An interview with Actress Jodie Foster from Women.com
Women.com: Back to the topic of leadership, what else can we be doing
to promote leadership in women?
A conversation with Jodie Foster about being a single mom
in the glare of celebrity, By Tamar Laddy, Women.com, May 2000.
Foster: Well, I have this really outdated philosophy about success in a
corporate structure, and you're going to think I'm really romantic and a fool,
but here it goes. I think that if you are moral and you're right and you have
the right ethics, that eventually somewhere down the line you're going to end up
In our business, anyway, you're always going up and down, and at some point
you're going to find yourself down. You're going to need somebody to say,
"Hey, I remember you. You're the one that treated me right, and I'm going
to lend a hand out to you ..." It's your responsibility to conduct yourself
ethically throughout the process — always ethics first — so that somewhere
down the line, somebody's going to let you live up to your own potential.
Women.com: Do you live your life that way as well?
Foster: Yeah, I really do. I mean, I think I try to be the best person I
can. Lord knows I make big mistakes. I make big mistakes all the time. But I try
to be as honest and direct as I can.
In this Age of Self, the language is filled with phrases that glorify personal choice
above all other values: self-determination, self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-help even
do-it-yourself. In this climate, no doctrine is safe, no dictate accepted without
scrutiny....The touchstone of belief today is the individual, not the institution.
Priests., like precinct captains, have lost authority. The same voters who talk back to
their political leaders on call-in shows and town meetings are talking back to their
religious leaders at parish council meetings and Communion breakfasts. While 85 percent of
American Catholics look up to the pope as a moral leader, 4 out of 5 say they follow their
own conscience, rather than papal authority, on moral questions...The phrase
"cafeteria Catholics" describes those who pick and choose among church
teachings. But in religion, as in politics, the more appropriate analogy for modern mores
is to fast food rather than to cafeterias; as the slogan for one hamburger chain puts it:
"Have it your way."...How do leaders lead when followers don't want to be led?
Steven V. Roberts, "Leading the Faithful in an Age of
Dissent," U.S. News and World Report, August 23, 1993, p. 6.
In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must
have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity.
Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a
football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of
phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings
and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bits & Pieces, September 15, 1994,
From the world of business, Robert J. Kriegel offers an observation about being
proactive that applies to churches, "Research shows that the overwhelming majority of
Americans (85 percent) are reactive and static, not action- or dynamic- or
instinct-oriented. They wait and meet, meet and wait. With a ready arsenal of
conservative, conventional wisdom at their disposal, they try to control outcomes in an
H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, Pastors at Risk, Victor Books, 1993,
Peter Drucker offers insightful guidance to the church when he calls leadership a peak
performance by one who is "the trumpet that sounds a clear sound of the
organizations' goals." His five requirements for this task are amazingly reliable and
useful for those who dare to lead churches:
(1) a leader works;
(2) a leader sees his assignment as responsibility rather than rank or privilege;
(3) a leader wants strong, capable, self-assured, independent associates;
(4) a leader creates human energies and vision;
(5) a leader develops followers' trust by his own consistency and integrity.
H.B. London, Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman, Pastors at Risk,
Victor Books, 1993, pp. 227-228.
Few of our nations' chief executives could match Herbert Hoover's executive competence,
intellect or energy. With a handful of assistants, he put together a series of relief
operations that saved millions of lives during and after World War I. He was familiar with
Latin and proficient in the principles of mining and metallurgy. Yet his Presidency was a
failure. Poor judgment (high tariffs and taxes) did him in.
Franklin Roosevelt's managerial style was the antithesis of Hoover's. He often put off
making decisions. He didn't respect lines of authority. He would deliberately give
different aides similar assignments. He incessantly played members of his official family
against one another. Internal battles were constant and bitter. FDR was devious. He was
never confrontational, using indirect methods to get this way. You rarely learned where
you stood by having a face-to-face meeting; the President was usually congenial and
Many thought FDR's methods were inefficient and chaotic, but most political scientists
have concluded there was method in his seeming madness. The chaos enable him to prevent
anyone from accumulating too much power or blocking him from information. He was
incontestably the master of his government and the dominant figure of 20th-century
When the board of directors of a large food company was considering the selection of a
new president, one of the directors worked out this questionnaire:
1. Who of the possible candidates is the best known as a personality to the most
2. Who is the most liked and trusted by them?
3. Who is held in the highest regard outside the organization...in public life and
"in the trade"?
4. Who is the most warmly human in his dealings with people?
5. Who has demonstrated the best capacity for selecting able people, and the greatest
willingness to delegate authority and responsibility?
6. Who will be apt to do the best job of keeping his desk and mind clear of day-to-day
operating problems, so he will have time to think in broader terms of tomorrow and next
7. Who does the boldest -- yet soundest -- thinking?
8. Who is most open-mined and willing to revise decisions when important new facts come
9. Who inspires the best cooperation and exercises the best control and coordination,
without "trespassing" on responsibility once delegated?
10. Who is most self-possessed in all situations, best able to adjust to personalities
and circumstances and tact and understanding?
11. Who can be depended upon to make the most of a promising new plan or idea?
12. Who can "take it" the best under a heavy load of responsibility?
13. Who is the best builder of the people under him?
14. Who is most likely, in good times and bad, to remember that the basic job of the
president is to operate the business at a profit?
Bits & Pieces, May 26, 1994, pp. 18-20.
Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a
Myron Rush identifies tough issues facing every Christian leader in The New
are wise to ponder them slowly.
- You must be willing to stand alone.
- You must be willing to go against public opinion in order to promote what you
- You must be willing to risk failure.
- You must become master of your emotions.
- You must strive to remain above reproach.
- You must be willing to make decisions others don't want to make.
- You must be willing to say no at times, even when you'd like to say yes.
- You must sometimes be willing to sacrifice personal interests for the good of the
- You must never be content with the average; you must always strive for the best.
- People must be more important to you than possessions.
- You will have to work harder to keep your life in balance than people do who are not
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989,
The world needs leaders...
who cannot be bought;
whose word is their promise;
who put character above wealth;
who possess opinions and a will;
who are larger than their vocations;
who do not hesitate to take chances;
who will not lose their individuality in a crowd;
who will be honest in small things as well as in great things;
who will make no compromise with wrong;
whose ambitions are not confined to their own selfish desires;
who will not say they do it "because everybody else does it";
who are true to their friends through good report and
evil report, in adversity as well as in prosperity;
who do not believe that shrewdness, cunning, and
hardheadedness are the best qualities for winning
who are not ashamed or afraid to stand for the truth
when it is unpopular, who can say no with emphasis,
although the rest of the world says yes.
Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989,
Actually, a manager needs the ability not only to make good decisions himself, but also
to lead others to make good decisions. Charles Moore, after four years of research at the
United Parcel Service reached the following conclusions:
1. Good decisions take a lot of time.
2. Good decisions combine the efforts of a number of people.
3. Good decisions give individuals the freedom to dissent.
4. Good decisions are reached without any pressure from the top to reach an artificial
5. Good decisions are based on the participation of those responsible for implementing
What kind of person is best able to involve others and himself in good decision making?
J. Keith Louden lists seven qualities:
1. The ability to look ahead and see what's coming -- foresight.
2. Steadiness, with patience and persistence and courage.
3. A buoyant spirit that in spite of cares generates confidence.
4. Ingeniousness, the ability to solve problems soundly yet creatively.
5. The ability to help others.
6. Righteousness, the willingness to do the right thing and speak the truth.
7. Personal morality of a quality that commands the respect of others.**
* Charles W.L. Foreman, "Managing a Decision Into Being," from the Management
Course for Presidents, pp.3-4.
** J. Keith Louden, "Leadership," from the Management Course for Presidents,
This concept of authority as something that causes another person to "do what you
want him to do" is reflected in most definitions. For instance, the Random House
Dictionary of the English Language speaks of authority as "a power or right to direct
the actions or thoughts of others. Authority is a power or right, usually because of rank
or office, to issue commands and to punish for violations." Again the root idea seems
to be control or direction of the actions of others.
We see this same idea even in sophisticated examinations of authority. For instance,
William Oncken, Jr., in a 1970 Colorado Institute of Technology Journal, gives an analysis
of authority that suggests it is comprised of four elements:
1. The Authority of Competence: the more competent the other fellow knows you are, the
more confident he will be that you know what you are talking about and the more likely he
will be to follow your orders, requests, or suggestions. He will think of you as an
authority in the matter under consideration and will feel it risky to ignore your wishes.
2. The Authority of Position: This component gives you the right to tell someone,
"Do it or else." It has teeth. "The boss wants it" is a bugle call
that can snap many an office or shop into action.
3. The Authority of Personality: The easier it is for the other fellow to talk to you,
to listen to you, or to work with you, the easier he will find it to respond to your
4. The Authority of Character: This component is your "credit rating" with
other people as to your integrity, reliability, honesty, loyalty, sincerity, personal
morals, and ethics. Obviously you will get more and better from a man who has respect for
your character than from one who hasn't.
William Oncken, Jr., Colorado Institute of Technology Journal 22,
July 1970, p. 273.
A study was recently completed on corporate managers. In it they were asked if they voiced positions that 1. focused on
the good of the company, rather than personal benefit and 2. jeopardized their own careers.
Emerging from this study were the four leader-types which are found in all organizations.
Type #1 -- courageous. These people expressed ideas to help the company improve, in spite of personal risk or
Type #2 -- confronting. These people spoke up, but only because of a personal vendetta against the company.
Type #3 -- calloused. These people didn't know, or care, whether they could do anything for the company; they felt
helpless and hopeless, so they kept quiet.
Type #4 -- conforming. These people also remained quiet, but only because they loathed confrontation and loved approval.
The researchers discovered that the courageous managers accomplished the most, reported the highest job satisfaction, and
eventually were commended by superiors. Their commitment had certainly improved the quality of their lives.
Jon Johnston, Courage - You Can Stand Strong in the Face of
Fear, 1990, SP Publications, pp. 138-139.
During World War II, Winston Churchill was forced to make a painful choice. The British secret service had broken the Nazi
code and informed Churchill that the Germans were going to bomb Coventry. He had two alternatives: (1) evacuate the citizens
and save hundreds of lives at the expense of indicating to the Germans that the code was broken; or (2) take no action, which
would kill hundreds but keep the information flowing and possibly same many more lives. Churchill had to choose and followed the
Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths - Living with Biblical
Tensions, 1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 179.
The trouble with being a leader today is that you can't be sure whether people are following you or chasing you.
Bits & Pieces, February 4, 1993, p. 8.
Max DePree gets to the heart of things with this succinct formulation: "The first responsibility of a leader is to define
reality." Leaders need to have a good picture of what is really going on around them. And they need to help others take an
honest look at this reality."
Richard J. Mouw, Uncommon Decency, p. 117.
Leadership is the ability to put the plans into practice, and to accomplish the specified objectives through the skillful
management of people, time, and tangible resources. A good leader is one who is able to motivate people; one who is capable
of making good decisions, even under pressure or in conditions of uncertainty; one who can guide people through actions as well as
George Barna, How to Find Your Church, pp. 104-105.
One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.
Submit to pressure from peers and you move down to their level.
Speak up for your own beliefs and you invite them up to your level.
If you move with the crowd, you'll get no further than the crowd.
When 40 million people believe in a dumb idea, it's still a dumb idea.
Simply swimming with the tide leaves you nowhere.
So if you believe in something that's good, honest and bright- stand up for it. Maybe your peers will get smart and drift your
In typical fashion, when George Allen moved to Washington, D.C., as head coach of the Redskins, he promised the nation's
capital the moon. He told them it would be just a few seasons before he would develop the Redskins into a championship football
team. He promised them the Super Bowl by the second season. The team had a brilliant preseason that first year. Then,
early in the regular season, they won several amazing victories. It appeared the Redskins were to be lifted from their common role
of loser to the uncommon role of winner. As time passed, however, the inevitable occurred. They began to lose and lose
and lose. The blame fell, at least in part, not on Coach George Allen, but on a quarterback named Sonny
Jurgenson, in my opinion one of the most gifted and effective quarterbacks to ever play
the game. Jurgenson possesses a quality I deeply admire: personal security. It seems as though no one can intimidate
One day after another defeat, Sonny was getting ready to take a shower and go home. A sportswriter leaned over to him in the
locker room and said, "Say, Sonny, be honest now. Don't all these off-the-wall remarks we write and all this public flack
disturb you? Doesn't it make you want to quit when people throw things at you from the stands and when you get those dirty
Sonny just leaned back, gave a big, toothless grin, and sighed, "No, not really, I don't want to quit. I've been in
this game long enough to know that every quarterback, every week of the season, spends his time either in the penthouse or in the
Sonny's comment points out an important fact. It is true that if you are a leader, you spend your time either on the top or on
the bottom. You seldom know what it's like to be in between. You are either the hero or the villain. You are respected or you
are virtually hated. People in leadership must live on the yo-yo of public opinion, under the gun of verbal jabs as well as on the
crest of great admiration. Being "in the outhouse" is a lot more difficult than those choice times "in the penthouse." It's when
we are under verbal attack of the intimidating public that we show our colors.
I have discovered, after a number of years in the ministry, that this is true even in the spiritual realm. You commit
yourself to a life of faith, you declare before God and man that you are going to walk with Him regardless, and suddenly, it
happens! The enemy turns every gun he can upon you to blast you out of the saddle, to make you finish your season in defeat, to
have you think that it's really not worth it after all.
Charles Swindoll, Hand Me Another Brick.
Don't take a position of leadership in church unless you are prepared to be honest, pure, and loving in your lifestyle.
Leadership is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. God holds teachers of His truth doubly
responsible because we who lead are in a position where we can either draw people toward Christ or drive them away from Him.
This is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain.
Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he
knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty
during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although
he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching
and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God.
Indeed, it is a privilege to be an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, or a Bible club leader. But it is also an
awesome responsibility. Let's make sure we attract people to the Savior rather than turn them away.
At one time Andrew Carnegie was the wealthiest man in America. He came to America from his native Scotland when he was a small
boy, did a variety of odd jobs, and eventually ended up as the largest steel manufacturer in the United States. At one time he
had forty-three millionaires working for him. In those days a millionaire was a rare person; conservatively speaking, a million
dollars in his day would be equivalent to at least twenty million dollars today.
A reporter asked Carnegie how he had hired forty-three millionaires. Carnegie responded that those men had not been
millionaires when they started working for him but had become millionaires as a result.
The reporter's next question was, "How did you develop these men to becomes so valuable to you that you have paid them this
much money?" Carnegie replied that men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must
be moved to get an ounce of gold; but one doesn't go into the mine looking for dirt - one goes in looking for the gold.
That's exactly the way we pastors need to view our people. Don't look for the flaws, warts, and blemishes. Look for the
gold, not for the dirt; the good, not the bad. Look for the positive aspects of life. Like everything else, the more good
qualities we look for in our people, the more good qualities we are going to find.
Last October the Prince and Princess of Wales allowed TV cameras into their home to film them as a normal couple with
their two children.
During the interview Prince Charles described his job in these terms: "It, more than anything else, is a way of life. It's
more than a job. It's a complete, 24-hour-a-day business, really."
Leadership in any organization - whether in the local church or in some other Christian activity - is never just a job. It is
always a way of life, demanding from those who would be leaders a 24-hour-a-day commitment.
The leader, in a sense, must always be on the job, deciding, directing and developing the work that has been entrusted to him
while at the same time encouraging those in the work. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the
Matthew Henry went to London, met a young lady of the nobility, who was also wealthy, and they fell in love. She went
to ask her father if she could marry him and he said, "He's got no background, you don't know where he's come from." She said,
"Yes, I know, but I know where he's going and I want to go with him."
In 1789 an uncertain George Washington is urged to seek the presidency by Governor Morris, a Pennsylvania delegate to the
Constitutional Convention. Morris writes Washington: "No constitution is the same on paper and in life. The exercise of
authority depends upon personal character. Your cool steady temper is indispensably necessary to give a firm and manly tone
to the new government."
A leader is a person with a magnet in his heart and a compass in his head.
Leadership in the local church should be determined by spirituality, not notoriety.
George Bernard Shaw's statement frequently flashes through my mind: "Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread
it." In a day of passing the buck with merely a shrug, those words bite and sting. It's one thing to sing and dance to
liberty's tunes, but it's something else entirely to bear the responsibility for paying the band.
There are numerous examples of this. Being in leadership carries with it a few privileges and perks, but living with the
responsibility of that task makes a reserved parking space and your own bathroom pale into insignificance. Conceiving children
is a moment of sheer ecstasy, but rearing them as a loving and caring parent represents years of thankless responsibility.
Enjoying a great conference is both delightful and memorable, but behind the scenes - count on it - are unseen hours of creative
thinking, disciplined planning, and responsible arranging. Running an organization that gets a job done, leaving those
involved feeling fulfilled and appreciated, can be exciting, fun, and stretching, but it's a nightmare unless the details of
responsibility are clearly set forth and maintained.
John W. Gardner, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who is now directing a leadership
study project in Washington, D.C., has pinpointed five characteristics that set "leader" managers apart from run-of-the-
They are long-term thinkers who see beyond the day's crisis and the quarterly report.
Their interest in the company does not stop with the unit they are heading. They want to know how all of the company's
departments affect one another, and they are constantly reaching beyond their specific area of influence.
They put heavy emphasis on vision, values, and motivation.
They have strong people skills.
They don't accept the status quo.
Bruce Larson, in his book Wind and Fire, points out some interesting facts about sandhill cranes:
"These large birds, who fly great distances across continents, have three remarkable qualities. First, they rotate leadership.
No one bird stays out in front all the time. Second, they choose leaders who can handle turbulence. And then, all during the time
one bird is leading, the rest are honking their affirmation.
That's not a bad model for the church. Certainly we need leaders who can handle turbulence and who are aware that leadership ought
to be shared. But most of all, we need a church where we are all honking encouragement."
Bruce Larson, Wind and Fire.
Cal Thomas found himself called a "Christian leader" by a leading Christian magazine and he wondered what that meant. More
speaking engagements? Perhaps an appearance on a Christian talk show?
"It would certainly give me the right to start putting Scripture references under my signed name in books I have
written. I would surely sign more Bibles, which I find a curious practice since I didn't write that Book."
Thomas wonders if we have reversed things. God's strength is made perfect in weakness. "In a church I once attended, there
was a man of tremendous faith. His wife is an alcoholic, His daughter has psychological problems. He was often poor in
health. Yet, week after week, he never complained. He always smiled and asked me how I was doing. He faithfully brought to
church a young blind man who had no transportation. He always sat with the blind man, helping him sing the hymns by saying the
words into his ear. That man was a `Christian leader' if ever there was one."
"Dear God, Please Don't Let Me Be a Christian
Leader," Fundamentalist Journal.
There is a new leader for Atlanta's Roman Catholic community, Bishop James
Lyke, and he is calling for a renewal and revival of the church which locally has been rocked by a sex scandal. More
than a third of Roman Catholic Priests in the United States are sexually active. The American Psychological Association meeting in
Boston hears of Johns Hopkins' research indicating that 20 percent of priests are heterosexual, 10-13 percent homosexual, and 6 percent
involved sexually with minors. This 25 year study, by the way, was conducted by Richard Sight, who left the priesthood to marry.
Catholic officials say that his study is not scientific.
Associated Press, August 13, 1990.
Advice from Ross Perot about how to treat your people:
"Never ask anyone to do what you haven't done before and wouldn't do again. That's a pretty fundamental rule in
leadership...treat them like you treat yourself. Things you don't like, they don't like. You don't like to be jerked around,
they don't either. You don't like to be talked down to, and they don't either. You would rather work with somebody than for
somebody. So would they. You hate people who pound on your head after you gave everything you had and failed...It's that simple."
Bits & Pieces, August, 20, 1992, p. 3.
As a train was about to leave a large railroad station, the conductor began to take tickets. Looking at the ticket of
the first passenger he remarked, "Friend, I think you're on the wrong train!" "But," replied the man, "the ticket agent told me this
was my train." After a little discussion, the conductor decided to check with the ticket agent. Before long, it became clear
that the conductor was on the wrong train! When the leader is lost, how can the followers be going on the right track?
The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.
I've met a lot of leaders in the Army who were very competent -- but they didn't have character. And for every job
they did well, they sought reward in the form of promotions, in the form of awards and decorations, in the form of getting ahead
at the expense of someone else, in the form of another piece of paper that awarded them another degree -- a sure road to the top.
You see, these were competent people, but they lacked character. I've also met a lot of leaders who had superb character but
who lacked competence. They weren't willing to pay the price of leadership, to go the extra mile because that's what it took to
be a great leader.
And that's sort of what it's all about. To lead in the 21st century -- to take soldiers, sailors, airmen into battle -- you
will be required to have both character and competence.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopt, Speech to the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, in
Franklin Roosevelt had to work hard to persuade Harry Truman to be his running mate in the 1944 presidential election. Truman
wanted to go to the Senate, but incumbent vice-president Henry Wallace was unpopular with many Democratic leaders. So Truman
was approached, and accepted the job with extreme reluctance. On April 12, 1945 he was summoned to the White House. There he was
shown into Eleanor Roosevelt's sitting room, where she told him that President Roosevelt was dead. After a moment of stunned
silence Truman asked her, "Is there anything I can do for you?"
She shook her head. "Is there anything we can do for you?" she said. "For you're the one in trouble now."
Today in the Word, April 27, 1992.
As Vice President, Richard Nixon came upon President Eisenhower one day signing an immense stack of mail in his
office. Mr. Nixon watched quietly for a moment and then asked the General how, with all that mail, he ever found time to think
about the big problems of the country.
Ike replied: "Dick, I really haven't spent that much time on these letters. In fact, in some instances they probably don't even say
exactly what I want them to. But you've got to learn that, if you get bogged down in all the fine print and little detail
you'll never get anything accomplished as President.
Bits & Pieces, April 30, 1992.
Caution to newly promoted executives -- remember what the mamma whale told the baby whale: "When you get to the top and start
letting off steam, that's the time you're most apt to be harpooned."
Bits & Pieces, April 30, 1992.
A football coach gave this advice on how to deal with failures. "When you're about to be run out of town, get out in front and
make it look like you're heading a parade."
Bits & Pieces, April 30, 1992.
Wherever anything is to be done, either in the Church or in the world, you may depend upon it, it is done by one man. The whole
history of the Church, from the earliest ages, teaches the same lesson. A Moses, a Gideon, an Isaiah, and a Paul are from time
to time raised up to do an appointed work; and when they pass away, their work appears to cease. Nor is it given to everyone,
as it was to Moses, to see the Joshua who is destined to carry on his work to completion. God can raise up a successor to each
man, but the man himself is not to worry about that matter, or he may do harm. One great object of every religious teacher should
be to prevent the creation of external appliances to make his teaching appear to live when it is dead.
Charles Spurgeon, in Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching &
Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 223.
During the Nazi occupation of his country in WWII, King Christian X of
Denmark noticed a Nazi flag flying over a Danish public building. He immediately called the German commandant, demanding
that the flag be taken down at once. The commandant refused. "Then a soldier will go and take it down." said the king. "He
will be shot," threatened the commandant. "I think not," replied the king, "for I shall be the soldier." Within minutes the flag
was taken down.
Today in the Word, August, 1991, p. 13.
S. I. McMillen, in his book None of These Diseases, tells a story of a young woman who wanted to go to college, but her heart sank
when she read the question on the application blank that asked, "Are you a leader?" Being both honest and conscientious, she
wrote, "No," and returned the application, expecting the worst.
To her surprise, she received this letter from the college: "Dear Applicant: A study of the application forms reveals that this
year our college will have 1,452 new leaders. We are accepting you because we feel it is imperative that they have at least one
Adapted from S. I. McMillen, None of These Diseases.
Dwight Eisenhower described leadership as "The act of getting somebody else to do what you want done because he wants to do
Give your decision, never your reasons; your decisions may be right, your reasons are sure to be wrong.
Writer and Jazz enthusaist Nat Hentoff, on Duke Ellington:
"Ellington talked to me about his music. He composed with each musician in the band particularly in mind. 'You keep their
weaknesses in your head as you write,' he said, 'and that way you astonish them with their strengths."
Nat Hentoff, Boston Boy.
When a general gets too far ahead of his troops, he's often mistaken for the enemy.
It's those stately geese I find especially impressive. Winging their way to a warmer climate, they often cover thousands of
miles before reaching their destination. Have you ever studied why they fly as they do? It is fascinating to read what has been
discovered about their flight pattern as well as their in-flight habits. Four come to mind.
1. Those in front rotate their leadership. When one lead goose gets tired, it changes places
with one in the wing of the V-formation and another flies point.
2. By flying as they do, the members of the flock create an upward air current for one another. Each flap of the wings
literally creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. One author states that by flying in a V-formation, the whole
flock gets 71 percent greater flying range than if each goose flew on its own.
3. When one goose gets sick or wounded, two fall out of formation with it and follow it down to help and
protect it. They stay with the struggler until it's able to fly again.
4. The geese in the rear of the formation are the ones who do the honking. I suppose it's their way of announcing that
they're following and that all is well. For sure, the repeated honks encourage those in front to stay at it.
As I think about all this, one lesson stands out above all others: it is the
natural instinct of geese to work together. Whether it's rotating, flapping, helping, or simply honking, the flock is in
it together...which enables them to accomplish what they set out to do.
Chuck Swindoll, letter, October, 1991.
Perhaps you have heard the geese honking as they fly northward in a "V" formation. They head toward the grain fields of Canada and
Alaska to spend the summer. Two engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel why geese fly in formation. Each goose, flapping its
wings, creates an uplift for the goose that follows. The whole flock gains 71% greater flying range than if they journeyed
alone. That's why the leader of the "V" formation falls back periodically to let another leader take the point, and why the
rest stay in line. It is rough to be a leader. Even in a flock of geese, leadership is a shared responsibility. Every
disciple, at one time or another, is called to "take the point."
In Everyday Discipleship for Ordinary People, Stuart Briscoe wrote" "One of my young colleagues was officiating at the funeral
of a war veteran. The dead man's military friends wished to have a part in the service at the funeral home, so they requested the
pastor to lead them down to the casket, stand with them for a solemn moment of remembrance, and then lead them out through the
side door. This he proceeded to do, but unfortunately the effect was somewhat marred when he picked the wrong door. The result was
that they marched with military precision into a broom closet, in full view of the mourners, and had to beat a hasty retreat covered
"This true story illustrates a cardinal rule or two. First, if you're going to lead, make sure you know where you're going.
Second, if you're going to follow, make sure that you are following someone who knows what he is doing!"
from Stuart Briscoe, Everyday Discipleship for
Today's business people can learn a lot about good leadership from orchestra conductors, says the
Harvard Business Review. The first thing a good conductor does is put together a first-rate
group of musicians. Toscanini, for example, could not have gotten great music out of a high school band. The next thing the
conductor does is make sure that his musicians share his satisfaction with the quality of the music. If they don't all
feel an equal sense of accomplishment the conductor's leadership has failed and he will not make great music.
Management Digest, September 1989.
When my father's company hired a consultant to improve efficiency, he immediately called a meeting of all shop
personnel. In stressing the importance of following a set plan of engineering procedures, he gave this analogy: "You are on the
Titanic, and it's sinking. You find yourself on a lifeboat. It's dark and hazy. Which direction would you row? Now, you're
in the same situation, but you have the ship's navigator with you. Which way would you row? You'd row the way the navigator
told you to, right?"
In the crowd there were murmurs of agreement until one man in the back piped up. "Well, I don't know," he
said. "He already hit one iceberg!"
Sarah Jo Plucker, in Reader's Digest.
Leadership is not magnetic personality. That can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not making friends and influencing people;
that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to higher
standards, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.
There is a very strong tendency on the part of Americans, whether in government or business, that you really have to establish some
achievement of your own. In Japan, there is emphasis on continuity. Unless there is something wrong, I build on what my
predecessor has built. In the U.S., the new man comes in and very often the value of that man is judged by the things he does
differently from his predecessor. This is very destabilizing-- you start from scratch. In manufacturing, there is a great deal
that can be achieved by continuity.
Yotaro Kobayashi, President, Fuji-Xeerox Corp. in Resources, #2.
When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. When in charge, ponder. When in trouble, delegate. When in
James H. Boren.
When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.
Lucius, Second Lord Falkland.
Look over your shoulder now and then to be sure someone's following you.
Virginia State Treasurer, Henry Gilmer.
All morning, an instructor on my staff had been explaining leadership to a class of police recruits. Calling a man to the
front of the class, he handed him a piece of paper on which was written: "You are in charge. Get everyone out of the room
without causing a panic." The recruit was at a loss for words and returned to his seat. The second man summoned tried:
"Everybody outside. Go!" No one moved. A third man glanced at the instructions, smiled and said, "All right, men. Break for
lunch." The room emptied in seconds.
Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives.
Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and one of the finest leaders professional sports has ever known, once said,
"Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react."
Today In The Word, August,1989, p. 30.
Leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others. One man can lead others only to the extent that
he can influence them. This fact is supported by definitions of leadership by men who have themselves
wielded great influence. Lord Montgomery defines it in these terms: "Leadership is
the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence."
Dr. John R. Mott, a world leader in student circles, gave as his definition: "A
leader is a man who knows the road, who can keep ahead, and who can pull others after him."
President Truman's definition is: "A leader is a person who has the ability to get others to do
what they don't want to do, and like it."...
Lord Montgomery enunciated seven ingredients necessary in a leader in war, each of which is appropriate to the spiritual
warfare: (1) He should be able to sit back and avoid getting immersed in detail. (2) He must not be petty. (3) He must not
be pompous. (4) He must be a good picker of men. (5) He should trust those under him, and let them get on with their job without
interference. (6) He must have the power of clear decision. (7) He should inspire confidence.
Dr. John R. Mott moved in student circles and his tests covered different territory: (1) Does he do little things well?
(2) Has he learned the meaning of priorities? (3) How does he use his leisure? (4) Has he intensity? (5) Has he learned to
take advantage of momentum? (6) Has he the power of growth? (7) What is his attitude to discouragements? (8) How does he face
impossible situations? (9) What are his weakest points?
J.O. Sanders in Spiritual Leadership, p. 19-24.
General John Galvin, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Commander-in-Chief of U.S. European Command, was asked what was
it like to be in charge of so many and various forces. His reply: "I often feel like the director of a cemetery. I have a
lot of people under me, but nobody listens."
The following principles of leadership emerge from biblical teaching:
1. Christian leaders should be certain that their goal is to serve God and others, not to receive the title or honor that
comes with leadership.
2. Leaders should not use their position for their own advantage or comfort. No task should be "beneath" them--although
some tasks may be delegated. They should not ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.
3. Leaders will seek to distinguish their own preferences from the will and welfare of the group as a whole.
4. Normally the position should seek the leader. There may be some situations in which persons may apply or volunteer.
Nevertheless, when someone strongly desires a particular responsibility, his or her motivation should be carefully
5. We must learn to see each other as valuable to the Lord and basically equal in his sight.
Millard J. Erickson, The Standard, May, 1982.
Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it towards goals of beneficial
permanence that fulfills the group's real needs.
Dr. John Haggai, Lead On!.
Experts know what should be done; leaders know what should be done and how to get people to do it.
Quoted in C. Barber, Nehemiah and the Dynamics of
Leadership, p. 72.
It is small wonder where the shepherds hesitate and stumble, that the sheep draw back affrighted.
You can judge leaders by the size of the problems they tackle-- people nearly always pick a problem their own size, and ignore or
leave to others the bigger or smaller ones.
Anthony Jay, Bits and Pieces, September 1989.
Effective leadership is the willingness to sacrifice for the sake of predetermined objectives.
Ted Engstrom, in Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 117.
The captain of a floundering ship does little good by criticizing the crew to the passengers.
In order to give the illusion of authority, one must make immediate changes. (loose paraphrase of Douglas McArthur).
Leadership Journal, IV, 3, p. 64.