One of my mentors-from-afar changed his address last year. Bob Buford moved from his earthly home near Dallas, TX to his heavenly home at age 78 on April 18, 2018. I always admired Bob. A successful business leader, Bob leveraged his visionary wisdom, leadership skills and generosity to significantly contribute to three major landscape shifts in American Christianity. He was a founder of Leadership Network—helping larger growing churches and their leaders ramp up their ability to be more innovative and entrepreneurial so they could multiple their Kingdom impact (our church was one of those). Bob also wrote the best-selling book “Half-time” (which greatly influenced my life) and started the Halftime Institute to help business leaders make second-career shifts from success to significance. And a third contribution, was the launch of the Drucker Institute, to help non-profit organizations learn top-level management skills. Buford’s later life mission was to “transform the latent energy of American Christianity into active energy.”
Bob Buford had a saying about wanting his “fruit to grow on other people’s trees.” Bob constantly invested in the lives of leaders. He had a unique way of influencing high-potential leaders to expand their capacity and then empower them to flourish in their unique calling and gifting. He loved to see the success of others. Bob always avoided taking credit for the success of something he initiated and when someone would try to hand it to him, he would quietly point upwards and whisper “Yay God.”
I’ve never personally met Bob. I’ve read his books. I’ve been personally mentored by one of his mentorees, Lloyd Reeb. I’ve been personally inspired, challenged and encouraged by Leadership Network staff: Linda Stanley, Dave Travis, Warren Bird and more. And I’m grateful that his fruit has grown on my tree. And actually, Bob Buford’s writings and influential organizations are my primary inspiration for loving to see my fruit growing on other people’s trees. Developing and implementing a succession plan in the church I started, can be traced back both directly and indirectly to Bob Buford. Now, my fruit is growing on the trees of my successors.
Philippians 2:3-5 contains Bob Buford’s core values:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Not always easy, but absolutely necessary—if you plan to see your fruit growing on other people’s trees.
The mission is bigger than me. That’s the premise behind Level 5 Leadership. That’s the whole reason for this blog. The church I started, the business you lead, or the organization you founded has a purpose that is likely much larger than you. That’s a good thing. To lead or start something that shouldn’t end with you is noble, honorable and magnanimous! That’s how legacies are generated.
Unfortunately, I meet far too many leadersthat fail to spend much time thinking beyond their immediate mission and call. If challenged, they will usually tell you it matters. They admit they are concerned about what may happen to the organization after they retire or die. But, life moves at a face pace and there are too many daily operational concerns to slow down long enough to develop a plan—a succession plan.
I made an intentional decision when I was approaching age 50. What started with me wouldn’t end with me. The mission that God put me on in my early 30’s should not end with me in my 60’s or 70’s. The mission is much bigger than me. That thought was both exhilarating and sobering. All at the same time.
If you are leading a business, a non-profit, a church, a ministry, are you being intentional? Have you developed a succession plan for your organization? I recognize that not every organization is set up in a way that the leader can make such a decision. But are you initiating any conversations? Discussions? Proposals? Plans? Have you cast a vision for an intentional and wisely planned succession? All point persons will come to the end of their leadership run at some time or another. All leaders run out of time.
I fully agreewith the words of J. Lee Whittington: “Being a legacy leader is not about me; but, it starts with me.”
QUESTION:What one phrase in this short read impacted you the most? Why? (We would love to hear your comment below)
It didn’t matter who, what, when or where. A Sunday afternoon Monopoly game with my brother and cousin. A six-man flag football game at my three-room country school. The 50-yard dash in the state-wide Junior Olympics. High-school basketball. Hiking to the top of an Oregon butte, a sand dune or a Pacific Ocean overlook. I love to get to the top of the mountain for the first view. I grew up with a love to win. Continue reading “Top Level Leadership”
I was almost a 10 year old. We had no television in our home at the time. Growing up in a rural farm community of Oregon, I had no idea that history was being made on August 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Across the country that day, Martin Luther King, Jr., was leaving a memorable mark on the civil rights timeline of the United Stages. The imagination of civil rights activists and sympathizers, was captured with the leading line of the entire last half of Dr. King’s speech—“I have a dream…”Continue reading “I Have a Dream”