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Leadership

Love and the crucible of leadership

Hot metal. (Credit: Vitalli42 via Fotolia)Valentine's Day is close to a $20 billion dollar event. It has undoubtedly turned into just another chance for marketers to hawk their wares, but behind the colossal veneer of consumerism, this time of year still affords the opportunity to bring up the actual idea behind Valentine's Day: love. While it may be enshrouded by layers of materiality and gushy sentiment, love's place is still the very heartbeat of our lives.

We tend to distance ourselves and become uncomfortable when love and leadership are mentioned together, yet we know intuitively from experience that you must give yourself fully to something in order to see the full benefits. It's why we have a hard time believing leaders like Jack Dorsey (who continues to try to be the CEO of both Twitter and Square at the same time) when they tell us they can succeed at both jobs. We know the importance of love, of single-minded devotion.

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Confronting evil leadership

Jihad flag on Africa. February 16, 2015. (Credit: AP Images/Jean Marmeisse)Over the course of recent weeks, we have learned that Boko Haram has perpetrated another attack on a Nigerian village that included burning many of the victims alive in their huts and that ISIS is continuing to use local citizens as human shields in contested cities like Fallujah. The horrors of the acts are staggering, but the rapidity at which new atrocities are happening across the globe can cause us to become numb to their true impact. Evil acts are often perpetrated by isolated individuals, but Boko Haram and ISIS typify the extent to which evil can be enacted through organized leadership.

Popular leadership studies tend to focus overwhelmingly on the positive aspects of leadership. If they do bring up the negative side of leadership, it usually has to do with ineffective leadership, not moral evil. The lack of discussion in the popular sphere can be attributed to the lack of any kind of moral or ethical training in most MBA or management programs. If there is no deep reflection on evil, how do we expect to have the strength as a society to confront the evils we see on a daily basis?

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The state of political leadership in America

The Presidential Seal is seen on a podium at the White House in Washington (Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing)The race for the White House is well underway, and the upcoming Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary are just the beginning of a long season of political jockeying leading up to the November general election. Our national attention in terms of leadership will be, until November, squarely on political leaders. It seems as if the most important quality that voters are seeking on either side of the spectrum is somebody who will simply "get things done". Voters are skeptical of those perceived as government insiders, so, naturally, both parties have witnessed the rise in popularity of perceived political outsiders.

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Developing your capacity to see

Self portrait with big binoculars (Credit: Gerlo via Flickr)The New Year has not been kind so far to the international markets. Markets in China have been hit by news of poor economic performance and growth stagnation, while markets in Europe have been impacted by the steep decline in the price of oil. U.S. stocks have not escaped the global downturn, as the Dow Jones has tumbled over 1,000 points since December 31st.

Amidst this market instability, government leadership has sought to reassure Americans that everything is just fine. President Obama in his recent State of the Union address sought to allay fears of a coming slowdown by highlighting job growth and consumer spending. However, while government officials paint an optimistic portrait of the American economy, growth has been modest, and memories of the 2008 recession are still fresh. The truth is, the American economy, just like other economies in the world, is shaped and impacted by what happens across the world. While internal measures might be positive, poor external measures neutralize the positives and reveal a more complex economic outlook.

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Leadership lessons from Nick Saban

Alabama head coach Nick Saban celebrates after a touchdown run by Alabama (2) Derrick Henry in the first quarter during the College Football Playoff National Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, January 11, 2016 (Credit: Icon Sportswire/Chris Williams)The showdown between the top-ranked Clemson Tigers and the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide exceeded its titanic billing. The game was a back-and-forth affair, both teams dazzling with their speed and execution. In the end, Alabama was too much for the Tigers, capping an explosive second-half barrage with an onside-kick recovery and a 97-yard blink-of-an-eye kick-return touchdown. After the dust settled, the Tide found itself on top for the fourth time in seven years. That unprecedented feat, unmatched in the modern era of college football, has led numerous writers to coronate Nick Saban as the best college football coach in the history of the sport.

The truth is, even without his latest championship, which brings the total tally to five, Nick Saban was already a historic coach. His legacy is certainly impressive, especially in the era of competition that has seen college sports become a nation-wide 24/7 multi-billion dollar industry. What are the leadership lessons that can be gleaned from Coach Saban's time with the Tide, and how can we appropriate them as Christians seeking not to win championships, but to bring glory to King Jesus?

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