New Thoughts on Leadership and Success

Success can mean a lot of things to different people.  We seem to use the word to describe achievement –  being top sales person, winning the preaching award in seminary, achieving investment goals, being called to a larger congregation, raising a family… the list can go on and on.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of success in terms of effectiveness.  Does my leadership bring life to others or does it bring stagnation, tedium or other characteristics of “dying” rather than “flourishing”?  Do you have positive and healthy influence?  Are people following you (your leadership, example, teaching, etc).  John Maxwell, in a recent blog (link is at the end of this post) writes this: Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.  My effectiveness in these top relationships are the ones that form my leadership in other relationships.

John Maxwell writes, “if you want to truly succeed in this life, you need to ask yourself a question: Is your pursuit of success drawing you closer to – or farther from – the most important people in your life?  Maxwell applies this to marriage and family first. I agree.

I’m learning that my effective leadership in marriage and family is a crucible for forming a pattern of effective leadership in congregations, community and other organizations.  One personal “success strategy” that I use (a slowly forming habit)  is to be present to the moment. When I carry church concerns home with me it means that I haven’t emotionally left the church office. Home is a new environment and the “atmosphere” at home demands a different skill set than the one I use for hospital visits, committee meetings or sermon exegesis.

One thing that supports that practice of “presence” is that I forced myself to put my cell phone on silent mode at home.  I check messages and texts regularly which allows me the freedom to decide when and whom I call.  If the call elicits anxiety I can give myself time to pray and be less anxious. I don’t think there is a rule about being available to take every call every time the phone rings (though some have argued otherwise!).  And when my spouse is communicating to me, I won’t be sitting by her side scrolling down my messages and only partially tuned in to her needs.

“Determining ‘who is most important?’ is as critical as a daily priority list of tasks that guides our  ‘what is important’ question each day”, Maxwell states. He concludes that our process for implementing “success” (or effectiveness) must “foster and promote three things:

  1. Better understanding,
  2. Positive change, and
  3. Growing relationships.”

It sometimes seems that being “successful” with those closest to us is often the most difficult. First, it begins with God. The more intimate my relationship with God, the more intimate is my relationship with those close to me. Second, I must become willing to be vulnerable and honest with those closest to me. If I can’t be effective there, any “success out there” will be shallow.  My spouse, children and closest friends are the who help me flourish.

Vulnerability is risky with family because our “blind spots” are well known to them.  But I find that when I’m grounded in my spiritual life, I can risk vulnerability with spouse, family and those closest to me. In short, my leadership is forged in the crucible of my closest relationships.

Bob Anderson

Here’s the link to John Maxwell’s blog:


Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Ministry |

What Makes a Leader?

The Church and Art Network has a powerful summary of Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence framed for leaders. Here’s the link – use this to sharpen your growing edges…

Posted in Coaching | Tagged , , |

Leading after the PCUSA General Assembly in Pittsburgh

General Assembly is over, the desk is overflowing with mail and the office voice mail is full of messages politely stating that the caller can wait until after G.A. but…

The G.A. business now needs to be embedded in the life of the Presbytery and congregations. Here are some coaching questions for your to consider:

What are the most important issues for you to move forward?

How can you turn the issues and follow up actions into a story that creates a hopeful vision?

What issues resonate with your passion? Focus on them.

Who do you need as partners? Unleash their passion.

And that’s it?

Bob Anderson

Transition Ministry Specialist

Life Coach for Ministry Professionals

Toledo, OH

Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Ministry, Possibility, Story |


Power is one of dynamics in transitional times that can be misunderstood. Power gets a bad rap. The bad rap needs to be for the misuse of power. Everyone has power currency. How we use it is another matter. Power is always best when it is shared. Here’s a short review as you consider power in your workplace leadership.


Coaching for Your Success

Bob Anderson

Posted in Coaching | Tagged , , , |

Life Coaching for Ministers?

This summer I want to expand my client base. To give you an opportunity to “test drive the coaching process” you can sign on for my 30/30/3 program. 30 minutes for thirty bucks for three months (2x/month).  That will give you enough time to get a sense of some new changes in your own life.  Here’s what happened to me…. 

When I first heard about coaching I wanted to be a Coach but I didn’t want to be coached. Why not? Partly because I was a minister and I didn’t want someone telling me how to do things.  The other part was because I didn’t want to set goals that anyone knew about.  That way I didn’t have to be accountable – I had to be coaxed to be coached!

My coach, Bill, made a big impact on me and I learned a lot. No more “coaxing”.  What I discovered was that coaching wasn’t about telling me how to do ministry “right”.  Coaching was about digging into my own resources of knowledge, experience, spiritual life, and relationships to discover ways to life my life as a ministry practitioner in ways that were authentic and effective. 

Bill pushed me to name “what I wanted in my life”.  I was taught as a child that God didn’t like us “wanting” things.  I made lists of things and it turns out that what I wanted first was a deeper relationship with Jesus and my family.  This was not about being self centered.  It was about becoming aware of the hidden things that drive me at times.

Bill helped me build self confidence and believe in myself.  I learned to set goals and live into the vision I created.   was able to grow personally and professionally.

In the last couple of years I’ve begun sharing these same gifts with others as their life coach. And I love it! Most of my coaching is done by phone and our conversations are always confidential. 

Bob Anderson, 412-926-5106


Posted in Coaching, Ministry, Possibility |

Facing Fears with Love

10 Fears That Keep Us From What We Want
Name the Fear, Then Move Toward Love!

Admitting my own personal blocks to success is a real pain. I use my success strategies for living effectively but there are times when I, like most of us, block out for some reason. Anxiety, caution, concern or whatever name we give it is basically “fear”. If I don’t have a fairly certain outcome, or the future is not clear, fear can creep in disguised as anxiety, worry, procrastination, caution – you name it!

Fear often stands between us and our ability to make decisions, take actions, ask for what we want—even to know what we really want. It is the gatekeeper of our comfort zone. To confront a fear, my success strategy is to move toward love. Love is the opposite of fear. As you look at the list of potential fears below, think about one step toward love that you can take. For example, the fear of being judged by someone close to me. I remind myself that I am valuable and worthy of love, that my success is important and that the people near me do love me. Even if I mess up, they won’t stop loving me. In fact, if I ask them for some help as I begin the new adventure that I “fear”, they may even help me. Now that is love!

Below are 10 fears that commonly get in our way.

1. Fear of being judged. Needing approval from family or peers can keep us from going after dreams and goals.

2. Fear of rejection. Rejection just means that someone else has a different opinion.

3. Fear of emotional pain. Rather than incapacitate us, painful feelings can sharpen our sense of joy and gratitude.

4. Fear of embarrassment. Making mistakes publicly is awful only when we let ourselves feel ashamed.

5. Fear of being alone/abandoned. A strong sense of self-worth and what we can offer the world reduces this fear.

6. Fear of failure. A biggie for most of us and born of the notion that it’s not OK to fail.

7. Fear of success. More responsibility, more attention, pressure to perform can be frightening when we don’t believe in ourselves.

8. Fear of expressing feelings. An authentic life means being willing to express our true feelings to our loved ones, colleagues, adversaries—even ourselves.

9. Fear of intimacy. Emotional intimacy—really being seen by another—can be as scary as sexual intimacy.

10. Fear of the unknown. The unknown can be exciting and vast if we shift our fear to curiosity.

As poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.”

Bob Anderson
Life Coach for Ministry Professionals

Write to me for Summer Coaching Specials!

Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
Posted in Coaching |

Leveraging Our Habits

Posted in Coaching |

Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations confront us every day. Sometimes we wake up at night thinking about a conversation we need to have but put it off.  MindTools web site gives some practical guidance to prepare – good ole role play!  Check it out, do it and let me know how it went!


Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Ministry, Motivation, Self Care, Transitions |

2012 – Make it a Year of Gratitude

Happy New Year from Bob Anderson!

New Years Eve – 2012 is but hours away now and it struck me that one way to approach the new year is using my own personal success strategy – Practicing Gratitude. There is nothing new about this practice except the practice part!

Gratitude we seem to fumble around on an inconsistent basis… that’s my story, anyway. Consider this coaching perspective from own coaching – when you practice gratitude blessing and abundance will flow over into all areas of your life and relationships.  Here are some ideas…

•  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

•  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

•  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

•  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

•  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

create a “vision board” of what you want life to be like in 2012 (pictures,  poems, etc) and begin to give thanks that they are already beginning to emerge through your creative thoughts.

Some of this content is used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications

Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Ministry, Motivation, Possibility, Self Care, Transitions |

Action Reflection on the New Year

January is named for the Roman two-faced god, Janus.  She has one face looking to the past and the other to the future – Janus is the god of beginnings, endings and the transitions they create. Life is full of these rhythms – personal, family and congregational.  Here are some simple ways I plan to make this new year a time of powerful transformation. I invite you to connect the dots for your life and reflect on your own new year endings and beginning (these are “I” statements and you may want to  try them as “we” statements, e.g. family, church, partners, marriage, etc).  A disclaimer is needed here. These ideas originated with Kevin Eikenberry of Indianapolis (www.kevineikenberrycom). I adapted and modified Kevin’s much larger list of questions.


  1. What did I accomplish this year?
  2. What obstacles did I overcome?
  3. How am I different now than I was at the start of the year?
  4. What am I most grateful for?
  5. In what ways did I contribute to others, our world?
  6. In what ways did I grow in my relationship with Jesus?
  7. Be creative – what else do I want to reflect upon?

Create Your Best Year Ever!

  1. What possibilities excite me about this new year?
  2. In ways do you hope to be different next New Year?
  3. What lessons can I apply to help me this year?
  4. What is a spiritual discipline I need to practice to grow in my Christian faith?
  5. Who will I serve more effectively and/or completely?
  6. What new habit will I develop that will make me healthier/more satisfied with life?
  7. Be creative – what else do I want to reflect upon?

These reflections can become the basic building components for a plan this year. At the core of our thinking is that, Janus notwithstanding, our God is the “I AM”, life and existence. Our God is the beginning, the ending and the in between.  Now, here’s my second invitation. If you would like to enter a conversation with me about my answers to these questions, let me know! We can grow together.

Posted in Coaching |