Wednesday, October 26, 2005 | |

The Leadership Blog Interview: Mark Oestreicher

Mark Oestreicher

Bio: Mark is President of Youth Specialties and he’s written or contributed to numerous books for youth ministry.


The Leadership Blog Interview Questions
1. What gives you the greatest joy in being a leader?
Mark: "This answer has changed dramatically for me in the past 18 months. Previously, I would have said something about seeing people "get it". but these days, I'm more jazzed about sharing power, and find great joy in seeing people understand their potential contribution and realize it. I get ecstatic when our people are empowered and freed to use their gifting; and when those otherwise disperate gifts come together in a synergistic way in alignment with our organizational mission."

2. What is your biggest pet peeve as a leader?
Mark: "Whining. I could expound, but that pretty much says it."

3. Who made the biggest influence in your life as a leader?
Mark: "I'm sure all leaders (at least the good ones) have a plethora of answers for this question. Many have had a great influence on my leadership - some of them in a negative way I've had to undue through years of failure; but even those have shaped who I am and how I lead today. In more recent years, the two biggest influences have been Mike Yaconelli (the late founder of Youth Specialties, who was my boss for my first 5 years here), and Mark Dowds (a youth minister turned entreprenuer in Toronto, who has been consulting with us for the past year). Mike modeled passion and vision for me. Mark has taught me to be curious about other people, and to get over myself and give away power."

4. What books have changed your life?
Mark: "That's a broad question - so I'll narrow it to the books that have changed my perspective on leadership: Good to Great had a huge impact on me - especially the notion of a level 5 leaderMax DePree's books (especially Leading Without Power) have been huge Seth Godin's books (especially Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside) have shifted my thinking All the books by Brian McLaren have caused me to think in new ways"

5. What's your biggest challenge as a leader?
Mark: "Thinking systemically. Anyone can come up with a good idea. It takes a different kind of leadership to be able to see the systemic implications of a good idea."

6. What goals do you have as a leader?
Mark: "Personally, my biggest goal as a leader is to continue growing. I am still so far from being the leader I want to be and need to be. But I'm encouraged that God is doing such a great work in my heart (and leadership abilities) in the past few years - so I believe my best years are still to come.Outwardly, my goals for our organization, as I alluded to above, are to have shared power, freedom to ideate without repercution (conversely, to be lauded), a curious approach to all tension and disagreement, and to continue operating in the blessing of God."

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Mark: "Right here at Youth Specialties. We're in a semi-radical phase of re-invention and change, and I'm excited about seeing what it looks like in ten years! "