Archive for July, 2010

Day 24 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Is “Tolerance” Killing Your Organization?

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Few Christians would argue that society has become too tolerant concerning moral issues. As a result, a similar sense of permissiveness is prone to carry over into the workplace. There’s a place for tolerance, and there’s a place for nonnegotiable accountability. Failing to understand the difference weakens a culture and encourages further  and ongoing deviant behavior. For instance, an area where tolerance can benefit an organization is in the arena of considering opinions that differ from your own. Not only should you tolerate differing opinions concerning strategies, change, and best practices, you should insist on them.

Areas where less tolerance is essential is in the realm of deficit ethical behavior. Again, trends in the workplace tend to follow society’s trends. That spells trouble for leaders today, because there are accepted behaviors in society and the workplace that violate clear biblical standards. Confronting and correcting those errors doesn’t make you judgmental, it simply means that you are acting in accordance with scripture and affirming what it declares as truth. There is a difference between being judgmental and discerning. Judging means that you condemn and punish, discerning means that you notice and correct.

In this secular age, behaviors that the Bible unquestionably defines as sinful are routinely legitimized by politicians and the courts. The advocates for these moral travesties claim that failing to acknowledge their “right” to behave sinfully indicates an unloving spirit of hypocrisy, as well as a violation of their freedom of speech and other human rights. However, the Bible never claims that to show love you must turn a blind eye to sin, or otherwise legitimize, or protect it! Society’s moral free fall and arrogant defense of doing whatever is right in one’s own eyes in the name of  “rights” has never been more widespread: from TV shows and movies with scenes that would make demons blush, to ubiquitous Internet porn, to “rights” movements that seek to sanction sinful lifestyles,  to the slaughter of 110,000 of the unborn daily,  just to name a few.

Today’s cultural current of hyper-tolerance can infect and diminish your business environment as your employees expect the “right” to be able to do their own thing, ignoring your values and standards. Their sense of entitlement promotes the lowering of ethical standards to accommodate them, and inhibits your effort to stretch them to reach your standard. Workers who expect to be rewarded merely because they show up, rather than step up, is evidence of their perceived “right” to put in minimum effort and get a maximum return. You also see evidence of ethical compromises when leaders promote or reward someone in their organization because they produce great numbers, even though their behaviors violate company core values. This brand of,  “sell out for the numbers” nonsense puts your entire organization at risk.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, one of the 70 challenges I’ll address is: How do I decide what to tolerate and what to declare as nonnegotiable? Every great enterprise must establish nonnegotiable behavioral expectations, because if you don’t decide up front what you will and won’t stand for, you will inevitably fall for anything.

Day 23 How to Lead by THE BOOK: There is No Such Thing as Business Ethics!

Friday, July 30th, 2010

This morning, the headlines highlight more updates concerning the 13 ethics violations against a long-serving congressman from New York.  Allegedly, there’s a plea deal in the works. On the same news page, there’s word that Citi Corp has been fined $75 million for misleading investors concerning their exposure to sub prime mortgages. Sadly, the list of ethical issues in government and business grows longer each day. This is because many leaders embrace situational ethics. Situational ethics means that they adapt or change their level of ethical behavior in order to fit the situation. They may have one set of ethics at church, another at home with their family, a third when they’re with friends, and a totally different level of ethics when they’re on the job. Situational ethics is corrupt behavior that leads to the compromising of character and the rationalization of wrong doing. The elimination of situational ethics will be one of the 70 strategies I tackle in, How to Lead by THE BOOK.

Here is the bottom line that every high-integrity leader understands:  Ethics are ethics. You either have them or you don’t. You cannot turn them on and off in order to fit the situation or accommodate what’s best for you at the moment. In fact, according to Luke 12:48, leaders will be held to a higher standard and subject to stricter punishment for failing to do what they know is right because, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

John Maxwell wrote a terrific little book on this subject: There is No Such Thing as Business Ethics. I recommend it for your library.

After giving a speech last night with a heavy accountability theme to a group of cement contractors, another public speaker came up and told me: “Man, you have guts. You said some very politically incorrect things that could be offensive to some people. You might really ruffle some feathers and even get bad speaker evaluations.” I felt sorry for this troubled soul who was so afraid of offending someone that he might sugarcoat or withhold the truth. I can promise you that in, How to Lead by THE BOOK, you won’t find compromises or choruses of Kumbaya! Some of the solutions I provide in the 70 strategies will rub harshly against today’s politically correct grain. Frankly, my guess is that some of the hyper-sensitive folks won’t even be able to make it through the introduction without having their PC sensitivities offended. Actually, I would hope for nothing less.

Day 22 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Think for Yourself!

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Authors today have it so much easier than authors of old. The Internet has made research simple, fast, and effective. As I write, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I can find stories, quotes, or scriptures for any of the 70 strategies I’ll present in the book by typing a few word in a search engine. If I enter, What does the Bible say about leadership?, I’ll get dozens of references to evaluate. The choices range from, “What the Bible says about effective leadership”, “What the Bible says about poor leadership”, “What the Bible says about women in leadership”, and more.

The ease with which you can research topics and questions today via the Internet also removes the excuse for ignorance concerning what you do or don’t know about the Bible. Many people judge the Bible, and they haven’t even read it! A friend of my wife’s recently told her, “The Bible doesn’t say anything bad about homosexuality.” This person couldn’t have been more wrong! If she had spent two minutes on Google and entered, “What does the Bible have to say about homosexuality?”, she’d have been directed to several key passages in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Leviticus and more! You can do the same for “anger”, “divorce, “drinking”, etc.

Sadly, many people believe the myths they hear about the Bible from friends, family, teachers, politicians, or on television, instead of taking the time to research the truth on their own. They are intellectually lazy. It’s easier for them to accept what they hear than to think for themselves. Worse, they judge the Bible based on other people’s opinions and prejudices, affirming the words of Wayne Dyer who said: “There is nothing more arrogant than to judge something that you don’t understand.”

My hope is that the readers of, How to Lead by THE BOOK and, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK will use the Internet and take the time to dig deeper into the principles I present; to study them, verify them, and personally validate them.

Update: Two more cover quote endorsers have come on board!: Jon Gordon, author of, The Energy Bus, The Shark and the Goldfish, and The No Complaining Rule; and Julie Norman Ziglar, speaker and co-author with Zig Ziglar of the book, Embrace the Struggle. Along with the three endorsers I mentioned in the Day 19 posting, I’m off to a great start in rounding up substantial support for, How to Lead by THE BOOK. I am grateful to each of these friends for committing their time to help me.

I’m giving the dinner keynote speech tonight at a beautiful resort in Ojai, California for the American Society of Cement Contractor’s Convention. The topic is, Six Decisions that Create Growth in Any Market! It will be a great time!

Day 21 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Bad Reviews & Hate Speech!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Every author hopes for good book reviews. With technology, it’s easy to find a review or to write them on the Internet. Sites like B&N.com, Amazon.com, Goodreads.com and others provide accessible and visible forums for readers to share their opinions. An author should be prepared to receive negative reviews. After all, no one can please everybody! In fact, when accepted with the right spirit you can learn from the constructive criticism in a review that is well-thought out and presented professionally. But what happens when someone goes overboard, gets personal, vulgar, and mean? That’s a different story, and the responsible websites will remove such reviews as they distract from the site’s intended purpose and can become a forum for hate.

I encountered this situation last week when a review posted on Goodreads.com was brought to my attention. It concerned my book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. The problem was that the reviewer said nothing about my book. Instead, he criticized the book on which it was based, the Bible, as well as the people who read the Bible. Using obnoxious language, he referred to the Bible as a “crap book” as “toxin” and to those who read it as, “brain dead myth believers, stupid.” He also used a four letter word I won’t repeat here. In today’s hyper-sensitive times, this review could be labeled as hate speech! I emailed Goodreads and brought this to their attention. Yesterday, I received word that they deleted the “off-topic, flagrantly offensive” review, and by doing so have maintained the integrity of their site and stayed true to their core purpose of sharing honest reviews–either positive or negative. I want to thank them for doing what is right.

In yesterday’s posting I promised to share insight on a topic I will cover as one of the seventy strategies in, How to Lead by THE BOOK: “When are leaders most susceptible to character breakdowns?” The Bible makes the answer clear. And as you survey the business, sports and entertainment world of modern times, you discover that nothing has changed. Human beings are most susceptible to character break-downs when they are at the top of the mountain, after a major victory, and when they feel invincible. This is when its easy to forget about God. At the point of our greatest success is when we can become prideful and rely on our own strength, and begin to believe that the moral and ethical rules others must play by no longer apply to us. There is danger at the top of the mountain! In How to Lead by THE BOOK I’ll offer several strategies to help you overcome this common trap of success.

Day 20 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Recipe for Greatness!

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

When the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, it is interesting to note what Jesus did not tell them. He never said that they shouldn’t try to become great. Rather, He gave them the recipe for greatness: serve others. Business people should learn from this. There’s nothing ignoble about trying to become a great leader or build a great organization. The question becomes: what are your motives and intended methods for doing so? Do you want to become great because of what you “get”, or because of what you become in the process of adding so much value to employees, customers, and your community that greatness ensues? In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll tackle the myth perpetuated by some that it’s wrong or prideful to pursue greatness. Instead, I’ll outline the Bible-based steps and motives necessary to become great.

We got word yesterday that, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK” was on the Hudson Airport Bestsellers list for the 12th straight week, at #24. That’s nice. But what’s most important is that people in all across America are looking to biblical principles to improve their lives, families, and businesses. The fact that we are able to help them do that is what puts smiles on the faces of everyone on our team!

When is a leader most vulnerable to character break-downs? I’ll offer two specific points to watch for in tomorrow’s posting.

Day 19 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Mary’s Only Sermon!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I’ve started the process of enlisting cover quote contributors for, How to Lead by THE BOOK. These are the men and women who agree to read the book prior to publication, and provide a supportive quote that appears on the cover. The publisher likes authors to seek out influential, well-known leaders, authors, business people, pastors and the like. I’m still in the process of sending out solicitations, but here’s who has already come on board: Joe Calloway, author of  Never by Chance; James Strock, author of Reagan on Leadership, Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership, and Serve to Lead; and Ed Bastian, President of Delta Airlines. I’m off to a great start with these three friends already agreeing to help me out.

When I was in Israel this past February, we traveled through the town of Cana on the way to our hotel on the Sea of Galilee. Cana is the place where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle in the Book of John. He turned water into wine at a wedding He attended with His disciples and mother. In fact, it was at Mary’s implicit suggestion that Jesus stepped up and helped the wedding host save face by making the water-to-wine conversion. In the second chapter of John where this miracle is recorded, Mary preached her only sermon recorded in the Bible. It was short and to the point as she instructed the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

It was obviously a pretty good sized wedding since Jesus converted the water in six pots, each containing 20-30 gallons of wine. But it was what Jesus did after He performed the miracle that provides instruction for us as leaders. He told the servants to take the new wine and bring it to the master of the feast, who didn’t know where the wine had come from. The feast master was so impressed with the quality of wine that he called over the bridegroom and commended him for saving the best wine for last. Jesus could have been the hero and taken the credit for Himself.  After all, He had saved the party and the day. But even early in His ministry He was committed to demonstrating servant leadership. In this case, it meant doing the work so that someone else could look good and get the credit, rather than being motivated by personal gain and recognition.

I’ll discuss the importance of giving away praise and credit in my new book, and offer biblical examples that instruct what to do in these regards and how to do it.

Day 18 How to Lead by THE BOOK: God or Money First?

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

The Ten Commandments are divided into two sections. The first tablet concerns your relationship with God. The second tablet refers to your relationship with others. In Matthew 19, when the rich young ruler approached Jesus to ask what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus began His reply by telling him to keep the commandments. When the ruler asked, “Which ones?”, Jesus recited the commandments from the second tablet, dealing with relationships with other people. After the ruler affirmed that he had kept those commandments, Jesus dropped the hammer and gave an instruction that would reveal the ruler’s failure to prioritize the first tablet and put God first: He instructed him to sell all he had and follow Him. At this point, the ruler walked away sad, because he had many possessions.

What was Jesus trying to teach this young man and how does it relate to us? While the rich man had good relationships with others, he was not right with God, and had not put his trust in Him as a priority and prerequisite for eternal life. In fact, he prioritized money over God and refused to give  up his “stuff” in order to put God first in his life. Many business people today do the same. They are friendly, respectful, considerate, ethical, and well liked by others. They’ve got the second tablet of commandments down pat! Their problem is that they have never put God first in their lives. Rather, material gain reigns supreme on their life’s altar. They are possessed by their possessions, and because of this, they follow their own will rather than God’s. They may appear successful on the outside, but will never enjoy what God had in store for them, spiritually or materially, because they put other “gods” before God. These gods can include but are not limited to: money, fame, power, and all that it brings in this lifetime.

In How to Lead by THE BOOK I’m going to present strategies for putting the first tablet first, despite the daily distractions, busyness, and emergencies of the moment. If you want to be a leader that lasts over time, and fulfills your full potential, prioritizing God is not an option.  Enjoy your Sunday!

Day 17 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Atheists Motivate Me!

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

I’m including excerpts from an article I read yesterday.  Stories like these no longer surprise me as much as they concern me. They indict the spiritual bankruptcy of our nation and portend a more indifferent, evil, perverse, and violent future for our kids.

I’ve included comments below each statement included from the article:

Arizona school children are told they can’t pray in front of the Supreme Court building … Two University of Texas Arlington employees are fired for praying over a co-worker’s cubicle after work hours … In Cranston, R.I., a high school banner causes controversy when a parent complains it contains a prayer and demands that it be removed.

XXX: No one is forcing anyone to pray that doesn’t want to pray! Those who are offended by prayer can simply do something else. Having to listen to someone’s cell phone conversation is a greater offense and invasion of privacy than hearing or witnessing someone’s private or public prayer.  If it bugs you, tune it out or look the other way!

There are more legal challenges to prayer in the United States than ever before, says Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist organization whose business is booming as Americans increasingly tackle church vs. state issues.

XXX: Most Americans don’t even realize that the terms  “separation of church and state” are not even mentioned in our Constitution! They are a manifestation of modern times.  As Hitler proved, if you tell the big lie often enough, people start to believe it.

“We’ve never had more complaints about government prayer,” Gaylor says. “We have just hired a second staff attorney in July. It’s turned into a cottage industry for our attorneys.”

The foundation has had a huge volume of complaints about prayer in the public sector, including numerous issues involving civic and government meetings where sessions have traditionally begun with a prayer or moment of silence.

XXX. Help me out here, in today’s age of noise and busyness, how does a moment of silence offend anyone? Again, no one is forcing anyone to pray during the moment of silence. They can use that golden time without noise to do whatever they’re accustomed to doing as an alternative to prayer: worry, plot, envy, lust and the like.

“Religious liberties are under attack across the country,” Nate Kellum, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund says. “My sense is that there’s some type of knee-jerk reaction, almost an allergic reaction, if someone sees the expression of religion,” he says.

And the bulk of the complaints are directed at Christians, he says.

XXX. The Alliance Defense Fund is an excellent organization. Check them out! Help them out!

“Fifteen percent of the people are not religious,” Gaylor says. “There’s an increasing plurality of faiths. It’s inevitable there’s going to be this clash with more people being offended.”

XXX. How did the 15% gain veto power over the 85%? Incidentally, there is nothing in our Constitution that guarantees anyone, including atheists, the right not to be offended! If what happens in this country offends you too much, exercise our greatest freedom and leave it! Personally, I think what really motivates the atheists in their quest to rob believers of religious freedom is this: if they don’t have the peace, joy, love, and fulfillment in their sad lives that comes from a robust relationship with God, they don’t want anyone else to have it either.

I’m writing my second business book based on the Bible’s principles, and my eleventh book overall. I’m grateful that in the book publishing world, an author can still express his or her thoughts without the censorship you find in the media, or the discrimination pervasive in courtrooms. The cultural current against God, religion in general, and Christianity specifically,  has motivated me to make, How to Lead by THE BOOK an even more enlightening, bold, and instructional resource for the men and women in business still committed to submitting their lives to biblical principles, rather than to subordinate their beliefs to modern, secular culture.

Day 16 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How do You Convince Hardheads?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Here’s one of the 70 challenges that I’m working on today: “How do you convince people to go along with what you want to do?” “How can you get them on board with your vision?” “What is the secret to talking them in to doing things a certain way?” In other words, “How do you convince people who aren’t open to being convinced?” Every leader wrestles with this challenge.  Sadly, there is normally a small group of people who, regardless of your past track record, integrity, and compelling reasons for why they should change, won’t go along. In fact, Jesus had the same problem.

In Matthew 16, the Pharisees and Sadducees, approached Jesus with a demand that He give them a sign from heaven. To understand the hardness of their hearts, it’s important to remember that by this time Jesus had already done the following: healed lepers, paralytics, the blind, raised the dead, miraculously fed the 4,000 and the 5,000, cast out demons, calmed the storm with His words, walked on water and more! Jesus called these men hypocrites and then left them. Notice, He didn’t argue with them, or try to convince them–He walked away from them.  We should do the same.

I’ve learned that it is productive to work with those who have not made up their minds and remain open to doing what is right. But those who have shut their minds, dug in their heels, and have assumed the role of mockers; there is nothing you can do with them except to leave them. Or, better yet, send them away and purge your organization of their cancer. Your time is precious and you shouldn’t waste it by believing it is your job to smack people in the head with a bat and drag them around the bases! Rather, invest your time and efforts into those who are humble enough to still listen, and open enough to change. I’ll go more into depth concerning this principle in, How to Lead by THE BOOK, when I address the challenge, “How do I convince people who aren’t open to being convinced?”



Day 15 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Why the Successful Fall!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Why do so many successful people fail to stay on top? In fact, they seem to self-destruct. No one gets in their way, they just can’t seem to stay out of their own way. At this writing, the former governor of Illinois is on trial for corruption, Mel Gibson is in hot water, again, over his behavior, Lindsay Lohan is in jail, etc., etc., etc.

Because of this persistent dilemma, one of the 70 challenges I’ll present in, How to Lead by THE BOOK will be:   “How can I survive success and finish well?” Here’s a hint: you’ve got to carefully guard your character choices! Normally, it’s not a diminished level of competence that creates the conditions to fall from grace. Rather, the problem is usually rooted in poor character decisions, and I’ll give several examples and remedies in the book.

The bottom line is this: When people become successful, they tend to let down their character-guard and fall. They fail to protect their talent by maintaining strong character. Frankly, they get sloppy, careless, and often-times arrogant. They believe that since they’ve “arrived”, certain rules don’t apply to them anymore and that they’ve earned the right to do what comes naturally, rather than to live with intent and discipline. Everyone, and not just high-profile people like those I’ve mentioned, is prone to this pitfall. Because of this, I believe that the way I address this issue in the book will help many readers.

I had to tone the book’s introduction down a bit yesterday. It was turning into a rant against our modern age’s attempt to erase God from public sight and speech! I do intend to get the point across, only in a more gentle manner than what was on my first draft! Whenever I write about a controversial topic, I normally write it in “rant” form first, and then reshape it in an effort to make it more professional, humane, and intelligent. There is a danger in coming across too strongly in writing or speech and it is this: what you appear to be as a person, can shout so loudly at a reader, that they can’t even hear what you’re trying to say. In other words, they can’t get past you, to get to your message. A good lesson for all of us.