A Matter of Leadership — Special Coffee or Special People or Both!

It has been a while since posting on this website. I have decided to start sharing on a regular basis our balance between coffee and people. You see Furnace Hills Coffee was started to provide jobs for people with developmental disabilities. Today we employ three people with developmental disabilities:

  • Erin has Down syndrome
  • Jason has Cerebral Palsy
  • Chris is Autistic

Our challenge to ourselves has been to roast the best coffees available showing the world that these disabilities don’t slow down our employees and in fact we can compete with anyone in the marketplace. I believe we are proving that challenge true! I truly believe that these three individuals roast and package some of the best specialty coffee you can drink in the USA. First let’s talk about what makes these three so special then later this week we’ll talk about why the coffee they roast is so special.

Special People:

  • Erin: She has a passion for roasting special coffee. She calls our roastery her shop. When she can’t go into work she cries and tells me, “I have to work, that’s my job.” How many people do you know cry when they can’t go to work? How many people do you know call where they work their company? If we don’t get at least ten orders overnight she us upset and is concerned that there may be nothing for her to do that day. She loves the coffee named after her, Erin’s Breakfast Blend. In fact she calls it, “My Breakfast Blend.” Do you know of anyone who approaches there work like Erin does?
  • Jason: He loves working at Furnace Hills Coffee. He has a passion to see us succeed. He calls on organizations and companies who may be able to use our coffee in his spare time. He wants to be a part of ever special event we do. He comes to work happy and puts his full energy into all he does. Jason has Cerebral Palsy. Yet that has not stopped him from doing everything in the shop. He has learned work arounds when it comes to the tasks he’s been asked to perform. And he does it with joy! When did you know of an employee who worked on his/her own time to make the company a success?
  • Chris: Do your employees or co-workers include a secret ingredient in their work? Chris does. He includes a pinch of love. Wouldn’t it be great if our co-workers said something like this, “I have the presentation done all it needs now is a pinch of love.” That’s Chris for you. He’s another one who cries when he can’t come to work. Did you ever cry when you couldn’t come to work?

I will measure our special people against your people any day and I do believe we will come out on top.

Check out our story here: Furnace Hills Story

Thursday we’ll discuss the rest of the team and what makes them so special. Don’t worry we’ll get around to this special coffee we roast. The best in the world! It is a matter of leadership!



The Art of the Long View:

Over fifteen years ago now I read a book by Peter Schwartz entitled The Art of the Long View. It is one of the most intriguing books I’ve ever read on strategic Planning. Seven years before the Soviet Union fell apart Swartz predicted it. He looked at trends in the culture and economy predicting that between 1989 & 1991 it would come apart. And it did! It’s a great read even today, worth the time to read it. He deals a lot with “what if” scenario planning.

While doing the research for my doctorate in education at Indiana University I found something like this Art of the Long View in transformational leaders in the local church. Their peers when interviewed observed that when these leaders were in meetings where decisions were being discussed, they could look down the corridor of time and see the implications of the decisions. They could describe the future reality of the implications of these issues in quite intricate detail. Sometimes it was a negative future — depending on the issue at hand — and sometimes a positive future for same reasons. It was a gift these transformational leaders had been given.

As I have noted in earlier posts I’m reading the book by Brian Tracy Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. He alludes to this same phenomenon when discussing decision-making and planning. Certain individuals can look down the road of time and see what implications todays actions have on the future. Tracy believes these are the people who are the successful people of today. But he also observes that this is a learned trait. How many of us work hard on what’s before us and never take the time to step back and see where our lives are going and what decisions made today will affect tomorrow? He is an advocate of doing just that. He challenges the reader to look five, ten even twenty years down the road. Where will you be, where would you like to be? In a real sense he is describing The Art of the Long View! This is the key to long-term success in life and ministry.

What does your future look like? What decisions can you make today, what tasks can you work on, that will have a twenty year impact on you, your family and your ministry?

Well that’s this leader’s view.



Sunday Night Reflections:

Perry Noble does a Sunday Night Reflections on his blog, so I thought I’d start one on mine.  It gives me some reflective time regarding the events of the weekend.  I didn’t get it posted last night, but hopefully first thing this morning works.
  • Great worship Saturday evening.  Joe taught part 2 in the Simply Jesus series (Colossians 1:19-29).
  • Joe’s two concluding questions were:
    • God has placed me on the planet to …?
    • I am living out this purpose by …?
  • For me the way I would answer those two are as follows:
    • God has placed me on this planet to equip seekers to become all they can be in Christ and to network with like-minded ministries around the world.
    • I am living out this purpose by being the Pastor of Ministries at LifePoint Church and by praying daily for our children and grand children, thinking of ways I can help them fulfill God’s purposes in their lives.
  • Hung out with great people after the gathering.  We have fun people @ LifePoint.
  • A bunch of elders went to LCBC Harrisburg to see how they do satellites.  We had a good discussion on the way back.  It would be doable for long term growth @ LifePoint.  We are so glad we belong to a church like LifePoint that’s for sure.
  • Tonight our community group met.  We are in Nehemiah and were studying the 5th chapter of this great book.  What an example of a servant leader.  Nehemiah did what was right in serving his people and not what was culturally acceptable.  He lead with integrity.  He truly was a transformational leader.  He challenged people to put aside their agendas and focus on the main one of rebuilding the wall.  His major Transformational tool was Idealized Influence.  Nehemiah practiced what he preached.

Well that’s the leader’s view of this past weekend’s experiences.



A Different Kind of Delegation:

Why should we delegate?  Well the conventional answer to that question is to get smaller tasks or tasks we’re not as good at off our plate so that we can do the things we’re good at and have the time to do.   I would suggest that is a view that seems short-sighted.  From a transformational leader’s position there is another reason why delegation is important.  If you’ve been following my postings you’ll remember I discussed the four “I’s” of transformational leadership.  One of those four “I’s” is Intellectual Stimulation.  I think that gives us another reason to delegate.  Have you thought of looking at those who report to you directly and see where they need to grow in their expertise or experience in your organization?  Have you thought about delegating some things to them that will help them grow in their expertise and ability to perform at a higher level?  

Obviously delegating based on this reasoning takes a bit more time.  First, it leaves you with some things that may not be in your strong suit to work on while your person is taking on that challenging project you delegated to him.  It may mean you do some things that others would ordinarily do, but you really want this person to grow in their understanding of a certain task or area of your organization.  Second, it will probably mean more supervision time.  You are giving them something they need to grow in and so you meet with them more frequently to check progress and understanding of the project.  Your one-on-one times will need to be augmented by more frequent meetings to discuss progress on the project.   Remember, too, that it’s not just about the project, but about your direct report as well.  Obviously we all want things done excellently, but we also want people growing in their ability to contribute to the organization.

Take an inventory of where your direct reports need to grow.  Then start looking for projects you can delegate to them that will help them do just that, grow in their ability to contribute to the organization.

We that’s this leader’s view.



The Fourth “I”

We finish with the fourth “I” today. Putting this fourth “I” into place rounds out the transformational toolbox.

4.  Intellectual Stimulation:  Transformational leaders challenge their followers to look at the challenges facing the organization through problem solving lenses.  Also many times transformational leaders stimulate followers to think differently about issues that will help them be more effective in their roles in the organization.  

The biblical character I have in mind today is the Apostle Peter.  He writes something in his second letter that catches my attention every time I read it.  He flat out gives his readers the reason he is writing not only the second letter, but also the first one as well.  In chapter 3 verses 1&2 he writes:

1This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles…
He is writing these two letters so that his readers would be stirred up to remember what had been taught them about biblical predictions so they could live lives that pleased God.  It was a form of intellectual stimulation.  
At the beginning of our staff meetings we have an agenda item entitled “Leadership Lessons.”  I try to bring some resource to the meeting that has to do with leadership development.  Something that sharpens our skills in the area of leadership so we can best rise to the challenges that come our way in a growing organization.
How do you intellectually stimulate your followers?  Is there a perspective about leadership you can share with them?  Is your organization facing a challenge that by resourcing your followers they will better be able to handle?  Think about it.
So that rounds out the four “I’s” of transformational leadership.  This is probably a topic I’ll come back to periodically.  I believe this concept, more than any in the area of leadership, holds the keys to effectiveness and personal growth not only for us as leaders but for our followers as well.
So that’s the leader’s view for today.
Many Blessings,

The Third “I”

Today let’s look at the third “I” in the transformational leaders arsenal. It really isn’t as mercenary as it sounds. The third “I” is Individualized Consideration.  Once again we’ll be looking at a biblical character that personifies this “I.”

3. Individualized Consideration: Transformational leaders treat followers as distinct individuals.  Followers are treated individually and differently depending on the needs each one has.  It may seem like an impossible task, but working with ones direct reports is an excellent place to begin.  Several days ago we looked at management.  This could be seen as the management component of transformational leadership.  Manager-Tools.Com has some great advice in how to work with direct reports on an individual basis.  Mike and Mark label them One-on-Ones.

The Apostle Paul was a leader who exemplified individualized consideration.  His letter to the church in Thessalonica is an excellent example of how individualized consideration works.  His words are found in 1 Thessalonica 2:7-12. 

7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.  9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and(I) charged(J) you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory (ESV).  

I love the way Paul not only compares himself as a father, but a mother also.  He likens himself to a parent who deals individually with each of his children.  It would have been great to have been part of that church and experience the attention the Apostle Paul gave those in his charge.  

The Apostle Paul also had men he mentored.  We have a written record of his mentoring of Timothy.  Obviously he spent time one-on-one with this young man, sharing his wisdom and love of ministry.  Paul gave Timothy advice on leadership, spiritual development, even how to handle medical issues in his life.  Think about how it would have been to be Timothy!  All that individual consideration given to you by the Apostle Paul.

Who are the Timothy’s in your life?  Do you lead an organization that has Timothy’s in it?  Do you lead an organization like the church in Thessalonica?  The best tool you may have in your transformational leadership arsenal  may be the individualized consideration of those in your charge.

Tomorrow we tackle the last “I”.  See you then.  




The Four I’s:

Transformational Leadership is one of the topics I love to read about. I would love to call myself a transformational leader, but I fear I have much work to do before I can say that I am transformational in my leadership style.
Transformational leadership is a term coined by James McGregor Burns in 1978. Bernard Bass and Bruce Avolio took the concept and did a lot of research in the whole realm of transformational leadership at SUNY Binghamton. Bass died last year and Avolio is now in Kansas.

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership where one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality.  A transformational leader helps her followers lay aside their agendas and needs for the greater need and vision of the organization.  And in so doing the followers have an impact on the leader as well.  In fact we’ll find that both follower and leader grow through this process of leading transformationally.  
So what are the four I’s?

  1. Idealized Influence:  It provides vision and a sense of vision for those who follow the transformational leader.  In a real sense Jesus was a transformational leader and embodied all of these, but this one seems best to track in Scripture.  In Philippians 2 we see the Apostle Paul writing that we should have the mind and attitude that Christ had, although he is King of the universe, He took on the form of a servant for our benefit.  He embodies what He calls us to do.  If you are going to be a transformational leader you must model the very behaviour and thoughts you are challenging your followers to live.  
  2. Inspirational Motivation:  

Tomorrow we’ll pick up with the second I.  Fooled you didn’t I?  Thought we’d cover all four today?  Not so.  We’ll take this slowly so we can think through what each I means for us.  In fact after the second I we’ll discuss what those two I’s contribute to transformational leadership when they are used together in a strong way, so this is the beginning of a five part posting.

I hope we can all grow in our understanding of how we can lead in transforming organizations, and our followers, as well as experiencing transformation ourselves.

That’s this leader’s view.