10 Chapters
Medium 9781626566163

Action: Run to Great Purpose

Jennings, Ken; Stahl-Wert, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Dad and I lay low yesterday. Our trip to Greenwood pretty much wiped him out, though he’s adamant about the fact that it was not his last hurrah. To prove it, he set up another appointment for lunch today. “It’ll be a very important visit, Son,” he told me.

We spent part of our day yesterday in the basement together, working on some final track hookup. Dad mostly watched, though he did touch up a few buildings with paint. We turned the whole system on and ran our trains. For a little while, time stood still—Dad and his boy just played with trains. I’ll cherish this memory.

We also talked.

“What’s up with Anna?” he asked at one point, a small twinkle in his eyes.

“Nothing,” I replied a little defensively. “I don’t think anything’s up. She’s nice, though,” I decided to allow.

“Indeed. Like I said to you before. You need new eyes, my boy. ‘Nothing,’ you say!”

I just looked at him, unable to suppress a small smile. Okay, maybe not nothing.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626566163

Action: Raise the Bar

Jennings, Ken; Stahl-Wert, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

“BioWorks is on everyone’s list of hot companies,” Ali began. I started a fresh section in my journal. “It’s an innovative, high-science organization committed to next-generation sustainable technologies. Over the years, it has focused on agriculture and energy, especially in the area of biofuels. The company’s work with biomass conversion points the way to energy sources that are totally renewable, carbon neutral, and biodegradable.”

Puzzled, I glanced over at Ali. I had no knowledge of this field and hadn’t understood a word he had just said.

“No greenhouse gases,” Ali explained. “No global warming. And no dependence on foreign oil. It’s big!” he added with a grin, making sure I saw the size of the frontier BioWorks was exploring.

“What you’re going to find really interesting, though, is the competitive edge BioWorks has gained in this new global market through its commitment to Serving Leadership.”

Arriving at a series of low-slung buildings, we were greeted at the door by Stephen Cray, one of the CEOs I had met the day before.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626566163

Mending a Broken Track

Jennings, Ken; Stahl-Wert, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Charlie called me today, wondering how my project’s coming along. He’s been checking in with Dad every few days and knew full well that my project has not been coming along. That is, not my Philadelphia project.

As to the deeper project, the project of myself and my dad, so much has taken place.

For three weeks now, I’ve been spending time with Dad and Mom. His radiation treatments ended today. Three weeks of daily trips to U. Penn., new pictures each day, followed by an hour of setup—all in preparation for each day’s mere seconds of radiation. The pictures look better. The blockage is open. But frankly, Dad’s only weaker. He is eating more, and Mom and I are glad about that.

I guess I was not really surprised to hear from Charlie. As much as he understands the fact that I’m going through a difficult time with my dad, he really doesn’t understand. He’s my boss, and he expects me to show him something for all this time. I think he’s losing his patience. I understand more now about Charlie’s sense of indebtedness to my dad. Dad asked him to do this, so he’s doing it. But I sense the day is coming very soon when Charlie will have had enough. So be it!

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626566163

Introduction

Jennings, Ken; Stahl-Wert, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

This is a story about leadership: leadership in teams, businesses, and communities. It is also a story about personal growth and how good leaders become great leaders through their willingness to face and be changed by the greatest challenges of their lives.

The story comes out of our friendship with Mike Wilson. Mike is a man we both know well. He shows up everywhere in the businesses and neighborhoods we serve. The circumstances of place and vocation vary, but Mike is always there. As a leader, he’s professionally talented and highly motivated to successfully reach his business and financial goals.

But Mike wants his life to be about more than success. He’s searching for the deeper significance of his leadership and for the satisfaction of living a life of real purpose. In this deeper search, however, Mike often feels very unsuccessful; sometimes, he feels completely lost.

As we’ve shared this story with our friends, these questions usually arise: “Is Mike’s story real? And if it is, where can I find him?” Here’s the best answer we have: Mike’s story is real. And the chances are reasonable that you’ll find someone like him occupying the office next to yours. She rides on the train with you each morning. You pass him in the hallway every day. Glance up from your reading and look around; she might be sitting right there in the room with you now.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626566163

The Serving Leader

Jennings, Ken; Stahl-Wert, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Ali suggested I try my hand at writing a job description for the Serving Leader. Though it’s been nearly two months since I finished this journal, rereading it now confirms in my mind that it captures reasonably well the key elements of what I learned from my father and his friends—well, my friends now, too. There is much to flesh out, of course, but I’ve not really had time lately to do it. I think I’m ready to give it a try.

Hey, Dad! Take a look!

SERVING LEADERS

Run to great purpose by holding out in front of their team, business, or community a “reason why” that is so big that it requires and motivates everybody’s very best effort.

Upend the pyramid of conventional management thinking. They put themselves at the bottom of the pyramid and unleash the energy, excitement, and talents of the team, the business, and the community.

Raise the bar of expectation by being highly selective in the choice of team leaders and by establishing high standards of performance. These actions build a culture of performance throughout the team, business, or community.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters