Weekly Thought – September 18, 2018
Fred held his friendships in high esteem. Even after death, he referred to them as friends (not former friends). One of his most notable relationships was with Francois Fenelon a 16th century monk he certainly never met. “My friend Fenelon” was how he began many stories. Fred knew well what true friendship meant and regarded them with deep respect.
Thank you to the friends of BWF who have consistently prayed, encouraged, and financially supported this work for 15 years. This fall will mark the 10th year of the Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute. Our many friends make this possible – and of course, the grace of God.
From Function to Friend
Years ago I met John Stein, the famous impresario, who brought several of the luminaries to Broadway. When I asked him about the secret to the popularity and longevity of stars he said it was in the simple formula: the musical artist or actor goes on the stage or up on the platform as an entertainer, but leaves as a friend. The audience, whether in a concert hall, studio, or at home, feel a bond with the performer. They think they know them.
He explained how they moved from function to friend. They were not interested in an image; they were interested in the function’s creating a way for them to become real to the audience. Think of personalities who are so familiar, you really believe you know them. These celebrities are approached all the time in public places by people who honestly believe they know them, their families, and details of their lives. They achieved the crossover from function to friend. Of course, this friendship is only in the mind of the audience. Those who begin to assume there is a valid friendship become obsessed.
Perhaps moving from function to friendly is healthier!
This is an important lesson in leadership. The great doctors I have known have been able to make this transition without losing their objectivity. My great friends at the Mayo Clinic performed their function so beautifully that their friendship made it a joy to be with them. Mary Alice used to think I was going on vacation when I would head to the Kehler Hotel in Rochester. They know their medicine but they also now me as friend.
This applies, of course, to other fields of work, as well. Anyone who has to maintain an image will suffer loneliness and alienation. The important thing is that there is a real person behind even the strongest function. Young ones talk about “empty suits.” I like that description. There are those who do their jobs so well – operate within their function so adequately – but have nothing but the persona. We appreciate their expertise, but fail to care about them as people beyond their function.
Function can become a shield and a mask, aiding us to hide from closeness. But others know when we lead from duty and not desire. I am not recommending you create social relationships with all in your leadership sphere, but that you have an attitude which lends a personal touch.
Jesus went about “doing good.” I like to think He exhibited more than just good works. My friend Ken Blanchard talks about Leading Like Jesus – moving from function to friendship is key.
This week think about : 1) How have I hidden behind a well-executed function? 2) What do I do to make sure others think of me as human? 3) Where are my strengths and soft-spots in leading others?
Words of Wisdom: “The important thing is that there is a real person behind even the strongest function.”
Wisdom from the Word: “And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.” (Colossians 3:14 NET Bible)