Michigan York Rite Consolidated Calendar

Found another great jQuery plug-in called FullCalendar which I have used to create a “combined” calendar for a number of Masonic groups here in Michigan. (First off, I needed to establish Google Calendar accounts for each group, since none of them seemed to have one, even for publishing to their own members!)

Someone asked me if I created an “app for that” – and as I thought it through, I realized most folks who own smartphones already have a calendar app on their phone – so they don’t need an app – they need a consolidated calendar feed!

So, using the great ScheduleShare service – I was able to create a consolidated feed as well.

Last step was to make the calendar “mobile aware” so that it will adjust to smaller screens automatically – this I have accomplished by making the site “responsive” using Bootstrap.

Sermon for June 30th

I was quite fortunate to be asked to be the “pulpit supply” for my own church, Ann Arbor West Side UMC, on the 5th Sunday of June. This just happened to be the Sunday between our last Pastor’s final sermon, and our new Pastor’s first sermon … kind of like being a MLB middle-relief pitcher.

The scripture passages associated with the sermon are as follows:
Luke 9:51-52
Luke 15:1-2

The Journey

walking with jesus

Listen to the sermon on streaming media.     Download the sermon audio.

Will you pray with me?
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 CEB)

Today we embark upon a journey, retracing the footsteps of Jesus, as he was heading from Galilee, in the north, to Jerusalem in the south.

As we begin this journey, it is important to note that, Jesus spent most of his life in Galilee, and most of his ministry happened there, Matthew and Mark’s gospels take place almost entirely in the Galilee region, and it’s only here in Luke Chapter 9 verse 51, that Jesus, “sets his face resolutely toward Jerusalem.” This is a turning point in Luke’s gospel and Luke thinks this is so important; he devotes 10 of his 24 chapters, to the journey to Jerusalem.

Keep in mind – Jesus knows, that when he arrives in Jerusalem, he’ll be crucified. Jesus could have avoided crucifixion by staying in Galilee. But Jesus “sets his face resolutely toward Jerusalem,” he’s on a mission; he’s a man who has three months to live.

Now, if you had three months to live, what would you do with that time?

What conversations would you have?

Where would you make sure you went?

What kinds of things would you do?

Jesus has three months to live, he knows this, his predicts this to his disciples again and again, “I’m going to Jerusalem, and I’ll be tortured and then crucified.” And yet, they don’t believe him! He has three months to live – what you’re about to see in today is what Jesus chooses to do with the last three months of his life.

So we are going to ask these three questions today.

The first is, “What kind of King is this?”

The second question we’re going to answer, “What kind of kingdom does he rule over?”

And the last question is, “What does he expect of his subjects?”

Everything that we read in the Gospels is meant to answer these three questions.

Today, we will try and answer these questions, by looking at the journey Jesus makes from Galilee to Jericho.

The journey should have taken three days, it’s about 76 miles. But instead, it took Jesus three months. This is because he had planned when he would enter Jerusalem to die. He left three months early, so that he could do the things we’re going to talk about today. He wants to arrive in Jerusalem at the Passover. So, three months before the Passover, he begins his Journey to Jerusalem.

He goes straight into Samaria. Now keep in mind, in his day, a good Jew would do anything to avoid going into Samaria, but Jesus takes the Ridge Road and goes straight into Samaria, and he offers the Samaritans the gifts of the Kingdom of God.

In fact he sends his disciples ahead of him, and he says, “Go, prepare the way. Go, heal the sick, and cast out the demons, and preach to the people that, the Kingdom of God is at hand.” And, even though they rejected his disciples, he went about ministering to them.

He disagreed with them theologically since, as Pastor Tracy told us, they have inter-married with non-Jews and adopted their religious customs so they did not practice a pure form of Judaism, but he doesn’t look at the theological differences.

They have mistreated one another, but he doesn’t hold the laws against them, he says these are the children of God. God cares about the Samaritans, so I will care about them, I will love them, and offer them the grace of God.

I know you might not quite get it yet, until you start thinking about it from this perspective … who are the Samaritans in my life?

If you had lived during the American Civil War, and you live in the South, who are the Samaritans? … … The north.

If you lived in Israel today as a Jew, who are the Samaritans? … … The Palestinians.

If you are a staunch Republican, who are the Samaritans? … … The Democrats.

If you’re a flaming liberal, who are the Samaritans? … … It’s all those dreaded conservatives.

Maybe it’s not even our theological or political differences; maybe, it’s the way that they have hurt us. They have said things to us, and done things and you know what … if they are going to be in heaven, I’m not sure I want to be there.

That’s the sort of feeling that we have.

I’m curious, who are your Samaritans?

Who are the people you feel so strongly about, you can’t hardly stand the thought of being together in the same room with them, so suspicious of them, it’s hard for you to even think positive thoughts about them.

Jesus went to them.

Jesus went to them to invite them to be part of the Kingdom.

And doubt not, they will be in the Kingdom, these people.

Tell me, if you had three months to live, could you; would you; find a way to make your peace with these “Samaritans” in your life? Or, as Pastor Tracy said, will you try and use this as your “loophole?”

It’s interesting, he has three months to live, and on the journey, he has things he must do, he has people to see, and places to go, and yet he gets interrupted constantly by people who want something from him.

But Jesus always stops for the interruption.

This is because; he recognizes that, the interruption, is where God is most profoundly at work.

Jesus stops, for the man who can’t speak. And he touches him, and suddenly the man can speak for the first time in his life.

Jesus is preaching in a synagogue, and while he’s preaching, a women walks in the back of the room, and she’s hunched over, like this (demonstrate). And he stops his sermon. And he walks over to this woman, all eyes are upon him, and he touches her, on the back. And then to everyone’s amazement, she begins to stand up straight (demonstrate), and the pain that she has lived with for 18 years is gone, and she begins to raise her hands and shout, “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord! I am well.”

He is in the home of a Pharisee, eating supper on the Sabbath, after worship, with all these prominent people from the town who are present. When, there’s a knock on the door, and the man who is standing at the door, his skin is stretched so taught, it’s about to burst, it’s swollen with what was called dropsy, fluids underneath the surface of the skin. This man is in such pain, he can hardly stand it, his body is on fire. And while this man stands at the door, Jesus looks at his host, and he says, “Is it lawful for me to heal on the Sabbath, Rabbi?”

And the Rabbi is not going to answer; he’s gritting his teeth, wondering why this man dares show up and interrupt his dinner.

And Jesus walks to the door, and he touches the man, and as they watch, they can see the swelling immediately go down. And the man is made well.

Jesus isn’t going to wait until the day after the Sabbath in order to heal the man; this man is in pain now! He can, and will, do something – and he will do it … now.

There are 10 lepers that are walking along in a village, somewhere in Samaria, and as Jesus is walking along on the other side of the street, they shout out, “Jesus, son of Nazareth, can you help us?” He doesn’t say no I’m busy; I’m sorry, maybe check with me tomorrow. He stops … and he finds out that they are lepers.

Lepers are isolated and live in their own colonies, and no one has anything to do with lepers … except Jesus.

So, Jesus heals the lepers. Now you remember, 9 of the lepers go about their business, only 1 of them comes back to thank Jesus for what had happened.

And that one leper, Jesus says, happened to be a Samaritan.

So these are the things that Jesus is doing and the people he’s associating with. But, he’s not just associating with the sick, and the Samaritans, and the lepers. He also associates with the “ordinary people” in his day.

He only has supper with the Pharisees twice, and he goes to the synagogue on a regular basis, but, the thing is, if you watch him carefully, he’s constantly irritated with these religious people.

He’s frustrated with them, because the religious people in Jesus’ day were just not “getting it.”

He heals the woman who was bent over for 18 years, and you know what happens right after that?

The leader of the synagogue stands up and says, “If you’re sick, don’t come here on the Sabbath! Don’t come to the synagogue to be healed.”

And the Pharisee who is sitting there when the man with dropsy comes to the door, all he can think of is, what is this man doing, wanting to be healed on the Sabbath?

And when Jesus is eating with another Pharisee, here this Pharisee is eating with the “Son of God,” all he can think of, is that Jesus did not wash his hands in the ceremonially appropriate way.

It really all comes out in Luke, Chapter 15, verses 1 and 2, where we read these words, “All the tax collectors and sinners where coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the Scribes were grumbling saying, this fellow welcome sinners and he eats with them.”

Think about this, Jesus, surrounded by people who don’t go to synagogue, aren’t a part of the temple, they’re sinners, they’re not “pure.”

And wouldn’t you think, that if you were a Rabbi, or a Pharisee, you’d go, “Look at all the people coming here to hear Jesus preach the good news!”

Don’t you think you’d be excited about that?

Except, they weren’t excited about it.

Because their understanding of holiness was that they were to separate themselves from people like that.

They had a certain way of making “those people” feel.

You know what that’s like, maybe you’ve done it to other people, or other people have done it to you.

That’s what the Pharisees thought that being religious and pious was all about … which made Jesus crazy, because, who most needed someone to love them back into God’s Kingdom, except for the sinners and the tax collectors.

They needed people that would make them feel comfortable in their own skin. Take them as they were, and then invite them to be part of a journey, and show them something so compelling that they could not resist; God’s grace.

That’s what Jesus did. These sinners and tax collectors, they felt comfortable with Jesus. Jesus made them want to be more than they were.

Let’s look at the things that Jesus taught. And there were so many wonderful things that he taught while he was on this journey, in fact, in Luke’s gospel you’ll find some of your favorite stories.

As he’s travelling through Samaria, one of the places that he goes is the home of Mary and Martha.

Mary and Martha are two sisters, and Jesus shows up at the house of these two women. That’s a very unorthodox thing for a man to do. Men didn’t go into the house of a woman, and grace them in this way with their presence; women were property in 1st Century Palestine.

Jesus goes to teach there, and there’s a whole crowd of people who gather around, and come and just sit in the house, and Martha does exactly what a woman is supposed to do. She takes her place in the kitchen. She’s preparing hors d’oeuvres, cookies, lemonade, and tea. And all of these people are sitting there listening to Jesus, hanging on his words, and Martha’s sister, Mary, where is she? Not in the kitchen, she’s at the feet of Jesus.

Whenever someone sits at the feet of a Master, they are a disciple.

Mary is taking the part of the disciple.

Martha’s in the kitchen, she’s furious. Doesn’t my sister know that women don’t belong at the feet of the Master? Doesn’t she understand she should be in here helping! And she’s getting more and more angry all the time.

And you’ve pictured this story … where’s she’s banging the pots and pans against one another. You know, trying to get Mary’s attention.

Finally, Martha’s so upset, she comes and she interrupts Jesus message, and she says, “Jesus, would you please tell my sister to get her fanny in the kitchen, because I can’t do all this by myself.”

And Jesus looks at Martha and says, “Martha, Martha, you’re worried about so many things, and Mary, she has chosen the better part. And that won’t be taken away from her.”

Now, what just happened there?

Jesus just obliterated the social norms. He’s changing the role that women might play in society and in his Kingdom, when he’s allowing Mary to be one of his disciples, to sit at his feet.

And, you know, it’s not just Mary, there is the woman who weeps at his feet. There is the woman who comes and anoints him with oil. There is the woman who is a Samaritan who’s had 5 husbands, and now is divorced and living with yet another man, who he calls to be the missionary to the Samaritans. There’s Mary Magdalene, who acts as one of his disciples, who is the first one who sees Jesus raised from the dead, and becomes the first one who proclaims the resurrection.

Jesus obliterates the social norms of his time, and how grateful I am as the father of a daughter, and partners with a wonderful woman, that Jesus said that a daughter, a woman, can sit at his feet, and be his disciple.

What kind of King is this?

And what does this tell you about his Kingdom, for men, and for women, and their roles? And what does this tell you about your role as one of his subjects?

Paul caught it when he wrote in Galatians 3:28, “In Christ there is neither Jew, nor Greek;
slave, nor free;
male, nor female;
for all are one in Him.”

Ok, Jesus finally makes it to Jericho; this is where we will end today.

He arrives in Jericho, sixteen miles from Jerusalem. He walks into the city; there are thousands of people who have come out to see Jesus. He is the wonder worker, maybe he’s the Messiah, and everybody wants to catch of glimpse of him.

And while he’s walking into the town, there’s one man who’s intent upon seeing him. This man has a hole in his heart so big; you could drive a truck through it. He’s the wealthiest man in town. He’s the chief tax collector, his name is what? … …  Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus because there is something missing in his life, in spite of having everything money can buy. And so Zacchaeus is trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but, Luke tells us, Zacchaeus is short. He can’t even see over the crowds.

So, he runs to the other end of town, there’s a giant sycamore tree there, and he scurries up the sycamore tree. And he’s sitting there, just so he can see Jesus. And, Jesus, much to his surprise, begins to walk straight towards the tree. And his heart begins to beat faster and faster as Jesus gets closer, and finally Jesus stops and he looks up in the tree and he says, “Zacchaeus, come down from there, for I intend to spend the evening at your house tonight.”

You could hear an audible gasp from the crowd.

Keep this in mind. This is the last night of Jesus’ life outside of Jerusalem. He’s going to go over the Mount of Olives the next day, and he’s going to go there to die!

And Jesus chooses to spend the last night outside of Jerusalem, in the home of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, the chief sinner of the town.

I want you to know that when Zacchaeus met Jesus, Jesus conquered Rome and Jericho, because at that moment, there was a radical conversion that happened in Zacchaeus’ heart.

Rome’s representative was won over, not by a sword, but by love that day in Jericho. From that time forward the poor would be fed in Jericho, by the one who had been the Roman tax collector. And justice was brought for all the people, and that, because of the love of Christ.

What kind of King was he? He was the kind of King who seeks out sinners, Samaritans, and misfits to be his followers. He’s the one who has compassion for the sick, the second class, and the poor.

What kind of kingdom does he lead? Not a Kingdom with a sword, not a Kingdom in a place, but a Kingdom that’s in our hearts – the hearts of all who are his followers, his subjects, and who call him their King.

And what does he expect of us? That we live humbly, we love God, we care for the poor, and for those who are in need, that we live our lives in such a way, that lost sheep are brought back to the fold.

That’s what we learned about Jesus in his journey today.

Let us pray.

 

O God how grateful we are that you sent Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to call us, a congregation of misfits, and sinners, and Samaritans.

Help us to walk humbly before you.

Help us to love you with all our heart, help us to love our neighbor, and to see those around us in need, as our neighbor.

Help us to seek to serve you radically, with all that’s within us.

And make us, O God, your subjects.

Allow us to be part of that Kingdom that knows no boundary, that’s timeless, and ageless.

We offer ourselves to you.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Long time, no post

So, I have been quiet lately. But things have been very busy for me.

Back in February, I started the process of becoming a Certified Lay Servant, and a Lay Speaker, once again. I was a Certified Lay Speaker from 1981 – 1995, and stopped when my wife became pregnant with our daughter (since I did a lot of “pulpit supply” and was rarely home on weekends).

Well, 18 years have passed, and the requirements for a Lay Speaker changed effective January 1, 2013! So, I have been diligently studying and taking the 6 advanced lay servant courses required to become a Lay Speaker (once again):
– Go Preach (completed March 2nd)
– Leading Prayer (scheduled for early June)
– Leading Worship
– Rediscovering your Spiritual Gifts (completed April 27th)
– Life Together in the United Methodist Connection (which is on Church Polity) (completed May 5th)
– Living our United Methodist Beliefs (completed May 5th)

(In summary: 4 completed, 1 scheduled, and 1 yet to schedule)

In addition, I have also completed the following advanced lay servant classes, that are not part of the Lay Speaker series:
– Come to the Table (which examines This Holy Mystery – the new Communion document for the church) (completed February 17th)
– Growing Spiritually Through Daily Discipline (completed May 4th)

Plus, I have read 17 18 books on various Lay Speaker topics ranging from text for the above classes, to extra reading from Andy Stanley, Adam Hamilton, St John of the Cross, Rick Warren, Pope Benedict XVI, and United Methodist Bishop Jack Hagiya.

So, I have been busy … just in a different way! But it has all been a great learning experience.

Leadership Notes #74 – Stewardship

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

Peter Block’s work, “Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest” (1993) is his take on the servant leadership concept. He’s not unaware of the concept, contributing to the “Insights on Leadership” collection for the Greenleaf Center. “Stewardship” is usually defined as ‘keeping something in trust for another.’ We speak of stewardship when we talk about public lands like parks and forests, keeping them maintained for future generations. We speak of stewardship when we maintain stuff for future generations. We could also speak of stewardship in terms of organizations, keeping the organization running and viable for future members.

In the book, “stewardship” is defined as ‘the choice to preside overly the orderly distribution of power.’ Traditional ideas of leadership, the ‘command and control’ structure, is too much built around certain people taking power. With servant leadership, this is turned on its head, with power coming from the leader and given (back?) to the followers.

For the author, 4 elements must be present for authentic service to exist:
• Balance of power. (basically empowerment of followers)
• A primary commitment to a larger community
• Everyone joins in to define purpose and decide the culture of the group.(instead of it being only the leaders doing this)
• A balance and equitable distribution of rewards. (as compared to the leader taking all the credit/glory)

The author sees traditional leadership as composing self-interest, dependency, and control. In stewardship, this should be replaced with service, responsibility and partnership.

Most of us have probably heard of the term “command and control”. It is the traditional organizational/leadership structure of most companies and organizations. A very top-down structure where control flows from above. The author also calls this “patriarchy”. Controls is very important here. Consistency, doing the same thing the same way, is also important. The problem is that such structures are very rigid. Organizations that need to be able to adapt quickly can’t do so if they have a rigid structure. The alternate is “partnership”. Here, power, ownership, and responsibility is shared among several, and the rigid top-down structure is flattened. For partnership to work, 4 things must be present:
• Exchange of purpose
• Right to say No
• Joint Accountability
• Absolute honesty

What do these mean? In exchange of purpose, we are talking about vision and values, which we’ve touched on in prior Notes. In a top-down structure, these are defined at the higher levels, then pushed down to the lower levels. With the exchange of purpose, we are each responsible for defining vision and values. We all have a part to play in this.

Saying no is very powerful. If we can’t, saying ‘yes’ is meaningless. Here is a video of Peter on this concept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkLdXjDkMVc

Joint Accountability means we are EACH responsible for outcomes and the current situation. We can’t push it off to others. Here are 2 videos of Peter on this concept. Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYRMhCtU54A Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWyL2irmfrY

And critically, there must be absolute honesty. In a top-down structure, there is often an avoidance of honesty. Not just from subordinates to their bosses, but from bosses to subordinates. In a partnership, this can’t work.

Empowerment is the second big part of stewardship. And the author has an interesting take on it. (I should point out that the author’s earlier work is on empowerment). He speaks of empowerment as responsibility and adventure as opposed to dependency and safety. Being empowered is about risk. You now have the power to make decisions, which entails risk. Again, too often the top-down hierarchies are very risk adverse.

Finally, service over self-interest is the third and final part of stewardship. Those of us who understand servant leadership understand this importance. Service is then realized in both the “language of service” (we use phrases like “we serve our country”, “we server our customers”, “doing service is important” and the like) and the “experience of service” (actually DOING service). The author feels the problem is that we often have the language of service (we toss out those phrases), but we lack the experience (not just that we don’t do service, but that we do service within the structure of organizations that don’t model servant leadership). This is due to the attitude of self-interest both in ourselves and our organizations.

Hence, to have real service, we must have the 4 elements I mentioned earlier. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first, fairly short, goes over the basics of stewardship. The second, more substantial, gets “practical”. It shows how stewardship will look like. Sadly, the examples are all given in terms of companies, not organizations. For us, dealing with groups like finance or HR is probably not of interest. And the third section goes into details of how to get to stewardship. Again, sadly, coached in terms of companies.

Since this work, the author has moved to other areas, in particular the area of building community, tho his works all do have a connection with underlying beliefs. Despite this work being a bit too business focused, there are some good ideas in looking at this different take on servant leadership.

Here is an interesting short video of Peter explaining what he has been doing lately: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqjy9_Y8EWA

Leadership Notes #73 – Authentic Leadership/True North

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

Bill George’s “Authentic Leadership” (2003) is his own take on the servant leadership concept. He has recently added to this with the concept of “True North” (2007) with Peter Sims, which gives a model on how to become an authentic leader. He has also put out “Finding your True North” (2008) and “True North Groups” (2011) with others. (I have not checked over these last 2 books).

In the Authentic Leadership model, there are 5 dimensions that make it up:

• Purpose (understanding your purpose)
• Values (practice solid values)
• Heart (Leading with heart)
• Relationship (establishing connected relationships)
• Self-Discipline (demonstrating self-discipline)

In True North, you have 5 key areas that make up your `personal leadership development plan’:

• Self-Awareness (know your authentic self)
• Values & Principles (define your values and leadership principles)
• Motivations (understand your motivations)
• Support Team (build your support team)
• Integrated Life (staying grounded by integrating all aspects of your life)

As noted, in “Authentic Leadership”, there are 5 dimensions.

With “purpose”, it’s about why are you there as a leader. What do you hope to do or accomplish? Keep in mind that in the idea of servant leadership, the two extremes are that you are there for yourself (the leader-first leader), or you are there for those you lead (the servant leader), or somewhere in between. It’s not so much of a vision, but a more broader idea of purpose. Sometimes understanding the purpose or reason for the particular group or organization you are part of.

As leaders, one should have values. It’s funny (or sad) that too often values aren’t spoken about in regards to leadership, until there is a crisis caused by a lack of values. Some organizations make a point of having a clear set of values, a set of behaviors expected of the members (to themselves, to others in the groups, to others outside the group). Ideally, the leaders should exemplify these values. As those involved in Scouting, we should understand the concept of having a set of values we all subscribe to.

Leading with heart is about how the leader treats others on a personal level. Again, a big element of servant leadership is the relationship between the leader and the follower. This concept is also a big part of Joel Manby’s work, “Love Works” (a topic of a previous Leadership Notes), on his company’s take on servant leadership. Again, too often there is the view that leaders must be tough, that `love’ (however you call it) has no place. Certainly Manby’s work does well in showing that’s wrong.

Building those relationships between leader and follower goes hand in hand with that concept. The classic concept is that the leader must be aloof and detached from those they lead, else they will fail somehow as leaders (especially when it comes to making the hard decisions). But, again, this doesn’t work in servant leadership and I see more leadership works moving away from that classic concept.

And finally, the leader must have self-discipline. This takes form in a couple of ways. One is that the leader is consistent in how they conduct themselves. And the next is that they have control of themselves and their emotions. This is basically the idea of Emotional Intelligence which I’ve covered previously.

Now, “True North” takes this idea further. As noted, the point of this book is to give a framework in which one has a compass for becoming an “authentic leader”. That compass has 5 key areas. Further, there is a 3 step leadership journey that one takes to becoming a leader. Those 5 key areas are.

Self-Awareness is first. It’s about knowing yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? This is a common theme among several leadership development programs, of finding where you currently stand as a leader, then working to improve the areas one is lacking.

Next is Values & Principles. What values are most important to you? What principles guide you as a leader? The book defines values as those things most important in your life. The leadership principles are your set of standards for how you lead others. They are your values turned into action. Not to be forgotten is the idea of ethical boundaries, which are limits on your actions based on your standards. (basically right and wrong).

Then there is Motivations. What are your motivations as a leader? These can be external (reward or recognition) or internal (personal growth, satisfaction). There are also internal and external motivation (those coming from within you, and from outside of you. And sometimes you need to balance these.

For any leader, the Support Team is important. These are your mentors, those who will guide and support you. Don’t confuse these with those at a higher level (tho there can be some overlap). Again, the concept of mentors (and ideally more than one) is something that is becoming more and more important in many leadership development programs.

Finally, as a leader you need to have an Integrated Life. You need to keep everything together and in balance to have fulfillment. We often here of people who “burn out”, and it’s usually due to not having balance in their lives.

Also not to be overlooked is the development phases of the leader. A leader doesn’t happen overnight. Often people who become leaders have done so after a long period of growth and development. The author speaks of 3 phases in this process:
• Phase 1- Preparing for Leadership
• Phase 2- Leading
• Phase 3- Giving Back

Preparing for Leadership is one that hopefully most of us have been involved in. Here is where one is part of a group, learning in the process and being a contributor. You character as an individual and as a potential leader are being developed. A phrase used here is “rubbing up against the world”: finding things out. What works and what doesn’t.

Next hopefully is Leading. Ideally one has stepped up to being a leader (or maybe pushed into it). There may be ups and downs. The author calls these “crucibles”: issues that arise that a leader will need to address. These will test the leader. How they are handled will say a lot about the leader. Hopefully the leader will emerge at where they should be: their peak level.

Finally, the leader Gives Back. They use the lessons and experience they gained in helping or mentoring future leaders.

Now, like many leadership works I do have to criticize these books for being too business oriented. While the concepts are good, the books are too much oriented to the business world (and the stuff touching on political issues is also unwanted). There are no examples that are non-business, and some things brought up have little equivalence in the non-business world. So keep this in mind when reading them and trying to apply the ideas.

Here are some useful videos.

Bill George on Leadership: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_4b2lS1yuM (more on the “leadership crisis” due to picking leaders for the wrong reasons)

Bill George at Google on True North (LONG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0mXxkLWobk

Leadership Notes #72 – Leadership 2.0

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

“Leadership 2.0” (2012) is a new work on leadership by the authors of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” (2009) (which I touched on in LN #58). Purchasing the book gives access to a limited version of 360 Refined, an on-line leadership self-test (which is why it’s important to purchase the book new, not used).

This concept of leadership is that there are 3 core leadership skill groups, which is what gets people into leadership positions, and then there are 4 groups of adaptive leadership skills, which are what set leaders apart and make you the leader you want to be. The book and the test help you understand where you stand with these skills. (note- there are others who use the term “adaptive leadership” for their own ideas on leadership. As far as I can tell, there is no connection with them and this work.)

The core leadership groups are Strategy, Action, and Results. Each of these have certain skills:

• Strategy: Vision, Acumen, Planning, Courage to Lead
• Action: Decision Making, Communication, Mobilizing Others
• Results: Risk Taking, Results Focus, Agility

The adaptive leadership groups are Emotional Intelligence, Organizational Justice, Character, and Development. Again, each of these have certain skills tied to each.

• Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Management
• Organizational Justice: Decision Fairness, Information Sharing, Outcome Concern
• Character: Integrity, Credibility, Values Differences
• Development: Lifelong Learning, Developing Others

Many of the skills have been touched on by past Leadership Notes.

So let’s look at the core leadership groups and their skills.

Strategy is about being able to look ahead and come up with a course of action to be successful. Hence the skills here are:

• Vision- which is about inspiring the members of your group with what you see as the future for the organization. This has been touched on in a prior Leadership Notes.
• Acumen- is about the leader having an understanding the issues affect the organization. This is concept we’ve touched on in the past, but not as a separate concept.
• Planning- is about coming up with goals and a plan to achieve those goals. We’ve touched on goals in the past, and I hope to have a Leadership Notes on planning.
• Courage to Lead- is not something that is usually touched on. It means the leader must be strong in the face of issues and taking the risks for the group to succeed.

Nothing happens until it happens. A plan is meaningless, until sometime takes action on it. And sadly, the problem with many would-be leaders is not the lack of desire, but in how to execute. Hence the skills here are:

• Decision Making- leaders must make sound decisions, which includes getting multiple options, seeking input, and then making a decision in a timely fashion. Again, a topic of a past Leadership Notes.
• Communication- leaders need to operate in an open environment in which ideas and information flow freely. This increases the effectiveness of the group. Again, a topic of a past Leadership Notes.
• Mobilizing Others- leaders need to motivate and influence others. Leadership is influence, and without this the rest doesn’t get done.

Success is never a guarantee. Issues always emerge, so you need certain skills to ensure that results occur. Hence the skills here are:

• Risk Taking- a leader often times needs to push things and take risks to ensure success.
• Result Focus- always a leader must stay focused on the ultimate goal and to keep the organization focused there as well.
• Agility- things change, and the leader needs to be flexible and make changes as needed.

Now, as noted, the above core leadership groups & skills will get you into a leadership position, but to succeed as a leader, you need the adaptive leadership skills. It’s these that the authors feel sets apart great leaders from the rest.

Emotional Intelligence is the first group. This topic is more fully covered in the authors’ prior work “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, and it’s something I recommend getting with this work. EQ is about being aware of your own emotions and the emotions of others, and using this awareness to manager yourself and form quality relationships with others.

• Self-Awareness is about being aware of your own emotions
• Self-Management is the next part, where you then need to be able to manage your emotions.
• Social Awareness is about being aware of other’s emotions and to understand them.
• Relationship Management is about using all of this to manage how you interact with others.

Organizational justice is about making sure that people are treated fairly, with respect and value. This is something that is important, but one I rarely see brought up in the context of leadership. For this, the leader needs these skills:

• Decision Fairness- making decisions that affect people in a fair manner. This is important in keeping the members of the group satisfied and involved. If they perceive unfairness, this can destroy the cohesiveness of the organization.
• Information Sharing- when decisions are made, members of the group must know how the decision was made and how it impacts them. Too often leaders want to hide this, which destroys group cohesion.
• Outcome Concern- leaders need to be truly concerned for the people they lead and be able to express that on a personal level.

Character is also often a topic that isn’t talked of too much in leadership (other than when its missing), but it’s something that anyone should have, leader or not. As a leader, there are certain characteristics you need, such as:

• Integrity- which is about having a core set of beliefs (ethics & values), and apply those values in how they conduct themselves. We in Scouting should be able to understand the concept of having a core set of beliefs.
• Credibility- means that the leader can be counted on, and that their actions and opinions are sounds. By doing so, they will gain the support and commitment of those they lead.
• Values Differences- those who values and makes use of the differences of their people can maximize their contributions and lead to better results.

Finally, another aspect of any leader is the attitude that one is always learning and developing themselves, and to ensure that those they lead are also developing (an element of mentorship which is in servant leadership). So the important skills here are:

• Lifelong Learning- as a leader, always be learning new skills and knowledge
• Developing Others- as a leader, ensure those you lead have opportunities to learn.

As noted, a big part of what makes this book useful is access to the “self-assessment” part of the “360 Refined” test. It’s not the full test (that costs a bit of money). The idea is that once you’ve run the self-assessment, you have an idea of where you are, come up with an action plan, and work on developing your skills.

Overall I think this is an interesting work and test. I think those who get it would also benefit from getting the authors’ prior work on Emotional Intelligence as well. I think it would be interesting to hear how others have put these to use.

The authors’ website is www.talentsmart.com, which has other resources.

Playing with Fire

Firebase, that is.

My latest project (while I await the outcome of the decision on my YAMC project) is to take an existing system used by Scout Commissioners, and see if I could adapt it to be a mobile app to be used by a new breed of Scouting Professional found only in the Michigan Crossroads Council.

Here we have a “Unit Development Executive” who has two roles – (1) to help new units that are just starting to get their feet under them, and get them programming a successful unit, and (2) to help existing units that either are Journey-to-Excellence (JtE) Bronze, or unrated to reach JtE Silver.

These Scouting pros want to be able to track their contacts with the units they are working with, and a logical choice would be to use the Unit visit Tracking System (UVTS) that is used for that purpose by volunteer Commissioners. However, this would cause some “mixing of data” and could throw off the stats the UVTS system is used for — so I took the challenge to take the UVTS model, and develop a mobile-enabled app, UDTS (Unit Development Tracking System).

Working with the familiar jQueryMobile framework, rather than using a traditional, server-based database, like I did in YAMC, this time, I wanted to try and use some of the new non-server based, noSQL systems that have entered the market. Enter Firebase, a fairly mature beta-product that provides a data storage mechanism that is real-time, for a better description, I’ll use the Firebase documentation:

Every client sharing a Firebase maintains its own internal version of any active data. When data is written, it is written to this local version of the Firebase. The Firebase client then synchronizes that data with the Firebase servers and with other clients on a best-effort basis.

As a result, all writes to Firebase will occur instantly, and events on the local client will be triggered immediately, before any data has even been written to the server. This means you can write your application with Firebase acting as your data model without worrying about network latency slowing it down.

What a great tool! Had a blast learning this new technology for the project, as well as jQuery-templates, coupled with javascript hash tables to provide some quick interaction on the application, plus the jQueryMobile DateBox plug-in, which is an excellent control for providing some “fine tuning” for date entry criteria.

Now, just waiting to see if the Unit Development Executives decide to adopt the app.