Tag Archives: succession


Last weekend, I attended the Training Institute for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. This amazing program touched the lives of over 9,500 young people last year across the world. These next three weeks will focus on HOBY’s tagline and insights from the Training Institute.

It’s the job of leaders to raise up more leaders. But we can’t do that without stepping out of the way and empowering others.

Photo courtesy  Frederic Bisson , CC
Photo courtesy Frederic Bisson , CC

When we empower, we give power.

You can’t empower someone by patronizing them. It takes giving real, tangible power to others! This can be difficult if you started or built a company or program. But truly empowering others means endorsing them– and then letting them take the reins.

When we empower, we make powerful.

Remember that feeling you got the first time someone really believed in you. It happens every time you truly empower another individual. When we raise up leaders, we give them practical experience handling power in the appropriate fashion. In so doing, we’re creating powerful influencers unafraid to empower others. We’re lending them our influence and what power we wield– and it will be returned with interest.

When we empower, then, we multiply power.

Hogging all the power, making all the decisions, and running the show means your influence will only go to the end of your reach. By raising up new leaders, we extend the reach of our influence and magnify the message we’re spreading. By empowering young leaders to take the reins and, in turn, empower others, we’re multiplying power.

It’s difficult, but I’m learning to turn over the reins and share influence. As I do, I’m beginning to truly realize that leadership is a two-way street. We have so much to learn from those we lead! We benefit so greatly from those we empower.

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The Shackles of Expectation

Were you expecting an Expectation, Part 2? Joke’s on you. Or me, since I felt led to explain the title-joke.

Here’s the deal: expectations are sometimes healthy. We expect certain things: good service for a fair price, excellent service for a little more; an honest effort and decent grades from our kids; respect and teamwork from our coworkers.

Certain expectations, though, destroy opportunities.

Photo Courtesy Peter Eckersley, CC
Photo Courtesy Peter Eckersley, CC

I have used the example of Jesus’s Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem to illustrate the danger of expectations. It wasn’t wrong for the people of Jerusalem to get their hopes up. In their excitement, though, they missed the whole point.

People on both sides of the Messiah argument knew what Jesus was “supposed” to do. They crammed him into their “Messiah,” “Prophet,” and/or “Heretic” boxes. The high priests and elders weighed and judged him, the young Jewish politicians clamored for a mighty deliverer from their earthly oppressors.

But he disappointed them all.

Even Pontius Pilate, one of my favorite New Testament characters, failed the test of Expectation. Believing he had the perfect solution, that perhaps he would save Jesus, Pilate put a no-brainer decision to the people expecting a rational answer. Who should go free: the notorious murderer or wandering miracle man?

But they disappointed him.

Opportunities are destroyed when we expect:

  • Who He or She Should Be: It’s OK to expect a certain level of performance out of team members and friends. But when we try to fundamentally alter someone’s personality or trade out their strengths or hammer down their weaknesses, we’re wasting both parties’ time. Disappointment awaits! Get to know your team or group of friend’s strengths and play to those. You never know when your organization’s next visionary leader is sitting right in front of you. And you never will if you stifle her talents and shoot down her dreams.
  • What They Will Say: Too often we try to get our way or fulfill our own expectations by manipulating others. We manufacture buy-in through one means or another. Sometimes we’re so confident of our influence that we resort to the madness of wholly-democratic decision-making. When it comes to your vision, you’ve got to create genuine buy-in, and it must come from you. When it’s time to do the right– not the popular– thing, you’ve got to get the people behind the decision, not hitch the outcome to a coin-toss.

Shocked, the disciples fled a crowd that had days earlier swept Jesus into town in a raucous parade. Incredulous, Pilate washed his hands and turned over an innocent man.

In both cases, it was the arrogance of certainty that turned expectation into a deadly disease. Jesus must be this or that. The masses must punish a heinous criminal.

Don’t allow that same spirit to come over your encounters with new team members or friends. Humble your heart with the knowledge that there is still much to learn.

Don’t shackle greatness with your lousy expectations.

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Preparing for the Future the Old Testament Way

An excellent depiction of succession comes straight out of the Bible. As Israel is preparing to enter the Promised Land, the nation needs a new leader! In your organization, this may be a crisis. You’ve got or you’ve been a great leader. But what if you’re sidelined by age or ability?

Photo Courtesy tableatny, Creative Commons

This is the situation Moses is in. He isn’t the leader Israel needs to take the Promised Land. He’s too old. He’s more diplomatic lawgiver than militaristic conqueror. He’s been a great leader. But it’s time for a change.

Israel didn’t promptly gin up for an election. The leading Israelites didn’t fill the airwaves with attack ads or go out kissing babies. There was no political superstar who burst onto the scene.

The transition was not a crisis.

How did Joshua so smoothly take the reins? It didn’t start the day Israel needed a new leader.

  • Moses cultivated the next generation of leaders. Remember the spies Moses sent into Canaan to survey the land? He was cultivating young leaders from each tribe.
  • Moses established Culture Keepers. New generations of leaders will need guidance. The 70 elders of Israel were his delegates in the Nation, there to train up new leaders and keep the culture built over 40 years in the desert.
  • Moses allowed his leaders to lead. Moses was secure in his leadership and in his anointing. He allowed his judges and leaders to actually lead. Sometimes, we give lip service to raising up new leaders without providing them with authority.
  • Joshua was patient and obedient. Of course he was! Moses was anointed by God. Other promising leaders, though, rose up against Moses and were destroyed because of it. Joshua waited until it was his time.
  • Joshua allowed himself to be mentored. It would have been easy after Joshua was proven right about entering Canaan for him to become a surly “Told-You-So” quasi-leader. Instead, he drew and remained close to Moses.
  • Joshua led from his own strengths. Joshua was a military leader. When it was time for him to lead Israel, he broke in many ways from Moses’s leadership style. He didn’t try to be Moses. It was time to take the land, and Joshua was the man for the job.

Another important element in this story is the relationship between Moses and Joshua. Joshua had been anointed by God, but he had been anointed by Moses, too. Israel’s trust was confirmed by the blessing of its leader.

Israel mourned 30 days after the death of Moses. The Israelites’ grief wasn’t out of a place of hopelessness, though. The outgoing leader had prepared and anointed the successor his people needed.

By the book of Joshua, Israel was ready to say “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us, we will go.”

Have you been in a successor role? What made the difference in your experience? If you’ve been the outgoing leader, what was most difficult for you?