Thoughts On Leadership

Thoughts On Leadership

Back in 1990, as I was beginning find my stride inside Motorola, we were faced with many large changes on a corporate-wide basis. These were not product changes, although there were plenty of those as well. These were changes that sought to speak to the essence of the Motorola culture and the essence of leadership. For me, it was both an exciting as well as a confusing time. I passionately believed in the essence of servant leadership, and what I was hearing at the corporate level had the same key elements. As well, there were many programs and processes that were being implemented corporate-wide such as Six-Sigma, 10x Cycle Time Reduction, etc… and, quite frankly, it was confusing for even the best to piece together into day-to-day action.

I was inspired by the corporate messages speaking to our culture such as, “Constant respect for people and uncompromising integrity” so I set out to wrap my head around my personal leadership style, and put this into context with the wave of activity inside the company; this to provide focus and meaning to the organization for which I was the marketing director.

An eight month self-study began which crossed many disciplines and perspectives. I went back to what was instilled in me about leadership during my time in the Marine Corps. I pulled books from my shelf at home by Peter Drucker-Frontiers of Management, Tom Peters-Thriving on ChaosThe Armed Forces Officers Handbook, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner-The Leadership Challenge, Robert F. Allen-The Organization Unconscious, and of course Robert Greenleaf on Servant Leadership. There were many more but these stood out most to me. My goal was to bring together the essence of leadership as described by all of these authors, mix in what I learned day-to-day in the Corps, and find the common threads buried within the Corporate messages, and decide how I intended to lead.

Along the way I was reminded that one could not go wrong taking to heart what Peter Drucker had to say; and while I loved the passion of Tom Peters, I knew that I could not show up as a “mono-manic with a mission” as he put it. And the Armed Forces Officers Handbook, while pragmatic in its approach offered sound advice about leading and life in general.

The Leadership Challenge really spoke to me. Within it’s five principles I began to find the common thread that brought Drucker, Peters, Allen, Kouses and Posner together with what I had been taught in the Marine Corps. Things began to solidify for me and I became grounded in my beliefs on leadership. I was finding my voice, and The Leadership Challenge was the common thread that tied them all together with the Corporate mantras.

Kouses and Posner summarized it with five principles:

  • Creating an inspired vision
  • Modeling the way
  • Enabling others to act
  • Challenging the process
  • Encouraging the heart

All spoke loudly to me. The ones I will touch on here are: “creating and inspired vision” and “encouraging the heart.” We had the technology, we had talent, the resources to grow, and we had the brand name. We also had stress, tension, egos, and disagreements on technologies that would seem to cross into the esoteric. If you singled anyone out and gave them a truth serum one would invariably find an undercurrent of fear.

The popular book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall used fear as the underlying motivator: In the book he writes: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

I remember hearing Born to Run quoted many times over the years. What was odd to me was that its premise was fear. Semantics, maybe, but it’s worth considering whether or not any of us would rather be lead by fear, or lead though inspiration and encouragement.

Inspiration and encouragement… I had found the common thread and I had found my voice.

Clay Boykin


At the Heart Of Leadership

At the Heart Of Leadership

Organizations change. They have to in order to address the changing needs of those they serve; the end customer, the stakeholders and the employees. We’ve heard all our lives that “change is inevitable” – “change before you have to” – “the only constant in life is change.” So why do so many of us find change to be hard? If you dig deep enough, at the heart of matter is “fear.” And if that is at the heart of the matter, then that is where great leaders have to begin to lead, from the heart, speaking to the heart, and, yes, connecting at the heart level.

Sounds a bit woo-woo in the corporate word today but, is it? Or is it time to reflect on our own fears as a leader. As a leader, are we leading out of fear; running to stay ahead of the lions? Or, are we running towards something, perhaps a vision your entire team can believe in? Whichever way we lead our people will follow. They will follow you out of fear, or they will follow you towards a shared vision.

Rest assured, it’s what’s in your heart that speaks first verbally or non-verbally at work, at home, in life. I am sure you have heard it many time, “It takes courage to lead.” If we look at the root of the word courage we find that it means “to share one’s truth with an open heart.” Yes, it does take courage to lead and there is nothing woo-woo about that.

Gender Reconciliation – All Sexual Orientations/Genders/Races

Gender Reconciliation – All Sexual Orientations/Genders/Races

The Gender Equity and Reconciliation process seeks to heal the profound wounds around gender, sexuality, and relational intimacy. It brings together people of all sexual orientations and genders to jointly confront gender disharmony to reach healing reconciliation. Will and Cynthia have developed the method over 28 years, introducing the practices in nine countries.

Gender reconciliation’s startling successes in South Africa have played a role in transforming that country’s AIDS and HIV policies, and exciting new academic research on the program is underway at two South African universities. Learn more about the work of Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix via their organization, Gender Reconciliation International.

Will Keepin and Cynthia Brix with Bishop Desmond Tutu

This powerful presentation is well worth pausing for.


The Language of the Heart

The Language of the Heart

It is better to speak the same language of the heart than speaking the same tongue.
– Rumi


According to Ethnologue, an online resource on world languages, there are more than 7,000 living languages. Some are spoken by hundreds of millions of people, some by much smaller communities. Twenty-three languages account for more than half of the world’s population. All of them have the same goal and function: To communicate thoughts, meanings and feelings between humans. In the extremely diverse world of languages, we express our ideas and feelings and say something to ourselves and other human beings. We state the meaning of our actions through words and sentences. Ideally, we resolve our differences through rational communication. But can speaking the same language always allow us to express our ideas properly?

There are instances where speaking the same language does not help overcome clashes and conflicts. This is where we need more than linguistic capability to reach the minds and hearts of our fellow human beings. This is where Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi enters in when he says, “It is better to speak the same language of the heart than speaking the same tongue.” Meaningful thoughts, expressed through language, make sense when they reach not just the minds but also the hearts of our interlocutors. They have an effect on our souls and minds when communicated through the language of the heart.

Words spoken through the language of the heart can be heard only when they come from another heart. This means that we have to train our hearts to speak to other hearts. Rumi believes that all human beings are endowed with the capacity to speak this language. As a matter of fact, the Islamic intellectual tradition holds that the heart is an epistemic organ as important as the mind and the intellect. The heart is not just the abode of feelings and emotions. It is also a depository of thoughts, ideas and meanings. One of the costly mistakes of modern philosophy was to turn the human heart, the seat of blissful and realized knowledge, into a purely sentimental and psychological faculty. cont’d


A Rhythm For Change

A Rhythm For Change

Sometimes people look for the quick fix–that one thing that will suddenly change their life. More times than not, the more we look for that one quick fix the less often we find it; or the quick fix turns out to be a traumatic life-changing event that is not what we had hoped for.

What would the result be if we were to lift our trajectory by just one degree? We did this 7-years ago when we started the Men’s Fellowship Network. Today, we have collectively invested over 20,000 man-hours in contemplative conversations on male spirituality and I would venture to say our lives are transforming.

Over time we have witnessed several transformations within our circle. One beautiful example is our brother, Kevin Wood, who has created and produced his first album in several years. It reflects his heartwarming journey of transformation.


More of Kevin’s music.

About the Monday Night Circles

About the Monday Night Circles

I invite you to pause a few moments and let me share a little about our counter-intuitive approach to the men’s spiritual circles in the Men’s Fellowship Network.

Check us out: Monday Nights, 7pm at Unity Church of the Hills – 9905 Anderson Mill Rd, Austin, TX 78750

I sat together with a friend one night within the dark night of his soul. I held for him a greater truth, the essence of which he could not see. I held it until he was eventually able to shed enough of what no longer served him, and was able to see the spark of light that had been within him all along. It was the spark of his true spirit; his goodness and his gifts. It gave me pause. I later realized that sitting with him was his gift to me and it inspired me to produce this short video about holding sacred space. After I finished making this video and put the music to it I realized the title of the guitar piece was “Diagonal” by Richard Crandell. Perhaps a touch of Divine order at play here… Clay Boykin


Circles of Men by Clay Boykin is available on Amazon.

Don’t go it alone.