Lessons for Emerging Leaders

"To Lead is to live dangerously because when leadership counts, when you lead people through difficult change, you challenge what people hold dear---their daily habits, tools, loyalties, and ways of thinking--with nothing more to offer perhaps than a possibility." - Leadership on the Line

"After the Israelites heard the report from the twelve men who had explored Canaan, the people cried all night and complained to Moses and Aaron, "We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert! Is the LORD leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We'd be better off in Egypt. then they said to one another LEt's choose  our own leader and go back." - Number 14:1-4

We have all heard the phrase that "change is difficult." I'm sure those of you who are reading this has experienced some type of change in your life. It may have been personally or professionally. Although God says I a change not our circumstances in life change quite often. When you are a leader with vision it propels you to the future of where God is taking you and the people he has assigned in your care. Leadership is dangerous and it is difficult. It is dangerous because you run the risk of being marginalized by the masses who fight against the change that you want to bring. It is difficult because a lot of times change takes some time and we don't have much of it depending on the circumstances.

If you are going to lead you must understand that the people with whom you are leading may not want to go when it threatens their own sense of comfort and stability. Your call to leadership requires you to push the masses beyond their comfort zone that challenges their way of thinking and living. Sometimes there are going to be some tough decisions that you will need to make that will upset the "apple cart" and the effects of it can be organization wide. You are put in that position to make those kind of tough decisions.

When Moses and Aaron were leading the children of Israel to the promise land all the crowd could see was what was happening in the moment. They were in the middle of the desert, they were hungry and thirsty. I imagine the children were crying and adults were fussing and fighting with one another. Moses was promising them abundance in the place where they were headed but all they could see was lack. His decision to leave Egypt at the time was the best thing that could happened to them, yet they wanted to go back. The people were willing to go back into slavery versus struggling through what it meant to be liberated and free.

A leader's vision will cost them something. One of the ways to stay in the game is to take personal responsibility to act. Leadership is born when we become active rather than passive, when we do not wait for someone else to act because perhaps there is no one else --at least not here, not now.

My leadership has been on the line for the past two years. I left a position of leadership in the public school sector for leadership in ministry. In October 2014 I became the Los Angeles City Director of World Impact. When I came on staff the organization was going through major transitions, shifts and ministry alignment. Long time missionaries and support were resigning and retiring and the budget was in Los Angeles was operating at a 500K deficit. There were some major decisions that needed to be made if this organization was going to continue to be effective for the next 50 years as it had been for the past 40+.

When I came on staff the first thing I did was observe to find out what the challenges were. It took me about 6 months on the job to begin identifying where we were having technical challenges versus adaptive challenges. Technical challenges can be fixed easily by writing policies, setting expectations, sending emails, making phone calls, or writing letters. Adaptive challenges are much more difficult. An adaptive challenge has to do with the thoughts and values of people and getting them to change their behaviors.

I took the next six months identifying the technical challenges versus adaptive ones and worked with my leadership team on addressing them. The conflict came when we had to deal with those adaptive challenges that our organization faced. Below is a chart that I worked on with my leadership team to identify those things and how we would go about addressing them. We read different chapters from the book "Leadership on the Line." We had discussion and training on identifying the most pressing issues and challenges we faced. It took us two years to address the challenges here on this chart. After two years as of October 2016 I can say that we are moving towards a much more healthy place. We have turned our city ministry around. We have hired new staff, missionaries in training, as well as put our city on a healthy financial track. When I looked at our city budget we are now 400+ in the black. That is a testament to the brave and incredible men and women in Los Angeles that stuck with us not because I was the leader but because we all believed in the mission. As the leader though, I had to have the guts to act. You can be the one who makes a difference in your lifetime. You can be the one who makes our world better.

Leadership On the Line
Chapter 1 – The Heart of Danger
Leadership is Dangerous
  • People resist loss
  • People will make the leader the problem
  • You place your life on the line when you tell people what they need to hear and not what they want to hear 
The Perils of Adaptive Change
  • People cannot see a the beginning that the new will be better but what they see is the potential for loss
  • The expectation of the person in charge is to know what to do so they end up faking it and disappointing people and kicked out and the new person will solve it
  • Common leadership failure they treat adaptive  challenges like technical problems
  • Engage people in adjusting their unrealistic expectations instead of satisfying
  • It takes level of presence time and artful communication
  • If you are a leader it will be hard but you will have to be present and communicate well and you have to make those hard choices
  • If you want people values to change you have to teach them “Why”
Going Beyond Your Authority
  • The importance of being able to go beyond and challenge some of the cultural values the organization has
  • It's important for people to have a safe outlet to risk conflict by challenging something
  • The bad way is to go about it secretly and go underneath your authority
  • The good way is the way Rosa Parks publicly challenged authority
  • Leadership requires disturbing people at a rate they can absorb
  • Disturbances are not welcoming they are hard but have a purpose behind it
  • IBM example of moving to the internet as a company
  • It helps us to recognize there is opportunity that we are missing
  • It's good that we can challenge each other
  • People need to know what the purpose is
  • Is it a long term threat or an opportunity missed?
  • Leadership is not the same as authority
At the Heart of Loss
  • Change challenges a person's sense of competence
  • Challenge of change takes away predictability and identity
  • Example of cigarettes
  • In going through the pains of adaptive change, there is no guarantee that the result will be an improvement
  • Loyalty means staying true but can also mean bondage
  • Adaptive change challenges peoples habits, beliefs, and values. It asks them to experience loss, experience uncertainty, and even express disloyalty to people and cultures

Adaptive or Technical Why?
How do the different ministry co-exist work together?
How will we know if there is a greater level of synergy that speaks back into the vision, mission or purpose

Stewardship of Resources
At times, materials, property, vehicles are not taken care of as well as they could be or should be

Email communication / Communication
Communication is sent out from the top with no real reason of why we should do it

RMO Reboot
Identity issue thats layered in what we do – its changing the rules of the game while in the middle of the battle

Value of women/spouses, feel marginalized in the organization

Identity (who we are)
Why do we exist?

Measure of success
How do we know when we have accomplished our mission?

Reactive/Proactive (Plan)
What does a strategic plan look like in the new season?

Working with people, community challenges our values
What does indigenous leadership development look like in World Impact 2.0 that doesn't involve us in direct ministry efforts

Fundraising efforts
Now that our founder resigned how do we raise money for mission?

Peter Watts