Entries by Dave Kraft (1154)


Four ways leaders can be tone-deaf!

Maybe it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. If you are going to be effective as a leader, you need to be sensitive and aware of what’s going on in your team and in your most important relationships. Here Eric Geiger shares four ways leaders can be “Tone-Deaf.”

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

When it comes to singing, I am likely tone-deaf (I say likely because I don’t fully understand the official definition, so just hang with me for the illustration). Now I can sing the right words; I just sing them the wrong way.

While the Lord assures me He enjoys joyful noise, my apparent tone-deafness has drawn smirks and sympathetic nods of approval from others. The comical auditions for American Idol reveal I am not alone. The same is true in leadership.

There are a plethora of tone-deaf leaders who are out of sync and rhythm with people and their context. They seem deaf to the people and context around them. Let me introduce you to four ways tone-deafness is displayed in leadership.

1.  Tone-deaf in relationships

Because leadership means leading real, actual people and not just formulating ideas and strategy on paper, so much of leadership is relational. A tone-deaf relational leader is often emotionally aloof or unengaged and is thus unaware of the hopes and pains of people. No one knows if the leader is really unconcerned and insensitive or just perceived as so. But what is known are the ramifications of relational tone-deafness, including a team that feels under-valued and a direction that disregards people.

2.  Tone-deaf in communication

A leader who is tone deaf in communication often says the right words, but says them the wrong way—typically in a demeaning fashion or laced with continual anger or unnecessary brashness. A tone-deaf communicator may have, what Aristotle called, logos (logic) and pathos (passion), but lacks ethos (credibility and likability). Thus the words are often not really heard because of the tone. The sting of the leader’s words overwhelms the substance.

3.  Tone-deaf to context

Effective leadership is always contextualized, meaning effective leaders adjust their leadership to the needs and opportunities of their immediate context. Many leaders have made the mistake of simply attempting to implement something from their past or something they have seen elsewhere without first understanding their current context. A leader who is tone-deaf to the context is out of sync with the current reality. It often feels like the leader is really leading somewhere else, some other people.

4.  Tone-deaf to approach

Great leaders view themselves as servants of those they lead. Their servant-posture causes them to adjust their leadership approach to each person they are leading. Because each person on the team is different, each person should be led differently. A leader who is tone-deaf in approach foolishly treats every person the same. The devastating result is that people are stifled in their personal growth, as they are not led where they are in their own development.

Watching the comical auditions for American Idol always revealed that many people fail to recognize their own shortcomings. Ironically, tone-deaf leaders could read this and think it has nothing to do with them. Thus it’s always good to evaluate our leadership and seek feedback from people we trust and respect so we can continually repent of any deafness in our leadership.





What makes a leader safe or unsafe?

Usually, I don't like meetings. They score at the top of the list of "time-wasters" for leaders with a bias for action. But one meeting stands out in my mind. I am still feeling the impact of what I learned.

A number of years ago, a presentation was given by Jan Hettinga, Senior Pastor of Northshore Baptist church in Bothell and author of Follow Me. Jan's material was good; but when we got to the "interactive learning" section of our time, we took a quantum leap as far as interest and liveliness was concerned. Jan raised the issue of what makes a leader safe and unsafe to followers and to Kingdom effectiveness.

We generated a list of what constitutes UNSAFE LEADERS. From that came a list with SAFE LEADER characteristics. Here are some of the safe and unsafe traits of a leader that we discussed.

What Makes a Leader Unsafe?

We can also think of this as dangerous. What makes a leader dangerous or harmful to followers and to Biblical fruitfulness and effectiveness? I am reminded of the person who prayed: "Lord, save me from your followers." Could we not also pray, Lord, save me from some of your unsafe leaders?

  1. Insecure
  2. Won't give or share credit with others
  3. Can't receive correction
  4. Intentionally unaccountable
  5. Always has to be right

When we finished discussing each of them a bit, Jan looked at us with his steely eyes and said, "Gentlemen, this is us." I could be this type of leader except for the grace of God. I felt like I was sitting at the Last Supper and asking myself, "Lord, is it I?"

A number of years ago a friend shared a list of qualifications for future missionaries for his organization. He asked me what I thought. One item was missing from his list. I told him that the missing item was slowly but surely climbing to the top of my list of essential ingredients for an effective leader -- having a TEACHABLE SPIRIT.

Much of what you see on the above list stems from not being teachable. In Proverbs 5:12,13 NLT we read, "And you will say, how I hated discipline! If only I had not demanded my own way! Oh, why didn't I listen to my teachers? Why didn't I pay attention to those who gave me instruction?"

What Makes a Leader Safe?

After we had emotionally recovered a bit from the impact of the first list, up went a second list:

  1. Frequently ask those you lead what they think about an idea, proposal, concept
  2. Affirm others
  3. Place yourself under Biblical and human authority
  4. Give credit easily and readily

Nothing profoundly deep here. You've probably heard it before. But there is a big difference between knowing and doing. Maybe it's time for a little introspection. How are YOU doing? Are people safe or unsafe with your style of leadership? Has anybody you lead been praying, "Lord, save me from my leader?"


Things that frustrate me as a leader

It seems to me that every leader gets frustrated from time to time; with the people he or she is leading as well as with things that don’t happen as desired or planned.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Someone once asked me what my “biggest frustration” is as a leader. As I thought about it, I had to be honest – I have lots. That may point to another area of struggle for me personally – and a character flaw – I’m seldom satisfied with me or where we are as a team. In many ways, I am still learning the secret of being content, but I like continual improvement and think there is usually room to get better in all areas of our life. I think it is true in leadership too.

But, the question was my “biggest frustration”, so I opened an Evernote file, titled it “Biggest Frustrations” (since I knew I had more than one) and decided to record some of my actual frustrations over the next few weeks, as they actually occurred. Some of these are mine from observing people directly and some are from the stories my readers share with me each day. When I reached seven, based on my obvious past love of the number seven, I figured it was time to share my findings.

Here are 7 of my biggest frustrations as a leader:

1.  Pettiness

It bothers me in leadership to argue about things which really, in the large scheme of things, just don’t matter. Arguing about things like personal preferences or different ways of acccomplishing the same agreed upon vision only takes time from getting actual work done. I can almost always find issues of bigger significance. 

2.  Selfishness

I get frustrated when people have to have things “their way”. It destroys any hope of a healthy team when people are only thinking of their personal wishes. (Doesn’t sound very Biblical to me either.)

3.  Rudeness

The way you talk to someone always determines the way they respond. To me, there is no place for disrespect in an organization or on a team or in any relationship, for that matter. This should be especially true in churches. And, it applies to how we respond to the world on social media also. Even when we don’t agree with one another, we can address one another in kindness. (Remember, kindness is a fruit of the spirit.)

4.  Narrow-mindedness

When someone can’t think beyond the way it’s always been done, it limits the organization from achieving all it could achieve. There are issues – Biblical, foundational, value-driven issues – where narrow-mindedness is a positive. But, in the mode of operation of the way we get things done, or how we accomplish our God-given vision, I think change is not only good – it’s vital for continued growth.

5.  Stubbornness

Equally frustrating is when people are unwilling to embrace change – simply because they are being stubborn. It wasn’t their idea, or it threatens their power, or they just don’t want to be uncomfortable – so they lock their arms and refuse to participate. When a person ignores what’s best for the good of everyone, and it’s not a Biblical issue, their stubbornness only hurts the organization (and frustrates the leader.)

6.  Unforgiveness

When someone has been injured they have a choice. They can choose to hold a grudge or they can choose to forgive. Holding a grudge keeps the injury alive. Forgiving opens the door for healing. (Doesn’t seem like much of a choice to me.)

7.  Recklessness

It is frustrating to observe people who seemingly have no regard for other people. They make decisions without the consideration of others. They say things without thinking how they hurt. They use their influence to disrupt an organization’s progress – rather than enhance it. They derail progress with a disregard for what’s best in favor of what’s personal to them. It’s frustrating.

There is my list. I feel better just sharing it with  you. I can now get on with my day towards more positive things. But, if I kept the Evernote file open, I might find some more, so I’ll close it for now. 

Here are a few of my own to add to what Ron Edmondson has shared:


  • Lack of punctuality
  • Not getting things done as promised
  • Sloppiness and lack of excellence in what is being done
  • A "It's not my job” mentality and not really caring about a person's need, problem or question







He was one of the greatest authors and thinkers in the last 50 years on leadership issues 

He was a giant in the world of leadership ideas and thought creation. He was well ahead of his time in concepts and philosophy that are only recently beginning to be accepted as good practices and thinking.

Although not a Christian (but Jewish) as far as I know, nonetheless many of his writings and thinking have a biblical worldview flavor.

I have been, and still am, significantly influenced by him in the way I think about leadership and the way I lead.

In the Sunday edition (August 3, 2014) of the Los Angeles Times (to which we subscribe), there was an article by David Colker on Warren Bennis who passed away July 31, 2014. 

He was 89 and a fixture on the USC faculty for 35 years.  He wrote 30 books, mostly on the topic of leadership. He knew and worked with Dallas Willard, another writer and USC faculty member, from whom I have greatly profited also. Dallas passed away May 8, 2013. 

My favorite book by Warren is On Becoming A Leader

My favorite book by Dallas is Renovation of The Heart

My favorite quote by Dallas is “Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning.”

Bennis also taught at MIT, but left because he felt pressured to conform to established business norms.  In the 1960s, David Colker tells us, Bennis began formulating management principles that, at the time, were considered far off the beaten path. Gotta love it when a leader marches to a different drum beat that is well ahead of his time and spot on!

Sitting on my bookshelf are four Bennis books--just scratching the surface of the 30 he wrote. 

Susan keeps her eyes open for things related to leadership and puts them on my desk, as she did this one.

Here are a few thoughts/quotes from David's piece on Warren Bennis: In quotations are actual statements by Bennis:

Warren started to hone his ideas about leadership during the 2nd World War, where he served as an infantry officer saying that, "Leadership is most effective when it steered away from strict, top-down hierarchies." 

"A leader is someone whose actions have the most profound consequences on other people's lives, for better or for worse, sometimes for ever and ever."

Warren believed that leaders had to abandon command-and-control attitudes that stifled creativity and new ideas. And he warned against micromanaging that could get companies stuck in outmoded ways of doing things while the world changed around them. 

"The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon.The manager does things right; the leader does the right things."

I personally resonate with this and with most of what Bennis has said in the books I have read. I love it when a person sticks by his guns and does what is right, not what is popular or politically correct. 

I believe that a leader is a person who intentionally, deliberately and proactively seeks to influence and persuade people to go from where they are to someplace else--a better place.

I believe that a true leader sees a better future and is strongly motivated to go there and take as many people as possible with him/her on the journey.

My prayer and desire for you (and myself) is that all of us will be led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring Him as we lead.

May your journey toward the preferred future Jesus has allowed you to see be faith-stretching and adventurous for you and those who travel with you.




Some things leaders forget and need to be reminded of

I believe it was Samuel Johnson who said that we need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed. We forget. Here are some things that leaders often forget and need to reminded of.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

My experience is that even the best leaders tend to be forgetful at times. Usually, though, we talk about forgetting appointments or assignments or commitments – not so much these simple realities that many leaders I know (including me) forget too readily:

1.  God didn’t call me to lead because I’m such a good leader. He called me to lead because He wants His glory to fill the lands. It’s about Him, not about me. Period.

2.  Were it not for the people who graciously follow me, I would not be a leader. I get to do what I do because of kind, serving, faithful people who walk with me.

3.  My job is to point away from myself. I’m to point to others, and then ultimately to Him. If I point only to myself, I’m an idol rather than a leader. 

4.  I must raise up others to do greater things than I’ll ever do. If I wrap my ministry around myself, or if I get jealous when others do more than I, I’m not a good leader.

5.  God doesn’t need me. If I don’t believe that, He’ll teach me otherwise. I desperately need Him – it’s not the other way around.

6.  God knows everything I do, think, or say. That is, I’m not getting away with anything. Nothing’s hidden from the One who matters most.  

7.  Most of the people in the world have never heard of me. No matter how popular or famous I think I may be, billions and billions of people don’t know I exist. And, even if they heard of me, they wouldn’t be impressed.

8.  There are better speakers than I in the world. Actually, there are better speakers in my community. Perhaps in my church. Maybe even in my family. I’m never as good as I think I am.

9.  I’m a poor leader if I don’t love my spouse and family well. In fact, I might even disqualify myself for ministry if I’m a bad spouse and parent.  

10.  My church will do no more evangelism than I do. The evidence may be anecdotal, but it’s recurrent: non-evangelistic leaders lead their church to do nothing evangelistically.

11.  I can fool a lot of people, but not everybody. Somebody will see through any charades I play.

12.  It’s not my church . . . or my class . . . or my praise team . . . or my position. I don’t own anything I lead. God can take it all away in a heartbeat.

13.  I’m a bad witness if I don’t take care of myself physically. Even my deepest spirituality is hindered when I lack discipline to care for the body God gave me.

14. Jesus’ return is always near. If I really believe that biblical truth, I would live with more urgency. 

What else would you add to this list? Which characteristic in this list describes you?