Lead On - Resourcing your ministry, leader to leader

Welcome to the latest edition of Lead On, the monthly email with leader-to-leader input from CPAS. If you know others who may be interested in this email, please forward it on or point them towards www.cpas.org.uk/leadon. Thank you.

Read anything good recently?

What is the place of reading in a leader’s life? It appears a simple question, but it may be a little tricky.
Those who promote reading as an essential discipline suggest ‘leaders are learners’. True – leaders are helped to stay fresh, keep engaged, and stretch their minds through ongoing learning. But does it have to be through reading?
What about podcasts, TED talks, conversations? Surely all these will suffice. And to be honest, in our fast moving and pressured lives, some of these are a bit easier to squeeze in. We can listen to a CD or podcast while we drive or go for a run, chat to someone while travelling to a meeting. Yes … but …
What about learning preferences? We know some are more kinesthetic, others more auditory in their learning preference. Yes … but …
There is something about following a reasoned argument, grappling with a theological conundrum, engaging with an inspiring story in written form that adds something the other media don’t offer. I love listening to podcasts and so on, but know the discipline of ongoing reading is not to be laid aside too quickly. 

Here are a few things that might help us in making the most of such a discipline:

  • Try to have a regular time so it becomes a habit. Better to read for just 15 minutes than not read at all.
  • Be selective in what you read. Steven Sample, president of the University of Southern California, points out that a choice to read one thing is a choice not to read something else.
  • Read beyond your specialism. If you only ever read leadership books, or books on liturgy, or quantum physics, you may become rather narrow.
  • Read different genres. Love biography? Have a go at poetry. Love contemporary texts? Try the classics.
  • Choose to read something theologically stretching. I remember Lesslie Newbigin saying at the first lecture I attended at theological college that he always tried to have a particularly tough theological book on the go.
  • Work out a system to help access what you have read in years to come. A system that has served me well for many years is to highlight as I read, then summarise each chapter briefly in the back of the book, and then write a brief review of the book on completion. It means I can turn to any book I’ve read and in minutes access the central argument, key themes, and good quotations/illustrations.

The benefits of an ongoing discipline of reading are numerous, so perhaps August is a good time to ask ‘what might a healthy pattern of reading look like for me over the next year?’
Lead on
PS For suggestions on books to read see additional resources below.

Courage in leadership

Charles Burgess, CPAS leadership specialist, looks at courage in leadership, suggesting some steps to take to build courage in our own lives. 
I can picture the scene now. I and a few senior colleagues were meeting our new boss for the first time, the recently arrived head of a major engineering programme. Most of us were concerned to create a good initial impression. He was a forceful character with an intimidating reputation and was clearly intent on change, but as he spoke ...
Read the full article


John Dunnett offers 10 leadership quotes (five this month, five next). With each quote is a challenge - how about embracing it to 'stretch' your own leadership.

1. ‘A leader must have a finger on the pulse not a finger in every pie’ (Anon). 
The challenge of this is to know what we, as leaders, need to be watching and following, and what we can leave to others. What are you watching / following?
2. Leadership is ‘loving and shoving’ (Sandy Millar formerly HTB).
I have found that to ignore one in favour of the other is ‘incomplete’ leadership. Which do you find the more challenging to pursue?
3. 'I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers’ (Anon).
If I were to have my 13 year incumbency all over again, one of the things I would be more intentional about would be to grow more leaders.
4. Feargal Quinn (founder of SuperValu, formerly Superquinn) draws the attention of leaders to the Irish proverb: ‘Listen to the sound of the river if you want to catch fish’.
This is a challenge to those of us who are leaders to know and understand the context and culture in which those we seek to win for Christ live and inhabit.
5. ‘It’s not how hard you work, it’s how strategic you work’ (Anon).
For most of us the majority of our available working week is allocated before we start. But for each of us there is a small percentage of time over which we have a choice as to how to use it. That’s the ‘bit’ to dedicate to strategic work. What are you doing in your ‘bit’?

Additional resource material

David Pytches, Can Anyone Be a Leader?, Eagle 2004
Twenty chapters absolutely brimming with the wisdom drawn from years of parochial experience. Hundreds of quotes – page after page of memorable (sometimes provocative!) statements, crammed full of biblical wisdom but presented in a fresh and stimulating manner. Worth reading at the start of each year. 
Best leadership books of the 21st century
Back in 2011 MODEM did a survey to identify the best leadership books of the 21st century. You can find their recommendations here.
An eclectic mix of must read books
For an eclectic mix of must read books for leaders recommended by an equally eclectic group, take a look here .
Fifteen best leadership books every young leader needs to read
Of course you are not going to agree with every recommendation, but it is an intriguing list and even if you select just one or two of them, well worth a look
A personal list
Here is what I read on holiday last month and am reading through August. I offer it simply as an example of a diverse range of material and in the hope that something might intrigue you!

  • The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle – biography about doping in professional cycling.
  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson – Forrest Gump meets Scandinavian detective novel!
  • Paradoxology, Krish Kandiah – thirteen paradoxes at the heart of the Christian faith.
  • In a Strange Room, Damon Galgut – novel about three journeys, longing and thwarted desire.
  • The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal – biography of the journey of some Japanese netsuke (small carvings) through his family from the 19th to 21st century.
  • One Moment, One Morning, Sarah Rayner – novel about death, women and relationships.
  • Jesus Remembered, Christianity in the Making, James D. G. Dunn – first volume of an academic work.

Leadership talk

'It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.'
Oscar Wilde

Next month...

You're hired

Dave Richards considers the ups and downs of hiring staff.  


Five more leadership quotes to stimulate your thinking. 

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