Principles of Effective Leadership - Lesson 6

Develop Leadership Skills

In this lesson, you will learn about the importance of focusing on your strengths and how it can improve your leadership skills. Marcus Buckingham, an expert in the field, offers a guide to help individuals and organizations become more strength-based. By debunking myths about personal growth and development, and offering practical steps to identify and develop your strengths, you will be better equipped to excel in your chosen area. Applying these principles, you will understand the value of team members volunteering their strengths and balancing the spirit of service with a focus on strengths-based contributions. This approach leads to more effective leadership and overall success in both personal and professional settings.

John  Johnson
Principles of Effective Leadership
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Develop Leadership Skills

I. The Importance of Strength-Based Leadership

A. The Role of Strengths in Personal and Organizational Success

B. Amplifying Strengths vs. Fixing Weaknesses

II. Marcus Buckingham's Guide to Strength-Based Leadership

A. Busting Myths about Growth and Personality

B. Steps to Identify and Develop Strengths

1. Clarifying What Strengths Are

2. Focusing on Success, Instinct, Growth, and Needs

III. Applying Strength-Based Leadership Principles

A. The Value of Team Members Volunteering Their Strengths

B. Balancing the Spirit of Service with Strengths-Based Contributions

  • In this lesson, you'll learn about the critical role of leadership in ministry, covering key aspects like core values, vision strategy, decision making, team building, conflict resolution, and biblical theology of leadership to enhance your effectiveness as a leader.
  • This lesson offers a comprehensive exploration of the complexities and challenges in defining leadership, highlighting its context-dependent nature, the influence of culture, and the variety of styles, personalities, and traits associated with leaders; it ultimately identifies three essential components of leadership: having followers, influencing others, and setting direction.
  • In this lesson, you explore the importance of leadership, vision, and planning, and learn about key qualities of a good leader, such as global thinking, flexibility, and empathy. You will also understand the three components of leadership and the delicate balance between leadership and influence.
  • This lesson delves into the importance of leadership, illustrating how it is critical to success in the political, corporate, and religious sectors, with personal experiences and expert opinions reinforcing the need for strong leaders to guide and shape organizations.
  • In the lesson, you gain insights into the nature of leadership, its key components, and the need for leaders in various contexts. You also explore the debate on whether leaders are born with innate abilities or if leadership can be acquired and developed over time. Additionally, the concept of leadership as a summoning, where individuals are called to lead during specific situations, is introduced.
  • Focus on your strengths and improve your leadership skills through Marcus Buckingham's guide, which debunks myths about personal growth, identifies strengths, and emphasizes the value of team members volunteering their strengths while balancing service with strengths-based contributions.
  • This lesson equips you with an understanding of the context of leadership, various leadership styles, and practical applications to effectively lead in different situations.
  • When you are identifying the social context of a group, it is important to recognize the structural, human resource, political and symbolic aspects of the group.

  • In this lesson, you gain insights on situational context in leadership, focusing on the leader, followers, organization, and environment, enabling you to adapt and foster growth.
  • Gain insights into core values and axioms in leadership, the power of language and word pictures, the leader's responsibility for casting a vision, and overcoming the fear of asking for help in order to rally support for a great vision.
  • By studying humility as a core value for leaders, you gain insight into the importance of humility in avoiding temptations of pride and power and discover the characteristics that define humble leaders. Additionally, you explore other core values, such as compassion, courage, and diligence, and learn how to build and maintain these values in your life through experience, self-assessment, and reflection and how it is essential in avoiding the temptations of pride and power.
  • This lesson teaches the significance of core values and skills in effective leadership, covering aspects such as integrity, justice, authenticity, competence, discernment, and intuitive leadership, all of which contribute to becoming a well-rounded and impactful leader.
  • By exploring this lesson, you learn the importance of teamwork in leadership, the characteristics of high-performing teams, and how to build, develop, and lead successful teams in your organization.
  • Learn the principles of effective leadership, explore key leader characteristics, and discover how to build strong teams, develop leadership skills, and measure success.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the critical role of leaders in setting direction, the importance of teamwork, and the need to establish a clear mission and purpose for organizations. Understanding these concepts enables you to be a more effective leader who can inspire and guide teams towards shared goals.
  • A Mission is a philosophic statement that answers the question, “Why are we here?” Vision is a strategic statement that answers the question, “Where are we going?”

  • This lesson teaches the importance of long term thinking in visionary leadership, emphasizing the value of learning from history, engaging present realities, and exploring future possibilities through scenario thinking and adapting to technology and trends.
  • This lesson explores strategic thinking, SWOT analysis, and trend analysis to help develop a clear vision and mission and adapt to an ever-changing environment in education and ministry.
  • Identifying objectives is the process of moving from vision to reality. Objectives are the tactics employed to carry out the strategies, the action plan of what needs to happen now. Decisiveness is an important quality of a good leader.

  • By studying this lesson on leadership and change, you will learn to effectively manage change in leadership, overcome resistance, implement and communicate change vision, and sustain long-lasting organizational transformation.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge and skills to navigate leadership challenges and transitions, fostering personal growth and organizational success.

This is a core leadership course designed for those who intend to be future leaders in ministry. This course will move from definitions to the core values of a leader; how to take a ministry through a vision process; engage in strategic planning, decision-making, and implementation; build great teams; work through conflict and change; delegate tasks; and effectively mentor the next generation of leaders. Models from the corporate, political, and military worlds will be compared and contrasted with biblical definitions and illustrations of leadership.

You may download the complete set of Dr. Johnson’s notes as a pdf. Since this class was presented during a condensed time frame, Dr. Johnson does not comment on all the points in his notes. We have provided the full text of the notes for your benefit. Click on the Class Outline link under Downloads.

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Dr. John Johnson

Principles of Effective Leadership


Develop Leadership Skills

Lesson Transcript

Dr. John Johnson [00:00:01] As I mentioned, there's not going to be much time in this course to spend just talking about our own assessment. So what I'll do is I'll share a couple of things, and it does relate to leadership in terms of helping you to think about your own leadership skills and strengths. A guide that's really helped me is Marcus Buckingham. And if you read Marcus Buckingham said they ring a bell. Amongst his books he's written is Go with your strengths. So let me take you through this page. I want to make a few comments about it and we can talk about it. He makes the point that ministries, just as people really need to become strength based organizations, meaning this, that you are creating a culture where people are encouraged to discover their strength and make this their focus. A person will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses that again, a person will excel only by amplifying strengths, never by simply fixing weaknesses. So, for example, here's a story when I was a youth pastor, so I kind of cut my teeth initially in ministry by working with Youth for Christ on campus ministry, because Youth for Christ had a real impact in my life. So I came up here to go to seminary, and then eventually I became a youth pastor in a church. So I worked under a pastor who wasn't a very competent pastor, wasn't one of the favorite people in my life. But nonetheless, he I got to work with him and I'm thankful for that. I had a role in the church. I remember my first performance review. I'd been there for about a year. And it never really taken a real interest. It's not like he came up and hung out with the high school kids at times to see what's going on, or he was kind of over here in his silo. And I suppose to a certain extent I was over here. So he said, So John, as you look at this year in assessing things, tell me what encouraged you? And I told him a few things, what we were doing and all. And then he said, So tell me also the things that kind of your weak areas, things that not so well. And I shared a few of those. Never forget this. You said, Hmm, okay, so why don't you, this next year, work on those work on those week areas, you know, try to build them up, make them a little stronger, be a good good for your ministry. And kind of dutifully, I went out thinking, Yeah, okay, that seems like a good thing. Well, Marcus Buckingham would probably say that was I was stupid. What he should have said is something like this. Okay, let me hear that again, John. So what do you see as your what's your strong suit? What do you do really, really well? Well, what do you love to do? Well, here's what really his wife's answer would be to say, I want you to do that even better. I want you to go with who you are. Now, it's not that you don't pay attention to these other areas. You may have to find people to compensate for that. But I don't want you to spend all your time trying to make those better. It's like a church that, let's say, hires a pastor who's not a gifted administrator and says, Oh, well, so we have this. Conference. We want you to go to an administration. You know, really when you look at it or apply that to any situation you're in, education, wherever you are generally, that amounts to just so much waste of money. Because the person never really becomes that. Buckingham would say, and hence the title of his book, Go With Your Strings. So he gives several steps. I'll just work through some of the, she says. Step one Bust the myths. Myth number one. Your personality changes as you grow. Truth is, as he says, as you grow, you become more of who you already are. Myth two You will grow the most in your area of weakness. Of course, this is what he hugely hits at. Truth is, you will grow the most in your area of strength. He puts it this way strengths are your multiplier. If, let's say your strength is teaching, well, then do whatever you can to become an even better, more skillful teacher. We take courses on pedagogy, read, just drill down and become an excellent, excellent teacher. If you think about it, he's liberating us, isn't he? Because that's what we really want to do. Myth three good team members do whatever it takes. He says. No good team members volunteer their strengths. What is he saying to someone? Put that back in different language. Good team members. Do whatever it takes. Good team members. The truth is volunteer their strengths.

Speaker 2 [00:05:09] Some very selfish. The second is more of as a start to give back for the better of the.

Dr. John Johnson [00:05:16] Hmm. I thought you'd say the opposite. Yeah. The good team members do whatever it takes in terms of real serving hood. Hey, whatever the need is, just tell me where I can fit in. Interesting. What do you think about those myths? I think they're on target.

Speaker 3 [00:05:37] I think pretty much, although. But the last couple of years I've had kind of a profound personality change. But that was probably just because of my circumstances.

Dr. John Johnson [00:05:46] Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, maybe you haven't had a change. You're just becoming more and more of who you are. That's. That's how Buckingham would put it. Yeah.

Speaker 2 [00:05:54] I just want to contribute here. I've experienced three both, So I think they're like two sides of the same coin. I have been on some ministry teams where people do have the idea to let me help serve. And I don't know what it is about that spirit, but it's. Makes the difference.

Dr. John Johnson [00:06:16] It is good to have the spirit of service, right? Wherever the need is. Hey, I'm happy to help. How can I help? What I think Buckingham is saying is, is that it might be wiser for a leader to say in a case like that, to say, Well, I appreciate that. Thank you. I thank you for your willingness. What I'd like to do is here's what I want to know. What is it you do really well? And let's try to fit you in there because. We avoid a potential real frustration with a great OC. Could you go do this? I mean, when somebody says, Hey, wherever the need is and we we have a real hole over here, we send that person over there, let's say they do a really terrible job and then they get really criticized. I can't think of an illustration at the moment, but in a sense I think I've seen that happen. And then that person has the burden of caring people criticizing the person who is just simply trying to help. Or here's another thing we can set up. Is the person beginning to own something? And now we can't budget out of that and we go, Oh yeah, they should never have been doing that. It all started off innocent enough, but now this person is doing what they're crummy at. But they want to do. Step to clarify what strengths are. So he uses to say, Gee, in success. I've been successful at this. So ask yourself, what if I been successful at instinct? I do this as a gut. It's just me. It just natural. It just comes out of me. If you're a leader, it just comes out. You come into a room. It has nothing to do with arrogance or what could it could have something to do with arrogance or control. But it could also be when people are kind of floundering, it's just natural for you to say, So where are we going here? It's just in your gut. Growth. I picked this up quickly. So when you're in your zone, these are things you pick up. Needs. I always look forward to doing this. I love to preach. I just love to preach. It's just there inside of me. I'm not a saint, so I do it really well. I just love to do it. It's just part of who I am. But there's also a love hate relationship. I hate to preach, too. Sometimes what we really like isn't necessarily what we always love, you know? Right. It can be a lot of other things, but clarify your strengths. And part of this is helping is for others to do that, too. Once when I was pastoring in Europe, there was this castle in Austria that there was a guy there, an executive director of this castle. It was a ministry that had leadership conferences. Writers would come in. Lots of different things going on in this castle. So the executive director, somehow I don't know how it came about my name or something through somebody else and wrote me and inquired if I would like to consider doing this. And I'd been at this ministry for about four years as a pastor. And so I went flew down there. Well, I got in at night, came into Munich, took the drive down to MIT or so, Austria. I got up in the morning and I came out on this terrace and this castle was right in the middle of the Alps. I mean, it was like it was spectacular. I said to Heather, I said. It's the will of God. But I did. I said, I know it. I can feel it. Everything. This is God. This is God. God written all over it. So we interviewed and it really went well. I felt really good. And the whole time, you know, my wife is gone. She's just not really sure I went back home. Because a lot of it would be going out in this executive director position and doing funding and getting a lot of these administrative things that I don't really like to do. But I, I would do it to live there, you know, that kind of thing. I'm telling you, I was grasping for any sign from heaven. And actually, the funny thing I was reading this book called The Flame of the Spirit was written by Clark Pinnick on the Holy Spirit. And I was reading it at this time, there was an asterisk on chapter one, and down at the bottom it said, I'd like to thank the folks of Schloss Mint or Silver, which was this castle, for the opportunity to do a study here in writing this book. I remember I went to Heather and I said, It's right here. This this is this is right from God. Why would I you know, it's the stars are lining up, you know. But I had a really good friend who said, who knows me really well. Because I talked to him a lot about it, too. And I always remember this. It's always stuck in me, said John. He said you could probably do well to find out. But he said it's not your sweet spot. You know, it's not your sweet spot. You know what I mean by that sweet spot? It's like I think of a catcher when he's catching for a pitcher. And the sweet spot is where. What's the sweet spot in a catcher's club, do you think? Right. Then the center right. There's the sweet spot. So a big part of what Buckingham is saying is find your sweet spot. And then go with that. I mean, just go with it. Whatever. It's your sweet spot. Go with it. Don't spend a whole bunch of your time with things that are not your sweet spot. So step three is free your strengths, as he puts it. Pay attention to your use of strengths. So once you've discovered your sweet spot, ask yourself this question. How are you using your time? If you find that, say, 80% of your time is not in your sweet spot. Well, what do you think that looks like?

Speaker 2 [00:12:36] Frustration.

Dr. John Johnson [00:12:37] It's got to be total frustration. Right. And part of what Buckingham points out in his book is that his guess is from his observation, is probably like 80% of lives are not working in their sweet spot. They've got this job they're doing till they retire. They just can hardly wait to get out. They spent the bulk of their life outside of their sweet spot. What a sad thing. Right? So pay attention to your use of strengths. Find the missed opportunities, learn new skills to build your strengths and build your job around your strengths. Maybe what some of us will have to do is we might have to come in suddenly and over time, build what we're doing around who we are. Or maybe just also on the other side, to be honest, which we should always be in an interview situation and say, if you're looking for this, you found the guy. If you're looking for this, I'm not the person, no matter how much we want it, because otherwise we're setting everybody up for not only frustration but failure. Step four, he says, here is stop your weaknesses. And what he's saying here is learn your weaknesses. Ask yourself questions like this. What repeatedly has little success? What is it you do that when you do it had. It doesn't always reveal you as being really good at it. What is it that if you stopped today? Here's a good question, right? What is it? If I stopped today, no one would notice. Oh, you're no longer doing that. I didn't realize that. When did you stop doing that? Oh, three years ago. Let's say you write a blog and you've been doing it for a while, but you're really not a writer. But you know, hey, others blog. I want to be a blogger and you stop. Maybe nobody noticed. Nobody's come up to you recently and said, Hey, your last blog was, you know, 2008. Or another great question and this is a good one is what is it you do that drains you? A lot of things drain us. But I mean, what is it you do and you hate this. It just pulls everything out of me. I mean, a good way to determine your strengths is what energizes you. What is it when you're doing it, man? You're going strong. But what is it that you've got to drink? A lot of sip fizz to get through, right? I mean, what does it mean? You just have to keep drinking it. Go with your strengths. Go. Put your strengths to work. Another book he's done is called Strength Finder. You ever heard of that book? Strength Finder. Adam, have you done that? Yeah. Have you done that? Yeah. That's something good to do as well. It's pretty accurate. You go through this here and it'll to find your core strengths. So I've given you, for example, what they list as 34 talents, strengths. So you see them like achiever, activator, etc., all the way down. Developer, discipline learner. So if Lerner is, say, at the top of your list, what do you think that indicates about you? Maybe that's why you're here taking this course. You just like to learn, right? It's interesting. Number one on my list is achiever. And I know that he nails it because you know what I instinctively ask myself every morning when I wake up, it's like always the first question on my mind. So what did I get accomplished yesterday? It's just an instinctive thing. A day that didn't achieve something is a wasted day. So you all find yourself on here that we all find something about her. So you go to this whole course on leadership. Part of what I hope you do is take some time through this course to ask yourself. Am I a leader? Now, if you come to conclude, I don't know if I'm really a leader. I'm not in any way suggesting so you shouldn't take this class. It's important that we all understand leadership, and we're all going to have to exercise leadership in areas. But if you say I know, I think leadership is part of who I am. And I think most people who go to seminary feel that way or they probably wouldn't be in this context. As Buckingham would state. Then go with your strength. Make it your best strength. What he's releasing you and me to do is to tell people who want to conform as to what their strengths are and they think we should be strong. Like that is to say no. I'm sorry. I'm going to disappoint you. It's not who I am. It's. No, I'm not going to try to get better at that to please you, because that's your strong suit. No, I'd rather spend most of my time trying to be really good at the end of life. I'd rather be really good at two or three things than. Mediocre at ten, wouldn't you? So the sooner we come to grips with who we are. It's like that saying, you know, some people are waiting all their life for their ship to come in and then they discover, sadly, near the end of their life, they were standing at the wrong dock. We are, in a sense, at times we wait for our ship to come in. That opportunity. I have seen some of my friends now who have lived a lot of their life like I have. They're still waiting for their ship to come in. And I think some of them are starting to go, Maybe I've been standing at the wrong place. Weaver waited for a bus or train. Or then you realize. After a while, I think I must be at the wrong waiting station. Bobby Clinton puts it this way here in his book on leadership. This has always stuck with me, too. He has a chapter in which he talks about the various stages a leader goes through, and one of them is what he calls convergence. It's a great word, really. He says, here's what all leaders well, anyone you don't have to be a leader, but everyone should aim for. Everybody should aim for convergence. And it comes through a lot of experimenting and risking and all because we don't know until we go out there and take risks. We don't know if we're a teacher until we go out and teach. Right. And we may fail several times at the beginning. None of us just walks into something and instant. We don't find our strengths that way. A lot of times we find our strengths through a lot of risk. But he says, there comes a day in all of this here that the aim all of us should get to is what he calls convergence, where your greatest passions. And your strengths. Line up with the greatest opportunity it calls at convergence. So in other words, you might be in a great opportunity. You might be in a place to say, Man, this is just the greatest place to be. But what they want you to do is and who you are. On the other hand, you might have found your strength, your passion and all that, but you just feel like you're dying where you're at. In my first church, I finally had to say largely to a congregation that was pretty content to just stay where they were. I almost put it in language like this, I said. I don't want to die too young. I'm going to die if I stay here. I got to feel like I have a tiger by the tail. And here I just got a domestic cat. You know, I just felt like you never felt like that. Just. And I want to be part of something that's good, but I'm just. I'm dying in this place. You know who you are. You know what you want to do, but you're just dead here. You know, the other can be pretty bad to in this great place, but they're not tapping into me and I could do this, but either that needs met or they just aren't interested in unleashing me. Either one of those. But when they both come together, kind of like when the stars align, if you will, that's convergence. And what Clinton says is something like this. If you find convergence and not a lot of people find it sort of like sweet spot again, when you find that, then he says that sets you up to move to what he calls the last chapter of a leader's life. And that is afterglow. When it defines this afterglow is now you can in those latter years, now that you're sort of not so much in the thick of it all, you can just pour yourself into others. A good example of this to me is a guy like Gordon MacDonald, who he's been through his own deep valleys, but he's written a lot on leadership is pasture, he's led organizations. Occasionally he comes and teaches a course for me, but he's in his retirement years. He's now probably late sixties, early seventies, and he really is a man who has moved from convergence to Afterglow. He's just pouring himself into the next generation. And why? Because he has something to pour in. People who get to convergence have something to pour into the next generation. If we go with our strengths, we have a good chance of getting to convergence. And here's what I found Most of the world wants to do. It wants to always push us to our weaknesses. Keep working. Make that better. It's not that again, we ignore those, but it's not where we should be investing our best energy. Okay. Thoughts? Questions.

Speaker 2 [00:23:14] I like that. You talked about listening to other people who know you and. Yeah.

Dr. John Johnson [00:23:20] Yeah, they.

Speaker 2 [00:23:21] Can give you a perspective.

Dr. John Johnson [00:23:24] Yeah, They'll tell you if they're the right people, they'll tell you. Back to when I was youth pastor working with this past year. He had hired an associate pastor and he was a great guy. He was much more relational and personal than the pastor. He was just a terrible preacher. Every now and then he. Pastor would have him preach and it was terrible. I don't know how else to describe it, but nobody had the guts to say. Fern, this is you. I remember one day friend called me in and he said, Hey, John, you know you're going to seminary now. Maybe you could teach me Greek. And I thought that would be a fruitless exercise. But because he couldn't learn Greek, but even if he knew Greek, it wasn't going to. So, yeah, you know, our best community really are those that would say, Well, Sandy, that's really not your strength. Like my friend, my friend's name was Abbot. He was a guy who said, Jon's not your sweet spot. And actually, at that moment, all I needed to hear, I didn't want to hear it, but it's what I needed to hear.

Speaker 2 [00:24:41] Did your wife prefer not to you?

Dr. John Johnson [00:24:43] Oh, yeah, she was. She had affirmed it from the beginning. Yeah, She just said, I don't think this is you. Of course, she was looking at other aspects. Like our kids would have to go to a school that was only German speaking. And she probably was also looking at the fact, honestly. So what am I going to do? I'm going to live in this castle and watch you do ministry and dry up. But no, she knew. So our community, our mates, or our best friends. Now we need to listen to them.

Speaker 3 [00:25:26] In this situation. There are times when the. For certain things. It's like I'm just the worst organizer in the world. But when it comes to funerals and weddings. It's like I'm a different person because I'm so afraid I'm going to screw everything up.

Dr. John Johnson [00:25:42] Because, you know, you only get one chance. Yeah.

Speaker 3 [00:25:44] Yeah. Especially.

Dr. John Johnson [00:25:45] Can we do this funeral over here, you know, make it a redo. I was like, Oh, that wedding. Let's try that again. And probably again, what Buckingham would say is, okay, that's good. But now in the other areas, don't go to management school to get that better. Find somebody to fill your gap. Right. Who actually just wants to be on leash to do what they do really well. So how many of us do a lot of things we're not so well at and leave people out there that could do it really, really well? That's the other piece of it. I know you're going to all be disappointed that we're getting done early here today, but we're going to hit it hard. Next time, we're going to move into context and then values a few other things. Don't get away from this class too much in two weeks, so it feels like you're starting over. Read the notes ahead of time. These two weeks would be a good time to do a lot of reading.

Speaker 2 [00:26:48] You like to bring what you need?

Dr. John Johnson [00:26:50] Yeah. Great. Thank you. I'd like you to for sure bring leadership moment. And I would like you to bring Axiom. And now that you mentioned it, what I'd like you to do is just to help keep you on track. I'd like you to read at least one through 20. One Through 20? Yeah. And if you read a little bit further, that's fine. But I'm going to ask each of you to bring one of these axioms that you really liked. Let's do this. Let's read at least by two weeks, at least through Eugene Krantz. That's the third chapter. So read through at least three chapters of this and bring this because I'd like to take a little time. I think we'll have time. It might be halfway through the lecture that we might stop him and say, Hey, let's go back and talk about Roy PAGELS. What did we learn from that? Okay, so come right on Those three chapters, come ready to share an axiom.