On 14 November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter in the Ia Drang Valley. They were immediately surrounded by ±2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. It was the first full-fledged battle between U.S. and North Vietnamese soldiers.

Later Lt. Col. Hal Moore wrote:

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Huu An, of the People’s Army of Vietnam, and I were doing our best to kill each other. We’d been at it for 2 hours in the miserably hot, humid scrub jungle fringing a football field-sized clearing in the remote Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam. He was commanding well-trained, well-armed soldiers of the 66th North Vietnamese Regiment. I was a Lieutenant Colonel, an infantry paratrooper commanding a 450-man Air Assault Infantry Battalion. The problem for me, at that moment, was that I’d only been able to bring in about 250 of my men. I had sixteen Huey helicopters and it was a 20-minute round trip from the pick-up/loading areas. Lt. Col. An was attacking with upwards of 1,800 very aggressive soldiers fiercely determined to kill us all. I was suffering heavy casualties, both killed and wounded, among my troopers. We were in a struggle for survival in the first major battle between US Army and North Vietnamese regulars.”

You might not be into militaty history (or even a keen fan of the military itself) but one has to admit that it takes an exceptional leader to inspire men to lay down their lives for a cause. We can certainly learn from these leaders.

Outnumbered and outgunned, Col Hal Moore and his men fought their way through the enemy. Moore led from the front. A fierce battle ensued for the following couple of days. Although 79 U.S. soldiers died, the small unit fought with such bravery that the Communists had to withdrew. By 16 November 1965, enemy casualties amounted to 1200.

This was not Lt. Col. Hal Moore’s first battle – nor was it his last. By the end of his career he was a highly decorated military officer. But even more important than the medals that he won, was the respect his men had for him. Lt. Col. Hal Moore was a phenomenal leader.

Military author Mike Guardia compiled Lt. Col Moore’s wisdom on leadership in the book: “Hal Moor on leadership. Winning when outgunned and outmanned”. I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Numerous fascinating battle stories are recounted in the pages of the book. Within these stories, valuable leadership lessons are to be found. So, this the book is not only intended for people in a military context, but for any leader who is tasked with the responsibility of leading other people.

I found myself being inspired by Hal Moore’s bravery, to be a braver leader myself. There are too many gems in the book to name them all. That’s why I thought I would start by only giving you ten: Continue Reading…

How would you know if your company/organization/Church is heading in the wrong direction from a leadership perspective? What would you say is the big “red flag” that signifies the beginning of the end?

I’m currently reading John Kotter’s phenomenal work “Leading Change”. Actually, I’m digesting it – bit by bit – very slowly.

I find the book exceptional. Though it is written from a secular point of view, many if not all the principles can be applied to the context of the Church. Kotter makes the following statement and I find myself going back to it again and again:

The syndrome, as I have observed it on many occasions, goes like this: Success creates some degree of market dominance, which in turn produces much growth. After a while, keeping the ever-larger organization under control becomes the primary challenge. So attention turns inward, and managerial competencies are nurtured. With a strong emphasis on management but not leadership, bureaucracy and an inward focus take over. But with continued success, the result mostly of market dominance, the problem often goes unaddressed and an unhealthy arrogance begins to evolve. All of these characteristics then make any transformation effort much more difficult.

An inward focus. Bureaucracy.

Isn’t this the story of so many congregations?

Hoe lyk die toekoms van die Kerk in Suid Afrika? Wat wag vir ons? Waarvoor moet ons ons gereed maak?

Die VSA is aan die voorpunt van verandering en in terme van kultuurskuiwe, ‘n paar jaar ons vooruit. Ek was bevoorreg om bykans ‘n maand lank in die VSA ‘n studietoer mee te maak na oor die 20 bestemmings – verspreid oor 9 state.

Hierdie is die 40 indrukke oor die toekoms wat ek terugbring. Dit help my om te probeer onderskei tussen 4 soorte indrukke:

  1. Kultuurskuiwe waarmee ons moet rekening hou,
  2. Gewaarwordinge oor teologie,
  3. Tendense in bedieningspraktyk en
  4. Indrukke oor leierskap.

Continue Reading…

As leaders, we always strive for cohesion in a group. Whether you are putting a team together or trying to form a small group, the rule of thumb is to maximize cohesion. The more cohesive a group, the more effective it can work on tasks or deliver the required outcome.

Generally speaking, the five factors in “group dynamics” that influence cohesion, is:

  • Stability– The longer a group is together with the same members, the more cohesive the group will be.
  • Similarity– The more similar the group members are in terms of age, race, sex, education level etc, the more cohesive the group will be.
  • Size– Cohesion develops quicker in small groups than in large group.
  • Support– If individual team members have mentors or supporting leaders who provide input and encouragement to support one another, the team as a whole will be more cohesive.
  • Satisfaction– The more satisfied team members are with each others performance, output or work ethics, the more cohesive the team will be.

So, the more cohesive a group, the better . . . or is it? There comes a time when cohesion can actually lead to something social psychologists call “groupthink“. Groupthink is when a group value harmony above critical thinking. Consensus becomes more important than allowing alternative viewpoints. Sure, the group will say that they tolerate differences, but unknowingly they follow the leader(s) unquestioningly. The unwritten group dynamic is to discourage disagreement. Controversial issues are avoided and individuals will feel they do not have the freedom to ask questions. They will even start to act against their better judgement and loose their uniqueness,

This is actually scary for me, because as a church leader I often emphasize the importance of coherence. Unity, is after all a Biblical command.

The problem with groupthink is that there is a loss of creativity. And in a world where we desperately need creativity to solve the problems face, the loss of critical thinking is the last thing we can afford.

A further problem of groupthink is that the group does not realize the phenomenon’s presence, until it is too late. The group will typically have an inflated sense of their own abilities, knowledge, behavior or products. This is called the “illusion of invulnerability“.

Not only does groupthink lead the “in-group” to underrate the “out-group“, but it can even cause the “in-group” to demonize the “out-group“, resulting in the acceptance of actions against people that would otherwise be frowned upon.

I have seen groupthink at play in the Church arena on numerous occasions. In fact, I think it is bigger threat than the lack of cohesion. Groupthink – “the way things are done around here” – is what holds many a congregation back from meaningful change.

So, without diminishing the value of group cohesion, let us be aware of the danger of groupthink. I’d say that as leaders, we ought to constantly ask ourselves what group dynamic is present in our context.

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Ask yourself if your group is currently more prone to cohesion or to groupthink. Whatever your answer might be, work towards the other…

Have you ever noticed that in your team there will always be someone who is a “dreamer of what could be” – and another who is the “critic”?

When studying group dynamics, one of the interesting factors at play in teams, is that team members tend to identify with a specific role in the team.

When you are aware of this fact, you can use it to the team’s advantage. If there is for instance a specific project at hand as well as an evaluation that still needs to be done, different team members bring different skills to the table. A good leader will utilize the skill set of the team as a whole.

In the 1980’s, Meredith Belbin developed a behavioral test called the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory. He identified 9 roles that people would typically have a preference for.

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Credit: http://www.leadershipsolutions.co.nz/images/TAP.jpg

The nine roles can be divided into three groups of people: Action oriented people, people oriented people and cognitive oriented people. Knowing which team member has a preference for which role, not only maximizes the team’s output, but also helps when you need to guide change. You can even anticipate disputes in the team, each team member not only has a specific strength but also an typical expected weakness.

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Credit: http://newaccra.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/belbin-team-roles.jpg

 

You’ve probably experienced the same frustration: You struggle to delegate tasks – and when you do delegate, you struggle to maintain meaningful contact with the people you have delegated to.

I realized this problem in my own setup, when I was confronted with the same story over and over again. Either people were frustrated with not having enough responsibility, or they were complaining about not having enough contact for guidance. It felt for them as if we gave responsibility without ever following up or encouraging again.

It is as if I am in a constant struggle between two opposite ends of an evil pendulum.

That was until I became aware of Hersey-Blanchard’s contingency model – or situational leadership. They have produced a workable model where you neither have to be an Authoritarian leader that micro manage people, or follow a Laissez-faire “hands off” style. The situation (both the task and the people involved) literally predicts what leadership style will be most suitable. Their graph effectively maps what is needed.

To understand the graph, you actually need to read it backwards – or from right to left. On the X-axis you have the amount of guidance you will need to give. The Y-axis shows the support that the person needs from you. Obviously, the more guidance is needed, the more authoritarian you need to be. The higher the support, the more democratic you need to be.

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In the S1 quadrant, your guidance needs to be high. The follower is unable to do the task as you would like it to be done, and probably even unwilling. The decision style that is best suited for this scenario is authoritarian.

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In the S2 quadrant, the follower is now perhaps more willing but still unable to do the task efficiently. High directive and high support is needed from your side. The relationship will take the form of a Continue Reading…

Anyone who has ever worked in a team, will testify to the fact that although team members may stay the same, team dynamics will always change.

Bruce Tuckman actually identified this phenomenon already back in 1965, and it has since become known as “Tuckman’s 5 phase group development model“. According to Tuckman the 5 phases that are inevitable for a team to go through, are:

  • Forming: Team members get acquainted with each other.
  • Storming: Role definition and expectations are worked out
  • Norming: Clear expectations, consensus and responsibility takes form.
  • Performing: Focus and goal achievement
  • Adjourning/Reforming: Task completion.

If one would portray it visually, it would look something like this:

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So, what concerns me is the part that comes after “Reforming“. The performance curve can either drop or raise at this point. And this is why the reforming phase is such an important phase.

I find myself in precisely in that phase right now. I joined a congregation – and hence new team – in 2014. Once the “forming” phase and role definition was done, the “norming” and “performing” started. We have enjoyed several successes in a relatively short period of time.

But our one colleague – and as luck would have it, our team leader – retires this year. This means the role definition of the entire team changes once again. What’s more, is that we relied heavily on his wisdom. We will surely feel his absence.

But now the fate of the curve, rests squarely on our shoulders. The science of group dynamics says that it is impossible to stay unchanged on the plateau. The curve will either drop or raise.

This is a sober, terrifying and humbling awareness. As colleagues we need to reform and “re-invent” our team in order to raise the curve. That’s a tall order. I trust that the Lord will guide us in our endeavors. I am unashamedly and utterly dependent upon Him. Your prayers will be much appreciated.

I recently stumbled upon a talk by Mike Pilavachi regarding the circle, ministry takes us all on. It was actually thought provoking as he described the life cycle of a leader…

  • Phase 1 Survival
  • Phase 2 Success
  • Phase 3 Significance
  • Phase 4 Self-satisfaction
  • Phase 5 Self-indulgence
  • Phase 6 Self-deceived
  • Phase 7 Self-destruction
  • Phase 8 Survival

According to Mike, if you want to break the cycle, you need to do it time and again in the third stage. You need to “re-invent” what you do, while you are in the significance phase. This will keep you sharp, creative and, well … humble.

Ek is nogal ‘n groot aanhanger van die huweliksterapeut Dr John Gottman se werk. Dr Gottman is ‘n emeritus professor by die universiteit van Washington. Hy is in 2007 bekroon as een van die 10 invloedrykste terapeute van die afgelope 25 jaar. Hy het bekendheid verwerf met sy vermoë om met 94% akkuraatheid te voorspel of ‘n egpaar se huwelik in ‘n egskeiding gaan ontaard of nie.

Hy meet dit aan die hand van ‘n 3 uurlange ondersoek. Daar is 4 merkers in die huwelik wat getoets word:

  • Kritiek:Volgens Gottman is huwelike wat minder as 5 komplimente vir elke kritiese opmerking uiter, ‘n risiko vir egskeiding. Verder kyk hy nie net na hoeveel kritiek uitgespreek word nie, maar ook na hoe aanvallend dit gedoen word.
  • Minagtende gedrag (Contempt): Watter minagtende gedrag is daar in die kommunikasie tussen die huweliksmaats teenwoordig? Is daar sarkasme? Rol die een beterweterig oë vir die ander een? Is daar snedige opmerkings oor mekaar se familie? Hoe meer die minagtende gedrag, hoe groter is die risiko vir egskeiding.
  • Selfregverdiging (defensiveness): Is daar die openheid om ‘n probleem aan te spreek, of spring die een dadelik op sy perdjie? Is daar begrip dat aksies ‘n maat kon seermaak, of verontskuldig die persone die heeltyd hulself? Party sal selfs die blaam terugprojekteer. Hierdie is alles merkers van ‘n ongesonde huwelik.
  • Emosionele ontoereikendheid (Stonewalling): Gee huweliksmaats mekaar die koue skouer? Is daar kommunikasie of ignoreer hulle mekaar? Hoe meer die een huweliksmaat emosioneel ontoereikend optree, hoe slegter teken is dit vir die herstel van die huwelik.

Hierde model van Gottman het my al baie aan die dink gesit. Eintlik is sy huweliksraad nie net van toepassing op huwelike nie, maar op menseverhoudinge oor die algemeen. Jy sou dieselfde stel merkers kon gebruik om byvoorbeeld werksbevrediging te voorspel. Niemand van ons hou immers van ‘n werksomgewing waar mense mekaar meer kritiseer as komplimenteer nie (terloops, Harvard Business Review het al hieroor navorsing gedoen); Of dink net hoe breek dit die moraal in ‘n werksomgewing as iemand die heeltyd sarkasties optree (minagtende gedrag). Dus, Dr Gottman se model sou nie net as barometer van huweliksbevrediging kon dien nie, maar ook vir werksomgewings – en anders areas waar mense met mekaar moet saamleef.

Dit het my met die gedagte laat begin speel, wat sou gebeur as ons Gottman se toetse sou gebruik om die gesondheid van versoening in Suid Afrika te meet? Teen die tyd ken jy my as iemand wat uitgesproke positief is oor ons reënboognasie. Maar ek moet eerlik wees dat ek nie aldag hou van wat ek sien nie… Continue Reading…

sin-van-die-lewe

Maar hoe vind jy jou gawe of jou lewensroeping vir hierdie lewe? Daar is ‘n Venn-diagram wat dalk ‘n baie sinvolle oefening vir jou kan wees…

Die eerste sirkel bevat jou waardesisteem. Dit is die dinge waaraan en waarin jy glo. Dit is dinge wat vir jou belangrik is en eintlik jou lewensuitkyk bepaal. Solank as wat jy vanuit hierdie sirkel leef en beweeg, sal jy lewensvervulling beleef. Mens raak sielsongelukkig as daar van jou dinge verwag word wat indruis teen jou waardesisteem.

Die tweede sirkel bevat alles wat jou uniek maak. Jou sterkpunte, ervaring, dinge waaroor jy passievol voel – selfs jou foute of seerkry in die lewe. Mens sou kon sê dat dit die dinge in die lewe is waaroor jy as rentmeester aangestel is.

Die derde sirkel bevat jou konteks. Op ‘n manier wil jy altyd hê dat jou roeping relevant sal wees vir jou konteks. So hoe lyk dit rondom jou? Wat sien jy raak? Wat is die nood of die behoeftes rondom jou op die oomblik?

roeping

En nou kom die vraag hoe mens die informasie in hierdie 3 sirkels met mekaar kan “trou”. Waar vind oorvleueling plaas? Dit is die plek waar jy op hierdie stadium van jou lewe jou roeping behoort uit te leef.

So gesien, is roeping iets wat altyd aan die verander is. Waar jou waardesisteem waarskynlik meer konstant is, is mens se roeping gebonde aan ‘n tydvak. Dit is onlosmaaklik verbind aan jou persoonlike verhaal en jou konteks. Dikwels sal jy vind dat soos wat jou eie lewensreis verder ontvou – en jou konteks verander – jou roeping ook kan verskuif.