Saturday, March 20, 2010


Our Guest Speaker from ING the other day, John Ross, stated, "Different people viewing the same reality will normally have very different perceptions." Perceptions as defined by Merriam-Webster Online dictionary are:
a. observations
b. mental images
c. an awareness of the elements of the environment through physical sensation
d. quick, acute and intuitive cognitions

I'd like to create a working definition for perceptions by combining two of those definitions. Perception is the quickly developed mental understanding or impression a person develops from an awareness of various stimuli. I use various stimuli because our perceptions can be influenced by more than what we see. For example, as the 19th century poet William Blake stated, "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is - infinite."

How can this concept of perceptions influence our leadership?

Effective leadership requires the understanding that not everyone will see a vision the way you do. Not everyone will see a problem like you do. Not everyone will see change like you do. The implication then is that we as leaders must help others get around their "mental road blocks" to pursue change, goals, or success (assuming it's the right thing to do). I would like to argue that this principle of perception must be applied in two ways.

First, leaders must be perceptive. Leaders must have an acute observation of how others are receiving what is being communicated. A leader must use those observations to constructively, and gently help people move in the right direction.

Secondly, it's important for leaders to remember that our perceptions of life are shaped not just by what we see but by what we believe. Therefore, we must have accurate beliefs and perceptions about ourselves (unlike the cat in the picture), others, problems, life, change, etc.

William Blake also wrote, "The eye altering, alters all." How does this quote relate to perceptions and leadership?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Does Leadership Change?

Is leadership just a position? Is it a role? Or, is it an act? As our technology and society change at alarming rates, is our society redefining leadership for the 21st century? Should it be?

Mitch McCrimmon, a freelance writer, states, "The meaning of leadership has always entailed occupying a static position at the head of a group. Today, we need to see that leadership is an occasional act, not a role."

(Read more at Suite101: 21st Century Leadership: The Changing Meaning of Leadership

In addition, Melissa Vokoun states, " Leaders can no longer rely on historic values and judgments. We have evolved into a day where individuals are valued and appreciated for the characteristics that are intrinsic to them and their uniqueness. An effective leader has to embrace these differences and find creative ways to build an organization from a group of individuals." (Read more at

Do you agree with these statements?

Using authors you respect, find one or two quotes, post them and then argue if leadership is changing or if it should change. Focus on if there are leadership principles that stand the test of time or if leadership all together will be an evolving entity, changing with the changing times. Use a quote or two to help defend your position.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Decisive Leadership

On average, we are making thousands of decisions every day! Effective leadership involves making the right decision for the right reasons. Benefits of making the right decisions include:
  • Accomplishes goals
  • Leads others to accomplish goals
  • Builds effective communication
  • Builds trust with others
  • Gives personal confidence
  • Builds on making right habits
  • Creates character of decisiveness.

Leaders in positions in the public spotlight are often criticized for wrongs made in the public setting. Often these "wrongs" can be traced back to making wrong decisions in the "little" moments in life. Often these decisions are a fruit of the wrong values as well. For example, if someone values punctuality, he or she will often make the decision to be on time, if not early. However, the individual who is late for an important job appointment probably has made similiar decisions before and therefore, have a habit of being late (and likewise, not putting value on punctuality).

When I was a junior in high school running at the State Track Meet, my relay members and myself came jogging out of the warm up arena onto the track. As we jogged onto midfield, still in our warm up sweats, we could hear a third and final specific call for us as a team to report to the starting line! Not only had the first, second and third calls been made for our race, all runners were lined up on the starting line and EVERYONE was waiting on us! Why were we late? A lack of leadership - my leadership as the senior anchor. While I want to blame our coach for making us participate in a last minute run to Wal-Mart to get rain gear, honesty will tell you the four of us didn't pay attention to the clock while warming up in the warm-up arena. If the stress of panicking and undressing in front of EVERYONE wasn't enough, we had the state track officials barking down our necks!

While this is a humorous example of a poor decision, many "poor" decisions can be avoided in our days if we follow three simple ingredients to wise decision making:

  • Base your decisions on right facts
  • Rely on wise counsel
  • Base decisions based on clearly defined goals.

Give an example of a common problem teen leaders face where they feel their heads are "splitting" and then use the three ingredients to re-shape the "poor" decision into a good decision.

"Those who avoid decision making thereby decide to let circumstances and others make the decisions for them." - Dr. Bill Gothard