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October 28, 2013

Thoughts on Leadership from President Martin

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Martin’s Leadership Breakfast presentation on Friday, Oct. 18. The program was titled “Thoughts on Leadership.”

 There are a number of convictions I have concerning leadership and decision making. 

  • Build a strong team.  This is ultimately the most important thing a leader can do.  No one person can have all of the answers and know all of the options.
  •  Require honesty and accountability.  “Full disclosure, bad news first, and I want to hear it from you.” 
  •  Ask, “What is the downside of this?”  A leader needs to give others permission to point out flaws in thinking without feeling they are attacking the person.  One of the best techniques I have come across is to constantly ask what the downside of a decision or an idea might be.  That way people can disagree with the idea, rather than the person.
  •  Expect excellence.  The bar must be set high if an institution is to get better. 
  • Understand that people are not perfect—they have personal and family issues.  Although we expect excellence we understand that life sometimes gets in the way.  I try to remind our employees that Roberts Wesleyan College or Northeastern Seminary is not their life—it is a part of their life.
  • All things being equal, hire a smart person.  Smart people tend to figure out how to get things done.
  • Be  as collaborative as you can.  Obviously this is not always possible, but most things can be shared openly.
  • If a person is not “doing the job” make a change.  Leaving a person in a position for which they are not suited is doing a disservice to that person and all of the people they are serving and with whom they are working.
  • Communicate more than you think you need to.  It is easy to forget that others are not up to speed with various decisions that need to be made. 
  • Remember that solving a problem does not mean it is solved for all time.  I remind our team that “the problems of today were the solutions of yesterday and the solutions of today will be the problems of tomorrow.”
  • Remember that ultimately the buck has to stop with the leader.  Hard decisions must be made, especially in times of economic stress.  The leader cannot please all of the people all of the time. 
  • Remember that we have guidance from Scripture to help us in our work.  This is very important and must be at the forefront of our thinking.


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