values

Changing the Landscape

Recently driving to our family vacation in Colorado I was struck by a virtual sea of wind turbines that dotted the horizon for miles along the panhandle highways of Texas. Having grown up in Texas it occurred to me how much these three armed giants have changed our landscape! Traveling these highways as a boy we saw an occasion tumbleweed, some grazing cattle and a lot of nothing! What struck me as I marveled at the spinning rotors was the thought, isn’t that what we are called to do as Christian Leaders and that is to change the landscape? What was even more remarkable was that a cost of over $1,000,000 each, how many of them stood idol, not really doing what they were made for.

As Christian leaders we understand the ultimate price that Christ paid on the cross and that cannot be measured in dollars. Our calling is to make a difference in the market place, to make a difference….and change the landscape! Are you up to the call? How do you measure up?

As the parallels continued I thought about what these turbines are designed for and that is providing power to millions of households and business throughout the land. As Christian Leaders we are called to not only share the saving power of Jesus but be transformed!

Romans 12:2 NIV says….Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is ---his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So the question is, how are you changing the landscape? Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit and how is that power impacting your leadership? Here are 10 simple reminders:

  1. Share your vision
  2. Live your values
  3. Lead with compassion
  4. Do what right for your people
  5. Serve others
  6. Lead by example
  7. Develop others
  8. Invest in yourself
  9. Be Salt & Light
  10. Pray daily for your team

Keep in mind on a wind turbine that the rotors spin to produce the power. In your life your three sources of power are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. May you lead in that power every day!

Power, Position, Prestige…or a Life Well Spent?

What do you imagine your ‘last words’ might be? Someone was listening in to a few famous people as they breathed their last; here’s what they said. “I'm bored with it all.” (Before slipping into a coma.)  ~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, died January 24, 1965

“How were the circus receipts in Madison Square Gardens?”  ~~ P. T. Barnum, Circus Promoter, died 1891

“All my possessions for a moment of time.”  ~~ Queen Elizabeth I, Queen of England, d. 1603

Business leader Malcolm Forbes's life emphasized the epicurean philosophy, “Eat, drink, and be merry – for tomorrow we may die.” He was famous for denying himself nothing that money could buy. Malcolm threw himself a birthday party for his eightieth birthday that cost $1,000,000. The party favors were amazing! He flew two or three hundred of his closest friends to Tangier in a chartered 747 jet. He knew, and was known by, every important person in the world of politics and finance. He built one of the world’s great fortunes as one of its foremost publishers. It seems that Mr. Forbes philosophy of life would be that we should strive to see, taste, hear, experience, or possess as much of the world’s various valued faire as possible before the time to depart it comes. I wonder what his last words were!

Actually Solomon, the Bible king was richer than Malcolm Forbes. He pursued meaning in things, in work, in money and in entertainment. Listen in to his words,

“I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned great herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than any of the kings who ruled in Jerusalem before me. And with it all, I remained clear-eyed so that I could evaluate all these things. Anything I wanted, I took. I did not restrain myself from any joy. I even found great pleasure in hard work, an additional reward for all my labors.” Ecclesiastes 2:4-11

You may come to the end of your life’s journey with a large amount of wealth or you may be honored by your peers for your accomplishments. But what do you suppose it might all mean to you as you face your last moments on earth? Do you suppose that you might hold a stock portfolio to your chest and gain comfort by looking at the number of shares on the certificate? The house that you own, the backyard renovation, the new carpet or the car…none of which you’ll ever see again… how much will they mean then? Likely not much at all. As you slip across the threshold into the arms of God, they’ll mean even less…actually nothing at all unless they were used for lasting purposes.

The Apostle Paul who was mentored by Jesus Christ had it all, the social status, the recognition, the power. He could even throw his enemies into jail. He was respected by the existing religious authorities of his day, he was an ‘up and comer’, “of the stock of Israel, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee.” He said all of those status symbols, the power, prestige, position type things, became “rubbish” to him when he met Jesus Christ.

What in the world would make him change his mind about things like that? Why would he give up the power and access to affluence? Paul believed that there are things that are even more important than power, position and prestige. He believed in eternal things. He knew that, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

How about you?  What are you striving for? Who are you trying to be like? When Saul of Tarsus met Jesus Christ, he either gradually or immediately, stopped pursuing the status and values of this world. He, either slowly or immediately, began to pursue only those things that would promote and proclaim the great news of hope and meaning and purpose that is found in Jesus Christ. To him life became, “forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”

We only have so many assets to invest. Our assets are the amount of time we have left, the money that we control, the relationships we have, and the package of gifts and talents that God has given us. Investing them to honor God and proclaim the kingdom of God is why we’re on earth. How about you? Have you invested well on earth so that your dying words will reflect an eternal legacy?

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Greg Leith was born in Canada and has lived in all four corners of North America. His career spans over 35 years of senior leadership roles in corporate, nonprofit and academic sectors. He is currently the CEO of Convene , a nationwide group of hundreds of faith based CEO’s learning together to grow exceptional businesses, become higher-impact leaders and honor God. He serves on various boards related to his passion of faith integrated with the marketplace, and he loves helping people get clarity on mission and purpose as a certified life coach. Married for over 35 years to his wife Shelley, he’s the father and friend of five thriving young adults. He and Shelley love to speak on marriage and parenting for FamilyLife, and they live in Southern California.

Saving Money and Culture

A regular practice at Convene Forum Day is for members to bring business issues—we call them Opportunity/Challenges—to their CEO peers to gain wisdom and insight from multiple perspectives and experience. Convene uses a standard format and process for the subject member to present the issue and for fellow members to gain understanding and provide guidance. A member recently presented his challenge in consolidating two manufacturing plants into one location. Although only a mile apart, they could achieve production efficiencies and cost savings by combining under one roof. This would involve selling two buildings and finding another in the same area that could accommodate the operations—a monumental task in the midst of sustaining a vigorous enterprise—so daunting that it created paralysis of action. Through the Opportunity/Challenge process, the group helped him quantify a potential $30,000 per month savings should he make this change.

Perhaps more significant was the member’s confession that a drastically different culture had prevailed at the satellite location, a result of its isolation from the ownership and management team located in the main facility. He felt discontent at them not sharing the values and practices that he so earnestly strove to maintain at the headquarters. Through inquiry and advice, the Convene team helped him realize that the cultural costs were as important as the monetary costs.

One of the questions of the Opportunity/Challenge process asks for the “intensity level” of the issue on a scale of 1-10. The member came into the meeting rating this a 3 to 4 intensity—fairly low on the scale. After an hour of discussion among his Convene peers, he moved this initiative up to a 9 to 10. That was three months ago; since that time he’s announced the decision to his management team and staff, has engaged a realtor to sell or lease both buildings, and began a search for a single building to accommodate the entire operation. The thought of saving at least $360,000 a year and unifying the culture of his staff motivated his action on this initiative.

Functioning as a virtual Board of Advisors, the Convene Team will continue to advise and hold the member accountable to a plan that is manageable and attainable.

What could a peer advisory group like Convene help you realize and achieve?

Mops, People and the ‘Soul’ of Your Firm

What in heavens name does a mop have to do with valuing people AND profit? Let’s explore how an $8 billion dollar NYSE firm lived out the answer based upon biblical truth. Doesn’t your day go better when the tools you use everyday work well? If your computer was 8 years old, it would be a tough day checking your email. If your car tires were out of balance, you’d be heading for the tire shop asap to correct the wobbling. Yet in the worlds of our team members, we often ignore the tools that they use and we even allow them to work with mediocre, old or broken tools. The startling truth is however that there is a link between profitability and the way things happen at the lowest level of our firm.

In their fine work The Service Profit Chain, authors Heskett, Schlesingerand Sasser of The Harvard business School uncover the linkage between employees, customers and profits. You can learn more at http://www.serviceprofitchain.com.

As leaders, we can’t teach excellence, then welcome a new team member on their first day of work by giving them the last employee’s uniform, one size too big, with stains on it, while assigning them a truck to tool around town in that has a crack in the windshield. Or how about that office team member we ask to produce superior results with five year old computer, a rickety chair and poor lighting overhead? In the employee’s mind, the analogy breaks down. In effect, we’ve said we care about excellence with customers and profit for our firm, but not about them as a person. There’s a link between valuing people and achieving profit.

 

The ServiceMaster Company Values

At ServiceMaster, where I was greatly privileged to work for 20 years, we built an $8 billion dollar firm on the basis of ascribing dignity and worth to service workers, providing them with stellar tools and caring deeply for them and their families. At the same time we cared deeply for achieving organizational excellence and growing profitably. The principles that fuel ServiceMaster are based in biblical truth and we always deployed that truth in the public square, including on our Annual Shareholders Report, the wall in the lobby and more. If you were to visit the headquarters of the firm, when you walk into the two-story lobby, you’d see a curved marble wall ninety feet long and eighteen feet tall. Etched into the stone of that wall, in letters eight feet tall, are the four objectives of the firm. The marble wall tells the world about a set of values that are permanent. The principles carved in stone in the Chicago headquarters trickle down to the daily practices of the 80,000 team members around the world. Here they are:

 

Four Objectives of ServiceMaster

  • To honor God in all we do
  • To help people develop
  • To pursue excellence
  • To grow profitably

The first two objectives are end goals, the second two are means goals. ServiceMaster doesn’t use the first objective as a basis of exclusion. It is, in fact, the reason for their promotion of diversity as they recognize the potential and worth of every individual. In a diverse and pluralistic society, some may question whether the first objective belongs as part of a purpose statement of a public company, but regardless of your starting point, the principle that can be embraced by all is where the objectives lead the firm, and that is towards the dignity and worth of every person.

 

ServiceMaster Vision Statement

  • “To be a vehicle for use by God in the lives of people as they serve and contribute to others.”

 

Biblical leadership and the tools of your team members

Bill Pollard, the former President of ServiceMaster, said “…leadership is not so much about the leader, but instead it is about the people who follow and the direction they are headed. This is the principle that Christ was teaching his disciples when he washed their feet. A leader must know what he or she believes, the direction they are going, and why it is important for people to follow. A leader must understand what it means to walk in the shoes of the people that follow.

So how are you investing in your people? Have you ‘walked in their shoes’ lately?

ServiceMaster spent time walking in the shoes of service workers who were cleaning especially in the area of mopping floors. They took the standard cotton mop on a wooden handle and transformed it into a tool that employees appreciated. The wooden handle was replaced with a hollow fiberglass core which made it lighter, stronger and more flexible, thus, less fatigue sets in per day and the handle is resistant to breaking. Next, they coated it with a safety yellow paint so that it was visible and could be used to block off wet floor areas; put a rubber grip on the end so holding the mop was less tiring; used stainless steel on the mop-head holder so that it didn’t rust from staying in a bucket of water all day. The mop-head holder was made to be ‘quick-release’ so that the employee did not have to unscrew the rusty bolt holding the mop-head on to the handle. All in all, they created a tool that was ‘top of the line’ but the results were housekeepers who felt cared for and valued and in turn had dignity and worth ascribed to them as people.

Why do you think ServiceMaster spend so much time and money making a better mop? It actually flowed from biblical worldview truths embedded in the people development principles at the firm. You could implement similar principles at your firm that would have a ripple effect throughout your company. Here’s just one of them:

 

People are Created in the Image of God(Genesis 1)

Leadership principles that flow from this truth:

  1. Since God is creator, and people are created in His image, therefore people are also creative. Therefore, as leaders we should:
  • Value the input of people into their own work and into our work.
  • Provide opportunities for people to express feedback on how they view their work.
  • Be creative in our utilization of the creative talents of others.
  • Be promoters and sponsors of the potential of the people we lead.

 

  1. Since God intensely values each person, and people are his most valued creation, therefore people have value (Psalm 139:13). Therefore, as leaders we should:
  • Treat people with respect and dignity.
  • Lead people, as we want to be led.
  • Serve the people we lead, seeing them as ends not means in accomplishing work. We can use work as a development tool.
  • Help people be something as well as do something.

 

  1. God created each of us with certain gifts. Therefore, as leaders we should:
  • Recognize God given gifts in those we lead.
  • Help them develop these gifts to become all that God meant them to be.
  • Recognize that each individual is in the final analysis accountable to be a growing person. Both motivation and development are the responsibility of each person for himself/herself. We as leaders are accountable to provide the climate that encourages such individual development.

What is the new social contract between you as the employer and your employee’s for the 21st century?

 

Breakthrough Discussion Questions

  1. What areas of your business are you doing well in with regards to valuing and honoring your team members?
  2. What are the ‘mops’ or tools in your business that may need tuning up? Think about where there needs to be course correction in areas where you may not be treating your team members with dignity and worth.

 

Next Steps

What are your next steps in moving forward to implement strong biblically based people valuing principles?

 

Good is the Enemy of Great

“Good is the enemy of great!” Voltaire.  Several years ago as I read Good to Great by Jim Collins I was reminded of this Voltaire quote and realized how true it is. How many times have you been to a restaurant with great food but the service is lacking, have they settled for good over great? We all have our favorite restaurant, car dealer, furniture store that just seem to get it. You always walk away thinking that was a great experience. First let’s look at what the Bible has to say on the subject, there are many passage but here are a few of my favorites on the subject. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT. If we are called to be representatives of Christ, should we strive for excellence?

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelations 3:15-16 NLT. I think the message is clear on this one, don’t you?

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” Colossians 3:23. Once again we are called to work as to the Lord, with excellence!

So let’s look at excellence practically and consider how it leads to being great. Aristotle said “excellence is what we rapidly do, thus excellence is not a skill but a habit” I agree. Moving from good to great starts with you and a strong set of core values. Without a strong set of core values that keep you focused on what defines you and your commitment to being great, you will be like a ship without a rudder!

Here are some additional points to consider to be great:

  • Set an example by striving to be great in all your dealings with employees and customers.
  • Clearly set high standards for customer service and product delivery.
  • Do what you say you will do and exceed customer expectations.
  • Admit mistakes and take extraordinary measures to correct them.
  • Treat everyone with courtesy and respect.
  • Stay connected to your client base, set the example.
  • Be relentless about quality in your products and services.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude!

At the end of the day there is a fine line between being just good and being truly great, but it’s the attention to detail and your commitment to being the best in your given field.

Here is a final thought for you to consider from 2 Peter 1:10…“So, dear brothers and sisters,work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.”

Be great!