Archive | March 3, 2015

Leadership Lessons from the Marriage of Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston

The wedding ceremony between Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston in 1992 was on the lips of many for a long time to come as it was what you would call the wedding of the year. They wore a lot of smiles for the camera, and looked very happy; however, as you may have guessed from the onset, that happiness did not last. Now you’re reading this and probably wondering what their marriage has to do with leadership. Well it has a lot to do with leadership because as leadership guru, John C. Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Also, like charity, leadership begins at home. The family is the smallest unit of society and if leadership at this level is given adequate attention most societal vices will cease.
The purpose of this article is not to make either party look bad, but to see what leadership lessons can be learnt from their union.
Bobby and Whitney were married for about sixteen years and had one daughter, Bobbi Kristina. For those who followed this marriage very closely, it soon became glaring what effect it had on Whitney Houston’s personality and her career. Whitney was at the peak of her career at the time she married Bobby but we watched her gradual decline from that peak due to a lifestyle of constant drug and alcohol abuse. A lifestyle it has become clear was encouraged if not initiated by Bobby. Even after their divorce in 2007, Whitney never became her old self and died in 2012. The autopsy at the time revealed the use of cocaine. Today, her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, lies in coma after what appears to be a drug overdose. These are leadership issues as I will point in due cause.
Below is an excerpt of an interview with Whitney’s former bodyguard, David Roberts, granted to the Daily Mail. Although it is not the entire interview, it is sufficient for you to get an insider’s glimpse into the marriage between Bobby and Whitney. A link has also been included to enable you the entire interview.
‘We developed a rapport and I liked her immensely,’ he says. ‘At that time, she was a very professional and articulate but slightly shy and unworldly woman.
‘She had a wonderful sense of humour. We had a lot of fun.’
Roberts believes that she had already experimented with drugs at this stage, although he saw no sign of them.
He was then asked to arrange the security for her 26th birthday party at her house in New Jersey.
She attended on the arm of actor Eddie Murphy, but Roberts noticed a new male presence. ‘A bus pulled up at the house and three guys got off.
One of them was wearing a turquoise and white floral shorts suit, black loafers and white socks.
‘I asked if I could help him and he said he was Bobby Brown and that he had an invitation to come to the party. Later in the evening, I saw him dancing with Whitney in a way they would call dancing but other people might describe as sexual assault. And that was it.’
Officially, Houston and Brown’s romance did not begin until 1991, although Roberts says Brown had become a fixture long before that.
‘I could see the effect he was having on her. She became obsessed by where he was and what he was doing. She didn’t trust him, and the emotional stress manifested itself in her starting to lose her temper. She was unhappy; there wasn’t the same laughter there had been.’
From the start, their pairing was an unlikely one. Whitney, already America’s sweetheart whose eponymously titled first album remains the bestselling debut by a female artist in music history, was the product of a showbusiness dynasty.
Her mother was Cissy Houston, a singer, and her father John Houston, a powerful entertainment manager. Dionne Warwick was her cousin and Aretha Franklin her honorary aunt.

By contrast, Brown was involved in gang violence from an early age. He had become successful with the group New Edition before becoming a solo artist, but drug abuse, accusations of rape and other criminal activities dogged him throughout his career.
Brown began to travel with Houston when she went on tour, and the pair would often hole themselves up in their hotel room with large quantities of alcohol.
But I knew they were taking drugs together, because everyone knew.
‘As time went on, she started to cancel performances and events because she wasn’t well, and it was obvious why.’ He believes Houston willingly allowed herself to be dragged down by Brown.
‘I think that to make him feel less uncomfortable about his inadequacies, and the fact she was more successful than him, she went down to his level. That meant joining him in his habits. When they were out together, they were loud and brash. They used bad language and had arguments to attract attention. It was embarrassing.’
Brown cheated on Houston frequently before they divorced in 2007, and Roberts believes it was a deliberate policy aimed at chipping away at her self-esteem.
Roberts says: ‘Her behaviour was similar to battered wife syndrome, which I’d seen in my time in the police. He was jealous of her success, so he rubbed her face in his cheating, but she forgave him every possible indiscretion. I just couldn’t understand it. And it ate away at her.’ As Whitney later admitted: ‘He was too promiscuous, dragging dirt into my home. It disturbed me.’

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The leadership lessons that can be learned from the sixteen year marriage between Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston are as follows;
1. Insecure leaders are destructive. Inevitably they destroy the lives of those they lead. Whereas secure leaders build others up, insecure leaders tear others down.
2. Leaders have a certain level of influence over those they lead and while secure leaders use this influence for the benefit of those they lead, insecure leaders use this influence for their own selfish purposes which never benefit those they lead.
3. Secure leaders add value to others but insecure leaders subtract value from others.
4. The actions of a leader always have far-reaching consequences.
5. While secure leaders aspire to see their followers become greater than themselves, insecure leaders desire to see their followers become worse than themselves.
6. No leader can perform better than his past will allow him to without a conscious and deliberate effort on his part to do so.
7. Leaders can only take their people where they have been themselves. Therefore, before you follow any leader, ask yourself these questions, where have they been? Is it somewhere I want to go?
8. To identify an insecure leader, look at his or her followers. Jesus, the greatest leader that ever lived, said, by their fruits you shall know them.
9. A secure leader seeks to heal past and present hurts and avoid future hurts but an insecure leader inflicts pain; physically, mentally and emotionally.
10. It is easier for an insecure leader to destroy a secure person than it is for a secure leader to repair an insecure person.
11. Insecure people usually follow insecure leaders and the reason is simple; each of us is like a magnet and we attract into our lives not necessarily the people we want but the people that we are.
12. The leader does to a large extent determine the fate of the followers.
13. A leader who has not successfully led himself cannot lead another successfully.
14. The people always become like the leader.

Leadership Lessons from the Lives of Great Women: The Daughters of Zelophehad

Zelophehad was one of the many children of Israel rescued from Egyptian bondage. While the Bible does not say much about him, it does mention that he had no sons. Zelophehad had five daughters named, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They were very unusual women. After the death of their father, all five of them stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the princes and indeed the entire congregation of Israel and said, “Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons. Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.” (Numbers 27:3-4)
Their request was a bit foreign to Moses as it was the first time women would bring such an issue before him. He was obviously unsure how to handle it so he turned to the Lord for guidance and this is what God said. “The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.” (Numbers 27:7-8)
Not only did God instruct Moses to give all five women an inheritance among their father’s brothers, He also made a law that going forward, the inheritance of a man who had no son should be passed to his daughter. Thus, in confronting Moses on this issue, the five daughters of Zelophehad not only liberated themselves, they liberated all women who would ever find themselves in a similar situation. These women were empowered women, these women were leaders.
The leadership lessons that can be learned from the lives of these great women are as follows;
Great women are liberators; they do not sit around waiting for others to liberate them from the challenges life throws at them, rather, they confront the challenges that face them and liberate not only themselves but others with them.
Great women challenge the status quo, they never accept it. These five women did not accept the status quo, that only a man could inherit his father’s possession, rather they challenged it. They said, “Our father had no sons and why should his name be erased from his family because of that?” (Paraphrased)
Great women are not afraid to go where no has gone before. Prior to this time, no woman had ever stood up to demand an inheritance amongst men but these women did not let that stop them. They had a vision and they pursued it regardless of whether anyone had done it before or not. Great women are pathfinders, trail blazers and pacesetters. They are leaders.
Great women fight for a cause bigger than them. For these women, it wasn’t about an inheritance, it was more than that. It was about ensuring that their father’s name did not die. Their father was dead but they were determined that his name would not die. Interestingly, no one knew Zelophehad while he lived, but his five daughters sounded his name not only to come before Moses and the entire congregation but as a result of their actions, his name was written in the Bible where it would be read for generations to come. They spoke for their father when he was not there to speak for himself. When he could not fight for himself, they fought to ensure that he would have a light in his tribe and they achieved much more than that.
Great women are change agents. These women brought change not only for themselves but for women that would be born many generations later. No more would a woman be unable to inherit her father’s possession. No more would a man’s name die off because he had no sons.
Great women are bold. These women were bold; they stood before Moses and the entire congregation and stated their case without fear and trembling. “Our father is dead and he had no son.” They said and went on to ask the million dollar question which had never before been asked by a woman “why should his name be lost because he had no son?” Then finally they boldly declared what they wanted. “Give us a possession among the men.” (Paraphrased) Notice that these women did not say to Moses, “Will you give us? Is it possible?” No, they placed a demand on Moses, they said, “Give us.” And Moses gave them.
Great women are an inspiration to other women. Every time I read the story of these women, I am deeply inspired. Their story makes a complete nonsense of gender inequality which many women have used as an excuse for inaction. Yes, their story sends this short but powerful message to all women, “you can too, because you’re a woman.”

Leadership Lessons Daily: Day 62

Scripture Passage: Exodus 32:1-5
A Leader’s Character is Revealed in the Midst of a Crisis
When Moses received the vision to set free Israel from Egypt, Aaron was a major part of that vision, so it is safe to say he was a leader alongside Moses. Every time that Moses appeared before Pharaoh to say the famous four words, “let my people go,” Aaron was present. Aaron witnessed the mighty acts of God and saw many parts of the vision fulfilled. However, when faced with a crisis as Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, Aaron made a golden calf for the children of Israel to worship. His action is proof that he never bought into the vision to begin with no matter what he may have said.
The lesson here is this; you will never know who a leader is until a crisis arises. Anyone can talk, for talk is cheap. However, no matter what a leader says or teaches, in the midst of a crisis, his real character, values and philosophies are exposed.
Prayer: Father, help me to be consistent in my character at all times.