Archive for September, 2010

Day 68 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Increase Your Power & Boldness!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

In the third chapter of Acts, Peter heals a man in Jesus’ name that had been lame from birth. The buzz surrounding this miracle creates an audience of thousands. Peter capitalizes on the momentum and preaches a sermon that results in 5,000 converts to Christianity. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that the same bitter and jealous religious leaders that helped crucify Christ had Peter and John arrested and brought before them. But rather than cowering down, Peter spoke with boldness and pulled no punches in addressing the religious experts of his day. Notice what is written following his address to these officials:

Now when they say the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13.

This verse is one of the greatest testaments to spending time with God and His word and it applies just as well to us today. The strategies I’ll present in my upcoming book, How to Lead by THE BOOK, have the potential to help leaders from all walks make a bold impact, increase results, and elevate those around them; but certainly not because I’m writing them, but because they are based on biblical truths.

Every so often, an author, TV host, preacher, or professional speaker promotes a fresh way to express the Christian message. Usually that “new” way deemphasizes Jesus, questions His deity, doubts His death and resurrection, and ignores the need for forgiveness of sins.

There is no “new” way to express the Gospel, and you certainly won’t find it in How to Lead by THE BOOK.  The strategies I’ll present are as ancient as they are timeless. The best I can hope to accomplish is to expose readers to the applicability of these principles to their business, and show them practical ways to apply them.

Day 67 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Five Consequences of Weak Character within Corporate Cultures!

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Yesterday, I finished the preface for How to Lead by THE BOOK. The preface sets the tone for the entire work and has got to clearly explain the book’s purpose and provide an outline for what the leader can expect to learn.

In the preface I wrote for the need to build stronger, character-driven cultures within companies because the deterioration of society’s moral foundation is adversely affecting business cultures. Thus, a character-driven culture must be built with intent and not left to chance. The challenge to do so will become greater because business trends always follow trends in society. Thus, as society becomes more secular, selfish and corrupt, businesses with weak moral foundations can expect to see their own cultures deteriorate accordingly unless they take the actions necessary to build a character-driven environment.

Many leaders totally underestimate the cost of having a weak-character culture within their organization. They’re so focused on “profits”, that they don’t pay attention to creating an ethical environment wherein those profits are created and nurtured. Here is a snapshot of five consequences for failing to build a character-driven company. As you read them, determine how many are already causing your organization pain.

1. Employees will be more inclined to emulate the selfish, hedonistic, unethical, and narcissistic behaviors increasingly ubiquitous in society.

2. These behaviors will diminish morale, productivity, and concern for fellow teammates and customers alike. This, in turn, will increase the likelihood that consumers will develop a greater aversion to dealing with people and buy more of everything online, shopping your prices until your products are completely commoditized and your margins trivialized.

3. The downward spiral of society’s collective character will entice leaders and followers with marginal morals to accelerate the pilferage of their organizations through new and shameless levels of greed fueled by a self-interest that would make Bernie Madoff blush.

4. Employees with weak personal values are tougher to manage. Since they don’t believe in absolutes, fail to take responsibility, are convinced that anything goes and that accountability is unfair, you can expect increased turnover, an escalation of hiring and training costs, and low customer retention.

5. The new rules and policies you’ll need to install to prevent, police, and punish iniquitous behaviors will consume untold time, energy, and financial resources.

The five consequences listed here reflect only a modicum of the fallout you can expect to endure as the collateral damage from today’s “value system” cascades and infects every fiber of business and society. Worse, the behaviors I’ve listed are inevitable, and here’s why: As society becomes more adept at rationalizing away ethical standards in order to satisfy its quest for more financial and personal pleasure, business leaders and subordinates with weak moral foundations will follow the popular trend and be swept into the same sick cesspool, dragging their companies down with them. They will fall for everything, and engage in anything, because they stand for nothing.

The seventy strategies I include in, How to Lead by THE BOOK will provide you with a blueprint to fix, build, or stretch your current culture, placing your organization on a stone foundation of God’s principles, rather than on the quicksand of the gods and values of this age.

Day 66 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Help Replace Burned Bibles!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

As I continue to write, How to Lead by the BOOK I occasionally come across a news story that reminds me how grateful I should be to live in a country where I can freely write about applying the Bible’s principles to business and life. This morning, two incidents came to my attention that I want to share with you. Sadly, these happenings are not unusual. It’s just that you rarely hear about persecuted Christians in the world. In comparison, the misguided pastor in Florida who had planned to conduct a Koran burning made worldwide news and fomented widespread outrage.

The first incident concerns Christians attacked in Indonesia on the way to worship in a field after their church was closed by the government. The second relates the burning of Bible’s in Laos and how you can help replace them. As you read about these realities faced by my fellow believers, you may want to consider at least two actions: praying for them and thanking God for your freedom to read the Bible and worship without this degree of abuse:

Christians Attacked in Indonesia:

BEKASI, Indonesia – Assailants stabbed a Christian worshipper in the stomach and pounded a minister in the head with a wooden plank as they headed to morning prayers Sunday outside Indonesia’s capital.

Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

No one claimed responsibility for the attacks. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamic hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshipping on a field housing their now-shuttered church.

In recent months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of “Infidels!” and “Leave Now!” and dumped piles of feces on the land.

Local police Chief Imam Sugianto said Asia Sihombing, a worshipper, was on his way to the field when assailants jumped off a motorcycle and stabbed him in the stomach.

The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was smashed in the head as she tried to come to his aid.

“I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital,” she told reporters in the industrial city of Bekasi, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Jakarta.

She said the face of one of the assailants looked familiar.

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

Leading the charge against the Batak Christians has been the Islamic Defenders Front, which is pushing for the implementation of Islamic-based laws in Bekasi and other parts of the nation.

They are known for smashing bars, attacking transvestites and going after those considered blasphemous with bamboo clubs and stones. They also pressured the local government early this year to shutter the Batak church.

Perpetrators are rarely punished or even questioned by police.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament, has been widely criticized in the media for failing to crack down on hard-liners.

But he immediately called on authorities to investigate and to hold accountable those responsible for Sunday’s attack.

“We know who’s behind it,” said Maj. Gen. Timur Pradopo, the police chief in Jakarta, without elaborating. “But I don’t believe this is an inter-religous conflict.”

Bible Burning in Laos:

Somchi” is an outcast in her village in Laos. Even family members have turned against her. And when villagers found a Bible in her home, they proclaimed, “We need to destroy it!” They believed the Bible was causing her mother’s illness.

“My villagers still hate me and mock me, like they mocked Jesus on the cross,” Somchi told VOM. “It is the world’s right to hate us or to love us. But for me, I will follow Jesus.”

In restricted nations around the world, Bibles are burned, shredded or confiscated every day. Those opposed to the gospel can destroy Bibles, but they cannot destroy the faith of those like Somchi.

» Click here to learn more and help replace these Bibles through The Voice of the Martyrs Bibles to Captive Nations Fund.

Day 65 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Fire Them before You Hire Them!

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I will present numerous strategies for recruiting and hiring the right people. Enormous importance must be placed on hiring smart because when you hire recklessly your efforts to train, coach, and mentor these new employees bring little return. This is because you will put time and money into employees who give you little to work with in terms of character, attitude, drive, energy or talent. And investing your time training someone without the right character, attitude, drive, energy or talent is little more than an exercise in damage control.

This is why I recommend that during an interview, you should do your best to eliminate the job candidate. In fact, hiring should be considered as an elimination process, and not an inclusive process. An effective strategy to this end is to share your core values and other specific behavioral expectations with a job candidate before you hire him or her. Let them know that you have non-negotiable standards for integrity, teamwork, attitude, attention to detail and the like. Describe what these behaviors look like in practice as well as clear consequences for those not living up to the standards. Someone lacking these essential qualities will quickly become uncomfortable and probably decide to continue their job search elsewhere. Good riddance!

There is a biblical principle at work supporting this strategy. The Bible says the following in John 3:20-21:

For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

Frankly, many people are repelled by character-driven companies with high ethical standards and expectations because they know it is only a matter of time before their selfishness, dishonesty, and moral corruption–their darkness–is  discovered and exposed by the light. Aren’t you better off to scare these folks off before they’re on your payroll, lowering morale, mistreating customers and co-workers, and destroying your culture and leadership credibility? The best time to fire is before you hire!

Day 64 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Temper Tip, Sales Tips, Newton Quote!

Friday, September 10th, 2010

When I wrote, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK I named “controlling your emotions” as a key character trait and people-skill. In fact, I included one the Bible’s best verses on the subject from James 1:17: So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. This, perhaps, is one of the best pieces of communication advice ever written!

Many of the leaders who read my upcoming book, How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables & Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges manage sales teams, and other personnel who routinely interact with customers. Just as with the verse from James concerning controlling your tongue and temper, the Book of Proverbs is rich with advice for communicating with co-workers and customers. Consider the following helpful advice for salespeople, especially for those that tend to talk too much, or finish a customer’s sentences for him:

He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is considered wise when he holds his peace. When he shuts his lips he is considered perceptive. Proverbs 17:27-28.

He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13.

Proverbs has thirty-one chapters. A helpful discipline I began years ago was to read one chapter per day. By doing so, I was able to get through the entire book once each month, and internalize much of the wisdom found in its pages. I highly recommend this simple discipline to anyone looking to increase in wisdom and stature at home or on the job.

Today, my publisher sent three prospective cover designs for, How to Lead by THE BOOK. They are excellent! After an adjustment or two, we should have a cover that builds the brand of the by THE BOOK series, without looking too similar to my last work.  I’ll include the finalized cover in the October editions of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK and, Leading at the Next Level newsletters.

I’ll end today’s post with a quote from John Newton. You’ve probably heard of him. He was the slave trader in England, who became a follower of Christ during a crisis at sea, renounced his abusive lifestyle, worked as a prominent abolitionist, and wrote the song, Amazing Grace.

What will it profit a man if he gains his cause, and silences his adversary, if at the same time he loses that humble tender frame of spirit in which the Lord delights, and to which the promise of His presence is made.

Keep his words in mind the next time you feel the insatiable need to prove yourself as “right”, and put someone else in their place.

Day 63 How to Lead by THE BOOK: A True Tale of Persistence!

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I suppose that every author gets asked the following question at least once: “How did you get your first book published?” My answer is similar to most authors I know: “Very slowly! It was grueling!”

Back in 1998, when we sought a publisher for my first book, Selling Above the Crowd: 365 Strategies for Sales Excellence, I could have papered the walls of my house with publisher’s rejection slips. There were dozens of them. No one would touch the book for one primary reason: I had never published a book before! Thus, no one wanted to publish me because no one had ever published me! My wife Rhonda and I believed that this book would help a lot of people, so we never gave up. Finally, we decided to self-publish it. We financed the layout, copyrighting, cover design, and printing out of our own pockets. Without a publisher, we were unable to get the books into bookstores, but we were able to sell it through Amazon.com, at workshops, and through our own www.learntolead.com website. To our immense relief, the book took off through word of mouth and we sold thousands of copies. With this success behind us, we decided that I should write a book for managers. As a result, the idea for, No Nonsense Leadership, was born.

We thought that surely things would be different when trying to find a publisher this time around. After all, we had published a book that had sold thousands of copies! We couldn’t have been more wrong! The rejection slips poured in again! Since we hadn’t been published by a “recognized” publisher, no one took us seriously yet again! Undeterred, we also self-published No Nonsense Leadership and sold thousands of copies once again! Before we could submit a book proposal for my third book to a publisher, I received an email from Matt Holt, at Wiley Publishing (the world’s largest business book publisher), who had seen an excerpt from No Nonsense Leadership in a popular business magazine. I’ll never forget what his email said: “I just read your article in Executive Excellence Magazine and really liked it. Would you like to discuss book ideas?” My first reaction was, “Where were you two hundred rejection slips ago?” Matt and I hit it off and my third book was launched in 2003, Up Your Business: Seven Steps to Fix, Build or Stretch Your Organization. It proved so successful that I wrote an updated and expanded version in 2007. It’s been translated into several languages and has sold well around the world.

The lesson? Never give up! Have faith in God, believe in yourself and invest in your dreams! Keep finding ways to improve your abilities and add value to others, and you’ll outlast most of your competition. Stay in the game long enough to get noticed by the people that can help you and to attract their help and support. I’m now writing my eleventh book overall, and my ninth book with Wiley, How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables & Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges. Whenever someone asks what my favorite book is, I always tell them it’s the one I’m currently working on. But without a doubt, that first book that nobody wanted, Selling Above the Crowd, still holds a very special place in my heart. This is especially true as, twelve years after it’s initial publication,  I continue to get encouraging letters from salespeople all over the world who have changed their careers and their lives by applying its principles.

Day 62 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Show People What Good Performance Looks Like!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

My publisher, Wiley, contacted me yesterday to solicit ideas for, How to Lead by THE BOOK’s cover. The cover design is VERY important to the success of the book! The work Wiley has done on my past books has been excellent. They will normally submit 2-3 designs to choose from, and from there the fun and debate begins!

When they designed How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK they hit a home run, so we want to keep some of the concepts the same with the new book, without making it too similar. For instance, we will retain THE BOOK with the same all caps distinctive look. In fact, since I will continue to write books in the “by THE BOOK” series, branding those two words will be essential. I should have some designs to look at within a couple of weeks. Now, let’s get on with today’s lesson.

In Matthew 10, Jesus commissions his disciples to go out in pairs and begin to preach, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead in His name. He gave them His authority to execute all these things, which brings me to the leadership lesson I want to convey in this posting. Jesus didn’t send his team out to do these things until He had first done all of these and more in the prior nine chapters. In other words, Jesus didn’t tell His team what to do before He had showed them how to do it!

Unfortunately, this is where many managers today miss the mark. They are addicted to “should be’s”. “You should be doing this or that”, etc. However, it doesn’t take much leadership to sit in a chair and bark out what people should do. Effective leaders get in the trenches, roll up their sleeves, and show people what good performance looks like. They lead with deeds, not just with words.  This is because followers would rather see a sermon than hear one.  This being said, how much time do you and your managers spend actually showing people what to do? For instance, consider the following:

1. Do you tell them they should be closing more deals, or do you show them how to close them, in front of the customer with the employee at your side?

2. Do you criticize them for not setting enough appointments, or do you take the phone and show them how to do it?

3. Do you admonish them to get more referrals, or do you demonstrate the proper way to ask for a referral? This list of questions could go on for a while, but you get the point.

Recommit to following the example set by Jesus. Don’t just give pep talks and empower your team to do their job until you’ve first shown them how it should be done.

Day 61: How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Stop Gossip!

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

In, How to Lead by THE BOOK I will present several momentum-breakers common in most organizations. These are inhibitors to success that demoralize others, dilute focus, and distract from the primary business at hand. Momentum-breakers stop progress in its tracks, and can eventually reduce a results-orientation to a maintenance mode or fight for survival.

There are numerous potential momentum-breakers in the day-to-day life of any organization. One I will focus on today is gossip. This seemingly harmless drivel can cause confusion, resentment, create factions, and deplete the energies of those spewing it, listening to it, and contemplating it. Take a look at what THE BOOK has to say about this sort of reckless speech:

But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. 2 Timothy 2:16.

Notice here that the gossip itself isn’t even the worse element of the act. It’s the certainty that the “idle babblings” will increase to even more ungodliness; bitterness, resentment, envy, and outright lies for starters.

But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37.

“Idle words” can be categorized as useless, unnecessary, or careless.

Sometimes people gossip about a person they envy. Another reason someone gossips is to make themselves look better at the expense of someone else. This sort of self-centered attitude is dangerous, as is pointed out in James 3:16: For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. Do you grasp the potential for problems when you see a phrase like, “every evil thing.” “Every” means: all, excluding none. That doesn’t bode well for team unity, focus, or results.

Many people who do not gossip personally, enjoy listening to it! Listening to gossip makes you an enabler, and renders you little better than the gossip himself! Some Christians have gotten sneaky about how to gossip. They say things like, Word on the street is that John is having an affair with Mary. Please pray for them. What a load of nonsense! If you’re truly concerned about the situation, go talk to John or Mary, not about them!

If someone comes to you with gossip, you can turn it aside by saying something like this:

1. “Wow! Instead of talking about John and Mary, don’ t you think it might be best to go and speak directly do them?” That normally brings the conversation to a quick halt!

or

2. “I appreciate your confidence in telling me this. But I’ve decided to try harder to focus on the things about my job that I can control. I appreciate your understanding.” Without judging the perpetrator, you kindly communicate to them that you want no part of their childishness.

Remember this also: people who gossip to you will also gossip about you!

Stay on the high road. If what you are going to say doesn’t add value, remain silent. And when someone comes to you to spew their idle or profane babblings, don’t enable them with an audience.

Day 60 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Vital Difference between Character & Integrity!

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Character and integrity are both important, but they are not synonymous. In fact, integrity without the right character can spell trouble! This is why it’s important to first determine one’s character before we ask them to live with integrity. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will give several key questions to ask during interviews to help determine a job applicant’s character. But for now, it is important to understand how character and integrity are defined and why they’re different. Here are the dictionary’s descriptions:

Character: The combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another. A distinguishing feature or attribute, as of an individual, group, or category.

Based on this description, it’s easiest to think of character as one’s moral and ethical code. It is a combination of inside traits that determine outward behavior. Now look at the definition of integrity:

Integrity: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

When you combine character and integrity here’ s what you get: character is one’s moral and ethical code, and integrity means that one lives according to that code. Thus, someone who lives with integrity, lives according to their moral values. That being said, you must first determine the moral values–the code–of that person in order to ascertain whether or not living with integrity is a good or bad thing. For example: If someone has a moral code that says they should inflict injury upon a person of another religion or race and they do so they are, by definition, living with integrity. Unsettling, isn’t it?

On the other hand, if an individual has a strong moral and ethical code but compromises what is right when it serves popular opinion, or in order to achieve personal gain, they are not living with integrity. Despite the quality of their character, their failure to live by their code creates significant behavioral problems.

This is why endeavoring to determine one’s character in an interview is a fairly accurate, but not a foolproof way, of predicting one’s future behavior. One will normally live according to their character code–with integrity–but there may be times when they abandon that code for the sake of expediency. This makes it the responsibility of the interviewer to determine when those instances may occur. Here are two clues:

1. Administer an in-depth personality profile prior to hiring. Our own assessment evaluates 24 traits that are significant indicators of future performance.

2. Examine their life thus far with thoughtful interview questions and deep follow up to their answers.  What have they overcome and accomplished? Have they demonstrated persistence, mental toughness, unselfishness, and strength of character?

The Bible tells that a tree is known by the quality of its fruit, and thus we must examine the fruit of one’s life in order to determine the quality of their character. This principle can be quite helpful when determining the potential value an aspiring applicant may bring to your organization. It may also help you detect those who are inclined to inflict a negative value upon your organization due to a weak character code, or a tendency to compromise it when things get tough. Since you cannot change one’s character once you hire him or her, it’s essential to hire those who already possess a foundation of moral and ethical soundness.

Day 59 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How Far Should I Go to Help My Neighbor?

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

When Jesus commanded us to love others as He loves us, the mandate for caring for our neighbors, family, co-workers, and employees became clear. But just how far do you go? Is there a danger that you can do too much and make things worse for them…and you? The answer: It depends! It depends upon the situation, and the more you know about the Bible, the easier it is to discern how to help an individual based on their specific and unique need. In, How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’ll present a number of biblical references that address specific situations and remedies. Here are a few general rules to follow:

1. If someone needs food or clothing, don’t loan them the money, give it to them. The Bible lists food and clothing as a basic need. Thus, you don’t just give them the money if they need their cable turned back on, or want to upgrade their cell phone! Proverbs 19:17: He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord. And He will pay back what he has given.

2. Never co-sign a loan. Co-signing makes both parties a slave to the bank. Read Proverbs 6:1-5 and Proverbs 22:7.

3. If someone is having money problems, giving them more money will not solve their long-term issues if they are not applying biblical principles to their finances. The chances are far greater that they need instruction that will help them over the course of a life time, not a short-term infusion of cash that will soon be gone, leaving them in want again. Instead, you should counsel them to apply the wisdom in Malachi 3:10-11 and Proverbs 3:9-10. Normally, those with financial pressures don’t need more money. They need counsel from God’s word.

4. If someone is complaining that nothing is going right in their marriage or family, you could inquire if they honored their parents while growing up of if they got married with their parent’s full blessing. If not, the best advice you could give them is to be reconciled to their parents, because God tells us to “honor our parents that it may be well with thee.” Ephesians 6:3

As you can see, loving your neighbor doesn’t always mean doing what is asked. You must use wisdom to discern the real need. As you counsel another, it’s important that they feel your concern and love for them, and not condemnation or judgment. Otherwise, they will most likely reject your advice. The Apostle Paul instructed Titus to, “speak evil of no man” and instead to show meekness unto all men with humility, remembering that we have also been at times foolish, disobedient, and deceived. Titus 3:2-5.

Helping someone without using the Bible as a guideline can cause many problems:

1. The person becomes entitled.

2. The person begins to depend more upon you than on God.

3. The person never gets a chance to grow spiritually and apply principles that will create long-term benefit in their lives. Thus, they continue to repeat the same errors and get caught up in a vicious cycle that imprisons them and robs them of their joy and future.