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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute It may come as a legitimate surprise that any sane person would propose “cultivating” anything during Advent. After all, it’s the busiest time of the year for many people. There are all the holiday preparations to attend to: selecting and buying gifts, sending out Christmas greetings to old friends and business associates, getting kids off to games and concerts, baking holiday treats, attending seasonal gatherings of all sorts, getting personal finances in order and reviewing tax implications before the year’s end. If you live in the top h...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director With Advent and the new liturgical year just underway and a New Year not far off, it’s a good tine to announce some changes at the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute. One is big and longer term. One is small and, we hope, much shorter term. Let’s start with the smaller one first. A small change On Dec. 10 I begin a 3-stage regimen with my eyes: a corneal scraping to be followed, after a healing period, with cataract surgery in both eyes, one after another, sometime early in the new year. Since I’m the editor of this publication and need my eyes...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute I’ve got no doubt that there are many people in the world – including many people in positional leadership positions – don’t see any connection between the season of Advent and their own development as leaders in their homes, workplaces, communities and parishes. But they’re wrong. Leadership, you see, begins on the inside. It starts in the heart. Unless we get the heart part right nothing else will turn out to be anywhere near as it could, anywhere near where God would like to see us be. Advent is all about developing our hear...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute It’s time for a confession. When I wrote The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus back in 2009, I didn’t develop the theme of Steward Leadership as much as I would have liked to. Over the years, I jotted down notes to do more with it here in The Catholic Leader and on our website, but like so many things on my innumerable “To Do” lists, I have never gotten around to it. Now I’m glad I didn’t. Because Pope Francis has done it for me. And better than I ever could. You’ll find his thinking on the call to – the ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute It’s safe to say that Servant Leadership has taken the world – or at least very large parts of it – by storm. Businesses, government agencies and non-profit organizations have been jumping on the bandwagon since Robert Greenleaf first coined the phrase – and described the phenomenon – in an essay back in 1970. His seminal book, Servant Leadership, followed in 1976. This approach to effective leadership took on an explicit and distinctly Christian flavor when Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager and 50 other books, an...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Have you ever noticed how people who fail spectacularly are more often brought down by their gifts than by their shortcomings? It’s true. When you’re in school, you’re plagued by the things that come hardest to you. But once you’re out in the “real world,” it’s your strengths that can actually trip you up. The problem is that once we can put our weakest links off to the side and concentrate on what we know and do best, we can forget that we live in a complex support system and can begin to attribute our success solely to ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Without the generosity of our benefactors, the Yeshua Catholic International Leaders Institute would not exist. I shared that reality with several of our benefactors at our first-ever Benefactors Mass & Brunch on Aug. 10 at St. James Parish in Rockford, IL. How could I be so sure? Because for several years my wife Jane and I ran the Institute as a division of The Durand Corporation, our own for-profit consulting and publishing business. No, we did not expect this new division to make a profit. That wasn’t our intent at all. Our intent was that the co...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute There’s one thing that makes our efforts to be Jesus-like Leaders especially challenging: We can’t focus on self-improvement. What? Isn’t any effort to be better than we are all about improving oneself? Surely, trying to be more of a Jesus-like Leader involves self-improvement. Yes, of course that’s true. Self-improvement is a part of the puzzle. But it’s only a part. It can’t be the central feature. It can’t be the focus. To speak in terms of making one’s own improvement the focus of our efforts is to look in th...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute After decades of reading what various experts – business leaders, HR specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and organizational behaviorists – have had to say about what people need and/or want from their work, the best description I have ever encountered fell into my hands this summer quite by accident. Or was it Providential? I’ll let you make the call. Let me settle for providing the details. One quiet summer morning, casually perusing the porch that runs along the length of our cabin overlooking a small, quiet lake, I noti...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In the process of preparing for a small group discussion series in our parish this summer on Bishop Robert Barron’s new book Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis, my thoughts drifted back to a year ago when we held our first ever parish small group discussion and the text we used was The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium) by Pope Francis. This year’s discussion of Bishop Barron’s book went very well. It gave people an opportunity to share their heartbreak and anger over the clergy sexual abuse crisis – a...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds huge differences between what Americans value today and what they valued in 1998, just 21 years ago. While “hard work” led the list of values in both 1998 and 2019, after that the disparities are striking. Today: 61% of Americans of all ages value patriotism – down nine percentage points from 1998; 50% value religion – down 12 percentage points from 1998; and, 43% value having children – down 16 percentage points from 1998. Age differences Perhaps even more striking w...

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‘Offering advice is a sign of good leadership, and asking for advice is a sign of intelligence. If the exchange goes well, both parties benefit.’ By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute By now we should all know that how we do things is at least as important as what we are doing. In fact, sometimes the how is more important than the what. That’s the case, according to Harvard researcher, when it comes to asking for advice – and giving it. Asking “Can I pick your brain?” is not the best way to get the process started. “The whole interaction is a subtle ...

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By Owen Phelps Director, Yeshua Institute I heard the words again Sunday in Verona, WI. One of my granddaughters, Nicole, was giving a graduation speech before an audience of several thousand. It was quite an honor because she had been chosen for this task by her classmates. If she was nervous I couldn’t tell. Her voice was strong and expressive. Soon enough I heard some very, very familiar words. They were absolutely unexpected ... and brought a tear to my eye. Her words took me back to a night many decades ago when I was a young father back home visiting my parents and siblings for the holidays. As was ...

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By Owen Phelps, Pd.D. Director, Yeshua Institute I’m not often tempted to pat myself on the back. At my age, I should know better. It would make my shoulder hurt. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) Nonetheless, if I’m ever tempted to try – again – another simple but painful experience should deliver me from the temptation. Despite more than a decade devoted to teaching people how to be Jesus-like S3 Leaders, when it comes to me being one myself, I’m not there … yet. How do I know? There is a famous prayer composed by St. Ignatius of Loyola called Suscipe (Latin for &ld...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute A Jesus-like Leader is an S3 Leader – a Servant, Steward and Shepherd. But before we get caught up in some abstract concept of optimal leadership, let’s put the whole idea in a very concrete context. Do you make the development of those you lead a primary part of your mission as a leader? That question is a great litmus test of your sincere commitment to be a Jesus-like Leader – a true Servant, Steward and Shepherd. Parenting obvious The answer to this question for those in parenting leadership roles should be as easy as it is obvious. Of ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute A couple of years ago I was sharing the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus with a Ministry Formation class when someone asked me: “What is the most difficult thing about helping people to become Jesus-like Leaders?” My brain told me I needed a moment to think about that. But my mouth blurted out an answer. “Getting people to realize and appreciate that God really does love them unconditionally.” And there it was. Out in front of God and everybody – or at least the 25 or so people in the room. I didn’t so much answer t...

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The Yeshua Institute is offering a free webinar that lay ministers and volunteers won’t want to miss. Called “You Are the Face of the Church: Ten Guidelines for Effective Ministry,” it will be webcast live Wednesday, April 10, at 1 p.m. CT. It will be presented by Ken Ogorek, a well-known speaker who also serves as Director of Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and is a consultant at Evangelium Consulting Group. Ken also served as recent president of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL). He will provide participants with 10 guidelines for effective ministry and t...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute At this point in Lent, with Easter coming quickly, it’s a good time to consider the challenge of letting go. It could be any number of things: Giving your children a little more independence and/or responsibility; Delegating some things to others at work who could be ready … or maybe not; Moving from your own home into a condo or assisted living arrangements because chores are getting to be too much. Whatever the circumstances, letting go is nearly always a challenge. So imagine what Jesus was feeling as his time to leave his disciple...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Every once in a while there appears a book that pastoral leaders just have to have to both read and then keep handy on their bookshelves. Dr. Dan Ebener’s new book certainly qualifies. The fourth book he has written on leadership, Pastoral Leadership: Best Practices for Church Leaders is a book that anyone in pastoral leadership – from pastors to active volunteers – will want to read at least once, discuss with other people on the parish leadership team, and then go back and consult time and time again. It’s that good and it’s tha...

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The Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute will offer a free webinar for ministry professionals called “You Are the Face of the Church.” The webinar will be presented Wednesday, April 10, at 1 p.m. CT by Ken Ogorek, Director of Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and a consultant at Evangelium Consulting Group. Ken also served as recent president of the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), and is a well-known speaker on issues related to lay ministry, catechetics and organizational health. He will provide participants with 10 guidelines for effective ministry a...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In sharing the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus, we introduce people to S3 Leadership: Servant, Steward and Shepherd. It’s the way Jesus led and taught his disciples to lead. It’s the way he wants all of us to lead – at home, at work, in our communities and in our parishes. Wherever we are, all of us are called to be leaders some of the time. So learning how to Lead Like Jesus is a critical skill for every follower of Christ. When we explain Servant Leadership, we note that the essence of this approach is behaving with the heartfelt con...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute It started out as an idea for how my wife, Jane, and I might do something together during Lent that would help us get to know the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles better – and also to better develop the heart and mind of Jesus, which is the real purpose of Lent. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I came to think that we ought to share our idea with you. Maybe its something you want to do with your spouse or a friend or even a small group that you’re in contact with on a daily basis. Here’s the idea: Through Lent we’re going to rea...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute The “vitals” regarding the Catholic Church in the U.S. today are not encouraging. Indeed, I’d call them downright scary. I’m not exactly sure how I would do it -- or even what it means -- but I’m tempted to recommend that we put the church on life support. For example, what would you think if I told you that less than a third of U.S. Catholics think priests are honest or ethical? That’s what a Gallup survey near the end of 2018 discovered No, I don’t have an axe to grind. And I’m not trying to throw brickbats ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute This past Saturday I was on my way to teaching a diocesan ministry formation class about Leading Like Jesus when the car’s radio blared the news: by the action of Pope Francis, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was now no longer a priest either. In a statement issued earlier in the day in Rome, which is seven hours ahead of my local time, the Vatican said McCarrick had been dismissed from the priesthood after he was found guilty of several crimes -- including soliciting sex during confession and “sins” with minors and with adults, and “with ...

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It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Phillipians 3:12 By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Whenever I think of the importance of learning – and growing – from mistakes, I think of a woman who was once on my staff whom I will call Alice because that wasn’t her name. Alice was pretty competent but she was woefully lacking in confidence. She blamed her psychologically abusive husband, whom she eventually left a...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute There was a time when the most common models in the work world were the solitary contributor and the very small team, usually no bigger than a family. In 1800, 83 percent of the American workforce worked on farms – small farms, family farms. One adult oversaw planting, cultivating and harvesting, perhaps with the help of children and possibly a hired hand. One adult handled preserving (canning) and cooking the harvest, perhaps with the help of children. Today ag workers make up just two percent of the workforce – and most of them are found on huge far...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Executive Director One of the biggest challenges we have at the Yeshua Institute is convincing people that everyone is a leader. “I’m sure your program is a great one, but it’s not for me.” “Why not?” we ask. “Because I’m not a leader,” comes the reply. We hear that all the time – and we always hear it from people who are, in fact, leaders. We hear it from parents. We hear it from teachers. We hear it from workers on the line. We hear it from retired folks. We hear it from stay-at-home moms. “I’m not a leader....

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” Ephesians 4:23-24 It’s still early enough in the New Year that maybe we haven’t abandoned all of our New Year’s Resolutions -- and perhaps we are still trying to chart our way through 2019. Thus, it’s a good time of the year to turn ourselves over to a little introspection. What does life mean? What does my life mean? What is my purpose in life? More immediately, what is my purpose in 2019? In...

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Almost lost between the feasts of Christmas and New Year is a Sunday with special meaning to Catholics. It’s the Feast of the Holy Family. “I confess,” says Dr. Owen Phelps, Director of the Yeshua Institute, “that in all my years of growing up as the oldest of 10 children in a devout Catholic family, I never noticed that.” Today he looks forward to it as a great way to be reminded, as a New Year dawns, on what’s most important in the life of a parent – any parent. “Your roles as spouse and parent have to come first, before all other aspirations,” Phelps says. &...

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Most change slips past us virtually unnoticed. It’s only when we stumble across a huge change, often showing up as a crisis – or we look back on a period of several years and realize the earth has moved plenty under our feet. But as Bob Dylan proclaimed so many years ago, “The times they are a changing.” Yes, they are always changing, no matter how imperceptible that change may be. With most of the new year still ahead of us, Al Lopus, head of the Best Christian Workplaces Institute, focuses on the changes that will serve as major trends in the workplace in 2019. He outlines seven maj...

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2019: A new way of being church?

Posted on December 11, 2018 in: Articles

Be the change you want to see By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute There’s an evangelical church in my part of the world that likes to talk about “a new way to do church.” I get it. It’s an ultra-modern (or is that “post-modern”) way to speak. It will come in handy when we find time to “do lunch” together, right? Okay, I’ll spare you all that fad talk. But I do want to focus on a new way of being church that may be coming to your local diocese or parish soon. It’s a way of being church that Pope Francis has been promoting since long b...

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It’s been a rough year for Catholics. The retired former head of the Archdiocese of Washington resigned as a cardinal under charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Then the Archbishop of Washington resigned his post after charges he did not do enough to protect minors from predator priests in the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh before he went to Washington. In company with questions about leadership in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General released a searing report on clergy sexual abuse in 6 of that state’s dioceses – and how it was often mishandled by their leaders. Through it all we mourn the pain...

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Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, says love is reason some leaders and their organizations are thriving – and, he adds, “practical love” is a characteristic of the very best, most effective leaders in the marketplace. Here’s why. “Top-down bosses who spread fear are notorious for killing intrinsic motivation,” Schwantes explains. “And when that happens, good-employees-turned-order-takers stop exercising the very traits employers wish to see in their people -- that of being proactive, creative, and motivated self-starters. Holding peo...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute At last! Praise the Lord! A Catholic employer has finally earned a place on Forbes magazine’s list of the 500 best places in the U.S. to work. For eons I’ve been publicly lamenting the lack of Catholic employers’ on Forbes’ list. Now that era has ended. Congratulations, OSF Healthcare. OSF HealthCare has been named one of the best employers in the country for 2018 by Forbes magazine -- and was the highest ranked Illinois-based company earning the distinction. Alleluia! The Peoria, Illinois-based integrated health system is owned a...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute As luck would have it – or perhaps even better, Providence – the matter of Emotional Intelligence or its measure, Emotional Quotient (EQ), comes up in two of the featured articles we scheduled for this issue. I’m good with that. Grateful, even. Because I don’t know if there’s a more important consideration when it comes to trying to be a Jesus-like Leader. As you know, when we talk about Leading Like Jesus, we talk about S3 Leadership – leading as a Servant, Steward and Shepherd. In fact, to consistently lead in any of these co...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute My wife Jane and I recently returned from a week in the St. Louis area where we watched six of our grandchildren participate in various sports. It’s a thrill to see them take part, and clearly it’s special for them when Grandma and Grandpa drive five hours to watch them perform. There’s more than a little deja vu in this for us since all five of our children participated in sports at some point in their academic careers. In all cases, I have taken special joy in photographing them – using the experience I gained as a newspaper photographer...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute We all have mental images of leaders – and most of them are not worth the cost of contemplating them. Forget all the notions out there are about natural leaders being tall, well-built, square-jawed, macho men. Yes, there are a lot of those kind around. But studies show that they’re no more likely to be effective leaders than the rest of us – including, obviously, women. Seldom do we hear praises being sung for the value of humility in effective leadership – although I have to note that we are, in fact, hearing those praises ever more frequ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Donald Trump Jr. has been playing the canary in the coalmine for a certain segment of the American male population. In a recent interview with DailyMailTV, commenting on developments in Senate confirmation hearings regarding his father’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Trump Jr. said that the #MeToo movement has him more worried for his three sons than for his two daughters. Yikes! As the father of three daughters and two sons – as well as the grandfather of 13 girls and 4 boys – I contend that Trump Jr. has it exactly wrong. More c...

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Tips for exercising emotional control

Posted on September 18, 2018 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute A good many people are telling us today that it’s essential to express our emotions. And in the broad scheme of things they’re right. But that doesn’t mean we should express all our emotions everywhere and all the time. In fact, the contrary is true: We should express our emotions selectively – with respect to both our feelings and the audiences with which we are dealing. Others deserve to be treated as more than just dumping grounds for whatever happens to engage our passion at the moment. It’s especially important for leaders to...

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On values: 80+ priest keeps it simple

Posted on September 18, 2018 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute I have a friend and colleague with a remarkable leadership track record who says when it comes to values, he likes to keep it simple. In over 50 years of priesthood, this man has distinguished himself in pastoral, diocesan and community leadership. And at over 80 years of age, he’s still going strong – continuing to provide a regular schedule of counseling services and to serve on a variety of charitable and civic boards. We’re truly blessed to have him on our Yeshua Institute’s board of directors. His name is Father David Beauvais. Som...

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Good leaders don’t let problems fester

Posted on September 04, 2018 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps Director, Yeshua Institute One of the many great blessings in my life was the opportunity to lead a chain of weekly newspapers at the tender age of 27. It was a great blessing for me, but probably not so much for many of my colleagues on the payroll. They had the mixed blessing of being on hand to see me grow – struggle upon struggle – as a leader. Sometimes the hard lessons landed hardest on me. Sometimes they landed harder on my colleagues. One of my most prominent weaknesses – from a long list of weaknesses – was my inclination to let problems fester. To my credit, I...

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By Owen Pheps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute For the past 16 years, since the clergy abuse sexual crisis first exploded on the pages of the Boston Globe in January, 2002, I have scrupulously avoided personally commenting on it. However, as head of an organization devoted to developing Jesus-like Leadership among Catholic members and leaders, it’s impossible now to avoid commenting on the egregious leadership failure of Catholic bishops documented in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report. The force of the report rattled the church – its members and its leaders – all the way to the Vatican....

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute It’s that time of the year when we’re most likely to see newcomers showing up at our office or shop doors. As school terms end, students migrate from classrooms into work settings and become new members of our work teams. Older adults may think of summer as a traditional time to let our hair down and enjoy life, but for new people on the job it’s often a time of supreme stress brought on by quantum doses of uncertainty. If we’re concerned about helping them get off on the right foot, it’s a good time to discover or remember and th...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute NOTE: A version of this reflection was published here two years ago. Here Owen adds a few details and makes some minor changes in style, but the substance survives across the years. * * * My mom was an incredible woman. After she gave me life, she nurtured me physically and emotionally for as long as she lived. As time passed she also gave life to nine more children, my siblings. As a tribute to her wisdom, patience, persistence and selfless model of love, all of us are close – as we are with the more than 100 descendants who have emerged from our own union...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 9.  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In this day and age we like to think of ourselves as well-informed by the sciences and devoted to the scientific method. But our worldview – our perspective on reality – keeps betray...

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“Loyalty is almost always listed as a top virtue, like honesty and trustworthiness,” says Paul Sean Hill, author of Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom. But he hastens to disagree. He says personal loyalty doesn’t belong among the top three virtues – and maybe not even in the top 10. What matters is loyalty to the mission. “Loyalty is a leadership trap. Or it can be if we’re not very deliberate about how we define and apply it,” he says. Hill tells the story of working for a boss who wouldn’t give his boss helpful feedback because he didn’...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute   In the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to give many college graduates their first professional positions. I hoped they learned from those experiences. I know I did.   If you find yourself in the ranks of Newly-Graduated and Newly-Hired (NGNH) this year – or if you know someone who is – please indulge me in sharing what I learned from them with the hope that it will make your new position less stressful and more satisfying.   Of course, no two NGNHs are alike – at least not the ones who crossed our thresholds. Each...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 8.  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Jesus compared his relationship to himself and his followers as one of a vine and its branches (John 15:5). St. Paul described the Christian community as “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12...

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With this issue of The Catholic Leader, we’re launching a new ministry that we hope will eventually include every reader of this e-newsletter, as well as many more people who encounter us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Why? We want to pray for you. In fact, we want to enlist a whole vast team of people who will pray for you. And we’d love to benefit from your prayers too. We address all these things with our new Yeshua Prayer Ministry – and we hope you’ll check it out right now. Power of prayer We certainly believe in the power of prayer. And we know that the history of the Yes...

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By Owen Phelps Director, Yeshua Institute If you haven’t guessed it by now, we’re stark raving fans of Pope Francis. We were ecstatic from the moment we learned he was the first pope ever to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi. Since then, the good news has just kept piling up. We were thrilled to offer a free study guide of his incredible apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel – and we’re happy to let you know you can still download that guide for free by clicking here. Over the course of his five-plus years as pope, thanks be to God, Francis has referred to effective leaders...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 7.  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In our last two installments, we focused on Servant Leadership (S1) and Steward Leadership (S2), The basis for servant leadership is the realization that “It’s not about me.&rdquo...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute You don’t have to dig very deep into most books about management or leadership before you read that to be an effective leader or manager you have to learn how to delegate. Okay. What could be so difficult about that? I mean, why would anyone have to struggle to let someone else do some of their work? Delegating makes work easier. Heck, it frees up time for personal as well as professional activities – which is to say, it makes life better. Why would anyone resist that? And yet we do. Most of us struggle with the process of delegation for one reason...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 6.  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In our last installment, we focused on Servant Leadership, the first S in S3 Leadership. The basis for servant leadership is the realization that “It’s not about me.” We noted ...

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Holy Week reflections

Posted on March 26, 2018 in: Articles

As Easter approaches and we find ourselves in the midst of Holy Week, business as usual just doesn’t make any sense. This Sunday we will celebrate the most important day in human history – the day humanity was accorded eternal life by virtue of the selfless sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Savior. In the three days leading up to that remarkable day, we trace Jesus’ God-centered yet painful steps to his glorious Resurrection. We pray that in the often frantic pace of ordinary life, you will find brief opportunities to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ words and deeds – and o...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Not long ago I finished going through Fortune magazine’s 2018 listing of the 100 best places to work. I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve always found the experience both exhilarating and depressing. It’s exhilarating because it’s a joy to read about all the different things innovative organizations are doing to treat their employees well. It’s depressing because I’ve never found any explicitly Catholic organizations on any of the annual lists. Perhaps you think that’s understandable – even okay &n...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 5: Servant Leaderhip means it's not about me. By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute As human beings grow and develop, we gradually become self-aware. That is, we can envision and speak of ourselves as other. We are aware that a “me&rd...

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NOTE:  At the start of the year, we published a list of nine “core principles” around the notion of Leading Like Jesus. The article got a lot of reader feedback – all positive – so we decided to probe deeper by focusing on each principle individually in subsequent issues of The Catholic Leader. In this issue we focus on Core Principle 4.  By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute The fourth core principle we listed in the process of Leading Like Jesus is: Jesus is the best leadership teacher and role model of all time. In the business world from time to time the achievem...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute I’m amazed at the many little graces that pop up in the course of everyday life – whenever I bother to pay them due attention. Sadly, that’s not often enough. But here’s one little grace for which I’m grateful : The Catholic Leader comes out this week on Wednesday, Feb. 14 – which this year happens to be Ash Wednesday as well as Valentine’s Day. I’m going to treat that as more than a happy accident. Valentine’s Day, as we know, is more about love -- and great expressions of love -- than about the life of...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute So often when we hear the word “leadership,” we think about formal leadership and organizational charts. It’s true that formal or “positional leadership” counts for something. In fact, if you are employed, it counts for that – and that’s a lot. But decades of research have made it clear that when it comes to influencing people’s behavior on a long-term basis, formal leadership all by itself doesn't count for much. Indeed, you could argue that it counts more for why people leave jobs than for why they get them or...

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Fear or faith? You make the call

Posted on January 30, 2018 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute St. Francis de Sales had a unique perspective on why we shouldn’t let fear shape our lives. Observing the saint’s feast on Jan. 24, Father Mike Mendl, a friend who is a Salesian priest and journalist, shared a link to a story regarding St. Francis’ keen insight. The story comes from Aleteia, a lay edited Catholic newsletter that reaches 11 million unique visitors a month. St. Francis affirmed that old adage about visiting a dentist – observing that the fear of future sufferings is greater than the suffering itself. But he offered a r...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute NOTE: At the start of January, we published a list of nine “core principles” of being a Jesus-like Leader. The article struck a chord with readers, prompting us to devote some time and space to drilling deeper into each principle. Here we focus on the second principle: All of us are leaders some of the time. * * * Often when we hear the word “leadership,” we think of people who hold prominent positions in large organizations. At the pinnacle of this image of leadership are the kind of folks who flew their private jets into Davos earlier th...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute When it comes to leadership, Pope Francis and I have a few things in common. One, we both had leadership positions thrust on us at a relatively young age. Two, neither of us was adequately prepared for the challenge. Three, in our Lord's loving embrace, we can admit it. That awareness came to me as I contemplated the first core principle of Leading Like Jesus that we mentioned in our last Catholic Leader (Jan. 3 ’18). That story, outlining nine core principles of S3 Jesus-like Leadership, drew more interest and feedback – all positive ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute The start of every New Year seems to trigger two phenomena: Pundits gaze into their crystal balls and tell you what the future is going to hold for you; and, The vast majority of people adopt a list of New Year’s Resolutions to improve on last year’s outcomes. Each trend comes with its own hazards. About the hazards Crystal balls are notoriously inaccurate and misleading. And Murphy’s Law says the more risk you take betting on a particular outcome in the future, the more likely something will come along to mess it up. As for reso...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Last month I had the opportunity to speak to key selected leaders in a large Catholic healthcare network. I felt blessed to have the opportunity. But I knew it would last only two hours, so I had to hone in quickly on what mattered most about The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus. I decided to develop a list of “core principles” that are absolutely inherent in the notion of Leading Like Jesus. After a good bit of prayer and thought, I came up with nine principles that you might want to take with you on your leadership journeys in 2018. 1. Leaders...

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If you’re one of the many donors who participated in our annual fund-raising effort between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, we want to extend to you our deep and sincere thanks. You will definitely be hearing from us soon so we can thank you individually and provide you with the documentation the IRS requires if you itemize deductions on your tax forms. But we don’t want to wait to express our heartfelt gratitude and to affirm how essential your assistance is to our ministry. In the new year we intend to take some radical initiatives to make the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus available to...

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Our Sunday Visitor is sponsoring a free webinar tomorrow, Dec. 14, about how to become an S3 Jesus-like Leader. The 1-hour webinar will be hosted by Owen Phelps, Ph.D, author of The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus and Director of the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute. It begins at 2 p.m. EST. “We get many questions from people who have heard about S3 Leadership, and this is a great opportunity for people who want to learn more about it to do so with a small investment of their time” says Phelps. “But it’s also an opportunity for people who are familiar with our appro...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute If there was one thing I could give to everyone in the world this Christmas, it would be adequate food and clean water. With the God-given abundance of this planet, we have no excuse for anyone going hungry or dying from diarrhea caused by tainted water. Yet, the carnage continues. Nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion people are consistently underfed. Many, especially the young, literally waste away and starve to death. In the U.S., 49 million people struggle to put food on the table – and one in five children goes to bed hungry each night. ...

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Advent: Are you serious?

Posted on November 28, 2017 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute   At what is arguably the busiest time of the year for us, our church comes up with one more thing for which we’re told we must be mindful. Advent. This year it begins this Sunday, Dec. 3, and continues right up through Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve, for God’s sake. As if we had time for anything else this time of the year, our church asks us to put aside four whole weeks to prepare for the birth of our savior. For many of us, putting aside four minutes may seem to be asking too much. I know. I was one of these people not so long ago. I pretty much ignored A...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 When each of my parents died, I had a choice to make. But when the news of their deaths came, what happened next didn’t seem like a choice at all. Neither passing was a total surprise. Both were ill. Yet when death came it was like a punch to my heart. People can hover on the brink of death for months, even years. We think we are ready for the ultimate transition. Then we learn – painfully -- that we’re not. The event is so final, the loss seemingly so complete....

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute If you want your organization to thrive, treat your people – all your people – well. That’s not the whole story of organizational success, of course. But it’s clear that organizations reach their peak performance only when they take good care of their people. Study after study shows that organizations which are great to work for also perform much better than their peers in terms of growth and profits. False dichotomies Research shows, time and again, that taking care of profits or taking care of people are not polar opposites. The...

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By Owen Phelps Director, Yeshua Institute Recently we sent our fourth and last contribution to obtain water service for a new Mission House in Kampala, Uganda – which prompted me to reflect on the power of our partnership with our donors. It’s really amazing! Javis Mugagga, our partner in Uganda, is also amazing. God has abundantly blessed him with vision, tenacity, an incredible work ethic and a network of remarkable people to help him achieve his mission. With these graces he managed to obtain the resources to build the Mission House. When I saw what it would look like when it was done (see ...

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Institute adds new board member

Posted on November 14, 2017 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute We are honored and pleased to announce that John P. Sentovich, 57, has joined the Board of Directors of the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute. John brings to the board more than 20 years of experience in foundation and gift planning for nonprofit organizations, including both faith-based and academic entities. Until recently he was Director of Gift Planning at Northern Illinois University, and before that he served as the Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Rockford. He recently joined Savant Capital Management in Roc...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Our church’s feast on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, is one of my favorites. It reminds me that the church’s leadership does not have a monopoly on designating saints – and doesn’t want one. Yes, of course the church’s highest leadership, in this case the pope, reserves for himself the right to designate – canonize – official saints of the church who are held up around the world as models for us to imitate. And the pope’s declaration comes only at the end of a formal process outlined in detail by church law. Even so, up un...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute This isn’t patting ourselves on our back or feathering our own nest – although we are incredibly blessed to have Father David Beauvais on our Yeshua Team. The truth of the matter is that his selfless service over more than 50 years of priesthood would have brought him his most recent reward – and a host of others – even if he wasn’t part of our team. Still, I feel honored to report on the latest recognition he has received for his incredible service to his church, its people and the larger world. From my perspective, he is a model Je...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Early in our Catholic Leading Like Jesus Encounter experiences, we show a short video that depicts Jesus’ encounter with James and John – and their mother – in the Gospel of Matthew (20:20-28). Whatever else it is, it is certainly an awkward moment for Jesus – and quite possibly for James and John, who may have had no clue that their mother would choose this moment to play the role of the proverbial stage mom. As it turns out, that one awkward moment begets another soon after. But as you might expect, Jesus is up to handling both of them w...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute So there I was, on a porch overlooking a lovely pond, the branches of the trees between me and the water waving to catch my attention. I was soaking in the glories of God’s country. Or I should have been. Instead, I was peering down onto my phone screen, checking my email for the umpteenth time in the last half hour – in that moment totally oblivious to all the majestic beauty in which I was actually immersed. It made no sense at all. I was in a place I had dreamed of for decades. And when I found it, I designed the porch to provide this pricele...

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By Owen Phelps, Pd.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Today, Oct. 4, is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps the second most beloved saint of all after the Blessed Virgin Mary. And a wonderful way to mark the occasion would be to order and read Leading Like Francis – Building God’s House by Carl Koch, a Fellow with the Yeshua Instiute. About the saint Born in 1181 or 1182 into a wealthy family, Francis first reveled in the high life of a rich young man, but then famously rejected all of the trappings of wealth and adopted a life marked by simplicity, kindness, love and devotion. People and ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Father William J. Byron’s new book, Parish Leadership: Principles and Perspectives, is a marvelous little book for pastors, lay parish staff and volunteer leaders alike. As I read it, I frequently found myself imagining what it would be like for parish leadership teams to read it and discuss it together over a period of some weeks. It would be a great way for a pastor to get everyone on his parish team on the same page, if you’ll pardon the pun. At just 159 pages, this book is very different from some recent classics in parish leadership like Rebuilt ...

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Staying on track as a Jesus-like Leader

Posted on September 05, 2017 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute A central concern of Yeshua Institute leaders – as well as of participants in our Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus S3 Encounters  -- is how do we all sustain our enthusiasm and commitment to being and growing as Jesus-like Leaders. As the typical Encounter winds down, participants are excited about what they have learned about becoming Jesus-like S3 Leaders. They tell us in person and they tell us in their evaluations, where many express their firm commitments both to learn more and to practice what they’ve learned with a newfound passion. ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute I have an old and dear friend who will turn 86 before the end of this month who from time to time wonders if and how his life has made a difference. He never married or had children, so he has no wife or children around to assure him – in either word or deed – that his life has mattered. He was a professor of mine and an incredible presence on our college campus back in the tumultuous 60s, so I can say without reservation that his life has made a huge and wonderful difference in my own. But he still wonders. Blessed with the feedback of a loving...

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Biggest impediment to learning: Ego

Posted on August 08, 2017 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus points out that all of us “have an ego problem” and a choice to make. We can either Edge God Out or Exalt God Only. When we Edge God Out, we are driven by pride or fear – and in either case, our efforts to exert influence generally do not end well. Now we read that ego-driven attitudes and behaviors also impede our ability to learn. “The biggest barrier to learning is not your lack of time or resources, it’s your ego,” says Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama and No-Drama ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute All of us set goals of one sort or another – or we should be doing so. We set goals for ourselves. And if we have positions of leadership, we set them with others. It was once more correct to say “we set goals for others,” but research and experience has taught us that it’s much more effective to set goals with people rather than for them. That’s true even for parents with small children. Almost as soon as a child can talk, he or she should be brought into the goal setting process about a host of things. No, it’s not about l...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute In two days I turn 70. That’s not bragging. That’s taking a deep breath of gratitude. Without the graces of God and the miracles of modern medicine, I would have checked out from a heart attack on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2003, at age 55. My obit would not have mentioned my 50th wedding anniversary, celebrated this past December. It would have said I was survived by five grandchildren, not 16. It would not have mentioned my work with the Yeshua Institute or The Catholic Leader. My book, The Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus: Introducing S3 Lea...

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Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson hosted the first ever Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus Encounter in Spanish on May 20. And as a measure of its success, within a few weeks the parish hosted a second Encounter. Rocio Zamora, the parish’s Hispanic Ministry Coordinator, facilitated both programs. According to Zamora, the nearly 25 people who attended the first Encounter came from several parishes in the Tucson Diocese. They are students in the diocese’s Ministerial Formation-Hispanic Ministry Program about to conclude their level II diocesan certification. Very well received “I thi...

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We can break our bad habits by monitoring our performance with a simple checklist, says Sabina Nawaz, an executive coach who works in 26 countries, in an article for Harvard Business Review’s HBR.org website. Anyone who has read The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande won’t be surprised by Nawaz’ assertion that checklists are powerful tools for individual and organizational excellence. But the checklist she proposes to help us break bad habits, which she calls a “Yes List,” is an incredibly simple device.  It can be set up in no more than a couple of minutes...

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The four Fs of effective feedback

Posted on June 28, 2017 in: Articles

By Owen Phelps Director, Yeshua Institute We’re always delighted when we find business and human resource processes that implicitly support the Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus. And truth be told, they’re everywhere. Some emerge in formal academic studies. Others rise to the top in hands-on leadership experiences. Recall that our framework is S3 Jesus-like Leadership: Servant – it’s not about me. Steward – it’s not mine. Shepherd – people are precious. In this context, how do you handle the occasional need to provide corrective feedback? David Gr...

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By Chris D’Souza I solemnly resolve before God and my family to always keep in mind the dignity and responsibility of my calling as a dad. I will always be grateful for the gift of my family and the privilege of fatherhood. I thank God for the legacy that I have received from my parents, and if there have been any unresolved issue of the past, I will strive, with God’s grace and professional help, to deal with them effectively for my sake and that of my family. I will honor the marriage covenant made before God and man by loving and respecting my wife as the equal partner in leading our family. I will ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Trust combines seemingly contradictory properties in such a way as to make it as unique as it is uniquely valuable to humanity. It’s the glue that holds people together in pursuit of all the essential things that the individual cannot achieve alone. It’s the grease that permits rapid, reliable, low-friction interaction that supports the fundamental interdependence of humanity at all levels of scale. Without trust virtually nothing is possible. Humanity’s most basic and fundamental relationships – from friendship to marriage, from co...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute The key to being a true Servant Leader, in the mold of Jesus, is to recognize that in the great drama of life and leadership, ultimately “it’s not about me.” That’s a tall order because with self-awareness comes the instinct to self-preservation. We can’t help but ask the question: Who is going to take care of me? And it’s nearly impossible to avoid the response: I’ll do it myself. That’s a huge fiction, of course. Interdependence to the core At the very least we are interdependent beings.  Without others...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Chris Lowney, the Jesuit seminarian turned JP Morgan managing director turned chair of a huge Catholic hospital system turned leadership author has hit another homerun. His new book, Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church, is a must read for anyone interested in the health and well-being of the Catholic Church and its members. Previously, Lowney authored three fine books that discussed various aspects of leadership:   Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World (2005), that explains how the Jesui...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Last week I was asked to speak about the Catholic Vison for Leading Like Jesus (CVLLJ) to members of an amazing organization in Wichita, KS. The organization is the Catholic Assembly for Business (CAB), which has more than 100 members, male and female -- many of whom gather for a breakfast each quarter, where they have the opportunity to network and to hear a Catholic speaker. (By the way, the CAB meets at the Wichita Diocese’s Spiritual Life Center, which is a facility to die for. If your diocese or religious community is contemplating building a retreat c...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Ministry Formation is a two-year program in the Rockford Diocese designed to prepare people to serve in ministry, especially parish ministry. Men who wish to enter diaconate discernment and formation have to finish this program first. Our Catholic Vision for Leading Like Jesus training experience is an integral part of the program. Having taught several of these classes, I never fail to be amazed at the intelligence, maturity and devotion of the students -- men and women alike. Not infrequently, they really surprise me. One of those times was in a class where we ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Recently we came across an article that asks an important question of all leaders in every leadership context: “Do you foster a culture of encouragement?” Why is a culture of encouragement so important? Think of culture as soil. And think of your goals – at home, at work, and in your other roles -- as the harvest that the soil produces. We all know that the better the soil, the better the harvest that will emerge from it. But we should also know that wise farmers don’t leave the quality of their soil to chance. Maybe they can’t co...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Writing for Forbes, Amy Rees Anderson shares a simple story that draws a clear line between what it takes to be a mediocre employee and what it takes to be a great one. She shared it, she explained, because “it is so important that leaders are able to explain things to employees in a way that can be easily understood and which creates a clear picture of what you are looking for.” Her simple story is known as The Parable of the Oranges. We share it here with you with only a few minor edits. The Parable of the Oranges There was a young man who had...

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The longest journey you will ever take is the 18 inches from your head to your heart. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School, former Chair & CEO of Medtronic and author of Discover Your True North,  has a lot to say about the importance of courage in effective leadership. Citing several cases of business leaders who showed exceptional courage and saw their companies reap the rewards, he endorses the perspective of poet Maya Angelou, who said: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because ...

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By Owen Phelps, Ph.D. Director, Yeshua Institute About a month ago The Catholic Leader featured an article about what to do when someone at work goes over your head to your boss. The advice we offered was sound -- as far as it went. But it didn’t go far enough. We noted that when a peer or a person you are supervising goes over your head to your boss, it can be “one of the most difficult and spirit-crushing things that can happen at work.” We also noted that when you first discover it has happened, “you are thrust into turmoil. A part of you wants to fight. A part of you feels like yo...

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