Posted 2 years 226 days ago ago by Hugh Ballou 0 Comments
...Is divided into four sections:
In my leadership work, I group skills and strategies into the four areas above. First, Foundations give the leader the clarity to know how to lead the team because the final result in clear; second, build and maintain effective relationship to assist in getting to the vision; next, develop effective systems allowing each team member to excel and to work together efficiently; and finally, create balance in work, in life, and between work and life.
The format for 2010 consists of interviews with Christian leaders from many different types of leadership styles and perspectives - some pastors, some musicians, some lay leaders, some Christian business professional, and more. This month’s edition of Monday Morning Email's
“Leadership Tools” is an interview with George Fraser
, creator of FraserNet, the largest African-American network in existence and author of two best selling books.
George C. Fraser is Chairman & CEO of FraserNet, Inc. He is considered by many to be the new voice for African Americans and one of the foremost authorities on networking and building effective relationships. Mr. Fraser is the author of two books: Success Runs In Our Race; The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African American Community (a critically acclaimed bestseller) and Race for Success: The Ten Best Business Opportunities For Blacks In America (selected as one of ten best business books of the year by Booklist). Both were published by the William Morrow Company.
Read more about Dr. Fraser by clicking HERE.
The following interview is summarized below. If you would like to listen to the interview or download it for future listening click HERE.
Hugh Ballou: George Fraser, this is Hugh Ballou. Welcome to the interview for Creator Magazine's Monday morning email for the October edition. Thank you for your time today.
George Frazer: Thank you so much for having me, Hugh. I appreciate it, thank you.
Ballou: Can you give folks that aren't familiar with George Frazer a snapshot view of your background? And your passions and what's so important about leadership in the church? A snapshot of who George is…
Frazer: Well, I'm born and raised in Brooklyn, New York to a family of eleven children, eight boys and three girls. My father came to this country in the early nineteen hundreds from Guyana and married a beautiful sister from Lumpkin, Georgia. They lived in Brooklyn, New York. And so at an early age my mother became mentally ill. I was three years old. And she was institutionalized for the balance of her life. So our father, who was a cab driver and who had to work twelve to fourteen hours a day, couldn't take care of eleven children. So we were orphans. I was orphaned at 3, stayed in an orphanage from 3 to 5. And because no one would take 11 children, we were broken up into 3's. And I spent the balance of my young life, until I was 17 years old growing up on the toxic streets, in toxic foster homes. And I grew up with my older sister Emma, and my younger brother Joseph. And so because no one thought I was college material I ultimately earned a high school diploma in woodworking from Thomas Edison High School and, the rest is history. I went on - there's is an old saying Hugh that its not how you start its how you finish.
And so ultimately, understanding that my life would be dictated by the people that I surrounded myself with, hopefully smarter and better than me,I pursued that path of surrounding myself with people who were smarter than me, I understood at a very, very early stage in life, maybe it was intuitive, I don't know what it was, maybe it was God, that my life was going to be different.
And I say this all the time, “If you want to change your life, change your relationships.” I had to change my relationships. I had to really escape from my family. And because I did that, I had the right type of mentors and models around me, and I spent an enormous amount of time cultivating, nurturing, and building the right kind of relationships throughout my life. Then having the gift of reading, I connected with the whole idea of learning. I was not that much into enjoying education. Education in a sense bored me, but I learned to love learning. I loved learning, and that opened a door to reading. And how I got to love learning, Hugh is that, as a foster child, living in toxic foster homes, I noticed that every time I demonstrated to my foster parents or any adult that I knew a little something because I read something and I articulated that to them, they showed me some love.
So I connected love to learning deep in my subconscious mind and then once you love learning then you have an insatiable appetite to know about anything and everything and so even today I read 100 books a year and that's in a sense what saved me, being self taught in many respects. Although I have honorary Doctorate degrees in other things, I do not have an earned degree. And I say this all the time, education is profoundly important, but it's not enough. You know, you got to have interpersonal and people skills. So, growing with those skills, learning those skills, meeting the right people, influenced me profoundly. I ended up with those relationships working for three of the most important companies in my life - the most formative years of my life- Proctor and Gamble, 13 years as, as a leader, Vice President of United Way, and then as an executive with the Ford Motor Company and at 42, I decided that, even in spite of a modest formal education that I had achieved, at greater levels and people with Harvard and MBAs and that there was something to that. And that I needed to think about that, analyze that, assess that, and try to articulate that in any way that I could, either through the written or spoken word to others, that perhaps there was some information that might be useful, and so I began down that path with my own business, FraserNet, which I founded some 20 years ago. Which fundamentally is a principle-centered global leadership network, focused on teaching and training others how to build effective relationships, how to build networks, and ultimately use the whole idea of economic development in culturally specific communities to empower a community and to empower a people.
And so I've been blessed because I'm just an instrument, a vessel and a tool. I'm not the message; I'm just the messenger. I was blessed through God to be able to sit still and to get out a pad of paper and then through a really higher power I have written three best selling books, Success Runs in Our Race: The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the Black Community and then my second book Race for Success: The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks in America both published by Harper Collins, and then my most recent book I wrote for a general market called Click: Ten Truths For Building Extraordinary Relationships, and, there’s something that most people don't know and that is that most writers can't speak, and most speakers can't write. If you can do both in America you're in huge demand.
I was gifted to be able to do both and so I ended up being called to speak before audiences around the world on the subject matter that I have written about so passionately for the past 20-plus years as a speaker and as a writer and then as a founder of a networking organization. This goes back to practicing what you preach, and teach what one evangelizes. I started and built the largest African American network in America - 51,000 top black professionals, business owners, and community leaders speaking all over the world on the subject of relationship building regardless of color and putting on conferences, workshops, seminars, tele-seminars, webinars -- all of them focused on the power and importance of the relationships in our lives and how to build effective networks and how that is applicable to 21st century leadership. So that's a long answer to your question but I had to get it out that way.
Ballou: Well it helps us understand George Frazer the person. And in my conversations with you I know that your faith is an important part of what you do. And I know that you have some messages for church leaders. The challenge is you know so much, is to put the top messages into this short interview. But I'm gonna lead you through my 4 areas of leadership that I write about for Creator Magazine's Monday Morning Email.
Ballou: And as you know, the first area is about Foundations, which is about core values, vision, planning skills, and personal skills. So in the area Foundations, what's a piece of advice that you'd like to share with church leaders that is important to their work?
Frazer: I think it's important for church leaders to understand that managers make widgets but leaders make change. Leaders in a sense make a ruckus. They motivate, they connect, and they leverage - that's very, very important - and what I think people are afraid of isn't failure Hugh, I think people are afraid of blame and criticism and we choose not to lead or to be remarkable because we're worried about criticism and leaders - Servant Leaders truly understand this.
And they understand that the easiest thing to do to anything is to react. You know, it's intuitive. It's instinctive, and by the way it's dangerous. I think the second easiest thing, and leaders again understand this, is to respond. And they respond with thoughtful action. And these are some of the foundational things that our leaders must internalize.
I think the hardest thing to do is to initiate, to cause events, if you will, and to make change. And that's what leaders are invested in, the power to do is to make change. And, there's an old analogy, I know you've heard it, that a thermometer is an indicator, but a thermostat changes the environment in sync with the outside world. Well leaders are thermostats they’re not thermometers and one of the issues with our politicians is that most of them are thermometers, they, sort of criticize, or point, or just whine, or just put their thumb or finger up and see which way the wind is blowing.
I think the foundational secret of leadership is very simple. I think you do what you believe in. You paint a picture of the future for your congregation. You go there. And people will follow you. Stand up. Take a position whether its popular or not. You spread the idea. You clear out any obstacles that are in the way of that idea and you be brave. I think also some of the foundational thoughts for our leaders and especially our spiritual leaders, is it we know that hope is not a strategy. Hope is not leadership.
Leadership in our church today has to be about focus. It has to be about drive. It has to be about commitment. It has to be about caring. It has to challenge the status quo so that we move our congregations and our people in the right direction. It has to be about curiosity. I think leadership has to be about communicating your vision of the future. Leadership has to be about connecting people.
Leaders have to be good listeners. Foundational leaders have to persist. Leaders cannot care about who gets the credit. And leaders have to have imagination. And our pastoral leadership in the church today, leaves some of those aspects to be desired. And we hear so much about charismatic leadership. I think being charismatic doesn't make you leader. I think being a leader makes you charismatic, and I think it's a choice. It's not a gift. People always say, “Well it's a gift.” No, I think it's a choice not a gift. I think leadership is really the art of giving people sort of a platform for spreading ideas that work. That's why great churches have multiple ministries.
People come forth with expertise in specific areas in those churches - and, ideas. And they are supported, and they are cheered on by a good and righteous thinking pastor who's providing the right kind of leadership and spreading ideas that work. I think the very nature of leadership is that you're not doing what's been done before. And, if you are, you're following and you're not leading. And I think leaders know that, when they face a challenge - and they're going to have challenges (We were just talking about that earlier) - they have to observe and they have to analyze the situation, they have to devise a plan whether it's directly for the congregation or other ministries that the congregation is supporting. And they have to move decisively and if things go wrong (and this is life, and certain things will go wrong) and if they get overwhelmed, and often times I'm a leader and I get overwhelmed, but I have to bounce back. I have to recover quickly.
We know this is what leaders have to do. And that is a long answer to your question but I think those are some of the foundational component parts, the foundational thoughts and ideas. If you're going bring Servant Leadership to our community, and, I think that's, in essence, the new thing, is that, if we must move away from what I call, transactional leadership, and transitional leadership, and move towards transformational leadership, that we must see this in our church, and I think our transformational leaders are our servant leaders. And they are our most humble, our most reverent, our most open, our most teachable, our most respectful, and our most caring leaders. So, what I look for in a pastor, in the church that I have attended in over 40 years is in fact a Servant Leader who is about transformation and helping his congregation or her congregation think through the challenges of the day.
Ballou: Perfect. And you and I never talked about transformational leadership. And that is what I teach. And that's a perfect segue. We are leaders. We lead people. And so leading people, I think there's a relationship piece to this. So building and maintaining what's important about the relationship piece to fulfilling what you just talked about.
Frazer: Well you know I think though that I'm a businessperson and, in a way, the church is. They are businesses. There is a business component obviously there is a spiritual and moral component certainly, but there is also a business component to a well-run, well-oiled church with infrastructure and support systems.
I say often when I speak around the country that business is about relationships. Without relationships you have no business. Without relationships you have no business being in business. In fact, the business we're all really in is in the business of building relationships. So I think relationships in both the hard and soft side - The hard side being the business the soft side being what I alluded to and talked about earlier the spiritual motivation of a community of people - really comes down to how well you ultimately cultivate, nurture and develop your emotional intelligence in your relationship building intelligence. I have built an entire career, a life, a wonderful life, a very productive meaningful life on understanding the power and importance of relationships. And I think therein lies one of the key elements of growing a congregation. It's not only do you have all of the educational credentials, your doctor's of divinity, and all the preparation that we do so that we learn scripture, and learn how to articulate scripture and preach and teach and evangelize. Those are all very, very critical components, but at the end of the day, when the sermon is over, and the soft and hard business of the church have to be done, it's going to require people. It's going to require your interaction with a wide variety of people.
There's a biblical passage that I use all the time, John 5:30, and Jesus said "I can of myself do nothing.” Now this was Jesus. Jesus understood that he could not do it on his own, by himself, in a vacuum. So why would anybody think that they could achieve anything of significance, anything worth talking about, on their own, by themselves in a vacuum? So if in fact we are dependent upon working with and through other people, and we are, then we need to develop the skills necessary to take our congregation, to take our lives, to take our communities and take our families to the highest level. Which to me requires spending more time than most people think they have, working on cultivating, nurturing, and building relationships that work at home and in the community.
There's a Harvard study Hugh, that says that effective people, people who are able to get things done, spend about 14 percent of their time working on cultivating, nurturing, and building relationships at work, at home, and in community. But, successful people, people who are at the top rungs of every ladder in America, regardless of position regardless of sector, spent 54 percent of their time working on cultivating, nurturing, and building relationships. I spend more than 60 percent of my time working on cultivating, nurturing, and building relationships. I work at home in this community and I'm on the road nearly 25 days a month, 250,000 air miles a year, four and a half million frequent flier miles, but I spend nearly 60 percent of my time working on cultivating, nurturing, and building the relationships necessary to take my life, my family, and my community to the next level. I work on that in 3 specific areas, and I do this every single day, I'm working on it right now as we speak.
One, this is the advice I would give to anyone listening; you must work on your personal network. These are your close circle of friends, these are the people that cheer you on, these are the people that love you, these are the people who hug you, these are the people that lift you up. Let's call that your network at home.
Then, we must work on what I call an operational network, and these are the people that help you get specific tasks done in life. Whether it's the team that you're working on in your place of business, whether it's the team you're working on at your church, if you're in some special ministry, if you're a deacon or deaconess. Whether it's the team that you're working on in some special initiative in the community, social or civic or paternal sorority. These are the people that help you to get those specific tasks done in life. And they're different than your personal network. So let's call that your network at work. That's your operational network.
And then the third and final network that you have to continually work on is your strategic network. And these are the people who are smarter than you. These are the people who will drag you into the twenty-first century kicking, screaming, and crying. These are the people who could potentially be your mentors and your coaches, and your role models. These are the people who understand that you've got to reach down and lift up; you've got to reach back and pull forward.
You cannot be the smartest person in your network because if you're the smartest person in your network, you're in the wrong darn network, that's number 1. And most importantly, you cannot grow. Who is lifting you up? Who is helping you to grow? So let's call that your network in the community.
So you have your personal network - Your network at home. You have your operational network - Your network at work. And then you have your strategic network - And this is your network in the community. And this will take about sixty percent of your time to continually work on and cultivate and nurture and develop the relationships that you will need to take your life, to take your congregation, to take your community, to take your family to the next level. And those who are best at that will succeed at the highest rungs of the ladder.
I spent 13 years at Proctor and Gamble, and I've had some of the brightest people on the planet - It was really sort of the holding tank for Harvard MBA's, you know (the dream was to get your Harvard MBA and to get a brand position with P and G). So here (and I saw this often) here are 2 white males who are Harvard MBA's, and both are extraordinarily bright. One is a life long division manager at Proctor and Gamble and one is president of the company. Now they are both extraordinarily smart. How do you explain the difference? Why with the same education was one leading the organization, and the other leading, but at a much lower level? You explain it by the relationship building skills, the emotional intelligence - the ability to motivate, to inspire, and to encourage people, to work with and through each other, and to act as a team and to work for a cause greater than themselves. And, that Is the difference!
How did Barack Obama become president of the United States? And it wasn't his turn. How did that happen? Of course, extraordinary brainpower! If you don't have the knowledge and the education we don't even have anything to talk about. So of course that was there but he's not the smartest person in the world. Some people say Larry Summers, who graduated from MIT at 16 years old and went on to become the, the youngest Harvard professor at 29 - full tenured professor at 29 - he's smarter than Barack. But he was fired from Harvard, after 3 or 4 very bad years because of his interpersonal and people skills. So how do you explain it? You explain it because of superior interpersonal and people skills - your ability to cultivate, nurture, and to build relationships at multiple different levels, at work, at home, and in the community. The better you are at that, whether you are leading a church, leading a company, or a business, it doesn't matter. Whatever you're leading. The more skilled you are at that, the more effective you will be as a leader.
Ballou: Perfect. Now George, have you ever been to a boring, unproductive meeting?
Frazer: Yes, yes I have.
Ballou: Hope you've never lead one. Maybe you have. I know I have. I teach leadership, as you know, from the perspective of a musical conductor. And if we have bad rehearsals we're building in mediocrity or poor performance standards - so we got a performance, we have no hope of achieving excellence. So, instead we build in excellence in every note we play, every rehearsal. So, my position, coming from systems, how do we develop effective systems? So we have 2 more categories in the few minutes we have left. What are some points that you think are important?
We have a really strong vision that's really clear. We've got really good people who are better than we are that we work with. Now how do we put systems that honor those and help this move forward in a substantial manner?
Frazer: The most affective systems that I have either led or have been a part of have been systems in which I am fully engaged, that the conductor - I love the metaphor by the way - it’s a powerful metaphor because what is a conductor and this is really the lesson. A conductor takes all of the component parts, the violins and the trombones and disparate parts, and the conductor engages those parts, each of those parts, in a way that helps those instruments understand the power of music and synergy and engaging at the various levels in which they are engaged. So the violins may play, but they play softly. The trumpets may play with a shrill. And that's what the conductor does. He points his baton and he says, okay, this is where you come in and this is how you come in, and here is the music. This is where we're going, this the greater good, it's Beethoven's fifth symphony here. So that's what the conductor is. The conductor engages the instruments. And each instrument is clear in the instrument's mind, so to speak, as a metaphor, what role they play, how they must play it and the conductor manages that and makes sure that everybody is the best that they can be. And that's who you are. That's really what I'm doing to help each person understand their potential to contribute to this greater good.
You invite them in because of their potential, now some may not be maximizing that potential, some may not have rehearsed enough, some may not quite understand the music as it should be played relative to the leader's vision. And this is where the interaction and the training and the learning moments that transpire, but are done in such a way that a person feels needed and wanted and not belittled and not beaten up. That's what leaders do.
So, I think your metaphor of a conductor leading a great orchestra to play great music and, and by the way not all orchestras play great music - Not all teams win - It depends on its leadership and the infrastructure and systems training, engagement, compassion, understanding, knowledge, love - This all pours out of the leader. And the more people feel those things that we talked about earlier, the more profound leadership, the better the ultimate performance, and ultimately the bigger win.
Ballou: It's a win, win for everybody, especially, in the team - the buzz word today it teams, team ministry, team planning, team, team empowerment - so we're actually putting together teams in churches. A choir is a team in a way, and that's a defining moment for a leader. You move your hand, well, nothing happens until people follow.
Frazer: That's right.
Ballou: I don't know if you've ever been on the inside of a church staff, but it's - as I've heard one minister's wife describe it - a black hole! I don't care what size church. If it's a 100-member church or a 12,000-member church, still you have opportunities to eat up all your time.
Ballou: You've given us some really good tips on these first three elements. Now the fourth element is about balance. And, as you mentioned a minute ago, the trumpets are too loud, the oboe is flat, and the strings need to change the bowing. The leader takes charge. But we're, in a musical sense, creating balance. But in the leader sense, we're running meetings. We're leading processes. We're leading people. So there's a balance with assigning and delegating things to people. There’s a balance in the multiple priorities in life. There's a balance between work and personal life. And then in our own being, physical, mental, spiritual person that we are, we create balance. In the area of balance in our few minutes left here that you want to give us a tip for maintaining balance in our whole leadership program, itself.
Frazer: Yes, Hugh. And I take it out of my own life. As I said to you earlier today, sometimes I feel like a one armed paperhanger. But the reason that I am “extraordinarily productive” in other words I'm able to get things done. I don't just pontificate ad nauseum about them, talk about them, and analyze them. I get them done and move on to the next thing.
It is because I take my own time. I take my own time – A) I'm in no rush to do anything important. It doesn't have to be done by tomorrow. It has to be done when it's right, and when it's ready. As is the old commercial, you know, there will be no wine before it's time. I'm not rushing to do anything. If it's right, and when it's ready. So I take my time. I think it through. This has come with age and wisdom. I've made enough mistakes at 65 years old that, “been there, done that, got that tee shirt and umbrella.” So I'm takin' my time. I'm thinking it through.
And then I take my time to get it done and I take time for myself. This is extremely important. I do this everyday. I just have what I call meditation time where I just interrupt my day and have pure quiet time so my brain can revive and I can think and really meditate. I just think that too many of us are just rushing around to get everything done that we can get done in this power-packed 12-hour day that we have. I don't waste my time either. That's, that's another distinction here. I take my time. And I, take time for me and for my family so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, including my family, the work that I put in with my children and my 38-year marriage. I take time for that. I take 3 or 4 vacations a year. I go away. I take time, but I don't waste time. That's very, very important, because you see, time is the only wealth that God has given us.
Let me repeat that. Time is the only wealth that God has given us. And I will tell anyone in a New York minute, do anything but don't waste my time. I will get more money, but I will not get any more time. And I don't know how much time I have, and I don't want to know. But don't you waste it. So, I protect my time.
I've also learned how to say no. Now that's taken some time to do. And, and I've learned that everything that is good may not be right for you. Now it's good, but it's not particularly right for me. So in the management of my time, so that I could have more time for me, my family, and more time to make good decisions because I can think them through, I am really a protector of my time. And that's very, very important because, as I said earlier, it’s the only wealth that God has given us, it’s time and by the way we don't know how much time we have and you don't want to know either.
Ballou: Absolutely. George, this has been a wealth of information. I'm sure you could talk with much deeper information on any one of these topics. But this has been most helpful and I'm sure our readers will find it most helpful and I will have your bio and link to Fraser Net on the website. George Fraser I'm blessed by your presence in my life and by the wisdom that you shared today. Thank you for giving time and in your busy schedule.
Frazer: Oh God Bless you, Hugh. And this was time well spent.
Ballou: Ah. Thank you. It will be multiplied. You have a great day.
Frazer: God Bless.
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by Doug Lawrence
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