Posts Tagged ‘www.learntolead.com’

Train Wreck: The Danger of Promoting Beyond One’s Competence!

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the Civil War. He had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness, losing the use of his left arm at Gettysburg and having his right leg amputated after victory at Chickamauga.

Reading about Hood’s life while in Nashville recently, the site of his final and resounding defeat in the battle for that city in late 1864, I was struck by how similar his career path is to many managers I’ve seen rise through the ranks in organizations over the decades. These are the men and women who excel at a lower level management position, and then fail when promoted beyond their talent and competence. Apparently, this is what happened to the hard-charging Hood. Wikipedia puts it this way:

One of the best brigade and division commanders in the Confederate States Army, Hood became increasingly ineffective as he was promoted to lead larger, independent commands late in the war, and his career was marred by his decisive defeats leading an army in the Atlanta Campaign and the Franklin-Nashville campaign

Another historical website offers:

A premier example of the Peter Principle is the case of John B. Hood who excelled as a brigade and division leader, was uncooperative as a corps commander, and was an unqualified disaster at the head of an army, which he all but destroyed. . . . Besieging the Union forces in Nashville, he attacked in mid-December 1864 and his army was annihilated. Retreating into the deep South with the fragments of the army he relinquished his command and his temporary commission in January 1865. After the war he settled in New Orleans and was a prosperous merchant until an 1878 financial crisis. He died the next year in a yellow fever epidemic. His memoirs are entitled “Advance and Retreat.” –http://www.civilwarhome.com/hoodbio.htm

When you study the career path of Hood, here are two lessons to learn from and apply in your enterprise:

1. Hire or promote the best, not the “least bad.” When President Jefferson Davis asked General Robert E. Lee’s opinion of promoting Hood to the head of the Army of Tennessee, Lee’s response was lukewarm and noncommittal. General Braxton Bragg, preferred Hood, not because he possessed superior ability, but because he had something personally against the other candidate Davis was considering. Promoting someone for the wrong reasons; someone who is not up to the task but is less offensive than others, is a poor strategy for building excellence within your organization. Actually, it is a recipe for eventual disaster.

2. Prepare your people for the next position before they’re in that position. In war time, mid-level commanders are promoted too quickly because those above them are often killed in battle. You don’t have that excuse in your organization. High potential people should be mentored to develop the skills necessary for their next position, long before they’re in that position.  

Whom are you preparing for advancement within your organization? Do you have a structured training and mentoring career path for your high potentials? Here are a handful of tasks you can do with these team members, depending of course upon the position you’re getting them ready for:

A. Personally mentor them by giving them resources for study and application, and by doing select tasks with them to show them what good performance looks like in areas that go beyond their normal scope of responsibilities.

B. Send the members of your talent pool to seminars and courses that will elevate their skills and broaden their perspective before they’re actually in the position you’re preparing them for.

C. Take high potentials to industry gatherings, conventions and association conferences and debrief them after the meeting to discuss what they learned.

Final reminder: Save yourself months or years of headaches, and a wealth of financial resources by not putting into your talent pool anyone who has the skills and talent, but lacks the character for more responsibility. Character protects talent and without it, the talented but character-deficient team member will eventually self-destruct.

A Secret to Greater Success at Work is…

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

A successful marriage. That’s a secret to greater success at work. I’ve found that everyone from front line employees to business owners who are happier and more fulfilled at home, are more focused and productive at work. The joy, love, and respect they enjoy with their families strengthens their resolve to do well at work.  A happy marriage reduces their stress levels and anxiety while on the job. Today’s Wisdom Hunter’s Daily Devotional, which I’ve included below, speaks to the what is involved in building a successful marriage:

Successful Marriages 

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”   Ephesians 5:31

Even successful marriages are fraught with mistakes. Marriage lessons are learned by trial and error or trial and terror, as some husbands and wives have experienced. Indeed, successful marriages don’t just happen by chance. They are not created like a clock, to be wound up and never given attention.

You become one flesh in marriage, but in reality it takes a lifetime of hard work, forgiveness, love, and respect to enjoy oneness. One flesh implies unity of purpose. It is an alignment around beliefs and behavior, and if this is void in marriage, you become vulnerable to misplaced expectations and perpetual misery. Marriage requires at least as much work as work.

Hard work is a necessity for successful marriages. This seems obvious, but we tend to drift toward being spousal sluggards when we become intoxicated by apathy. However, hard work is the fuel that keeps a marriage moving forward. We see the fruit of hard work in our career and raising children, as it produces satisfaction and significance. But these results come from many hours of planning, communicating, training, and teaching. Indeed, your marriage is a direct result of the amount of effort you have expended.

Don’t expect a harvest of marriage success if the seeds of forgiveness, love, and respect have not been planted in the soil of humility and trust. Furthermore, the weeds of busyness have to be intentionally pulled out, before they choke out your love and friendship with your spouse. Busyness is the enemy of the best marriages, so labor toward a marriage with much margin. Robust marriages take time and trust.

Forgiveness in marriage means you take the time to say, “I was wrong” and “I am sorry,” and it means you take responsibility to confess your anger and selfishness. Moreover, it is the ability to not hold a grudge. God-like forgiveness forgives even before the offense has been committed (Colossians 3:13). It accepts apologies and does not bring up past hurts as a club of resentment. Forgiveness is the cornerstone in the foundation of a successful marriage.

Above all else, successful marriages are made up of unconditional love and radical respect. No wife has ever complained of too much love, or a husband of an over-abundance of respect. Love is emotional, physical, and volitional. Husbands, you are to love sensitively, intimately, and willfully (Ephesians 5:25). Wives, respect your husband out of love and loyalty.

Make sure he knows you are with him and for him, no matter what. Respect is devoid of fear, so you trust your husband because he is accountable to God. Furthermore, marriage is your laboratory for Christianity because you learn to live for the Lord by learning to live for each other. You die to yourselves and come alive to each other. Marriage is your mirror of obedience to Jesus. Successful marriages reflect your oneness with your Savior. Be a marriage success as God defines success.

Taken from the February 26th reading in Seeking Daily the Heart of God.

How to Find Peace in this Busy Season!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The devotional I received from Wisdom Hunters by email today couldn’t have come at a better time. It speaks of finding peace in the midst of the Christmas rush; deadlines, meeting the expectations of others, and more. Take a look:

Peace On Earth

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14

Peace on earth begins with peace in the human heart. It is the result of an inner transformation in you that affects all of your external conditions. So, for example, if a home is conflicted with angry adults, then peace will only come when their hearts have been captured by their peace with God. When Jesus enters the arena of life, He brings peace to those who submit to Him.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2a). Are you stressed out over meeting everyone else’s expectations during this holiday season? Is the pressure of buying gifts, planning menus and making year-end financial decisions pushing your patience to the edge? If so, inhale the peace of God and exhale the expectations of others. Be careful to not miss the joy of Jesus during this celebration of His birth. Focus on His desires, not those of others.

Peace on earth does not mean all wars will cease. As our Savior taught, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Mark 13:7). In fact, many times following Christ means a clash with the mores of society, a discomfort with family members or a conflict with your work culture.

However, in the middle of our situations of unrest, we can rest in the Lord. The calming presence of Jesus was illustrated as He lay in swaddling clothes yet He was the world’s Savior. His peace pursues impure hearts—He came to “seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). So begin by surrendering to your Master Jesus who began His reign in a humble manger.

Worship the glory of God in all of His goodness, mercy and grace. Wise men and women still seek Him, because He is the originator of wisdom and peace. His favor rests on those who rest in Him, who love and obey Him and who follow Him all the days of their lives. So settle down and seek Jesus. Replace your frantic pace with calm faith and make a loud noise of celebration  but with quiet resolute. Invite the peace of God to enter into your hurried heart. His peace settles all stress.

Lastly, use this season of celestial celebration to celebrate your salvation in Christ. Maybe bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday to your Savior. Dress up in His honor and read the Christmas story. Encourage the children and grandchildren to take on Bible character roles and act out that special day in Bethlehem. Most of all, by grace, be a model for a world without peace—the world of peace Jesus gives you.

Day 156-159 How to Lead by THE BOOK: The Finish! Dedication! Acknowledgments!

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

I received word this morning that my publisher, Wiley, has received the Fed-Ex’d manuscript for How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables & Principles to Tackle Your Fourteen Toughest Business Challenges–one day ahead of the December 15th deadline! Now, I can move on to revise and expand, How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK, with a deadline of February 15th.

Here’s how the process will now work with Wiley. They will do the following:

1. Read and review the book and make additional proofing changes as needed.

2. Make me aware of any objectionable content they would like me to soften or reconsider.

3. Send the manuscript back to me for final revisions.

In the opening pages of a book the author has an opportunity to write a “Dedication” and “Acknowledgments”. Here’s are the special people I’ve decided to include in this book:

Dedication

This book is dedicated to Jesus Christ and His persecuted followers in “closed” countries throughout the world, and to exceptional organizations like EQUIP, 222 Ministries, and Voice of the Martyrs who serve and support them.

Acknowledgements

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the following family, friends and co-laborers who have helped me with this book:

* To Rhonda, my wife and business partner. You are the love of my life and if you ever leave me, I am going with you!

* To Russell, for your exceptional work running LearnToLead with Rhonda so that I had the time to write this book.

* To Ryan for your diligent labors in proofing and formatting this book…and for tolerating the many, “Oh, by the way, could you add this to chapter so and so” after it was already complete.

* To Dan and Matt at Wiley for your enthusiasm and support for the By THE BOOK brand.

* To my beautiful and brilliant daughter Ashley, for your recommendations which I have happily included. How did you get so smart?

* To Christian giants of faith like Spurgeon, Simeon, Henry, and Gothard who have added incredible richness to my understanding of the Scriptures.

Now…I’ll get the manuscript to the kind folks who promised to consider writing a cover quote for the book, so they can begin to read it. I need to get all cover quotes to the publisher by February 1!

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 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!