Christ, Carnegie, Leadership, and Me

I am a good guy. I tend to do what I am supposed to do, say what I am supposed to say, be where I am supposed to be, etc., etc. I am a very responsible task-oriented person. I generally get things done, fairly well, and on time. This has all worked out for me fairly well so far, but as circumstances in my life change, I am finding that all of this is not quite enough. I have largely gone through my life managing the necessary tasks as they come. But it appears that if I really want to make the kind of progress I need to, I need to become more of a visionary leader and an expert at human relations. These things are not part of my natural personality. This transition from being more-or-less a manager to becoming a leader seems to be necessary in nearly every aspect of my life. Allow me to explain.

As a Father

I have been a good father for my young children. In many ways I view parenting young children as a task driven management activity. There are diapers to change, baby food to prepare, feeding, dressing, teaching, entertaining, and on and on. Help them be happy, healthy and safe. Manage these tasks well and you are a good parent. Unfortunately they grow up to be teenagers.

My oldest is now a teenager, and I view parenting a new teenager as a transition from a set of tasks to be managed, to the need for visionary leadership and wise application of human relationship building. Something I feel ill-equipped for.

As a Church Member

I have been a good church member. I do what I am told and manage the tasks associated with callings fairly well. I am consistent in getting things done. I can prepare lessons, do the basics of home teaching, help the cub scouts earn their badges, etc. I have approached similar callings with essentially a task management mindset, and done fairly well with them. As I get older, with more experience in the church, local leadership callings have come my way. I have been asked to serve as a Ward Mission Leader, Young Men’s President, and Elder’s Quorum President in recent years. I have not been as effective as I could be with these callings because I have continued my management approach to them. I sometimes lack the visionary leadership, and human relation skills to really excel in these types of callings.

As an Employee

I have been a good employee. Most of my career I have been a mechanical engineer. I was given certain tasks to complete and I did them well, and on time. I didn’t tend to anger people. I was a very good follower, and I got the tasks done. I was a good enough follower that in recent years I have been asked to become more of a leader. I began getting project management assignments for new product development projects. I was asked to lead teams of engineers in creative new design projects. This has once again forced me to transition from managing tasks and things, to leading people. Again leadership vision and human relations were needed, and it was not something I was naturally good at. Really good followers may not make really good leaders without some help, or without some change to their personality and character.

My employer has decided to send me and a couple of my coworkers to a Dale Carnegie Course on ‘Effective Communication and Human Relations‘. The course promised to greatly improve self confidence, people skills, communication skills, leadership, and attitude. As I have read through some of the course descriptions I acknowledge that it is exactly the type of thing I need to become a better leader. I am hopeful that this will improve my performance as a father, church member, and employee. I am seeking a significant and fundamental change in my core personality and character. It has been nice knowing you. The course starts Monday, October 2nd.

This has made me wonder about leadership being a Christ-like quality. I posted once about Ambition being a Christ-like quality here. Basically I think it is if it is purely motivated. But when Christ says things like: Here am I send me, Come follow me, What manner of men ought ye to be? Even as I am. I conclude that leadership is one of the most overlooked qualities of Christ. Many of us often have this passive image of the Lord. I wonder if we are missing the bold, confident, visionary leader that Christ is.

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12 Responses to “Christ, Carnegie, Leadership, and Me”


  1. 1 Wade October 2, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    Great thoughts Eric! I have the same issues to deal with in my life. I’m a pretty good follower, but I’m a terrible leader. However, I think “good” leaders in reality are few and far between. I’ve only known a few who were truly effective despite the many who fill leadership positions in various organizations.

  2. 2 BrianJ October 2, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    Eric,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Before my wife and moved a few years ago, we talked about some things we wanted to change about ourselves, then we implemented those things in our new area. We’re a lot happier—of course, moving made changing easier. Anyway, I wish you the best!

  3. 3 tyler October 2, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    Eric,

    I appreciate your candor and thought; let me share a few thoughts of my own:

    1) I agree that all important leadership assignment will one day require much more than managers.

    2) I think all leaders strive for vision–“without vision, a people perish.”

    3) Christ was no doubt the greatest leader. Part of Christ’s Gospel is the paradox of leadership in Christendom: the greatest shall be the least. One of Christ’s most powerful sermons on leadership came as He washed the disciples feet–a menial task taken on by the King of Kings. In the Gospel, leadership consists not in control but in service and love; the more we love those we lead, the more expansive our vision becomes and the greater leaders we become.

    4) I have somewhat mixed feelings about How toWin Friends and Influence People. I read it many years ago and it had a deep and positive effect on my life. On the other hand, Carnegie’s approach strikes me as skirting very close to disingenuousness–if we’re not careful, his tips for “influencing people” can become methods of manipulation. I am very conscious of my motive when I try the things he suggests.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  4. 4 Wade October 2, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Tyler:

    leadership consists not in control but in service and love

    That is a very simple comment, yet very profound. I think those of us who are good managers have trouble as leaders because we want to control the outcome through “our way”. But this is impossible, we get frustrated, and then become uninspired. Love and real interest in others is the only way to be effective. Incidentally, this is also one of the most difficult traits to develop legitimately.

    As for the book, I agree with you there too. The suggestions are good on a theoretical level, but can be used in bad ways. It reminds me of the difference between the 7-Habits approach compared to the other self-help books.

  5. 5 Eric Nielson October 2, 2006 at 8:49 pm

    Wade:

    Thanks man. I have always felt that I would make a far better couselor than a president in church callings. Give me some tasks and I will do them – I’ll let the president lead. Perhaps I can do better.

    Brian:

    A change in scenery can help. That is going to be a real challenge for me. CHANGING relationships that have already had a history of many years. We’ll see how it goes.

    Tyler:

    I have thought similar things. General leadership can be a dangerous thing if it is not purley motivated. I suppose one could say that Satan is a good leader as well. Leading many carefully down to Hell and similar places.

  6. 6 mullingandmusing October 2, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks for this. Let us know how the course goes!

  7. 7 Okie October 3, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    Great post and insights. –

  8. 8 Eric Nielson October 3, 2006 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks Mulling and Okie.

    The first class consisted of learning the 5 drivers for success. Self Confidence, People skills, Communication, Leadership, and attitude. We also learned about the importance of learning and remembering names. This is the list of people in the class. I took about 15 minutes remembering them. I wrote this list from memory the day after the class. I remembered all 37 first and last names without looking even once.

    1. Eric Lund
    2. Joshua Myers
    3. Jeff Deleo
    4. Eric Berg
    5. Cindy Bush
    6. Marilee Dietsch
    7. Marjorie Podka
    8. Logan Roon
    9. Jesse Cook
    10. Larra Estel
    11. Melissa Leech
    12. Ryan Smith
    13. Ray Sterling
    14 Ron VanderClock
    15. Marcia Keith
    16. Eric Nielson
    17. Larra Berry
    18. Swetta Gupka
    19. Grace Williams
    20. Chuck Halligan
    21. Matt Krautmann
    22. Steven Lutz
    23. Ron Heldak
    24. Albert Moore
    25. Stormy Bersheres
    26. Scott Randolph
    27. Ken Lanphear
    28. Linda Weber
    29. Joshua Schultz
    30. Nancy Buss
    31. Kelly Prock
    32. Melody Case
    33. Mike Moseley
    34. Jim Cottin
    35. Ray James
    36. Nate Quick
    37. Karen Ranrume

  9. 9 Wade October 3, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Hey no fair, you included your own name in that “37”. 🙂

    Sounds like an interesting course! I wish I could remember names better. You’ll have to post on the techniques sometime.

  10. 10 Jeff November 15, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Eric,

    CONGRATULATIONS on enrolling in the Dale Carnegie Course. I trust you’re finding it fun and enjoyable and a growth experience. As you can probably guess from my email address, I work for Dale Carnegie Training.

    I enjoyed your musings on Christ and leadership. It’s one of the most important challenges of our time. With the chaos surrounding us, people are desperate for a leader who can cut through the haze and noise and provide clear, compelling communication; someone willing to strike out in a direction, believing God will ultimately guide us. Unfortunately, too many decide to wait until God parts the heavens, puts the dew on the fleece, and in a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder tells them “GO!” And, even after that, they wait, paralyzed by fear.

    Ultimately, the Dale Carnegie Course is about overcoming fear — one of Satan’s most potent weapons. Fear warps our souls, colors our perspectives, damages our relationships with others — here and in eternity. I read somewhere, “Love is what we’re born into the world with; fear is what we learn here.” I believe Dale Carnegie is one of the tools God uses to help people continue growing into the shape He ultimately intends for them. Interestingly, you’ll find there is nothing taught in the classroom that can’t be found in the Bible. It may not be phrased the same way, but it’s there.

    Having served as a US Navy officer, Dale Carnegie is the best leadership training I ever attended. It’s the fastest, most effective, practical training process/program I know of to help grow the awareness and skills that are foundational to leadership. And, it’s not theory. It’s proven. It’s simple — not easy. In that respect, it’s kind of like the Bible, the more you ruminate and meditate on it, the deeper it seems to be. I mean, how complicated is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? But it’s not easy.

    I agree there is potential to use Dale Carnegie’s human relations principles to manipulate. As one of the other respondents pointed out, it all comes back to our motive. Shortly after I began working with Dale Carnegie, I asked my mentor, “How do you know when you’re manipulating someone?” His reply? “If you think you’re manipulating, you are.”

    So, you got all 37 names the day after, eh? Good on you! (You get credit for your own name, too.)

    Continued blessings

  11. 11 Eric Nielson November 16, 2006 at 7:45 am

    Wow. Thanks Jeff. I do like how often Carnegie refers to the bible. And I am enjoying the class.


  1. 1 the mother of All Trackback on October 24, 2006 at 11:29 pm

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