Archive for August, 2010

Day 44 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Importance of Attention to Detail!

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Last week I wrote here about the importance of being faithful in “little” things, as presented in Luke 16:10 where it is written, He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. I believe so strongly in this principle that we have core values in our company that broadcast the importance of faithful behavior in the “little things.” These values are integrity, attention to detail, and urgency. While all five of our values are important, this trio communicates most clearly our expectation that everyone is faithful in “little things.” Since we have established core values in our company, they can serve as a filter as we evaluate whom we hire, promote, and dismiss.

We’ve been reminded of the power of core values in helping to affirm candidates who are good fits, and eliminate those who are not as we are currently in the process of hiring an administrative assistant. We’ve posted the employment opportunity on several local college Internet sites and have been flooded with applications. However, very few of them will even make it to the interview because they violate one or more of our values in the application process! Here are two examples:

1. One applicant included 12 typographical errors in their cover sheet and resume–and this person claimed to have an extensive background in proofreading and journalism. Their presentation was so sloppy, the applicant even misspelled her name! Value violated: attention to detail.

2. A second applicant promised to forward us information we requested by a certain day and missed the deadline without even contacting us to explain why. Values violated: attention to detail, urgency, and integrity.

Just as Jesus established the core values of His ministry early on in Matthew 5-7 so that He could show how to live them out and hold others accountable for doing the same, you must do likewise. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will give instruction for creating, living, and holding others accountable for the values you’ve established as core components of your own corporate culture. Once established, they will serve as a compass as well as a filter.

Having our values established always saves us much time and frustration in our hiring process. After all, if someone cannot be faithful in the little things before we hire them, we cannot expect them to suddenly begin doing so after they’re cashing our paychecks and afflicting our culture and morale with their deficient behaviors.

Day 43 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Three Lessons from Bethesda!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

When my family and I visited Israel this year we went to the pool of Bethesda, the site of Jesus’ healing miracle related in John 5:1-16. Ailing people in that day gathered around the vast pool waiting for an angel to stir up the waters, believing that whoever then stepped into the pool first would be healed. When Jesus entered the pool area that day, the lame, blind, and paralyzed were staring at the water and waiting for their chance at a miracle. As a result, no one was looking at Jesus. Likewise today, we look to our own version of the pool of Bethesda waiting for blessings and deliverance and fail to look to Jesus who can actually deliver the provision and provide the miracles we seek.

Jesus then struck up a conversation with a man who had been afflicted by an infirmity for thirty eight years. Jesus said to Him, “Do you want to be made well?” In return, the man made excuses: “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus then said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well and took up his bed, and walked.

There are three key lessons we can take and apply from this miracle. I’ll share two in the space allotted  and present the third one in, How to Lead by THE BOOK:

1. Miracles and blessings in our life and business will take away our excuses. We will then have to accept responsibility and stop blaming conditions for our misery, much as the paralyzed fellow did. This is why Jesus asked what seemed to be such an obvious question, “Do you want to be made well?” If the man assented and received the blessing, he would then be forced into more accountability and responsibility and would to have to cease with the blame game and stop acting like a victim.

2. The man could not receive healing until he took his eyes off the water and looked to Jesus. Our “water” in business is oftentimes a favorable economy, more customers, less competition, a rising stock market, lower interest rates and the like. If you’re waiting on those conditions to fulfill what’s most important in your life, you’re pinning your hope of rescue on futile and fleeting conditions.

One of the key premises of my upcoming book, How to Lead by THE BOOK, is to encourage readers to subordinate the “water” they count on to prosper their businesses and redirect their gaze to Christ, to His commands, and to carrying them out in absolute and immediate obedience.

Day 42 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Shift from Inward, to Outward and Upward!

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Counselors and therapists have long advised those suffering from depression to find a way to help someone else. By taking the focus off their own problems, even temporarily, they are able to gain perspective and increase their own sense of self-worth, while they add value to another. Perhaps some of you have employed this strategy and reaped these same benefits.

Job used a similar strategy. In the midst of his deepest despair and after suffering tragic losses, he prayed for his friends. Keep in mind that these were the friends that didn’t speak right of God. In addition, they accused Job of being sinful and bringing on the tragedies that befell him even though he was faultless in that regard. Notice what happened to Job after he prayed for others: After Job prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. Job 42:10.

As I write, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I am compelled to include more and more strategies for coping with and prospering despite difficult times. In yesterday’s post I presented the importance of praying for daily bread. Praying for others, even when your own needs are pressing, reflects an unwavering faith in God as you demonstrate that you have confidence enough in His care that you are able to focus your attention on the welfare of others. This unselfish act of prayer when surrounded by difficulty cultivates humility and stills your anxious soul with a sense of peace promised in Psalms 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. “Be still” doesn’t mean to be passive. It does mean to temporarily suspend what you’re trying to accomplish by and for yourself, shifting your focus from inward, to outward, and upward.

Day 41 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Be Satisfied with Daily Bread!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Most business people prefer to enjoy profit windfalls that fill their coffers and take the pressure off of meeting payrolls and paying the rent for several months in advance. But that’s not the way it normally works! In fact, getting too much, too soon, can cause you to let up, loosen disciplines, and go too easy on accountability. But worst of all, it can cause you to forget about God. That’s why in Matthew 6:11 when Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray, He instructed them to ask, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t instruct them to ask: “Give us the next six month’s worth of bread”. This is because human nature is to become too self-sufficient and prideful when covered in riches. If they had riches six months at a time, they might not be inclined to seek God, please God, thank God, or pray to God as often. In fact, for the forty years God led the Israelites to the Promised Land, He provided bread for them–one day at a time. But, the manna (bread) lay on the ground each day–it didn’t just fall into the pot. It was up to them to go out, break a sweat, and pick it up. They were also told to gather only enough for a day. If they tried to hoard it, it would spoil. God was disciplining His people to trust Him as they moved towards their goal, in order to augment their faith for even bigger challenges to come.  We will do well to learn the same lessons about prayer, provision and trust.

More faith is built during tough and lean times than in times of abundance. Trials create the opportunity for testimonies that strengthen your faith and bring glory to God. In fact, meltdowns open up the door for miracles!

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll present several strategies for leading through tough times. One  of them is to be more satisfied with daily bread, and to take comfort and confidence in the fact that He is faithful to provide it. The faith muscles you’ll enhance with a “daily bread” mentality, will discipline and prepare you for far greater accomplishments and blessings in the future.

Day 40: How to Lead by THE BOOK: Entitlement, PC, & “Tolerance”!

Monday, August 16th, 2010

My tenth book, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK was published on August 29, 2009 and is approaching its one year anniversary. Normally, sales tail off in the months following a book’s release. However, June and July’s sales have been the best of the year! It’s great to see a picking up, rather than winding down, of momentum as the months march on. Thank you for your support!

Tomorrow, I will leave to speak in Florida for three days. I plan to use the time on airplanes and in hotel rooms to finish the preface of the book. A preface describes the book’s purpose, gives an overview of the content, and discusses for whom the book is written. A preface differs from a book’s introduction in that the introduction sets forth the book’s specific arguments and issues. Since a preface and introduction are so closely related, I’ve decided to combine them in the preface section. Unfortunately, many readers skip through the preface or introduction and jump right into the first chapter. This is a big mistake! If an author does his job right, you’ll find plenty of “meat”, and thought-provoking material in those sections that set the tone for the entire read.

In my preface, I’ll outline the unique challenges leaders face today as they endeavor to lead their organization and live their lives by biblical principles. These factors include but are not limited to: a rising tide of entitlement amongst employees, society’s rush towards a “there are no absolutes” culture where anything goes and everything can be rationalized, and the pervasiveness of political correctness that has eliminated all middle ground: you’re either for affirmative action or you’re a racist; you’re in favor of gay marriage or you’re homophobic; you’re pro-choice or you’re a fundamentalist “nut job”. You either agree that a mosque should be built at the site of the 9-11 massacre, or you’re a bigoted hatemonger. Cultural currents like these have caused many leaders to make costly compromises in their personal beliefs and businesses.

Because moral boundaries have been blurred in both society and in the workplace, How to Lead by THE BOOK will stress the importance of clearly defining what you stand for and refuse to fall for up front. Once that is done, it’s far easier to make decisions, to know what to say yes or no to, and to more quickly understand what fits your organization’s vision and strategy and what doesn’t. Paradoxically, in this age where “tolerance” has become the big buzzword, a leader’s character is largely defined by what he or she won’t tolerate or accept.

P.S. Happy birthday to my daughter Ashley! The “Big 25” today! She makes her mom and dad VERY proud–and old!

Day 39 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Resist the Age of “No Shame”!

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Nearly every day you read a news story about one of more of these issues: a dishonest business person is in trouble because of their greed; celebrities and sports stars who either philander, are addicted or abusive; and politicians that do any and all of the above.  It can be accurately said of our age that behaviors once regarded as abhorrent are now considered commonplace. What’s worse, is that the modern mind has become extremely proficient at rationalizing what our hearts know is wrong.

Let me share a few examples of how the world has turned upside down. Then I’ll move on to a checklist of ethical behaviors we must maintain in business to stand above the secular trend towards “anything goes”.

1. Advocates and protests abound for law breakers, while the just are ridiculed for their religion.

2. Judges mock God as they legitimize sinful lifestyles under the pretense of “rights”, denigrating the rights of those who wish to live in a more morally sound culture, and who oppose the validation and celebration of what God has called abominable, unnatural, and shameful.

3. Those who speak up for moral beliefs are accused of intolerance and hate speech.

4. Every evidence of religion is scrubbed from the public square, while opportunities to view filth and violence via the Internet, on television and at the movies abound.

When surveying the moral landscape today, one can draw no other conclusion than this: The human race has lost its fear and awe of God. And to make matters worse, it doesn’t even feel bad about it! There is no shame! These words from 16th century theologian, John Calvin, could very well have been written specifically for this decade:

For it is the summit of all evils, when the sinner is so void of shame, that he is pleased with his own vices, and will not bear them to be reproved, and also cherishes them in others by his consent and approbation.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I’ll outline a series of  ethical business behaviors that leaders must embrace to establish credibility and integrity within their organization. You cannot lead “By THE BOOK”  if you insist on rationalizing away these responsibilities and replace them with what is more expedient or culturally acceptable. Here’s a brief preview. See how well you measure up:

1. Keep your commitments, without excuse and regardless of the cost.

2. Care enough to confront others when they’re off track and hold them accountable.

3. Don’t withhold good from those to whom it is owed. Give them what they earn and deserve.

4. Don’t create false impressions with your advertising. The fact that it is  not technically a “lie”, is not enough. If it creates a false impression it is wrong.

5. Hold people just as accountable for living your values as for “hitting the numbers.”

6. Never ask an employee to lie for you. This includes “white lies” that seem harmless, but in reality compromise your character.

7. Quickly admit mistakes and give away credit.

8. Always tell the truth. If someone doesn’t want to hear it, it most likely means that they need to.

Don’t follow the cultural current that has lost its sense of decency and it’s awe of God. He is not mocked, despite what the media, the government, and the depraved would have you believe. He watches. He acts. He rewards. And He judges. You will reap what you sow in your business and your life. Be sure that you’re planting seeds that can build and sustain greatness, and not those that assure your own destruction.

Day 38 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Knowing versus Doing!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

As a result of the 1,000 presentations I’ve given to businesses over the past decade, I’ve become convinced that for the most part, organizations don’t under-achieve because they lack knowledge. Rather, they fall short of their potential because they fail to do what they already know! It’s not a “knowing” issue, it’s a “doing” issue that causes business plateaus and declines. And even “doing” isn’t enough: It’s the consistency in “doing” the right things, over time, that transforms cultures, people, and results.

I believe that the biggest gap in life, and in business, is the gap between  knowing and doing. Thus, it’s incumbent upon leaders to develop the discipline and desire to close that gap. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll present strategies to overcome this major business challenge. But even then, it will be up to the readers to apply and “do”, what they have just learned and can claim to “know”.

Interestingly, the Bible never acclaims “knowing.” Rather, it applauds and makes promises to those who do what they know. In Luke 6:40, Jesus said: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do the things which I say?” John 13:17 declares, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” You will also find that the Bible holds those who know but don’t do, to a far higher standard than those who are ignorant and lack knowledge.

You probably know exactly what it will take to get greater results in your organization: clearer vision and expectations, more consistent training, stronger accountability and the like. The question is, when will you begin to do more of what you already know? Remember: Knowing is nothing! Life rewards action! Get up off your knowledge and do something!

Day 37 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Get Mad or Even?

Friday, August 13th, 2010

There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t get mad, get even.” Frankly, that’s lousy advice!

Unfortunately, business people waste a lot of energy plotting revenge on competitors, bosses, and co-workers for sleights and injuries, perceived or real. They rehearse offenses over again in their minds, zapping themselves of any power in the present, because they continue living in the past.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll address what the Bible has to say about a wide range of emotions that leaders may feel on a daily basis: anger, worry, lust, and the like. Interestingly, the Bible never declares these emotions themselves as sinful. Rather, it is what the emotions can cause you to do that makes them very dangerous. To lead effectively and with integrity, it’s essential to understand this difference.

Take anger for instance, In Matthew 5:22, Jesus says: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment…” Notice, He didn’t say that if you’re angry you’ve already sinned and are judged. Instead, He used the words “in danger of judgment.” Why would feeling angry put you in danger of judgment? Because of the sin it may cause you to commit. Thus, anger in itself is not sin, but it is dangerous! In Ephesians 4:26 Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath  nor give place to the devil.” The fact that he said, “be angry and do not sin” shows us that anger and sin are not one in the same. However, the danger of remaining angry is made clear by his admonition to “not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” As most of us have learned from experience, when you stay angry, you are more likely to sin. As the offense builds up in you, you’re likely to strike back physically, to sin with your speech, and the like.

We all feel a wide range of emotions on the job and at home from day to day. Some are healthy and others are deadly. It’s what you do as a result of the emotions that determines a sinful act or lifestyle. While you cannot choose what happens to you, you are responsible for your response to it. And the quality of your response will go a long way in determining the quality of your emotional well being, your leadership, and your life.

Day 36 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Key to Beating Stress!

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Though it may sound strange, one of an author’s biggest concerns is whether or not anyone will actually read their book! Just because a book is published is no guarantee that anyone will buy it, and the fact that someone buys it is no assurance that they will read it. Some authors have been known to buy thousands of copies of their own book, just to place it on a best-sellers list! While this may gratify the author’s ego, it misses the entire point of writing a book: to help those that read it! These facts have triggered my gratitude for three events that have happened in just the past few days:

1. A university in Lithuania is using lessons from, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK in their curricula to prepare students to run their businesses by ethical standards.

2. A South Korean businessman who read, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK is working with my publisher to secure Korean translations rights so that he can distribute the book throughout South Korean churches and businesses.

3. The CEO of EQUIP will teach a course, How to Lead Through Crisis, in Poland next month that sources the principles in my past books as strategies for leaders to apply.

In addition to the recent international impact, a day rarely goes by when I don’t hear from a reader in this country who was positively impacted by one of my books. This sense of gratitude brings me to the point of today’s posting:

Gratitude is an antidote for stress! In my upcoming book, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will provide strategies for beating workplace stress. One of the simplest is gratitude. In fact, when you’re feeling stressed out, it’s normally an indication that you’ve lost your perspective on how blessed you really are, and on how awesome your life is at the moment–despite its challenges. As a result of your temporarily lost sense of gratitude, stress levels skyrocket! However, when you begin to re-count your blessings and take an inventory of all the good in your life and business, you’ll find that stress evaporates. In fact, I’ve found that it is practically impossible to be grateful and stressful simultaneously!

Feeling stressed today? Then quit whining and count your blessings!

Day 35 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Character Trumps Competence!

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

When someone applies for a job in your organization you must have two sets of questions to ask during the interview: One set related to determining competence and another set for determining character. Don’t settle for one or the other! You need both! If you have to choose which is most important, then go with character. This is because you can teach skills and knowledge but you cannot teach someone how to have character. Character is someone’s inner make up that has been determined over a lifetime of choices and values he or she has either embraced or disregarded.

Talent, is a foundational component of competence because talent is the wiring that enables one to more easily and fully develop competence in a specific area. One of the saddest aspects in life is those who waste their talent, or nullify it outright, because their character is defective. Solid character protects one’s talent! Lack of character can render one’s talent irrelevant, and quickly relegate an employee to dispensable status.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will offer several interview questions that will help you to determine an applicant’s character. They will dig deep into a person’s life because both success, and failure, leave clues! It’s your job as an interviewer to flush out those clues and determine what’s most important about a job candidate before they’re cashing your paychecks!