Leadership is influence. – John C. Maxwell

This is my favorite definition of leadership. It’s simple, straightforward, one word description that places leadership within everyone’s reach. All of us can exercise a certain degree of influence on someone at some point, in some place. Leadership isn’t about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.

Character is power. – Booker T. Washington

The first lesson we must each learn is that broad leadership is built from deep character. An infrastructure of great character is essential to support great conduct. The trust and involvement of our followers will be parallel to the level of our own character.

Use power to help people not to advance our purposes, nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. – George Bush

George Bush was right. We abuse our power when we utilize it for self-gain. One of the buzzwords of the 90’s was the word, “empower”. It simply means to give your power away. This is what people are longing for their leaders to do. This truth is echoed in Matthew 20:26 ‘‘… whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.”

Failure can be divided into those who thought and never did and into those who did and never thought. – Reverend W.A. Nance

Someone once told that the world has two kinds of people: thinkers and doers. Then they said, “the thinkers need to do more, and the doers need to thank more, ‘ I have always tried to do both-reflect and act. When I have combined the two, I have greatly reduced the odds of failure.

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.

I Have always believed this principle. It beautifully combines the necessity of both relationship and vision. I must live with the people to understand them and earn this trust. However, I am only their “body” if that’s all I do. To be a leader, I must live with God and move with Him beyond where the people are. If they are to follow me, I must be ahead of them.

Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. – Warren C. Bennis

Most of us learn the hard way that leadership is not merely having a vision. Anyone can dream. Effective leadership is knowing how to lay down the action steps for yourself and the organization so that the vision can be realized. This requires us to be practical and to understand the process along the way.

You manage things: you lead people. -Grace Murray Hopper Admiral, US Navy (Retired)

I must have articulated this principle a hundred times during my years as pastor. People don’t want to be managed, organized, stereotyped, tagged or filed. That’s what you do things in an office. People are dynamic and must be led through love and relationship

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit.

One of the least talked about pre requisites for leadership is a strong sense of personal security. Without it , I sabotage myself and my organization. With it I can handle mistakes with perspective, and have the ability to admit them, profit from them and correct them.

I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. -Bill Cosby

One of the weaknesses of many of today’s leaders is our compulsion to take surveys. It happens in politics and it happens in churches. A leader must go beyond being a people pleaser to being a God-pleaser. If our need for the people’s affirmation exceeds our needs for God’s affirmation, we’re in trouble. Leadership sometimes means doing what is unpopular.

You are the same today that you are going to be five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read. -Charles “Tremendous” Jones

I read this statement by Charlie Jones years ago, and I’ve become more convinced of its truth as time goes by. If we plan to become great, we must determine to expose ourselves to great books and great people.

No matter what size the bottle, the cream always came to the top. – Charles Wilson, President, GE

Pastoring in the Midwest, I quickly learned that people are somewhat like fresh milk from a cow. At first glance it all looks the same. But eventually the cream rises to the top. Similarly, you will find that given time, the “movers and Shakers” naturally rise to the topp. Simply watch and wait.

A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

We”ve all seen this statement on a plaque or poster somewhere. What a great reminder it is that safety, security, and survival are not meaningful goals of our lives. If we’re not going anywhere, we’re going to have to risk venturing into the unknown. Life is about adventure, not maintenance.

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere. – Lee lacocca

I discovered this truth as I observed my staff attempting to cast a vision to the people in their departments. Ideas alone can’t harness a group of people. We can only move to accomplish a goal when the vision is cast clearly, creatively and consistently.

Asking, “Who ought to be the boss?” is like asking “Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?” Obviously, the man who can sing tenor. – Henry Ford

I love the simple, unpretentious logic of Henry Ford. He cuts through the red tape of human politics, suggesting that leadership isn’t a matter of tenure or title, but the ability. The appropriate question is, “Who can get the job done?”

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am an attitude nut. I just happen to believe that an enthusiastic attitude places the a leader above his peers, opens his mind to creativity and provides motivation to his people. “Enthusiasm” is taken from two root words: “en” and “theos”, meaning “God within”, If we have a living God on the inside in us, we ought to be enthusiastic!

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. – Theodore Roosevelt

I have always tried to lead my staff this way: I select and salary my team based upon ability and productivity. When I place a leader in a position that fits his/her abilities, it is apparent in the overall quality of their work. That done, I leave them to reach the goals we’ve set in whatever way they choose. I don’t care so much how they get the goal, as long as they reach it!

The single most important factor in determining the climate of an organization is the top executive. -Charles Galloway

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Once a leader has been directing an organization (or church) for two years or more, the personality, atmosphere and problems of that organization are a result of his leadership. When you see him, you see the organization.

You must live with people to know their problems, and live with God in order to solve them. -P.T. Forsyth

This truism combines two very important ingredients of a leader. A leader is called to stand in the gap between the people and God. We must be close enough to the people to represent them (their needs and struggles) before God. At the same time we must be close enough to God to represent Him (His answers and directions) before the people. This is the key balancing act before us.

Reportedly, IBM’s Tom Watson was asked if he was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost IBM $600,000. He said, “No I have spent $600,000 training him. Why should I want somebody to hire his experience?

Tom Watson’s response provides insight to leaders who are tempted to let a staff member go after a mistake or failure. If their mistake was not immoral or fundamentally undermining to the direction of the organization, we might do well to keep them. Why not view it as a learning experience and consider it an investment in the future?

Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently. – Henry Ford

Once again, Henry Ford’s simplicity strikes me. Failure was never final to him nor was it fatal. Like his contemporary, Thomas Edison, he expected failures on the way to success. It was all part of the learning process. He allowed failure to tutor him, then he continued on down the path that is much smarter and wiser

Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure. – Thomas Edison

I tried terribly difficult to understand a person who is so satisfied with their present accomplishments that they have no desire to risk attempting something new. There is nothing wrong with spiritual contentment with our possessions and resources, but each of us should carry to our grave a holy dissatisfaction with our achievements.

I will have no man work for me who has not the capacity to become a partner. – J.C. Penny

I have heard many single women say they don’t date a man who isn’t a potential marriage partner. They don’t want to waste their time with unproductive emotional entanglements. J.C. Penny looked at employees the same way. He looked for the raw ability in all of them – the capacity to rise in the organization. If necessary, it is wise to create a position for those kind of people when you find them!

Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself. – Andrew Carnegie’s Tombstone

I am drawn to Carnegie’s humility, as well as his talent. He didn’t try to do it all or own it all. He once said, “ I owe whatever success I have achieved, by and large, to my ability to surround myself with people who are smarter that I am.” He knew his own limitations, but that only spurred him on to find associates who didn’t have the same ones.

Luck is the residue of design. – Branch Rickey

People talk about good luck and bad luck. I believe, however, that Branch Rickey was right. Very few outcomes in this cause and effect world are due to chance. Someone has said, “ Good luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparations.”

All glory comes from daring to begin. – Eugene F. Ware

To begin a task, is usually the toughest step. Indeed, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but I’ve found that step keeps people stationary. The fear of attempting something big immobilizes them. This is why beginning is half the battle and why all glory comes from daring to begin.

Don’t spend a $1.00’s worth of time on a $.10 decision.

I try to invest the appropriate amount of time and mental energy into every decision I make. Visualize a scale: on one side is the weight of how much the decision will cost. On the other, how much it will benefit. Balance each decision’s potential benefit with its actual cost.

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. – Thomas Jefferson

Poise comes through maturity. When we get it, and can keep it under pressure, we will have a decided advantage over others. Panicking usually has a negative effect on a situation, but remaining calm and cool enables us to think and act more intelligently. Make it your ambition to never panic.

The moment you stop learning you stop leading. – Rick Warren

Leaders are learners. Once a person feels they have a firm grasp on all the answers they have quit become being teachable and will soon cease from leading. Their thoughts and will become dated and eventually stale. Good leaders are hungry for learning all the way to the grave.

A person who is successful has simply formed the habit of doing things that unsuccessful people will not do.

Whatever business field you may have chosen, success will follow you if you will constantly do the things and provide the services that others refuse to do and fail to provide. This makes for outstanding leadership and creates a demand for you and what you do.

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do. – Henry Ford

Our reputation is obviously constructed from our track record, not our intentions. As I travel, I meet pastors and businessmen from all over the country. Many of them know the right principles, talk the correct language and lay the proper plans. Unfortunately, it takes morathan that to build a dynamic church or a profitable business. Success is about what we’ve produced, not what we’ve planned.

If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success. – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

It’s amazing to me that the levels of Olympic competition at the turn of the twentieth century are now the levels at which junior high school students compete. Why is that? During the last one hundred years, athletes have invariably discovered new ways to run faster, jump higher, and throw farther. Success therefore has meant not merely doing what previous champions have done but pioneering new methods.

You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb a little. -Andrew Carnegie

No one can succeed for you. Success isn’t a gift to be given away. Believe me I have tried many times to jumpstart one of my staff just to help them make it beyond where they might have gone alone. Some responded and rose to the challenge. Others, despite my optimism were unable or unwilling to climb a step up the ladder.

People support what they help create.

I’m convinced that the surest way to establish a sense of ownership among your constituency is to involve them in the creative process all along the way. You might be able to reach a goal faster on your own, but when you get there you will be just that – on your own.. Slow down and take your people along

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

John Wooden has been there. Here’s a coach who could have easily assumed he knew it all. It’s at that point however, that the greatest and most profound discoveries are found. Someone once said: “We only learn what we already know,” When we get beyond a superficial understanding of an idea or concept is when the truth really sinks in.

A good leader is a guy who can step on your toes without messing up your shine.

I have seen some of the best pastors and business executives in the country at work. They all seem to have the keen ability to speak the truth to lay out the imperatives and to communicate the marching orders to their people. At the same time they do so with much warmth and understanding and with such humor and sensitivity that no one feels pushed. They actually liked the experience and feel they are better for it.

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act; but a habit.

Success is not an event. It is an ongoing process we engage in, time and time again. Aristotle says it in a profound way. Anyone can succeed once or twice. And anyone can fail or lose a battle or two along the way. What we must focus on is the habit of excellence; practicing success, repeatedly day after day.

Eagle’s don’t flock – you have to find them one at a time. – H. Ross Perot

You have probably noticed this too. Unlike most birds, eagles don’t fly in flocks. They don’t simply fit in. They don’t conform to the activities of their own kind. You cannot find them in huge clusters. They are flying alone ahead of and higher than the other birds. Leaders are like eagles.

A man who is to be convinced before he acts is not a man of action. – Georges Clemenceau

I can easily lose patience with people whom I continually have to persuade before they will make a move. People of action don’t need a pep talk every time their organization needs to take a risk. I’m not suggesting we don’t plan, but men of action often embrace the method that Tom Peters made popular: ‘Ready. Fire. Aim.”

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people are not use to an environment where excellence is expected. -Stephen Jobs

Stephen Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers understood as well as anyone what it takes to build excellence into people. He knew that people don’t pursue excellence naturally. Pioneering a new corporation, he recognized that he had the opportunity to set a standard from the very beginning. Ultimately, he understood that this could only take place if he become the example of the quality he desired. He had to be the yardstick of excellence.

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

This word picture is pregnant with meaning . If a man wants to lead the orchestra, he must first make a solitary decision. He cannot drift along with the crowd, nor can pay attention to the crowd’s response to his leading. He must remain focused and be willing to stand alone. He must give himself to the few who are cooperating with him, not the masses who are looking on. Finally’ even if he yearns, for the crowd’s applause, that cannot be his goal. His goal must be to lead the orchestra with excellence. The applause is a by-product.

Congealed thinking is the forerunner of failure…make sure you are always receptive to new ideas. – George Crane

I don’t have to remind you that we live in a world of fast-paced change. We laughed at the fact that the US Patent Office nearly closed down toward the end of the 19th century because many felt that nothing new could be invented. Those who lead the pack today are those who are not only open to change but to the new paradigms- whole new ways of looking at established facts. It was the Swiss who invented the digital wristwatch, but because there own watchmakers were not open to new ideas, the Japanese have capitalized on it ever since.

It’s OK to lend a helping hand- the challenge is getting people to let go of it.

When something is freely offered for long enough, it is human nature to become dependent upon it. This is the reason behind the cry for welfare reform in our country. People get comfortable with a helping hand. And soon believe they can’t live without it Good leadership empowers people by providing the resources they need to get started, but the goal is how to teach them to be resourceful themselves.

Being in power is like being a lady. If you have to tell the people you are, you aren’t. – Margaret Thatcher

I love this quote from Margaret Thatcher of England. Any time our leadership is not obvious enough to those around us that it requires an explanation, we’re in danger of losing it. If you must continually remind people that you are in control – someone else is likely assuming that role. Leadership should appear natural and be evident to all.

I recommend you to take care of the minutes for the hours will take care of themselves. – Lord Chesterfield

Sometimes we miss the forest for the trees and other times we miss the trees for the forest. When we see only the “big picture” and fail o see to it that the minutes are dealt with appropriately, we may miss accomplishing our big picture goals. If we take care of the little things, we can build on that foundation, and eventually the hours will fall into place.

An important question for leaders: “Am I building people or building my dream using people to do it? – John C. Maxwell

Jack Hayford taught me something years ago. He said, “ Our Goal is not to build a big church – but to build big people”. If we invest in people and develop them into mission-driven disciples, we will see our dream for the church accomplishments. People quickly ascertain whether we are building them or using them.

Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.

This is the battleground where I fight most often. I can distinguish between good and bad. Yet with my disposition, which want to do everything accomplish everything and say yes to everything. I need accountability to choose between good and best. I have a “hatchet committee” that help me say no to the good things along the way.

Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers not their minds.

If you reflect on the most remembered political leader in American history, you will find men who were able to grip the hearts of the people: Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan. It’s not about partisanship. It’s about the ability to cast a vision. To empathize, to speak hope, to speak to the heart. It’s not that these leaders didn’t use logic, they just traveled beyond logic, to win the hearts of their audience.

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, all to get all the credit for doing it. – Andrew Carnegie

Leadership by definition cannot be a one man show. If I don’t possess the humility and desire to enable me to praise others and give them credit for their success, I’ll be severely handicapped in my leadership. If my ego is so big that I insist on the applause, attention, and affirmation, potential partners will leave me alone; and I will end up with only what one person can accomplish.

Leadership is not wielding authority – it’s empowering people. -Becky Brodin

Too many leaders make the mistake of thinking when they reach the top, it means they can use their position and their power to force certain behaviors from their subordinates. We’ve all made the statement, “If I were in charge – things would be different… “ However leadership is not about a power trip, but about giving power to the people under you. It’s about giving them the tools they need to do the job.

Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of his organization. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every organization reflects its leader. There would be no compassionate organization called The Salvation Army if not for William Booth. There would have been no Methodist Awakening if not William Carey. God doesn’t look for masses, or even for committees, when he wants to do something- He looks for a leader.

The most effective leadership is by example, not edict.

Nearly 90% of how people learn is visual. It’s what they see. Another 1% is through our senses. This alone explains why effective leadership is more caught than taught. People need to see a sermon, more than hear it, to really embrace it. A leader’s credibility and his right to be followed are based on his life, as much as his lip.

Whistler’s Law:
You never know who’s right. But you always know who’s in charge.

I’ve chuckled at the truth of this law more than once. There are indeed times when it’s difficult to determine who is right. In fact it may be an issue of subjective opinion in some cases.

However, determining who’s in charge is not nearly as difficult: just watch the people. When a tough decision needs to be made, who they do look to? Who do that trust? That’s the person in charge.

The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision. – Helen Keller

This is my favorite statement made by Helen Keller, a woman who was blind and deaf all of her life. She said this in response to the question: “What could be worst than to be born without sight?” Vision is non-negotiable for anyone who wants to succeed. It is the blueprint on the inside of a leader before he ever sees the plan on the outside.

If a man knows not what harbor he seeks, any wind is the right wind
– Seneca

This quote from Seneca is indicative of how so many people live their life. Not knowing what long- term direction they are headed for, they bounce around like a ball in a pinball machine. They live reactive lives based on what happens to them rather than pro-active lives based on what values are in them. They live their by “accident” rather than “on purpose”

It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed. – Harvey S. Firestone

In a word of a leader is to leave a legacy. He wants to leave behind something permanent after he dies. He wants to have improved the lives of people in some corner of the world or better yet, see them engaged in a cause that counts. This does not necessarily mean fame or wealth. It simply means people who continue in a mission because he has developed them.

The highest compliment leaders can receive is the one that is given by the people who work for them.

To me, success is being respected by those who are closest to me. I want to display integrity to those who see all my warts and wrinkles. I want to have the admiration of my family and my colleagues, the people who see me day in and day out. It’s easy to be honored and esteemed by those who are far way and seldom seen. I want to be a hero at home.

It isn’t the people you fire who make our life miserable, it’s the people you don’t. – Harvey Mackay

Throughout my ministry, I’ve been fascinated by the words Jesus spoke in John 15. Specifically, where He talks about pruning the vine so that the branches could continue to grow. I’ve met scores of pastors and leaders who are afraid to “prune” when it comes to their staff. They think it will not appear very “Christian”. Quite the contrary, the concept is not only biblical, but if we don’t practice in our organizations, someday it may come back to haunt us.

Today a reader-tomorrow a leader. – W. Fusselman

One of the principles I’ve always tried to practice, is to be well-read. I believe every meeting I enter without the preparation of good information is one where I can’t easily assume my leadership role. Knowledge is power. As the leader, I must know more about the options in front of us, than my boards and committees. Reading helps my leading.

The essence of leadership is a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully. On every occasion. You can’t blow and uncertain trumpet. – Theodore Hesburgh

I’ll never forget hearing the “vision” of the Pepsi Company a number of years ago: “The taste of Pepsi Cola on the lips of every one in the world” What a huge and overwhelming vision-yet how precise, measurable and pointed it was. Everyone in the company knew it, and was harnessed to achieve it. Our vision must be heard until our people can embrace it.

Leadership development is a lifetime journey – not a brief trip.

I believe this now more than ever. About fifteen years ago. I thought I had handle on leadership. No doubt, I did understand some significant leadership principles. But the more I grow, the more I recognize that my own leadership development will take a lifetime. It’s no’ something we can pick up from a weekend conference. We must commit our lives to it.

The test of leadership: Turn around and see if anyone is following you.

This is the acid test of leadership. If you want to evaluate your own leadership’ look at the people following you. Is anyone following? What kind of people do you attract? Does your vision compel people to follow? Are they committed to the vision? This is a simple series of question every leader should ask himself

If you pay peanuts expect to pay monkeys.

I believe in having a staff that is lean and mean rather than fat and sassy. As my last church grow, we were able to do so without adding any new staff over along period of time. The reason? I paid my pastoral staff well and I got the best. Because I paid them well I was able to maintain a strong core and as we grew they assumed multiple responsibilities. And they didn’t have to work for peanuts.

It is wonderful when the people believe in their leader: but it is more wonderful when the leader believes in the people.

It is difficult to say which must come first: the leader believing in his people or vice versa. However, I do know this: If a leader begins to believe in his people, it is only a matter of time before both occur. The fundamental step a leader must take is to believe in his people and communicate it to them. Don’t ever settle.