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 blasphÄ“mein 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