Life Mission/Leadership




What's a "Life Mission"?

A Life Mission is your "elevator speech". Imagine yourself in an elevator with someone important (say the President of your employer's organization or the leader of some other organization to which you belong). This individual asks you, "So what are you about?" And you get till the elevator gets to the twentieth floor (say around two and a half minutes--lots of other people stopping at other floors) to answer.

Since one of the things I do is help people discover and formulate their life mission (or elevator speech), you might think I'd have one. You'd be right. Imagine being on the elevator with me as you check it out. (It's the column on your right). The shaded area is the quick version. Below is the "unpacked" version.


So What's Michael's?

Seizing upon words, relationships and family life as opportunities to grow and help others grow

I am about demonstrating that words have great power to dramatically and positively impact human life.

I am about exercising leadership such that people are served, encouraged and developed into synergistic interdependence. I am about using power and authority with purity toward noble social and spiritual goals, striving to always be mindful of the overriding importance of right principles.

I am about contributing to individuals and families through the provision of family systems-centered mental health services (and mentoring/teaching others to provide such services) in a compassionate, dramatic, and intensive manner.

I am about demonstrating discipline in body and mind as well as exercising "response-ability" in my use of time, choice of words, choice of relationships, sub serving all to living out values  including: integrity, enthusiasm, passion, intensity, continuous learning, and multi-faceted growth.

I am about being interwoven with the best human fabric I can find with a view toward mutual excellence in principle and practice.

I am about leading and teaching people to lead small groups within the Christian community such that hurting people are healed, seeking people find Christ, and fully committed disciples experience an ever-increasing measure of Christ's character.

I am about modeling the power of family life in my marriage to mature people and provide catalysts to spiritual, emotional, and social development.

For more details on Michael's professional background, check out: About Me link  
Leadership Synthesis  

Here are some clues about my core beliefs about leadership. Although one cannot confine one's leadership style to a piece of paper, my hope is to provide a sketch that will facilitate dialogue.

core values

Here are some of the core values to which I commit as I exercise leadership responsibilities.

Principle-Centered Leadership -The title of a book by Stephen R. Covey, this has become for me the central theme of my leadership style.  Briefly, this is the thesis that leadership is about character, integrity, and empowerment. Ghandi had it right when he said, "A person cannot do right in one department whilst attempting to do wrong in another department. Life is one indivisible whole."

Strengths-Based Leadership- I have made an in-depth study of two resources from the Gallup management group ( First, Break all the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths ). These provide an intellectual foundation for a core belief I have long-held, namely, that the path to excellence is through building a thoroughly strengths-based culture that thrives on accountability and challenge

Relentless commitment to "mission" personally and organizationally- Whether in Covey's First Things First (the "textbook" of life mission development) or in Covey's Habit 2 of the Seven Habits , I've found the concept of focused mission statement building to be a powerful tool in both personal and team leadership.

Teambuilding based on individual strengths -I've found the greatest success in building effective teams in the following strategy: First, enthusiastically identify the strengths of individual team members.  Second, discover with the team (and in the context of stakeholder needs) what the team mission is. Third, establish specific connections between the two. Fourth, develop systems, both "hard" and "soft", to make explicit these connections (see "Win-Win Performance Agreement" below for an example)

Win-Win Performance Agreements (WWPA) -(derived in part from the work of both Peter Drucker and Stephen R. Covey) In leading teams and managing human and fiscal resources, the WWPA has been an powerful tool for me in releasing the potential of team members in a disciplined way. The focus upon the WWPA elements (desired results, guidelines, resources, accountability, and consequences) facilitates a high degree of team member investment in the agency vision.

Wraparound Philosophy

I am committed to fully exploring the depths of the core wraparound values, as articulated by the California Wraparound research team (May, 1998). These standards include being strengths-based (a disciplined and expectant focus on the capacities of individuals rather than their deficits), needs-focused (a belief that families know families best); team-driven (a confidence that the team process, both in staff and family teams, holds the greatest promise for excellence), and accountable (a rigorous commitment to "beginning with the end in mind" and following through with this vision in thorough, reality-based, treatment and ongoing evaluation).

remote mentoring

Though I benefit from face-to-face mentoring/coaching, I also greatly enjoy the 'remote mentoring' derived from management and clinical books and journals, the following books are ones I re-read fairly regularly. As such, they provide some quick indicators to the standards of management (and biases) to which I am striving (or am prone).

Principle-Centered Leadership, Stephen R. Covey (1992)

A great resource for leadership based on what Covey calls the "character ethic". I am particularly impressed with the "Win-Win Performance agreement,"* the "six conditions of empowerment," and his "thirty methods of influence".

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey (1989)

This has been a great resource for me, both personally and as a teambuilding resource. Particularly in the context of teambuilding, I've found in this book a powerful common vocabulary for identifying team strengths and weaknesses and then developing a consensus around appropriate strategies.

The Power Principle, Blaine Lee, Covey Leadership Center (1998)

This adds the dimension of increased power through honoring the members of one's team through such strategies as persuasion, gentleness and discipline.

First Things First, Stephen Covey et al. (1995) This is where I gained much of what I know about mission statement development. It also has been invaluable in providing me with the "Quadrant II" planning process, a weekly strategy by which one can focus on "First Things" through consideration of "roles and goals" in making decisions about where to invest one's time/energy resources. Covey's concept of "integrity in the moment of choice" has been a great benefit to me as well.

The Speed of Trust:  The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey (2006)

Covey's son clearly sets forth 13 actionable trust-building strategies based on four "cores" (Integrity, Intent, Results, and Capabilities).  One of my favorite quotes from this book is by Robert Townsend (former CEO of Avis: "It's been my experience that the people who gain trust, loyalty, excitement, and energy fast are the ones who pass on the credit to the people who have really done the work. A leader doesn't need any credit . . . He's getting more credit than he deserves anyway."

other major influences

I've had lots of great clinical and leadership influences throughout my career. Here are some of the highlights.

Salvador Minuchin -I've been privileged, through his writings, his live workshops, and his successor at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, to be exposed to what may have been the precursor of much of today's "wraparound" thinking. Dr. Minuchin demonstrated that through dramatic structural system changes even the most dysfunctional families could be strengthened in ways that often precluded higher levels of care.

Stephen R. Covey -Though I've already mentioned some of the influences from his work, I would say generally that my hours of exposure to his work have paid off in a deep appreciation of the heights to which human effectiveness can reach when based on commitment to correct principle. Though his concepts often get lip service in superficial application, I have come to value the most rigorous applications of seemingly simple ideas such as "Win-Win" and "Synergize". Attendance at the Franklin-Covey Seven Habits workshop fueled some of this appreciation as I was privileged to interact with Franklin-Covey staff around these principles.

John Maxwell -Dr. Maxwell's common-sense, accountable, relational, approach to leadership has been a major impetus to my work in striving to be an impactful leader/coach. The principles in is recent book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect as well as his core concept of leadership as adding value to others are key themes on which I often draw for my coaching work.

Tom Peters -Tom Peters once did a talk entitled, "The Heart and Soul of Excellence". In this as well as written works, he taught me about: the willingness to re-evaluate even cherished, long-held assumptions; the value of constantly striving to enhance the creative leadership process; and the prime importance of believing passionately in whatever project on which one is currently working.

County Government -Working within the public sector, I have benefited from not only diverse clinical/leadership experiences but I have gained an understanding of Medi-Cal clinical principles and administrative procedures.

Wraparound Philosophy -As mentioned above, the Wraparound process of service delivery has been a huge influence. I was privileged to serve as Clinical Program Manager to EMQ Children & Family Services' San Bernardino wraparound team, in which I, in collaboration with EMQ and statewide consultants, developed San Bernardino's first wraparound effort. 

*The Win-Win Performance Agreement was the basis for a management project I completed as a graduate of San Bernardino County's Management and Leadership Academy in which I created a customizable system for human resources development within a human services organization.



Schedule Appointment

Start your new path in life and be the change today!

Click Here