Ron's Material Leadership Blog

It is my sincerest hope that the stories I share are helpful to others. I have experienced first hand that many people toil in obscurity, searching for answers, ashamed to reach out and ask for help. This blog will contain experiences and wisdom that I have gained over the years that I hope will offer guidance in dealing with some of life's challenges.

Why the name material leadership? If you are curious the answer is on my website.
The link on the side bar.

Lead well


Thursday, September 27, 2007

A funny thing happened on the way to the office...

Earlier this week I had the most stunning thing happen. I got promoted...


I have not talked about my current role in this blog and frankly I will not. Out of respect for my current employer I prefer to discuss the principles of leadership rather than the details of a specific role. In fact all of the examples I talk about deal with either my personal life, volunteer leadership roles or events that occurred well in the past. Stories I have found are powerful teaching tools and I love them. Ethics and integrity trump tools every time. So this post is unique. Today I share a detail of my current professional life. However I will not say what my previous role was or my new current role is. I will say it is a humbling responsibility that impacts the lives of numerous families. The weight of this responsibility is only now starting to hit me.


For the past year I have poured myself into others working on their development sharing all that I know in strategic increments to those who were open to growing. I stepped into the gap within my work site and provided leadership where it was obvious it was needed. I facilitated meetings. I influenced decision making to achieve what I believed to be right outcomes.

All these things I did without consideration of consequence beyond the potential consequence of inaction or not leading. I was not seeking to be promoted although admittedly I was getting a bit bored with my current role.

I was stunned Monday when I was offered a leadership position I did not know was available. Nor did I think I was a possible candidate. Its funny you know when I think about all the talk I have shared about self awareness. How dopey do I look now. Good thing I believe strongly in learning from my mistakes ;-)

So now I play at a higher level, higher stakes higher consequences. I am proud to say that my core values of faith and integrity came running to the front and center of my mind as I considered this new role. As a Christian I recognize the awesome responsibility of effective servant leadership. This is the platform no towel from which I will serve my team, lift them up, teach them to achieve higher levels of performance. My integrity demands straight forward honesty and candor, no monkey business no manipulation.

This is going to be a taxing and fun journey. I am sure I will learn many new lessons. I am sure I will find a way to keep teaching others how to lead well


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Leading from a Different Chair

In the past few weeks I have began to think that there are a few questions about leadership that should be addressed, prior to moving on to the purpose of a leader. We have spent a lot of time talking about what a leader knows about them self, what a leader thinks, and how they act. So before we go to purpose lets talk about these questions.

1. Do you have to be in charge to lead?

So, you have probably heard the old cliche that you don’t need authority to lead. No matter what position you hold in an organization, a leader can function in a leadership capacity regardless.

What do you think?

Do you believe this? Can a person in a clerical position for instance be a leader? Do they instead have to strive for the CEO job in order to make a difference?

See the need, collaborate on a plan, mobilize a team, see the future happen

No. You do not have to be the "#1" to lead. In fact if you think about it philosophically you always are following someone anyway. So in a sense the question is moot. Leaders lead from where they are now. They identify something that needs to be done, something that needs to change and they mobilize a group to make the change to better future. This could be something as simple as changing the type of coffee supplied in an office facility or something as complicated as creating am independent ministry to serve the poor in a community. See the need, collaborate on a plan, mobilize a team see the future happen

The “Grant” of Leadership

So if you can lead from “another” chair, what does that look like? Leadership is an activity that can be practiced by anyone. It is a sad state of affairs that so few people choose to. Obviously the degree to which you can exercise leadership changes with your position in the organization. An important point to make here is that leadership does not always have a clear power component. That is, often power is bestowed on the leader by the followers. This is not the case with management where power is a requisite part of the role.

Given this, we need to ask ourselves under what conditions will others grant us, either consciously or unconsciously the right to lead them. Remember there is no moment where they stop and grandly say “Sir will you lead us”. No it is subtle. Followers look to those who are a leader to answer tough questions, provide guidance under stress, to create a comfortable atmosphere.

What are the attributes that followers instinctively look for in a leader? Well that would be another post now wouldn’t it ;-)

Lead well

Ron H

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Do you have a web presence?

One of the fascinating aspects of Blogging is the concept of creating a web presence and correspondingly how to increase readership. Unlike the topic of this blog, leadership development, increasing readership is a relatively foreign subject to me. It is kind of like learning a foreign language. For instance, here in Southern California I have been attempting to learn to speak Spanish. I can speak like a two year old; a few words here and their, wrong tense, wrong emphasis, limited word choice. I love to try and am learning and am excited as I pick up more and more. All the while it is frustrating to not know how to communicate.

How do you increase your web presence? How do you get the word out about a blog that seeks to teach leadership lessons? How do you measure success?

There are many strategies I am aware of. Some of these are social websites, letters and comments to other bloggers, the old favorite friends and family. I am sure there are many other ways and I will continue to explore what they are.

Measuring progress is relatively straight forward. Google. Google analytics allows a blogger to track statistics on visits to a site. You don’t know who visited but you know what they viewed, what city they came from and how they found your site. Fascinating stuff.

I think the ultimate measure is the Google search engine. If you type your name in where is the first reference to you? Unfortunately for me there is a famous hockey player and rock drummer both named Ron Hurst. I am on page three of the google search. Not high enough. I am happy though that if you type in Ron Hurst Leadership, I am the first eight hits on the first page of results! Progress!

Why am I sharing this? Because I found a neat post on leadership, integrity and self awareness that I wanted to comment about. When I first read it I wanted to post a comment on this blog saying I DISAGREE! Then I realized as I wrote my comments that I actually agreed with the author. So Instead of trying to pick a “conversation” I will share my thoughts on this topic here. I have also linked to the post should you want to read the original.

The topic of the blog post I found related to the interconnectedness of integrity, self awareness and leadership capacity. Here is the comment I wrote in response…

I am intrigued by your argument that in a leadership context an unresolved internal conflict will lead to indecision, inconsistency etc. That can certainly be true as decisiveness is a critical leadership attribute. Certainly value conflicts provide a more risky stage where leadership can be potentially destroyed. Value conflicts must be resolved as you state.

You present a logical and sensible progression from value conflict to ineffective leadership. Does this progression though not imply that a leader will be unable to recognize the importance of their decision making ability and its role in the effectiveness of their leadership ability? Leaders regularly make decisions on less than complete information and must defend the logic of their choice. As a leader matures the ability to explain their decisions becomes an important skill in their communication and persuasion arsenal. A “leader” who makes a decision half heartedly and is relatively ambivalent about them is not much of a leader at all. Perhaps it is also the case that a person with unresolved value conflicts will not rise to leadership in the first place…but then that is your argument isn’t it J

The post in question was particularly well written by a consultant from England named Andy Smith. I encourage you to go have a read.

Lead well


Are you Linked In? and Quoted on another Blog

Hey everyone

Have you heard of Linked In?

This is one of my favorite web sites where Web 2.0 comes alive for me. Last January I set a goal to overcome a condition that affects far too many professionals the "not networked beyond your company doors" condition. The goal was to develop a deep and broad professional network where I not only stayed in contact with past colleagues but that I would meet new professionals and build new relationships.

In March a colleague introduced me to linked in and I have since nurtured relationships across the United States and the world. I have added over 140 professionals from four continents to my network in the past six months. It is truly a fascinating process, one I highly recommend to all professionals who cannot get beyond a couple dozen contacts beyond the company front door.

Below is a short endorsement I would like to share related to questions asked on Linked In that I responded to.

In the first I was recently given the honor of being quoted. Susan Bernstein, a life and career coach, found my answer to her question on Linked In compelling enough to be included on her blog. She wrote a wonderful article on the concept of self motivation. What inspires you? Sounds like a question I would ask ;-)

Check out her blog and practice at her blog site work from within

Lead well


My Favorites

Thoughts on a Recent Read

The Dip by Seth Godin

This was the first of Mr. Godin’s books I have read and I must say it will not be the last. I enjoyed this book and found its message wise and on point for our age. The premise of the book is that there is a time to quit a role, project, effort and a time to stay. When we have the opportunity to be the very best and are willing to pay the price, it is time to stay. When it is clear that staying will result in mediocrity or worse yet (Mr. Godin’s term for a dead end) a cul-de-sac, it is time to move on to something where we can be our best. The dip is the place in between. The place where we face opposition, adversity and discouragement. It is here that many wrongly chose to give up when greatness is not that far away for the brave souls who persevere.

Complexity: Low

Length: Short

Compelling: Very much

Worthwhile: Definitely