Archive for August, 2011

Crucial Conversations

26 Aug

Have you ever engaged in a conversation where – for all intents and purposes – it began as a healthy dialogue about one topic and deteriorated into a heated debate about another?

With good intentions, have you entered a discussion that spiraled into a personal attack and you ‘have no idea how it got there?’

I think back on many conversations in which I was engaged that ended in conflict. During some I handled myself with godly wisdom while during others, godly wisdom seemed to evaporate into thin air. No matter how intent I was to bring an amicable resolution, every time I opened my mouth it appeared I just ‘fueled the fire.’

And, it was my fault! The words I used, the tone in my voice, and/or the posture I took worsened the situation. What I said may have been absolutely TRUE but . . . I have discovered you can be right, and then you can be ‘damn right.’

Then there are conversations in which you are the direct target. It has been predetermined (no matter how a discussion begins) someone who has an offense against you takes the opportunity for a personal attack. The topic may have nothing to do with what is being discussed but it will turn vicious – their ultimate intent is to ‘crucify’ you. If they could take your job, they would . . . they know how to do it better. If they could fire you, they’d do it in a heartbeat. If murder were legal, it would be an option.

I have both been a victim and an active participant, even the unintentional instigator. I’m sure you have, too.

If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, cannot have conversations that are safe, healthy, and constructive . . . with loved ones, family, and friends (even those with whom we have conflict) . . . how can we fully accomplish the Mission of God?


So . . . what went wrong?


Where did we ‘loose it?’


No matter how educated you are or what a great communicator you think you are, Crucial Conversations is one of those MUST READS. Here is what two notable individuals say about this book:

Dr. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, chaplain for the United States Senate wrote . . . “Relationships are the priority of live, and conversations are a crucial element in profound caring of relationships. This book helps us to think about what we really want to say. If you want to succeed in both talking and listening, read this book.”

John Gill, VP of Human Resources, Rolls Royce USA, says . . . “The book prescribes, with structure and wit, improve on the most fundamental element of organizational learning and growth – honest, unencumbered dialogue between individuals.”

The authors begin by defining crucial conversations then launch immediately into explaining how to master these conversations by teaching the power of dialogue. The present seven processes people need to consider when engaged in crucial conversations . . . learn how to:

  • stay focused on what you really want,
  • notice when safety is at risk,
  • make it safe to talk about almost anything,
  • stay in dialogue when you’re angry, scared, or hurt,
  • speak persuasively, not abrasively,
  • listen when others blow up or clam up, and
  • turn crucial conversations into action and results.


They conclude by offering tools for preparing and learning, advice for tough cases, and provide tools for turning ideas into habits.

It is a quick, easy read . . . I know you’ll be reading it a few times, writing lots of notes, and working – like me – on improving your crucial conversation skills.



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Servant Leadership

12 Aug

Leaders strengthen others when they give their own power away. This is a paradox that can prove true only by leaders who have bowed their hearts and knees as servants of the King.


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Servant Leadership

09 Aug

There is nothing more rewarding than when students understand the most important component of ‘true’ leadership. During a recent teaching trip to Jamaica, Louise summed it up with this statement . . .

“I came here to learn how to be a leader . . . I am leaving knowing how to be a servant.” Louise Clarke


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Leadership Competencies

09 Aug

For over six decades, Warren Bennis has been studying leadership. In a 2007 article penned for American Psychologist’s special issue on leadership, Bennis admittedly asserts there is still such a small body of knowledge of which he is certain. This is both disheartening and encouraging. There are so many variables to be considered and still so little empirical data available. We are, however, learning more and more every day about this most important and urgent subject.

Bennis makes a conclusion, however, that is noteworthy. He observes that all exemplary leaders have six competencies:

  1. they create a sense of mission,
  2. they motivate others to join them on that mission,
  3. they create an adaptive social architecture for their followers,
  4. they generate trust and optimism,
  5. they develop other leaders, and
  6. they get results.


The bottom line . . . the hope . . . is that with the advancement of study and broadening of research, the empirical and theoretical foundation will influence the course of leadership and, eventually, the quality and health of our lives.



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Leadership Training

02 Aug

Think about this . . .

It is inconceivable to presume a person can function as an astrophysicist or surgeon without formal training and experience. Yet, we place a person in a position of leadership without providing him or her with any formal or informal leadership training.

Studies show that individuals trained in leadership theory and style better leaders and are also more conscious about developing leaders and followers under them. Furthermore, trained leaders have an increased sensitivity toward followers and recognize that leadership style will directly affect followers’ rate of development.


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