Thursday, April 30, 2009

LEADERSHIP SERIES: Craving or Contented?

It was the first century Roman philosopher, Seneca, who observed, “Poor is not the person who has too little, but the person who craves more.”

Our society has built commerce on carving more and more. The Community Resource Act (CRA), and the US Government drove the kind of behavior the allowed people who could not afford housing to fulfill cravings for housing. The result has been nothing short of catastrophic.

Today, woven throughout modern secular literature on leadership is the thread of the importance of character in leadership - especially the literature on servant-leadership. The nature of character of contentment – often couched in terms like “finding wholeness” yields behavior that reaches goals but not for purely self-serving motives.

The contented leader is a concept that addresses personal core values and has nothing to say about achieving profitable market share. The later drives a business: the former drives how the leader leads the people who “do the business.” Agur’s prayer – like the Lord’s Prayer – recognizes the truth that living is to be a daily experience.

There’s an old prayer, that I was taught as a child, that might illustrate: “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for ______.”

How are you filling in the blank?

Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV) "Two things I (Agur) ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Vision, Mission, Values

Corporate culture has a least three driving elements: vision; mission; and values.

A vision provides an over-arching view of the future. Great companies have articulated and shared their vision and the research demonstrates that those companies increase shareholder value well beyond comparable companies with no vision.

Vision shared effectively inspires employees to consider every problem as shared by each, calling for teamwork and cooperation, putting the needs of the company and its commitment to employees, customers and other stakeholders ahead of everything else. (The order is important, too!)

The mission presents the company’s reason for existence. It succinctly identifies what is done and the customer who receives the benefits of what the organization offers.

Values effectively shape the behaviors utilized to fulfill the mission.

Effective business leaders will have followers (employees) who understand the “rules” (core values), drive toward completion of a mission and help fulfill the corporate purpose (vision). Without a shared vision, assimilated values and a clear mission, employees not only are unsure of themselves and often unhappy, but also “cast off restraint” yielding an unwieldy team.

Leaders, passionate about the culture, inspire and motivate the team to focus on meeting customer needs in a way that yields a “happy” company (great work environment) and satisfied customers.

Are you taking this eternal principle and putting it to work at work?

Proverbs 29:18a (DARBY) Where there is no vision the people cast off restraint
Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Listen UP

For some, it is the daily business issues often seem to be “not important enough" for prayer and searching and meditating on the His Word.

It is the "big" issues that drive people to seek God; but it is those small, daily issues that we think we can handle on our own, that begin our slide down the slippery slope of idolatry. “On our own” means we worship the creature (us) rather than the Creator.

Running a business, or being part of a team in a business, includes activities like: determining strategy; developing and implementing a sales plan; and, determining how best to use the human resources available. One might ask, “Where in Scripture will I learn about SWOT analysis, or territory management or Human Resource and Organization Development? You won’t. That’s not the issue.

His Word drives us to consider what are the essentials of life: it provides a foundation for our core values. It shapes our purpose. It gives us true meaning. From these platforms we can develop the strategy, plans and purposes to achieve business goals.

Tuning my ears to God's thoughts begins with my eyes focused on His word and my heart focused on Him in prayer. The result will be a life of significance that provides meaning to those seeking meaning.

How interesting: God listens to us when we listen to Him. Are you listening?

Proverbs 28:9 (MSG) God has no use for the prayers of the people who won't listen to him.

Copyright (c) 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Monday, April 27, 2009

MARKETING Series: Dominant Paradigm

Are You Capturing the Power of Understanding Market Core Beliefs?

What does your target market believe about your product category? The core beliefs of a market can often determine your strategy. If they have negative beliefs about offerings in your product category, you have to work hard to overcome those. If they have positive beliefs, who have to work equally hard to leverage these, demonstrating that your offering is one of the positive values being delivered to the market.

For example, for one client, there was a belief in the market that “all sugar was the same.” My client, who produced cane sugar, saw this belief emerge and grow as beet sugar began to take more and more market share. Research demonstrated that belief systems has changed due, in part, to lack of category education about the differences resulting in baking with cane vs beet sugar. New market strategies were developed. Education campaigns at cooking school inaugurated. Consumer advertising was changed to highlight the benefits of cane sugar to the consumer. Marketplace attitudes were measured to be certain that the core belief was changing.

What’s a small businessperson to do that does not have the marketing and/or research budget? One method that has worked is to have a meeting with friends, family and even a customer or two. From this group, generate a list of core beliefs in the marketplace about the product category.

For each belief, add a “+” sign or a “-“ sign – the plus meaning the belief is positive. Then, determine what you need to do either leverage or overcome the core belief. This exercise will offer insights into the messages you should be sending to the market. It may change what benefits you highlight. It may inspire new insight into the value you deliver.

At the very least, it should provide you a new affinity group who is now connected to your small business in a new way.

LEADERSHIP Series: Barrier-breaking Leadership

Once they knew that their Redeemer lived, the hearts of the earliest church leaders changed from fearful to focused, becoming bold breakers of cultural and religious barriers. They faced the world with new hearts and became models of leadership to follow.

Consider the place of women in this community. At the first recorded prayer-meeting, women were present; incredibly, praying with the men. Unheard of in the Jewish synagogues, this was a radical result of the leadership of the Great Servant-Leader. The gender-barrier broken, ethnic barriers fell, and these leaders ultimately changed the diet of the early church. These, and other barrier-breaking behaviors, were lived out in deeds - not just motivating words and were born of hearts broken of self and filled with the Lord of the Universe.

From their lives (especially seen in the book of Acts), we learn that a heart committed to life of significance is educated through a commitment to prayer, enlightened by reading and meditating on the Word, and ultimately empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The result? Even in the workplace, as you work to break down societal and cultural barriers, your heart, reflected in your countenance, will attract followers who want what you have – the beauty of becoming a magnet of meaning to those seeking meaning.

What do you see reflected when you gaze into the mirror? Do you have the heart to break barriers?

Proverbs 27:19 (NIV) As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.

Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Friday, April 24, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: The Power of Collaboration

Collaboration is a key to effective strategy development. Insights from all categories of stakeholders are valuable. No stakeholder should be deemed “insignificant” or “incompetent” to provide insights to the external and internal factors shaping your strategy.

Leaders in new organizations benefit from the current team’s corporate knowledge, even if it is based on an “old” paradigm and is not in sync with the leader’s new vision. Their current understanding of customers, competitors and the company (the important three “C’s” in business) provide valuable insights in a current-state analysis. As one of my colleagues once put it: you must understand your customers intimately, your competitors thoroughly and your firm brutally.

The same may be said for living a significant life at work, at play and at home. There exists a spiritual battle for the Christian leader. You are not warring against flesh and blood, but principalities, powers and rulers of darkness whose aim it to keep you from achieving significance – especially significance that counts for eternity,

Understanding the three “C’s” above can well drive your product introduction battles. They also drive your life battles (think customers as those you serve as a leader; competitors as Satan and his minions; company as you, and your family). Understanding for both “battles” cannot be done in a vacuum. Personal and corporate “victories” result when you have wise counsel from wise people.

Have you “wised” up?

Proverbs 24:6 (MSG) Strategic planning [wise guidance (NLT)] is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.

Copyright © 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


In John Kotter's 1990 article What Leaders Really Do he observed that: "Well-led businesses tend to recognize and reward people who successfully develop leaders."

I would posit that developing leaders is not the result of quiet (or loud) arrogance or an overweening view of self. Rather, developing and nurturing others to lead takes, at least, an attitude that “followers” have something to offer, too. The burning question is, "Why would anyone want to be led by you?"

In fact, I discovered that Goffee and Jones had asked this very question in a ten-year study and the results published in the Sept-Oct 2000 HBR, Why Should Anyone Be Lead by You? They discovered four "unexpected" traits of "inspirational" leaders and the first is that these kinds of leaders "reveal their weaknesses."

Proud people would shun away from that kind of leading. Their only "light" for their path is themselves. No one else can do it better, think in through better or explain it better. It is all about them. As Coffee and Jones point out, people who try to communicate that "there will be no need for anyone to help them with anything...signal that they can do it themselves." That is not leading: preening, maybe: Leading no!

Leading does require a vision – and then sharing that vision with staff. A sense of command is important to leadership. Passion and strategic thinking are vital. But as important as these traits are to leaders, they will fail to lead if they try to do it from a position of pride.

Moses led millions. He learned to better manage the process by his father-in-law who immediately saw a managerial flaw early in Moses' career as the leader. Moses listened, set up the system to manage the process. And Numbers 12:3 reminds us that "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." Leading, from a position of humility, works.

Christians should have a natural advantage as business leaders. After all, we have "put off the old" haven't we - and now we have "the mind of Christ" ruling our lives, right? But humility is hard work, and for the driven and successful, very hard work. We are so used to solving problems on the fly, driving action, dynamic presentations, and on top of things, that it is very easy to forget that we are stewards of those gifts of leadership. We are called to manage ALL that God has given us for His glory. Our flesh is not about humility, rather about what "lights us up!" And God calls this sin.

Lamps whose light source is self, is a dead light. It's a lamp that lights the path to destruction. On the other hand, we are told to "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

It's all about His light. Not ours.

Are you shining? Is it your feeble light or His strong light?

Copyright (c) 2009 by P. Griffith Lindell. This content may be copied with a current recognition of source.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

LEADERSHIP Series: Putting Your Faith to Work @ Work

Whether you are in a small business or large corporation, here are some principles that might help with your Business Ethics:

1. Don’t worship self – it's not all about you - work on your internal attitude.

2. Value others – by respecting their rights and with tangible, external expressions like expressing appreciation for work well done.

3. Lead with a moral compass – ask yourself “Are my actions in sync with God's moral principles?” Do you even know them?

4. Apply Proverbs 2: 1-5 – accept the words of Wisdom, store them up, turn ear to hear, apply heart, call for insight; cry aloud for understanding Helps with #1 See also

5. Realize that innovations, insights and impact in the market have their source in God – by doing this, an attitude adjustment will follow which will be reflected in your treatment of other people

6. Show a concern for truth by not only the questions you ask peers, subordinates and bosses, but also by how your behave. Keep your promises. Make restitution for harm done - even if it is accidental.

7. When leading a team or a company, practice humility, modesty and shared decision-making

8. Practice personal discipline to guard your heart by being daily in the Word

9. Build influence by being authentic – For example: when you don’t know, don’t fake it: say you don’t know, but that you will find out.

10. Practice with diligence the art of observing, learning from results (good or bad – no matter), teaching what is learned and mentoring someone to take your place. Remember, everybody always produces a result - look at the result and make changes to produce a different result.

11. Practice being open to others by actively listening to them and not “telling” them

12. Daily prepare your heart so you are not seduced by subtle ethical distinctions

13. Develop your personal purpose statement and lead (and we all lead no matter our title) from it.

14. "As a person thinks so is he" – therefore, practice “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable – if excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

15. Be present in all your business conversations – connect with the person speaking - respect their right to speak.

16. Develop inner contentment - if you are not, how do you expect others around you to be content?

17. Remember – you are a steward of this company, this team, this project – you and I own nothing. We have a duty - some would say and "holy duty" to be responsible stewards of natural resources. Is what you are doing sustainable?

18. Make all business decisions with integrity remembering that wealth is not a goal but a consequence.

19. Idle words are dangerous – practice clear, concise, encouraging, edifying conversation. Cussing, swearing, getting mad accomplishes nothing positive.

20. Understand what drives you (how God wired you) and then understand how God has wired others and communicate with them in the style that best meets their needs – not yours.

Copyright ©2009 by P. Griffith Lindell This material may be quoted with proper recognition of source.