7 Symptoms of Insecure Leadership as Modeled by Herod the Great

image_for_Dec_5_blog_post (1)My new book, The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible, is based on research that identified 1,090 interactions between a leader and followers.[1]  Only one of these conversations is connected to the traditional Christmas story. The leader is Herod, and the followers are Magi from the east, along with leaders from the Jewish religious establishment. The situation is a search for a child king, signified by the star in the east.

It is ironic that a leader known as Herod the Great could be such an embodiment of insecurity in leadership. Matthew described his response to the inquiry from the group of Magi about a king born to the Jews in three words, “he was disturbed.” Herod’s reputation was such that upon hearing how he felt, “all Jerusalem” was disturbed with him (Matthew 2:3).

Everyone has some level of an identity crisis that fuels negative self-talk. John Adams, writing in his journal before the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774, said: “I wander alone, and ponder. I muse, I mope, I ruminate. We have not men fit for the times. We are deficient in genius, education, in travel, fortune—in everything I feel unutterable anxiety.”[2]

And who would join him at this meeting? Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, just to name a few. Not a bad list. Even the greatest leaders, deep down, wrestle with a measure of insecurity.

My first reaction to Herod’s insecurity was to write it off as an expression of his moral bankruptcy. But the more I’ve thought about it the more I believe that while few leaders could identify with what Herod did, we all relate to why he did it. The question isn’t, “Will I feel insecure?” but rather, “How will I deal with insecurity.”

The Power of Perspective in Leadership

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The Power of Perspective in Leadership

[Excerpted from Chapter 02 of my new book, The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.]

“The difference between leaders and followers is perspective. The difference between leaders and effective leaders is better perspective.” Dr. J. Robert Clinton

Perspective is to life what a scale is to a map. It helps us see clearly where we are in relation to where we’ve been and where we want to go. As Jesus-following leaders, we gain better perspective as we increasingly see and understand the circumstances of life from God’s vantage point. Jesus spoke to the importance of perspective when he said: “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34). But for leaders, perspective is more than important. It’s crucial.

The story of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore the land of Canaan is a case study in the power of perspective in leadership. At the Lord’s command, Moses identified one leader from each of the ancestral tribes to scout out the promised land of Canaan. The climactic statement in the report of the spies is one of the most interesting mash-ups of hyperbole and metaphor imaginable: “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Num. 13:33).

Perspective is a leadership differentiator. Leaders see what followers don’t. The most effective leaders see what other leaders don’t. Like Joshua and Caleb, we need better perspective. We grow in leadership effectiveness the more we learn to interpret life from God’s vantage point, which gives us a better perspective.

 Better Perspective on Ourselves

Self-awareness is the primary gateway into effective self-leadership. Each of us must understand ourselves well to lead ourselves well. A simple definition of self-awareness includes two facets: first, being honest with yourself about yourself and second, being honest about yourself with others.[1]

As Jesus-following leaders, we can be tempted to view self-awareness as an attempt to marry psychology and self-help with spiritual leadership. Not so. Every person’s journey of faith begins with an epiphany of self-awareness directed by the Holy Spirit. It starts with being honest with yourself about yourself—by admitting you are a sinner and incapable of changing on your own. Next comes being honest about yourself with others, especially God—by affirming how much you need Jesus as Savior.

Spiritual self-awareness begins with salvation but doesn’t end there. As self-aware leaders, we gain better perspective because we understand our strengths and gaps. We know who God made us to be, and how to leverage our strengths, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to do the good works God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

As we become highly self-aware, we discover new levels of confidence and clarity about how God has equipped us to add value to other individuals and contribute to a team. We come to understand where we should give priority to growth and how we are vulnerable to derailing our own leadership.[2]

The ten spies who spread a bad report among the Israelites did not have good perspective on themselves. Otherwise they never would have viewed themselves as grasshoppers. Better leadership perspective requires seeing ourselves more and more in line with how God sees us.

Overcoming Grasshopper Moments

In the book of Judges, Gideon experiences a grasshopper moment. An angel of the LORD approached him with a challenge to lead his people in battle against the Midianites. This story presents a classic contrast of perspectives.

Listen to Gideon’s perspective on himself: “How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judg. 6:15).

His words expose an important lesson. We can lose perspective when we compare ourselves with others. Gideon compared his clan to other clans, and himself to others in his family. Every leader understands this temptation. We compare who we are, and the role God has given us, with other leaders.

Sometimes we compare ourselves with people we believe have less capacity and status, because we want to feel more important. Other times we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with leaders who have bigger platforms for influence, and we end up feeding our insecurities. Comparison is a road with deep ditches on both sides. The Devil doesn’t really care which ditch you fall into.

In contrast, the angel of the LORD affirms God’s perspective on Gideon, saying, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior” (Judg. 6:12). The term mighty warrior could literally be translated mighty force. The Hebrew meaning can indicate a person as a mighty force because of great wealth, a strong army, or depth of character. If the first part of Judges 6:12 is true—“The LORD is with you”—then the last part of the verse is also true—“you are a mighty force”—regardless of whether you need resources, protection, or the strength of character to do what is right.

The validation of your leadership, like Gideon’s, has nothing to do with how you compare to others. It has everything to do with a better perspective on yourself, especially this assurance: The Lord is with you as you pursue what he has called you to do. Joshua and Caleb found confidence to take the promised land because they believed, “the LORD is with us” (Num. 14:9).

Learn more about the power of perspective in leadership in The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.


[1] This definition of self-awareness is modified from Daniel Goleman’s writing about emotional intelligence.

[2] I have developed a self-leadership resource called the Identity Profile Self-Awareness Tool (IPSAT), which is being used by individuals, as well as in churches, organizations and universities, to help people understand the unique combination of personality, strengths, skills, spiritual gifts, and passions. For more information visit myIPSAT.com.

What every leader needs to be effective


The Favor Principle

[Excerpted from Chapter 01 of my new book, The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.]

The favor principle says giftedness and training are not enough—to be effective as a leader you will need the favor of God.

The idea of favor is all through the Bible. When the Israelites left Egypt, God made the Egyptians “favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them whatever they asked for” (Ex 12:36). Ruth found favor with Boaz, first through his generosity in the fields and then as her kinsman redeemer. Ezra and Nehemiah found favor with kings who opened doors of opportunity and provided tangible support.

 Favor and Power

The favor of God moves in or through others to open doors for us to advance his kingdom, whereas the power of God moves in or through us to impact others to advance his kingdom.

God’s favor often comes through others who do not serve him and are not even aware of how or why they may be acting as his agents. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1).

God used Moses as an instrument of divine power released to compel the Egyptians to let the people of Israel go. But it was the favor of God moving on the Egyptians that allowed Israel to plunder their former captors on the way out. Giftedness and training were not enough; Moses and the people of Israel needed the favor of God.

Puff Graham

In 1949 Billy Graham hosted a series of evangelistic tent meetings in a Los Angeles parking lot. Organizers originally planned to host the meetings for three weeks but later extended the schedule multiple times. Ultimately Graham preached for eight weeks and attracted 350,000 people. As many as 3,000 professed faith in Jesus, including actors and radio personalities.

Several weeks in, the media mogul and publisher William Randolph Hearst sent a two-word directive by telegram to editors of his newspapers: “Puff Graham.” In newspaper jargon, the directive told them to feature stories about Billy Graham and his event. Coverage about Billy Graham and his tent meetings received priority throughout Hearst’s media empire. Soon other newspapers followed suit. Billy Graham and the gospel message gained momentum on a national stage.

When Billy Graham preached in Los Angeles, the power of God moved through him and drew people to Christ. When William Randolph Hearst sent a telegram to his editors, the favor of God moved through him.

Billy Graham wrote about this experience in his book, Just As I Am: “Hearst and I did not meet, talk by phone, or correspond as long as he lived.”[i] Graham did not take credit, nor should we, for the way God’s favor can open doors and accelerate results beyond anything we could do in our own strength.

In Joseph’s interaction with Pharaoh, one of the most important leadership conversations in the Bible, favor plays a major part in the backstory. Learn more about the Favor Principle in The Top 10 Leadership Conversations in the Bible. You can read the entire book for free at BibleCenteredLeadership.com.

[i] http://articles.latimes.com/1997–06–07/local/me-1034_1_billy-graham-recalls.

How many leadership conversations are in the Bible?

Bible leadership book

One of the best ways to learn leadership is by observing other leaders using three simple questions:

  • Who is the leader?
  • Who are the followers?
  • What is the situation?

I decided to apply this simple approach to Biblical leaders. That led me to ask the question: How many leadership conversations are in the Bible? I couldn’t find an answer, so I decided to count them myself. That study project lasted almost three years.

I then used a force-ranking exercise to identify what I believe are the ten most important leadership conversations in the Bible. In my next book, I’ve documented my top ten list, along with some practical insights and timeless principles.

Limiting the book to the top ten leadership conversations forced me to leave out a lot of valuable information. So I decided to make my research available online in a searchable database. Imagine searching for Moses, and conflict, and getting a list of all the leadership conversations where Moses was the leader, and the situation involved conflict. Or perhaps all the leadership conversations where Paul was the leader, or all the leadership conversations in a specific book of the Bible. You get the picture.

So how many leadership conversations are in the Bible? Click on the tell me more button and watch the short video for the answer, along with information about how I’m making all this information, including the book, available for free.

Tell me more button


Steve Moore

P.S. Please, help me spread the word by passing this announcement along to the people in your circle of influence.


Dealing with Derailers: How the Best Leaders Identify and Address their Potential Derailers

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Research suggests the most common derailer of leaders is the overuse of their strengths. It is important to focus on your strengths. But you must also beware of what happens when they are overused. To use a sports metaphor, having a good fastball is an asset. But unless you are the “closer” specializing in the final three outs, you’ll need another pitch to be effective.

One of the reasons we are so vulnerable to the overuse of our strengths, is how common it is for leaders not to genuinely understand them in the first place. The good news is you can use a strength you don’t know you have. The bad news is you can’t moderate it.

You might be thinking, “What about all that compelling research on strengths-based development?” Learning how to moderate your strengths is a critical part of what it means to develop them.
In this webinar you will learn:

1) How your derailers flow from your unique identity profile

2) The hidden link between universal and unique derailers

3) The 2 sides of the derailer coin and how they work together

4) How to design a 3 step mitigation strategy for any derailer

Thanks in advance for inviting me into your personal growth journey. Let’s make this a breakout year.

The Feedback Accelerator: How to Use Feedback to Expose Blind Spots and Accelerate Growth

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One of the most critical elements of personal development is feedback. It is nearly impossible to expose blind spots and close gaps in your emotional intelligence or leadership performance without timely and candid input from the people around you. The paradox for leaders is the higher you go on the organizational chart the more difficult it is to get the kind of feedback you need to keep growing.

One of the unintended consequences of organizational aging is the development of one-way streets for the flow of information. Eventually as organizational systems are refined, good news flows up and bad news flows down, in carefully moderated one-way streets. The lack of effective feedback loops limits personal development and organizational effectiveness.

The best leaders create the culture and systems required to open the communication channels and accelerate their development. In this 60-minute webinar, February 28, 2017, 11:00 am Eastern time, you will learn:

  • ­­The powerful connection between feedback and self-awareness
  • The three triggers that affect your ability to receive feedback well
  • How to create a culture of feedback in your organization
  • How the best leaders use feedback to accelerate personal growth

Everyone participating will receive the Quick Read Book Summary of Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, along with an MP3 file of my interview with Sheila Heen, coauthor of the book.

We are limiting the number of registrations for this webinar and expect it to fill up fast.

Thanks in advance for inviting me into your personal growth journey. Let’s make 2017 a breakout year.


Growth Planning that Works: A 4 Step Model for Personal Development

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Everyone prefers positive change to the status quo. Most people prefer the status quo over the effort required to produce positive change.

That’s why personal growth is hard. Or as John Maxwell says, “Everything worthwhile in life is up hill.”

If your best intentions for positive change in 2017 are already hitting the wall, or if you’ve not yet solidified a personal development game plan, I want to help.

In my book, The Dream Cycle: Leveraging the Power of Personal Growth, I introduced a four-step model for personal growth planning. I’ve shared this model with thousands of people and I know it works.

Here’s what my friend Hans Finzel, author and leadership expert, said about this content, “This is perhaps the most practical, easily achievable plan that I know of for moving from ‘what is’ to ‘what should be.’ Steve has identified a repeatable model for personal growth that will help every leader reach for the future.”

Make 2017 a breakout year, by joining our free webinar, January 31, 2017, at 11:00am eastern time. In this 60-minute webinar, you will learn:

  • Why your motivation to grow dissipates faster than your growth progress and the coaching tweak that will help you stay the course
  • Three growth assets you need to include to make a killer action plan
  • How to turn your propensity to commit to goals you can’t keep into a winning strategy
  • Five ways to measure and celebrate progress for sustained momentum

Everyone will receive an application worksheet to help apply this four-step model. The first 20 people to register will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of The Dream Cycle.

Thanks in advance for inviting me into your personal growth journey. Let’s make 2017 a breakout year.

The Life Hack You Need to Make Better Decisions

The LIfe Hack You Need to Make Better Decisions

“The single most important thing that leaders do is make good judgment calls. With good judgment, little else matters. Without good judgment, nothing else matters.”[i]

So say Warren Bennis and Noel Tichy, in their book Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls. They go on to frame judgment in three major categories: decisions we make about people, strategy, and when facing a crisis. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve yet to find an important judgment I couldn’t put in one of those three buckets. I’m facing one right now that fits in all three.

If these assertions are correct, and I believe they are, one of the highest return on investment growth areas for leaders is learning how to make better decisions. It would be easy to believe good judgment flows exclusively from wisdom, and there is no shortcut, no life hack for that. I agree. But there is a life hack for perspective, and if you apply it consistently there is scientific proof you will make better decisions.

3 Affirmations of Managers who Multiply

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In a previous blog post, How Adding Value to People Could Multiply Your Results, I shared 2 Multiplier Questions and 4 Multiplier Domains:

How consistently am I getting the very best from my team?

How can I make the people around me better?

I’ve developed a simple multiplier strategy I can use in four domains (meals, meetings, mentoring, management) to increase the likelihood of answering these two multiplier questions in the affirmative.

In my last post, I outlined my strategy to become a multiplier through mentoring. In this post, I’ll share three affirmations of a manager who multiplies.

 Diminishers Cost You Money

If you are not a multiplier you are a “diminisher.” And diminishers cost your organization real money, every day, because they don’t get the best out of their team. “Under the influence of a diminisher, the organization pays full price for the [human] resource but only receives about 50% of the value.”[1]

You would never allow a member of your team to make a mission critical order of supplies, pay full price, but only receive half of the shipment. Why allow managers to relate to direct reports in ways that produce only half of what they have to offer? This hidden value evaporates from poorly managed teams every day.

Becoming a multiplying manager is a much bigger topic than one blog post, which is why I so strongly recommend the book Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. But here’s three simple but powerful affirmations that will get you started.

It’s Your Turn podcast episode 4: How Donald Trump & Daniel Illustrate Leadership Filtration Theory and the Left Hand of God

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Idea Watch

In our first segment, Idea Watch, Steve will share the easily overlooked key to understanding the book of Daniel, why missing it blinds us to God’s dealing with Israel in exile, and what all this has to do with the presidential election cycle here in the US.

Martin Luther said God governs the spiritual dimensions with His right hand through the church’s proclamation. He rules temporal affairs with His left hand through civil and earthly institutions, regardless of who’s in power.

Quick Reads

In our second segment, Quick Reads, Steve will introduce you to some of the best content from the Harvard Business Press book, Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter, by Gutaum Mukunda, assistant professor at Harvard Business School.

Monthly Conversation

In our final segment of today’s program, the monthly conversation, we’ll share highlights from Steve’s interview with Gutaum Mukunda, about Leadership Filtration Theory and how it helps us think about leadership selection from the grassroots all the way to the presidency.