Each Tuesday afternoon we have a meeting in the International Affairs division at Dallas Baptist University. The purpose of this meeting is to Encourage, Inspire, Pour Into, and Enable our teams in their leadership and their individual purposes within our division. We call this meeting the Purpose & Leadership meeting. This past Tuesday, I shared with the group my personal convictions and beliefs about Purpose.
Reflecting on this past meeting, I also wanted to share with you “Why I do What I do”. I have always felt that in order to do something meaningful, you need to know the motivations or purpose beforehand. As an example for your leadership, I truly desire to share part of the “purpose” journey God has brought me on. I pray it is helpful for you who may be on this same journey now. There are three major areas (The Gospel, My Doctorate, Leading at the Christian University) that I would like to highlight for you in regards to the purpose and motivations behind “Why I do What I do”.
First and foremost, I have highly personally experienced the grace and love of God though our savior Jesus Christ. As a Christian, we refer to this as “The Gospel.” My life has been transformed as a response to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I have in turn given my life to relentlessly follow Jesus. I see that following Jesus is much more than simply knowing in my mind that He died on the cross for my sins, regular church attendance, or a set of rules to follow. Following Jesus is living his teachings, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and waiting expectantly for his return. By living Jesus’s teaching, I have been led to an understanding of my purpose in life, as well as given a burden heart to serve others.
I believe that in the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have a purpose in an epic and cosmic plan. I believe this purpose is God revealing and reconciling all things to him, which is the greatest cause known to man. For these purposes, I have greater meaning and more fulfillment than anything I can ever hope to know or achieve on my own. I believe that each of us are called or purposed by God in this same plan, but that we need to follow Jesus before that can be made known to us. In a practical way, I see the purposes of Jesus penetrating all aspects of my life including my job, which I would refer to as a “calling.”
Second, and through my doctoral program, I have encountered a strong understanding for how “purpose” contributes to organizational leadership. As an example Burns (1978) describes this very well in the transformational leadership theory of inspirational motivation. I consider purpose to be a clear understanding for how one makes meaning out of their life, and how this meaning becomes valuable for a cause, for others, and for oneself. Once known, purpose acts as a guiding light and rocket fuel for one’s life or calling.
I believe that great leadership begins with a strong purpose in life (Craig & Snook, 2014; Joshi, Marzalek, Berkel & Hinshaw, 2013; Christensen, 2010; Pink, 2009; Frankl, 1958) and a strong alignment of that purpose to a timeless cause or vision (Kanter, 2011; Mourkogiannis, 2007; French, 2006). Furthermore, I find that exceptional leaders can enable others to pursue a timeless vision or cause by leading from a strong sense of purpose (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003; Brandt, 2003; Boyatzis, McKee & Goleman, 2002; Bartlett & Ghoshal, 1997; Burns, 1978), and it is the result of a strong purpose, and its alignment to timeless vision (or cause), that enables incredible impact on the organization and for those it serves (Kanter, 2011; Mourkogiannis, 2007; Collins & Porras, 1994).
Leading at the Christian University
Third, to help me remember what my purpose is, I have developed a purpose statement. I believe that my purpose in life is to “Model the example of Jesus Christ in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord for my family and circles of influence. I will consistently serve others by helping them to find their purpose, excel in their callings, and grow in their relationship with God.”
This purpose statement embodies the Christian values that I hold most important, and is the way I make meaning of my life, bring value to others, and serve a greater cause. I believe that my purpose in life is best served at the Christian University. As I continue to study the concepts of Organizational Leadership, behavior and theory, I am learning to a greater extent how to successfully hire the right people, put them in the right place, and develop them to believe in and accomplish the purpose of Jesus at the Christian University.
I most identify with what Zigarelli (2012) called the interrelated missions or aims of the Christian University; which are to Train, Transform, and Transition students. By serving as a senior administrator, I am passionately motivated to lead the Christian University into the accomplish this mission. I believe that apart from Christ, higher education does not hold the transformational affect and powerful impact to the world and to the students it serves. In addition, I believe that the future landscape of higher education will change in the years to come. I desire to equip and lead the Christian University through perhaps what could be challenging days ahead. I am particularly interested in advancing the Christian University’s capabilities for administration, international development, and international student recruitment.
It is the gospel resulting from my experience with Jesus, which now gives me a burden heart to serve others. My purpose in life is grounded in the cause of Christ, which fuels my personal leadership philosophy and drives my life and calling. In these ways, I would not consider myself to be just a transformational leader at the Christian University, but a Christian educator who is called to be an “admissionary.” For me at the Christian University, the transformation we are working on does not encompass only efficiencies and effectiveness gained, degrees conferred or jobs attained, but in lives transformed, purposes found, callings excelled, and Jesus Christ made know to others through the work we do!
This is “Why I do What I do”.
– Grey Hoff, Jr.
Bartlett, C. A., and S. Ghoshal., (1997). Beyond Strategy, Structure, Systems to Purpose, Process, People: Reflections on a Voyage of Discovery. Monash Mt. Eliza Business Review 1, no. 1 (September 1997): 54–61.
Brandt, J. R. (May 01, 2003). Managing For A Higher Purpose. Industry Week/iw, 252,5.)
Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., & Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening your passion for work. Harvard Business Review, 80(4), 86-94.
Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Christensen, C. M. (2010). How will you measure your life? Harvard Business Review, 88(7), 46-51.
Craig N, S. S. (2014). From purpose to impact: Figure out your passion and put it to work. Harvard Business Review, 92(5), 104-11.
Collins, J.C., & Porras, J.L. (1994). Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2003). Good Business: Leadership, flow, and the making of meaning. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Frankl, V. E. (1958). On logotherapy and existential analysis. Am J Psychoanal the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(1), 28-37.
French, M. L. (2006). The alignment between personal meaning and organizational mission among music executives: A study of happiness, job satisfaction, and responsibility toward employees.
Hirsh, S. K., and Kummerow, J. M. (1998). Introduction to Type Organization: Individual Interpretive Guide (3rd ed.). Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
Kanter, R. M. (2011). How great companies think differently. Harvard Business Review, 89, 11.)
Mourkogiannis, N.,. (2007). Purpose: The starting point of great leadership. LTL Leader to Leader, 2007(44), 26-32
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
Zigarelli, M. (2012). Training, Transforming, and Transitioning: A Blueprint for the Christian University. Journal of Research on Christian Education, 21: 32-79, 2012.
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A very important element of my personal leadership philosophy is based upon the concepts of emotional intelligence. My understanding for emotional intelligence derives from the work of Daniel Goleman’s through his book Emotional Intelligence (1995) and also his joint work with Boyatzis & McKee on Primal Leadership (2004).
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions of others and yourself, and to use the understandings of these emotions to guide thinking and behavior (Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee, 2004; Goleman, 1995).
Goleman outlines that emotional intelligence is made up of five constructs:
- Self-Awareness – ability to known one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, vales and goals and recognize their impact on others while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
- Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social Skill – managing relationships to move people in the desire direction.
- Empathy – considering other [people’s feelings especially when making decisions.
- Motivation – being drive to achieve for the sake of achievement.
Specifically, it is through employing emotional intelligence in my communications, vision casting, and trust building that I lead within and at my university. It can be a challenging task to clearly outline a vision in an inspirational and emotionally expressive way. However, emotional intelligence assists me in doing this in a very practical way.
I accomplish this through individual consideration (Burns, 1978), by personally taking the time to meet with our department’s leadership and staff regularly. These meetings are a leadership behavior that I have come to habitually conduct at my university. It is in these personal meetings, as well as in the regular departmental wide meetings, that I seek to incorporate emotional intelligence in an effective way to inspire others to also serve.
As I meet with staff regularly, my intention is to understand the emotional layout of the department (social skill and empathy), as well as communicate our team’s direction. I seek to understand my own emotions (self-awareness), as well as channel those emotions (self-regulation) to positively encourage each staff member (motivation) to lead transformation effectively. Without employing the concepts of emotional intelligence in these regular meetings, leading at my university would be an almost impossible task to accomplish.
I found have found that once you understand how important positive and encouraging emotions are for leadership, and furthermore how they contribute to employee motivation, your leadership style will change forever.
One of my favorite quotes on emotional intelligence, which encapsulates the transformational and tremendous power of emotional intelligence, comes from Goleman, where he explains:
“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passions and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision, or powerful ideas … the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions” (Goleman, Boyatzis, McKee, 2004, p.16).
Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Goleman, D., Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2004). Primal leadership: Learning to lead with emotional intelligence. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business School Press.
Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why it can mater more than IQ. New York: Bantam.
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Purpose is the guiding principle for why something is done. When you understand your purpose in life, and how it is connected with your vocation, a particular project, or task, these things take on an entirely new shape. Understanding the WHY gives you powerful perspective for the HOW and the WHAT.
While I believe that purpose can be the single greatest motivator for you in the workplace, and that aligning your purpose to the organization’s mission will ignite the rocket fuel you have — Purpose is not a Magic Word.
Purpose takes Focus
When you try to shoot a bow and arrow, it requires you to close one eye, squint, and focus very hard at the center of a target. Expert marksman train tirelessly in order to aim and hit the middle of the target. Just the same purpose requires you to focus tirelessly on who you are, what your life experiences have shown you, and a firm understanding of how you can use these things to serve others in the future. These things will be very abstract and ambiguous to start, but focusing on them over and over again, they will become clearer. Purpose takes focus.
Purpose takes Repetition
Purpose is like a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger in gets. Disciplined repetition and focus will serve you very well when trying to learn about your purpose. When you find something great about yourself, a skill, a passion, a behavior trait that you have been given, focus on it and repeat it. Just like the muscle, keep practicing with it, over and over again. The strongest performers are those who will invest in a daily practice of reinforcement and refinement.
I believe the things God has placed into your hands are “whispers from him” for your purpose in life. Focus on them, and repeat your use of them.
Purpose takes Time
Purpose starts off as an abstract, ambiguous, big ball of mess at the beginning. Frankly speaking, when I first talk to other people about purpose, I usually get some sort of blank stare or confused smirk on their face. Many people give up on dedicating the time to consistently look at their skills & abilities, personality & behavior, as well as passions & desires as the “bread crumbs” God leaves behind, pointing to your purpose.
Don’t give up! Purpose takes focus; it takes repetition, and also time to unlock.
Purpose is something you Live
There is no doubt in my mind that you have been called and have been purposed by God for greatness. I know this because you are still alive, breathing, and reading this blog post. God doesn’t need to use us, but he chooses to do it.
I am reminded of an excellent quote from Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church; “Everyone who is born dies, but not everyone who dies has truly lived. God does not want you and me to die full of potential. He wants you to live for something worth dying for. When Christ’s cause truly underpins your life, you will discover meaning and purpose, and your life will never be the same again.”
Purpose is not some magic word to throw around. It is an individual’s unique and timeless idea of how they will bring meaning to the lives of others, to themselves, and ultimately to the Kingdom of God. Once you understand your purpose, it’s something that penetrates and motivates all aspects of your life. It’s something you live!
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This morning I woke up with some “junk” on my mind – frustrations from the previous week, stress from work situations that did not go as planned, guilt on missing the mark in my relationship with God.
From my previous experiences, and also from sheer exhaustion of trying to live my life on my own, I desire to run to God in prayer when my mind is cluttered with these “junk” thoughts.
I know that my first thoughts of the day need to be on Him, and not my frustrations from this past week.
This morning, I prayed to God for him to take these “junk” thoughts and feelings from me. God immediately reminded me to “renew my mind” each day in Him … recalling this verse in Romans, I opened up the bible to give it a read.
Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) said;
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I ended up writing out this verse by hand this morning and noticed some interesting observations of what Paul said here.
1) We have clear direction to make our lives and everything in it about him as an offering. This is a choice we make daily to take the ordinary things we do in life and make them about Him as an offering. Everyone does the things Paul mentions here (sleeping, eating, going to work, walking around life). In fact, he calls them ordinary – the difference is how we choose to do them, and whom we do them for. Are these things done in an honoring way to God, or are they done for only for us? This is the choice.
Paul also notes, that these things are to be placed before God as an offering. Well, an offering is something of value done and given as a gift or contribution to another as a token of kindness, love, or devotion.
Doing these things as an offering means that the ordinary things we do in life are done in motivation to make God pleased.
To me, this comes down to a question of motives. When I sleep, do I truly want to make sure I get enough rest to be energized and ready to serve and do valuable work for others? When I eat, do I eat healthy and enough (or) not too much so that my body is kept healthy and strong as a temple to the Lord? Is my work done in an honest and truthful way to benefit my company and others, inline with biblical principles?
2) We are to willingly and enthusiastically accept (or embrace) the things God does for us daily. This is also a choice. We have a daily choice to accept the fact that all things, including; the breath in our lungs, the food we receive, the job that we have, the music we get to enjoy, and ultimately the life that Christ gives to us, as a gift from God.
Paul tells us “embracing what God does for us is the best thing we can do for him.” In other words, embracing these gifts from God is a valuable offering to Him, which acknowledges Him as the creator. This is how we are to daily place our lives before God.
3) We are called to be different. I admit that these two choices of (1) making our ordinary life an offering to God, and (2) choosing to embrace the belief that all things comes from God are indeed a different way of thinking. Especially when compared to the many other ways one can think and be motivated in this world. However, I believe this is exactly the point Paul wants to make in this verse.
We as followers of Christ are called to be different in the way we think, the way we make choices, and in the motives we have deep within our heart.
I like how Paul says; “we are not to be so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without thinking”. To me this means that our habits or instinctive characteristics are supposed to default to the daily choice of (1) offering our ordinary behaviors in life to God, and (2) embracing the belief that all things are from the creator God through Jesus. This is to be our instinctive behavior as opposed to the contrary motives of being self-driven for personal benefit and gain.
Now, one other thing to notice here is that we are still supposed to fit into, understand, and connection with this world. But, it should require us to think and use our God-given critical judgment, human intelligence, and Christ-centered motives intentionally to do this. Again, our first instinctive behaviors are to God.
4) We are to focus our attention on God. Now I further admit that this can sound exhausting. In fact, I guarantee you if you try to do these things on your own strength, you will 100% fail. Please trust me on this, I have tried that for many years and it simply does not work.
Here is probably the most important part of these verses Paul is explaining, please do not miss this:
“Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. You will be able to readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly be able to respond.
As Paul outlines earlier, we are to (1) make our ordinary life an offering to God, and (2) choose to embrace the belief that all things come from God, which in turn (3) makes our lives different than others in this world.
None of these things are possible without the strength and power of God, which is the focal point that Paul is trying to make.
Transformation happen here – our lives and the motives of our heart will be changed from the inside out once we focus our attention on God through the studying of the bible, and the uninterrupted, unhurried time with him in prayer.
If we try to do these things on our own, apart from focusing on God through the bible and prayer, the sheer exhaustion, frustration, guilt and stress of it all with collapse us – and this is exactly where I was this morning.
When we have this feeling, our immediate response should be to run to him in prayer and time in the bible. This allows us to encounter God and to have him fill us up with His grace and power – doing this consistently will transform your life and is exactly what Paul meant when he said, “We’ll be changed from the Inside Out”.
5) God will bring the very best out of you. This is the most important choice we can make. We decide what we get to embrace and put into our mind and into our heart. Simply put; whatever you put in, is what you’ll get out.
If You Put Junk in; You’ll Get Junk Out.
There will be something coming into our mind and into your heart. Either the “junk” of frustrations, un-purposeful stress, missed expectations, guilt, or the saving grace, promise, and relationship we can have with God through his son Jesus Christ. This is the biggest choice we have to embrace in our lives.
The transformation process we will then go through by spending time with God through the studying of the bible, and the uninterrupted, unhurried time with him in prayer, will quite literally make us into the very best person we are created to be. The choice this comes down to is, will we embrace a relationship with Jesus Christ, then spend the time with God through his word and in prayer?
The last thing that I loved reading was that “God brings the best out of you, and develops well-formed maturity in you. We serve a God that has an incredible, world changing, meaning-filled life to live, and I love how through our relationship with him, he is developing us to the very of what we are created for!
I am very grateful to our God for this reminder from Him this morning. I truly and sincerely hope this verse encourages you wherever you may be in your life.
Please remember, what God has inside of you is far too important for you to keep on your own. You were born with purpose!
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I love Jesus. Leadership. And Good Coffee.
When I travel, I am always on the hunt for a good coffee spot (thanks to my buddy Duncan Corby). Within a few hours of arriving to a new city, I am usually getting a coffee at a local café. I do this not only because of my love for good coffee, but also to get a good feel of things in a particular city or country. Mostly though for the coffee.
This past week, I spent time in Los Angeles drinking good coffee and also studying entrepreneurship. Before traveling to LA, one coffee company I heard a lot about was the Blue Bottle Coffee Company.
Blue Bottle Coffee Company
Blue Bottle Coffee is an artisan coffee shop based in Oakland, California with 19 locations throughout California, New York, and also Japan. What is very interesting about this coffee shop is that they operate much like a high-tech startup as opposed to a traditional coffee shop. Most recently, Blue Bottle secured a second round of financing with $70 million in VC funding.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity to visit Blue Bottle Coffee’s Venice beach café.
While visiting Blue Bottle Coffee, I mulled over a list that our entrepreneurship professor gave us in class this past weekend. Dr. Vance Cesar called this list the “Six Keys to Business Success”. I would like to share this list with you and compare that to my observations at Blue Bottle Coffee:
6 Keys to Business Success
- Discover a perceived unmet need people want to pay you time and money to satisfy.
- Identify the one person who represents the unmet need and get to know that “stick figure” and help that person to believe your service/product is made for them.
- Be branded in the mind and heart of your “stick figure” first-then the rest of your market segment as “best”.
- Have a financial plan, including pricing and terms that strengthens your brand and sustains your enterprise.
- Be passionate! Assure your purpose (why) and your venture’s purpose (mission) is aligned.
- Have a team of complementary competent people who are aligned with your purpose and your vision. Have one person who’s “been there and done that”.
*Bonus: Have the discipline to keep the above clear and current.
I don’t find it as a coincidence that Blue Bottle Coffee embodies many of these keys to business success. They are living this out through their stores.
Blue Bottle Coffee seems to have locked down #1 – How to solve and meet an unmet need. Additionally, they have a very clear hold of #2 – Identifying and getting to know the needs of their “stick figure”.
The “stick figure” idea is about how entrepreneurs picture and define their primary customer (IE: my customer is a 35 year old male, has an income of $100,000, who is very conscience of his health, consumes excellent quality food, and wants to live a trendy, urban lifestyle).
If you look at the locations of Blue Bottle’s stores, they are strategically located in eclectic, transitional, urban-hip areas that are populated with the people desiring a certain lifestyle. This aligns perfectly with #3 – Be Branded in the Heart’s and Minds of your “stick figure”, as well as their value proposition of this single origin, high quality, organic coffee that is delivered by Blue Bottle. They know who their customer is, and where, as well as how, to deliver what they want.
Lastly, the founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, James Freeman, is a self-described coffee lunatic. James vows to only serve the finest, most delicious, responsibly sourced coffee – coffee that makes it to their customers in less than 48 hours from the roaster to insure its peak flavor. They also have a proprietary espresso machine and pour over method unique to their cafés.
It is clear to see how James Freeman and his team powerfully embodies these keys to business success, aligning perfectly to #5 – Be Passionate and assure your purpose and venture’s purpose are aligned and also #6 – Have complementary people who are also aligned to your purpose and vision.
During my time LA, I found one of the smoothest and most tasty espressos I have had in quite a long time. I also found some great insight into entrepreneurship.
Blue Bottle is serious about their coffee and it’s evident based on their business model and their amazing coffee. Now, we just need to get a Blue Bottle Coffee café in Dallas, Texas.
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This past week I had the opportunity to spend one-week with our Doctor of Education cohort in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. This trip was truly a remarkable experience that encouraged me to grow in both my professional and spiritual understandings of leadership and public policy. Specifically, there were three experiences during this trip that I wanted to share:
American Council for Trustees and Alumni (ACTA)
On Thursday, May 28th I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the American Council for Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). The ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at American’s colleges and universities. Over the past 10 years, there have been a number of papers and research developing on the topic of higher education accreditation reform. It is my view that the ACTA has written two of the most influential papers on this topic: Can College Accreditation Live Up to It’s Promise? (2002) and Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It (2007). In light of this research, the purpose of my visit to ACTA was to discuss higher education accreditation and to see how they consider accreditation reform will continue to develop in the future.
At the ACTA, I was able to visit with Dr. Michael B. Polikoff, Vice President of Policy. From my conversation with Dr. Polikoff, he outlined a few key points of why ACTA believes higher education accreditation needs to be actively reformed:
- Higher education accreditation gives a facade of quality with its “stamp of approval”. When in fact, there are some accredited schools with abysmal graduation rates, sky-rotting debt for their students, and poor academic programming. Yet, just like Harvard, Pepperdine, or DBU, who all have wonderful programs, there are still poor schools which are accredited.
- Higher education accreditors are considered to be the “gatekeeper” of federal financial aid funds for universities. Schools who are not accredited are not able to receive these funds for their students. This gives accreditors tremendous power to dictate what goes in terms of performance, programs, and requirements at these schools.
- Higher education accreditors have a monopoly on their regions and their schools. This monopoly makes it very difficult or near impossible for universities to change to another (potentially better) accreditation agency. Schools are forced to follow the accreditation process for their accreditations with little or no question.
- Higher education accreditors is stifling education innovation, prohibiting all together, or making it extremely difficult for universities to experiment with other education models such as competency based education.
Dr. Polikoff further discussed two primary recommendations that ACTA is advocating for in higher education accreditation reform:
- Break the “gatekeeper” role that accreditors have for federal financial aid funds. The availability of Title IV funds should not be determined by accreditors, but by better measurable outcomes from the schools such as graduation rates, job placement rates, financial health measures, etc.
- Create competition for higher education accreditors. Allow schools to shop for and select a higher education accreditor, regardless of their region. This will allow schools to create competition for accreditors, and voluntary select their accreditation agency.
In summary, Dr. Polikoff expressed that by severing the financial aid “gatekeeper” role, and creating competition for accreditors, only the agencies which stood for quality, real evidence for student learning, and required strong measures of financial health in schools, would be able to thrive. Furthermore, if institutions voluntary wanted to seek accreditation from agencies that are well respected for their standards, they could do that. However, Dr. Polikoff and ACTA believe that this should not be a requirement for schools to do in order to measure quality and receive financial aid funds.
Senate Chaplain Reverend Dr. Barry Black
On Friday morning, May 29th I visited the Office of the Reverend Dr. Barry Black. Dr. Black as the Chaplain of the United States Senate. As Chaplain, Dr. Black serves as a spiritual advisor and counselor to the members of the United States Senate and their families. This visit with Dr. Black was undoubtedly the most inspirational and encouraging meeting during our visit to Washington, D.C.
During our time, Dr. Black challenged us from the book of Daniel in the bible. In this book, Daniel underwent three years of traning from the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of the training program, Daniel and three other Israelites were brought before the king to be tested. Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed with Daniel and these men, that he found them to be ten times more capable than any others who were trained in his kingdom. As a result, Daniel and these men received high positions serving in the royal court.
Dr. Black continued in saying that if we believe the bible to be the truth of God, and that the Holy Spirit has power over us and the world around us, then without the Holy Spirit we may be limiting ourselves in professional, emotional, and spiritual growth as leaders. Here in Daniel, with the help of the Holy Spirit, men were able to grow to become ten times greater than others around them. It is this challenge that Dr. Black brought before us, to grow ten times greater through our doctoral journey, in our careers, and in our serve to others! We have an untapped reserve in us to grow ten times greater!
Personal Time at the Library of Congress
On Friday afternoon, May 29th, after my time with Dr. Black, I was able to spend time reading and reflecting in the reading room of the Library of Congress (pictures below):
I spent about two hours with my computer, my journal, and the book For This I Was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause by Pastor Brian Houston. There was specifically one section of this book that came alive to me in the Library of Congress reading room, and after hearing the encouraging words from Dr. Black to become ten times greater.
“Your life will unfold according to a certain pattern that is determined by your convictions (what you believe), your desires (what you want), and your affections (what you love). Those whose priorities are centered on Christ’s cause will see the rewards of their commitment emerging in their lives. When Jesus is your priority, he holds your life together” (Houston, 2008). He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17
This private time I had the Library of Congress brought the Washington, D.C. trip to its apex. This time was a reminder to me of my purpose for this doctorial program and the work that I do in higher education. This trip, the visits with ACTA, and Dr. Black, as well as my personal time in the Library of Congress had a profoundly encouraging and inspirational affect on myself. I am truly blessed by The Lord for having to have seen and visited Washington, D.C. this past week.
I am lastly reminded of one my favorite quotes from our sixth President John Quincy Adams; “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” It is my sincerest desire to help others find their purpose, in order to “become more”, and positively affect their circles of influence. This is the lens that I look through as I personally aspire to grow as a leader. To me, leadership is about serving others, and I want to continually do exactly that.
American Council for Trustees and Alumni (2002). Can College Accreditation Live Up to It’s Promise? Council for Higher Education Accreditation Website. Retrieved from: http://www.chea.org/pdf/CanAccreditationFulfillPromise.pdf
American Council for Trustees and Alumni (2007). Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work. ACTA Website. Retrieved from: https://www.goacta.org/images/download/why_accreditation_doesnt_work.pdf
Houston, B., 2008. For This I was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
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Think about someone in your life who was an exceptional leader.
What made this person stand out in your mind as an exceptional leader? Most likely, this leader accomplished something noteworthy; an extraordinary action that you were able to witness. Many times we attribute exceptional leadership to the extraordinary results that were accomplished.
As we discovered previously, exceptional leaders do not focus on just the results they aim for. For great leaders, results come as an aftermath of focusing on a timeless purpose or worthy cause. That’s not to say that leaders do not want great things to happen. In fact, that is the contrary.
Exceptional leaders realize that when they passionately lead with purpose, and they effectively shares their dreams, extraordinary things can happen.
When examining further how great leaders inspire great action, we found that followers were motivated to greater extents and performed to higher levels when there existed an alignment or sharing of purpose. Furthermore, it was found that when leaders led from a strong sense of purpose (or cause), they found greater meaning in their work, had greater influence, and tended to perform to higher extents than those who did not.
Think about Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, or Gandhi for instance. These men led extraordinary causes, which ended up changing ideas, people, and society forever. What did these men have in common? Well, they led with purpose, had a powerful vision, and then extraordinary action took place.
A prominent author on the subject of purpose, Nikos Mourkogiannis (2007), outlines that purpose is the starting point for great leadership. “Whether that is shareholders, board members, or constituents, finding and fulfilling a purpose that fits the identify of the organization is the foundation and starting point for greatness.”
Furthermore, Mourkogiannis (2007) states that, “when a company is driven by a shared purpose, its morale will be higher, the quality of innovation will improve, its internal and external relationships will be strengthened, and its leaders will be able to point the way forward with conviction.”
The topic of purpose is also a constant strand in Transformational Leadership expert James MacGregor Burns’ (1978) writing who says; “there is nothing so power-full, nothing so effective, nothing so causal as common (or shared) purpose . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose”.
Lastly, emotional Intelligence experts and authors, Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, and Daniel Goleman (2002) also highlight that “leaders cannot keep achieving new goals and inspiring the people around them without understanding the meaning of their own dreams.”
It is the constant of purpose, meaning, and timeless vision that seem to propel exceptional leaders to produce extraordinary action in their organizations and through their people.
As a leader, it is quite clear that understanding these concepts of purpose has tremendous benefit for your leadership, your team, and your organization. Exceptional action is possible when you lead from a strong purpose, and communicate a powerful, contagious vision.
The question is, will you take the time to find your purpose?
Boyatzis, R., McKee, A., & Goleman, D. (2002). Reawakening your passion for work. Harvard Business Review, 80(4), 86-94.
Burns JM. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.
Mourkogiannis, N.,. (2007). Purpose: The starting point of great leadership. LTL Leader to Leader, 2007(44), 26-32.
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Theories on organizational leadership philosophy have continued to evolve over the decades.
In the 1840s, leadership theory stated that great leaders were born not made. Later in the 1930s, trait theory emerged to describe great leadership as based upon certain physical qualities or social traits. At this point, great leaders could either be born or made, but only by associating with certain great leadership traits. Behavioral theories emerged in the 1940s focusing on the cause and affect of certain leadership behaviors toward their followers. Leadership theory now suggested the great leaders could be taught. Contingency (or situational) leadership theories came on the scene in the 1960s. Later, in the 1970s we began to see transaction leadership, such as leader-member exchange. Leadership became a mutual activity between the leader and follower. Finally, we saw the introduction of transformational leadership and servant leadership in the 1970s. Leadership became about behavior, inspiration, and most importantly a mutual relationship between follower and leader.
A Changing of the Guard
Arguably, two of the greatest change drivers facing organizations today are that of increased globalization and the shifting of our workforce to the millennial generation. It is these two factors that are changing the entire business environment we live in today. First, the landscape has changed. We are and will continue to do business in a globalized world. Second, the people have changed.
Today, globalized organizations are currently undergoing a radical shift into a millennial driven workforce. When the landscape changes, and the people change, everything changes. We are currently undergoing, what I like to call a changing of the guard for organizational leaders. Therefore, the way we lead the organization needs to change. It is based upon the two ideas of increased globalization and the deployment of millennial into the workforce, where we believe the theories of organizational leadership need to evolve once again.
In order for the leader to meet the new demands of the globalized, millennial driven workforce, we must embrace a purpose-centered leadership philosophy. The two aspects of purpose-centered leadership, purpose for the individual and purpose for the organization, seek to align an individual’s purpose (meaningful work, values and experiences) with the organization’s corporate purpose (values and cause).
The first aspect of purpose-centered leadership takes into account Vicktor Frankl’s (1958) theoretical work of will to meaning and applies three distinct notions for purpose as a motivator for organizational leadership theory:
- Purpose will involve pursuing meaningful activities for the employee within their vocation.
- Employees need to understand how these meaningful activities bring value or make meaning of past circumstances to themselves and potentially provide benefit to others.
- The employee’s meaningful work needs to be in alignment to a worthy cause.
It is through the alignment of these three elements of will to meaning (meaningful work, alignment and identification of values to meaningful work, and the alignment of meaningful work to a worthy cause) where purpose can become the highest motivator for us as individuals and as leaders in the organization.
The second aspect of purpose-centered leadership involves how the organization views and utilizes purpose for their members:
As a purpose-centered leader it is our duty to identify, articulate, and share the corporate purpose amongst employees of our organizations. The corporate purpose is how an organization sees and defines purpose internally and for its stakeholders. A corporate purpose communicates the powerful aspect of purpose for the organization, and it can ultimately provide the point of alignment for a worthy cause as discussed in Frankl’s will to meaning work.
The sharing of the corporate purpose involves facilitating the alignment between the members of our organization and the corporate purpose (Finely, 2009; Springett, 2004; Bartlet & Ghoshal, 1997; Burns 1978). To help embody this idea, prominent author and transformational leadership authority, James MacGregory Burns (1978) writes; “there is nothing so power-full, nothing so effective, nothing so causal as common (or shared) purpose . . . leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose”. (p. 3).
It is proposed that when leaders facilitate the alignment of these two aspects of purpose-centered leadership, the individual and the organization will experience this tremendous drive of purpose. Not only will this result is both performing to greater extents than others who do not, but both the individual and organization will share in the creation of meaningful work, which benefits both entities and society at large. This is where the tremendous value for purpose-centered leadership comes into play.
Bartlett, C. A., and S. Ghoshal., (1997). Beyond Strategy, Structure, Systems to Purpose, Process, People: Reflections on a Voyage of Discovery. Monash Mt. Eliza Business Review 1, no. 1 (September 1997): 54–61.
Burns JM. 1978. Leadership. Harper & Row: New York.
Finley, D. C. (2009). What’s your purpose?: Steps to creating a purpose-driven business. Journal of Financial Planning, , 18-19.
Frankl, V. E.,. (1958). On logotherapy and existential analysis. Am J Psychoanal the American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(1), 28-37.
Springett, N.,. (2004). Corporate purpose as the basis of moral leadership of the firm. Strategic Change, 13, 297-308.
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No one likes the “pit of their stomach feeling” when they are lost. Feeling lost and uncertain can be incredibly uncomfortable. These feelings can often occur when organizations encounter change. Many times change at work leaves us with these same feelings of being lost and confused. Being lost at work can feel like being trapped in a large maze that you can’t get out of. No one wants to have these feelings, especially with their work.
While organizational change is essential for short-term competitiveness and long-term survival, it does pose daunting managerial challenges for the leader (Luscher & Lewis, 2008). According to Kanter, Stien, and Jick (1992), managing change has become one of the most important responsibilities for the organizational leader.
Today, organizations are continuously engaged in some form of change, yet many major change projects rarely succeed in their efforts (Taylor-Bianco & Schemerhorn, 2006). In order for change implementation to happen successfully, leaders need to drive change forward while also managing the expectations and emotions of their team.
Change can cause ambiguity and uncertainty, which in turn can cause fear, negativity, and even hostility within the organization.
As a leader, it is our job to show others through the ambiguous maze by helping our teams “make sense” of change.
“Sense making” is an effort by the leader to create orderly and coherent understandings that enable change (Luscher & Lewis, 2008). Team members in fact “make sense” of why a change is taking place.
Think about this for a moment. When we have clear expectations and directions in front of us we tend to feel anchored and have a great sense of stability and security. This is because we have an idea of where we should be going and we have something to follow. In other words, we can “make sense” of the change and the new direction we’re heading. By making the ambiguous clear through helping team members “make sense” of change, organizations can conquer the negativity that is sometimes seen alongside widespread change.
I think we as leaders can make the most sense of change when we align a few important elements together.
What I mean is, we need to align PURPOSE, with MISSION/VISION, and the organization’s PLANS in order for CHANGE to happen successfully. This has to be done in a relevant way that “makes sense” for our teams. During periods of change, people need to be reminded of the PURPOSE for the organization, they need to picture the idealized future they are trying to get to by a clear VISION, and understand how their daily job responsibilities contribute to the PLANS that are made, which will ultimately enable the CHANGE to take place.
PURPOSE + VISION + PLANS = CHANGE
It’s the leader’s role to lead the way through change, but embodying a clear and timeless PURPOSE, communicating an inspirational VISION, and artfully guiding the PLAN for their team.
Remember, when people are empowered, released, and have a sense of vision and leadership that inspires, people will flourish (Houston, 2008).
With your help, people can make it through the maze!
Houston, B., 2008. For This I was Born: Aligning Your Vision to God’s Cause. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Kanter, R. M., Stein, B. A., & Jick, T. D. 1992. The challenge of organizational change: How companies experience and leaders guide it. New York: Free Press.
Luscher, L. S., Lewis, M. W., 2008. Organizational Change and Managerial Sensemaking: Working Through Paradox. Academic of Management Journal, 51; 221-240.
Taylor-Bianco, A., & Schermerhorn, J. 2006. Self-regulation, strategic leadership and paradox in organizational change. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 19: 457–470.
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Many view change as a scary undertaking. For some, venturing into new, unknown, undiscovered territory could be a horrific concept. Frankly speaking, many people in business, higher education, and professional circles are perfectly comfortable with the “same-ole-same-ole”. They hate the idea of change. Yikes!!!
Embodying effective change is a necessity that all leaders need to grasp. Today, our global world changes at an incredibly rapid pace. Organizations can quickly go from competitive to obsolete, almost immediately. Change is one consistent behavior as a leader that we all need to adopt if our organizations are to grow.
Reluctance to change can especially be the case within higher education. It is true, sometimes we in higher education move at a glacier pace. Imagine that!
When I first started serving as a higher education administrator, I was given some excellent words of wisdom regarding change that have served me well these past 10 years.
“Inch-by-Inch and it’s a Sinch”.
This simple saying communicates a wonderful and powerful concept of how to move small change into large charge. Slowly, surely, and consistently over time small change can lead to large charge.
If you want an effective way to drive large charge, it needs to start with a cluster of small ideas, which over time come together to shape large, impactful change. I have found that this is an approach that has worked well when encouraging change for higher education.
There are a few reasons why I believe this to be the case:
- Small charge is less scary than massive, large change. Therefore, it is easier for people within your organization to adopt.
- Small change allows for you to “test case” to be sure you are driving “effective change” in the right direction.
- Small, incremental change allows you line up an army of champions, influencers, and key decision makers to support large change. As a leader, if you are driving big change, you are cannot do it alone. You are going to need an army to advocate and support the change you are driving.
- Large change is much harder to plan for and execute. Accomplishing small change victories over a consistent period of time will add up to long-term, big change. Plus, it is much easier for you to do. (Remember, how do you eat a whale? One small bite at a time).
Remember, change is a good thing when it improves your organization and makes a better impact for those you serve!
“Inch-by-Inch and it’s a Sinch”.
I love how we get the opportunity to change, and to change often! If you embody this type of thinking, then the best is truly yet to come!
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