The Guys in the Field

Awhile back I referenced this quote from Colin Powell regarding his bias towards the “guys in the field.”  I’ve been asked what biblical principle was behind my thinking.

The biblical principle I was referring to is that those in a stronger position are to use their greater strength (position, power, authority, or even money, though that’s not in view in this post) on behalf of those in a weaker position.

That’s what we see in the example of Christ. Christ has all strength, power, and authority, and uses it to serve those who have less. Hence, he came to save us, and then also gave us that principle to govern all of our leadership (Matthew 20:25-28; John 13:12-20). We also see this throughout the OT–the “righteous” and “just” are viewed not just as those who avoid doing deliberate harm to people, but those who use their resources, power, and authority to stand up for those in lesser positions–especially the weak and mistreated. Paul also bases his argument in 2 Corinthians 8 on these things.

So, how do these principles apply to the specific case of the post? In a ministry or any organization, those in top leadership have certain advantages–more authority, more power, and so forth. Those beneath them have less advantages–they don’t have the same authority to carry out their thinking, for example, and aren’t in on all the leadership meetings, and so have less opportunity to be heard, just by the nature of things.

Hence, Christian leaders ought to seek to compensate for this by giving preference to those who are in lesser positions of formal authority. This will often result in the best insights (though, of course, not always).

Note that I’m not saying here we should be partial. You assess people’s ideas and actions truthfully–based on the merits. What I’m saying is that we should go out of our way to give a greater opportunity for those in lesser positions of authority to be heard. And, along with that, usually those who are closer to the action (in Powell’s quote, those in the field) have more accurate information and so are likely to have informed, good ideas.

H3 Leadership Q&A with Brad Lomenick

Brad Lomenick’s latest book H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle just released at the end of last month.

I highly recommend anything Brad writes. His experience leading Catalyst and working with some of the greatest thought leaders of the day give him a unique angle and depth of insight.

In this book Brad identifies what he describes as the 20 key habits that great leader shave in common, all built within the foundational elements of H3- Humble, Hungry, and Hustle.

Here are a few Q&A’s on the book.

Can you give us a quick overview of the book?

H3 Leadership is an application driven, practical leadership playbook that provides a proven process and much needed guidance on how to not only run, but finish well in the leadership race. Readers of this highly practical book will find it chock-full of easy-to-incorporate tips for catalytic leadership and ready to install strategies for living out the transformational habits of a leader.

Breaking down the “what” and “how daily leadership habits and routines that will awaken and transform the way you lead, H3 Leadership is a strategic guide and roadmap that uncovers and clearly defines the 20 key habits that will build your core leadership framework and establish a clear path to long-term sustainable influence. These 20 key Habits are not grand gestures of power, but simple practices that can easily be implemented into everyday life. 20 Key habits all great leaders have in common and essential to all effective leaders.

Based on over a decade of work with Catalyst and the gathered insights of some of America’s most respected leaders from wide ranging fields, H3 Leadership offers 20 key leadership habits that will teach and train you to be a better, stronger and ultimately a more effective leader. A “how to put your leadership into practice” book focused on the habits a leader must form to lead now, and lead well.

True leadership can be complex. I’m trying to keep it simple with the three transformational habits of leadership: be humble, stay hungry, always hustle. These powerful words describe the leader who is willing to work hard, get it done, and make sure it’s not about him or her; the leader who knows that influence is about developing the right habits for success.

Nearly half the actions leaders take every day aren’t choices—they’re habits. That’s why great leaders are intentional about what habits they develop and why. My goal is to show the path to long-term sustainable influence through these three key leadership building blocks.

Leadership is hard work, so leadership must be habitual work.

How is this book different than your first book, The Catalyst Leader?

My first book, The Catalyst Leader, was a big picture, destination book providing essentials for leadership for the next 30 years. A foundation book you might say. If you think of it in terms of an organization, The Catalyst Leader was the corporate and staff handbook.

H3 Leadership is more of a playbook of discipline that will help get you to the finish line. A practical application, daily practice, process, routine and “on the journey” book that can and should immediately transform the way you lead. What leadership looks like on a day-to-day basis. The organization playbook, daily map and gameplan focused on daily practice and discipline that will make your leadership come alive.

The Catalyst Leader provided the key essentials and H3 Leadership provides the key habits. Essentials are what you become, and habits are how you become the leader you desire to be.

H3 describes the “ready” leadership position. I played basketball growing up, and I remember many coaches talking about the ready position in basketball. The posture from which you can dribble, pass, or shoot. I believe that H3 Leadership describes the ready leadership position — the triple threat posture of a properly prepared leader:

  • Humble is internal leadership. Hearts.
  • Hungry is external leadership. Head.
  • Hustle is expression and extension leadership. Hands.

The phrase “humble, hungry, hustle” is my life and leadership mantra. If he had to describe his leadership style in 3 words, these would be it. So much of what I have worked for and want to see in the next generation is a combination of these three transformational habits. Humble, hungry and hustle describes the leader who realizes it’s not about them, is willing to work hard, and ultimately get it done. H3 Leaders know that influence is about developing the right habits for success.

H3 is practical. In the trenches, a bit chaotic, organic and dirty handed leadership. The dirt under your fingernails kind of leadership learned from digging the ditch, focused on the discipline, process, practice and journey of becoming a better leader. The everyday habits, not necessarily the sexy sizzle. The broccoli and vegetables, not necessarily the steak. Not always pretty but hopefully constantly practical. I’ve tried to be practical at every level. Combining experience and wisdom and practical from the trenches. From my story and the story of others. Put your hardhat on and let’s get to work!

You’re very open and honest about how you’ve led, especially Catalyst? Why did you decide to include so much about, frankly, what you feel like you did wrong?

It was important to me to shoot really straight in this book. The very nature of this book required a bit more transparency. But I would also say that I believe the leaders who will have the most influence and impact are the ones who are willing to be vulnerable and talk openly about their struggles and failures.

And that’s a hard thing for a lot of leaders to do. Many times, when we get to a point where other people are listening to us, and we’ve got something to manage––something to lose––we sort of go into the default mode of “Okay, make sure everything looks perfect.”

Today, people crave authenticity. This need has even influenced the way we shop and purchase our products from organizations. Today, customers buy from those we feel are trustworthy. Equally, we want to invest in people and companies that we can trust, not necessarily because they’re well known or largest or leaders in their industry.

Really, the first couple of chapters of the book are about defining and setting this foundation of “Man, you’ve got to be willing to be real with people around you if you want them to follow you.”

So often, leadership, especially self-help leadership and personal growth literature, can feel very pie in the sky––very esoteric. You’re philosophizing constantly.

Readers need a practical example that they can wrap their arms around––actually feel and see and experience the very specific thing that somebody has gone through. It’s one thing to tell others to be willing to share struggles and to talk about failures. It’s another thing to say, “Here’s what I’ve failed at.”

But the leaders I respect the most are the ones who continue to run the race well until the gun goes off, whether that’s because their life is over or they retire. That’s the posture of hungry: the idea that you constantly are learning and getting better. That’s the kind of leader I want to be. I think that’s the kind of leaders we need today.

I think it’s important for people to realize this is an ongoing journey.

Getting Closer: Crowdfunding Project Update

Here’s a quick update on the projects I announced a few weeks ago. Thanks to the many of you who’ve supported the crowdfunding campaign so far (it’s not too late to help!).

The Next Book

My first book, What’s Best Next, provided a biblical theology of productivity as well as a comprehensive framework for applying core productivity principles to our lives. It was also about 300 pages long.  

Many of you have been asking for a shorter resource that’s even more accessible. This works out well because there’s so much I want to say on this topic which applies to all of us. We all work and, as Christians, we want to honor God and serve others in our work.

So in this next book, I want to provide people with a quick-hitting overview of Gospel Driven Productivity and show more fully how the gospel informs our minds and compels our actions in doing “what’s best next.”  I’ll also give some further strategies and systems for overcoming common challenges in our personal and professional lives, with some applicable lessons I’ve been learning.

I’m well into the writing process process and growing more excited by the day.

The Online Course

Likewise, I’ve been working on the content for an online course and am just about ready to start filming. It’s going to be really fun to get this content out to individuals and teams in another format that works for them. See my post for more information on the online course.

You Can Still Help

The crowdfunding has been a key part of helping me produce this content swiftly, so please check out the support page to learn more about the campaign and how you can support. Any gift over $25 will get you a free copy of the book, and gifts of $100 or more will trigger free access to the online course when it’s ready (estimated value of $250).

Management as a Liberal Art

Peter Drucker:

Management is deeply involved in moral concerns—the nature of man, good and evil. Management is thus what tradition used to call a liberal art. Managers draw on all the knowledge and insights of the humanities and the social sciences—on psychology and philosophy, on economics and history, on ethics—as well as on the physical sciences. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results—on healing a sick patient, teaching a student, building a bridge, designing and selling a user friendly software program. For these reasons, management will increasingly be the discipline and the practice through which the humanities will again acquire recognition, impact, and relevance.

Why is Theology Central to the Christian Life?

Because, as J. Gresham Machen said so well, Christianity is not just — or chiefly — an ethical code, but rather “a way of life founded on a message.”

Christianity is based on news. On something outside of us. On truth. And that’s theology.

Since Christianity is a way of life founded on a message, you can’t uphold the way of life if you disconnect it from the message. It’s like cutting a plant from its roots. It won’t last.

Further, Titus 3:8 shows us that sound doctrine (with exhortation) leads obedience when it is understood and believed. Note how Paul tells Titus there to teach the doctrine of justification so that God’s people will excel in good works.

How is theology the foundation of obedience? Because it builds the joy and hope that fuel obedience. Theology builds faith, and faith fuels obedience. The Christian life is a life of faith, and therefore doctrine is essential.

Of course it is not enough to just hear truth. We also must believe it and act on it. In turn, as we do so we find that application yields more spiritual discoveries.

So, interestingly, if you care about theology, applying what you learn leads to both love and, in turn, greater theological insight. But the ultimate aim of it all is love (1 Timothy 1:5).

Dream Dreams for Doing Good!

I realize that it can be very hard, and things can go wrong. But we still need to hear this. John Piper, in Don’t Waste You’re Life:

Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy — as precious as that is.

If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God?

I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road. ‘Let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come’ (Hebrews 13:13-14). When they see our sacrificial love — radiant with joy — will they not say, ‘Christ is great’?

What is Paul Doing in the Book of Philemon?

The short book of Philemon is one of the greatest anti-slavery passages in the Bible.

The slave Onesimus had run away from Philemon. At some point while Paul was under arrest, he encountered Onesimus, who then became a Christian.

Paul appeals to Philemon to accept Onesimus back “no longer as a bondservant, but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother” (v. 16) and to “receive him as you would me” (v. 17). These are clear anti-slavery statements. If Paul wants Philemon to accept Onesimus as he would receive him, clearly that is not as a slave. As Paul has said elsewhere, “do not become slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23).

But there is one difficulty here: Why did Paul send Onesimus back at all? Why not say “slavery is wrong, you are free, don’t go back”?

The first part of the answer is in verses 8-9, where Paul says to Philemon: “Though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you.” And verse 14: “I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your good ness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.”

In other words, Paul wants Philemon to do the right thing willingly, by choice, and so he gives him that choice by sending him back.

The second part of the answer, and the main part, is even more amazing, and is I think this: this letter is ultimately about reconciliation. Paul is not sending Onesimus back with the intent that he would be Philemon’s slave again. As we saw, he says to receive him “no longer as a bondservant” and “as you would me.” Rather, Paul is sending him back so that the relationship may be reconciled. Not the master-slave relationship, but the personal relationship.

Onesimus is now a Christian. It is right for the rift between him and Philemon to be reconciled and restored. Not the slavery, but the relationship. And so Paul sends him back, as a statement to the importance of reconciliation and to create the opportunity for it to happen.

That’s what Paul is doing here. I find that amazing. And it ultimately reflects something more than the heart of Paul (one of the greatest Christians to ever live, in my view) but of Jesus Christ, whom Paul followed. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Thus, the book of Philemon stands as not only a massive anti-slavery text, but also as a striking testimony to the value and importance of Christian reconciliation. And, even more than that, the reconciling heart of Jesus Christ.

Scientific Management 2.0

Here is a great post by Seth Godin on how scientific management, which created many efficiencies in manual work but also turned it into a grind by eliminating individual initiative, is now coming to white collar work.

That is, unless you focus on doing your work as art, with remarkability and excellence, rather than just doing what you do to get it done.

Then you can truly stand out and do work that cannot be treated as a commodity.

Read the whole thing.

Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

This looks like a great new book from Dave Kraft: Learning Leadership from Nehemiah. Here’s a summary:

A leader is a person who has a vision from God, firmly believes in that vision, and doesn’t move toward its fulfill­ment alone. Real leaders possess the ability to get others motivated about this new idea. They know the problem, but they also have a solution in mind. A leader is a per­son who is dissatisfied with the ways things are. He has a burden, a vision, and a call to see something different. He wants to see something change, to build a new fu­ture.

He then begins to communicate what he thinks, and where he wants to go. Nehemiah gives a “vision talk” to the troops. When he finishes they are ready for battle. He is able to motivate and enlist them by sharing that God’s fingerprints are all over this vision, evidenced by the great answers to prayer and the generous offer of the king.