When the dust settles on the last television newscast and Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is declared the next President of these United States, you’ll still be leading your firm. Your team members will still come to work the day after the winner is declared. They’ll be looking to you for leadership, for a paycheck, for a community. Guess what they want most and what they will be looking to you to deliver? It’s meaning. That meaning they’re looking for begins with you and your leadership. To be sure, what Washington, D.C. does actually affect your business significantly but the President of the United States does not lead your firm. You do. It’s an enterprise entrusted to you to lead. It’s a place where people look to you for answers, where people want to be part of a team that cares about them and where people want to be valued, appreciated and loved. The next President of the country will not show up this week at your office to encourage your team, fix a broken piece of equipment, hire the next team member or re-cast your mission and vision statement.
If I had some private time with you at your local coffee shop I might ask you this. Is there a soul in your firm? Is it a place where people can find themselves? Is it a place where people are loved? Do you just make things and deliver services or do you make people and deliver human flourishing such that you pull back the curtains on the meaning and purpose of life? How do you become a meaning maker? Or are you just a profit taker?
David Ulrich, one of the top 10 most innovative and creative thinkers in the world, interviewed thousands of workers, managers and leaders. He concludes that it’s not just about profit, purpose, procedures, product…it’s PEOPLE! Ulrich reminds us that we lead businesses where people come to find meaning.
According to Dr. Ulrich’s multi-year studies, “We all work for the same thing—and it’s not just money. It’s meaning. Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, value, and hope. When we achieve meaning through our work, we succeed beyond our wildest dreams.”
Ulrich goes on to say, “Employees who find meaning at work will have a better work experience that will translate into improved performance, more satisfied customers, and more profitable companies.”
Ah! There it is! If you as a leader deliver meaning, there IS a connection to performance and profit!
Writer and theologian Dorothy Sayers writes that “work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.”
The Bible, the best leadership book in the world, tells us we have a number of leadership roles. If you’re a Christian, overall, you’re an AMBASSADOR: you represent your faith in the marketplace. You’re also called a SOLDIER. Are you strategizing for your day like it’s a battle? Are you willing to fight and endure hardship as you represent your faith? Next, God reminds you to be diligent like a FARMER. Are you willing to work hard on your business or have you maybe settled into autopilot? Next, you’re to be disciplined like an ATHLETE, willing to train hard and win. Finally, the surprise trait. Ready for it? Are you tender and kind and loving like a NURSING MOTHER, willing to nourish, cherish your team members? God reminds us that tenderness is also a leadership trait.
Well, before the coffee gets cold and we have to run to our next meeting, may I ask you one last question? How will you steward those roles God has placed you in and lead with intentionality at your firm? You’re not just an ATM machine to send money to missions. Your firm does not just exist to tell the Good News to people in foreign countries. Could it be time to turn around and see the people standing behind you that you lead? They need to hear God’s Good News too!
You may not be the President of the USA, but you are leading your firm. No matter who is President of the country, God is still in charge the trajectory of the world. His purposes will evolve on his timetable and over thousands of years they have never depended on the current leader acting a certain way. God uses good and bad leaders to accomplish his ultimate plans and he influences the hearts of leaders. However, God has placed you where you are as a leader of your firm and he wants you to lead. So let’s call the election right now. You win! You’re in charge of your firm! Begin leading your firm with deep purpose under God’s plan and power today. Suit up and embrace the roles of ambassador, soldier, farmer, athlete and nursing mother. If you and other business leaders across America stand up and grasp our roles with strong intentionality, we can make a difference in our companies, our counties, our country and the world where God has placed us.