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King Solomon: Ancient Insight for Modern Times

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

CBN.com - If I were to ask you point blank who King Solomon was, inevitably the answer would somehow involve the concept of wisdom, being the son of David, or the author of the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon.  But what about leadership?

In his book, The Leadership Wisdom of Solomon, author Pat Williams points out that King Solomon left us 28 profound leadership strategies that are just as applicable by today’s standards as they were three centuries ago.

CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Williams to discuss these time honored leadership principles, the seven sides of leadership, and a few contemporary leaders that we can learn a thing or two from.

Whenever you hear the name King Solomon from the Old Testament you automatically think of wisdom.  He was also a great leader.  Why do you think his leadership capabilities get lost in the shuffle at times?

Somehow he’s gotten that one label, that one title, and nobody goes beyond that.  But he was so much more.

Is this a book for professional leaders or is it for anyone?

Well, I think, the argument would be, Chris, everybody is a leader. You may not be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, but you’re leading your family, or you’re coaching a little league team.

You’re a leader. You’re in a leadership position. That’s right. You may be the head of the cheerleaders at the high school. You’re the cheerleader coach. If you’re leading 12 young women Solomon has a word for you.

As you were going through the process of writing this book, is there any one leadership principle that you sat there and thought, “Wow, I never really realized that. That’s a crucial leadership concept.”?

I think it would be the one of temptation. Leaders are in a position of authority. They’re visible. We’ve got a tempter out there who never lets up on us. The higher we go on the food chain, I think, the greater the risk of temptation. And let’s face it, Solomon got tempted, he fell. He fell. He started chasing the wrong females and got all caught up in that, and it can be so addictive. And we, as Christian leaders, we’re not immune or exempt from addictions. Satan is extraordinarily smart, and he’s very relentless, and he knows where we’re weak, and he just delights in pulling leaders down. Almost daily, you see leaders falling. And it’s usually over women. It’s over alcohol. It can be gambling. I mean, those temptations, it could be drugs or whatever. Those temptations are there, and you’ve got to battle it every day, and Solomon did not battle hard enough. He succumbed and it led him off on a side path, and we lost track of him as a leader.

Very early in your book, you discuss the seven sides of leadership. Could you share a little bit about these very critical ideals?

As you study (Ronald) Reagan, as you study (Franklin) Roosevelt, as you study all of them.  Study Paul as a leader. Study Jesus as a leader. Every time you study a great leader, each one has these seven sides.

The first one is vision. Great leaders see out over the horizon. They see the future before it gets here. They see before others, and more than others, and a wider spectrum than others. It’s crystal clear in their mind. While the rest are thinking, “We don’t see that.”

Leaders have to have direction. They have to have goals. They have to be pointing toward something or it makes no sense at all. Secondly, they have got to be able to communicate this vision they have. That’s the key that many leaders fail at. They may have a magnificent vision, but they just can’t get it across to anybody else. So in communicating a vision, you’ve got to believe first of all, it’s important to do it. Secondly, you have to do it clearly and distinctly, and concisely. Three, you’ve got to communicate optimism. Number four, you’ve got to communicate hope. Five, you’ve got to communicate motivation and inspiration. As your people are coming along with you, you’ve got to keep motivating and inspiring all the time. And the sixth thing I’ve learned is you’ve got to do it publicly in front of other people. And that’s where the fear factor comes in. The number-one fear in America: speaking it.

A third thing we talk about are people skills. Leaders care about people, and they’re interested in people, and they have empathy for people. They’re not just numbers, you know, that they’re pushing to get more production, or win more games. They truly care. Number four, character counts in leadership. Old-fashioned stuff like honesty and integrity, and responsibility, and a work ethic, and a humble spirit, courage; and I think at the end of the day you can only go as high on the leadership ladder as your character will allow you. You see enough character failures in leadership these days. It can be very depressing, very discouraging. But you can’t compromise in the character department.

Those are just four of the seven to give you a taste of I am writing about.

There have been so many great leaders throughout the course of history.  You have already mentioned a few.  Do you have a favorite leader?

I’m a huge Abraham Lincoln fan. I’ve read voraciously on him. He was a man of simple means who was thrown into the world’s greatest crisis in the most difficult time in American history. One quick thought. When you think about the Revolutionary war period, and the Civil War period, we had both (George) Washington and Lincoln. There they were. I’m not sure our nation would be where it is today without those two giants. It’s like the Lord raised up these two. We haven’t seen one like them since. Really, some would argue (Ronald) Reagan was that, and (Franklin) Roosevelt certainly dealt with a lot of stuff and was a strong leader. But, I mean, we’ve had these great leaders at the moment of crisis, and maybe crisis brings out the best in leadership. I mean, that forces you to be someone you didn’t think you were capable of. But Abraham Lincoln is a fascinating study, so human, so real, so down to earth.

Using Solomon’s principles, what’s the best way for a leader to respond to a crisis? Inevitably, every leader deals with a crisis, large or small. But, one way or the other, in some way you’ve got to find an effective way to deal with it, and to get past it.

One, anticipate it as quickly as you can. When it first starts arising, nip it, get on it immediately. Nip it as quickly as you can, deal with it as quickly as you can. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem’s going to be. And many leaders will ignore the crisis. They see it, they hear it, and it’s brewing. Maybe it’s in the personnel department, got some real friction down here in this department, and the immediate reaction is, “Eh, I don’t want to deal with it. Maybe it will go away.”

You can’t be thinking that way. Let’s get on this immediately. Number two, do not panic. If you panic, your whole organization’s just going to read you. Follow what they see with you. Do not panic. Remain calm and poised in a crisis. Number three, initially involve as few people as you can. Inform only the people who are really impacted by this. And that way, 800 people in your organization may not even know about if you get it handled within reason. Number five, don’t lie to the media.   If you start lying, they’re going to kill you. But if you deal with them honestly, right from the get-go, or if you tell them I can’t talk to you now. Just be straight. Don’t run from a crisis. Anybody can operate in times that are good. Crisis and problems really test us; but at the end of the day, they make us His leaders. George Washington led in crisis, so did Lincoln. And so did Roosevelt. So did (Winston) Churchill. That’s why we admire them. That’s why we write books endlessly about them.

And that is after people read this book about the leadership principles of Solomon, what do you want them to get out of it? What do you want them to take away from the reading experience?

What I hope more than anything is that they step up and realize and look in the mirror and say, “I’m a leader.” That’s half the battle. “I am a leader.” I’m leading my children here. I’m leading this family. In fact, I wear maybe five or six leadership hats. I’ve got one on at work. I head up that division. Then I’m working with youth sports every weekend. And I’ve got a family here. Plus I’m a deacon at church. I hadn’t viewed myself as a leader, but now I’m leading.  The bottom line is when people read this book, I want them to sit up and say, Daggone it; I’m a leader.  I’m not embarrassed. I’m a leader. And I’m going to follow these principles and let Solomon be my guide here for awhile, and see how I do.

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