Tag Archives: Leadership

Book Review: The Colson Way by Owen Strachan

Time quickly flies by and we too soon and too often forget the lessons history teaches us. I wanted to read The Colson Way by Owen Strachan because I was a fan of Chuck Colson’s life of faith and I loved the book’s tagline: Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World.

I thought the tag line picked up a key challenge in living a winsome faith in today’s society. I admired how Chuck Colson went from political animal to faith force and all with a touch of humility and a heart committed to connect others to Christ.

However, the book had a different audience in mind. That didn’t turn out to be a bad thing, just a different perspective. Strachan’s audience is primarily but not exclusively millennials who will soon forget or will have rarely heard of the impact Chuck Colson made and the life lessons he taught that span the generations.

The Colson Way records the history of Chuck Colson’s life as well as lessons learned along the way. Though biographical, the book even more provide practical insights for application in today’s world.

Though I admired Colson form a distance, Owen Strachan provided a closer look. I grew a greater appreciation of how often out of life’s greatest failure God make His greatest impact. That was true not only for Chuck Colson’s life but also for Mary Kay Beard. She too served time in prison. She also had an incredible impact on her release. The impact, influence and love express in Angel Tree ministry in the Christmas season flows out of her greatest failure and a life of incredible faith. Surprisingly this was my favorite story in the book.

My other favorite aspect was the tracking of the faith development in Chuck Colson’s life. His journey to faith and even more his journey of a growing faith that led him to build deep roots with key faith influencers led to Colson becoming a strong apologist as the years went by.

I give The Colson Way 5 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was a valuable tool for my own faith journey. Like Owen Strachan I hope it connect with a millennial audience as well. My thanks to Book Look Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review just an honest one.


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Book Review: Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game by Mark Miller

Leadership is a challenge. Growing in leadership is an investment. That’s why I loved Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game by Mark Miller. He helped me to do just that … elevate my leadership game.

Checkers is a fast paced game with interchangeable pieces. You typically think a move or two ahead at most. Chess is a multi-piece game and learning to think multiple moves ahead is key to success.

Yet a chess not checkers approach is not just a mental skill approach to better leadership, it all begins with the heart — a love for the people you serve and lead. Maximizing their individual gifts for a common goal. For myself, Chess Not Checkers taught me how to look ahead and lead others together.

In the book, Mark lays out a business parable with a mentor teaching a new CEO along the way:

1) Bet on Leadership: Growing leaders grow organizations. Develop your pieces early for maximum strategic advantage. Leaders are learners, or you are already lagging behind. That’s why this is a great book for leaders to learn to elevate their leadership game.

2) Act as One: Alignment multiplies impact. In the past year I’ve learned the power of clarity and the need for alignment. Added to that equation is also simplicity, a focus that pulls a team together.

3) Win the Heart: Engagement energizes effort. Forced moves is forced leadership. Motivating, not manipulating, moves people with a common passion and  purpose.

4) Excel at Execution: Greatness hinges on execution. To improve execution you measure what matters most. Such a measurement builds on systems not personalities. You can get a quick burst of success perhaps with a personality, but sustainable success flows from systems that work well.

I give Chess Not Checkers 5 out of 5 stars. Some books hit  you at the right time, and this one did. I love the teaching parable form of book writing, and when it teaches great lessons along the way it maximizes the gift.

My thanks to Mark for a free advanced copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review, just an honest one. I am thankful how Chess Not Checkers has already elevated my leadership game, it’s your move to now read this book and pick up your leadership game.

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Book Review: The Matheny Manifesto by Mike Matheny with Jerry B. Jenkins

The right thing is seldom the easy thing” affirms Mike Matheny in his new book, “The Matheny Manifesto“. That’s why I love this book, it’s about the right thing in sports and even more in life. It’s also a book I wish I had read when my kids were younger and in sports.

I was one of those parents who yelled at referees … until I embarrassed my daughter and found the power of chewing gum to keep me watching and not yelling. Too bad I didn’t know the Matheny Manifesto — “Respect the Ump — even if He’s Blind“.

Yet what I found powerful about the book that I didn’t expect was Matheny’s humility. His favorite coach hasn’t coached in 40 years and was in basketball, not baseball. The quotes he shares from John Wooden make a powerful chapter. The fact that Matheny lifts up Wooden’s coaching even over his own, show the power of humility he applies to life. He titled chapter 9, “Don’t Think Less of Yourself, Think of Yourself Less.” He demonstrated such humility already in Chapter 6 when he writes about what a great coach looks like …. and it’s John Wooden.

This book is filled with an inside look at coaching baseball on the level of children all the way through the majors. That he develops baseball skills and even more life character in his coaching philosophy is a refreshing look at what sports can be for all ages.

For little league coaches and for parents with kids in sports or thinking about sports going old school is the best school for our day and time. I give The Matheny Manifesto 5 out of 5 stars. It was a good read for getting ready for baseball, it was a good read for getting ready for life. May the manifesto become the new standard for parents and players involved in the world of sports.

My thanks to Blogging for Books and Random House for a free copy to review. I didn’t have to give a positive review just an honest one. Thanks for an inspirational read about two of my favorite subjects: faith and sports!

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Book Review: Fairness is Overrated and 51 Other Leadership Principles by Tim Stevens

Leaders lead. Wise leaders also learn, and really wise leaders will take the time to learn from Tim Stevens latest book, Fairness is Overrated and 51 Other Leadership Principles. In bite size chapters, Tim packs powerful insight from dealing with change to staff to time management to leveraging leadership.

The chapters range from 3-4 pages, but in those pages there is great wisdom. I especially appreciated the questions at the end of the chapter for further reflection and the notes at the end of the book for going deeper. The result is a book of practical wisdom from one who has not only been in the trenches but navigated his way through.

Tim could have merely focused on his successes at Granger Community Church (and other places) but he’s transparent with his failures and his challenges. Tim does not come off as the expert but a fellow traveler on the leadership journey pointing out pit falls and opportunities along the way.

The 52 chapters are spread out over 4 parts:

1. Be a Leader Worth Following

2. Find the Right People.

3. Build a Healthy Culture

4. Lead Confidently through a Crisis

The chapters that dealt with change and leveraging meetings I found most valuable as they gave me a new perspective in dealing with next steps. One of my favorite phrases from the book is “Focus on Five”: Identifying 5 areas for the whole church to focus in the year ahead. Such a focus builds unity and banishes silos.

I made two mistakes reading this book, I read it quickly and I read it alone. The better pace for reading this book is  perhaps a chapter a day, and then journal answers to the questions and insights for personal growth. Reading this book with a leadership team on a weekly meeting basis provides intentional time for building team leadership.

I give Fairness is Overrated and 51 Other Leadership Principles 5 out of 5 stars. This was a valuable book for my own leadership development, I look forward to raising its value with the team I lead. My thanks to BookLook Bloggers for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review, just an honest one.

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Soul Food for Friday: Colin Powell’s 13 Rules

The Global Leadership Summit continues today and is always a great source of food for the soul and quotes for deeper thought. This week’s Soul Food for Friday comes from yesterday’s Summit speaker, Colin Powell, a leader of great humility, integrity and wisdom. His book I Did It My Way expands on the following 13 rules.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

All great pieces of wisdom, my favorite is the last one: Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Such a multiplier give lift a group of people to make a greater impact than perpetual pessimism.

Of the 13 rules, which one is your favorite? Why does it speak into your life and leadership today?

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Book Review: Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud

If you are a leader, you have to love a book that offers the opportunity to be “ridiculously in charge.” Turns out that Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud not only offers a great opportunity, but a great read with practical principles for enhancing one’s leadership.

The mantra for the book is: “You get what you create and what you accept.” That was a wake up call for me. I recognized the power of what one creates, I had underestimated the impact of what you accept. A leader is either building or allowing the culture he has.

The temptation for task oriented leaders is to pursue the plan. Henry provides a good balance with the reminder it’s also about the people. Results and relationships are more interrelated than most leaders would like to admit.

Boundaries for Leaders provides wise guidance for navigating and leveraging results and relationships, and all the while inviting leaders to be ridiculously in charge.

Throughout the book Henry deals with 7 boundaries that leaders need to do well to fulfill the vision and to be a place where people thrive. These 7 boundaries are:

1. Help people’s brains work better.

2. Build the emotional climate that fuels performance.

3. Facilitate connections that boost people’s functioning.

4. Facilitate thinking patterns that drive results.

5. Focus on what behaviors shape results.

6. Build high performance teams that achieve desired results.

7. Help you lead yourself in a manner that drives and protects the vision.

I had heard of the fight or flight response, but Henry showed there is a third option that people follow in overwhelming stress — they simply freeze. They do nothing. In some ways, the brain shuts down in taking any action, what he calls a “lizard brain”.

Boundaries for Leaders gave me some tools for dealing with leadership issues like developing language, building trust, and setting boundaries that not only achieve results but build relationships.

I give Boundaries for Leaders 5 out of 5 stars. I appreciated the insights Henry provided, even more as I read I realized I need to know this (and so do others). My thanks to Booksneeze for a free copy to review. I wasn’t required to give a positive review, I simply found the book to provide some needed tools in my leadership tool box.

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Soul Food for Friday: 5 Great Lessons My Dad Taught Me

Soul Food for Friday features quotes to inform and inspire, to comfort and to challenge. In other words, great advice that dad’s often give. My dad has given me some great advice over the years and taught numerous lessons along the way. My love for quotes flow out of words of wisdom he passed on to me. Enjoy these 5 great lessons my dad taught me.

My Dad who Gave Me a Love for Sports and the Leadership Lessons They Teach

My Dad who Gave Me a Love for Sports and the Leadership Lessons They Teach

1. Excellence

My dad taught me this great quote from Vince Lombardi, “The quality of a man’s life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor.” That quote hangs in my office on the wall directly across my desk. Even more than learning those words, my dad taught me to live those words. As much as I love a great quote, I love even more when they are lived out in life.

2. Be generous

Generosity defines my father’s approach to life. I asked him once how he learned to be so generous and he told me how his brother Art was the first one to have a job that paid. When he’d get paid, he would go to the store and buy a Hershey candy bar, and break in it 8 pieces to share with his brothers and sisters. Love for chocolate drives Burkeys to do many things, including learning to be generous!

3. How to Best Respond to Critics

Not sure the source of this quote my father shared but it has helped keep me from escalating a bad situation into a horrific one when I have been wise enough to follow its advice. Simply put it goes, “Don’t get in a peeing match with a skunk.” Just can’t win that one. I have tried a few times, and we both came out smelling. When I have learned to hold my tongue and keep my temper in control, I have been thought wiser than I actually am. As the years go by, I learn to appreciate the wisdom of such words.

4. Leaders lead.

This one came in multiple versions: “Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Or the one I remember even more, “Two kinds of people in the world. Those who watch things happen and those who make things happen.” My dad taught me with his example that I wanted to be one used by God to make things to happen.

5. Believe.

My life of faith flows out of what my parents taught me. My dad taught me to bring an optimistic outlook to life, that Murphy was indeed wrong. To believe the best, to pursue excellence, to lead as God directs, to point others to Christ. That powerful faith dynamic has fueled the person I have become. As well as a healthy dose of a sense of humor and love for chocolate.

Thanks to my dad and all fathers who teach their children well. Thank you for sacrificing for us, caring for us and helping us to grow from childhood to adult.

What great words of wisdom has your father passed on to you? How are those words influencing your life today?

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