Archive for November, 2010

Day 141-143 How to Lead by THE BOOK: When the Leader Sleeps the Followers Follow!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I’m flying to Boston today to give a speech on, “Six Decisions that Create Success in Any Market!” tomorrow at a convention. It’s one of my favorite keynote topics, because it prompts leaders to look in the mirror and focus on decisions, rather than conditions.  I’ll do much of the same throughout How to Lead by THE BOOK. In fact, I’ve devoted an entire chapter to the importance of leaders holding themselves, and the other leaders within their organization, more accountable in this regard. Here is an excerpt that many readers will be able to relate to:

When the leader sleeps, the team follows

Peter’s name is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name except Jesus. He was the disciple’s leader and a member of Jesus’ inner circle along with John and James. In Mark 14: 32, Jesus and the disciples had just finished the Last Supper, sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. While there, Jesus told them that they would all be made to stumble because of Him that night. Despite Peter’s protests, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times that very evening. Thus, as they ventured into the Garden of Gethsemane, there was probably a lot on all of their minds.

Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to the death. Stay here and watch.”

He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”

Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark 14: 32-38.

Jesus found all three disciples sleeping. These three, who had so vehemently insisted previously that they were ready to share his sufferings and would never deny Him were so unconcerned by their Master’s sorrow and pain that they slept while He agonized and prayed. Luke’s account details that Jesus was so distressed that He sweat drops of blood—while His three key men took a nap!

Yet, when Jesus found his inner circle in slumber He did not address all three by name, only Peter. Why? Peter was the leader. Jesus expected more from him. After all, he boasted the loudest about his fidelity only a few moments prior in Mark 14:31 when he vehemently spoke the words, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”

The lesson here is clear: when the leader sleeps, so does the team! If a leader catches cold, you can expect the followers to come down with pneumonia. This is precisely why leaders must be held to a higher standard than those they lead: in businesses, churches, governments and families.

Day 138-140: How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Key to Making the Right Decisions!

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, was a great time to combine spending time with my family, and making progress on the final three chapters of How to Lead by THE BOOK. We smoked a turkey for ten hours–and it turned out great! I also prepared my somewhat famous eggs benedict, served exclusively to special family members on holiday occasions. Many readers don’t realize that I have a bit of a cooking and baking background that began long before I got into sales. I worked in several restaurants right out of school, and can still whip up a mean batch of from-scratch cinnamon rolls! However, nothing compares to the homemade yeast rolls Rhonda makes! She uses her grandma’s recipe, lets the dough rise three times by the fireplace, and cranks out mouthwatering dinner rolls the size of hamburger buns! Thus, it was a great challenge to write last night as my bloated belly made it difficult to focus on work.

The title of chapter 13, which I made some progress on yesterday despite the culinary distractions is: How do I know God’s will as I make decisions in my business and life?

Of all the chapters, I believe this one has the potential to add the most value to readers, as there is so much confusion on this important topic. While I touched on this topic here a couple of months ago, I want to include an exact excerpt from the beginning of chapter 13 here:

Man’s Wisdom and Way

“If your intentions are good and you don’t violate God’s principles, He will bless your decisions because He wants you to prosper. Besides, what sort of testimony does a “failure” of a Christian have in the business world? Use the gifts and talents that God gives you for moral purposes and God will stay on your side. Make a decision, and if you don’t feel any inner conflict, God is with you. That’s a sign to move forward in faith. At that point, ask God to bless your decision and then move in that direction.”

The BOOK’s Wisdom and Way

Christians commonly take missteps as they mistake faith for presumption. You cannot make godly decisions, and nor will you know God’s will for anything until you give up control of your life to God. Most Christians make decisions about what they want to do and then ask God to bless those decisions. Instead, you must commit to what God wants for you, and then ask Him to reveal it. The commitment comes before the understanding because God doesn’t share His will for contemplation but for participation.

You’ll have a far easier time making godly decisions if you know what’s in God’s word. This is because His will for you won’t contradict His word.  God’s word acts as a filter for decision-making. The more you understand it the easier it is for you to know what to do, and what not to do in a given situation.

It’s about relationship

While speaking at a conference, a businessman asked me, “How do I hear God’s voice in my daily business walk?” I answered as follows:

The key to hearing God’s voice in anything is your relationship with Him. The closer your relationship to God, the easier it is to know what He wants and expects. Frankly, you cannot develop an intimate relationship with anyone unless you send time with them. God is no different. Sending up a flare prayer every once in a while when you need something is not going to build a relationship with God. You’ll remain little more than a casual acquaintance.

Day 136-137: How to Lead by THE BOOK: When Drastic Action is Required!

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

As I completed my chapter on how culture changes behaviors within organizations for How to Lead by THE BOOK, I included examples of when drastic action is required to change a culture. I also outlined the importance of leaders becoming students of behaviors rather than students of “the numbers”. Here are the excerpts to explain:

Drastic action is sometimes required

Occasionally, a culture has devolved to the point where the organization cannot, or shouldn’t, be saved. In other words, it has reached the point of no return where no leader; set of values, mission, standards, competencies or group of people can turn things around. In these cases, it’s better to fold up the tents, clean house, and start over with a new leader. Or, if you’re God, you send a flood.

One of the saddest passages in THE BOOK is found in Genesis 6:5-7. No new vision here, a new culture was needed:

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man, and beast, creeping thing, and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

Twelve chapters later, God decided that the grave sin of Sodom and Gomorrah warranted obliteration. As Jude described centuries later:

But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode. He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 5-7.

Be a student of behaviors

You cannot change a culture by changing the “numbers.” Yet many leaders pride themselves as great students of the numbers. Instead, they should become a student of behaviors, because the behaviors portend where the numbers are headed.

The “numbers” in your organization are a result of the culture. This is because culture dictates behaviors and behaviors determine results. By carefully watching the daily behaviors of your people, you can intervene and strengthen the culture and subsequent behaviors before the numbers show up. On the other hand, if you’re watching only for the numbers, all you’re seeing are the lagging indicators. Numbers show up too late to change anything! It’s like confusing the scoreboard for the game. If all you’re doing is gazing at the scoreboard, you’re missing the game—and the opportunity to influence the behaviors within the game that determine what goes up on the scoreboard.

When you study behaviors within your organization, you can effectively predict the future. The daily behaviors of your people will tell you exactly where the numbers are headed. In fact, your organization’s past culture-induced behaviors have brought you to where you are today.

Day 132-135 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Avoid These Two Dangerous Leadership Mistakes!

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I’ve now completed 35,000 of the 50,000 words needed to finish How to Lead by THE BOOK. I’ve covered eleven major business challenges thus far making for short, to-the-point chapters.

Last night I put the finishing touches on the chapter, “What are two of the most dangerous mistakes I must avoid to become a more effective leader?” Obviously, there were lots to choose from! However, I decided to include the following two major blunders in the book:

1. The tendency to prioritize “stuff” over people.

2. The tendency to become too dependent on yourself.

Here’s an excerpt of how I opened the chapter:

Man’s Wisdom and Way

“Leadership brings pressures that will cause you to make mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect. If you fall short, ask forgiveness. When you commit leadership errors, learn from them.  The bottom line is that, since everyone makes their own share of blunders, yours are none of their business.”

If you believe the veracity of Man’s Wisdom and Way, please re-read chapter two, and pay more attention this time! As a leader, your mistakes are everyone’s business because your actions have a greater impact on the culture, morale, momentum and organizational results than any one else’s. You also have the responsibility of setting a righteous example for followers. To appreciate your influence on their behavior, you must grasp that the positive actions you take in excess followers will emulate in moderation. However, the negative actions you initiate in moderation, your followers will imitate in excess. You also accrue a bad reputation and encourage further cultural corruption when your own words and deeds are inconsistent. Sir Francis Bacon explained it well: “He that gives good admonition and bad example builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.”

THE BOOK’s wisdom and way

You are not expected to become perfect. But you should strive towards imitating a perfect Lord and Savior as you are instructed in Ephesians 5:1: “Therefore be imitators of God.”  Many leaders use the fact that they cannot become perfect human beings as license to stop striving.

As a leader, you are expected to do more than grow old; you are presumed to grow up and minimize your errors, correct your mistakes, and respond to missteps backwards with a steady gait forward.

Leaders face many temptations and often fall into common traps that affect their character and performance. Loose morals, lousy judgment, outright ignorance, and blatant stupidity are the culprits beyond most failures. However, there is one primary perpetrator that underlines each of these causes: pride.  In How to Rum Your Business by THE BOOK (Wiley, 2009), I devoted an entire chapter explaining how pride is the number one cause of leadership failure. Suffice to say, that if you struggle with either of these common leadership mistakes I mention in this chapter, pride is at the root of your problem. And if you suddenly became defensive or defiant in the face of my accusation that you may have a problem with pride, it is certain evidence that you are guilty as charged!

Day 129-131 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How do You Hold People Accountable?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Yesterday I spoke at a Leader’s Forum in Cincinnati with my friend and best-selling author, John Maxwell. There were 150 leaders in attendance and the topic of how to hold others accountable was one of the issues we addressed.

The first chapter of How to Lead by THE BOOK will tackle this challenge. Below is an excerpt that opens the chapter. It helps create perspective on the basis for accountability. In a future post, I’ll list some of the seven steps for accountability that I present in the book.

Man’s wisdom & way

“Get in their face with tough talk. Intimidate, threaten, and bully. If they don’t like it, they should either step up or opt out!”

In the one thousand leadership presentations I give each decade, I’ve discovered that this old school palaver is still the strategy of choice for many misguided leaders. While trying to find the right word to describe this tendency herein I couldn’t decide whether to use hopeless, futile, or stupid. Thus, I’ve decided to define this method for accountability as: hopelessly futile stupidity.

The BOOK’s wisdom & way

While visiting the Mount of the Beatitudes in Israel, I was struck by its prominence in height and stature compared to its surroundings. Thus, it is fitting that Jesus chose this spot to teach on the topic of elevated values and expectations. In Matthew chapters 5-7, Jesus outlined the revolutionary values of the Christian faith with His Sermon on the Mount. He presented clear behavioral standards, along with appropriate rewards or penalties contingent upon one’s obedience. Whereas the Old Testament ended in Malachi 4:6 with a curse, Jesus began His ministry teaching on the Mount with a blessing: Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You are able to bless your people in a like manner when you clearly define what you expect from them. You simultaneously strengthen your organization as doing so provides an essential benchmark for accountability.   

Why did Jesus set forth expectations and values so early in His ministry? For the same reasons you must do so within your organization: You cannot possibly hold anyone accountable until you define what you expect in the first place! But even more importantly, it gave Him a chance to model what He expected with His own life. Even when Jesus’ mouth was closed, He taught by His example. You must do likewise. After all, you cannot credibly hold others accountable for the behaviors you’ve defined as non-negotiable unless you personally live them.

There is no record in Matthew of Jesus offering feedback to anyone, much less holding them accountable, until He had clearly defined what He expected from his followers. Using THE BOOK as a guide, consider the seven subsequent thoughts and rules to help you create a higher accountability culture in your organization. (Coming in a future post).

Day 127-128 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Balance Your Work & Home Life!

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

The feedback I received over the past 17 months since the publication of How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK has convinced me that most business people have a very strong interest in improving their work-life balance. This is because my chapter in that book on this topic generated as much or more feedback than any other issue.

In How to Lead by THE BOOK, I’m including a chapter that will dig deeper into this highly important matter. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter, How do I balance my work and home life?

Man’s wisdom and way

“My family understands that the long hours I spend at work is the sacrifice we all make to live a comfortable life. Besides, we’ve learned that quality time is more important than a quantity of time spent together poorly. While it may be tough for them to fully understand the career investment I’m making now, some day they will appreciate what I’m doing for them.”

Many leaders earn well but they don’t live well. They sacrifice their family, health, friends, and relationship with God for more stuff. They work hard to secure a golden retirement and add years to their life. But, in the process, they fail to add life to their years. Anyone extending years to their life without adding life to their years merely perpetuates the depth and duration of their emptiness.

The BOOK’s wisdom and way

Any Christian feigning confusion over what should be most important in his or her life should win an Academy Award for best actor. The Bible makes resolutely clear in Matthew 6:33 the proper ordering of one’s priorities. You can rest assured that balance, provision, and happiness in all other sectors of your life are contingent upon getting this right:

But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33. I assume that since Jesus didn’t stutter with this sentence that you caught the intended sequence for your life’s priorities.

In the Book of John, Jesus reveals the secret for bearing much fruit in your life. Again, there is no gray area:

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Frankly, if your relationship with God isn’t what it should be, your relationship with others, including those living in under your roof who should mean the most to you, will suffer and fail to reach its potential.

What your family needs more than your paycheck, a big house, nice cars, a college education or fancy vacations is spiritual leadership from a mom and dad who have made their relationship with God the priority in their life. Only after your heart is humble enough to rank God first in your life will you ever be able to properly value your family.

Day 124-126: How to Lead by THE BOOK: Give Based on Deserve, not Need!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I’m wrapping up the third day of my annual Strategy Summit at the beautiful Gaylord Texan in Dallas today. One of the class topics yesterday was the importance of building a culture of accountability, where each team member received what they earned and deserved based on their performance–nothing more, nothing less. This is a topic I’ll cover in one of the chapters in How to Lead by THE BOOK.

To support and explain the philosophy of giving out rewards, opportunities, discretion and trust based on “deserve,” rather than based on “need,” I used the Parable of the Talents. You can read up on this important lesson in Matthew 25. Following are the take-aways I encourage you to apply to your organization:

1. Give people what they earn and deserve based on past performance, not equally across the board.

2. If a team member doesn’t use the resources or opportunities he or she has been given, take it from them and give it to someone who will bring a return for the organization.

3. In an organization focused on results, treating people fairly doesn’t mean that you treat them all alike. Instead, treating people fairly means that you treat them in a manner in which they have earned and deserved, and they haven’t all earned the same pay plan, schedule, opportunities, discretion, or trust.

In other words, “fairness” doesn’t mean “sameness.” Rather, fairness means justice. And justice means that people get what they earn and deserve.  Think about this: What could possibly be more fair than treating someone in a manner that they deserve? Actually, the only ones that ever complain about getting only what they deserve are those who don’t deserve much and your primary objective should not be to make this group happy, but to help them get better!

Day 122-123 How to Lead by THE BOOK: How to Change Behaviors in Your Organization!

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

A common misconception is that you can change your team’s behaviors strictly by changing your organization’s vision. This is only true if your culture aligns with your vision. For instance, if you have a culture of entitlement, where there is little accountability, casting a stretch-vision isn’t going to change a thing. In fact, it can make you look foolish because the culture and vision are an obvious mismatch. Thus, the key to changing behaviors is to first change your culture. After the culture is firmly established in the image you desire, you can credibly create a vision that will evoke emotion from within the culture and cause the people there to behave accordingly and rise to the occasion of reaching the vision.

In How to Lead by THE BOOK, I will include a chapter on what comprises culture and how to change it. Here’s a sneak preview:

Culture Components:

1. Core values.

2. Mission.

3. Core competencies.

4. People

The leader is the primary architect and chief-influencer of the culture. The culture components aren’t likely to change much unless the leader changes, or is changed.

The culture builds a foundation to create a vision based on the strengths of your culture-foundation. Once the vision has been cast, you are then able to devise the strategy that builds on the assets of your culture and will take you to your vision.

The lesson here? Don’t try to take shortcuts by launching a bold, fancy vision until you’ve laid the ground work for its success through the deliberate and intentional creation of a supporting culture. Remember: culture dictates behavior and behaviors determine results. If you want greater results, go to work on your culture!

Day 119-121 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Fight Against the Cultural Current!

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

The preface of How to Lead by THE BOOK will be the most compelling front matter I’ve ever included in a book. It will clearly explain why it is so important to return to Biblical principles in all aspects of one’s life. To make this point, I will open the preface with eight evidences of a trending cultural decline–along with their accompanying consequences–designed to create an urgency to reposition our lives and organizations on a firmer Biblical foundation. Here’s an excerpt. It’s point six of the eight:

6. To exacerbate the moral confusion, high profile God mockers and false teachers run rampant among the ranks of bestselling authors, acclaimed comics, entertainment celebrities, church leaders, and business tycoons. For instance:

*A high profile media mogul claims that Christianity is a “religion for losers,” and labeled his employees as “Jesus freaks” for observing Ash Wednesday.

*A pastor disgraces Christianity by leading purveyors of hate in nationwide protests brandishing signs declaring: “God hates homosexuals” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

*A mega bestselling book succeeds at duping millions—including Christians—into thinking that the Law of Attraction can deliver to them what God can’t or won’t.

*A well respected talk show host conducted a  year-long “course in miracles” that promoted the opposite of what the Bible calls truth, leading millions astray and into potential destruction with blasphemies like: “there is no sin”, “my salvation comes from me,” and that “a slain Christ has no meaning.”

This pervasiveness of nefarious New Age nonsense has swayed throngs to embrace hellish notions in order to attain success and personal fulfillment. The Apostle Paul’s 2,000 year old warning seems designed acutely for our age:

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…1 Timothy 4:1.

There will be seven additional disconcerting trends listed in the preface designed to urge leaders to get serious about bucking downward spiraling  cultural current and more wholeheartedly embrace leading themselves, their families, and their organizations by THE BOOK.

Day 117-118 How to Lead by THE BOOK: Six Benefits of Right Values!

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I’ve just completed my chapter on core values for How to Lead by THE BOOK. As with all the chapters, I’ll start off by describing “Man’s wisdom and way” and then getting into “The BOOK’s wisdom and way.” In this excerpt I’m including six benefits to affirm the importance of having meaningful, visible, core values as a cornerstone of your culture:

Man’s wisdom & way

Core values are little more than a load of Pollyanna happy hot tub talk. Consultants promote their creation so you hire them to help you with them! In challenging times we need to stay focused, and the last thing we need is another exercise in academic nonsense. Business schools dream up this core value stuff to make our lives more complicated. In the real world, we need to focus on production. We can’t afford to become distracted from our pursuit of hard numbers by a bunch of touchy feely nonsense like core values. Creating core values ranks right up there with trivial pursuits like meaningless mission and vision statements. While we’re at it, how about gathering together every morning in the lobby to join hands, and sing Kumbaya?”

The paragraph you’ve just read is a near-verbatim statement I personally made in my first management job. This was long ago when I was under the illusion that my new title attested that I was a leader, and that my promotion had miraculously made me smarter. I know that I am not yet what I should be, but I thank God that I’m not what I used to be!

The BOOK’s wisdom and way

The Bible abounds with examples of God creating and communicating the non-negotiable behaviors that He expected His people to live by. The Ten Commandments and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount are prime examples. Creating, living, and holding others accountable for core values are essential leadership responsibilities. Core values serve multiple purposes;

1. Core values create the DNA of your organization. They differentiate you from competitors.

2. Core values make it easier for employees to know what to do in situations where they cannot check with authorities or ask for permission.

3. Core values provide a filter to help you hire the right people.

4. Core values provide a filter to help you fire the wrong people.

5. Core values help create a culture that supports your vision.

6. Core values provide a benchmark for behavioral accountability.