Raymond L. Wheeler, DMin

Musings about leadership


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Lift Your Management Skill to a New Level


Lift: Five Practices Great Managers do Consistently is now available on Amazon! Why another book on management? Because managers have a difficult job and need support and encouragement. The skills great managers engage to lift the morale and performance of their teams are within the reach of anyone who applies these five practices. I am inspired by what great managers accomplish in their teams. I have worked as a manager in the private and non-profit sectors. Managing can be rewarding.

I set out to determine what made great managers great. I saw that great managers help their employees thrive and increase performance – but I wanted to know what they did to get there. So, I interviewed, observed, and researched the activities of great managers. My quest resulting in identifying five practices all great managers employ. Great managers develop high-performance employees by instilling a sense of ownership instead of being a dictator, working facts rather than emotion, getting to know their people and themselves, managing activities instead of harping on results, and building a climate of hope, not cynicism. (See Case Studies here.)

I ask hard questions about management practices and provide insights with real-world examples. This isn’t just a feel-good nod to management, it is a collection of easy to use tools and exercises designed to instill the five practices all great managers have in common.

I wrote this book to give managers a way forward to improve the way they manage their teams. LIFE: Five Practices Great Managers Do Consistently is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. Buy it today and start on a journey of discovery and change!


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Engage Diverse Populations – Be a Learner


Engaging diverse populations in the church both locally and globally predictably generates conflict. This is true from the first day of the church’s existence in Acts and remains so to this day. “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.” (Acts 6:1 NIV) Such conflict arises out of competing loyalties, divergent assumptions, and contending values. Hence, I engage diverse populations with three primary commitments.

First, I have a commitment to remain present and curious. It is easy to withdraw at the first tension felt in engaging cultures that differ or even regional differences within the same culture. I have learned along the way to take a deep breath and stay in the discomfort long enough to learn what the other’s perspective is. Routinely I enter such situations, whether the classroom, a local congregation, or denominational or organizational governance body with a verbal commitment to be a learner. Typically the statement sounds something like this, “I see that we come to this meeting (or class) from a variety of perspectives. Given that, I make two commitments to you. First, I will be as clear as possible in my communication, please ask questions if I am unclear. Second, when it comes to understanding cultural or gender differences that exist between us I am your student. I can only know your perspective if you teach me. So, if I offend you, it is not intentional. It is ignorance that only you can help me understand and be aware of.”

Second, I have a commitment to recognize and encourage the capacity of the group I am meeting with to address their context and think through their challenges and solutions as a facilitator not a dictator. The apostles asked the Hellenistic Jews to identify their solution givers. The apostles did not select the deacons. They did provide a parameter that got the process of selection and then solution development going. Likewise in facing diverse populations I attempt to limit my input to helpful parameters or possibilities that the group must work through using their own assumptions, values, and allegiances. Assuming the capacity and capability of the group to engage the realities of the gospel in the context of their frame of reference works similarly to The Pygmalion Effect – the group rises to the occasion of my belief in them.

Third, and this is where I have experienced the best bonding and trust, I eat with them. It sounds amazingly simple – and it is. When I demonstrate respect for their culture by eating their food I join their social/familial network. I was once invited by my Pakistani neighbor to enjoy a meal with him and his family, all of whom were visiting from Pakistan. I faced predictable scrutiny and suspicion as a Christian among Muslims. Other than my host, everyone was very reserved until I dished up a serving of every course. I sat with the men who waited to see my response to the spiciest yogurt like dish. I took a big scoop with bread and meat (as I had seen them do) while an audible gasp rushed across the room. I opened my mouth popped the mixture in and munched with a smile of delight. The room broke into applause, smiles, and conversations started from every direction. 

The church is always diverse where people live out authentic faith – encountering cultural and ethnic diversity is unavoidable around the God who loves the world. Perhaps the best overall advise? Be child-like in your approach to learning. You don’t have to “have it all together.” You just have to be easily approachable and engaging.