I can’t believe it’s been five months since I started this blog and I have to thank all of you who have prayed for me and supported me in this new endeavor! I am so grateful to have my wife Amy’s encouragement and the encouragement of friends and family. I have always liked to do what I call “field research” whenever God would give me a message. By “field research” I mean asking different people I would come in contact with what they thought about the topic I was researching. Now that I am blogging part of my research has been reading other people’s blogs. This is how I came across Mark Miller’s book The Heart Of Leadership and was invited to read it and post a review on my blog. Early on in my Christian walk with Jesus, I learned to sift everything I hear, read or learn through the word of God. This allows me to discern what’s good and what’s not. This gives me the liberty to read books like, The Heart of Leadership, which is not been written from a Christian perspective and still find wisdom and truth because the ideas in Miller’s book are not contrary to Biblical principles. In fact, the book is full of them. I really enjoyed reading this book and am more then happy to share the wisdom and knowledge that this book has to offer. This book reminded me of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in how it develops and ends. Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the three ghosts of Christmas: the ghost of Christmas past, the ghost of Christmas present and the ghost of Christmas future. Don’t get me wrong, the main character Blake, in The Heart Of Leadership, is by no means a scrooge. What Miller captures is how Blake’s heart is changed from its past state, to his present state, leading to a possible future. Blake has an interview with his boss and hopes that it will lead to a promotion. During his interview, he learns that he is a hardworking, talented individual who has contributed much to the company. But, he lacks the leadership abilities to be promoted to team leader. Blake can’t quite understand why his skills have not qualified him for team leader, especially since he’d been given an outstanding performance evaluation. Blake becomes even more concerned when He is told that there is just “something missing.” The only answer Blake is given is that leaders are different and that you know one when you see one … and he wasn’t one. Blake’s frustration leads him to call upon and seek the counsel of an old friend and mentor for help. It is through the help of this friend that Blake’s heart is changed as he encounters various people he is sent to meet.
If you want to see what the makeup of a leader is, don’t look at their skills, look at their leadership character. What I took away from this is that as important as skills are anyone can learn them. But character is like metal forged in the furnace under immense heat and hammered into shape. That’s what was occurring in Blake’s life as he was given the opportunities to confront himself, admit his shortcomings, and change for the better. You can lead, with or without, a title. If you wait until you get a title, you could wait forever. Miller gave a wonderful illustration of skills vs character using an iceberg to drive his point home. The tip of the iceberg being leadership skills that represent what leaders do. And then there is what’s below the waterline which is leadership character. Ten percent of leadership is above the waterline and ninety percent is below the waterline. It’s that ninety percent that drive what leaders do. This ninety percent is a true reflection of who they are as a human being. Character, not the skills, is the driving force behind the leader. I would equate it to the engine of an automobile being the propulsion and its driver steering that force. The engine is what powers the car but doesn’t give the car any direction. Remember it’s leadership character that drives the skills. Miller’s book gives its readers encouragement and good practical application of wisdom. At the heart of all leadership should be a servant’s heart. At each encounter Blake has with the people he is sent to meet, he learns one more thing that changes him from the inside out. As a result he draws closer to possessing the leadership character he needs. One of the many things that I personally learned is that as important as skills are they aren’t nearly as important as character. And the lack of skills is not what has derailed many leaders but the compromising of their character. Being talented and and having leadership character are very different and people know the difference.
Miller sums up his view on leadership saying … Leadership character is a matter of the heart. If you do all these things we’ve talked about, it still won’t matter if your heart doesn’t change. He uses this acrostic to highlight what should be in a leader’s heart.
Hunger for Wisdom
Expect the Best
Respond with Courage
Think Others First
Hunger for Wisdom Expect the Best Accept Responsibility Respond with Courage Think Others First To me these all add up to a leader having a servant’s heart. Matthew 23: 11-12 Jesus said, “the greatest among you will be your servant.” For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Leaders hunger for wisdom. King David wrote this about wisdom in Proverbs 4:5-6 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Proverbs 8:11-12 for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. Leaders are courageous. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid of terrified of them, for The Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or fore sake you.” Leaders think of others first. Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself. There is so much to share about leadership! But, I don’t want to give away too much because I want to encourage you to read Miller’s book for yourself and look at it from a Biblical perspective. It challenged me and got me thinking about what’s below the tip of my iceberg? Perhaps it will do the same for you!