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The Godfather

While I lived in New York, I became acquainted with a colorful character named Bobby through the church I attended. Bobby was a true native New Yorker. In fact, he was practically a cliché complete with gold chains, slicked-back hair and love for all things Italian-American; especially the Godfather movies, which he viewed as a kind of life guide supplementing the Bible. He had a rough background but was trying to get his life together.


I remember once sitting in a church service near Bobby during a particularly moving time of worship. It seemed the entire congregation was connecting deeply with the music, earnestly expressing their unified praise to God when Bobby motioned to me. Apparently, he had something to share. As I leaned in, Bobby whispered in his raspy New York vernacular, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” (for those unfamiliar, this is an oft quoted line from Godfather II). My eyebrows furrowed as I attempted to make sense of it, but it was useless; by then he had returned to mouthing the words of the song. To this day, I couldn’t begin to tell you what was going through Bobby’s mind in that odd moment, but whatever it was, it was clearly not connected to the worship service. Bobby was someplace else, perhaps somewhere with pasta, horn music and racketeering.


This rather ridiculous encounter with Bobby (one of many) points towards a much-discussed leadership principle, getting “in sync” with your team. Being in sync implies more than superficial coordination on joint tasks and projects; it means finding deep agreement about what is truly important and about what should be happening when and why. Leadership books are filled with useful tips for running better meetings, getting buy-in on decisions, and implementing more effectively; however, a surprising number of leaders still foolishly neglect meeting regularly with their staff in order to connect on a deeper level. Perhaps they feel they have more important work and/or assume that everyone is already on the same page, both of which could be far from reality.


Other leaders who are more diligent in this essential discipline but who find that their meetings are a boring grind or an unproductive talk-a-thon are probably also failing to get in sync. These leaders should look at their own behaviors and find new ways for getting to the deep, engaged agreement among team members necessary for making beautiful music together. Leaders who don’t are leading only superficially or perhaps not at all. Their team might be dutifully mouthing the same words when in reality, they are on different planets (perhaps even reliving scenes from their favorite movies). Consider the deep implications of Paul’s appeal to a fractured church in Corinth when he wrote “…be perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1st Corinthians 1:10 NIV)


Reflection Questions

Who among your team members might be out of sync with the current direction?

How might you address their concerns and look for deeper levels of agreement?

What new practices could potentially improve the quality of your meetings?

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