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!

quotes from a young man that is changing the world

adam-braun-profile_727_447_c1Good morning,

Sunday, I finished an excellent book by Adam Braun entitled The Promise of a Pencil. Other than a few places where he uses some less than best language, the book is excellent. He has several quotes through the book I want to highlight for you. They are not new – many are rooted in Scripture and you have read other versions of them in other places. But they sound fresh from this young man who is changing the lives of so many.

1. “. . . I would find far more fulfillment if I measured my life in purpose, not profits.”

2. “The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action.”

3. “The purest joys are available to all of us, and they are unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires.”

4. Listening intensely is far more valuable than speaking immensely.”

5. “I could never make assumptions about how others perceive me.”

6. “Most ventures fail in the early stages because people stop trying after they’re told no too many times.”

7. “Our cultures glorifies founders and CEOs far too often, when in fact the early adopters and evangelists are actually the ones who make a company’s success.”

8. “. . .we recreate our reputation every day.”

9. “We exist because of the sacrifices of those who came before us . . . ”

10. “Become your dreams.”

11. “Those I met defined themselves by what was on their mind, not on their business card.”

12. “How many times have I missed an incredible connection that could have been made because I had my face in my phone instead of paying attention to those around me?”

13. “I understood that I might fail, but I wouldn’t let it happen because I changed my compass along the way.”

14. “You need to know the character of the people at your side. Trust is everything.”

15. “Creating something new is easy, creating something that lasts is the challenge.”

One of the things I enjoyed about this book is Adam Braun comes across as a learner. He is constantly talking about how he benefitted from the advice of others. He was candid about his mistakes. Equally impressive is that he is a young man making a huge difference not only because of his passion and hard work, but also because he seeks and listens to good advice. Something some of us older folks have yet to learn.

His story is compelling and the book is worth a read.




they are “for purpose” organizations, not nonprofit organizations

Good morning!

One of the challenges with the term nonprofit (a legal tax designation) is that it communicates many things incorrectly and creates a certain stigma both within and without the organization. First of all “nonprofits” actually need to make a profit or they cease to exist, just like for-profits except it is usually a longer and more painful death.

Secondly, thinking like a “nonprofit”, especially ministry-based nonprofits, causes them to devalue good business practices as if they were somehow morally wrong. The result is that the “business” side is not done well which causes the ministry / service side to eventually implode.

Now, there is a new, and better, way in my opinion, of looking at “for-purpose” organizations. Following is a lead statement from an article on Forbes entitled, A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups

Startup companies are traditionally for-profit enterprises, but in recent years philanthropic ventures have begun adopting the technological know-how and scrappy mentality of startups to develop a new breed of lean nonprofits.

Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise who “refers to Pencils of Promise as a for-purpose organization rather than nonprofit, insists they remain focused on a bottom line – but instead of gross profit, its gross efficacy.” Braun believes that nonprofits can learn from big business.

Braun said. “Across both startups and the not-for-profit sector, people are driven by intense passion around purpose and mission – they’re there because they believe the company is doing something that wasn’t there before.”

“Entrepreneurs have a ludicrously large vision to change the world but have the humility to be solving very clear painpoints,” agreed Ted Gonder, founder of Moneythink, a nonprofit which teaches financial literacy to inner city students. “All these things are also true of nonprofits.”

So, if you lead a nonprofit maybe it is time to step back and change the way you think about how you operate. Is it time to start learning from startup businesses, learning from big business, and maybe partnering with for-profit organizations in more ways than simply asking for donations?

Maybe it’s time for a new way? Maybe “for purpose” organizations?

One last quote from the article that I think is worth all of us keeping in mind:

“Startups test new innovations and are always evolving – I think that that’s really, really important for any organization.”

Have a great week – I know our team has an exciting week ahead of us!



Forget Passion – Find a Problem

Good morning – a foggy and wet morning here with some snow on the way this afternoon.

In a Harvard Business Review blog post Oliver Segovia, a young twentysomething businessman, talks about how his generation was raised to “follow their passion” to do what excited them and met their needs.  He then goes on to talk about ultimately how unfulfilling that path is for them.  That is understandable as at its core that path is very self-centered.

What he advocates is finding big problems and becoming part of the solution.  In other words, become other focused instead of self focused – the rewards are much greater.  Truly making a difference in the lives of others is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life.

I teach as an adjunct at a local college on nonprofit management.  It was interesting that last night our discussion centered on international organizations that have been and are changing the lives of thousands upon thousands of lives across the world.  They are at the center of the process of improving the lives of people across the globe in a very real way.  Think about this – life expectancy worldwide has doubled in the last 100 years – that is absolutely remarkable!  The thing is, each of these organizations that are impacting people across the globe were started by an individual who saw a problem and decided to do something about the problem. The result – changed lives.

Will you be one of those people?  Find a problem and be part of the solution and find the joy that comes from serving other people.