Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quotes: Leadership attitudes worth catching…

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, on Learning: “The one thing I have learned as a CEO is that leadership at various levels is vastly different….As you move up the organization, the requirements for leading that organization doesn’t grow vertically; they grow exponentially….If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization get pulled up with you….Just because you are a CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.”

One of the most important leadership lessons Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International learned in his career was that “leadership is all about the other person. No matter the topic—whether someone is being fired or has just told you about a serious health issue—that person should leave your office feeling better than when he or she entered.… For the CEO there is no off-the-cuff remark. Leadership demands introspection and an understanding of the clout that one’s words and actions carry.”

Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO of IBM remarks, “Some of the best advice I ever received was unspoken. Over the course of my IBM career I've observed many CEOs, heads of state, and others in positions of great authority. I've noticed that some of the most effective leaders don't make themselves the center of attention. They are respectful. They listen. This is an appealing personal quality, but it's also an effective leadership attribute. Their selflessness makes the people around them comfortable. People open up, speak up, contribute. They give those leaders their very best.

Indra Nooyi: Chairman and CEO, Pepsico: “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how yournooyi-pepsi3 whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don't get defensive. You don't scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, "Maybe they are saying something to me that I'm not hearing." So "assume positive intent" has been a huge piece of advice for me.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What is the spirit of leadership? Part 2

Munroe heavily weights his theological position on Gen. 1:26, 28. He interprets God’s design for mankind to “rule” and “subdue” the earth as denoting leadership. Probably as a means of supporting this thesis, the author refers to God as “the Creator” the majority of theMunroe time. Since this book is boldly Christian in its worldview, I find it odd that Munroe does not explore the spiritual gift of leadership (cf. Rom. 12:8). Then again, to do so would probably undermine his thesis that every human is created to be a leader, rather than acknowledging leadership as a distinct spiritual gift – a gift not everyone would possess. Taken together, these are examples of a limited theological premise in Spirit of Leadership.

Unfortunately, Munroe also makes insufficient use of theological resources by merely stating the lexical root definitions of key Hebrew and Greek words (pp. 89, 109) without studying the word in its context or its morphology. This is worth mentioning because Munroe makes key points in support of his message here, yet claims it is “careful investigation of the Greek.” He also uses some eisegetical approaches (i.e., the interpretation of a text by reading into it one’s own ideas) in his exposition of John 14:1-2, especially the meaning of the term “mansions” (p. 109). Overall, the author is not really demonstrating scholarly theological competencies in this book.

The question remains then, has Munroe solved the problem? Has he provided the “missing ingredient” that many people lack in becoming the leader they were created to be? I would suggest that any encouragement in attitude development is a valuable resource. Spirit of Leadership is probably most valuable for emerging or reluctant leaders and those breaking free of fatalistic mind-sets. I hesitate to endorse Munroe’s over-generalized interpretation of Gen.1:26, 28 as indicating every human was created to be a leader, but I can support the critical importance of attitude development he so fervently posits.

Spirit of Leadership admirably addresses the importance of matching your gifts to your environment for ensuring leadership success. Its emphasis on the fruit of a proper attitude is certainly appropriate and offers well thought out counsel for improving attitude. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Munroe’s perspective of viewing leadership as a gift you serve to others is good theology and an essential part of a healthy philosophy of leadership.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What is the spirit of leadership?, Part 1

Dr. Miles Munroe is a noted author and international motivational speaker who focuses on numerous issues pertinent to government, business and discipleship contexts. In this series of posts I will look at his popular book, Spirit of Leadership (Witaker House, 2005). Munroe

According to this book’s biographical information, Munroe’s ministry purpose is “the transformation of followers into leaders and the maximization of individual potential” (p. 299). Munroe’s motivation for writing Spirit of Leadership is to address a problem he perceives as “the missing ingredient” that prevents many people from breaking through to the leadership capacity he believes exists in every follower (pp. 13-14, 26). With this book, Munroe examines how any person can experience his or her personal revelation of leadership. According to the author, “every human has the instinct and capacity for leadership, but most do not have the courage or will to cultivate it” (p. 15). Therefore, Munroe’s goal is to help his reader rediscover and recover that leadership spirit.

The author argues that leadership has become a role that one plays rather than a life that a person leads (p. 19). This, he says, causes people to lead double lives. As a result, leadership must be seen not as a technique, a style, or the acquisition of skills, but rather the manifestation of a spirit (p. 20) and an attitude of the heart (p. 22). For Munroe, a converted attitude is the key to a transformed life (p. 29).

Munroe justifies his message theologically by rooting it in creation theology – equating leadership with God’s command to rule andCreation of Adam subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). He insists that “each of us was created to rule, govern, control, master, manage, and lead our environments. You are in essence a leader, no matter who you are” (p. 33). For Munroe, leadership is the essence intrinsic to all human beings (p. 37). It should be noted that the author does not appear to negate the appropriate place of followership (see pp. 34, 82), but repeatedly posits his thesis that leadership is God’s intention and purpose for every person.

So what is the “spirit of leadership” as Munroe defines it? He believes it is “the inherent capacity of the human spirit to lead, manage, and dominate, which was placed there at the point of creation and made necessary by the purpose and assignment for which man (humanity) was created” (p. 83). In Munroe’s theology, this “assignment” is the Creator’s purpose for mankind – “to rule (i.e., have dominion) over all the earth” (p. 91; cf. p. 196).

For Munroe, training in the spirit of leadership is essentially training in attitude. He writes:

Attitude determines everything. It is not enough to know the principles, precepts, and skills of leadership. We must acquire the spirit of leadership by discovering and applying the attitudes of true leaders. Training in leadership really means training in attitude because attitude has to do with how we respond to life. (p. 212)

Munroe challenges his reader to discard their intimidation and develop the spirit of leadership they were created to manifest (p. 30). He spends the first half of the book building this case. In the second half of the book, he discusses key attitudes that will transform followers into leaders.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Unfriending the false self

In chapter three, Palmer describes “living behind a wall” as the truth of our inner self living in disparity with our outer performance. He illustrates various expressions and motivations for such a way of life Palmer(the Saddam Hussein illustration is especially disturbing). Yet he astutely observes that while there are clear external enemies of the soul, there appears to be collaborators to those enemies right within our true self. For example, Palmer writes: “When our impulse to tell the truth is thwarted by threats of punishment, it is because we value security over being truthful” (p. 34).

One example from my experience stands out here. I have noticed a dilemma in my own life and others when faced with an authority figure’s leadership style, ethics, or direction that not a fit with your true self. Human resources management experts say when employees feel this way about their leader but do not leave they inevitably begin to act out in deviant ways at work, e.g. showing up to work late, leaving early, phoning in sick when they are not, deliberately taking longer to complete tasks, isolating themselves from others, etc. So I wonder what the collaborating aspect of their true self is that makes them put up with this?


Another similar example is becoming absorbed in values that are at variance with the true self. There are many reasons why a person begins to conform to such incongruent values. I found an interesting illustration recently when listening to a radio theater broadcast from the Adventures in Odyssey series (my kids and I love these!). In one show, a dialog occurs between two characters – Kelsey and Eugene – about the problem Eugene has with embracing the Hollywood lifestyle when give the opportunity. Kelsey defends this life as, “Here you have to keep moving. You have to play the game like everyone else does. That’s the way it is.” Here is the remainder of the dialog:

Eugene – “Perhaps I’m just uncomfortable with all the artifice, the fakery, the make believe. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression that everyone in this town is acting. Acting like a friend only so long as it serves a purpose. Acting as though they care when they really don’t. Acting as though the entire world revolves around what happens here without any regard for the rest of the world. Frankly I’m not sure how you cope with such a life.”

Kelsey – “You cope by doing it the same way. You cope by becoming a big star making tons of money so you buy whatever you need including friends. You cope by becoming powerful enough so you can create your own world. You cope by being better at it than everyone else!”

Eugene – “I think that’s very sad…to be so cynical. Couldn’t it be argued that by creating your own world you are actually missing out on the real world? True friendships, true feelings? Don’t you every wonder what would remain if the artificial world you created suddenly collapsed? What would you have left?”

Kelsey – “No Eugene, I don’t wonder. I don’t want to know.”

Sadly, it is as Palmer says: “Live behind a wall long enough and the true self you are trying to hide from others becomes hidden to yourself as well” (p. 43).


Palmer. P. J. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness. Jossey-Bass.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What is “true community”?

I was told once that the journey of following Christ also involves a journey of self-discovery. Spiritually speaking, I have been socialized in the Pentecostal/Evangelical tradition which has advocated authentic community or circles of trust through expressions like the small group movement, accountability groups, and cottage prayer meetings. In each of these I have found the more I learn about Christ the more I learn about my own soul.

Parker Palmer discusses true community in his book, A HiddenPalmer Wholeness (2004). In this section, he presents reasons as to why we need to be in community with others if we seek to live an undivided life. He refers to his own experience with Quakers at Pendle Hill in what is called “circles of trust.” He says these groups “taught me about the reality and power of the soul, about a way of being together that allows the soul to make a claim on our lives, and about the miracles that can happen when we do" (p. 28).

Those from the Pentecostal/Evangelical tradition would prefer that the "inner teacher" is best thought of as the Holy Spirit. This view is generally thought to be more reliable than one’s own heart (cf. Jeremiah 17:9), but as we mature spiritually the assumption is our own inner voice does become more reliable. In the meantime circles of trust like I mentioned do help in discerning the inner voice (i.e., the Holy Spirit or my true self) from the voices of sin, worldiness, deception or evil. These are times when fellow Christians have been the most valuable.

I found a unique parallel in my professional life with the attitudes and processes required for school accreditation. One co-worker described the relationship between schools and accrediting bodies this way: “We must submit to evaluation from outside ourselves to give us insight into ourselves because on our own we will deceive ourselves.”

Palmer feels there are certain principles and practices that shape a circle of trust which creates safety. He says, “…the soul can feel safe only in relationships that possess certain qualities” (p. 29). What Palmer describes requires a certain amount of intimacy in the relationship. However, not everyone is comfortable with intimacy. Moreover, the level of intimacy expressed depends on the context. Wise people express certain things only with friends they would not with co-workers, even if those co-workers were Christians. So I suppose true community depends on what’s at stake in being honest with others.