Testing Your Leadership Power

Testing Your Leadership Power


I think I was wrong last week when I called Fr. Mark’s wonderfully crazy move an act of trust.  If you missed last week’s RFL, I told how our pastor at St. Augustine’s in Oakland, California flipped the service – and all cautious rationality – on its head by randomly distributing money at the collection time instead of collecting our random gifts.  He  told us that we as a parish were going to raise $65,000 to build a home for children orphaned by the scourge of AIDS in a village in Kenya.  And he said that if he gave us money – as in the parable of the Talents – he thought we would multiply that money.  My son Jack got $20 and I got an envelope with $100.  So, why was that not trust?

Well, it was.  Some of that money probably just walked away last week.  I imagine Fr. Mark “trusted” that would happen; human nature is what it is.  And he “trusted” that some people would at least return on Easter Sunday what they had received.  But it was not trust but BELIEF – over and above trust – which caused him to think that people would actually bring back more money.  Sure enough, yesterday he said one man called him a couple hours after Mass to say had already doubled the money he’d received; and a group of about five women who are just joining the church raised $824 last week in a garage sale.

So, I think it’s cool to trust your employees or your kids or even your spouse, but to believe in them is an altogether greater matter.  All week I’ve been thinking (and I’m doing this):  what if you gave your employees $250 and said, “make us better with this.”  Well, could you do it in the first place?  Could you move beyond trust to belief?  To me trust says, “I know you won’t let me down.”  Belief says, “I know you will do great things.”

What might someone do with $250? Buy a phone headset to serve customers better. Give a frustrated customer a break. Give their $250 or pool it with others to help someone in the office who is struggling to make ends meet.  Give the receptionist flowers for the next 6 months.  Buy a printer to replace the one that’s driving everyone crazy. Spend it on a software program that will let them do better design. Host a small reception for a customer, a 10-year employee anniversary, or a mom or dad returning to work after having a baby.  Send Starbucks cards to customers or staff who’ve been great to work with.  By the way, in the world of Everyday Leadership, you don’t have to ask for the “leaders” of the company to do this; you can lead, yes with your own money :-).

I’ll keep you posted on the results of Fr. Mark’s belief in us.  A few people asked me how they could help with the Kenya orphanage; here’s a link.  And I would love to hear from anyone who takes my belief in them seriously – at the very least to think about it, perhaps customize a gift of belief, and especially to try it.  It would be fun for us to share the results with each other on such an experiment in

Leading with your best believing self!


  • Re your comment on “leading with your own money” here is one of “The Laws of the Navy” required memorization for the Plebe class at the U. S. Naval Academy:

    Dost deem that thy vessel needs gilding,
    And the dockyard forbears to supply,
    Put thy hand in thy pocket and gild her,
    There are those who have risen thereby.

    We were drydocked in the Boston Navy Yard and the ship’s heating system could not supply sufficient heat to the crew’s sleeping spaces. No problem when afloat, with the spaces below the waterline, but not so hot when exposed to air temps of 10 below. No help from the Yard so the officers chipped in and bought 4 good sized electric space heaters. Best money I ever spent.

    • Bill,
      Totally cool. I’d never heard of that “law.” And your personal embellishment brought it to life! It’s amazing how foreign the notion has become to us that we might take matters into our own hands, and dig those hands into our own pockets.

  • Dan,

    I love this idea. I am going to try it at my small company. I’ll let you know the results.

    I am also member at Fellowship for Today, an interfaith new thought church in East Lansing Michigan. This idea of belief is fundamental in their teachings. Their belief is not just in the members of our congregation, it is an a world where the concept of lack is an illusion and there is enough for all of us to flourish. It is only our fear of lack that leads us to hold back our gifts, talents, love, money, etc…

    I think your wise Fr. Mark knows that in giving he helps to release that fear and open you to your own belief. Not just belief in yourselves and your fellow man, but more importantly belief in the Divine. Miracles happen when we step out to achieve some good. It will be interesting to see what comes of this project. My belief is that your church will raise the money for the orphanage in a way that also gives a gift to everyone that participates. It will increase their faith and belief in their own gifts, the gifts of others, and the gift of the Divine.

    I have seen this dynamic at work countless times in the model that Fellowship for Today uses. In fact they never pass a basket, just leave a donation box at the back and bless the fact that enough will be provided to achieve what is needed.

    I have also seen this concept work in my life and so I’m excited to use it in my business. I’m also wondering if it might not be a great thing to do with my family. What if we gave a sum to each member and asked them to do something with it to improve our family. I’ll try that one too and report back!

    Thanks! Susan

    PS I also will make a donation to your orphanage!

    • Susan,
      Awesome ideas. I can tell you that the spirit in the church the week after the reverse collection was altogether different.
      I am VERY excited to see how your two experiments go!

  • The trust/belief in church by the pastor is outstanding. I wonder how many CEOs would actually allow their employees, every and any one of them, to do ANYTHING they felt would benefit the company with “FREE” money. And if they would say YES they would do it, even though they have not tried this, why are not they doing it now – i.e. allowing their employees to do ANYTHING to benefit the company. WHY? Because they do not trust in their employees or believe that they are able to do ANYTHING to benefit the company – except to do as THEY ARE TOLD.

    • Ray,
      I think it’s hard being a CEO. There’s a lot to do and to think about to make sure revenues exceed costs. When that means having employees it’s a lot of pressure.
      Maybe you’re being a LITTLE hard on them, no?

  • Hey, Dan. Great story. I will make a “matching contribution” of $120 for the orphanage to cover what you got. Just send me the details.

    Uncle Frank

    • Uncle Frank rocks! And is a heckuva time management teacher if anyone needs someone who is fun, funny, and very insightful!

  • […] do this; you can lead, yes with your own money.P.P.S.  As to using your own money, check out the very cool comment from Bill Hart; it’s the first comment last week.AKPC_IDS += "5784,";Popularity: 1% [?]       […]

  • >