Born Again Leadership

Born Again Leadership


A couple years into my professional career, a fellow work associate and good friend of mine humorously called me a maverick. Although it took me by surprise unaware of his reasoning, he got me thinking because I once read that mavericks bring us the future. I’ve welcomed the role of contrarian and nonconformist ever since. Why? Well, it’s who I am. I was always told to be yourself. Great advice, but difficult to practice when the world is constantly telling you otherwise.

As an inquisitive sense-making person, I learned that candor and honesty comes naturally for me. It’s also relatively easy when so many people in authority are predictably making everyday work-life far more complicated, difficult and costly than it should be.

As an experienced change sponsor, agent and target, being truthful is a prerequisite for real success. Over time, I discovered that ‘going-along to get-along’ violated my integrity. In other words, with an open mind, I learned to respectfully live what I believe until taught, proven and persuaded differently. Therefore, it’s always best to begin and end in pursuit of truth, it really does set you free.


Perspective? Why do some people have the ability to connect all the meaningful dots faster than others? Their intuition and instincts readily recognize reality and they seem to react with relative ease in trusting and mobilizing resources. Like Sully, the US Airways pilot-in-command who successfully landed his aircraft on the Hudson River in 2009, he knew exactly what to do during that critical moment in time. Perspective is the human factor that people possess and develop over time by doing things over and over again, and again, and again ad infinitum in their world of changing circumstances.

Now, with over 100,000 hours of on-the-job organizational development training, I still respectfully tell it the way I see it and I ask others to do the same, with growing confidence and humility. I’ve been wrong many times, but my sizable number of early-mid-career wrongs (key learnings) have turned into some very satisfying late-career rights (decision aptitude).

Leadership perspective is simply a matter of time and personal growth. It accelerates and expands with the frequency and size of challenges. Charles de Gaulle said, “A man of character finds a special attractiveness in difficulty that he can realize his potentialities.” One might conclude that a life of ease and comfort will never draw out the gift of greatest value that God has placed within each of us. That precious gift is a terrible thing to waste.


Leadership is born again (anew) at the horizon of personal growth. It’s not one event, it’s a repetitive and regenerative transformation process. To see and act anew, one must think anew. This daily born again change process can produce a steady stream of leadership miracles.

Like people, organizations go through life-cycles and need to be born again on a regular basis. It’s a natural progression from birth to childhood, to adolescence, adulthood, middle age followed by the graying years, or possibly death in the event of a succession failure. The key is to keep the organization alive and vibrant through a born again transformation process.

I’m no Miracle Max, but facilitating miracles is simply about believing in people, discovering their hidden potential, pointing out their good qualities, mentoring and facilitating their success. It doesn’t get any better than that!

As Jesus answered Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” I believe in-the-flesh leadership development is quite similar in that our individual ability to see and interpret things clearly is a matter of revelation. Revelation is born from the process of living in a cycle of continuous transition.

I’ll close on a note about leadership transitions. According to Lyle Schaller, “Of all the leadership transition mistakes, two occur most frequently: 1) Leaders tend to stay too long in a position rather than not long enough; 2) Leaders who stay too long do much more damage than those who don’t stay long enough.”

To remain an effective leader, you must be born again, and again and again if you want to bring out the best in people over, and over and over again…and only then can you expect the best from the people you lead.

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