Archive for the ‘Organizations’ Category

Rudderless Ship   2 comments

Image provided by

Image provided by

For those of you who are leaders, let me tell you how vitally important your role is in whatever organization that you lead.  There are many times leaders feel that they work goes unnoticed.  I would say that this does occur at times.  A leader can easily become discouraged when it appears that they are not able to make much of a difference.  So let me start this post by saying to you, do not feel you are not having a positive impact.  An organization without leadership is an organization which is bound to fail.

I have recently become acutely aware of this reality.  I am observing an organization which is currently without a central leader.  This organization is going through challenges which is somewhat normal when a leader is not present.  Whenever this occurs, there are a few ways the organization can go.  The key to the future success of the organization is which choice the members make.  Right choices will allow sustainability until a new leader is identified.  Wrong choices can easily spell doom for the organization.

One of the choices in responses could be that there is a division of leadership and people carry through on their commitments.  This choice can be successful in the interim.  The key to this choice is clear division of responsibilities, consistent communication, and trust.  Those who take on the various leadership roles must be given the freedom to exercise their judgment.  The members must be willing to follow a variety of leaders and honor their leadership in their specific areas.  The benefit to this approach is a sharing of responsibility and an effort to lighten the load.

Another choice which can be made is for one leader to emerge as a temporary leader until a more permanent leader is identified.  The benefit to this approach is that one person is guiding the organization and all members know who to turn to with suggestions, concerns, and problems.  The key to this choice is trust.  The members must trust that the temporary leader will use wisdom in her/his guidance.  The members must then follow that guidance.

A third choice of response would be for no defined leadership to be empowered but instead everyone does what he/she thinks is best.  This often leads to confusion, bickering and power-struggles.  In the vacuum of leadership, various individuals try to assume control and yet no one follows.  There is no one to work toward compromise.  Disagreements and resentful feelings become the order of the day.  Continued fracturing will lead to the ultimate demise of the organization.  The organization truly becomes a rudderless ship.

So leaders, realize what a very important role you play in an organization.  Members, think carefully about how you choose to respond when you are in a period without central leadership.


Back to the Original   2 comments

Image provided by

Image provided by

One of the realities that leaders have to accept is that not always is a group willing to be led.  This can be a very difficult reality for a leader to get their arms around.  However, if a leader tries to deny this, the leader will become frustrated and may even doubt her/his leadership abilities.  A leader is not a leader without people who are ready to follow the lead.  Sometimes you must guide a group with a gentle lead and other groups require much stronger leads but ultimately either approach is only successful to the point that the group is open to being led.

This is not a new concept in any way.  I think this is exactly the point that Jesus was trying to make over and over again.  He even told his disciples as he prepared to send them out:  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”  (Matthew 10:14, NIV)  Jesus was a great leader but also realized that sometimes people do not desire to be led and there is nothing a leader can do at that point except to move to another group of people.

The other reality that a leader must accept that if a group does not wish to change, they may present an image of change but the minute the leader moves on, everything returns to the state in which they were prior to the leader’s arrival.  This also can be very disheartening because it can cause a leader to think their work was all in vain.  The image that comes to mind is that of a 1970’s toy called Stretch Armstrong.  This toy was made of a material which could stretch but as soon as you let go of it, everything would return back to its original form.  So a person could pull the toy’s arms or legs in all kinds of directions and create what appeared to be changes to the toy but as soon as you let go of those extremities, the toy returned to its original shape.

I think the lesson in these situations is to realize each of them can and probably will happen during your tenure as a leader.  However, do not let them discourage you.  Learn from each situation and determine if there was something you could have done differently to have a more lasting and clear impact on the group.  Sometimes the answer is that nothing different could have been done.  Also, remember that while the group as a whole may not have truly changed, there are individuals within the group who may have changed.

Your Blue Jay   Leave a comment

Image provided by

Image provided by

This morning I was watching for a brief period of time an encounter between a blue jay and a squirrel in the tree outside my office.  I have learned that blue jays are quite an aggressive bird.  They seem to be the bullies in the bird world.  So while they have beautiful color on the outside, they do not have the same kind of beauty on the inside.  As I watched this encounter between the squirrel and the blue jay, I heard both of them making quite a lot of noise.  It was clear that they were not easily going to coexist in the tree.  Both of them seemed ready to take the other on and movement closer together occurred in intervals.  Eventually, the blue jay must have decided that taking on the squirrel in a physical way was not the wisest move so the bird flew out of the tree and to the ground below.  The squirrel moved down the branches so that it could continue to posture and yell at the blue jay.  This round was clearly won by the squirrel.

After watching this encounter, it made me ponder what I mentioned earlier – blue jays are the bullies of the bird world.  I thought about the bullies who I have encountered in my life.  I am pretty sure that all of us have had bullies in our lives.  These are the people who tend to make a lot of noise and can say and do some pretty damaging things to other people.  Some of them our outwardly aggressive.  Others use passive aggressive techniques.  Whatever their mode of operation, the goal of intimidation to achieve their desires is always the driving force behind their words and actions.

How do you handle the bullies in your life?  I have come to find that as difficult as it may be at times, the best approach is to call them out.  When I identify their bullying behaviors, I can then confront them.  There is nothing easy about dealing with bullies.  However, if bullies are left alone and allowed to continue their behaviors, they will leave a wake of disaster in their path.  Lives can be damaged or destroyed in the process.

We hear a lot about bullying going on in schools.  I would argue that this type of behavior extends far into adulthood.  You can find bullies in work places, organizations, churches, and community settings.  It is time that we all work to confront and put an end to these behaviors.  It is time that we deal with the bullies, just as the squirrel dealt with the blue jay I saw this morning.

So who is your blue jay?  What are you doing about it?

The Loch Ness Monster   1 comment

Image provided by

Image provided by

This week there was a Google doodle regarding the Loch Ness monster.  You probably recall that there is a legend indicating that some sort of aquatic creature lives in a lake in Scotland.  There have been claims of photographs capturing images of this creature as it surfaces.  Despite years of stories and multiple attempts to locate and capture this creature, the Loch Ness monster appears to be elusive to even the greatest technologies of humanity. Yet the legend will not die.

The image of this elusive creature came into my mind this morning as I pondered some situations in a couple of the organizations in which I have involvement.  Much like the Loch Ness monster, these organizations have something which seems to live just below the surface but on occasion rears its head to breach the surface.  When this occurs, the seemingly tranquil waters are disturbed and there is great angst, fear, and disruption that transpires.  Many want to pass all of this off as legend but it is very real (maybe the key difference with the Loch Ness monster).

The cause of this underlying creature within organizations can be varied.  Some would attribute it to a need for certain individuals to acquire or maintain control and power.  Some would attribute it to greed.  Still others would say that what feeds the creature is a desire to shape the organization according to one’s own definitions.  Whatever has led to the existence of and on-going feeding of this creature in the organization, the results are always the same…. deterioration and eventual death of the organization.

Leaders in an organization which has been infected with such a creature need to work at removing it from the organization.  This can be as much of a challenge as the one presented to researchers who want to study the Loch Ness monster.  Finding the source and nurturing of the creature can be elusive.  Even if one is successful in capturing the creature, what to do with it is another quandary.  The work can be exhausting and achievement can be difficult.  Yet, it is vital that this occurs so that the inevitable death can be averted.

Break the Mold   Leave a comment

One of the most difficult things for an organization to do if it has been in existence for a relatively long time is to break out of its patterns of behavior.  I encounter this on a fairly regular basis and I think it is due in large part to the fact that most people find it difficult to change their patterns of behavior unless they are forced to do so.  So it is only logical that if individuals struggle with this, organizations which consists of individuals would struggle to break the mold of their behaviors.

I have been working with a group which has a role in an upcoming event.  The group contains some very committed and knowledgeable individuals.  They have worked hard to prepare their portion of the event.  One of their charges is to introduce new ways of doing something that is at the core of the member’s reason for existing.  As I have worked with this group, I find that they consistently fall into the same modes of behavior and approaches each and every time the organization meets.  So I have pushed the envelope of their work for the next upcoming event.  The group has shown little resistance, which is not always the case in similar situations, and seems to have embraced some new approaches.  I am causing them to break the mold.

I am not advocating that a person should be running around and breaking molds every opportunity which exists.  Instead, I am advocating that people should be encouraged to break the mold when there is possibility for growth to occur; especially if you have a charge to introduce different ways and approaches to benefit individuals and organizations.  If an organization continues to do the same activity in the same way ad nauseam, then new discoveries will not occur.  Opportunities for growth can easily slip away.  Energy and enthusiasm may wane.

Image provided by

Image provided by

So go ahead….. break the mold.  Who knows?  You may create a masterpiece in the process.

Reaching High   Leave a comment

Image provided by

Image provided by

I have never truly understood people who are willing to settle.  There are people who are content with just obtaining the minimums of life.  Now before anyone of you decide to lecture me on contentment, I agree that there is value to finding contentment in what we have, however, I do not see that as a reason to consistently reach from something higher.

I am the type of person who feels that I need to always be setting my focus on something higher than where I am and what I have.  I can be grateful for what I have achieved in life.  I can be grateful for all that I have been given.  However, I believe that what I have achieved and what I have been given should be used to assist me in obtaining new goals and new achievements which will benefit me but should also benefit others that have been placed in my life.

For me, part of the adventure of life and what creates a drive in my life is the ongoing strive for a higher goal.  This is true for all aspects of my life.  Whether I am looking at my professional life, my community life, my personal life, my faith, or my relationships, I want to always strive to be better in those areas.  This requires me to continue learning, to listen to others, to commit time and energy, and to do self-evaluation.  I believe that the Lord always has something more that I need to work toward.  I also believe that the Lord will provide what I need to move higher in the areas that will benefit others and myself.

So for my life, my motto is:  Keep reaching higher, there is something more which you are called to do.

Determination   2 comments

Image provided by

Image provided by

As is my custom, I worked over the weekend trying to get the Christmas lights on the outside of the house to work.  Last week, I picked up the additional strings of lights that were needed to replace the lights that were not working on original testing.  So with some help, I strung lights on all the normal locations and then yesterday attached drop cords and put out the remaining lawn displays.  The moment came to turn on the light switch inside and see what the outcome outside was going to be……  and much like Clark from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I was met with disappointment.  Some of the issues were just realizing that some strings had not been plugged in but there were other strands of lights and the animated white deer which were just dead.

Now anyone who is given the task of managing the outdoor Christmas light display will tell you, frustration usually accompanies the task.  Add to the expected frustration of lights that were tested not working the matter of having temperatures in the teens, you have a desire to just throw in the towel.  However, most individuals who are assigned this duty will quickly tell you there is a part of you that refuses to let the many strands of lights and displays win.  So like everyone in this role, I began the search for replacement strands.  I had determined a few years ago that it was wiser to just throw away a non-working strand of lights than to try to determine which bulb or which fuse was the issue.  So when I buy replacements, I buy one more than needed because I am confident that another strand will falter.  I used all my extra strands and determined that I still needed to purchase one more strand and a replacement for my dead deer.  Unfortunately, no place in town had the items which I needed.  So after dinner, I made a trip into the metro to get the items.

Upon arrival back home, I began the task of finishing the replacement work.  Of course by now it is dark outside and that means even colder temperatures.  I test the new strand, walk outside, climb the ladder, and put the replacement on the tall bush.  Before securing it in place, I plug it in and find that half of the new strand has decided not to work.  So I take it down, go into the house, and begin to tinker with it in hopes that it will work.  Replacing the fuses did nothing to change the situation.  So I began wiggling each bulb.  Finally, the culprit is found.  I tighten it in its socket and head back out.  This time it continues to work even after being hung and secured.

I then assemble the new white deer.  This one has glitter on it so of course there is glitter all over the floor and some on me.  I test the deer and it is working.  So out in the cold I go again.  I place deer in the appropriate spot, anchor it to the ground and plug it in.  It works like a charm.  Although, I notice that it is using white LED light bulbs and everything else on the lawn uses regular yellow bulbs.  Oh well, I am too tired to care at this point.

Then this morning arrives, I go outside to take the dogs for their outdoor needs and guess what?  Yes, you are correct….  The deer is faintly flickering and I found a new strand of lights not working.  Guess I have another project awaiting me.

I share this story to remind each of you how to remain determined in achieving the tasks which you have been assigned and/or accepted.  There can be times of great frustration.  However, as in the case of my outdoor Christmas lights, determination will help you achieve, your goal.  I love the end result of my work with the outdoor Christmas lights.  I am sure you will come to appreciate your completed tasks as well.