Monday, December 7, 2009

Government. Debt. Small Business

Government debt damages everyone - especially small business.

In this time of massive debt with people voting for leaders who support adding to the debt, it might be good to once again read what one of our Founding Fathers wrote not so very long ago (in the ages of nations).

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our selection between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat in our drink, in our necessities and comforts, in our labors and in our amusements, for our callings and our creeds...our people.. must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live.. We have not time to think, no means of calling the mis-managers to account, but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow suffers. Our landholders, too...retaining indeed the title and stewardship of estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, contented with penury, obscurity and exile.. private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by private extravagance.

This is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle becomes a precedent for a second; that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering... And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." Thomas Jefferson

Friday, November 20, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Learning to Lead by being Led

Proverbs 20:24 (NIV) A man's steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?

For the Christian Leader, this may be a “Well, Duh!” verse. Of course! Really? Interesting conundrum here: we have a responsibility to think and act; but in our doing so, we never contradict God’s sovereignty.

As one moves through management and into leadership, bosses, processes or initiatives, which seem to be outside the spiritual realm, most often direct steps. This verse is one of those very tough leadership verses for we supposedly “know the way.”

You’re the leader: Strategy has been formulated. Implementation is in process. The vision is shared. The team is focused on the mission. Actions are shaped by the core values. You inspire and motive. You lead. But it’s not autonomous.

The key here is that this verse is PERSONAL – it's our individual steps that God controls. He works in all things – our bad decisions as well as our good ones – for His glory and purpose.

Scripture makes it clear: to lead, we must first be willing to be led, which demands of us a constant dependence on God. When I stop depending on Him and just venture out with a “Griff-generated-thing,” it most often results in being all about me. Not good. That’s “walking by sight” – not by faith.

Are you joining God, in prayer and by faith, to direct your “steps” – even at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Fighting Gossip

The internal politics of an organization can damage an otherwise healthy culture. Conflicting views of business strategy, for example, often yield pettiness, personal attacks and the politics of the destruction. Leaders, in both “sacred” and “secular” organizations, must deal with the human tendency to devour gossip.

Proverbs 18:8 (MSG) Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?

When leaders allow the team to eat the cheap candy of gossip, the work environment becomes charged with negative energy that discourages at best and destroys at worst. Consequently, people loose faith in the leadership, and even good ideas for solving business problems are viewed skeptically.

When Adam and Eve realized “they were naked…and hid themselves,” we humans have developed a lust to expose the nakedness of others by telling stories that tear down the character of the person, or build ourselves up. The sinful result of having the “knowledge of good and evil” is judgmental behavior – gossip being one expression of it.

Leader, here are some tips to handle office gossip:
· Make certain you are not providing cheap candy to those with a “sweet tooth.”
· When making tough business decisions, collaborate effectively.
· Air conflicting strategic views.
· Ask hard questions, without demeaning, that demand critical thinking.
· Then, after a path is chosen, ask each team member how he or she will help motivate and inspire people to follow the direction just set.
· If team members cannot get behind the decision after this process, they don’t belong on the team. It’s a cliché, but applies: there is no “i” in team.

Most importantly, gossip is a spiritual battle; therefore be sure that you fight it with spiritual weapons – or you will loose.

Are you armed correctly to fight spiritual battles, like gossip, at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 16, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Heart of a Leader is the Key

Proverbs 16:21 (NAS) The wise in heart will be called understanding, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Definitions of leadership include words like influence, persuasion and motivation, i.e. the ability to inspire others to do what they normally may not consider doing.

Those writing about leadership agree that the simplest definition of a leader is a person who has followers. Street gangs have leaders. Criminal organizations have leaders. Organizations of followers have a leader. Right. Our focus then, is not about leadership, per se; it is about the right kind of leadership.

Wise leadership develops from other-centeredness that flows from a commitment to purpose greater than self; an ethical framework that cares about others first; and a view of the world that recognize individual lives have meaning.

Leadership is about - heart. Motives are changed. Perspectives are different. The intent of this heart yields “sweetness of speech” that increases impact – speech that motives, inspires and transforms listeners from hearers to heeders.

Transformational leaders are first committed followers. When your heart is in sync with God’s heart, your persuasiveness takes on a winsomeness that results in mobilized action in your followers.

Do you want willing, motivated, and committed followers? Start with your heart.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, November 13, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Understanding and Prudence

There are many expectations followers have about their leaders: one in particular is the leader’s ability to “understand.” A well-rounded leader wins the favor of followers by faithfully communicating, “they get it.”

This is a leader who has learned to both manage complexity well and lead clearly through the tensions inherent in the structural conflicts involved in change. Careful! Success here can lead to personal hubris. The “prudent” remembers that it is their Creator who has equipped them, not they, themselves.

Effective leaders understand that the tension between continuity and change is perceived differently by each follower and is based on how each were “hard wired.” The aware leader can inspire and motivate in a way that “wins favor” because this leader recognizes the communication style that will get through and get action for each member of the team. Jesus employed different approaches based upon the listener to whom he was speaking. Shouldn’t we?

Proverbs 13:15-16 [PGL] Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the social deceiver whose conscious is warped does not endure. The prudent acts with knowledge, but the fool lays open his foolishness.

Those practicing manipulative management and self-serving leadership have become slaves to their own ego. They are fools. The music of life is not in the baton of the maestro, but in the musicians in the orchestra.

The prudent leader with good understanding is the maestro we favor. The score of the music is the common purpose. The musicians’ take personal responsibility for fulfilling their portion of the purpose. Remember, tuning the orchestra does not produce pleasant music, but is necessary. The music begins when the conductor, with a clear understanding of each musician’s role, and knowledge of the author’s intent with the piece, raises the baton to start the music.

Are you a maestro trying to be an orchestra?
Do you know the “author’s intent” in the score of life and it’s expression at work?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Guided by Integrity

Leaders who are driven by integrity make a difference – they are the ones who manage change well. Completeness I believe, has at its core an obligation of each leader to “know self” and this is a journey of three, interconnected phases:

Understanding Purpose:
· Do you know why you are here?
· What is your purpose? Have your written your personal vision statement?
· Why were you created?

Establishing Personal Ethics:
· What are the guidelines that direct your intentions and behavior? Do you have a list of words that you hold fast and dear?
· Do you believe that personal truthfulness, accountability and respect for the individual are without variation even in the face of changing circumstances?
· Have you written your core beliefs? Do you read them?

Developing a Worldview
· Why are humans on earth? How did we get here? Have you thought this through in a way that will help you motivate, inspire and challenge followers?
· What is the human condition? Are we just blank slates imprinted by environment and DNA? Are all humans sinners?
· What is the answer - the solution - to the human condition? Is our salvation a good education? Riches? Government? The Lord Jesus Christ?

Proverbs 11:3 (AMP) The integrity of the upright [righteous] shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them.

“Integrity,” here meaning not only complete, but also ethical straightness and perfection, is from a Hebrew word used only in this verse in Proverbs and four times in the book of Job - notably when God challenged Satan that Job would continue to “hold fast his integrity,” and Job’s wife challenged him by asking, “Do you still cling to your integrity? Curse God and die.”

Job apparently wrestled well with these questions. Even in the midst of horrific circumstance, he knew who he was, what guided him and how that fit into his worldview. He was an authentic leader.

Who and what guide you?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Wise Words Inspire

All sorts of people can inspire, motivate to bring about change. Sometimes, the oasis of hoped for change is just a desert illusion.

Proverbs 10:11a (NKJV) The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…

Not so with a righteous leader: this person draws from a well of “living water” and motivates people to move (change) quenching their thirst with “the healing water” from the Giver of Life.

According to John P, Kotter, (Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management), a leader sets the direction, aligns the key factors that will yield success, motivates and inspires and produces positive change. To do these things, words take on great power. If a leader’s words are colored by discouragement, hesitancy based on current circumstances and an almost fatalistic recognition of present conditions, motivation is lost. Followers are not inspired. There is no joy for the words are not drawn from the “well of life.”

Yes, in the year 2009, we are going through economic hardship – some of us. Not all. There are still “winners” in the stock market. Some businesses are counter-cyclic.

Regardless of your season, the personal focus must be on how the Lord is showing up even if we are in the “winter of our discontent.” Christian leaders must first communicate joy - because the “joy of the Lord is your strength.” Effective leaders speak first of what is going well (in a church or ministry context, it would be a conversation about God’s goodness) before s/he communicates the trials that must be faced and overcome. We can only truly motivate and inspire when we draw first from the “well of life.”

Leader: do your words result in joy, hope and inspiration to bring about positive change?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Skilled Living is a Significant Life

Proverbs 9: 1, 10 (MSG) 1Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home... 10Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-GOD, insight into life from knowing a Holy God.

A special house has been built for Believers and it should be enough - but many times, we spend time looking out the window at other buildings that seem bigger, better, bolder.

The world does this as their practice of living. Never content. Always wanting more.

Building, per se, is not wrong, misguided or to be ignored. Leaders are often called "to build." Building a meaningful, significant life is important. That's building to the model of Wisdom's house. Skilled living - that’s the key.

Christian business leaders have the opportunity to demonstrate what God can do with a business wholly committed to him -- one that thrives, grows and is profitable - an enterprise run for His glory. Dickens would not have had much material to use if Christians, at the time his novels were placed, were committed to running Christ-enabled businesses.

Building a businesses, or simple building a life, God's way should be better - the leader more skilled at living because she/he isn’t trying to build a house on a foundation of the shifting sands of relative values.. We are called to build lives of significance at home, at work, at play - and success in this arena is measured by how well we walk down the path of skilled living.

Are you walking on the path that leads to the house Wisdom has built?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, November 5, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Absolutes

Whom you look to for wisdom when leading your team, your small business, your ministry determines – well, everything. Your understanding of personal purpose, your core values and your worldview all merge at this intersection.

Biblical business ethics adheres to the underlying principle that there is absolute, foundational truth upon which you must build your thought life and behavior. Solomon of old never assumed that truth was relative and that morality was a function of personal choice: his worldview drove his proverbs.

Proverbs 5:1-2 (NIV) My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

Finding and assimilating Godly Wisdom drives two actions: first, that your view of others will not be self-serving (maintain discretion); two, what you say actually builds the continuity of useful knowledge (your lips may preserve knowledge).

Leadership that honors others and builds a legacy begins at the source. Pay attention to what God teaches first then you’ll be better able to understand and avoid the situational, shifting ethics of man.

Who is your source for wisdom: mankind or God?

Copyright © 2009 P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, November 2, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Fundamentals of Leadership

Business schools demand certain perquisites to take advanced classes. Those “fundamental” classes lay the foundation for the deeper thinking required.

Prov. 2:2 (NAS) Make your ear attentive to wisdom; incline your heart to understanding;

So also, Biblical Leaders have foundational classes; not only are we to “tune into” wisdom, we are to apply wholeheartedly what we have learned – it is an action consisting both of reason (thinking) and will (behavior). Inclining [our] heart goes to our purpose – why we were created. If the "chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," we start that journey by acknowledging we need to first learn wisdom from our Creator.

Prov. 2:9 (NKJV) Then you will understand righteousness and justice, equity and every good path.

The result? Effective and Godly leaders will develop an understanding of the impact of four attributes that shape leadership.
  • Righteousness – here meaning conformity to an ethical standard. Word most often used in reference to judges who, looking at the law (standard), rule without partiality. Leaders have an ethical standard that is absolute and grounded and does not shif depending on the situation.
  • Judgment – here emphasizing the application of the standard, even in a state of ambiguity. Ethics is lived out in the real world where all things are not black and white: it is one of the ramifications of eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It’s tough out there. Our ego will often cloud our judgment – at least that’s been my experience. I, too often, make decisions based on what Griff thinks – not what God thinks. Conforming to the image of Christ is an every day commitment of will.
  • Equity – here used in a clear legal context means simply level or straight. The drive to “know ourselves” (wisdom) gives birth to behaving in a way that is “true.” I understand the difficulty here: one can have the best intentions: behavior, however, is what makes the impact. Can’t be a “straight-shooter” unless the heart is plumb, level and straight. That takes lifelong work.
  • Knowing every good path. Every. Catch that. Take it from one who has stumbled along. Fallen often. “Every” is a tough standard. Interesting that this word for “good” has a practical meaning – economic benefit. I’m sure that “a good path” was presented as an option that I choose to ignore. It’s that “heart” thing again. One must will to choose the good path. Every time.

Have you taken your fundamental classes yet? Need a refresher course. I know I do.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Asset Management

Proverbs 27:23 – 27 (MSG) [Be diligent to] know your sheep by name; carefully attend to your flocks; (Don't take them for granted; possessions don't last forever, you know.) And then, when the crops are in and the harvest is stored in the barns, you can knit sweaters from lambs' wool, and sell your goats for a profit; there will be plenty of milk and meat to last your family through the winter.

“Know the state of your flock” is a challenging instruction especially in our current culture is focused on renewable resources. But these verses struck a different chord in the instrument of my mind: the customer chord.

Customers are assets that must be managed and nurtured. Customer retention has proven to be of great value to a firm – there exists a good body of literature supporting this contention. Common sense tells us that keeping a customer has value beyond just the transaction.

In my seminar on Sales, I often ask the question: Is your customer list a list of transactions or a list of friends? It is good business to know your customers – I mean, really know them, Care about them. Remember, it’s not about you.

Looking at customer’s as “friends” (know your sheep by name) is even more vital for the Christian Servant-leader. We are called to view work as a mission field (Matt. 28: 19-20 “As you are going…make disciples….”) It is difficult to make a disciple of a stranger.

If your customers see you as a person who: is a “straight shooter;” caring; a listener; a problem-solver (even with solutions that cannot be personally provided); is joyful despite the circumstance, you will be attractive. These behaviors will open conversations. One of those conversations can be about eternal issues. That conversation will give new meaning to customer service.

Do you take the time and effort to become a friend to your customers?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, October 23, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Meditating on the Right Things Yields Eternal Results

We all meditate: we just don’t think about it as such. Probably your mental image is a yoga position, or you pictured a cloistered monk; however, don’t be deceived! What you think about when you are working-out – jogging or walking along – where you mind wanders and settles – that is meditation.

For some that thought-time is filled with complaining, anger, bitterness, gossip, sexual images, envy (coveting): Christian leaders are called to “guard [our] hearts” and ask forgiveness for the sin that is hidden in our thoughts, and turn our hearts toward our Creator, Redeemer and Friend.

Proverbs 23:17(AMP) Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord all the day long.

Yes, life happens. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. The “just” have been given all-weather gear to keep them dry, safe and warm no matter the storm. We just have to use it. We don’t – at least I know I don’t all the time. I sometimes like to soak in my self-pity, my envy, my coveting. Think of it this way: what was Eve thinking about when the Serpent tempted her? Was her heart inclined to God, or to the lust of the eyes and the pride of life?

What you think about – meditate upon – matters. God’s instructions to Joshua concerning His Word was very straightforward: “Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Will you join me in a journey to righteously meditate?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: How Are You Known?

Understanding personal purpose - Why are you here? - yields not only knowing "who you are" but also how you impact others.

Proverbs 22:1 (NIV) A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Consider that your impact on others as a leader has more value than all the wealth you can accumulate.

A.W. Tozer offered seven “tests” for us to use when we want to understand better how we are “known” and what really drives us:

1. What we want most
2. What we think about most
3. How we use our money
4. What we do with our leisure time
5. The company we enjoy
6. Who and what we admire
7. What we laugh at

And remember, as my Mom used to say: “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.”

What does your impact as a leader "say?"

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, October 19, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Reject the Blame Attitude

The blame-game. Easy to play, given we have so very much practice. Hard to stop, given our self-centered natures. When our words are wrong, we blame others. When others make mistakes because of our folly, we blame. Blame. Blame Blame.

Pr. 19:3 (NIV) A man's own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the LORD.

Christian leader let me put this in context: I’m not writing about mistakes, it is about an attitude! The word “folly” comes from the same root as our English word evil, and in this context, means simply “doing it my way.”

At work this can be played out when the “Sunday stuff” we wear to church is thrown off Monday – Saturday - when our language, coarse humor, jokes, and “in-your-face” attitude all reflect the folly of the Evil One. All done because somehow, the thinking goes, this will help us mix and communicate with those in the “world.” (I can't help think of the barber shop scene in the movie Gran Torino). It won’t. It will slowly destroy you. Christian business person, you and I are called to be Holy - in the world, not of the world.

Is stress building in your life? People at work making mistakes. Bosses on your case about making the numbers. Customer’s grumbling. Time to look in not out. Blaming an employee for poor performance blasphemes God. Blaming the boss for rigid adherence to numbers blasphemes God. Blaming customers, blasphemes God. We are called to encourage, teach, inspire. Not blame. The root of that word is worthy of note; both the Latin blasphemare and Greek blasphēmein mean “to blaspheme.”

Effective and attractive leaders don’t play the blame game. They cover their workplace in prayer. They cover their people in prayer. They walk around the office, alone, praying individually for each employee. Either God is in control of your life and your work or you are. The later is folly and it will ruin your life.

Who is in control of your life?

Copyright (c)2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Wise Communication

The stored-up knowledge of experience becomes most useful when communicated wisely. It takes care to communicate “rightly” – proper time, proper place, and proper thoughts.

I understand this so very well, because sometimes I fail to wisely communicate. I blurt: Foolish thing to do. So, I've learned that in work, friends and family relationships, leaders communicate carefully

Proverbs 15:2 (NKJV) The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

Using any of the many personality inventories gives clues to how a person processes information – how to speak their language. Blanchard/Hershey’s Situational Leadership posits that the right leadership communication style is based on the person being led: leaders communicate with awareness so that relationships can be built – that’s using knowledge rightly.

Foolish people practice “throwing it out there to see what sticks” with no concern to listener’s style, their underlying fears, or where they are in life experience – that’s more like “belch[ing] out foolishness” (NLT) than speaking.

Do you communicate wisely – at home, at work and at play?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Heart to Lead

Wisdom’s place in the heart is not ostentatious. It is quiet: a strength that leads to insightful understanding that has its foundation laid in a clear, personal purpose, a set of consistent ethics, and a compelling, yet coherent worldview.

In their groundbreaking work, Daft and Lengel, in Fusion Leadership point out that leaders must have heart to lead. They proclaim, [that a] “Fusion Leader stay[s] emotionally connected with people and work…and are collaborative and interdependent.”

Proverbs 14:33 (NLT) Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.

A heart of wisdom yields emotional connections that integrate grace and truth: not just the cold, hard facts of truth and not just the warm safety of grace; rather, this wise leader combines them in a way that compels understanding, positive emotional reaction and change. This leader’s vision “pursues higher purpose that touches the heart.” Whatever possesses a heart regulates living.

What's enshrined in your heart?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, October 12, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Headstrong or Humble?

Proverbs12:15 (MSG) Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice.

“Taking advice” defines effective leaders. They are the ones who have learned having an open mind yields beneficial results. That learning is life-long. Leaders learn to listen - not just hear - and are listening with the expectation of learning from the advice, no matter the source.

Advice comes in many forms: sometimes as a quiet comment from an unexpected source; other times, as an aside shared during a conversation; sometimes it comes unsolicited – the hardest of all advice to hear! In business settings, it may flow from those to whom you report, your peers, or those who report to you.

But it also strikes me that leaders lead because they first learned to follow - follow the One who has provided eternal advice about living whether at home or at work. Advices about letting go and letting God speak through His word or His workers.

Simply listening to advice and actually taking advice are two different activities.

Do you “do what you like” or do you “take advice?”

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, October 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders and Life-long Learning

The acquiring of wisdom is a journey, not an event. The journey is not only revealing about “self” but also about the shape and expression of a leader’s ethics.

Proverbs 9:9 (AMP) Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man (one upright and in right standing with God) and he will increase in learning.

Our progress in life is a result of our choices and our willingness to learn from them. Employees and customers often teach us about the ethical framework (righteousness) we use to respond to “change.” Customer service, for one example, is a practical expression about a leader’s heart.

Servant-leaders must learn to discipline her/himself to continue to learn. These leaders work at body, mind and spirit congruence. They actively acquire the skills they need and hone the ones with which they have been endowed by their Creator. They become aware of the patterns of their behavior and the impact a behavior has on others.

The result for the Biblically based leader? They will behave in a way that:
  • Expresses love for God (obedience)
  • Demonstrates their love for the “neighbors.” (Isn’t that the essence of customer-service – looking out for their needs, before our own?)

The outcome? Their leadership will be clothed in justice and righteousness. Employees will be free to make customer-oriented decisions that benefit the firm. Customers will be attracted to companies that “do business right.” Families will be nurtured and grow the love God.

Are you consistently learning and growing? Or, have you become stagnate?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, October 8, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Focus

In Bruce Doyle III’s book Before You Think Another Thought he suggests that “what you focus on expands in your life…[and]…it is important to focus your attention effectively.”

Focus is a choice – a preference.

Proverbs 8:9-10 (MSG) [Wisdom speaking] Prefer my life--disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.

The seductions of power, position and prestige can easily distract. Wisdom suggests that choosing to focus on spiritual disciplines and God-knowledge will yield something that wealth will never provide.

Leadership is not about what you preach or what you intend to do: it is about how you behave and the impact that has on people.

How you lead, what you do and say are the result of choosing the right things to focus upon. Begin by focusing on Wisdom – the focus that will prepare you each day to think, do and say the kind of things that not only please God, but also your followers.

As Bruce says it, “What you believe is just you will get.”

Do you believe in Wisdom?
Or wealth?
Your answer matters.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Managing Expectations

Proverbs 6:16-19
Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.

God’s expectations for his people were, of course, communicated in the Decalogue; in light of those, Wisdom gives us insight into their application in practical living and when combined with Jesus’ insight about our thought life, this list, by itself, is challenging.

Understanding expectations is crucial for building meaningful relationships with those who led us and for our followers. Communicating expectations is a key the attractive leadership.

An exercise for expectation exploration that has produced positive results is expressed in my Key Success Factors Exercise. In general, the leadership team is asked to write for themselves, what success looks like for them in their job. Afterward, each then is asked to write what success looks like for the other. The first key is how congruent is the CEO’s view of expectations for each team member and each team member’s view of their success.

If you are interested in the process, click here and in the message section type in KSF.

Do you clearly communicate your expectations? Do you have a process for “checking it?”

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, October 5, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Guard Your Speech

Leaders communicate. Effective leaders communicate well. Sometimes, however, communicating well means being quiet.

As some readers know, I was a theater major many years ago and completed all my graduate work, sans thesis, in theater. That schooling made it clear to me that actors are taught not only how to communicate, but also how to “be” in the silence between speaking parts. It is a form of active listening, as it were - being the character - which sometimes is not part of the direct conversation, but is part of the stage conversation.

Your leadership may call on you to practice discreet silence. Keeping one’s own counsel. “Playing their cards tight to their chest.” Guarding knowledge. When to speak about a matter and when to just listen takes discretion that is often born of experience – bad experiences.

Proverbs 5:1-2 (AMP) MY SON, be attentive to my Wisdom [godly Wisdom learned by actual and costly experience], and incline your ear to my understanding [of what is becoming and prudent for you], that you may exercise proper discrimination and discretion and your lips may guard and keep knowledge and the wise answer [to temptation].

As in all matters dealing with communication, one must be diligent to not only control the tongue, but also the body. Sometimes, our silence communicates the message we have withheld speaking.

Are you as careful with your silence as you are with your words?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, October 1, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Foresight and Learning

Life-long learning is an attribute of leadership – especially of those seeking to hone their skills as a servant-leader.

Proverbs 1:5 (NASB) A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…

From recorded history, wisdom has been institutionalized, and with good reason. The wise were about sharing, training and producing wise people. We learn from history. We learn from the imbued wisdom of intact teams who have been with an organization for years.

Leadership foresight is an attribute of Greenleaf’s servant-leader and is the result the synergy between the lessons of the past and the realities of the present. These are connected in such a way that the potentials for both intended and unintended consequences in the future represent the right thinking at the right time and in the right manner. .

Note the parallel construction in the second phrase in Pr 1:5 The word counsel is used only in Proverbs and Job and means to guide, and direct with the attributes of right thinking and experience in decision making.

Increase in learning. Acquiring counsel. Are you a life-long learner?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Purpose Vision and Impact

A fundamental of authentic, transformational leadership (servant-leadership) is that the leader has a clear understanding of his/her purpose. The platform for personal purpose is undergirded by a person answering essential questions like:
  • Where did you come from?
  • Why are you here?
  • What is your destiny?
  • What role does God have in your life?
  • Are you aligned with a purpose outside of self?

If one believes that we are a product of mindless, random chance it is difficult, if not impossible, to be aligned to a purpose outside of self. Self-centeredness is destructive. People perish.

Proverbs 29:18 (AMP) Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]--blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he.

For others, who believe we are a result of a purposeful, redemptive Creator (known by revelation), that belief should shape both personal and corporate visions (or purpose statements) that recognize the power of the law as:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 28:37-30
What a powerful incentive for biblical-based business leaders. Who is better equipped to express God-breathed behavior in the workplace? Who is better equipped to express the “redemptive revelation of God” to the marketplace? When individuals are focused on obeying God, they are used for a purpose greater than just work. Companies are transformed. Lives are changed. People prosper.

Does the expression of your purpose yield prospering?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, September 28, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Hate Covetousness

The terms “emotional fluency” or “EQ” (the ability to use emotions effectively) are sometimes used when describing the process of developing positive corporate culture by practicing integrity.

Proverbs 28:16 (MSG) Among leaders who lack insight [or judgment], abuse abounds, but for one who hates corruption [covetousness], the future is bright.

The juxtaposition of covetousness and the lack of insight drive us to look inward to understand motivation and behavior.

Examples of corrupt leadership include:
  • those who coerce staff to fudge on the inventory; or
  • book phantom orders in response to quarterly scrutiny; or
  • the abusive manager, who sucks the very life out of the team.
Leaders must resist behaviors that is “all about them and their success” by utilizing an equally powerful emotion – hate. That’s right – righteous hate: we must hate corruption and covetousness! It takes that emotional commitment to turn from self-serving behavior to practice integrity.

Integrity built on an understanding of our purpose – a purpose given us by our Creator. Sometimes those insights about our motivations and lack of purpose come from transparent communication with friends who are wise – the kind of insight that helps us lead others into a “bright future.”

Do you have the kind of friends that help you hate your self-serving behavior?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, September 24, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series :Self Control

A common characteristic of failed leadership is a lack of self-control - a lack manifested in many ways: but most important among them is the blame game.

Taking full responsibility for our actions, learning from mistakes and using what you have been given to its full advantage are “walls” that will protect the leader.

Learn self-control by:
  • Curbing curiosity – everything is permitted, but not beneficial – explore carefully also evaluating impact
  • Checking pride and vanity – it’s not about you – it is always about them (customers, staff, suppliers, stakeholder of any kind!)
  • Containing anger and revenge – these drain you; and equally important, expressing them will not draw others to you
  • Confining personal ambition – When yours is palatable, it pushes people away – they will not follow.
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT) A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.

Emptying yourself of destructive curiosity, vanity, revenge and self-centered ambition creates a void that is crying out to be filled: fill it with the God who created you. He will build strong walls to protect you. It is his indwelling that will grant you peace and safety as you learn to control self by giving control to their Creator.

Which of those four “Cs” do you need to work on?

Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Focusing on Foresight

Foresight is one of the characteristics of leadership, and is especially focused upon in the literature about servant-leaders.

Beyond the simple thought of seeing “trouble coming” and avoiding it, is the deeper realization that developing the awareness to integrate information that is flowing toward and around you into knowledge is a product of maturing wisdom.

Proverbs 22:3 (MSG) A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

Information alone is not a building block of “prudence;” rather, it is a clear understanding of past events, the objective look at current reality and an educated estimation of the intended and unintended consequences of what one “sees…coming” that are the hallmarks of prudent leadership.

Leaders are constantly moving between time states and it is the prudent (wise) leader that understands the past, respects the present and practices humility to face the future – especially a future over which the leader has no personal control.

The authentic leader is comfortable with that ambiguity – the servant who is a leader (the real power of servant-leadership) has the ability to make sense of the chaos of the “trouble coming” and the personal character and breadth of vision to respond appropriately for the benefit of the organization and the team. Forecasts are important: foresight adds insight and is vital.

Leadership awareness: are you taking the time to develop the skill of foresight?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, September 21, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: What You Pursue has Consequences

Plato taught that moral thoughts are universal and that “the Good” can be attained through reason not through submission to revelation. Unlike Plato, Scripture (revelation) teaches that pursuing godliness is an act of submission.

Submitting or reasoning? We like the second: appeals to our ego.

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) Whoever pursues godliness and unfailing love will find life, godliness, and honor.

Pursuing godliness (righteous living) and love (focus on others) in the workplace results in the kind of life that is attractive. The “work of the Lord” is always about love; therefore, we must speak the truth seasoned with grace.

Even when dealing with an under-performing employee, speaking brutal truth is about us: our reasoning ability to see what is “right and true.” Authentic leadership drives us to use compassion in exploration of the drivers of behaviors that result in negative impact on productivity (what Will Tuttle calls “ethical intelligence”). Honor results when we focus on the impact that truth will have on the hearer for the benefit of the Kingdom.

Pursuing godliness fuels personal outcomes that are attractive to God and others.

What fuels you?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, September 18, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Be Aware of the Power of Your Words

Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is. --Publilius Syrus

Our words, written or spoken, have power. More power than we often realize. Beyond the obvious meaning of choosing words that feed and nurture a person, as opposed to words that destroy a person, there is a subtly that is sometimes missed.

The leader who is full of jest, quick wit, “in-your-face” retorts or even IYF humor must develop the discipline to know when that kind of confident, carefree speech is appropriate. It would be well to remember what Plato said: Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.

Especially in this day of 140 character “speech” on social networking sites, something written with jest -- not because one has something to say, but because one can say something -- can easily be misunderstood because of the law of unintended consequences.

Proverbs 18:21 (MSG) Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose.

Developing the proficiency to speak in such a way that one limits the unintended consequences is a skill leaders must continually develop. I know how easy it is to quickly say what I’m thinking instead of thinking before I say.

For the Christian leader, your words have eternal consequences: “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” –Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:36-38)

Remember, that the words we say will teach if we practice what we preach.

What do you “preach” by your life and your language?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, September 17, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Discipline of Discourse.

"Better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly." (Proverbs 17:12)

Does this seem like a hyperbole? A bit melodramatic? A stretch? A human who spreads his/her folly more deadly than a 500 pound Syrian Brown Bear, with bared teeth, menacing growl, towering height and long claws, diving down and running at us?

Fear the deadly, angry mother bear vs. a person wise in their own eyes: doesn’t seem like a choice? A person, who having no need for God, with whom we seek out for advice, listen to and admire is more deadly than that mother bear!

Why is that? Is it because the folly of fools fills us with false hope. Or is it because that folly is seductive: it appeals to our self-centered natures. It makes us feel good -- feeling good is paramount today.

Perhaps it is because the world’s words, having wormed their way into our willing hearts and minds, seem somehow filled with wisdom. And, after all, if “everybody” is thinking “that” way, it takes courage to provide a different perspective.

We have become a timid lot, we followers of the Way. It seems that takes more courage to stand up to a passionate person, wise in their own eyes, having no need for God and seducing the world to idolatry (worshiping anything other than God - a fool in his folly)than the deadly, angry mother bear. Sharing God’s Word with grace and truth demands of us a discipline of active listening and attractive communication. It demands asking good, thought-provoking questions, not vicious verbal attacks are passionate disagreement.

Committed Christian leaders must be always learning not only when to “stand up” – to discern the seduction of words and thoughts that have their genesis in Hell – but also what and how to say what honors God.

Who are you afraid of most: the bear or the fool?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Is God All in All?

A Christian Worldview recognizes that the source for maintaining truth and justice in affairs of commerce is God.

Proverbs 16:11 (AMP) A just balance and scales are the Lord's; all the weights of the bag are His work [established on His eternal principles].

A secularist sees the weights and scale as simply man’s manufacturing ability – man’s ingenuity. The philosophical two-story worldview in which we live (faith, feelings, etc. are in the private, upper story; science, math, commerce etc. are in the public, lower story) is blind to not only the source of the materials upon which creativity is applied, it also denies the Source of all: the Creator God who became man forever broke that false barrier. It is He – our creator - who put the concepts of “just scales” in man’s heart “so that no man can alter them without violating God's rights and authority.” (Wesley)

“God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business.” (MSG)

The righteous leader knows God is all and in all – even at work. Do you honor your Creator – there?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Purpose and Pursuits

Purpose is the foundation of leadership. Knowing who you are, why you are here and where you are ultimately headed (the eternal) drives decisions directing your life and your leading.

God seeks leaders who have learned to integrate the sacred and the secular to impact the world for Him. The supposed division between the two got its start with Greek thinkers and through the centuries has become the dominant worldview.

Unfortunately, many believers have succumbed, living a Sunday life only Sunday: but that “way” – the way that denies God his rightful position in all of his creation – really does upset God. “A life frittered away disgusts God; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.” (Proverbs 15:9 - MSG)

Frittering away your life away or pursuing a Godly purpose: the choice is yours.

Which will you choose?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, September 11, 2009

LEADRSHIP Series: Combining Direction and Counsel

Leaders practice foresight – remembering the past, objectively looking at the present, and ascertaining known consequences of decisions in the future.

Servant-leaders not only provide good direction, they also seek wise counsel. This is not “either/or” thinking; rather, it is “both/and.” The event we honor today, September 11, 2001, is a horrific example of the results of either/or.

Silo thinking is not part of servant-leadership culture and there is an absence of hierarchical vocabulary within the culture and its effect -- lack of collaboration. However, when humility is not regarded as vital, and arrogance is not only tolerated, but also often rewarded, people “lose their way” and become well known for offering answers, not solutions. The people running these kinds of organizations often don't ask for advice from the team despite the admonitions above that are certainly plain enough: get advice - Godly advice (wise counsel).

Proverbs 11:14 (MSG) Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

God has called Believers to adopt a different attitude - one that seamlessly integrates the scared with the secular. God's word - God's people - and You. That's a team that improves “your chances.”

Have a Godly team surrounding you?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Ethical Training for Leaders

A recent study from the IABC found that over 65% of their membership had no training on ethics – and it is this group that advices senior management on ethical decision-making!

It has also been my experience that, for the most cases, those who ran their business with the application of ethics were people who had grounding in the Word. Interestingly, many have rejected Christianity, per se – but all had experienced religious training in school.

Proverbs 9:10 (NIV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Today, ethics training that focuses on company values, internal and external relationships is certainly needed; however, the rules, regulations and process that often flow from that training are generally “head” issues.

For example, how people are treated is an ethical issue. It was Will Tuttle (Ph.D – composer, musician, author) who mused: “Compassion is ethical intelligence.”

Consistent application of ethics is based on a clear understanding of a human's purpose: the verse above points out that our purpose (to be in reverential awe - a healthy fear - of God) - or wisdom - and our understanding (the foundation of ethics) is a heart issue – if the heart is right with God, then the ethics will follow.

Is your heart “right?”

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Leadership Series: On a Working Vacation

The run is rising over the Alabama Hills and reflects dramatically off the
Sierra's to the west.

I'm writing this a a buddy's home awaiting breakfast before we tackle the building of a set of new cabinets for his new house. I tell you this as a way of understanding why I have not written from Proverbs this week.

Mornings start early and at day's end, reading and meditating are not given any priority. Sleep works. Having a blast, however, using muscles long forgotten that have all reminded me of their importance to the functioning of the body.

There's a scriptural truth in there. Maybe someday soon I write about it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Ethics then Leadership

In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, Robert Bruner (dean of Univ. of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and co-author of the Panic of 1907: Lessons Learned from the Market’s Perfect Storm) said that a lesson emerging from current market conditions comments that “Ethics are always No.1…Leadership is second…” He does not address how a person’s ethics are developed. That is the more powerful issue. Conceit in one’s own ability to “be” has resulted in an abundance of oxymoronic followers of relative truth.

Leaders, like all of us, must first answer these questions:
  • Where did you come from?
  • Why are you here?
  • Where are you going?
  • Are you aligned with a larger purpose outside of self?”

Max Dupree (former chairman of Herman Miller, Inc.), in Leadership Jazz, observes, ”…Leadership is a position of servanthood. Leadership is also a posture of debt; it is a forfeiture of rights.”

Serving customers, employees and suppliers demands in us a very different attitude from being “wise in [our] own eyes.” Running a business takes a mix of confidence and humility – humility to accept that “we” don’t have all the answers, and some of answers may even have a spiritual component acknowledging a need for God’s perspective.

Proverbs 26:17 (AMP) Do you see a man wise in his own eyes and conceit? There is more hope for a [self-confident] fool than for him.

Conceit has captivated humans from the very beginning and may be expressed by an assumption that God has nothing to say about business and its relationships – could that be a conceit that makes one a “practical atheist?”

I believe there is one wiser than we and His Word is our guidebook – even for business.

What are you reading?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, August 24, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Honey & Wisdom

Honey is a powerful food. Not only is it sweet, but also it has healthy attributes and has been used through the ages to treat various ailments. Its sweetness is not open for debate. Once tasted, no arguments can be set forth to convince you otherwise.

Exactly like The Truth, right? Well, not exactly: many have grown up around beehives, honeycombs, various containers of honey – even been schooled “in honey” – but have not actually tasted the honey.

Tragic, really: this metaphor is a picture, however, of many who have been schooled in religion but never tasted the sweetness of an authentic relationship with Christ.

Proverbs 24:13-14 (NLT) My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste. In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.

“Tasting” Wisdom is a life-altering experience – it sweetens the soul; brightens the future, and secures your hope. This attributes allows leaders to first focus on others in a way that moves a team, an organization, a family forward. That kind of personal success is attractive – especially in the today’s workplace.

Does your leadership pass the “taste test?”

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, August 21, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Honor in the Workplace

Plato taught that moral thoughts are universal and that “the Good” can be attained through reason not through submission to the Revelation.

Pursue godliness (which is an act of submission) or Reasoning? Which is for us? I don’t know about you, but my instincts are for the second choice: it appeals to the ego. Bad choice.

Pursuing godliness (righteous living) and love (the focus on others) in the workplace results in the kind of life that is attractive – a leadership quality.

The “work of the Lord” is always about love; therefore, we must speak the truth seasoned with grace. Speaking brutal truth is about us: our reasoning ability to see what is “right and true.” Honor results when we focus on the impact that truth will have on the hearer for the benefit of the Kingdom.

Proverbs 21:21 (NLT) Whoever pursues godliness and unfailing love will find life, godliness, and honor.

This verse comes with a promise: the aspirations of life, godliness and honor come from our pursuit of “the Good” outside of us, revealed to us by His creation, His word and our moral consciousness. Godliness and love drives personal repentance and fuels our pursuit.

What fuels your pursuit?

Copyright ©2009 by P.Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Generous Leader

In his article The Cultivation of Transcendent Leadership, Jamie S. Walters posits that generosity is the first of the six principles of “transcendent leadership.”

As he points out, “Generosity of spirit…fosters collaboration, creativity, idea-sharing, knowledge-sharing, camaraderie, trust, satisfaction, and constructive communication.”

Mercy to the needy is not only expressed as financial help (which is important in its own right), but also is expressed, in the work environment, in the sharing of information, delegating both authority and responsibility and/or providing necessary feedback.

Proverbs 19:17 (MSG) Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full.

Mercy is a quality of the heart.

Do you have the heart to lead?

Copyright 2009 © by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, August 17, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Continuing Education

Of course, leaders must be schooled. But it’s not only Harvard, Yale, Northwestern, Wharton or Stanford where this education must be sought. That’s because money not only does not buy happiness, but it also does not buy wisdom; and in the end, it is wisdom that counts.

There is another school where the tuition is paid with a different kind of money. The tuition for servant-leaders is paid with the coin of “service” from the bank of “humility” for the school of “others.” The rewards of this education are impact well beyond the personality of the person. People are moved to follow those who demonstrate by behavior that they care for others and have a vision and plan for moving ahead and accomplishing a goal.

Proverbs 17:16 (NLT) It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool who has no heart for wisdom.

In our culture, there are unintended consequences to using the term “servant-leader:” the word “servant” today is often confused with a sense of over-weaning self-effacement - a sad change of the meaning of the word. To serve a person of standing and quality used to be a priority of the first order because that singular association painted the one serving with the same brush as the master. The servant had standing – the master’s standing. The symbiotic relationship brought power and influence.

Serving the living God and intentionally dying to self yields the kind of love that put the needs of others we lead, first. Education in the heart is the first step to real leadership and wealth that matters.

Where are you going to school?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

LEADERSHIP Series: Continuing Education

Of course, leaders must be schooled. But it’s not only Hrvard, Yale, Northwestern, Wharton or Stanford where this education must be sought. That’s because money not only does not buy happiness, but it also does not buy wisdom; and in the end, it is wisdom that counts.

There is another school where the tuition is paid with a different kind of money. The tuition for servant-leaders is paid with the coin of “service” from the bank of “humility” for the school of “others.” The rewards of this education are impact well beyond the personality of the person. People are moved to follow those who demonstrate by behavior that they care for others and have a vision and plan for moving ahead and accomplishing a goal.

Proverbs 17:16 (NLT) It is senseless to pay tuition to educate a fool who has no heart for wisdom.

In our culture, there are unintended consequences to using the term “servant-leader:” the word “servant” today is often confused with a sense of over-weaning self-effacement - a sad change of the meaning of the word. To serve a person of standing and quality used to be a priority of the first order because that singular association painted the one serving with the same brush as the master. The servant had standing – the master’s standing. The symbiotic relationship brought power and influence.

Serving the living God and intentionally dying to self yields the kind of love that put the needs of others we lead, first. Education in the heart is the first step to real leadership and wealth that matters.

Where are you going to school?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, August 14, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders Know Their Priority

Improved productivity is a major challenge facing companies, especially in this downturn. Focusing on the dignity of the worker is a major step in meeting the demands of process to achieve results. However, the focus must be not only on words, but also on the leader’s behavior. What you do speaks louder than what you say.

The writer of this verse says it well: Proverbs 14:23 (NIV) All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Peter Drucker is often quoted in Pollard’s book, Serving Two Masters? Reflections on God and Profit. Pollard tells the story that Drucker had a way of keeping ServiceMaster’s executives on task by asking them continually the most important questions in business: Have you determined your priority? And, What are you doing to achieve the result?

Management’s hard work includes developing systems to measure productivity, to continually share where workers are on the journey (beginning with where they have started and where they are going) and develop ways that all levels of management can really listen to those closest to the work.

Notice: there may be many activities, but there is only a single priority. The history of that word in our language [see Pollard’s book] reveals that is was not until the twentieth century that it acquired a plural form. It should never be a question of many priorities: just one.

Same with our personal lives: individuals must have a personal priority. Something that drives their decisions. A bedrock ethic against which all demands for time and focus can be based.

Do you know your personal priority? Your business priority?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, August 13, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: False Talk Harms

Sometimes it’s the little things that cause the biggest problems in business – like that “little white lie” that seems to often grow faster than even bamboo!

There are two offenses with false talk: harming truth is the first – and surely vital in an ethical business environment; the second, equally as important (and maybe more so) is that false talk always harms others. Leaders (all people – leaders and servants) must not harm. They must help.

Proverbs 13:5 (MSG) A good person hates false talk; a bad person wallows in gibberish.

The little “false talk” grows larger, quickly, and the first sprout of that little white lie is soon a swamp of foolish foliage surrounding the liar. Wallowing becomes a powerful verb about the deceiver.

A person given to “false talk” lacks the framework to exercise leadership – especially the attributes of empathy, selfless initiative and foresight. The underbrush of half-truths, lies, exaggerations and deceit are not easily cleared from the forest of this mind. Just as it takes discipline to weed a garden, it also takes discipline to clear the “underbrush” of the mind – you can’t just trim the top of the weeds – you must get the roots out.

Self-deception makes root pulling practically impossible. We are easily mesmerized by the cutting of the tops of the underbrush: the pulling out of the roots is a gift of God. He forgives and cleans – He refreshes the soil of the soul. We simply must recognize and repent. Leadership that changes people and organization begins with self-awareness.

Believing leaders are to “speak truth to our neighbors” and we are not to “lie to one another.” Honoring Truth is tough (remembering it is both grace & truth that encourages others) and takes a commitment of the heart – you must hate lies – even the little white ones.

Is the forest of your soul populated with trimmed truth-trees?

And, do you have some underbrush that needs tending? I know, I do.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders Integrate Ethics into Leading

The root meaning of integrity is wholeness – we get our word integer from it – a whole number. The Hebrew meaning of the word used here for “integrity” has in its root the word completeness and includes the concepts of ethical straightness and perfection.

Greenleaf (The Servant as Leader) points out that authenticity is at the core of the leader – especially the servant leader – “….begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.” Not a manufactured feeling. A natural one. Authentic.

We want our leaders to speak without dissimulation. We expect clarity – wholeness – in pointing a direction. That kind of authenticity flows from an “upright” heart – one whose ethics are based on a dynamic relationship with his/her Creator: it is the “heart” of a leader to which people respond. That’s why Greenleaf posits that the servant-leader must be “naturally” inclined to serve.

Proverbs 11:3a (NKJV) The integrity of the upright will guide them…

Our job as leaders is to plumb the depths of authenticity in our followers. We must ask the kind of questions about a result that connects thought and the action. Our ethic demands that what we say matches what we do. We are responsible to model and behave with compassion. To listen with understanding. To empathize without necessarily accepting inappropriate behaviors or performance below standards.

Just as we cannot create a new primary color, so we cannot change a universal truth (see C. S. Lewis, Abolition of Man) that there are certain things that are really true and really false – an ethic – and it is from this that we derive our source of values that includes respect for the individual. Without that respect, a leader cannot really guide. They lack integrity and will not have committed followers.

What’s your ethical base? Do you lead out of power-of-position or poverty-of-self? Do you know it all or are you learning?

Are you whole?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, August 10, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders Learn Silence

Silence is a powerful communication tool.

Give humans a chance to chatter, without care and forethought, invariably we will exaggerate, hyperbolize, and stretch the truth or just flat-out lie. Why? In our self-absorption, we want to “look good.”

Leaders, who focus on others, find it much easier to practice the discipline of listening (you can’t listen and talk at the same time!). In sales training, we often say, “You were created with two ears and one tongue: use them in that proportion.”

Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) When words are many, sin is not absent; but he who holds his tongue is wise.

The Biblical principle, stated here and other places, is that we will be held accountable for our “idle words.” Listening carefully is more powerful than saying a lot.

Are you listening?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Wise Leader Teach by Word and Deed

Successful businesses serve well the needs of their customers in an environment where employees thrive and are rewarded in words and deeds: all accomplished in such a way that the investor’s financial needs are met and the community that surrounds the business profits from the enterprise.

The book of Proverbs, and other Scriptures, are filled with words of wisdom that support each of these activities of a business. Meet the needs of other first. Treat employees with honor and fairly. Pay your debts. Your actions impact the world.

Who you look to for wisdom when leading your small business (or large organization) determines – well, everything. Business ethics adheres to the underlying principle that there is bedrock truth upon which you must build your thought life and behavior. Solomon of old never assumed that truth was relative and that morality was a function of personal choice: his worldview drove his musings and proverbs.

Proverbs 5:1-2 (NIV) My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight, that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge.

This verse reminds us of fundamentals: first, that your view of others will not be self-serving (maintain discretion); two, what you say actually builds the continuity of useful knowledge – attributes of the servant-leader paradigm.

Leadership that honors others and builds a legacy begins at the source. Do you pay more attention to what God teaches (duties we owe others that support our “inalienable rights”) or the situational, shifting ethics of man?

To whom do you pay attention: Wisdom or the world?

Copyright © 2009 P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Lighting the Path – Leading the Way.

In a 2003 survey done by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute ( they found, among other attributes, that the leaders in organizations ranked at the top of the list were described with terms like caring, humble, approachable, and Godly. Attractive leaders. Shining brightly. Easier to follow.

Greenleaf, in his work The Servant as Leader, posited that: “…foresight…begins with a state of mind about now…” Doing right (righteousness) is both about being good and behaving with a mixture of grace and truth: it is also about being connected this moment with our Creator.

Interesting to also note that the BCW list and Greenleaf attributes resemble what Jim Collins discovered in his seminal research and his book, Good to Great. The leaders of the great companies were not the falsely bright and charismatic personalities: rather, they were humble and modest and most often shared decision-making with their staff.

Both studies point us to people that light the path making it easier for followers to invest in the vision of the organization. Light is attractive: people love to look at city lights seen from a high place. We will drive or walk to see a sunset. Some of us want to be awake early not to miss a sunrise. Just as Jesus was light, so we are called to be lights - our lives (our everyday living) so bright and beautiful that the world is attracted to our light.

Are you lighting your world?

Proverbs 4: 18-19 (NIV) The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, August 3, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Thinking Clearly

Being good and doing what’s right. Christian leaders are called to these attributes.

What is right? It is anything that we do for others that encourages them, builds them up and moves them away from bondage to freedom. That ethic is derived from the Ten Commandants that begins with God then moves to some common sense principles dealing with others. Servant-leadership principles have their source in these ten simple, but profound, commandments (not guidelines or suggestions).

Proverbs 3: 21a (MSG) Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don't for a minute lose sight of them.

Clear thinking about “being good and doing right” has it source in a willingness to honor God in everything and as the source of everything, and then respects Him in such a way that we seek to emulate how He walked on earth as a human with integrity. Integration of the sacred with the secular drives clear thinking, especially for leaders who would want to impact their world with a powerful conceptualization of the future that yields the building of true community at work, at home or in a nation. Piecemeal thinking produces partial answers and may prompt polluted processes of leading and managing.

Common sense (sound judgment) drives the principles involved in treating others as we wish to be treated. Remember, leadership isn’t a solo adventure; after all, a leader must have followers. Neither is it rocket science: it is a combination of skills, learned attitudes and observable behaviors that can be learned. Although leaders encourage innovation (born, not from common but from uncommon sense), it takes sound judgment to encourage, build-up, empower, listen to and support those who want to make a positive difference in the world.

Are you driven by sound judgment and discernment?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, July 31, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Managing Yourself First

Having good intentions is admirable. It is your behavior that will have impact. If you want to maximize your impact, first manage your behavior while purifying your intentions.

Proverbs 31:4-5 (MSG) Leaders can't afford to make fools of themselves, gulping wine and swilling beer, lest, hung over, they don't know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt.

Behavior always speaks more loudly than words. Just as golf is the game of commerce and is often used to judge the character of potential clients and people with whom one does business, so the “19th” hole also is a visual book of behavior. Words spoken, without the normal constraints of the business setting, cannot be recaptured in the air once their sound is out. Leaders know their drinking limits and stick within them

Leaders who know their limits can be trusted. It was Peter Drucker, in his 1999 HBR article on Managing Oneself, who pointed out that "history's great achievers - Napoleon, da Vinci, Mozart - have always managed themselves....[and later in the same article]…Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves - their strengths, their values and how they best perform."

And remember, as Polonius admonished Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Are you managing well the most important person you must lead - yourself?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders Learn to Pause Before Speaking

“Letting it all come out” is acting stupidly. It is a weakness in character, especially for a leader, to be so open that one spews anger or even just tells everything one knows about a subject. It was La Rochefoucauld (17th century French epigrammatist) who commented that “conceit causes more conversation than wit” and this verse supports that contention.

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV) A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back. Often we tell what we know, or vent how we feel about someone or a group, to feed our ego, not to help the questioner or listener.

The wise practice a different kind of communication: unlike people whose mouths are instantly filled with whatever is in their minds, the wise have learned one of the fundamentals of leadership and that is “…. silence is one great art of conversation…”

Remember the wise words of Montesquieu: “The less men think, the more they talk.” The wise take a second for thought. Sometimes, they tuck away what they want to say for a time better suited to express a thought. The pause that catches the thought before it’s expression is a sign of maturity.

Leadership is always a heart issue first. The thought quickly expressed is often a sign of what is in a person’s heart (Matt 12:34 “For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”).

Does your speech reflect a foolish or wise heart?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, July 27, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Finding Satisfaction

Proverbs 27:20 (NLT) Just as Death and Destruction are never satisfied, so human desire is never satisfied.

What do you desire? Secretly.

Whether your secret desire for satisfaction is expressed in the pursuit of money, power, influence, sex, sports, food or rampant hedonism (just feel’n good, man), one outcome is certain: you will never be satisfied.

Let’s make it simpler: self-satisfaction is an oxymoron. Only when our desire is to satisfy what justice demands; only when we put the needs of others first; only when we are driven to pursue God’s Righteousness; only then, will we be satisfied.

For business leaders, servant-leadership provides a significant reward: true satisfaction results from looking for and meeting the needs of those in your organization. Not every need. Needs specific to the development of the person as a contributing member of the team and society. Removing obstacles so they can contribute more to the organization. Modeling behavior so they, too, serve the needs of those with whom they work.

For the Believer. who leads with serving in mind, Jesus points the way to real satisfaction.: Matt 5:6 (KJV) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be satisfied.

Are you satisfied?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, July 24, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Power of Envy

Second post in a row on envy. Some of you may be thinking that this admonition may seem casual, or even a bit off-handed – perhaps, not even very insightful - because we know the end and the One who holds the end in His hands.

Proverbs 24:19-20 (NIV) Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.

Christian leaders have hope and should live without envy; however, secular literature supports this Biblical observation that envy and leadership are intermixed in many complex ways.

Conceptual psychoanalytic research suggests that envy is often so painful an emotion for leaders that it is driven to the unconscious resulting in behaviors that undermine a leader’s ability to attract and maintain followers.

Biblical Leadership is a “heart” issue – one that takes a power higher than us to expose the hidden drivers that capture our thought-life. Leaders will succeed by “filling [their] minds and meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” [Phil. 4:4-6 (MSG)]

It’s a heart issue: so just what are you thinking about?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, July 23, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Focused on the Right Things

How easy it is to envy – even a little bit – even for leaders.

When you see those, who consider God irrelevant, achieving success in business and life, the natural inclination is to consider, at least, “what do they have going for them!” Remember, their plenty is both their portion and their poison.

When your business is faltering despite your hard works and others are gaming the system and moving forward, you may pause and “look.” Understandable. It’s our nature. God knows. That’s why He give us these verses.

Proverbs 23:17-18 (NKJV) Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off.

How we react, how we conduct ourselves at work and how we engage life will demonstrate if we are really subject to His precepts, submissive to His direction and subordinating self to first please Him in all we do, say and think.

It is not what is happening around you that matters, it is what is inside you that makes the difference. To be fully present is the predicate to our commitment to be zealous for the fear of the Lord – all the day.

Where’s your focus: the “here-and now” or the “here-after?” The later helps make the former meaningful and relevant. It doesn’t work the other way.

Copyright© 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Attractive Leadership

Leadership that is attractive…motivates.

Pureness of heart will attract both followers and other leaders. Christian business leaders should have an advantage because we can lead from a pure heart and our speech can be seasoned with graciousness. Both are a result not of who we are naturally, but of Christ in us.

Do you want to make a change in your workplace? Work on your heart and leave the rest up to God. His love for you will cover the consequences of your stand for righteousness - your expression of a pure heart.

Proverbs 22: 11 (MSG) GOD loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken; good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Will you share your heart? God did.

Copyright© 2009 P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, July 20, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Managing Fraud

Finding and keeping good people is a journey small business owners take often with disastrous results. Desperation and greed can cause those with hidden character issues a “reason” to rationalize behavior they may never have thought of pursuing previously.

Small business people face yet another impediment to sustainability in a tough economy - employee fraud. Tough financial times often give some employees (and according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, an increasing number in companies with less than 100 employees) a rationale to relieve their personal financial pressure with petty cash theft, check forgery, and skimming from cash register.

Why small business? They are especially vulnerable because of the lack of tough internal controls and often too much trust in their staff despite signals that the staff member is falling into desperate straights – and desperate people can do desperate things.

If you do not have internal controls, this economy may be a great time to begin to exercise that financial discipline, starting with a daily/weekly cash flow analysis. Your local SCORE chapter ( will have people that can help with financial controls and training in cash management.

For 5 tips that will help control fraud, click HERE.

Proverbs 20:6 (NASB) Many a man [person] proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man [person]?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Thursday, July 9, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Leaders Must Shape the Culture

Today’s culture demands that this verse is a personal, subjective value but has nothing to do with objective reality - including how you lead and manage: it may be OK for you but certainly not for everybody else.

However, if the Incarnation and Resurrection are historical facts, then the dichotomy that defines our culture is false (“values” relegated to personal and private issues, and science, math etc. as held as the only objective reality). To believe both is a contradiction.

Proverbs 9:10 (AMP) The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning (the chief and choice part) of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

God-fearing leaders hold that the Creation, Incarnation and Resurrection are objective Truth that speaks to our purpose and destiny including how we work, live and lead. Christian leaders must begin to shape our culture – not succumb to it. Christianity offers a “unified, integrated truth” whose source is Wisdom.

Who are you going to believe: Our culture or our Creator?

Copyright ©2006, 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

LEADERSHIP SERIES: The Disciple of Memorization

I’m reminded of a recent article in the July 2009 SMITHSONIAN titled “Salami, Mr. Holcomb?” memorializing, in a Lucian Perkins' photo, the grueling “plebe” experience. Parts of that experience are intense memorization drills, including, for example, the lunch menu. Holcomb (the plebe) received the blistering verbal pounding of the senior midshipman, Sandee Irwin (one of the first women at the Academy) for forgetting salami in his recitation. Memorization drills help build the knowledge base upon which plebes grow into midshipmen.

One can't follow advice if one does not choose to remember it and remembering is a result of an attitude adjustment. Our military academies think this adjustment is important – beginning with memorizing a lunch menu. They had a model from which to work: the Old Testament. God commanded consistently to “remember,” even providing visual metaphors and reminders (altars, clothing, adornments, feasts, festivals etc.)

Proverbs 7:1 [Lindell] My son, keep [remember] my words [follow my advice] [do what I tell you] and store [treasure] up my commands within you [stick to it]….

Our learning to "treasure" the commands and deciding to pay attention to the instruction that flows from Wisdom should become part of our life-long learning. The opposite way of living is called foolishness. In the first nine chapters of Proverbs, both Wisdom and foolishness are presented in the feminine and the latter as a seductive, but “religious,” adulteress (see verse 14).

She is attractive: provocative; stimulating; enticing; full of energy, and, she even smells good. How easy it is to be sucked into the “way of the world.” Just as in all good counterfeits, the distinctions are subtle. The seduction mimics the real. Do you know what is real? Can you discern the distinctions?

Are you remembering to remember to do business God's way?

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell