As I write this I am sitting in a busy cafe in downtown London, admiring the beauty of the architecture, art and hundreds of years of development. I take it all in, amazed and astounded by people’s creativity. Here there are beautiful buildings and parks, amazing walking areas and shops that are creative and good-looking in all their design. I am here because of work, church and a mission conference, speaking to a large minority group. But in between I have time to be a tourist too.
I love beauty- that little extra to make the society work better for everyone. This morning I went for a run. Looking at buildings and churches, parks and even the smallest details like fences and garbage bins, I realize that back at home I live in an area that has some areas to improve in. At home it would be impossible to go for a nice run as the ones that are ruling my streets are the street dogs. And the garbage- well, it’s not worth mentioning. Don’t misunderstand me, I love where I am living, but these things also show differences in leadership. When I say leadership I mean values, morals and what I will call “creative standard”.
Who are the most valuable in our community, in our work place and in our cities? As in my own little town, the dogs have more value than people as long as they are ruling the street. It’s not necessarily the mayor’s or City Hall’s clear values, but as long as they don’t see the value of people’s lives and children are afraid to go in certain streets, and I am terrified of going for a run, it is revealing that the dogs have more value than my life and health.
If we value people we will create walking areas, plant bushes and trees and keep it clean. Some will say that finances are the issue, but I will say no, it always starts with the mindset and our values. People will act and react based on their environment and sometimes it doesn’t take much to bring some good changes. Plant some flowers; paint a wall, clean up a dirty area and bring out beauty and you will see that people will look differently on life. That is giving people value and when a leader does this it is amazing what can take place.
If you were to define your moral standard where would it be? The scale is from 1 to 10, where 10 is the best. I don’t know many people that would say theirs is a 1 or a 2. We tend to think that we are a bit over the middle or higher. Daily I meet people who will tell me that because we are in this place or that place we cannot do things with the moral standard that we would like. I think we are the ones who should set the standard. With my background and work I think there are some principles that we can work with.
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” If we want a well functioning society we all need to contribute. We can disagree in what way and how, but we all know that it is our taxes that have to pay for police, hospitals, fire departments, schools and the running of our society. At the same time, mayors and City Hall need to fight corruption like it is the worst sin of every society. If people are to give to Caesar, then Caesar needs to be transparent and make sure that he stays in his position for the right reasons: serving the people.
Moral standard in our organisations will often be tested. I just said no to someone who asked me for bribe because I knew that that kind of a person is the cancer in every society and someone had to say no.
We are put to test from time to time and I believe we are to uphold a good standard. As a leader I work hard to delegate the overseeing of finances to people, having transparent systems and checking in all the time. I don’t ever want to come into a position where I would be questioned about financial issues. That is my responsibly in front of the people I lead and my supporters.
At the same time, moral standard regarding the opposite sex is also a leader’s responsibility. I believe that every organisation should have guidelines and clarity around this. I have written about this before and I am saddened when I see #metoo knowing that behind this is a sad statistic of moral failure where the opposite sex has felt overstepped and abused. Leaders should deal with this in a humble and honest way. We can talk about it and we can create environments where it is safe and open.
If you are the one in your organisation that sits on all the power, it’s time to change. Delegated power is the best thing for everyone, and we delegate power, not only task. There is a story about a Roman solider that asked for something from the Man whose birthday we just celebrated. He said, “I am under leadership and I have people under my leadership, I am under power and I hold power over people.”
I love working with creative people and in one way or another we are all creative. Really? Yes, we are created by the most creative One- in His image. So yes, we are all creative. For years I worked with an amazing friend and musician. Oh he loved it, give him a song and he was there, making music and playing on all kinds of instruments. It brought a lot of joy. I was reminded of him today as I passed street musicians with wonderful voices and talents. Make room for them. Dare to have a piano or guitar in your workplace, and from time to time let it fill the room with wonderful music.
I have seen art, photography and graffiti in all kinds of ways and it’s amazing, filling the walls and the street. It’s a gift to any society to have people gifted to fill both private and public rooms with all kinds of art. Today I passed many preforming artists at the Trafalgar Square. Great job, and thank you for making the effort to create this in this city.
Architects and city planners who create beauty and spaces that people can enjoy also create systems that are workable for the society. I believe that the more creative room we give in our organisations the more strength we gain from it. So let music flow, let art be seen and heard and let’s promote and encourage people that can see the future, not only the now. Future tellers can sometimes be misunderstood as dreamers or visionary, but without dreams there is no hope and with out hope, life fails. Dreams and visions are the energy in every society and if someone did not dream of the coffee place I sit in right now or the beautiful building I just passed, it would never have come to be. In all leadership we need to stand on a set of values, morals and creative standards to see development and growth.
Until next time, build on a solid ground of good values and strong morals, and give room for creativity to raise you to new standards.