Leadership


It appears April was a false dawn for getting back on the blog bandwagon. I fell back off and have struggled to get back into the habit. But I will try again and post at least each week.

I was inspired by spending some time with my friend Alan Wilson, currently my successor as Bishop of Buckingham. We were at the Leadership Summit in Chicago last week and he has started blogging this month. His blog’s great and bound to be for the long haul – he’s technically able and a fine photographer, as well as having lots to say.  Do check out his reflections on the Leadership Summit on his blog.

It was a great week.  Highlights for me were, firstly, the experience of being away with sixteen people from our Diocese and seeing the way they related to one another and were open to the learning output of the Summit.  Secondly, I was impressed by all the sessions, apart from one, and came back re-envisioned for the potential of the Church to make a difference in the world. 

There’s a lot of other stuff I could say, but I’ll save that for another time. My final reflection relates to one of Willow Creek’s core values – “Excellence honours God and inspires people.”  To be as good as you can be is a great challenge and not just for leaders.

During my time with the Willow Creek Association, I learnt this.  That if you can get funding to see this thing in the USA it’s worth it.  A very close second is to visit the Global Leadership Summits that are held in September and October around the UK.  These are by videocast and pound for pound you won’t get a better leadership learning experience anywhere in the world.  The feedback from last year’s videocast conferences was exceptional.  Here’s my advice – BE THERE!

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I haven’t posted for a while but I’m back.

I’ve had some interesting conversations and learning experiences over the last month or so. I want to reflect on some here.

My friend and business colleague, Patrick Mayfield, presented some very interesting findings about change from the world of science, particularly medicine. “The central issue is never strategy, culture, or systems,” says John Kotter. “The core of the matter is always about changing the behaviour of people.”

Most behavioural change programmes fail for patients with preventable disease fail. But Dr Dean Ornish’s programme for turning round people with clogged arteries has bucked the trend.
Without going into details, it was holistic and the marks of its success were:
framing the change with the incentive of the joy of living rather than the fear of death – and telling a different story about life than the one that has become ingrained.
introducing radical changes rather than incremental ones. They are often easier for people!
supporting the change with the help of peers, trainers and motivators.

How might that apply in your life and setting? I’m working it through in mine.

At a recent meeting, Lee Rayfield, my fellow bishop in this diocese, shared two metaphors of transition from the natural world that had struck him from a book he was reading by Howard Friend. The transitions were from tadpole to frog and from caterpillar to butterfly.

Howard Friend compares the marks of the tadpole’s development – which is visible, organised, orderly and uses the basic structure – with the marks of the caterpillar’s transformation – which is hidden, disorganised, chaotic and abandons the basic structure. Change management gurus call the former incremental change and the latter step change.

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I’ve said I want to challenge the assumptions the C of E has about how to do church, particularly with reference to releasing the emerging church.

First on my hit list is paying people.

When we think about beginning a new project, we set out from the foundational belief – almost credal – that you have to have paid staff from day one. I’ve been told by a leading C of E thinker on fresh expressions that, to pioneer a new project successfully, you need two full-time paid staff. I frequently meet with people who tell me about their vision for a fresh expression of church, only for it to transpire that the reason they are sharing their passion is because they want me to pay for it!

But does this need to be the case?
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A lot of what I have learnt over the years about change management has been gleaned from what I would describe as “secular” material, for want of a better term. I have no problem with this but, as a Christian leader, I also ask myself whether there are any distinctives that my faith would bring to this subject.

Given that most of us are not committed to change for change’s sake, we’ve got to reflect on why we are called to change and secondly what we are called to change to.
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The English cricket team are going through a very bad time. The most recent overnight surrender points to a lack of self-belief. Two years ago, we celebrated victory in an epic Ashes confrontation. Today we wonder where it has all gone. The BBC commentary team were clear in their assessment of the top order batters’ performance: they got out to poor shot selection, rather than to the Aussie bowlers.

You can deploy all the usual excuses: it’s the captain; it’s the coach; it’s the loss of some key players; it’s the poor preparation; it’s allowing WAGs to be around, undermining the team’s focus etc. However, they’re good players, so what’s gone wrong?
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I’m often asked to address the subject of change and how it can be managed.  Yesterday, at the Christian Resources Exhibition in Exeter, I addressed a group of over 100 bright-eyed and motivated people (all the more amazing as it was in the after lunch graveyard slot!) on the subject of leading for change.  I am interested, though not surprised, that this subject always creates an audience, not least in voluntary and non-profit organisations.

Consequently, I plan to do some posts on the subject of change and how it can be managed.  Obviously, this will relate to churches, but it will also have some value for anyone who is tasked with overseeing change wherever they are.  Here goes…

The first thing is obvious, but often missed by leaders who are introducing change.  Ask yourself this question, “As I seek to lead change, what am I modelling in my own life about an openness to change?” It’s “practise what you preach” stuff.
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