Pastors And Favorite Leadership Books

Last week I played golf with two Pastors and an elder from my church. It was a wonderful day of dagnabits, shoots, and darns. The Pastors and Elder, and me for that matter, did not use any swear words like many of my golf partners will do. For my now Pastor/Elder golf partners swearing is almost a part of their swing. However, one conversation of the day has stayed with me. Our lead Pastor mentioned taking ten leadership books and reading them over a period of time and then discussing them. This excited me, but it also got me to thinking, what leadership books do I have on my shelf, and which are my favorites. So here you go, my non-ranked list of top ten leadership books with a short description.

1. Authentic Leadership – Bill George
By far my favorite book on leadership. Bill George “makes the case that we need new leaders, not just new laws, to bring us out of the current corporate crisis. I think the lessons that George discusses in this book can apply to our current political situation.

2. The Heart Led Leader – Tommy Spaulding
Spaulding says this in his introduction, “The journey to heart-led leadership covers only 18 inches, but it lasts a lifetime. The author takes you on a journey to discover how to lead with your heart. Interesting read and fits my leadership philosophy well.

3. Lead Like Jesus – Ken Blanchard
Blanchard is one of my favorite writers. I have read several of his books. This one describes the difference between a self-serving leader and a servant leader. The book is well written and enjoyable to read.

4. Servant Leadership Across Cultures -Fons Trompenaars and Ed Voerman
The rest of the title of this book is “Harnessing the strength of the world’s most powerful leadership philosophy.” In this book I learned how to lead in cross-cultural settings using the powerful tool of service. “There is no us and them” when you are a servant leader; it is the development of shared goals.

5. Leaders on Leadership – George Barna
This particular book was written in 1982. It claims that is provides “wisdom, advice, and encouragement on the art of leading God’s people.” I was a pastor when I read this book, and I now think that it crosses over nicely for non-church organizations. Contributors include important church leaders of the day, Jack Hayford, Leighton Ford, and HB London.

6. What Makes a Leader – Harvard Business Review
I have decided I like compilation books. This is one of those. This book includes various articles from the Harvard Business Review. The authors are Daniel Goleman, Michael Maccoby, Dan Ciampa. John Peterman, Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones. The article discussing Narcissistic Leaders is a classic. Might be worth a read given today’s political environment.

7. Leadership James MacGregor Burns
James MacGregor Burns wrote this classic in 1978. In this book he develops the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership. This book is recognized as being foundational to current leadership theory. When I did research for my doctoral dissertation I ran across this book. It can be boring, but it was pivotal for my understanding of leadership.

8. Leadership – Peter Northouse
One of my favorite books is “Leadership: Theory and Practice” by Peter Northouse. It is a book that provides just what its title states. It helps the reader reflect on theory, but also provides practical tools for doing leadership. It provides a classic definition of leadership, and then explores the theoretical development of the concept through history. It also provides questionnaires for the reader to understand their own leadership skills and how to apply them to organizational settings.

9. On Becoming a Leader- Warren Bennis
A few years ago, I did an internet search looking for the best leadership book. This book emerged as one of the top results. “On Becoming a Leader” was written in 1989, so it is dated. However, its concepts are timeless. Chapters deal with knowing yourself, knowing the world, moving through chaos, getting people on your side, and forging the future all set up the current/future leader for success. It really does help you understand the importance of authenticity in leadership.

10. Leader to Leader – The Drucker Foundation
According to the editors of this book, Francis Hesselbein and Paul cohen, this book will provide “enduring insights on leadership.” I read this several years ago, and I would agree with this claim. There are several chapters written by Peter Drucker, while other contributors include: Herb Kelleher, Max De Pree, James Kouzes, Peter Senge, John Kotter, Margaret Wheatly, Ann Winbald, Charlotte Beers, Warren Bennis, and many more. The book is organized into sections dealing with subjects such as, strategy, high performance, building great teams, and change management. It is comprehensive and informative.

As I look at these books today I think about how much I learned when I read them. Then I thought about what new lessons I will learn in the future, and what leadership books will I run across. Also, what will I do with this future knowledge? Also, most the books I have referenced in the above list are fairly static, and not a lot of diverse thinking. I need to look for other writers from different backgrounds and cultures to explore new ways of describing leadership. The organizations of today demand a diverse viewpoint.

And that is my thought for the day!

Boundaries Against Weapons Of Human Destruction

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It always elicits a plethora of feelings, some that are self-condemning, while others involve pride. Generically, Father’s Day has always been a little different than Mother’s Day. I think that Mother’s, generally speaking, deserve the adulation a bit more than Father’s. However, that may be just my experience. These ponderings has led to this posting.

I am a firm believer in the importance of humanity in business. I believe that business has the power to create positive social change, and the organization is the place where humanity can be expressed in meaningful ways. In other words, there are boundaries that control how we interact with each other. Social Media has no such boundaries, which leads to dysfunctional events. The reason I am thinking about this is threefold: the visit of Bishop Curry to Vancouver, WA, Jonathan Haidt’s organization Heterodox Academy, and the weaponization of children at the border. I know this is a bit removed from the purpose of this blog, but I think the discussion is important.

The Columbian, our local newspaper, reported that Bishop Curry, the person who presided over the wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, was in Vancouver preaching at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The heading of the article was “Bishop Curry: Love is the Cure.” A quote they attribute to Curry was, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God. Period.” As I read that article I was troubled. The uneasiness I was feeling was also a result of a conversation I had yesterday about the children being removed from their parents at the border, which I think is completely wrong. What is it that troubles me about these events?

As I was reading my Bible this morning 2 Corinthians chapter 4 helped clarify why I was troubled. The last verse of chapter four states, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” The newspaper was not giving the whole story when it reported on Curry. I was not at the meeting, but having watched his sermon at the wedding, I can assume that he does not separate this love from the person of Jesus Christ. Love of neighbor is critical, but I am not loving just for love’s sake, I am loving because Christ’s love compels me to do this very thing. Sometimes I worry about the youth of the church because it seems like they are separating this love from Jesus and attaching it to a political movement. However, who am I to judge their motives?

The second part of my ruminations this morning was a result of learning about the Heterodox Academy. In the article “A Movement Rises to Take Back Higher Education,” Emily Esfahani Smith describes how Jonathan Haidt, who wrote “The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion,” feels that “current collegians are more apt to be threatened by words and ideas. . . These students, many of whose parents protected them from the ordinary adversities of daily life, [are] psychologically fragile and unprepared for the challenges of a college education.” This has led to “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “speech codes” on campuses around the United States. Smith describes this using a Crimson poll which stated, “The censorious climate of higher education has predictably created a culture of self-censorship. Two-thirds of this year’s graduating seniors at Harvard said, ‘they had at some point chosen not to express an opinion in an academic setting during their time at Harvard out of fear that it would offend others.”

As a result of this unhealthy environment, the Heterodox Academy was created. It is “an organization founded in 2015 to promote viewpoint diversity on campus.” Its members include 2,000 professors and graduate students in the United States and around the world. They are in favor of free speech and inquiry. They believe “that the purpose of a university is to teach students how to think, which entails disturbing their psychological equilibrium from time to time by exposing them to ideas that contradict their current beliefs.”

I think this is why I am concerned for our country right now. There is a move to demonize the other. If you don’t agree with the current understanding of reality and culture, then you are a hater, homophobic, or some other horrendous thing. In this type of environment an “exchange of ideas” becomes impossible. This is my concern for our country.

This leads me to my last point, the weaponization of various events in our society, specifically the children at the border. Laura Bush wrote about this today. She stated, “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” There is no doubt that our immigration system is broken. It is time to fix it. She argued, “I moved away from Washington almost a decade ago, but I know there are good people at all levels of government who can do better to fix this.” I agree!

I will not argue for American exceptionalism, and I will not argue that America is a God chosen country, and I will not argue that we have always chosen the higher path. But I agree with Bush when she states, “Americans pride themselves on being a moral nation, on being the nation that sends humanitarian relief to places devastated by natural disasters or famine or war. We pride ourselves on believing that people should be seen for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

I do think that part of the problem is identity politics, “the tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc. to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.” If we don’t change our mentality we will continue to hate the other. As Ms. Smith ably ends her article with, “there’s a more fundamental shift that needs to take place – a rethinking of identity politics. ‘Rather than promoting a common-enemy identity politics that admonishes white people and others with privilege,’ Mr Haidt said Friday, ‘professors and administrators should embrace a common humanity identity politics.”

I think this “common-enemy identity politics” is what occurs in the workspace. All of us have boundaries that keep us from hating out loud. It is my opinion that Bishop Curry was trying to take us back to the social boundaries once created by our Judeo-Christian moral foundations, not its imperfections, but its boundaries. Although organizations wouldn’t describe their boundaries in this way, it is similar. There needs to be external rules for us to operate well, it is time to reclaim them.

What are weapons of human destruction? They are those elements of our interaction used to demonize the other, while looking past them. It is time to see one another, listen, and thrive. Can we do it? That is a subject for another posting.

And that is my thought for the day!

Business A Power For Good

If you have spent any time reading my blog, you know that I love to read. Earlier this week I wrote about Ronald Reagan, as a result of reading a book about Reagan. Somebody asked me yesterday if I liked Reagan? It was a political question, one that I answered thoughtfully. When I was younger, and Reagan was Governor of California, I did not care for him. In fact, I chose not to pay my state income taxes to resist. Later, I paid those taxes and the subsequent penalties, declaring “boy I showed him.” Today I reflect back on just how na├»ve I was.
I told the person, asking me the question about Reagan, that I did not like his closure of mental hospitals because it put many people on the streets that really needed help, but I also said I appreciated his leadership in a time when our country needed leadership. He was able to get two sides to work together for the good of the people. Something that our current President is struggling with, and the previous one was not able to do.

Enough of Reagan, today I’d like to write about the power of business. On May 14th Seattle levied a tax against businesses, with $20 million or more in annual revenue, of $275 per employee to help deal with the city’s homeless problem. According to the WSJ, “It was projected to raise about $47 million a year, to be spent on affordable housing and homeless services.” Originally the tax was going to be $500 per employee, but Starbucks and Amazon pushed back, resulting in the $275 compromise. Yesterday, the city council in Seattle voted to repeal the tax. This demonstrated how business can be a force to change things.

I know the homeless situation is dire, but I have talked to people who are working with homeless people, and they often tell me the state, in this case a city council, does not want to do the right thing. The state usually wants to take money and throw it at the problem and not look at the systemic elements of the problem. The state typically looks at short term wins for political gains.

The young in Seattle, and in Portland for that matter, think business is an enemy. Often business leaders see Millennials as the problem. Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot, once said, “In 2016 I saw Bernie Sanders and the kids around him. I thought: This is the antichrist.” I think that both sides should take an enlightened look at just what business can do.

In the editorial where I read that quote, Peggy Noonan stated, “An occasional preoccupation in this space is that young people have no particular affection for capitalism, the economic system that made America a great thing in history and a magnet for the world.” She then went on to describe two reasons for this lack of fondness, the 2008 crash of the market and the levels of inequality in our country, and they’ve never heard capitalism defended. The reason for this is the educational system in our country leans left even more than the leaning tower of Pisa.

I have taught in the academic environment, and I saw young people who wanted to do good things, rightfully so, but they wanted to start non-profit organizations or do social work. Don’t get me wrong those things are good, but how do you pay for them? There has to be surplus value, profit, left over. It is when the economy is healthy that people are able to provide the resources needed to help others. The combination between wealth generation and a right-sized tax system would provide strong social systems to help people who are hurt by the evolving economic system.

Many of the young today look to socialism as the answer. Even some of my colleagues think socialism is the answer. However, as Paul Kengor stated in his May 4th editorial, “May 5th marks the bicentennial of Karl Marx, who set the stage with his philosophy for the greatest ideological massacres in history.” His ideas have, and continue, to kill millions of people throughout the world. The foundation of his ideology is the elimination of private property. The freedom of owning your own private property is the foundation of capitalism. Kengor states, “In the Communist Manifesto, he and Fredrich Engels were quite clear that the theory of Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: abolition of private property.”

Young people today may not understand the implication of this and its impact on freedom. If that is not enough to convince you of the issues with socialism/communism, then how about Marx’ s ten-point program: 1) abolition of private property, 2) a heavy progressive income tax, 3) abolition of the right of inheritance, 4) confiscation of all property of all emigrants and rebels, 5) centralization of credit in the hands of the state, 6) centralization of the means of communication in the hands of the state, 7) all production of goods will be a part of a common plan, 8) Equal liability of label and creation of agricultural armies, 9) gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country, 10) Free education for all children in public schools. Everything is controlled by the state with a complete elimination of individual freedom. And for those who say, we are not talking about communism but socialism, remember Marx always argued that socialism was part one and full-blown communism the ultimate goal.

I am not a proponent of McCarthyism, looking for communists under every rock, but I do think that we need to pay attention. Especially those who have more resources than others. The non-idiot billionaire, Ken Langone, “worries about the future of economic freedom and sees the selfishness of some of the successful as an impediment.” He argued there are some who are greedy and evil, and he rightfully argued don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So, what is the point with all of this? I think that Democracy and economic freedom work well together. However, our economic system works best when those who have resources share with those who don’t. What I mean is, instead of relying on government to help people develop the work skills needed to provide for their families in an evolving world, wealthy people should create systems to help people develop needed work skills and the opportunities to exercise those skills. Like Langone states, “Home Depot has changed lives. We have 400,000 people who work there, and we’ve never once paid anyone minimum wage.”

I know it is not business’s core mission to create social change, but it does have the power to do that very thing. We have seen this power throughout the world. Through globalization a billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. This could be the start. But it will take forward thinking business people like Ken Langone to accomplish this.

And that is my thought for the day!

Reagan, Trolling, and the Future

I am now retired and hopefully will find more time to write. In order to re-energize my desire to write I am going to just jump right in and start writing. The theme of my blog has not changed, it is still focused on doing business while recognizing the importance of people. However, there now will be elements of stewardship and servant leadership permeating my thoughts. The emphasis of my life will be in those areas, helping me continue developing my thoughts on Social Entrepreneurship and Business As Mission. So, enough preamble, it is now time to begin discussing my topic for this week.

Way back in May, Roger Kimball wrote an editorial describing when Reagan met Lenin. Obviously, this was hyperbolic, but through this description Kimball was able to make an excellent point. The event the writer was describing occurred on May 31st, 1988. Reagan was in the Soviet capital meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, the fourth in a series of meetings used to “work out arms-control agreements.” Eventually this work would lead to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. However, the criticality of this editorial was not in this series of meetings, but in the ultimate goal Reagan was pursuing.

Bret Baier traces the development of Ronald Reagan’s relationship with Russia from his “evil empire” picture to his ultimate work of diplomacy. Kimball adds to Baier’s description of Reagan’s evolution, “In 1977, noting to a friend that ‘a lot of complex things are very simple if you think them through,’ Reagan crisply summed up his theory on the cold war: ‘We win, they lose.'” However, this victory must be recognized, not as one country over another, but of freedom over totalitarianism. This is symbolically illustrated by the picture of Reagan addressing Moscow State University standing in front of a “gigantic scowling bust of Lenin and a mural of the Russian revolution.” As an actor, Reagan knew the power if visual representation.

Reagan would bring these objects into his speech, “Standing here before a mural of your revolution, I want to talk about a very different revolution, a technological and informational revolution that is transforming the world. How much progress had already been realized! But progress is not foreordained. The key, is freedom – freedom of thought, freedom of information, freedom of communication.” Although these words were given to illustrate a very different situation, I think we can apply them to today.

In the world of social media there is so much promise. Events are announced, ideas are shared, and past connections renewed. However, the world of social media is filled with trolling and others attempting to shout down the other.

Trolling involves “the process of making deliberately offensive or provocative online posts with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.” On the other side we have the process of attacking or shaming someone who has a different opinion than we do.

Freedom is a very difficult thing to maintain. I think those of us who were born in the United States often take this for granted. It might be good to remember the words of Reagan once again. Reagan’s understood what freedom and democracy is and described this as “less a system of government, than a system to keep government limited, unintrusive: a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.” I would also like to add to this friendship with the people around us.

Many people have written about the messiness of freedom and democracy and the difficulty of keeping them in place. Nelson Mandela is quoted as stating, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” In 1787 someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Benjamin Franklin’s response is well known, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” His words are just as true today.

We live in very confusing times. I hope we don’t let the trolls of social media kill what was created on 1776. Instead of yelling at each other, let’s learn from each other and maintain the Republic for our children and grandchildren.

And that is my thought for the day!