [1]The mission is the common ground that provides the platform for different people with different ideas and styles to work to accomplish a common goal together.  The mission is the unifying factor that provides guidelines in decision making for strategic planning as well as many day to day tasks.  The mission usually takes precedence over personal goals.  I will make decisions that support the mission of the organization and not detract.  This means I will forego personal preferences or plans if they do not further the goals and values of the organization and I expect you to be willing to act accordingly as well.  Actions that contribute toward furthering the mission will be recognized and affirmed. Actions that deviate from the mission need to be addressed in a professional and respectful manner.
  • Results Oriented – Every organization exists for a purpose.  Results in line with the mission and vision are necessary for the continued health and life of the organization.  The organization will fulfill its calling by delivering results and every worker has a specific role in contributing to the results.  My contributions and yours are evaluated by the outcome.  Each of us has to take responsibility and initiative to ensure whatever we do contributes to the well-being of the organization.  Results need to be clearly agreed upon for planning, effectiveness, and evaluation.
  • People Building – People grow when they are provided the necessary tools and training in a positive environment to achieve a goal.  In order to do my job better I need to be growing personally and professionally.  I expect the same from you.   I will provide an environment conducive to growth, learning from mistakes, and working toward strengths.

I believe the best way to implement these values is through intentional communication that focuses on three behaviors.

  • One-on-one meetings facilitate regular communication to encourage relationships.
  • Consistent feedback (affirming and adjusting) facilitates regular performance communication to encourage effective behavior.
  • Coaching facilitates regular goal-oriented communication to encourage improved effectiveness.

[1] I include vision and values with mission in this instance.

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