Archive for September, 2010

Day 78-86 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Three Tips to Finish the 4th Quarter Strong!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

You may have noticed by the “Day 78-86″ heading on today’s post that I’m going to be out of touch for a while. I’m traveling overseas to continue my work training Iranian pastors in biblically-based leadership principles. I won’t bring my computer with me and will begin to post again once I return the first week of October. The lack of having my computer will crimp the progress of, How to Lead by THE BOOK only marginally as I am well on track for my December 15th deadline.

Recent news events continue to make it clear how desperately the men and women coming to this gathering need support, encouragement, and leadership knowledge so that they can grow their churches in the midst of a hostile climate and brutal government. We have received word over the past week that nine of the scheduled attendees have been arrested in a new crackdown against Christians and are still held in prison as of this writing.  Please pray for their safety, the welfare of those risking so much to attend these meetings, and for my teaching partner and me as we begin our sixth year of work in this region.

Persecution is nothing new for Christians. In fact, it was persecution that dispersed early believers out of Jerusalem and allowed them to carry the message of Christ throughout the world. Whenever the church has been persecuted it has grown faster, and we’re seeing that now in Iran. John 3:20 says, For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds be exposed. This verse explains the antagonism that Christians face at home and abroad–especially as society itself becomes more enamored with darkness. Many people are repelled by the Gospel because the evil within them dreads exposure.

As the fourth quarter will start before I post again, I want to suggest two tips for finishing it, and the year overall, strong:

1. Redefine your vision and performance expectations for the final quarter of the year. Make sure these cultural components are clear enough and high enough to draw out “above and beyond” performances from your people.

2. Carefully reevaluate each team member for their fitness to remain on the team as this year winds down and a new year is ready to begin. You don’t want to go into 2011 carrying forward the same baggage that has inhibited you this year.

3. Intensify your training regimen so that your team is able to maximize every opportunity they encounter in the waning months of this year. Keep them sharp, focused, and accountable.

Have a great finish in September, and watch for a new blog post the first week of October. I should have some inspiring leadership stories to share with you after this journey.

Day 77 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Truly Committed or Lip Service?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

One of the most Biblically accurate statements ever made about Jesus was this: “You are Christ, the Son of God.” Yet, when Jesus heard it, He rebuked those who stated this truth! Why? They were devils! (Luke 4:41). Peter also identified Jesus as the Christ and was blessed for it. (Matthew 16:16-17).  Why the difference in response to these nearly identical statements? God wants those who worship Him to have hearts that are fully committed to Him. He is  not interested in lip service from those who claim to know Him but refuse to believe or obey Him. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. (John 4:23).

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I’ll address this question: Are the people in your workplace true followers of your vision and leadership, or do they merely offer lip service? One sure way to know is to spend more time watching what they do than listening to what they say. Many people speak “right” and then walk “left.” Their words and deeds are inconsistent. They declare that they want to do well and meet expectations, but then they fail to follow instructions, don’t practice or train, make excuses, and blame others for their lack of greater success. You will do well to embrace what Andrew Carnegie observed long ago: “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say and instead watch what they do.” Watch closely today!

Day 76 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Power of Specific Goals!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

This morning I did a radio interview with Jim Blasingame, of the Small Business Advocate. His show is syndicated on dozens of stations nationwide. In fact, we’ve placed past interviews with Jim in the Online Press Room on our website at www.learntolead.com for our customers to listen to and use. Today’s interview will be posted soon.

Today, as we discussed the June publication date for, How to Lead by THE BOOK Jim asked why I thought so many leaders were unclear concerning their personal goals and corporate vision. I offered three key reasons:

1. They don’t know exactly what they want. In fact, most people don’t get what they want because they don’t know what they want!

2. They are afraid of commitment and resist accountability. Frankly, it’s easier to set general goals that you don’t have to hold yourself accountable for, than to draw a line in the sand and specifically declare what you intend to accomplish.

3. Pride. By keeping their goals ambiguous, they can’t be considered as failures by others if they don’t achieve them.

The problems with this “keep it general” goal setting philosophy are three-fold:

1. Your lack of clarity results in deficient focus. You can’t channel your energy and resources towards targets you haven’t clearly defined.

2. No thrill of victory. You miss the self-satisfaction and morale boost that comes with stating you’re going to do something and then doing it! This sort of personal momentum motivates you to set bigger goals and achieve greater things.

3. You fall for everything because you stand for nothing. When you fail to decide exactly what you stand for you tend to spread yourself too thin and engage in activities and pursuits that waste, rather than maximize, your resources. A specific goal serves as a filter to help you determine what fits, and what doesn’t; what to say “yes” to, and what to turn down.

In the Bible, leaders like Nehemiah, Daniel, Jesus and Paul were very clear about what they wanted and expected to accomplish. As a result, they earned a following. Followers prefer to work with leaders who are focused, resolved and who have clear convictions. As the fourth quarter of this year approaches, how precise are you about what you want to accomplish and where you’d like to finish in 2010? If these targets are not resolutely clear, what are your chances of hitting them?

Day 75 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Leverage the Power of Deadlines!

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

As I prepare to leave on an international mission trip this week I’m reminded of the power of deadlines. Deadlines purify your purpose, narrow your daily focus, create energy and urgency, and are a built-in accountability tool. Deadlines are an essential ally in my work in that each month I must produce one video personal development program, two magazine columns, two monthly newsletters, two DVD programs, and thirty blog postings. This month I’m also writing a new, two-day customer service workshop and, of course, working daily on my new book.

On my upcoming trip, I won’t take my computer with me. Because of this I will be unable to work on, How to Lead by THE BOOK. The anticipation of this is making me very productive in my daily routine. I recommend that all leaders set more deadlines for themselves: daily goals that create the  motivation to do more now!

In Matthew 24:42-45 Jesus tells His followers to watch for, prepare for, and to anticipate His Second Coming. This is the ultimate deadline! And even though we don’t know when it will be, it should serve to help us in ways similar to what I mentioned earlier:

1. Create purity of purpose: Primarily to serve and not be served.

2. Narrow your daily focus: To making a difference, not just making money.

3. Create urgency and energy: To live and do right in the now.

4. Hold yourself accountable: Particularly for the right actions and attitudes.

Day 74 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Build a Bench!

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I’m writing, How to Lead by THE BOOK with a dual purpose in mind: (1). Equip the reader to develop himself as a better leader. (2). Provide a blueprint for the reader to also develop others into better leaders. While most leaders grasp the importance of point 1, many fall short when it comes to building a bench of other leaders within their organization. There are four primary benefits to building a bench of leaders in your organization:

1. A bench creates the conditions for the organization’s success to continue in the leader’s absence. This is because the talent pool has more depth. As a result, the organization’s future is more secure and  sustainable.

2. A bench lightens the primary leader’s load as responsibilities are shared amongst several capable people.

3. A bench allows the primary leader to remain in his or her own strength zone, maximizing her productivity.

4. A culture that nurtures and develops others to increase its bench strength attracts and retains the best people in its industry; people who want to be trained, stretched, and challenged to reach their potential.

Jesus is the ultimate example of a leader who successfully built a bench to carry on and expand His work after His departure. Moses did the same by developing Joshua. However, Joshua failed to develop a successor and hundreds of years of chaos ensued after his death.

After completing the Jerusalem Wall, Nehemiah, an outstanding leader in his own right, failed to create bench strength amongst his people to rule well in his absence. Upon returning to inspect the progress of his people, Nehemiah was shocked and angered to discover how far things had drifted while he was gone. To his credit, he quickly whipped his people back into shape.

What does your organization’s bench look like? Are your leaders responsible for mentoring high potential people in each of their departments? One of our clients sends its managers to our leadership workshops in pairs. The departmental leader brings with him or her a high potential individual they are mentoring and grooming for bigger and better things. The results speak for themselves as this company continues to grow exponentially despite challenging economic times.

Frankly, you can judge a leader’s effectiveness and value to your organization based on his ability and willingness to build a bench. I’ll lay out a step-by-step mentoring plan for accomplishing this in, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK.

Day 73 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Pull No Punches!

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

It’s important for a leader to let followers know where he or she stands on an issue. In fact, an effective leader does not allow people to live in a gray area. This is because gray areas promote confusion over priorities, makes holding others accountable nearly impossible, and slows people down as it is tough to be aggressive when you’re confused.

Three key tenets in, How to Lead by THE BOOK will be to: (1) Create clarity. (2) Offer fast, honest feedback on performance. (3). Hold others accountable for results. And yes, this means that consequences for failing to perform are imposed.

I am following the mandate for clarity in the preface of my new book by letting readers know what they can, and shouldn’t, expect in terms of content. In fact, I make this very clear in the first paragraph. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see on the opening page of, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK:

Every so often, someone comes along and claims that for contemporary times, we need a fresh way to express the Bible’s message. Usually that “new” way deemphasizes Jesus, denies His deity, doubts His death and resurrection, dangles multiple paths to heaven, disregards biblical inerrancy, disputes the Bible’s relevance, and defines grace as license to sin. If you bought this book in hopes of reading any of this nonsense herein, then you’ve made a $25.00 mistake! And to exact an adequate penalty for such foolishness, we’re keeping your money!

Are your expectations clear enough? As you approach the fourth quarter of this year, it may be time to redefine what you expect from followers in terms of both performance and behavioral expectations. Doing so brings three immediate benefits:

1. Focus.

2. A positive pressure to perform.

3. Higher morale as people are always more motivated and energized when their purpose is clarified.

Day 72: How to Lead by THE BOOK: Don’t Run a Corporate Welfare State!

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Last night Rhonda and I enjoyed dinner at Pastor Shawn Thornton’s house along with four other couples from Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California. The pastor shared his vision for the church and enlisted financial support for its benevolence fund. This fund helps church members going through difficult financial times and provides food, shelter, assistance for utility payments and medical needs and the like. Because of the difficult economy, the benevolence fund has paid out more in assistance the last two years than in the ten years prior! We look forward to supporting this fund and helping members and neighbors in need.

Benevolence funds are necessary and helpful in society, but many businesses have corrupted the concept of helping those with genuine needs, and instead funnel resources into those who fail to perform. In their minds they’re being compassionate, but in reality they are enabling lethargy, laziness, and the inability to execute. In business, you cannot afford to weaken the strong in order to strengthen the weak. Rather, a leader has an obligation to weed out weak performers, and give more substantial support to those who get the job done. While I’ll go into greater detail on this matter in, How to Lead by THE BOOK following are five general thoughts and rules concerning this matter:

1. It is easier to get an already-good performer to become great with training and support than it is to elevate a miserable performer up to mediocrity because the already-good performer has a foundation of talent, discipline, and attitude on which to build.

2. When you ignore your top performers in an attempt to rescue the weak ones–many of whom shouldn’t even be on your payroll in the first place–you weaken the strong in order to strengthen the weak. This creates a corporate welfare state that diminishes your culture and results in mediocrity.

3. The Story of the Talents in Matthew 25 makes very clear that the people who don’t use the opportunities they’ve been given should have them taken away and redistributed to those who get results. This practice is essential in order to become a good steward of your corporate resources.

4. The Story of the Talents also demonstrates that not everyone on your team should be given equal opportunities or compensation. Rather, they should be given what they’ve earned based on past performance. Remember this rule: There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatments of unequals.

5. While everyone on the team must be held to the same high standards of integrity, teamwork, customer care, and work ethic, rewards and responsibilities must be allocated in accordance with what someone has earned and not based on what they need.

Day 71 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Power of Getting Started!

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Last night I finished editing the preface for, How to Lead by THE BOOK on a flight from Chicago to LA. It came in at 2400 words, which is right where I had hoped it would be. I laid out eight trends of moral corruption in society that affect your business, and then listed six consequences these trends are having and will continue to have on your business’ culture, people and results. I know I’m biased, but I believe this is the best job I’ve done in the eleven books I’ve written of clearly laying out the book’s purpose. Now, as long as my publisher doesn’t mind the number of politically incorrect observations I’ve made in the preface concerning the downward spiral of society’s morals which evokes the need to apply biblical principles like never before, then we’ll be in business!

While I was in Chicago I had dinner with a family member who has written several books over the years, but has failed to get any of them published. While I understand his frustration, I give him credit for actually writing and finishing the books! Most folks don’t even get that far. Dozens of people have told me over the years, “I’ve got an idea for a book” or, “I’m getting ready to write a book”, but years later it’s still on “the drawing board.” Their #1 excuse is “how busy they’ve been.” But everyone I’ve ever met who has written a book is also busy! They just develop a stronger desire, discipline and commitment to finish. While being a finisher is important, starting is even more vital since one cannot finish until he has begun. To that end, I’ve long been inspired by this quote by Goethe: Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!

I was reminded of a key area of life most people never begin during the seminar I taught in Chicago. While discussing the topic of personal growth, one of the attendees asked me to share more about my own personal growth program. When I explained that my personal growth program had four aspects: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual, the conversation that ensued made evident that many of the attendees had long planned on beginning to develop a spiritual discipline in their life like Bible study or scripture memorization, but life crowded it out and they never “found the time.” I suggested to them the same thing I’m recommending to you if you’re in the same situation: you must schedule your time for spiritual disciplines and work the rest of the day around them, rather than trying to squeeze a spiritual discipline into your schedule. This, I believe, is why Christ is repeatedly reported as rising early to spend time with His Father. Follow His example! It’s time to stop thinking about it and get started!


Day 70 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Handle Conflict & Dissent!

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

I’m in Chicago today finishing my Up Your Business Super Leadership Workshop and will fly home to L.A. this evening. One of the topics I’ll cover in this morning’s session is how to handle conflicts and dissent as they arise from followers. A leader’s response to these realities has the potential to quickly elevate or devastate his own credibility and team morale. Deftly handling these matters is crucial and I will cover it in, How to Lead by THE BOOK.

In Acts 6:1-7, a conflict arose amongst the disciples of the newly formed church concerning unequal distribution of food to certain widows. The wisdom the Twelve demonstrated in resolving this conflict offers steps for us to emulate today.

1. Don’t blame. Focus on solutions and not the problem. Don’t shoot the messenger!

2. Allow those who complain to participate in the solution. In this manner they own it and will support it.

3. Remember that conflict brings about clarity and can help you move forward toward the bigger picture when handled properly.

Too often in leadership we treat those who complain or suggest a better way of doing things like they are trouble makers! Sometimes, we even regard dissent as mutiny even though it offers the opportunity to strengthen our organization and remedy its blind spots. I have found in my own leadership career that the worse decisions I’ve ever made were decisions made void of conflict. In other words, everyone was nodding their heads in affirmation, rather than speaking up and asking questions or offering recommendations that would have improved my plan. Through this I’ve learned that too much harmony is cancerous to decision-making. It’s wise to encourage additional points of view by allowing others to “shoot some holes” in what you’re presenting to them. In fact, you should do more than “tolerate” such behavior, you must encourage it!

Naturally, there are some non-negotiable areas of your organization that are not up for debate. These normally relate to issues of values and performance expectations. However, whenever possible it’s wise to engage others in solutions because people support what they help create, and they are more likely to buy-in after they have weighed in.

Day 69 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Case for Intolerance!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

In today’s politically correct universe, “tolerance” has become a pervasive buzzword. In fact, much of the world’s morality has sunk to the point that people are willing to tolerate just about anything except intolerance! However, in your business, the strength of your culture will be determined by what you decide you will not tolerate.

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I will present remedies for setting clear behavioral and performance expectations. This clarity is designed to communicate clearly to your team what you will celebrate on one hand, and not tolerate on the other. Taking a tough stand on holding people accountable for these issues may seem harsh by today’s standards. However, you must stretch your people to meet your expectations and not lower your expectations to accommodate their comfort zone, lackluster work ethic, or diminished ethical behaviors.

Frankly, the Bible is a very intolerant book. There are many aspects of behavior and morality that it describes as wrong, depraved,  sinful, and abominable and prescribes clear penalties for partaking in them. The Bible is also discriminatory and judgmental! Read John 3:18 and Acts 4:12 for two clear examples. But its intolerance is designed to protect you from the consequences of errant actions, not to rob your joy. Clear expectations with corresponding consequences for failure work the same in business. In fact, it can be safely said that your character is defined by what you decide not to tolerate. Perhaps it’s time to strengthen your leadership and culture by redefining those parameters in your business and home.