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National Leader of the Month for September 2008


Dr. Ramesh Richard

LeaderNetwork.org has provided two mediums for you to explore the insights of National Leader of the Month Ramesh Richard: read them below and listen to excerpts from a conversation on leadership between Brian McCormick and Ramesh Richard. To listen to the podcast, copy and paste the following RSS link into your preferred podcast software: http://www.leadernetwork.org/leadership_podcast.rss. In order to begin playing the audio in a separate window, click here Ramesh Richard audio.

Honoring Ramesh Richard

In the simplest terms, a metaphor is something that reminds us of something else. In his own words, Dr. Ramesh Richard shares three metaphors that he uses to shape his life and his outlook.

Wherever I travel, I pick up a clock from the country I am visiting. The clocks themselves are not very expensive and can be purchased for a few dollars at a local handicrafts store. Clocks reveal to me that time is always moving, and I need to be acting intentionally and deliberately. What God has called and gifted me to do gives me very little tolerance for things that waste time.

The second metaphor of life I have adopted is globes--globes from all across the world. For example, I have a globe keychain from Kenya. Also, I have an inflatable globe ball! For me, globes show the scope of my work because I have been given a niche stewardship of the whole world. While a clock prods me to urgency, a globe reveals to me my scope.

For the third metaphor, I carry fountain pens. I have fountain pens from all over the world too. This morning I was writing with a fountain pen that a Chinese friend gave to me. The engine of a fountain pen is the nib, and if the nib is not cleaned, the ink begins to blot in the paper. Fountain pens [reveal to] me that the nib of my life needs to be clean. Fountain pens also have to be refilled, just like me. With the pace and nature of my busy, complicated, and fulfilling work, I deplete easily. I need to be filled and refilled for the tasks that are at hand. The most important [thing to remember about] the fountain pen is that the pen is powerless unless the author picks it up; [similarly], I am powerless unless the divine Author picks me up.

Dr. Ramesh Richard has already written his epitaph, which he has carved in stone: A spokesman for the sovereign savior worldwide. While following his vocation, Dr. Richard has certainly maximized that most precious resource--time--that is represented by his clocks. With his message and gifts, he has impacted people all over the globe. For his influence and remarkable leadership, Ramesh Richard is the National Leader of the Month for September 2008.

About Ramesh Richard

Spiritual Philosopher, Global Mentor, Inspirational Speaker, Author & Graduate-School Professor

Bio: married to Bonnie; father of three children (Ryan, Robby, Sitara); author of Soul Passion, Soul Mission, and Soul Vision; has earned two doctoral degrees: a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Delhi and a Th.D. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary; founder and president of RREACH (Ramesh Richard Evangelism and Church Health).

Favorite quote: "God will not do for us what we must do, and He will not let us do what only He can do." -original quotation attributed to his mentor Fred Smith Sr. with wording slightly modified by Ramesh Richard

Books recommended for aspiring leaders: To me, most leadership books are anecdotal and actually can be used against each otherís principles, so I do not recommend leadership books. Since time is at a premium, I suggest you subscribe to a digest of books or executive summaries...Since leadership books often can be placed against each other and even cancel each other out, we need something...outside leadership books to give us insight into leadership.

Purpose: Purpose combines three aspects: passion, mission and vision.

Passion answers the question: What have you set your heart upon?

Mission answers the question: Why do you do what you do everyday?

Vision answers the question: How can you best be used in your life?

In this 1000-month allotment that we have for a life..., passion relates to devotion, mission to function, and vision to direction. I think you can have many passions in life but only one passion of life...With regards to mission, why do I get up everyday? What wakes me up? Itís simply to make the person I love look great. The great thing with God is that the more I love Him rightly, I can love other things rightly...Vision is [answering the question]: How can I be best used?
So my purpose is to exponentially reach into large numbers of desperate souls around our broken world with spiritually-lasting solutions...

How long have you been pursuing that vision? I have been actively pursuing it for the last 20 years (in the sense of having an organization to ďamplify the voiceĒ), but itís been developing and intensifying for about four decades.

In pursuit of your vision, what are some of the challenges that youíve dealt with, and what are some of the things that have really helped propel you to be successful in the achievement of your vision?

I think [a challenge has been] the self-understanding that comes from divine calling and internal stirring: a gift cluster that coalesces into keeping your compass towards whatever need youíre particularly sensitive to. Every need is not an idea; every idea is not an opportunity, and every opportunity is not a mandate. There are many, many needs around us: whether they are across the street or across the oceans. We cannot try to do everything about most of [the needs], but we can do something about some of them. I think the connection of your own preparation and calling to a particular need really comes from what God places in your heart. It sensitizes you, tenderizes you, and crushes you, so that you can be particularly aware of certain needs. Itís a coalescence or confluence of several factors which make me--or make any person--sensitive to a particular orientation or a particular action.

Then, of course, there is the larger frame of the challenge of leadership. Leadership is very difficult--especially if you are leading those who are volunteering rather than being paid or if you are leading those who have to work with you at a much lower salary than the average salary on the street. There has to be a compatible calling in their heart: a willingness to join you in the cause...

I find that leadership carries about four components. One is the understanding that leadership is not a position: itís a function. Leadership is not a rank: itís a role. There is a lot of material written on servant leadership, and the only way I can say it is that servanthood is the position and leadership is the function. If anybody asks me what I do, I say I serve as leader of RREACH or I serve as professor at Dallas Seminary. I think service is the word, and leader is the noun. That aspect of leadership has helped me much.

The second aspect of leadership is that I must personify the vision. I cannot expect others to follow me if I donít personify myself in my spiritual philosophy...The third factor is that all visions (including all organizations) go through deaths and resurrections, death and resuscitation...A fourth side of leadership is simply to mobilize people around the cause. A cause is much bigger than a gift, and a gift is much bigger than a person...The one who gave them to me is larger than all.

Place you most like to visit: I think the most beautifully-situated city in the world is Cape Town in South Africa. Itís just absolutely gorgeous. It is located at the meeting of three oceans right at the tip of Africa. Architecturally, I think the most beautiful city in the world--at least in faÁade--is Prague in the Czech Republic. I find the people in any city across the world are the ones who make the city a good experience...

Ramesh Richard and Leadership

Advice to aspiring leaders: I would ask [aspiring leaders] to do a couple of things. First, Iíd ask them to do a ďStars-Scars SketchĒ of their past: look at the early years of life and draw a little timeline from zero to wherever they are presently. The Scars side is the bottom of the line, and the Stars side is the top of the line. The scars side has to do with all the bad things they generated or which have happened in their lives. The Stars side has to do with the highlights and the great moments of their lives. I usually ask them to look at the Stars side for what drives them, what motivates them, what fulfills them, and what satisfies them. However, the Stars side can also be a great source of temptations. For example, if a guyís extremely focused on material things, he could have on the Stars side all the stuff he has bought: his first house, his first car and so on. It also happens that the Stars side can be a source of temptation to fall into gross error, fall into the wrong approach or fall into the wrong philosophy in life. For the Scars side,...there is an almost indiscernible straight line between a personís major scars and the sensitivity to help others. I highly recommend the Stars-Scars Sketch exercise.

Secondly, get as many mentor and coach meetings as possible. I asked my son to meet 15 of my friends. My son is 25 years old, and he set up appointments and went to meet each one of these 15 friends for about an hour. I would recommend all upcoming, aspiring leaders place themselves in simple, informal conversation with those who they look up to and enjoy being around. Some of those relationships turn into a regular, consistent meetings, and I would recommend those very highly, too.

A third thing I would strongly suggest for aspiring leaders is that they donít think about becoming significant. Instead, they should think about being fruitful, useful and profitable. When I say profitable, I don't mean in a sense of monetary profit, but just a general awareness of how they can best be used--be fruitful and be profitable to God. It is amazing that in the middle of the challenges of leadership there will be an interior joy that occupies them.

Traits most important in a leader: I have a conviction that people donít do what they believe; rather, they do what they value. So I know that organizations, companies and businesses write out their vision and strategies in business, and they also write out their values. Beneath the values are what I call virtues because you can have values which are wrong....Virtues are what protect the values--which affect behavior--from being skewed.

Again I draw the virtues of a leader from the ultimate resource. One set of virtues is found in the Beatitudes, which the Lord Jesus gave as public teaching. Beatitudes stand for behaviors that people practice that are built on certain virtues...I also like the character traits found in the latter part of the New Testament which talk about love and joy and peace and self control; these are virtues which need to be translated into values (which affect behavior). I would recommend strongly that every leader pursues those.

As I read leadership literature, Iím finding that it is all coming to solid spiritual basics...I attempt to present and point people to the Lord Jesus, one who gives life that can translate into power...

What can organizations do to encourage or stifle leaders? To encourage: to be given the opportunity to fail. To discourage: to have to be afraid of failing.

What and where are the best training programs that exist for leaders? There are many, many, [good programs] across the world. Drucker's Institute has become very popular in China. Almost every major university has centers of leadership. We, at RREACH, are also starting something for the leading young pastors of the world. These are guys of about 25 or 30 years of age, with 40 years of active work left. We focus on three areas of their leadership, and this is something Iíd like to recommend to anybody who wants to aspire for leadership.

One area [we focus on] is what I am calling discernment: the ability to discern what is good, what is better, what is wrong, what is right, what can be measured, and what cannot be measurable. Too often people count things that should not be counted.

The second area is what I am calling spirituality...Even those who are not of my conviction can still benefit from being spiritual in their orientation to life because the spiritual side of life affects all of life. Life is not a neat pie chart which is divided into zones: Itís more like segments and spirituality, which affects all segments.

The third area is effective communication because all leaders have to communicate one way or another and [need] to practice good, effective communication.

When was your leadership tested, and how did you respond? I have made my fair share of mistakes. There is a whole issue of how my friends can be colleagues and how colleagues can be friends. Itís better for colleagues to be friends rather than friends becoming colleagues, so thatís one big issue I have learned.

I have also learned that leaders are the ones who interpret reality for the organization. Others have called it defining reality, establishing order, or establishing purpose, but [whatever you choose to call it], the leader must interpret reality and see that people would subscribe to that interpretation of reality. If the people do not subscribe to the leader's interpretation of reality, there tends to be tension, misunderstanding and finally the breakdown of trust...

With regards to a leader's responsibility to interpret reality, if a leader comes into a situation where those around him or her donít really buy into the chosen definition of reality, what would you advise the leader to do: find a different situation, try to get people to buy into that definition, or revise the definition of reality? I donít want to say a leader defines reality; I do want to say the leader interprets reality which allows for a little bit of freedom within boundaries for discussions and discourses, engagements and even disagreements. In a new situation with a good, strong, old organization, I would spend a lot of time developing relationships with the key stakeholders.

In a political model of leadership, a new president can come in and say, "That was the former presidentís style. We have a completely new administration, and we are all going to come into step with what I have to say." However, most leadership transitions are not presidential politics. Itís more of a pastoral transition where relationships are so critical, and if you drop into a new situation, [you need to] establish relationships and go visit with people outside the office. You can do this at the water cooler or take people out to lunch. You should ask for an expense account to accommodate that kind of relationship-building because [relationship building that is] done face to face allows for communication to go well. You should keep away from email; email does not have voice or tone that people can read. Also, you should provide for consensus around what you sense the organization should be into. The members of the organization will support you if they feel they have some ownership of your development of the vision and mission. If the members of the organization donít think they have any ownership, they will do things because you pay them, but their hearts will not be in it. At that point, you are not a leader: You are just a boss.

Please share a piece of advice that you have been given. Who I am is far more critical to leadership than what I do. That means you should have integrity and character, which form the very heart of all leadership stances. Another aspect of my own growth has been to be able to discern [the importance of disclosure]. This requires a degree of transparency and vulnerability, especially with those who are peers or subordinates. Itís better to disclose rather than having people guess at why you did what you did. I would suggest disclosing everything: be open and vulnerable. I have the head of the universe behind me, so I donít have to be afraid for my head rolling without due course. I believe that God defends the honest of heart, so I can be completely open and vulnerable and transparent with people.

Other thoughts: The ones you love the most are most capable of either encouraging or discouraging you. Iím speaking specifically in relation to your spouse, your kids, and your parents. I would encourage leaders to keep those relational embers warm and growing because all of us know how some leaders could shine outside the public eye and be complete failures with things that outlast their leadership of a business or organization.

Ramesh Richard's Story (in his own words)

I found it important to keep Godís role and my role distinct. If I try to use certain aspects of Godís role in my life, Iím trying to play deity, and I do not function like I should. I fall into lethargy or laziness. I try to keep God's role and my role distinct in three or four ways. One is the area of your gifts. I cannot create my gifts. Once I know that I cannot create my gifts, I donít have to become somebody else. I donít have to be envious of anybody else, and I can just be myself. The second aspect is in the area of opportunities. I think we can see opportunities, we can seek opportunities, and we can seize opportunities, but we canít create them because God is the Creator (not only of heaven and earth but even of gifts and opportunities). So you can knock on the door, but you canít push the door open. God has to do that for you. Another area is the area of promotion. I cannot promote myself. With some people God would give me favor; with others, God will not give me favor. Therefore, I donít have the obligation to have to promote myself. I have to present myself as excellently as I can, and I hope I am doing that in some small way today, but the favor that I have with people must come from outside me.

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