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Adam Barrow is a BYU graduate, accountant, father, past elders quorum president, elders quorum counselor, executive secretary, and currently serves as the secretary in his elders quorum. These are various callings he has received while living in San Francisco, California, Raleigh, North Carolina, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
In this interview we discuss 5 solid leadership principles that Brother Barrow has followed in his leadership service. He also shares how he tracks home teaching as the quorum secretary; possibly a admin hack you want to use as well.
1- Don’t let management get in the way of leadership
This principle is rooted in Hugh Nibley’s classic talk “Leaders and Managers” I came across several years ago:
It’s an incredible discourse that provides some very thought provoking insight about leadership vs management, including the interesting uses of the term “management” in the Book of Mormon, and contrasting key figures within who represent management (Amalickiah) vs those who represent leadership (Captain Moroni).
2. Remember the importance of asking the right question
This comes from two of Clayton Christensen’s writings/talks:
- My Ways are Not Your Ways
- The Importance of the right question (given at the J. Reuben Clark Law Society Conference)
In the second talk particularly, he gives some interesting personal examples about asking the right question within the context of our church callings.
“Unfortunately, too many of us are so eager to debate and get on with the right answer and the solution, that we often forget even to think about whether the right question has been asked. Lawyers pride themselves on their ability to ask penetrating questions, but I honestly think that the only people who are worse than lawyers at asking the right questions are business managers; and that the only people who are worse than managers at asking the right questions are Mormons.” -Elder Clayton Christensen
3. Remember the Lord’s metric
“I realized that God in contrast to us, does not need the tools of statisticians or accountants. So far as I know, He has no organization charts. There is no need to aggregate anything beyond the level of an individual person in order to comprehend completely what is going on among humankind. His only measure of achievement is the individual.” – Elder Clayton Christensen (How will you Measure Your Life pg 202)
It’s easy for us to get caught up in measuring others against our own notion of a correct standard, when our finite minds can’t fully appreciate the context of where a person is on their own spiritual journey. That’s not to acknowledge of course certain standards that ecclesiastical leaders must adhere to and hold others accountable to in certain situations. But we can compartmentalize people rather generally without taking the time to ask the Lord to help us see that individual as He sees them.
I love the following quote from President Eyring, who provides a very important reminder about Who we all need to look to for help. As leaders we are there simply to help people remember that.
“When I was a young man, I served as counselor to a wise district president in the Church. He tried to teach me. One of the things I remember wondering about was this advice he gave: “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.
“I thought then that he was pessimistic. Now, more than 40 years later, I can see how well he understood the world and life. As time passes, the world grows more challenging, and our physical capacities slowly diminish with age. It is clear that we will need more than human strength. The Psalmist was right: “But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble.”
“In the Strength of the Lord” Henry B Eyring April 2004
4. Unstring your bow
“(Joseph Smith) learned to relax, and when chided for it he commented that if a man has a bow and keeps it constantly strung tight, it will soon lose its spring. The bow must be unstrung.”
“Joseph Smith the Prophet” – Truman G. Madsen pg 31.
“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me” (Psalm 3:5)
“Not all problems disappear with a night’s sleep, but our ability to face them and see more constructive approaches to them improves dramatically with rest… There was divine wisdom in putting a night between two days. Don’t make important decisions or try to resolve serious problems when you are exhausted. Get some sleep. Your mind will be refreshed and your spirit will be quickened. You will have new strength for the task. God will hear you in His holy hill and with a lifted head you will see a new day dawning. “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15). – “For Times of Trouble” – Jeffrey R. Holland
Find your release (exercise, sports, sleep, whatever) – it will go a long way.
I recall an anecdote where Richard Branson was asked “How do you become more productive?” – After some silence, he responded “Work out.” He was serious and elaborated: working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.
5. Remember President Hinckley’s Big Three
Regarding President Hinckley – “When mission presidents were called during his time on the missionary committee, he offered three one-sentence bits of counsel: “Follow your impressions,” “Read the Book of Mormon,” and “When making decisions of judgment, err, if you must err, on the side of mercy.”
Truman G. Madsen, The Presidents of the Church. Pg 428. (See Dew, Go Forward with Faith, 512.)