Becoming a “Leadership Benediction”

This is a guest post by Dennis Jeffery. He is the Superintendent of The River Conference. He has served as youth pastor, church planter, and lead pastor in Washington, California, and Colorado for over 20 years before leading The River. He has an M.A in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and B.A. from Seattle Pacific University.If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Cheryl was in a cauldron of emotions. As regional sales rep for a software company, she was a “heavy hitter” who produced outstanding results quarter after quarter. She was a loving wife and mother. In addition, as a person of conviction, Cheryl led the Ethiopian AIDS orphanage ministry at her church. To say her plate was full would be an understatement. And the perfect storm of demands, deadlines, and weariness had her in a category 5 grip.

Friends Helping Each Other Climb - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/, Image #11493906

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/[photographer]

Therefore while she was multi-tasking at her desk, trying to climb a mountain of work and slow down her heartbeat she couldn’t believe her supervisor, Joanna, unexpectedly showed up and said those dreaded words, “mind if we talk?” Cheryl’s bloodstream was flooded with a new shot of cortisol as she anticipated hearing “there’s a problem we need to talk about.”

Instead she almost broke down and cried when Joanna looked at her, smiled, and said, “Cheryl, you are an amazing person. It’s a privilege having you on the team. I admire how you get things done but don’t violate your standards or ethics. I’ve noticed you have a lot on your docket, so I stopped by to ask how I can be of service. Is there anything I can do to lighten your load during this stressful period?”

That is an example of leadership benediction. Webster’s dictionary defines “benediction” as “a blessing.” Quality leaders, like Joanna, are a benediction to those on their team. Imagine how Cheryl felt when Joanna left her office. Wouldn’t she feel “blessed”?

The world desperately needs leadership benediction. David Gibbons, an amazing leader in California, wrote in his book The Monkey and the Fish: “. . . the world demands that business not only be good for profits but also be good for the planet and good for people.”

We live in a high pressure world. The global recession, major banks folding, GM bankrupt, potential terrorists arrested in places like Denver, then add back-to-school night, laundry piling up, and that dumb leaky toilet the water company is calling about and we feel like Cheryl—overloaded! Into the heat of real life a leadership benediction is a drink of water in a dry, thirsty land.

I encourage you to begin thinking about your leadership in terms of benediction. How can the influence and authority you are entrusted with be stewarded as a blessing to others? Jesus spoke of this leadership perspective when he said, “the greatest among you must be the servant.”

In their book, Resonant Leadership Annie McKee and Richard E. Boyatzis
describe “the sacrifice syndrome.” To be an effective leader a person must make a tangible contribution to the enterprise they lead. This investment comes with a cost of energy, time, and resources. The depleting of resources must be invigorated by intentional renewal or resonant leadership that inspires others will degenerate into dissonant leadership that irritates folks. Boyatzis and McKee go on to describe studies that show renewal happens through “mindfulness, hope, and compassion.”

Leadership benediction takes a proactive stance, like Joanna’s behavior, in renewing their followers through the blessings of “mindfulness, hope, and compassion.” Mindfulness pays attention to other people’s reality, hope is renewed when tangible, practical solutions are brought to the table, and compassion rolls up its sleeves sincerely offering, “How can I help you?”

I love Saint Teresa of Avila’s quote, it expresses the heart of leadership benediction:

Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

That nails leadership benediction. Leadership is a trust, a calling, a service that depends on wise decisions and timely action resulting in added value. Jim Collin’s research backs up that claim. Leadership benediction brings great value to the table.

Let’s make this practical. How can you exercise leadership benediction at home, at work, at church, in the neighborhood? How can you steward your energy, time, roles, and resources for 360 degree blessing to the Board, shareholders, fellow managers, employees, spouse, children, and the global village? How will your day change if in every situation you reflected on “how can I be a blessing”?

I encourage you to think in terms of benediction when analyzing your leadership responsibilities. Selfish leaders think in terms of perks and benefits while leadership benediction brings humble blessings to others. Which do you believe is better leadership?

Question: What is one thing you can do today to be a leadership benediction to others?
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  • http://www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com Dan Rockwell

    Dennis,

    Just love the term benediction. Wonderful use of language that captures the untapped sweetness of saying the good word. The unexpected side benefit for leaders to this activity is loyalty. I'm not saying that anyone should using blessing as manipulation. I am saying that blessing helps everyone reach higher.

    Leaders should ask why others follow and I think the first question to ask is, "what value am I bringing to them." http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/w

    Your blog is as much a devotional as it is an encouragement to bless others.

    Thank you

    Dan Rockwell
    Leadership Freak
    My recent post UNlearning

    • Dennis Jeffery

      Dan,

      By the way, great leadership blog, my friend! I love your description of "the untapped sweetness of saying the good word". You are obviously a benediction. God bless you. Dennis

      • http://www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com Dan Rockwell

        Dennis, your word to me is a benediction… thanks for practicing what you preach! Dan
        My recent post UNlearning

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com WomenLivingWell

    Not only is this for leaders – but I tell my children regularly when I leave them in a class at church or sport – "go be a blessing". I want to raise my children to be a blessing to others. I have also said many times to them when they are being rude or acting up "you are not being a blessing to others around you right now – straighten up!"

    First, I must role model blessing others to my children and then secondly remind them to follow in my foot steps and bless others too!!! Often times I will prepare them before we leave the house – to grab a matchbox car to give away to a little boy we are visiting or color a picture for a woman we are visiting. This helps them bless someone and learn to give. They find joy in the giving and I hope as they grow into adulthood they will be trained to naturally bless others on their own!

    Walk with the King!
    Courtney
    http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com
    My recent post Beware of Judging Other Mom's Methods

    • Geoff Webb

      Thanks for the practical ideas for teaching and modeling this for my kids. I think helping them feel the joy of giving will go a long way toward leading them into a generous life.

      My recent post Book Review: The Go-Giver

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think most of the stuff that works in leadership, works in parenting—and vice versa

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    I love the term "Benediction." It reminds me of the closing song I used to hear so often at church growing up. In our modern day work life, the stresses of deadlines and unforeseen problems can be crazy. One of my mentors, Rosa Say, published a wonderful book entitled Managing with Aloha. In it , she espouses a technique that all leaders should consider. It's called "The Daily Five Minutes." It goes like this…

    Very briefly, the Daily 5 Minutes is a simple habit. Each day, without fail, managers are to give five minutes of no-agenda time to at least one of their employees.Your time is one of the most precious resources you have, and to give it as a gift to someone in the form of the Daily Five Minutes just may be one of the best work-expressions of unconditional aloha there is.

    While a simple technique, this conversation can be life changing. So many times people will hold things inside, like your example of Cheryl above, and only through a freeing discussion will the real truth come out. Then the leader can take action and give a blessing like you describe. It may be a revised deadline, some help brought in, or a simple roll up the sleeves and let me help you out. I don't know many people that couldn't use a benediction once in a while.
    My recent post The Genesis of Better Blog Design

    • Dennis Jeffery

      You are so very right, John, benediction involves dialogue. Truly listening, deep engagement, a meaningful connection. The island essence of Aloha. Well said!

  • Geoff Webb

    Thanks for the post, Dennis.

    We're going through the Sermon on the Mount at our church with the theme, "We are blessed to be a blessing." My family has been praying that we would "be a blessing" each time we leave the house. I love how it changes our perspective – not just from the default, "what can I get" to the radical, "what can I give," but it gives God room to use us in other people's lives in ways that we have no control over.

    Thanks for applying this to leadership. In answer to your question, I'm going to be more present with the people I'm leading today – and be more open to what the Spirit is doing with them in the moment.

    My recent post Book Review: The Go-Giver

  • http://twitter.com/SWMackey @SWMackey

    Today I will:
    - Thank our small group leaders for all they do
    - Encourage my daughter to stay committed to starting First Priority at her school
    - Tell our student pastor thank you for being in our daughter's life and tell him what a great impact he's having on her.
    Thanks for the guest post.
    Cheers – Steve
    My recent post Orphans…The Heartbreak of Haiti

    • Dennis Jeffery

      Steve, thanks for caring about Haiti – that is a true benediction. I love your spirit – flowing with the Spirit.

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  • http://twitter.com/ESakirgil @ESakirgil

    Thank you Michael,

    This post is really helpful. This is my first comment here. I am a young owner of a Christian Movies distribution and retail company. I can see the wisdom reflected in this post. I had an experince today with or our operation manager. He just had a baby. I found out he was working after midnight to catch up with work. He was very appreciative when I told him he needs to stop working after 6pm and focus on his family's needs.

    I found out when you care about your employee’s well being and family life, it blesses them.

    I really like the quote from St. Teresa of Avila. There is a great TV series about her which was published by Ignatius Press in 2008. The movie is available at our web site.

    Thanks,

    Enis Sakirgil MD
    Owner
    http://www.FamilyChristianMovies.com

    My recent post Welcome to Family Christian Movies

  • http://bondchristian.com/ bondChristian

    Posting comments on blogs. That's a way to serve others and bless others. (Unless perhaps you're Michael Hyatt and get a ton of comments anyway. :) )

    Thanks for submitting the guest post.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.
    My recent post Renee Johnson interview and blog tour

  • Neville A Brooks

    My dear friend,this article has challenged me to be deliberate and intentional about BEING a blessing to my Lord my family and all those that enter my world.There will always be followers of those who are Leadership Benediction . Thankyou so much Neville A Brooks Pittsburgh Pa

    • Dennis Jeffery

      By brother Neville, you – sir – are a leadership benediction. You not only bless so many in Pittsburgh but my life in Denver. I resonate with your insight regarding being "deliberate and intentional" to be a blessing. Thank you, my friend, God bless you richly in every way.

  • Dave Edwards

    Great article Dennis. Good leadership breeds the next group of good leaders, great leadership breeds generations of future leaders. By being the example with leadership benediction your employee, your student, your child, your congregation and even your boss will benefit. It's nice to hear that people will stop looking at themselves in the mirror and start looking around themselves to be the "hands and feet of Christ". To God be the glory.

    • Dennis Jeffery

      Exactly. Insightful contribution welding blessing with generational legacy. You are so very right – the contagion of benediction. Thanks, Dave.

  • http://jenniferdeshler.com Jennifer

    Dennis,
    What an amazing post today. One defintion from Webster for the word Benediction, is an "utterance of good wishes". As a leader, mother, daughter, and friend, if I can just accomplish that one thing with regularity, I'll be spreading light in a wonderful, life-affirming way. Thank you so much for giving this subject of "being a leader who serves" such a powerful word association.

    • Dennis Jeffery

      Jennifer, "utterance of good wishes" spurs a further thought. Benediction is usually, in religious circles, the ending of a worship service. In other words – ending with an "utterance of good wishes". The adage seems true, "last memories are lasting memories". May our parting actions / words be a benediction. May we finish with blessings to others. I'm sure you do spread light. God bless you.

  • Pingback: Becoming a “Leadership Benediction” « Ministry Management Memo

  • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

    Michael, you've no idea how timely this is, for me. I don't have a board, shareholders, employees or children; what I have is a small team of volunteers (as I am, also) who have their own lives and commitments. I need to learn much better to lead by serving them than by trying to get them to engage in what I think we need to do–even if I am convinced that the plan is God's. Thanks.
    My recent post A greater tragedy

    • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

      Oops–my apologies, Dennis! The thanks for the post goes to you, with thanks to Michael for providing the space and the opportunity.
      My recent post A greater tragedy

    • http://passionsforthesoul.typepad.com/vicki Vicki Small

      Oops–my apologies, Dennis! The thanks for the post goes to you, with thanks to Michael for providing the space and the opportunity.
      My recent post A greater tragedy

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MikeHolmes MikeHolmes

    Wow!

    When the boss came to her in the story…I was almost expecting her to be fired. "But that wouldn't be right," I said to myself, "She's doing everything and more!"

    But I'm glad it ended the way it did!

    This is a very thoughtful and moving piece Dennis…this was definitely a "benediction" to me.:D
    My recent post What does the Bible say about salesmanship?

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  • wsthole@msn.com

    Dennis, excellent expansion of this idea. Leadership without love can wreck the local church. I remember as a young christian hearing my first pastor speak a benediction after the sermon every Sunday. The words meant so much becase when he stepped off the platform he continued to love us in the congregation. There was symetry, synergy, and verasity in "word and deed" united together.
    Be lessed. Wes

  • John

    Thanks Dennis,
    Your example of leadership makes your blog even more credible to me. As a witness to your leadership as a Pastor, Coach and Father I trust your words. For me a key element to leadership is credibility. A man that "walks the walk" is someone worth following. Thanks for helping me and so may others in our walk Brother!

  • http://www.academy-for-leaders.com Vladislav

    Joanna's Leadership technique is brilliant! Showing respect, offering support, caring and motivating at the same time. True leaders communicate with their subordinates and try to know and understand them. Many leaders underestimate Joanna's action. They know it is right and good thing but they never find the time to do it. And only when they find that there is a wall between them and their employees they start to make the correct move (but it is late).