Tag Archives: Leadership

Poor Judgement or Pitiful Junkie

It is easy to look at the Mayor Rob Ford pictures and video of illicit drug activity, and then fill-in-the-blank to complete the story. I’m quite surprised the Media is not considering another possible metanarrative. They are merely submitting answers and saying they are correct as the story. I propose an alternative fill-in-the-blank.

Rob Ford was hanging out with the youths, many from his football team, as a way to bond and connect. This was his usual custom. But as teenagers sometimes do, they can get pretty rowdy when they get together. On this rowdy occasion, his young men had let him down. The youths were engaged in illicit activities while the Mayor was around. Of course, this did not bother the youths, because they saw Rob-Rob as one of the boys and not the “Mayor”. This putted Mayor Ford in a compromising position. At that moment, he had to decide what he would do. He either shutdowns the party and call the police on his youths – losing their respect for him. Or he overlooks it (with a bothering conscience) and goes with the flow for the greater good of his youths. I surmise he went with the latter option, which may explain the shots and video.

 By no means that I am claiming this to be the story for it is speculative, but what makes the Media story more credible than mine? It is the Media’s job to properly frame all possibilities, but instead it has landed on a hypothesis and pontificate it as truth. Clearly this does not meet fair and unbiased reporting as they are upheld to do. If anything we can get from the pictures and video that there was some poor judgement by Mayor Ford. However, we cannot equate poor judgement with being a pitiful junkie.

I think most men will agree with me:  Men tend to be very loyal to their friends and will do everything in their power to handle issues in-house before we invite external help. We have to think from Mayor Ford’s point of view. He was not going to “rat out his boys”. He is too loyal, and he is not going to jeopardize their social standing for them being teenagers. They are his children in some respects.

 One of the funniest things about tests that have fill-in-the-blanks, we tend think what we fill in as answers are unquestionably right. Lo and behold we are surprised when the teacher returns our test with different answers to the story. We are shocked but on a further thought, we hit ourselves saying that makes total sense. (Or we get angry with the teacher for not accepting our story.) I hope Ms. Truth will substantiate the test papers the Media has handed in. The blanks correctly filled in. Otherwise, Principal Justice is waiting for them.

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The Church…The Ultimate High Performing Team

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When you think about high performing teams, what comes to your mind: sports, business, maybe even entertainment? How about religion specifically churches? I can hear the choruses of “Yeah Right!” But wait – what if this is true? In fact, I argue that it can be true. Jesus expects a high performing team within His Church, which can mobilize to demonstrate compassion, justice, truth and wisdom in any society.1 I know the question on the lips of those who are committed or casual church-goers and may only know churches that are anaemic, scandalous, hypocritical or greedy: how is this possible? Let us think about this empirically.

A high performing team is defined as an organized group of people who work together to exceeded expectations in meeting goals or results. We have the examples of Apple thriving in the Great Recession, or the New York Giants that rose from a mediocre season to win Super Bowl XLVI. Christ followers, the Church, are God’s team who are called to work in unity and harmony to deliver on the goal of serving a hurting world. Many times, this is in the midst of great persecution within many parts of the world.

Meeting a hurting world is a profound goal, which can be only exceeded by high performance – when women and men follow Jesus’ leadership. In fact, there is no more critical service that can be offered than the Church who delivers on this heavenly service to its customer base, because of its enduring qualities. From delivering services like diversity training to building parenting skills, it is all part of the package that Jesus would require as CEO, whom Christians would refer to him as Lord. Being a Christ follower is having the opportunity to mutually develop a high performing team through focusing on their values and mission, being flexible and enjoying synergy. Let us see the parallel more closely.

High performing teams are value/mission driven  

In order for businesses to have ongoing success, executives require their employees to not only know their mission and values – but breathe it. The mission must move from the top floor of the head to the ground floor of the heart. It has to be lived, which is then imputed into company’s products and services. These team members are like migrating geese, which have an inner sense of direction of where the company is going. They always fly instinctively in an alignment.

Similarly, Christ followers are called to know the value and mission of Jesus’ enterprise. Loving God and all of humanity is the value. Bringing people to know Jesus as God and Saviour is the mission. This mindset is fundamental in the effort to deliver services or ministries that God requires the Church to do. The good the church has done like creating schools/universities, orphanages, relief organizations, and hospitals (not always mentioned in the Media) in times past and now, is a result of men and women whom are aligned with their values and mission.

High performing teams are highly flexible

In this age of being lean and mean, employees must not only have depth of knowledge and skill, they must have breadth. These workers must be competent in more than one role. They must be able to stop on a dime and switch hats as congruent with their natural abilities. The team, the business comes first, and employees do what they can to fill in the gaps (hopefully in their area of strengths). Remember the migrating geese example. Geese always rotate among one another with ease as they lead each other. What a picture of flexibility!

Like geese, Christ followers must not wear their roles within their church with arrogance and disdain, but allow God to shift their roles as needed to meet the need of their customer base – congregants and community. This means unique ministries being created to serve their respective society. From addiction ministries to career-counselling ministries, it requires team members within the Church to be knowledgeable and skilled, so they can shift with God’s leading. Christ followers are called to work toward the good of our society. Flexibility has allowed Christ followers to continue to do this.

High performing teams are strongly synergistic.  

Synergy means 1 + 1 = 3 or 4 or 5 etc. It also shows chemistry among team members, which cannot be easily quantified or explained. I would say, at this level, the team members share a common feeling and intuition that synergy provides. Synergy is critical for teams to have extraordinary success. It is the glue that takes peoples and groups who are different and make them stick in effective manner. In fact, the literal meaning for synergy is together-work. When a group has synergy, it is like watching an extraordinary dance group or synchronized swimmers. There is a beauty and fluidity of the whole, which comes from the layers of individual interactions.

Jesus describes his Church as his physical body. More than a metaphor, Christ followers are the example of synergy with a cause. They are a unit of empathy. Where else will you find rich and poor working together, Black and White working together, or men and women working together? Or even better, where else would you find a mixture of all these groups working together? The Church embodies synergy, which demonstrates their high performance toward impacting communities for the good all over the globe.

People may dispute the correlation and say it is a stretch. So let me indulge the naysayers with this. Jesus took a group of lowly and obscure men and groomed, trained and discipled them, so they could lead a revolution in their day that is unparalleled even today: Men and Women who embraced the values and mission of service that were counter cultural; Rich and Poor who were flexible with their roles of service; and Jews and Gentiles who united synergistically to see each other as family. As a team, without weaponry and most without education and money, they turned the 1st Century Rome on its head – transforming the culture with their service to humanity. More, they created franchises, which are accurately referred to as churches all over the world and still expanding. No company, not even McDonald’s had duplicated that feat.

YFGC – a high performance church

Saying all of that begs this question. Beyond Western Churches (Europe and North America) who may not always live up to that charge, is there an example today of a high performing church? How about in the East? There is one prime example: Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC) led by Pastor David Yongii Cho in Seoul South Korea. This church is known to be the largest church in the world approaching 1,000,000 church/team members. The extraordinary thing about this church, YFGC is located in one of the most unlikely place for its success. It is in a country, South Korea, that borders the communist nation of North Korea, which is aggressively anti-Christian.

More, South Korea had a history of being strongly antagonistic to the gospel message within the 19th century. The antagonism was demonstrated by persecution of Christians to the point of death. Yet, almost 50 years in existence, the church had been able to grow in considerable size. The growth was not simply coincidental but intentional, because they focused on being a high performing church.

YFGC is value/mission driven

Right from the start Pastor Cho focused on having his team know the value and mission of Jesus and applied it in the South Korean context. YFGC had strong focus on both physical and spiritual healing. A focus aligned with Pastor Cho’s passion and personal experience of healing near the cusp of death from tuberculosis.2 He endeavoured to have healing realized among his flourishing church. Of course, the mission was to share the message of salvation or deliverance from sin and sickness, which was never forgotten. Moreover, YFGC would lead South Koreans to have an ever-increasing joyous relationship with Christ. When church/team members of YFGC experience this truth, with as much excitement and passion as Pastor Cho, these lay women and men would act on the values and mission to change South Korea and the world.

YFGC is flexible

YFGC’s growth was contributed by their cell group strategy. Cell group was a method of empowerment by decentralizing authority and responsibility to smaller groups within their local setting. It was a bottom-up form of leadership and management as oppose to top-down. (This would be analogous to the term of Kaizen in the domain of continuous improvement within business operations.) YFGC used small group who are well trained and discipled to impact their immediate community and find better ways of meeting their needs. They groomed future leaders in every cell group.  As they anticipated growth, the cell groups would split to be led by the leader-in-training.  YFGC flexibility was further enhanced by fostering an egalitarian environment. Pastor Cho utilized the gifting of women in roles that were traditionally available to only men. Pastor Cho’s cell groups were akin to an agile organization.

YFGC is synergistic

In 1958, the YFCF began in Seoul with 5 people: Pastor Cho, Choi Ja-shil and her 3 children. These were not wealthy or highly influential individuals. However, they were committed Christ followers who had an amazing chemistry to grow their church exponentially through simple door knocking of homes, committed service to the poor and heartfelt prayer for the sick. YFGC grew to 3,000 by 1964, 8,000 by 1968, 100,000 by 1979, 400,000 by 1984, and 700,000 by 1992.3 The exponential growth was a by-product of team members working synergistically. These members were not coerced into Pastor Cho’s church but loved to becoming a high performing church. The ministries established to meet education, poverty, and homelessness were a result of their synergistic efforts.

Final thoughts on the high performing church

Within 50 years, South Korea has evolved from anti-Christian nation to nearly half of its population becoming Christ followers who are experiencing the benefits of pursuing the values and mission of Jesus. (In fact, the movement elevated the status of Korean women who were treated as second-class individuals in the culture.4) Indeed these qualities of a high performing team are applicable to the Church as Pastor Cho has shown. Having opportunities to touch lives in every sphere of their existence has driven YFGC’s growth and has been the catalyst for the resurgence of other church affiliations i.e. Charismatic Catholics. To maximize those opportunities which Pastor Cho can attest, a high performing church requires Christ and His Spirit to be involved within the plan and execution. It is assumed that prayer and reflection is subsumed within any direction chosen. When that is done, great results is a natural by-product. Although there is no guarantee that our bosses or managers will recognize our high performance but we know that Jesus always will:

“Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” 5

Is the Church perfect? Of course not – but are YOU able to “cast the first stone”? If hatred, jealousy, pride or un-forgiveness, have NOT coursed through your veins at anytime, then you are welcome to throw. Otherwise, how have you helped the church become all it can be? Or are you too preoccupied denigrating the team Jesus is continuing to build? What is the call to action for YOU and not the so-called hypocritical person you are thinking about? Let Jesus deal with them…but now He is talking to you, “follow me!”6

So if you are looking for a high performing team to join without barriers for admission, (re)consider the Church. Jesus is still recruiting. Give it a shot. It will change your performance and more importantly – your purpose in this world.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

Sources:

  1. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Matthew 10:15-17
  2. The Yoido Full Gospel Church, Dr. H Vinson Hynan, http://www.pctii.org/cyberj/cyberj2/synan.html
  3. Yoido Full Gospel Church page, David Cho Evangelistic Ministry site, http://www.davidcho.com/NewEng/bd-1.asp
  4. Young-hoon Lee, The Life and Ministry of David Yonggi Cho and The Yoido Full Gospel Church, http://www.apts.edu/aeimages/File/AJPS_PDF/04-1-YHLee.pdf
  5. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. Mark 9:42
  6. Jesus of Nazareth, Gospel of St. John 21:19

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The DULLberry – How The Culture of Canadian Conservatism Has Helped Killed RIM Innovation


When I coined the term DULLberry to aptly describe what RIM’s BlackBerry has become, I had two thoughts in mind. Firstly, I imagine a business where innovation has been ‘taxed’  to point of dullness. Lastly, I thought about a product, BlackBerry, which symbolically demonstrates that enervation of innovation. It can be argued from both sides of the fence whether RIM/BlackBerry – in its current state – will thrive or dive. I would suggest it is hard to be definitive that one or the other will be. So I will lean toward a more moderate position, a middle ground and say that RIM will just – survive. I say this not because I have a lack of confidence in the new reign of leadership at RIM or I dislike the BlackBerry for I am quite content with mine. I say this because RIM is a prisoner within the country they reside. Canada is the fertile ground where the DULLberry is grown.

When I refer to Canadian Conservatism, I do not mean Canadians whom lean toward a political right-wing party. However, I am referring to Canadians whose first inclination are to stand pat and wait, and such resist fundamental change especially the way we do business in this global economy. Canadians  who spout off  ‘what’s wrong with RIM’, ‘why can’t they add this feature like the iPhone’, ‘why is my BlackBerry not like the Android…’, are smugly forgetting this aspect of their Canadian meta-narrative or just simply ignorant thereof. An incessant flow of innovation as if turning on the kitchen tap, unfortunately runs against the fabric of being Canadian.

Innovation requires a high-degree of risk. It speaks about uncertainty of the final outcome with your idea, your job, your brand, your reputation and yes…your business. Many Canadians and their companies are highly adverse to strong risk. Of course, risk aversion has its advantages. Our banking institutions have a financial system that is best in the world touted by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty (our counterpart to Timothy Geithner, the US Secretary of Treasury) and corroborated by the IMF. These economic pillars continue to withstand the quicksand of US sub-prime mortgages and their associated tentacles of financial instruments. Yet, it begets the question: do we have the best banking institution intentionally or incidentally? I would say incidentally. Our banks did not set out to be world’s best (as far as public branding goes). Their success in this regard is a by-product of Canadian Conservatism, which has helped anchor our economy from sinking into the abyss with those in Europe.

Now that’s the good news! Canadian Conservatism will keep us a float. What’s the bad news? It means Canadian Conservatism will just keep us a float. A key distinguishing feature between America and Canada is that Americans have a culture of risk-taking. From sending people to the Moon to sending people to war, these require a great deal of risk. When talking to the average American, there is a prevailing attitude of being number one. And they will prove why it’s so, courtesy of their politicians. American executives’ conversations are saturated with doing work differently – doing work better. Many tend to ask where is the next seminar on leadership, what cutting-edge knowledge can I scoop up to win or how can I grow my business and myself to the next level. To this mass of people, there is a hunger for going where no one has gone before. There is a insatiable hunger for innovation. These men and women will go and get it. That attitude is rooted in the American dream. It is part of their meta-narrative for better or for worse.

Many Canadians on the other hand will watch-and- wait and perform smoke tests on these innovations. If it does not blow up, then we will jump on board. If it blows up, we are seen as the wiser for sensible caution. (I would adapt Bobby McFerrin’s song of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to ‘Don’t worry, Be Cautious’ as our national ditty.) Now the drawback with that attitude is that it is hard for us as Canadians to be or stay number one in the realm of business. If it is endemic to our culture to have a wait-and-see attitude, how on earth do we expect our Canadian companies like RIM NOT to naturally drift toward that risk-averse attitude? If Canadian companies who are ran predominantly by Canadians and employ predominantly Canadians that come out of risk-averse culture, how will these individuals will all of sudden be something different than being Canadian?

This is my point. If RIM was an American company, I would dare to say RIM would be ahead of Apple. Quite simply, not because of leadership alone, but because they would have access to a cultural hotbed of risk-takers. RIM would be a microcosm of the daring American populous. The risk-taking attitude of the American culture will spill over into the work environment spurring on innovation. It is just inevitable.

I wish RIM all the best in their transformation efforts but just know, RIM has to buck the trend toward Canadian Conservatism… or risk being called DULLberry.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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Pure as Gold – Authentic Leadership

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It has been a packed couple months with Christmas holidays, playoff football and the soap opera drama of American Politics not to say the least. Indeed, American Politics is very entertaining soap I must say. Mud-slinging, undercutting, he-said-she-said, all comes with this amusing package of “Oops” as Governor Rick Perry would say. Who wouldn’t chuckle with the public tit-for-tat? With each dirt – or sin – becoming uncovered and exposed, our urbane darlings of great hope become  the ugly ducklings of great ‘grope’ – as Herman Cain found out and John Stewart mocks about. We stay glued to the tubes as we watch our modern day Alchemists, the Media, determine who is gold and who is not. In other words, who is authentic or who is a joke.

This was quite analogous to what I saw with the royal couple of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Yes, the Alchemist were working very hard to uncover dirt like they found with the other Royals. The Media brought their super power microscopes to find the most miniscule of faux-pas that could be brought up to the light of day. With every failed experiment of scandal, they were left disappointed that the couple were authentic as they appeared. They were gold.

I was part of the herd of onlookers who flocked to the television set to watch the Royal Wedding (for me at least in part). Yet I did not watch it because of the royal display of opulence although it was impressive. Nor did I watch it because of the fairytale narrative of the couple although it was romantic. I watched it for one key reason: I was trying to understand the qualities that drew people to watching the couple especially Prince William. The startling quality that I observed in all the conversations was the theme of Prince William being real – being genuine. Unfortunately, a lot of the American politicians lack.

Prince William displayed authenticity, which was part of his charm. It was the charm of authenticity that created his ardent followers. He was a leader not just by position but by permission as John Maxwell would put it.

Leadership, if we recall, means having influence, which is demonstrated by having followers. Authenticity is a vital component for attaining and maintaining leadership. It gives us the permission to lead others and have followers. When authenticity is missing from the mix of leadership, a politician’s effectiveness to lead from the polls to the post is weakened. Here are three brief reasons for this case:

Authenticity Shows Integrity: The Public can know that their leader means what they say and says what they mean. Thus, they know that their leader will take their words and actions seriously and acknowledge its impact on others. The Haves and Have-nots are equally considered.

Authenticity Builds Trust: The Public can feel confident that their leader is not duplicitous and ‘fake’. Thus, the Public will accept the leader’s vision and trust the leader’s (his/her) motives. They are willing to sacrifice for the common good.

Authenticity Creates Duplication: The Public can mirror their leaders and develop a culture of authenticity. Thus, the Public will build that openness, transparency and integrity among each other. This creates a stronger a society.

Just as important for politicians and royalty, let us as leaders, or aspirers of such, make these points a good reminder of the importance of authenticity. We may not be royal blood, but it does not mean that we cannot have a royal heart. Let us lead with regal authenticity. It is our gold standard. We should settle for nothing less.

~ Denley W. McIntosh

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