Choose Principles Over Feelings

Choose Principles Over Feelings

Differentiation of self, one of the eight concepts in Bowen Systems Theory, is all about functioning.

One manifestation of how one functions in a self-differentiated manner is how well one can separate feeling from thinking (feelings being the experience…

Change requires two kinds of leaders

In whatever organizational context—a small business, a corporation, an educational institution, or a congregation, for change initiatives to begin, the organization needs leaders.

After that, the organization needs effective managers for the changes to succeed.


Organizations tend not to…

What a Leader Can Accomplish

What can leaders accomplish, really?

Despite personal competence, charisma, expertise, or credentials, the reality is that a leader will be successful in bringing about change to the extent the organization allows.


One of the most important things leaders do…

Dealing With Critics

If you are the leader, critics come with the territory.


Few things are as frustrating and disheartening for a leader as being on the receiving end of undue criticism.

It seems that no good deed goes unpunished, no meaningful…

Anxiety, Security, and Risk

Anxiety can lead to reactivity in the form of a search for security.

This reactivity takes the form of people seeking certitude and demanding guarantees during times of uncertainty.

But the fact is that security, guarantees, and certitudes are myths….

Too Many Choices Can Keep You Stuck

A friend called asking for help.

She was stuck trying to make a decision.

After months of discussion, she and her family finally convinced her mother of the need to move her into an assisted living facility.

That’s never an…

When is quitting okay?

Have you ever felt like quitting?

Did you ever find yourself in a job, a situation, a relationship, or a circumstance that became so difficult, impossible, untenable, unbearable, or just plain painful that you wanted to walk out?

Quitting is…

Can you prevent sabotage?

I once received a cryptic e-mail from a friend.

She’d been less than a year into a new church staff position.

In her e-mail she asked the question, “Can you stop sabotage?”

She didn’t go into details, but obviously, something…

The 100% Myth

You’ve seen it.

After taking a congregational vote to call a pastor the tally shows a majority vote in the affirmative, maybe 90%, or 98%, or maybe 87%.

The decision is made, the new pastor will be called.



Don’t question people’s motives

Years ago I read C. Ellis Nelson’s Don’t Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide ( New York: Paulist Press 1978).

At the time it was a counterintuitive challenge to a commonly held belief, that we should let our conscience be…

Why Leaders Fail

There are many books on leadership and success.

There are fewer about why leaders fail.

Yet, in every field, leadership failures, terminations, and leadership derailment can seem more the norm than the exception.

Every year we read about university presidents…

Eight strategies during a crisis

“In the early stages of a conflict, it is almost impossible to overinform.

As much information as possible is needed.

Providing information tends to minimize the need for people to create information for themselves through gossip and embellishments of what…

Leadership 101

Here’s what we know: no organization, be it a corporation, firm, or congregation, will thrive or live fully into its purpose with the absence of effective leaders.

Leadership is the singular irreplaceable element in the formula for success, effectiveness, and…

Amateurs and Professionals

One thought from author Edwin Friedman that has stayed with me is about the difference between a professional and a hack.

He wrote that leadership competence is not about knowledge or expertise; a professional and a hack may know the…

The Times They Keep a Changing: Bivocational Ministry as the New Norm?

Most of the pastors in the world are bivocational.

That has always been true, asserts Karl Vaters, author of The Grasshopper Myth and Small Church Essentials.

Most people attend larger churches, so a larger multi-staff congregation is perceived to be…