Guest Post from Tim Hallman, Christian Emphasis Director with Greater Fort Wayne YMCA
Pennsylvania is a beautiful state! Especially with all of those hills! I spent the last two days in the Harrisburg area to teach a Leadership & Management class with Evangelical Seminary as an adjunct professor.
It’s an innovative 14 week online class with a week-long residency in the middle, crafted and implemented by a team of two lead professors and four contributing professors. It brings together practical experience, professional reflection, and focused academic instruction. I’m glad to be part of the team!
I just wish I would have more time to hike those hills after class on Tuesday!
My portion with the students was to take the last four hours of the class and help them synthesize what they’ve been learning to integrate into their current leadership and management situations. We reviewed some great literature, which I will list below. Each student is in an interesting leadership opportunity, as are most people working with a team to get things done!
Here are a few takeaways I have from the time with students and this class, leadership reflections that will help me grow as a leader, and hopefully you as well.
- Leadership and management at its best matures relationships while increasing credibility. Credibility is tied to – will you do what you say you will do, and will you do it well and in such a way that we are better off as a people for having done it?
- Leadership is required because of the constant changes we experience in our culture, communities, and workplaces.
- Leadership is more than just problem-solving in reaction to big and small changes, it’s helping people manage the transitions required to adapt and thrive amidst the change.
- Change implies loss, and loss must be acknowledged, empathized with, and honored. Grief of some form accompanies most change and transitions we face in life -whether in our business or homes. Leaders care for their people amidst change by helping them through their loss and transitions.
- People don’t like endings. We like the status quo. And we are nervous about new beginnings. Remember that if you are a leader.
- Many people don’t want to be a leader. Reluctant leaders are often the best kind, though! Connect them to a passion, empower them to act on a desire they have that will bring about a positive change, and support them as they grow as a leader!
- Leading is first about action, eventually it is about position. The credibility of the position is fundamentally tied to the quality of the action. And it is ultimately connected to the use of power to help people grow – so don’t advantage of them! Never use your position to enrich yourself at the expense of others.
- Beware leaders who are always seeking to be relevant, famous, and powerful. Instead support leaders who listen well, care for people, and help you get important stuff done for others.
- The strength of a leader is their weakness. Most of our limps as a leader come from our success. What works well in one moment, may not be the wisest course in the next. As circumstances change, what is needed from us changes – sometimes our strength is exactly what this crisis needs, and other times our strength is the worst thing. That should keep leaders humble!
- Christian leaders ground their identity and mission in Christ Jesus. Through the powerful love of God they wisely work to mature relationships and increase credibility to further God’s mission in the world – which is for the restoration of all creation and the arrival of the kingdom of peace.
- We ought to lead others in the way Christ leads us: humbly, mercifully, and justly – for the means produce the ends we desire.
What you have learned along the way about leadership and management? What would your advice be to students?
Here are some of the resources we used that I highly recommend for you:
Henri Nouwen: In the Name of Jesus – Reflections on Christian Leadership by a brilliant Harvard educator and Catholic priest who retired to serve at L’Arche Community.
William Bridges: Managing Transitions – Making the Most of Change is a fascinating read on helping people deal with the loss that comes from change and transition. A very personal, applicable guide for business, non-profit, government, church and community leaders.
Action Trumps Everything helps over-analyzers like me get to work in smart experiments to create new opportunities and keep learning and moving forward when change is constant.
Dan Allender in Leading with a Limp – Turning Your Struggles into Strengths provides a unique and provocative insight into the souls of leaders, our complexity, the chaos we lead in, and the darkness that can emerge if we don’t learn to lead with our limp.
The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk gives intense practical ways forward for congregations seeking to thrive amidst discontinuous change. It brings together the latest in philosophy, theology, business, and other disciplines to help leaders deal with reality and join God in his mission.
One of the best overviews on leadership in the United States, The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner is easy to read, easy to integrate, grounded in practical research, and loaded with great examples. It shaped me twenty years ago, and I want it to affect the next forty.