The Leadership Journey Podcast: Book Launch Edition

This episode of the podcast is a bit different. We have a guest interviewer, Gemma Brown, and she’s talking to me (her dad) about my new book, ‘The Crucible of Leadership’ which has been officially launched this week.

As well as talking about some of the processes and ideas behind the book, we even have a surprising intervention about dinosaurs!

The book is now fairly widely available. Make a start with your local Christian bookstore and if you can’t get it there, then it will be available from some of the usual online sources, or you can contact me via this website and I will send you a copy. Otherwise I will be at several of the summer conferences and copies of the book will be available – you can even get your copy signed!

In July I will be recording a special live edition of the podcast at the Keswick at Portstewart Convention, when I will be chatting with David Scott and Glen Scrivener over Wednesday lunchtime.

Launch day for ‘The Crucible of Leadership

Although the book has been in circulation for a few weeks, today is the official launch day. You can read the publisher’s official announcement on their website.

In recent years, there has been a craze for all things ‘leadership’, with one fad after another promising dramatic change. But as headlines have proven in recent months, just what constitutes good leadership is very far from settled. So if the quick fixes don’t work, where can we turn to discover how we might lead well, in church or in the workplace, when our time comes?

Read more here.

The Leadership JOurney Podcast: Patrick Regan

Patrick Regan is CEO of the charity, Kintsugi Hope, a charity that exists ‘to make a difference to people’s well-being’. Previously he founded and led a youth charity called XLP. He’s written six books – including his most recent one, ‘Bouncing Forwards‘ which looks at the subject of resilience, and he has travelled to over forty countries.

In our conversation we talk about some of what led Patrick into leadership, what it was like to hand over the leadership of XLP, the charity that he had started, and about the nature of Kintsugi Hope. Along the way we talk about resilience, about the stigma that often seems to be attached to issues of mental health, and – of course – about what Patrick would say to his 20-year-old self.

Here are three of Patrick’s top tips for resilience:

  • Go gently
  • Be kind
  • Stay connected

You can visit the Kintsugi Hope website to find out more about what’s involved, and if you are interested in starting a group: you can also pick up copies of Patrick’s books (as well as your own Kintsugi kit).

On the next episode of the podcast, I will be talking about my new book – ‘The Crucible of Leadership: Learning from the story of Moses‘ which officially launches this month.

Guest post: The Crucible of Leadership – Three Key Takeaways for Ministry Leaders and Christian Professionals

I’m grateful to Kevin Anselmo, whom I met several years ago when we were both working in Switzerland, for writing a review of the book. Kevin lives in Florida and works as a communications consultant. You can find out more about his work and see some of his own writing on his website.

For all the leadership content available, I don’t think we spend enough time thinking through the leadership lessons of those from history. Perhaps it is our sense that the leadership challenges from those in the past can’t compare to our current times living in our technological age. Such thinking is short-sighted. The environments in which we live differ across time periods, but certain human needs remain constant and require effective leadership. There are important lessons to be gleaned from those in the past that we can consider today.

Case in point is Moses, considered to be one of the most important prophets in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Dr. Alan Wilson, my former pastor from when I lived in Lausanne, Switzerland, is coming out with a great book later this month entitled The Crucible of Leadership – Learning from the Story of Moses. I was able to read an advance copy and very much enjoyed it. Here are a few important practical takeaways. (Note that I believe we are all leaders, whether we manage a team of hundreds or, as is my case, run an independent consulting company with no employees).

Grapple with the wildernesses of life.

Scholars Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas have noted that we all go through intense and transformational experiences that they termed crucibles. Among the different types of crucibles are periods of isolation. Moses experienced this during his 40 years living in obscurity in the wilderness of Midian. This occurred during what one could consider the prime of his life.

At the conclusion of chapter 2, Alan asks: “Have you ever experienced a sense of being in a wilderness: for example, when there has been a gap between what you had planned or hoped for and where you actually found yourself?”

For me, the answer is yes. I know that I haven’t always responded as I should. Alan’s analysis helped me draw out implications. I particularly appreciated that the period of wilderness can often feel like God is absent, but yet can also be encountered. Wilderness times of life are also unique opportunities for personal growth and to benefit from unexpected circumstances.

Heed wise advice.

As a consultant, part of my work involves providing advice around an individual, team or organization’s communications strategy. I also have frequently called upon others to provide me with advice about different personal and business topics. When it is the right fit, such opportunities for feedback and external perspective can have quite an impact. Sometimes paying an expert makes the most sense. Other times, we can have those “ah-ha” moments through chance interactions with a family member or friend.

Alan brilliantly details the application of how Moses leveraged advice from someone outside his community. In his case, it was the input from his father-in-law, Jethro. As judge, Moses was hearing the disputes from the people. Jethro noticed that Moses was handling too many of these disputes and advised Moses to delegate. This was in the best interests for Moses and the people he was leading. Moses acted on this counsel.

Alan writes in Chapter 4: “The picture that Jethro observed is what it looks like when a leader becomes a bottleneck. When it happens, no one benefits. In Jethro’s terms, both the leader and people will wear themselves out (Exodus 18:18). The leader is overburdened and in danger of burnout, while the people who are forced to depend on the leader for every decision are also liable to be worn out waiting for them to give them a hearing and make a decision.”

Criticism is part of life.

As a consultant, I have worked with many organizations over the years. They represent different industries and have been located in various parts of the world. One constant across these organizations is discontentment with colleagues. This is something prevalent today, was a reality in Biblical times and will be a constant in the future. Chapter 6 of the book focuses on how Moses had to continually deal with criticism and grumbling.

There was a very interesting anecdote in this chapter of an individual who stormed out of church when a guitar was used during a worship song in the 1970s. It definitely seemed like irrational and bizarre behavior. Nevertheless, the pastor sought to understand what had upset this gentleman. It turns out that upset parishioner had donated an electronic organ to the church in memory of his late wife. When the guitar was introduced, the man assumed that was the end of the electronic organ and triggered intense grieving over his wife. This illustrates that sometimes behind an irrational outburst is the opportunity to meet someone who is in deep need of support.

Of course that doesn’t mean we should respond to every grumble and complaint from those in our circle of influence. I resonated with this implication that Alan shared: “Leaders need to learn to distinguish between the kind of conflict and critique that are probably necessary if they are to grow as leaders, and harsh, personal criticism from professional fault-finders. If we don’t get this right we will either be crushed and our leadership will become anemic (if indeed we remain in leadership), or we will become stubborn and our leadership will be blinkered.”

There are many other lessons from the book that I think are particularly useful for those leading ministries or who are Christians working in the marketplace. Alan does a great job drawing upon the Bible, personal stories and analysis from leadership research.