Top 10 Posts from 2015

Gold top 10 winner

Photo Credit: Gold top 10 winner, by Sam Churchill, Flickr

It is always fascinating to see which posts drew the most attention from the previous year. Not only is this simply interesting data to see, but it also is extremely helpful in receiving feedback on what you and other readers of this blog find valuable and interesting. Providing valuable and meaningful resources is what motivates me in this journey.

In this brief post I’d like to engage two areas:

  • First, I’d like to share a few thoughts about what’s ahead for this blog in 2016.
  • Second, I’d like to share some broad observations about the Top 10 Posts from 2015 before sharing them with commentary in the coming weeks.

Looking Ahead to Blogging in 2016

As I launch into another year of blogging, I have several thoughts that stand out.

First, blogging takes effort! I have a new respect for other bloggers and the work they put into their reflections. Blogs like this don’t just happen. They take time, energy, and thought. It is work, but I count it a labor of love.

Second, the effort is worth it for me because of three convergent reasons:

  1. I enjoy the process of learning and writing so these reflections, though work, represent enjoyable work for me.
  2. Blogging helps to keep me fresh in thinking through important topics related to leadership and life. Rather than simply relying on previous study and reflection, this blog is helping me to keep my reading and reflection in the area of leadership fresh.
  3. I find great joy with something I enjoy doing that also provides value for others. It is encouraging to hear how many of the blog posts this past year have been helpful for those who care deeply about engaging their work and leadership with purpose and meaning.

Finally, now that I’ve had over a year of weekly posts, I think I’m ready to start moving to two posts a week on this platform. Part of this arises out of wanting to both create new content as well as highlight themes from last year’s top posts. I now have topics for posts mapped out through early spring, and will likely settle into a pattern of sharing one new post each week and then utilizing a second post to engage past themes and/or seasonal topics.

Looking Back on Blogging in 2015

As I look back on the top posts from 2015, there are some interesting observations to highlight.

First, Drawing from the top 10 most viewed posts in 2015, five of these posts were published in 2015 and five were published in 2014. In other words, not only were new posts of interest to readers, but previous posts from 2014 continued to receive engagement.

Second, of the five posts published in 2014, three of these were also the top three posts read in 2014. The interest in these posts in 2014 continued into 2015.

Finally, the posts covered a wide variety of topics. Here is an example of the wide range of topics covered in the top posts from 2015:

  • Strategy (two posts on this theme)
  • Vision
  • Teams
  • Change
  • Communication
  • Servant leadership
  • Vocational Discernment
  • Marriage Lessons
  • A Tribute to a Life Well-Lived

Sharing these Top Posts

Though I plan to mix new posts with reflections on these top posts from 2015, I intend to share these top posts that received significant engagement in the past year. I hope both the new posts in 2016 and the top posts from 2015 will continue to empower and equip you as a reader with valuable lessons from life and engaged with purpose.

Thanks  for your part in this journey!

Strategic Foresight: The Past, Present, and Future Focus of Leadership

Photo: In the middle of nowhere, Brian Koprowski, Flickr

Photo Credit: In the middle of nowhere, by Brian Koprowski, Flickr

Clarity and foresight are essential leadership characteristics. Organizations and teams need leaders who can see clearly in the midst of confusing organizational and environmental realities.

THE VUCA WORLD

We are increasingly experiencing what some refer to as a “VUCA” world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. More than ever, we need leaders with vision, clarity, and foresight.

FORESIGHT

Larry Spears argues that foresight is one of Robert K. Greenleaf’s core characteristics of servant leaders. Of foresight, Spears notes:

Closely related to conceptualization, the ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation is hard to define, but easy to identify. One knows it when one sees it. Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant-leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future.”

THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE FOCUS OF FORESIGHT

This thread of learning from the past, observing the present, and anticipating the likely consequences of decisions on the future is critical. Focusing on only one of these areas can lead to leadership blind spots. Using and embracing all of them brings holistic perspective to leadership.

Past: The past is full of lessons, but it is not where we live. We must look to the past. We must listen to the past. We musts learn from the past. But, we must not live in the past. We must not only celebrate the past glory days of our organizations and communities.

Present: We must be present in the moment we’ve received, fully engaging the lives and mission we’ve been given as individuals and as organizations. At the same time, we must not be short-sighted and only live for the moment.

Future: Similarly, we must look to the future in light of the lessons of the past and present. We must anticipate and make course corrections based on likely outcomes and anticipated scenarios. But, we must not only look to the future. We can be so future-oriented that we miss the people and opportunities that are right in front of us. We must not live in the future, but rather look to the future for insights that inform the present.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT

Although all organizational members benefit from looking at the past, present, and future, leaders in particular have this as part of their core job responsibilities. Leaders must learn from the past and present and look to the future with strategic foresight.

Foresight is not about looking into a crystal ball to see the future. Foresight is about actively learning. It is about playing out future possibilities and scenarios in our minds based on the past and present knowledge we have of our organizations and world. It is about identifying with clarity what will be the likely future outcomes of decisions we make in the present.

FORESIGHT FOR TODAY

In other words, although foresight is looking to the future, foresight serves the present. Leaders look to likely future possibilities based on diverse possible decisions and scenarios, and then they return to the present to guide present-day decision making in light of this future-looking foresight activity.

As you look at the past, present, and possible futures in your organization, what narrative threads and patterns emerge? What lessons do these threads point to for your community? As you look to the future and anticipate likely outcomes of decisions, what decisions need to be made in the present to serve your organization in light of these desired outcomes?

Engage your leadership with foresight, guiding your present based on lessons from the past and foreseeing likely outcomes in your organizational future.

Assessing Leadership — The Purpose in Leadership Inventory

Researching, Steve Hanna, Flickr

Photo Credit: Researching, by Steve Hanna, Flickr

The inaugural edition of the journal Servant Leadership: Theory and Practice came out at the end of August. I’m grateful to have an article included in the August 2014 issue of the journal. My article is focused on the development and initial testing of what I’m calling The Purpose in Leadership Inventory.

In this brief post, I’m providing a link to the full article followed by a brief overview of what leadership variables are measured by the instrument.

The Development and Initial Testing of the Purpose in Leadership Inventory:
A Tool for Assessing Leader Goal-Orientation, Follower-Focus, and Purpose-in-Leadership

Why Was the PLI Created?

The Purpose in Leadership Inventory (PLI) was created for two audiences.

Leadership Researchers: First, the PLI is designed for researchers in the field of leadership studies. Developing new instruments to measure leadership variables is one of the keys to ongoing advancement of the field. As the field of leadership studies has grown throughout the last century, noticeable shifts are occurring. The PLI is designed to capture some of these shifts, and help researchers understand which leadership factors are associated with effectiveness in diverse organizational contexts.

Leadership Practitioners: Second, the PLI is designed for engaged leadership practitioners who desire to study the place of goal-orientation, follower-focus, and purpose-in-leadership within their organizations and leadership practice. Diverse leaders approach leadership differently. The PLI allows leaders to gain insight into how followers perceive their leadership around these vital variables.

What Does the PLI Measure?

As mentioned above, the PLI measure three core leadership variables. These are:

  • Goal Orientation
  • Follower Focus
  • Purpose in Leadership

The first two capture variables highlighted in a previous post: People or Production — Getting Things Done while Caring for People. A focus on accomplishing goals and getting things done is important for leaders. Equally import is a focus on caring for followers. Goal orientation and follower focus are the first two variables measured by the PLI.

The third variable is the significant addition to the leadership research stream. This variable is Purpose in Leadership. Purpose in leadership as a variable is based on the work of individuals such as Paul Wong who focus on meaning-centered approaches to leadership and management. These approaches take seriously the leaders’ sense of meaning and purpose.

Why Does this Matter?

The more I engage in leadership research, the more I’m convinced that purpose matters. Leaders who have a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives as leaders add value to their organizations. Such leaders help the members of the community understand that their work and organizational outcomes actually make a difference in the world.

As leader-centered models of the 20th century have been modified by more recent approaches such as transformational and servant leadership, the opportunity to reflect on the deeper meaning and purpose in leadership has emerged. The PLI is a tool to help leadership practitioners and researchers investigate the priority of these leadership variables.

I’m looking forward to seeing the additional research that will emerge through the Purpose in Leadership Inventory.