“Bigger Than You” Leadership

Image source: https://247sports.com/Player/Jalen-Hurts-37059/high-school-61022

Last week, I watched my favorite college team, Alabama, secure yet another national college football championship. It was one of the greatest football games I’ve seen: the power plays, the turnovers, the unexpected moments, and the players who pressed through difficulty on both sides of the field.

Many articles and statements have been written about Nick Saban, the Alabama coach who made the difficult decision to change quarterbacks at halftime, from Jalen Hurts to freshman Tua Tagovailoa. This could not have been an easy decision, yet Saban demonstrated yet again the ability to make the tough calls.

What stood out to me during the second half of the game was the now-sidelined quarterback, Jalen Hurts. Many in this position would be feeling a sense of embarrassment or humiliation that he wasn’t able to take the team to victory as he had so many times before. Some would have been angry at being pulled out at halftime in the most public venue possible for a college football player. Jalen, however, showed something different.

As the second half played out, we saw Jalen actively involved on the sidelines, encouraging and supporting not only his teammates, but the freshman quarterback who had taken his place! He not only backed his coach’s decision, but he was “all in” as he cheered on this freshman quarterback that few fans knew prior to the game.  He threw his influence and leadership behind Tua, and ultimately the team pulled out a victory in the final moments.

Jalen was a prime example of a true leader, who was about the mission before himself. He exhibited an understanding that many experienced and much older leaders have not yet mastered – that leadership is about investing your life in something bigger than you.

The Business Case for Leadership Development

Leadership development sounds good, but does it really make a difference? Is there any data to back up the assertion that developing leaders affects not only those leaders, but the company or organization?

Check out this article that deals with these questions.

(Spoiler: Leadership development DOES make a difference, and it DOES affect the company or organization in a positive way!)

I’d love to help you and your team be intentional about this priority in 2018. Choose to grow! You can contact me and set up a time to discuss your goals and how I can help you and/or your company or organization this year.

Will 2018 Be Your Best Year Yet? It Can Be

Do you want 2018 to be different than 2017 was? Do you want to look back 12 months from now at the growth that happened in your life?

It begins with an intentional step.

We all want our lives to matter. We want to live lives of significance. And you can. The key to choosing a life that matters is being intentional.

Join me for my next virtual mastermind group that begins in January.  We’ll meet online for 4 weeks, for 90 minutes each week (either on Sunday nights or Tuesday nights), and grow together. We’ll be reading and discussing John Maxwell’s book Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters.

This is an outstanding learning and personal development experience intended for those who are serious about investing in and taking action to grow themselves both personally and professionally. If that’s you, I’d love to have you join me.

Register for the Sunday group here.

Register for the Tuesday group here.

And let’s step into 2018 with intentionality together.

Global Leadership Summit 2017

I’m excited that Southview is hosting the Global Leadership Summit again this August!  This is a world class leadership development event that I’ve benefited from for the last 18 years; it is a “don’t miss” on my calendar. I always walk away with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and a commitment to get better as a leader. It’s because of the Summit that I’m still working in a local church (that’s a story that I’d love to share with you).

What’s your plan to get better as a leader? Are you intentionally seeking opportunities to grow? As Bill Hybels puts it often, when a leader gets better, everybody benefits. I’d love for you to come and learn with me this year at Southview – you won’t regret it. You can register here.


This year’s speaker line up is fantastic:

  • BILL HYBELS – Founder & Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

  • SHERYL SANDBERG – Chief Operating Officer, Facebook

  • MARCUS BUCKINGHAM – Best-selling Author; Founder, The Marcus Buckingham Company

  • BRYAN STEVENSON – Founder & Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative

  • JULIET FUNT – CEO, Whitespace at Work

  • MARCUS LEMONIS – Star of CNBC’s, The Profit; CEO of Camping World and Good Sam

  • SAM ADEYEMI – Founder & Senior Pastor, Daystar Christian Centre in Nigeria

  • LASZLO BOCK – Senior Advisor at Google; Best-selling Author

  • IMMACULÉE ILIBAGIZA – Advocate for Peace and Forgiveness; Best-selling Author

  • GARY HAUGEN – Founder & CEO, International Justice Mission

  • ANGELA DUCKWORTH – Professor, University of Pennsylvania; Best-selling Author

  • FREDRIK HÄRÉN – Author; Business Creativity Expert

  • ANDY STANLEY – Leadership Author; Communicator; Pastor

  • MICHAEL JR – Comedian


New Virtual Mastermind Groups

What’s your intentional growth plan right now – personally and professionally?

Dreams don’t come to fruition on their own. I want to live a life by design, not by default!

For nearly two decades now, I’ve been a student of leadership. For nearly a decade, I’ve led small mastermind groups, studying material from different books and sources and then discussing how the principles can apply to the business, non-profit, military, church, and personal contexts of the various group members. I’ve watched people take steps and grow beyond what they thought they could, and I’ve watched their dreams come to life.

Starting in July, I’m going to take this coaching opportunity online. One of my life goals is to add value to people. I want to see people take steps to live their life on purpose, to grow and stretch, and to achieve their goals.

I’m going to begin with four groups, each meeting on a different day of the week. These will be 5 week groups, meeting once per week for 90 minutes. We’ll use John Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. It’s online, so no matter where you are, you can be a part of this!

Ive got four different virtual mastermind group opportunities you can register for and plug into:

There is synergy of energy, commitment and excitement that participants bring to a mastermind group. These groups offer a combination of masterminding, peer brainstorming, education, accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. By bringing fresh ideas and a different perspective, masterminds can help you achieve success.

This is a great opportunity to study leadership, communications, and growth principles/practices in a group setting, create an action plan and have the group hold you accountable for fulfilling your plan and goals.

Are you ready to get intentional about this? Click on one of the links above for the group that fits your schedule!

John Ortberg on Women in Leadership

This week I saw an interview with one of my long time heroes in ministry, John Ortberg. John serves as the senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California; he formerly was a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, which was where I became acquainted with him. He is a tremendous writer that I recommend all the time.

What John discusses below is an issue that is not talked about enough today in the church, and it really needs to be. Listen to what John has to say – even after studying this issue for over a decade, I picked up several new ideas and thoughts here.

I was challenged by what John said, especially in my role at Southview. For nearly twelve years, I’ve been a strong proponent of every follower of Jesus serving as they are gifted and called by God, regardless of their gender. But I realize there is still much work to do, especially when it comes to investing in and developing new leaders.

You can see this video on Tony Morgan’s blog here, along with a list of highlights.  I highly recommend Tony’s blog to you – he is an outstanding thinker and writer on issues facing churches in our day and how to deal with them.

How are you developing women as leaders in your organization? Guys, are you shying away like John talks about to try to avoid one type of sin, only to commit another? What’s your intentional plan this year to invest in and develop ALL the leaders in your church or organization? 

Simplicity and Consistency

A few weeks ago, I got the privilege of sitting in a breakout session at Re:Think Leadership with one of my heroes in ministry – Dan Reiland.  Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. I’ve followed Dan’s writing for many years and have learned a lot from him from his writing and teaching.  The breakout I went to focused on Developing a Leadership Culture in your Organization.

One of Dan’s 5 essential elements to a leadership culture is that you teach leadership.  The keys to this are simplicity and consistency.

If it’s not simple, you will quit.

If it’s not consistent, you won’t get the results you want, and you will quit.

Leadership development is a “non-demand” ministry. In other words, you CAN not do it.  You can allow the have to’s to crowd out the non-have to’s; you can allow the urgent to crowd out the important.  But if you want a leadership culture in your organization, you must realize that though it’s not on fire, it is in fact a must do.

Dan had some sage and wise advice for us – get a group of people together (emerging leaders, existing leaders, staff, people in whom you see potential); pick a good leadership book to read together; and then when you meet (once a month), ask two questions:

  1. What are you learning?
  2. How do you apply what you’re learning?

So simple!  You can do this.  It takes intentionality – it’s not going to happen without that.

Don’t allow yourself to overcomplicate the process – remember simplicity.  Leadership development doesn’t have to be overly complicated – in fact, less sticks when it is.

For the last 6 years, I’ve led a short term IMPACT group for potential and emerging leaders at Southview.  We read books together, we watch videos on leadership, and then we discuss.  IMPACT has met weekly for 6-10 week sessions at least once a year, but I’m intrigued by Dan’s suggestion of once a month. It’s too easy to miss a meeting when it’s weekly – once a month can be easier to commit to and prioritize. I might try that with our next group!

However you do it, in the infamous words of Nike, Just Do It. And remember the key words – simplicity and consistency.

I’d highly recommend Dan’s book, Amplified Leadership, to you.  It’s a great book that you can take a group through – I’ll be using it for IMPACT this year at Southview.

How are you being intentional about leadership development in your organization?  Are you teaching it regularly to new, emerging, and existing leaders?

Erosion, Weeds, and Riprap

The work continues this week at Southview on the stormwater drainage project!  (I’m adding the exclamation to try to make a project that is not all that exciting seem much more so!)

(Did it work?)

IMG_3590In my last post, I shared about the importance of a drainage pipe that runs under our driveway and how the “invisible” parts of leadership are critical.  Today I want to look at the other side of the driveway – the “out” side of the drainage pipe.

Our drainage system connects with that of the shopping center that is located behind our church.  You can see in the picture to the left the beautiful gray riprap that they installed in their drainage ditch to do two things:

1. Keep the water flow going the right direction and prevent blockages

2. Prevent erosion

IMG_3589On our side of the ditch, originally there was similar riprap, but that was over thirty years ago. Over time, weeds begin to sprout up, erosion overtakes the rock, and three decades later, it looks like the picture to the right.

Do you see any riprap? No, because it’s completely covered by dirt and weeds.  Thirty years have gone by, and what was evident on the surface, with a specific purpose, is now underground, covered over and unable to accomplish its purpose.

The contractors spent last week digging out the riprap by hand because of the underground gas pipelines. It was slow, back-breaking work that was no fun at all I’m sure. But it was absolutely necessary to return the stormwater system to health and vitality so that it can complete the purpose it was designed to accomplish.

It’s a lot like that with our leadership gift.  Over time, erosion happens, just like it did with the stormwater drainage ditch.  Over time, what was evident and visible in our lives – the gift of leadership and our passion for it – begins to slowly sink beneath the surface of the day-to-day task lists, meetings, phone calls, and emails.  What is important is overtaken by the urgent, but the urgent is not always important.

Erosion happens. And weeds sprout up. It’s true in nature and it’s true in every organization. Leaders have to learn to differentiate between what’s demanding our attention right now (the urgent) and what truly matters (the important).  We have to shore up against the erosion of our cultural values, mission, and vision. We have to pull the weeds that would distract from or obfuscate the clarity that is necessary to accomplish the mission and vision.  We can’t “go nuclear” and blow the whole thing up because of the weeds – we have to target the weeds, what’s growing and covering up the riprap, and get rid of that.

Andy Stanley often refers to the importance of walking up to the cage of the 500 pound gorilla and opening the door – that is, directly confronting the problems that we see and know about, but have been avoiding because of the fear we feel.  Here’s what I know: there is erosion and there are weeds in every one of our spheres of influence.  There are 500 pound gorillas we are pretending are not there. We’re avoiding them and hoping they will go away. But just like the erosion and the weeds in our drainage system, they don’t go away – they get worse and worse.  Problems don’t improve on their own most of the time.  As my friend Steve Kane says, “bad news doesn’t get better with age.” We have to square our shoulders, take a deep breath, and walk up to the problems – and deal with them.

When this project is done, the riprap will once again be visible and doing its job. The erosion will be held back for a season, the weeds will be removed, and the water can flow. It’s at a significant cost, but it will be far better because we dealt with it.

What erosion or weeds are you avoiding in your leadership right now? What’s the 500 pound gorilla you need to walk up to and deal with this week?

The Invisible But Critical Parts of Leadership

This week, contractors began on some work at Southview that the county has required us to do.  Two sides of our property are bordered by a stormwater drainage system that we are required to maintain.  It’s not something anyone really notices when they drive by or onto our lot, but it’s very important to ensure that stormwater flows the proper direction and into the proper places.

IMG_3586Every year, the county inspects 20% of the stormwater system on properties throughout the county, so every five years, we get a report from them with a list of what we need to do to maintain our piece of the system.  Last November, we got the report, and it was the most substantial list of needed work on this system that the church has seen in it’s history.  It’s about a $35K project right now, and not something we were expecting.

There is a pipe that runs under the driveway to the church – you can see it in the picture to the left.  This pipe was put in when the church was built in 1982/1983.  Over time, the pipe has degraded.  It’s normal wear and tear, and in this case, the bottom third of the pipe is gone – rusted away.

No one has really paid attention to this pipe.  It’s under the driveway, and it opens out into the drainage swale – not a place anyone really hangs out!  But when it stops working, what happens?

That’s right – nothing good.

IMG_2474Check out the next picture – this is what happened in a recent storm.

“Lake Southview” is the result of this pipe not doing it’s job.

How important is a pipe that runs under a driveway?  How important is something that almost no one ever sees or pays attention to?


And so it is with leadership.

The “invisible” parts of leadership are those parts that are not done on the stage or in the meeting.  It’s the foundational work, the internal work that is done in you before you step foot on the platform, write the first word, or speak the first sentence.  And, just like this pipe under the driveway, it is critical.

It’s easy for leaders to focus the vast majority (or even all) of our time on the deliverables – those things that people see, read, or hear.  But if we do so at the cost of neglecting the “invisible” parts – self-evaluation, intentional leadership development, being mentored by those farther down the road than we are, reading inside and outside our field, and so on – then over time we will find that we have less and less to bring to the platform, to the page, or to the meeting.  By neglecting the “invisible” work, we drastically and negatively impact the work that is seen and shared.

It takes time. It’s not going to just happen. I’ve never seen anyone wake up one day and magically find that they had grown as a leader accidentally – it takes intentional effort and focus. But it’s never wasted effort and focus.

Every year, I put together an intentional plan for my personal leadership development.  Have you done that for 2016?  It’s not just going to happen – you have to be intentional.

I spend time weekly reading books inside and outside my field, learning from others. I spend time weekly listening to podcasts or workshop recordings from other leaders (again, inside and outside my field). And a few times a year, I go to conferences to learn in person from other leaders. I believe you can learn from anyone, and that principles can cross fields and disciplines. We just have to apply the proper filters and contextualize what we learn.

I share what I do with you not to say “look at me” – I’ve got a long way to go as a leader!  But my hope is that by sharing some specifics from my life, it will encourage you to take a step and make one or more of these a staple in your own life and leadership. It won’t just be you that benefits – your team and those you lead will thank you for this!

Take a lesson from the pipe under the driveway.  Be intentional, and make sure you’re spending regular time every week on the “invisible” parts of your leadership.

What is your plan this week to spend some time on the “invisible” parts of your leadership?

Cultivating a Teachable Spirit

OilThe first month I was at Southview, I remember meeting with the adult teachers for the first time.  I shared with them one of the foundations of my philosophy of ministry – a teachable spirit is non-negotiable.  Skills can be learned, and knowledge can be gained, but without a teachable spirit, you will have a very difficult time in ministry.  I went so far as to say that it was a non-negotiable to serve in leadership at Southview, and I still believe it’s THAT important.  The Elders and I try very hard to live that value out as we lead – but sometimes, I forget…

Perhaps a year ago, maybe a little more, my wife Charlotte wanted me to try some essential oils that she had heard about.  Someone had told her about them, and she thought a more natural solution might be worth a shot.  I pooh-poohed it, saying I was not at all interested in such, and that I had no desire to turn into a triangle hat wearing sort.  (See this video clip from Seinfeld if you missed the reference).

Fast forward to April of this year.  My allergies were worse than I’ve ever experienced, and to top that off I was having trouble sleeping.  Not a great combination! My normal allergy medicine wasn’t working at all, and I was wondering what to try. One of the Elders mentioned that his wife had some oils that she’d had great success with, and suggested I give it a shot.  I was sleep deprived and feeling pretty miserable, so I was willing to try anything, so I did. She brought me some samples to try, and I rubbed several different oils on my feet every night before bed, thinking “no way this is going to work.” Lo and behold, after just a couple of days, my allergies were gone and I was sleeping like a baby.  I know – weird, right? I’ve continued the regimen, and I’ve had NO allergy trouble at all since I started. It’s hard to believe, but true!

Why do I share this story?  Well, there are several lessons I’ve learned over the last few months:

1) A teachable spirit is important, and not just at the office. Being humble and teachable should be something I strive for in every area of my life, not just in certain areas.  Leaders, you set the pace on this.  If you model a teachable spirit, it’s FAR more likely that those you lead will too.

2) Listen to my wife. Had I listened to my wife and given this a shot a year or more ago, I might have avoided months of allergy trouble and the cost of all that allergy medicine. My wife is brilliant, and I forget that at my peril.

3) Sometimes solutions can be found in unexpected places. I would never have thought those essential oils were effective – yet I am walking proof, despite my cynicism and disbelief at the beginning. Humility is being willing to listen.

Do you have experiences where you forgot how important a humble, teachable spirit is?  Share in the comments below!

(and if you are interested in trying these oils, let me know and I’ll connect you with my friend Nancy!)