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The Genius of ‘AND”

A good friend of mine once taught me the lesson of making informed choices when making decisions. He said that It’s not unusual for a leader to be presented with an “either” and “or” decision and that there are lessons to be learnt from both. He asserted that this can be done by taking the best of both without necessarily choosing one over the other.

In many leadership situations that we shall meet in life, creativity is a critical element in decision making. For instance, in matters of spending or giving your customers the best without spending a fortune, a leader will need to look at how to do things creatively, to achieve all the desired results and move away from the tyranny of ‘either” ”or” to the genius of “And”.

And by so doing we shall avoid compromising or settling for the mediocre when faced with a dilemma.

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People and Leadership

I thought this was a good read for any task oriented leader who may occasionally forget that the real wealth lies in the team that is around you. Enjoy it.

The real product of leadership is people. How much time are you spending with people? https://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/how-to-develop-the-people-you-really-want/

Kenyan Leadership Contest: How to WIN or LOSE graciously

Kenya is headed to it’s most important election ever in her short 50 yr history of nationhood. Electioneering is in high gear and every politicians is doing all they know to position themselves for an opportunity to be in the new season of leadership. However, some will make and some of them will not make it.

With that in mind, it was very helpful when one of my mentors, Tim Mwangi, Co-ordinator of the Executive Leadership Network (ELNET) www.elnetkenya.org,  sent me an email to forward to family and  friends who are vying for various elective positions across the nation. I would like to share the same with you. It details two ways that we can share with our candidates to prepare for life after the elections – whether they win or lose. Do feel free to share it with them.

But as for us, the article will hopefully help us clarify our thinking and expectations –whatever the outcome. Please take time to reflect on it – even in the busyness of this campaigning  time. And before I forget, the article was written by Dr. Katherine Wanjiru Getao (https://twitter.com/KatherineGetao) Enjoy the read and hopeful you will have a take out or two.

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HOW TO WIN GRACIOUSLY 

Today’s philosophy exhorts us to focus on winning and not even dare to contemplate the possibility of failure. Winning is the world’s greatest achievement and most of us want it because it attracts the type of applause and adulation that many of us secretly crave.

Winning is a great test of character. We talk about people being “drunk with power” because the feeling of euphoria that comes from realizing that you are popular, accepted, chosen and awarded the highest honours and position will easily rush to your head and destabilize you. Vanity and other sins such as lust and greed stalk the winner. Winners will attract false friends – people who wish to exploit your success for their own selfish, and maybe even corrupt, ends.

It is right to always strive to win, but it is wise to make a small plan for yourself describing how you will react should the desired happen – a sort of “winning in winning” map. Here is a suggested map to help you retain your dignity, reputation and character during a win.

Resolve in advance to be a wise winner.

Flags and banners are flying. Cheers and shouts of triumph fill the air. It is easy to forget that alongside the celebrants, there are many who are defeated and disappointed and who feel they have little hope for the future. It is your responsibility to reach out to the ‘losers’ and convince them that, with a person of your character, they too have achieved a win. The greatest leaders are the ones who are able to communicate a collective win that not only encompasses their supporters but also those who have previously opposed them.

Prepare a gracious statement in advance

All eyes are upon you and all ears are sensitive to your tiniest message. Try to remember that microphones will leap towards the winner in the hope of capturing an off the cuff statement for publication. In the heat of the excitement, it is easy to say something unwise – and remember you  will not enjoy listening to a repetitive news broadcast of a comment that you subsequently regret; To counter this keep your beige (win) and pink (lose) statements close to you. Read from these scripts when appropriate. Your priority must be to maintain your reputation by appearing to be a statesman/woman of mature, upbeat, of exemplary character and patriotic beliefs.  A brief statement with four elements will fit the bill for this purpose: acknowledge the contribution of your team towards the successful result, thank all the people who have been involved in the process whether administrators, supporters or rivals and pledge to work with everyone, briefly state the key things you plan to achieve in the near future, reassure your opponents that you intend to serve everyone with fairness. There are many apt quotations which you can find on the Internet that will fit this kind of statement.

Manage your team

A candidate is usually supported by a team which will be excited by the win. Your efforts to start on a positive note will be complicated if the team reacts inappropriately towards your win. It is important that you take charge of your team and convince them to adopt a wise strategy.  You keep your team members focused on delivery of your key policies and to adopt a communication strategy that will avoid gaffes.

Plan the first hundred days.

The most challenging part of your win will be managing the expectations. There will be many things to learn and many issues to deal with. At the same time supporters may be in a frame of mind to make unreasonable demands and there will be many people who feel that you ‘owe’ them and that it is time to collect. The broad blueprint of how you will go about achieving your aims should have been drawn up long in advance as well as the structure of your team. However, more information will flow to you once you win and so it is important to listen and to allow some flexibility in the detailed plan. You must exercise leadership to ensure that you are not derailed from the higher purpose by the demands of expediency.

Maintain a trustworthy accountability group.

Everyone is a friend to a winner or a leader. It is difficult to separate the sycophants and manipulators from people who can genuinely be of value in your work. Maintain a trustworthy group of individuals who you can trust to listen to you and to keep your secrets as an important part of your life, and you should make time for them long before your hour of need! Identify who these people are: a spouse, parent or child, a close friend, respected peers, your spiritual advisor or a trained counselor can all be appropriate outlets and good sounding boards during this challenging season. You can also make pacts in advance with these people that they will be honest with you and discourage you from vanity, megalomania and other negative attitudes and behaviours and constantly re-direct you to an attitude of humility and a determination to achieve the higher purpose.

Make time for activities that will help you manage your emotions.

Make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing and budget time and resources to do them. It is especially helpful to look for activities that help you put things in perspective, adopt a grateful attitude and make use of your considerable talents. This is the right time to offer more to your favourite charity than you ever have in the past! Keep busy doing the right thing and you will reap the rewards.

Trust in your greatest supporter: God

I have saved the best for last. For those of you who read the Bible, Psalm 20 is an example of the prayer for a person who has experienced a victory.  While expressing joy and good wishes, writer of the Psalm directs the victorious towards God who is the source of all success. He cautions the winner not to rely on the external trappings of his success but instead to give the credit to God. Turning to God, reading scripture and praying to Him are sources of great wisdom and sound guidance. It is wise to remember that a specific win is a stopover rather than a destination. Assure yourself of God’s love for you through the journey by reading scriptures such as Psalm 139; Psalm 44:3-8; 1 John 5: 1- 5; 1 Kings 3: 5-15; Proverbs 2; Proverbs 4; Ecclesiastes 9: 13-18; Luke 2:52; James 1: 2- 8.

HOW TO LOSE GRACIOUSLY

Today’s philosophy exhorts us to focus on winning and not even dare to contemplate the possibility of failure. The wisdom is that we program ourselves to win or lose by our thoughts and words. Indeed an Internet search around the phrase “how to lose” gives the impression that the only thing that humans should consider losing is weight! However, when it comes to events such as elections and appointments, we know that for every winner there will be several losers in the wings. It therefore seems reasonable to prepare for loss as carefully as we strive to win.

 There is no doubt that loss is one of the hardest circumstances for a human being to overcome. When one strives to achieve a goal she invests her desires, hopes and plans while exposing her reputation and character to public scrutiny. She also puts in a lot of time, money, energy and opportunity cost (the things laid aside in order to invest in the desired goal.) Loss, therefore, is exactly what it is called.

To the loser it may appear that the resources put into achieving the goal have been wasted forever. With the loss come feelings of disappointment, rejection, anger and even despair. All the Kübler-Ross stages of grieving including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are likely to be experienced by the loser. By preparing for loss, a person can first of all understand the emotional upheaval that they will experience, behave appropriately during each stage of recovery, and shorten the time it takes to reach acceptance.

 It is right to always strive to win, but it is wise to make a small plan for yourself describing how you will react should the unthinkable happen – a sort of “winning in loss” map. Here is a suggested map to help you retain your dignity, reputation and character during a loss.

Resolve in advance to accept the results.

For the ambitious characters who strive to win against the odds, losing will always be a tremendous shock and disappointment. There is a strong temptation to challenge the results and violently oppose the decision. There are very few cases where such a reaction is justified. Remember that while the press and other controversy-seekers will encourage and enjoy such a reaction, many of the people whom you really respect will be inwardly disgusted by your behavior and will think less of you for it. It is therefore wise to train your character in advance and make a wise decision to accept the result, so that even if you are tempted you will not react in such a way as to lose not only the competition, but also the respect of your friends.

Prepare a gracious statement in advance

Try to remember that microphones will leap towards the loser in the hope of capturing an off the cuff statement for publication. In the heat of negative emotions, it is easy to say something unwise – and remember you  will not enjoy listening to a repetitive news broadcast of a comment that you subsequently regret; To counter this keep your beige (win) and pink (lose) statements close to you. Read from these scripts when appropriate. Your priority must be to maintain your reputation by appearing to be mature, upbeat, of exemplary character and patriotic beliefs. If you are not the winner at this time at least you can deliver the wisdom of a statesman/woman.  A brief statement with two elements will fit the bill for this purpose: congratulate the winner and offer your support to him or her, thank your supporters and encourage them about the future. There are many apt quotations which you can find on the Internet that will fit this kind of statement.

Manage your team

A candidate is usually supported by a team which is equally determined to succeed. Your efforts to manage the loss will be complicated if the team reacts inappropriately to what has happened. It is important that you take charge of your team and convince them to adopt a wise strategy.  You need to understand your team members and plan how to lead them successfully through your loss. Include messages for loss in your team communication strategy and ensure that your team adheres to them strictly.

Plan to re-direct your energy.

Loss has side-effects. There will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm that has now lost its immediate channel. There may also be other impacts of the loss, such as debt, problems with family, friends and supporters and so on. The impacts of the loss may seem overwhelming. By deciding to make a coherent plan to deal with each of the impacts of the loss, while also choosing alternative worthwhile activities, it will be possible to use the energy released by the loss in a positive way to solve problems and move towards a better future.

Maintain a trustworthy support group.

It is inevitable that you will experience negative feelings and thoughts in the wake of your loss. You may feel that many people are laughing at you, and you may feel tempted to withdraw from contact with others. Maintain a trustworthy group of individuals who you can trust to listen to you and to keep your secrets as an important part of your life, and you should make time for them long before your hour of need! Identify who these people are: a spouse, parent or child, a close friend, respected peers, your spiritual advisor or a trained counselor can all be appropriate outlets and good sounding boards during this challenging season. You can also make pacts in advance with these people that they will discourage you from negative outlets such as alcohol and drug abuse, anger and complaining etc. and re-direct you to positive activities including hobbies and charitable events.

Make time for activities that will help you manage your emotions.

Make a list of the things that you really enjoy doing and budget time and resources to do them. It is especially helpful to look for activities that help you put things in perspective, adopt a grateful attitude and make use of your considerable talents. This is the right time to offer more to your favourite charity than you ever have in the past! Keep busy doing the right thing and you will reap the rewards.

Trust in your greatest supporter: God

I have saved the best for last. For those of you who read the Bible, Psalm 31 is an example of the cry of someone who is experiencing a loss. The writer of the Psalm is not afraid to express the strong and negative emotions that he is experiencing. However, he continually turns his thoughts towards God who he calls his fortress and refuge. He turns his pain into a prayer for a better future. Turning to God, reading scripture and praying to Him are sources of great comfort in times of loss. It helps to remember that loss is a stopover rather than a destination. Assure yourself of God’s love for you through the journey by reading scriptures such as Psalm 139; Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Jeremiah 30:17-20; Matthew 6:25-34; Lamentation 3:31-33.

Justice: Shield and Defender

The poor and the marginalised in our society, just like in Israel of old, are liable to be injured and oppressed in the administration of justice or denied of it in totality. This evil is strictly condemned in the word of God (Leviticus 19:15).

Partiality in judicial decisions, and injustice under the pretext of enforcement of the law, are an abomination in the sight of our God, the God of all Creation, and such other unfairness exposes our judicial and police officers of whatever rank, who are guilty of these malpractices to divine vengeance.

When our Judiciary and the Police Force robs the needy of justice, when they trample the rights of the poor citizenry of Kenya, when they prey on the widowed or rob the fatherless in this land, the prophet Isaiah declares woes against any such powers.

These warnings are against superior powers (ie the Supreme Court judges, Court of Appeal judges, High Court judges, Magistrates of subordinate courts) that devise and decree unrighteous judgements! He does the same for any inferior officers (Court clerks), that draws up such judgements, and for Registry officials that enter them on record! (Isaiah 10:1-2).

On this our 25th day of Prayer and fasting at Mavuno Church (see guide here), we are reminded to pray that a sense of justice and equity would prevail within these critical arms of government for the sake of our country. Justice be our SHIELD and DEFENDER.

Is mine a Living Sacrifice?

Having read the account of Abraham walking for several days under God’s instructions to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice in Genesis 22:1-9, I am awestruck at the wisdom of God. That He knew the kind of man Abraham was. I am also awestruck that Abraham was willing to go with this plan.

The walk with Isaac on the final leg of that journey must have stripped Abraham of every human resolution as father and son conversed tenderly, and maybe their last. However, Abraham was SURE that God would provide. In verse 8, Abraham says that “…God will provide for himself a lamb”. He did not know how. But he knew God would raise Isaac. Somehow.

So, Abraham takes the knife, and stretches out his hand to give up his son as the required sacrifice. As Mathew Henry says in his commentary of this passage, ‘here is an act of faith and obedience, which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men. God, by his providence, calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with cheerful submission to his holy will.’

As leaders, what are you willing to part with this new season of your life for the sake of having that which is truly worth having? Clout? Status? Authority? Power? I believe that which is truly worth having is a life with God Himself.  May you and I learn how to give up the ‘temporal things’ around us so we can enter into a new fresh and dynamic relationship with God. And then we can become living sacrifices. And consequently we can become the leaders He has called us to be.

The Leadership Brand

Mavuno Church has just concluded a leadership series titled ‘The Govenor’ and it has been phenomenally delivered by Pst Linda O Adolwa (@LindaAdolwa). For any Nairobian who is interested in voting wisely in the next coming general election, and MORE SO for the 1st elected governor of this city, this series is a must listen.

The first part in the 4 part series was titled The Leaders We Deserve and the main take out was that WE GET EXACTLY THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP WE TOLERATE! This was preached on 4th November 2012.

The second part in this series, delivered on the 11th November 2012, was titled Dangerous Leaders and we heard that WHAT DISTINGUISHES GOOD LEADERS IS NOT THEIR PERSONALITY, BUT THEIR CHARACTER. In other words, leaders are defined by the ongoing decisions that they make.

In the third part of this leadership series done on the 18th November 2012 and titled The Widow and the Judge, we were charged with a more personal take out; ‘I MUST BE VIGILANT IN DEMANDING ACCOUNTABLE LEADERSHIP.’

On 25th November, in the forth and final part of this series titled The Leadership Brand we heard that AUTHORITY IS FOR SERVICE NOT FOR PERSONAL AGGRANDIZEMENT and another personal take out was when a leader becomes destructive it is my duty to select another leader in his place.

Pastor Linda said repeatedly in her series that ‘good leadership comes with a responsibility’. Personally I am now more convinced of my own responsibility in what is at stake over this city in the next coming months as we count down to the general elections. I cannot sit back and expect good leadership to come automatically. If I over spiritualize issues then I have misunderstand the faith and I water down the leadership brand.

Let us not continue to be ridiculed as believers because we are so out of touch with what is around us. Good leaders don’t grow on trees. Because of what we witnessed in the last general elections in 2007, many of us could go into these elections without sufficient reflections of the issues at hand. Bad governance will happen if we tolerate it and if we don’t play our part, then we must suffer the consequences of bad leadership. We have a duty to vet those vying for public office and to determine the right leaders for this city and nation. Period.

Obedience of a Leader

In the book of Jeremiah in chapter 39, we read of the consequences that befall a leaders who had chosen, repeatedly to disobey the instructions, reprimands and the reproving of God. This was King Zedekiah, not a very old man, probably in his early 30’s. God had sent word to this king through the prophet Jeremiah but he continued on in his ways of arrogance and hardheartedness (as many rich powerful men in their youth do).

But things turned grave for him . The prophesied capture of the great city of Jerusalem has happened. And even the king is also captured as he tried to dessert the fallen city. We read how the invading King Nebuchadnezzar treats the captured king’s family members and those of his court as well as how king Zedekiah is humiliated. In verse 6 we read, ‘Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes in Riblah; the king of Babylon also killed all the nobles of Judah. 7 Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with bronze fetters to carry him off to Babylon.’

The disobedience of a leader has the potential to impact not just himself but also the lives of those around him. We see this repeatedly in the scriptures. Even with many warnings, King Zedekiah had shut his eyes to the light, and now God forever shuts him up in darkness (by the removal of his eyes). This leader, Zedekiah, had chosen the bondage of sin, and now he must wear the chains of misery ( the fetters to his arms and legs).

My this be a lesson for us all who have been given the huge responsibility of leadership: God has very effective ways of dealing with our pride and arrogance and those who disobey Him. We are not called to obey Him out of fear but to do so out of love.

Have a loving obedient week.