Archive for October, 2010

Day 96 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Overcome the Six Temptations of Successful Organizations!

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

As I was gathering research material for a chapter on overcoming complacency that I will include in How to Lead by THE BOOK, I came across an outline I had written for, How to Overcome the Six Temptations of Successful Organizations. This outline became the final chapter in my book, Up Your Business, which was first published in 2003. The revised and expanded version was released in 2007.

Back in ’03 business and the economy were better for many of us than they are today and I felt compelled to include the six temptations as a warning  for leaders to not let up and lose their momentum during robust business periods. For many of you, business has taken a turn upward this year over the past couple of years, and it may help to be reminded of these six points. Here they are:

The Six Temptations of Successful Organizations:

1. The leaders stop working on themselves and become know-it-alls.

2. The leaders stop thinking big and slide backward into a maintenance mode.

3. The leaders stop leading from the front and spend too much time in their offices.

4. The leaders stop building a team and become too dependent upon themselves.

5. The leaders stop holding others accountable because it doesn’t seem as necessary.

6. Everyone abandons the basics.

How many of these temptations have you or your organization fallen prey to? Face them and fix them now!

Yesterday I flew from Los Angeles to Huntsville, Alabama where I will conduct my Simply the Best Customer Service Workshop this morning. During the flight, I worked on another chapter for How to Lead by THE BOOK. It covers biblical strategies for recruiting and hiring great people. I believe that readers are going to be amazed at how thoroughly the Bible speaks to this subject and how helpful its team building principles are. I’ll include actual character-determining interview questions in the book: over a dozen of them! This will help you hire people who share your values and have the attitude and integrity necessary to positively contribute to your organization.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my publisher wants me to add an additional chapter to the revised version of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK, which is scheduled to be released in June. After considering many possibilities, I decided on this topic for the expanded version of the book: How to Lead Effectively Through Crisis! The world is becoming a more complex and challenging place in which to live and lead. Because of this, I believe that a “crisis leadership” theme will always be relevant, applicable and helpful. We never know what surprises lurk around the corner. The wise will be prepared for them before they manifest.

Day 95 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Power of Persistence!

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

The best way I’ve ever heard persistence described is as “stubbornness with a purpose”. It’s easier to be stubborn and persistent when you have a purpose, a goal you’re fighting for, something you want bad enough to keep coming back for after you’ve been knocked down.

As I was writing Chapter 3  last night for How to Lead by THE BOOK, I was discussing what it means to be a servant leader. In fact, I gave twelve tasks that make up a servant leader’s job description. I used an example of how Jesus met the needs of blind Bartimaeus as He traveled from Jericho to Jerusalem  the last week of His life. Not only does this passage give an example of how a servant leader meets the needs of others, it offers insights into what it means to be persistent and the rewards of persistence.

Let me set the stage: As Jesus is passing through the crowds, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar shouts out to Him for mercy. Here’s the story from Mark 10:47-52:

And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Then many warned him to be quiet, but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called.

Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise. He is calling you.”

And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.

So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.

Here are five lessons from this miracle:

1. When you have something worth fighting for, don’t let the voices of the crowd snuff out your fire!

2. When others try to douse your dreams with doubt, use it as motivation to work even harder for your goal!

3. When you get close to what you want, don’t let up! Like Bartimaeus, cast your garment aside and sprint towards your goal!

4. Get clear about what you want in the first place. When Jesus asked Blind Bart what he wanted, Bart didn’t stutter!

5. When you achieve your goal, remember those that helped you along the way.

Day 94 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Defeat Fear and its Friends!

Monday, October 11th, 2010

There are multiple inside enemies a leader faces each day: fear, worry, doubt, indifference, procrastination and others. These inner issues can exacerbate the negative impact that “outside conditions” have on your organization. Outside conditions are factors like: aggressive competition, a down economy, bad weather, and the like. In order to overcome fear and its friends, you’ve got to daily renew your mind.

Your mind will come under siege from enemies real and make believe, inside and outside, and if you fail to fortify your mind and simply let it fend for itself it will be defeated. Romans 12:2 offers powerful advice and insight into this challenge:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The Greek word used for “renewing” is given in a tense that means to continually renew. How do you continually renew your mind in a manner that does  not conform it to the worries and concerns of this world?

First, here’s how not to renew it:

A. Countless hours watching violence and sex on television, reality TV, and dwelling on negative news stories.

B. Using your spare moments to absorb meaningless and trivial gossip and celebrity news online, in publications, or on TV.

C. Engaging in “worst case” scenario conversations with your associates at work. Speculating about what a tough month it is going to be, and how the economy is taking forever to turn around.

D. Associating with small-minded people. These are the folks who gossip, judge, whine, complain, and criticize everything and everyone. Nothing is ever good enough and no one makes them happy.

To separate yourself from the world’s thinking, you’ve got to stop spending so much time looking at, and listening to, what the world produces!

You renew your mind with quiet time; not in busyness. You renew your mind with prayer. You renew your mind when you read and memorize key scripture passages that apply to your situation and your life. You renew your mind when you engage with like-minded, positive, and uplifting people. You renew your mind when you make a conscious effort to find and celebrate what is right about a situation, a person, and the world. You renew your mind when you try to see things as God sees them. This includes people, problems, and opportunities.

As I continue writing How to Lead by THE BOOK, I am making a very deliberate effort to include the most relevant proverbs, parables, and principles readers need to detach their minds from the way the world thinks and acts, and elevate themselves to a transformed, renewed, and more effective way of thinking and living. Last night I wrote about holding leaders to a higher standard. Later today I’ll write about the most effective leadership style to apply in any situation. These strategies do not conform to the world’s thinking. They’ll require a new way of thinking, a renewed mind. But the payoff in results will be substantial.

Day 93 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Keep Up Your Guard!

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Yesterday, Saturday, I received an email from my publisher. They’ve decided that, in addition to bringing out How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK in a paperback edition to coincide with the release of How to Lead by THE BOOK, they would like the following enhancements made:

1. A new introduction including the feedback I’ve received from those using and applying the book’s principles.

2. 500 additional words of new and expanded material at the end of each chapter.

3. A 2500 word final chapter on a new topic rooted in biblical principles.

I’m very excited to do this. And while I don’t know the deadline yet, I’m aware that I’ll need to focus even more to complete How to Lead by THE BOOK on time and also make the additions to How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. In essence, in the course of a week, I’ve gone from writing one book to two.

As I work harder to tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand, I’m reminded of Christ’s command to Peter, John and James in the Garden of Gethsemane the night He was betrayed. Here’s how Matthew reports the incident as Christ addresses the disciples in the Garden.

“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed… v. 38-39.

Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” v. 40-41.

The word “watch” in this instance is from the Greek word gregoreuo, which means to keep awake with the idea of being vigilant. In this instance, Christ was using it not so much in the physical sense as in the moral sense. Jesus knew that even though the disciples had verbally stated their allegiance and willingness to follow Him, this resolve would soon be tested.

The advice to “watch” is just as important to leaders today. Whether in your family, church, community, or business, you must keep your guard up against the moral drowsiness that can cause you to fall into traps of unproductive distractions and devastating temptations. As Jesus suggested, watching must be coupled with praying in order to stay on track.

Being watchful means that you are also alert to spiritual dangers that may affect your family, friends and employees. It is a conscious alertness of mind that keeps you and others from spiritual lethargy and slackening of your faith and Godly conduct.

Paul reminds us: Therefore do not sleep, as others do, but let us watch, and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

Peter is even more poignant with: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8.

Perhaps there are areas of your life, the lives of your children, or the lives of your employees that demand you do more watching.  Keep your spiritual guard up, stay more alert. Watch what they’re watching: on television and on the Internet. Listen to whom they’re listening to and being influenced by. Their spirit may indeed be willing, but the flesh is inherently weak.

Day 92 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Productive Response to Evil!

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Last night I spent nearly three hours writing the recipe to a single business challenge for, How to Lead by THE BOOK. I’ll certainly need to pick up the pace a bit if I expect to finish the book on time! However, the challenge was a big one: Is it right to hold leaders more accountable and to a higher standard than followers? I provided numerous reasons why this must be the case. One of the many areas I listed as being necessary for a higher degree of expectation and accountability for leaders was in the realm of emotional control.

Controlling one’s emotions and responding maturely to provocations, lies, gossip, and other attacks is essential for anyone, but particularly for leaders.  When provoked by evil, it is important to apply Romans 12:21. This verse is often misunderstood and applied with a misguided expectation for how the perpetrator will respond. Here is what the verse says: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 1 Peter 3:17 reminds us, For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

Overcoming evil with good does not necessarily mean that a mature and productive response to an attacker will overcome the evil in him or her. Rather, it assures you that by responding to evil with good you will overcome the evil in you! When you respond productively to evil done to you: by not seeking vengeance and by deciding to forgive, you overcome your own tendencies towards evil: becoming bitter, resentful, angry, vengeful and the like. You have no assurance that your “good” response to evil will change or overcome anything evil within the perpetrator. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But you can rest assured that it will snuff out the evil within yourself, that left unchecked, will cause you to sin in your response.

Day 91: How to Lead by THE BOOK: Empower & Delegate Wisely!

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I attended a 6:30 a.m. Bible study at Calvary Community Church today. We’re going through a course called, “The Dirty Dozen.” It is an eight-week study on the life of the twelve disciples. Today we discussed a leadership principle that I will further explain in, How to Lead by THE BOOK.” This principle has tremendous relevance to your own leadership style and business. It concerns empowerment and delegation.

In Matthew 10 it says that Jesus sent out the Twelve with authority to do many things: heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, and cleanse lepers. Here’s what we can learn and apply from Jesus’ model:

1. He didn’t empower recklessly. Jesus empowered the right people! He prayed all night before ever choosing the Twelve. Sometimes we will ask an employee to do a task and then realize after they have failed in their endeavor that they were the wrong person to begin with!

2. He showed what good performance looked like before sending them out. Jesus had personally done each task with the disciples that He commissioned them to do before sending them out to do likewise. We must do the same. Show people what good performance looks like! Whenever possible, do a task with them before handing it off to them.

3. Jesus gave them the authority they needed to accomplish the task. Oftentimes we delegate something to someone but give them no authority to make decisions or implement action without checking with us. This slows them down and causes them to waste time and miss opportunities. If you delegate someone to accomplish a job, don’t micromanage the process! Let them go!

4. He clearly defined what He expected before sending them out. Jesus told them specifically what to do. They had clear objectives to accomplish. How often have you “dumped”, rather than delegated, by barking out an order that is not clear–and then expecting that it be done the way you like? Give people a clear picture of what success will look like. They are unlikely to hit a cloudy or moving target.

5. Jesus debriefed the disciples after they had returned from the task. Luke reports that Jesus listened to them, encouraged them, and further coached them after they returned from their mission. We must provide the same follow-up to bring closure to one task and then prepare our team for what’s next.

If you’ve ever delegated a task and were disappointed with the outcome, perhaps you missed one or more of these five points. Learn from your mistakes, use Jesus as your model, and get it right the next time!

Day 90 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Are You Just Making Money or are You Making a Difference?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I can’t speak for all authors, but one of my greatest rewards for writing books is the feedback I receive from readers explaining how a book I wrote has impacted their lives. Making money is nice, making a difference is far more important.

I have been fortunate to receive a steady stream of these uplifting letters and emails since How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK was published last August. In fact, an email I read just moments ago from a reader of the book was so powerful and moving that I shared it with my publisher and my team. I told them, “Sometimes it’s important to be reminded of why we do what we do. Here’s why.” To protect the privacy of the email’s author I cannot share its contents here except to say that it didn’t only make my day, it made my month!

As I continue to write How to Lead by THE BOOK, I maintain an awareness that this is not a book designed to help leaders make more money per se. Instead, it is a guide to help them make a difference. After all, if you learn to make a difference in the lives of your followers, results will skyrocket and the money will be there. But money should not be the primary motive–making the difference should be! I tell my audiences, “Don’t chase the money! Chase making a difference and the money will chase you!”

Perhaps it is time to reevaluate your personal motives and your daily leadership activities and consider the impact–or not–you’re having in the lives of your teammates. Are you just making money or are you making a difference? Are you consumed with becoming more personally successful, or are you striving towards significance by elevating others and taking them with you on your journey?

Here are two quick reminders to help you make a difference:

1. You can’t do it at a distance. While you can impress people with your title, power and knowledge, in order to impact them you must get up close and spend time with them. Don’t expect to become significant by sending out more emails, memos and voice mails! Roll up your sleeves and become more engaged with the people-work part of your job!

2. You cannot impact people by maintaining them. A leader’s job is to stretch others out of their comfort zone with high expectations, honest feedback, increased latitude and discretion, and by providing the training they need to become more successful. If you’re not stretching, you’re not leading!

Day 89 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Three Keys to Knowing What to Do in Any Situation!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Yesterday was filled with great news: How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK was the #20 bestseller in fiction/non-fiction hardcover book categories in airport bookstores for the month of September (according to the HMS Host Sales Report). Also, because of its success, my publisher has decided that I should produce a revised and expanded version of the book that will come out in paperback to coincide with the release of, How to Lead by THE BOOK in June!

I spoke at a gathering of business leaders only four miles from my offices yesterday. Any day I don’t have to get on an airplane to speak with an audience is a particular blessing! There were leaders from real estate, investments, banking, and law enforcement gathered to hear my speech: Four Decisions that Create Growth in Any Market! The wonderful thing about leadership principles is that they transcend all industries. They are applicable and effective regardless of what you do. Fortunately, the audience felt the same way and several attendees have already emailed to indicate they are applying the strategies I presented.

A question that came up while I was speaking in Turkey last week was: “How do I know God’s will for my life or my business?” This topic is so important and deep that I devoted an entire section to it in, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. It’s essential that Christians understand the process for knowing what to do in any situation. Here are three tips for doing so:

1. The key to hearing God’s voice is found in having a close relationship with Him. As your relationship with God is strengthened it is easier to hear His voice and discern His will. Stay close enough to Him that all He has to do is whisper, rather than shout in order to get your attention.

2. The key to having a strong relationship with God is obedience. Obeying takes you from “knowing” about God to experiencing Him. Jesus said in John 14:15, If you love me, keep My commandments.

3. Proverbs 3:5-6 says that if you acknowledge God in all your ways He will direct your paths. This means that when you surrender and put under His control all areas of your life: finances, relationships, personal and corporate values, and the like, that He will reveal His will to you. By committing first to God, you begin to understand His will. However, most people want to know God’s will and then decide whether or not they want to commit to it! It doesn’t work that way!

You can rest assured that it’s not God’s desire to keep His will for you a secret! He wants you to know it so that you can serve Him. But He is not anxious to reveal it to the rebellious, selfish, independent, willful, prideful or uncommitted.

Day 88 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Correct & Coach Effectively!

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Last week I was in Ephesus, Turkey where Paul spent three years of ministry. The ruins of Ephesus are incredible! When viewing them I could only imagine how magnificent the first century city was in its heyday. The 19th chapter of Acts tells a lot of what went on in Ephesus. Read it and you’ll discover that it was a hot spot: demons, riots, intense preaching and more!

Apollos is described in the Book of Acts as an “eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures.” This talented evangelist came to Ephesus and began preaching. Unfortunately, while his speaking style was dynamic, his knowledge of Jesus was limited. Christians named in Acts as Aquila and Priscilla heard him preaching in the synagogue and noticed his deficit of right knowledge. What they did next was a simple, but highly effective method for correcting and coaching someone who has strayed. It’s a strategy for feedback that I’ll discuss at greater length in, How to Lead by THE BOOK. Here’s what the Bible says about this encounter:

When Aquila and Priscilla heard him (Apollos) they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. Acts 18:26.

Aquila and Priscilla did not rebuke Apollos publicly. They didn’t embarrass him, show him up, or try to elevate their own standing in the synagogue by proving their own superior intellect. Rather, they corrected and coached Apollos in private. They subordinated their own impulses and egos to the more important task of edifying and making more valuable a powerful worker in their cause. We are all wise to do the same.

Day 87 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Buck Stops with the Leader!

Monday, October 4th, 2010

I am happy to report that my recent trip to teach biblically-based leadership principles to Iranian pastors was successful and that I have returned home safely after a 30 hour journey without incident. My training partner and I trained dozens of key leaders committed to religious freedom and to shedding Christ’s light into Iran. After six years of working together, I continue to be inspired by the Iranian Christian’s passion and courage. I am grateful to EQUIP for the opportunity to serve as one of their associate trainers. For security reasons, I will defer further details of the conference until after I receive word that the attendees have all returned safely to their country.

One of the topics I taught at this conference was the importance of accepting responsibility for your actions and results. This is also a subject I’ll cover throughout the 70 strategies I present in, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK. Not surprisingly, the shirking of responsibility finds it roots all the way back in the days of Adam and Eve. God had given clear instructions to them not to eat the fruit of a certain tree in the Garden of Eden. After the serpent convinced Eve to violate God’s instructions and sample the fruit, she then invited Adam to do the same–which he did.Things quickly went downhill from there!

Technically, Eve sinned first. However, it is Adam who is held accountable throughout the Scriptures for bringing sin into the world, because he was the spiritual leader of the couple and should have known better! His spineless refusal to take a stand in the face of Eve’s invitation to sin caused Paul to write in Romans 5:12: Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and death through sin…Paul doesn’t even mention Eve, because as the leader, Adam was responsible. He knew better but he didn’t do better.

While both Adam and Eve suffered consequences for their sin, the buck stopped with Adam. This is despite his pathetic attempt to put the blame on his mate telling God when asked whether he had eaten the forbidden fruit: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. ” Genesis 1:12. Eve then passed the blame down to the serpent with the whine, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate. Genesis 3:13. Neither repented, apologized nor stood as accountable.

As a leader in your organization, you may occasionally come under the influence from co-workers and subordinates to compromise what is right for what is expedient. As the leader, you are responsible for doing what is right. While everyone deserves punishment for character violations  in the workplace, the leader should always be held to a higher and stricter level of accountability. It comes with the territory.