Reflections, Ideas, Teachings, Analysis, Observations From Malcolm Webber

How do you ride a bike?

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Here’s a powerful article on how people learn. Can you imagine using a formula like this to actually help you ride a bike? Apply this to leader development. What are your thoughts?


Developmental Networks

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Here’s an extract from an article on Forbes.com:

Instead of taking on the formal role of sole coach or mentor to those you are responsible for developing (or to meet that performance metric of “develops others”), you can help your talent build a network of relationships that will – as a whole – provide the support they need for the next role or level.

Research conducted by Kathy Kram (Boston University) and Monica Higgins (Harvard University) indicates that people who develop faster have a strong network of developmental relationships. This parallels findings from Rob Cross of the University of Virginia that shows a clear correlation between high performance and robust networks.

Then, after some suggestions on how to do this, the writer continues:

With this simple process, your direct reports and mentees can start looking for and lining up key people to add to their developmental networks. You’ll check in periodically and even steer them to specific people, make introductions, but you are no longer front-and-center in the development process. Your mentees are not exclusively “attached” to you – freeing up your time and energy. Just as important, your talent doesn’t have all their relational and developmental assets tied to one person.

Another plus? The organization benefits from a more robust pool of people involved in building talent.

Then, finally:

One last note to all you over-scheduled senior managers. Don’t overlook your own developmental networks. The same strategies that will work for your mentees or direct reports will work for you.

Does this sound familiar?

Of course this is the role of the church in the lives of leaders and in the process of healthy leader development.

For more, see this page.

Africans for Norway!

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A satirical video purporting to show African pop stars uniting to support frostbite victims in Norway is “a smart way to question” the effectiveness of aid to developing countries and the assumptions that often underlie it, a reporter who covers development policy writes in an International Herald Tribune column.

This “Radi-Aid” video urges Africans to send radiators to help Norwegians stay warm. Journalist Dayo Olopade writes that the mock campaign effectively shows viewers how such efforts can play into stereotypes about the developing world and ultimately do more for donors’ self-esteem than for the intended aid recipients.

Also see the original site.

Some Significant Advances in the Last Decade

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The following are some observations regarding recent advances in the church/missions world over the last few years.

Content Delivery:

  • Ease of content delivery via many kinds of technology. This has been a stunning advance.
  • The rise of mobile phone use for data. So many people individually have personal, immediate and largely-unhindered access to anything and everything. Access to information.
  • Rise of social networking. Fast and simple access to a massive number of people. Access to people.
  • Social networking able to get around national censors and barriers.

Development in Christian Ministry Thinking and Practice:

  • Breaking down of denominational barriers. Therefore, ease and frequency of networking. Getting things done together. In the past we all stayed largely within our own denominational ghettoes and were greatly limited thereby.
  • Rise of “open-source” kinds of practice. Not only as a specific software technology but also as a way of sharing organizational learning. This has given rise to some great brain-storming opportunities and the fast creation and sharing of sophisticated models and tools.
  • More leaders and ministries willing to “give away” their learning, not having to own and control it. Results in a much greater sharing of resources (as well as “credit” for any success).
  • The rise of the truly indigenous church. Fewer Westerners needing (or welcome) to control things and thereby creating impenetrable ceilings. Westerners becoming genuinely willing to serve.
  • Western ministries realizing they have a limited but vital role in serving Majority World churches. Clearly defining that limited role and then keeping to it. Has created opportunity for indigenous church to rapidly grow under their own leadership, while benefiting from the specific, narrow areas of expertise the Westerners can bring. This greater empowerment and ownership by indigenous leaders has resulted in a much broader ministry base.
  • Shifting of missions-vision from parachurch organizations to local churches. This has also brought a great deal of amateurism along with dramatically increased vision and capacity.
  • Increasing recognition of the primary and central importance of leader development. With this shift comes an exponential increase of ministry quantity and quality.
  • Shifting of focus from ministry “work” to development of people, especially spiritual life. This must remain central or else, with the extraordinary advances in opportunities, everyone will burn out.

Philanthropy-Related:

  • Significant amounts of funding becoming available to Christian ministries around the world.
  • The rise of Majority World philanthropists.
  • The willingness of the funders to fund learning and experimentation (R&D) and not only fund tried-and-tested “production.”

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

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Here’s a great article from The Atlantic:

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society. Read more.

Are you doing projects or building people?

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When you do great projects, you accomplish great things. When you build people, you build the future; the world is changed.

Laying Down Your Life for Your Friends

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Good Shepherds are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep (see John 10:11).   As spiritual leaders walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to lay down our lives for our people.  This laying down might in special circumstances mean dying for others.  But it means first of all making our own lives – our sorrows and joys, our despair and hope, our loneliness and experience of intimacy – available to others as sources of new life.

One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves.  We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say:  “Do not be afraid, I know what you are living and I am living it with you.  You are not alone.”  Thus we become Christ-like shepherds.

By Henri Nouwen

Augmented Education

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Take a look:

School’s New Session in the latest edition of Fast Company.

A quote:

General Assembly is far more flexible than an Ivy League institution. It iterates and updates its offerings every few weeks, based on detailed student surveys. When its students said they wanted to study Android development, General Assembly ginned up a class two weeks later. A traditional college might take years to meet a new need. This close-to-the-ground, customizable model has been a missing piece of the innovation ecosystem. Top universities can’t always move fast enough to provide the technical and entrepreneurial skills needed in this new world.

Dynamics of Transformation

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Here’s an extract from a great article by the Center for Creative Leadership:

A research-based, time-tested guideline for developing managers says that you need to have three types of experience, using a 70-20-10 ratio: challenging assignments (70 percent), developmental relationships (20 percent) and coursework and training (10 percent).

The 70-20-10 rule emerged from 30 years of CCL’s Lessons of Experience research, which explores how executives learn, grow and change over the course of their careers.

Does this sound familiar?

Of course, CCL is missing one core dynamic: the spiritual dynamic.

Biblically, we know that there are four dynamics of transformation. Nevertheless, this is a very interesting confirmation of our model of leader development.

Do I really want God’s glory?

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A dear friend of ours wrote this:

When I was going through the most difficult time of my life, I thought a lot about one question: I have always said I want to glorify God with my life, but do I allow God to bring about His glory as He pleases? Or do I define what God’s glory means and only accept it if it pleases me?

If I am blessed and successful in every area of life, with no pain, suffering or frustration, I may think that will glorify God; but God may have a totally different idea. He may want to glorify Himself in my life in a way that the world views as humiliation and destruction. Do I still want God’s glory?

This question helped me to clarify what I truly desire in life: God’s glory or my own ideal. I have to let God do it whatever way He pleases, and completely submit to Him.

Ask yourself this question: If it involves my pain and humiliation, do I still want God’s glory?

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Copyright © 2010 - 2014 Malcolm Webber