6 questions leaders must answer

Much is written about how to use questions to lead; about how leaders need to be asking the right questions of those they lead.

However, one key aspect of leadership, is answering questions for the people that you are leading. In one of my favorite organizational health books, The Advantagemy favorite organizational health / business author, Patrick Lencioni, lists “Six Critical Questions”. These six questions must be answered by leaders of organizations for their followers if they want to optimize the performance of their organization.

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

So, how are you answering those questions for your organization?

I hope it is a tremendous week for you!

Leaders versus Managers

Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion.

I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on management / leadership using various texts.

I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature and online that sends, or implies, the message “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad.” People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!

The contrast some writers make is actually about being a good boss versus a bad boss. For others, the distinction is that leaders operate at a strategic level while managers work at an operational or tactical level. The implication here is that the strategic is more important than the tactical. However, we all know that unless it is well executed at the tactical level, a strategy is meaningless. Leadership skills are required to transform strategies into action.

Managers are leaders and supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors, we would never get anything done! They are leading the teams that are actually doing the work.

What we really have are:

Strategic Leaders or Managers (Executives)—setting organizational level vision, direction, and strategy.

Operational Leaders or Managers (Directors and Senior Managers)—coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.

Tactical Leaders or Managers (Managers and Supervisors)—leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.

So, please do not use the term “manager” as if it is somehow less than the term “leader.” Being a manager is an honorable role and it is a leadership role.


don’t restructure your organization – rewire it

Lauren MI Blue Skies FEB 2014Found this excellent article in Inc.com today. Too often we, as organizational leaders, think all we have to do is restructure our organizations to make things work – we treat them like some kind of machine with interchangeable parts.

Guess what? An organization is a complicated network of people and their relationships – it’s not some kind of mechanical device.

Also, often the problem may not be the organizational structure, but maybe you have a relational “wiring” issue.

Check out this excellent article Restructure This: Why Shuffling Your Org Chart Won’t Bring Real Change on Inc.com.

By the way – rewiring is much harder than restructuring and requires greater leadership to accomplish. However, you will accomplish true change with rewiring instead of the usual cosmetic change that often occurs with restructuring/reorganizing.

Blessings on your day!


“8 Ways to Become a Better Boss”

“8 Ways to Become a Better Boss”

Being Nosey Makes You A Better Team Member

Well good morning and welcome to the middle of the week!Barn - Keely's photos

Recently I received some strange advice – if you want to be a better team member, then be nosey! I don’t know about you, but I was taught that being nosey was impolite. However, after it was explained to me it makes perfect sense.

I love our country and our people, but there are some things about our culture that just get in the way sometimes, especially when we take a good trait too far. We value the individual greatly and we are individualistic. There are some benefits to this as shown by our history, however, there are also downsides when it is taken too far. We have developed a mentality that everything is private  and we should not “meddle” in other people’s lives (does that seem odd to you that while we are so private one-on-one,we share too openly online? Weird). In doing so, we have lost touch with one another – we don’t really know each other. To be an effective team, you have to trust one another. To trust someone, you need to know them and them know you.

So, get nosey – find out the birth dates of your teammates, find out about their families, their dreams, their frustrations, and so on. Get nosey and get to know those you work with and get transparent. Lead the way with sharing about who you are and see what happens. You just might see trust starting to build on your team.

What other ideas do you have for building trust on your team?

Have a great Wednesday!

One Major Mistake In Evaluating People

Good morning, I hope you had a good day yesterday. It was a spectacular day here yesterday although a tough time for others in the Midwest.Blue Skies Lauren 2013

Have you ever heard someone say that size someone up with a glance? How often have you heard that first appearances are everything? Think about those statements for a bit. Is that really sound thinking?

This weekend I was talking with one of our daughters about the wonderful complexity of people. We were discussing how even after many, many years of marriage or friendship that you continued to discover new aspects of the other person. People have so many facets to them and are ever changing due to so many different things.

However, as individuals that are so busy, we don’t seem to want to take the time to understand others, so we use “boxes”. We want to size someone up quickly and place them into one of our own predetermined categories so that we keep our thinking and our relationships in a nice and neat system. This is really shallow and lazy thinking, is most often wrong, and robs us and them of something important. Think about the following quote:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement.” Jesus – John 7:24

Jesus says to use right judgement, but most often we do judge by appearances. Some of us also have the foolhardy notion that some how we are good at doing so. So the question for you is are you judging people quickly by appearances and placing them into one of your boxes (categories) or are you taking the time to appreciate the depth and wonderful complexity of who they are?

It takes more time and is messier, but it is oh so worth doing. Take some time today and get to know the people you do life with a little better today. Go get a cup of coffee and hear their story. YOu will be amazed at what you learn.

Hope your week gets off to a great start!

Empowering People

It is Friday! Hope you have great plans for your weekend. We are excited because it is supposed to get in the high 40’s here which will be nice for us.Keely - snow in March

How do you empower people? There are many ways, but one of the most effective is effective delegation. Here at Ambassador Enterprises delegation has been broken down into four phases:

1. DEFINE: This phase is all about quality up front and it is critical you get this phase right. Here you want to clearly communicate the  desired Results (goals and milestones), the Rules (parameters), the Roles (personnel and authority), the Resources (money, and support), and the Rewards.

2. ASSIGN: This is where you clearly communicate the task and ensure the individual not only understands, but concurs with the assigned task. Then you clearly hand over the task to the individual.

3. PROVIDE: Phase three is simply follow through. You are providing your delegate the authority, money, training, materials, facilities, support, and tools they need to accomplish the delegated task.

4. MONITOR: Then, you set up an appropriate system for checking on the progress and results. How you do this will vary with the experience and competence of the delegate and with the complexity of the task. It is a balancing act of you getting the information you need without unnecessary micro-management of the delegate.

Effective delegation is a great way to empower the members of your team, however, so many of us do it so poorly that we actually demotivate members of our team. Effective delegation is a skill that can and should be learned by leaders.

What have you learned about how best to delegate to others?

Blessings on your weekend!

Don’t Make this Mistake!

Years ago when I was in the quality field, I remember a saying of one of the quality gurus.  He basically stated that all firings are the fault of management.  I initially scoffed at that idea, but over the years have come to agree in the main with his statement.  I don’t quite believe that ALL firings are the fault of management, but I now believe that most of them are caused by leadership (or lack of).A personal example.  Year ago, I was the commander of an Army Reserve unit in Texas of about 230 soldiers.  We had a great deal of heavy equipment so one of our largest platoons was the maintenance platoon.  This platoon was critical to the overall unit, but was not performing well and one reason was the platoon sergeant.  He simply was not leading well and his lieutenant was constantly coming to me to relieve the sergeant of his position.

The way of the shepherd book cover

I finally gave in and was about to start the process, when an older warrant officer (warrant officers are technical specialists) came to me and said, “Boss, I have an idea for you before you move ahead with this”.  Fortunately I listened.  Since we had so much heavy equipment, we often had to coordinate with the state for special permits for the movement of our equipment as well as arrange for special civilian trucks to move the equipment.  To do this we had a Transportation Coordinator position in our headquarters detachment.  So, we moved this sergeant into this position.

Bottom line – the sergeant excelled in this position and improved the performance of the unit.  I had almost derailed the Army Reserve career of a man simply because I did not know my people well enough.  Fortunately, I had someone on my staff that saw the potential in this man and who had the courage to intervene.  The sergeant was not a good leader of people, but was a great individual contributor.  He was simply in the wrong “seat on the bus”, but he definitely belonged on the bus!

So – do you know your people?  If you have read my blog in the past, you know that one of my favorite books is The Way of the Shepherd and two of its principles are:

Know the condition of your flock and

Know the S.H.A.P.E. of your flock.

Don’t make the mistake I almost did and derail a man’s career – get to know your people!

Have a great week!

Management and the Second Commandment

A man I am coming to know and have a great deal of respect for is Matt Perman of Desiring God Ministries.  Matt is their Senior Director of Strategy and has much to say about how to manage biblically (click here to go to Matt’s blog).  It seems that in some para-church ministries there is some disdain for the art and science of management as being worldly.  Matt does an excellent job of showing how biblically based management is Spirit led, glorifying to the Lord, and highly effective.

Matt’s guiding principle is “Respect for the Individual who is made  in the image of God”.  Following are some quotes from an excellent paper by Matt on biblically based management.

“The fact that we are made in the image of God means that treating people well is at the heart of good management.  Not in a sentimental sense, but rather in the sense of the second commandment.

Making God Supreme in Management Means Affirming the Centrality of the Second Commandment to Management

The first command is that we love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. The second command follows from it: to love your neighbor as yourself. The second commandment is an implication of the first: if we are to love God, and people are in the image of God, then we ought to love people as well.

This is how a passion for the glory of God relates to management: passion for the glory of God implies radical love for people, because people are in God’s image. This is the tie between the first and second commandments.

This reality does not go out of existence when enter the walls of our organization. It does not suddenly become irrelevant and out of scope when we begin dealing with the realm of managing people. Rather, it remains fundamental and essential because it is a matter of Christian ethics. Every management approach, therefore, must have the second commandment at its core.”

So – a question for you – is your management / leadership style based upon the Second Commandment? If not, what do you need to do to change your approach?

Blessings on your week!


The No-Cost Way to Motivate – A manager’s genuine interest in employees’ lives pays off at every level, in every job

Excellent article by Patrick Lencioni about a very simple, very human way of caring for and encouraging those that you manage. Click here to read the entire article.  Following is a brief excerpt from the post.

Lost amid the justifiable concern about the 9.7% of U.S. workers who are unemployed is the well-being of the other 90.3%, many of whom are miserable. They feel they’re out of options and that management has little incentive to make their work lives more meaningful.

Even well-intentioned managers—as most are—feel their hands are now tied when it comes to motivating and engaging their workers. What can they do?

Plenty— But then I think about that quote from 18th century writer Samuel Johnson: “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

So here’s a reminder for managers: Take an active, genuine interest in the lives of your employees

One of the greatest causes of misery for employees is the feeling that the person they work for isn’t interested in who they are and what goes on in their lives, personally or professionally. Regardless of how much money people make and whether their jobs suit them, if they feel anonymous they’ll dread going to work—and return home deflated.

The truth is, whether we’re managing executives in a global technology company, linebackers in the NFL, or rowers in the hull of a ship, if we can’t find a way to take an interest in our employees as people, we’re committing them to a miserable work life.”

So – just a little time invested in learning about your people and truly caring about them is not only the right thing to do – it is smart from a business point of view.

Interesting how basic Biblical principles work is it not?  By the way – check out the blog post on The Way of the Shepherd.