is your culture transforming or deforming people?

Organizational culture is currently a hot topic and it should be in my opinion. Much is being written about the challenges of developing a healthy organizational culture, but I am not sure that I am seeing much change.

Organizational culture is important, of course, because it has been shown to have a direct impact upon organizational performance. Another reason that is incredibly important to me, is the lasting effects that the organizational culture has upon the people of the organization.

Think about how the elements impact everything from the shape of the land to the health of plants. As you well know, plants growing in healthy soil and receiving the nutrients they need grow tall, lush, strong, and bear good fruit. Plants growing in poor soil, with poor nutrients, and in harsh conditions are seldom fruitful, their growth is stunted, and they are deformed to various degrees.

That is what your organizational culture is doing to people. It is either a culture that is growing people and transforming them into better versions of themselves, or it is stunting their growth and causing them to become deformed versions of themselves.

Something to consider, your organizational culture is either transforming or deforming the people of the organization. Which is your doing?

3 Priorities for Hiring Good Team Members

When adding people to your organization. Look for these three things (in the order listed!):

  1. Character
  2. Chemistry (organizational fit)
  3. Competency

Talent doesn’t matter if there is a deficiency of character or the person does not fit your culture.


what is your style of leadership?

Fall 2013Good Monday morning to you! Beautiful fall weather here in northeast Indiana.

What is your leadership style?

  • The Visionary? – communicating a compelling vision of the future?
  • The Inspirer? – helping people to see their potential?
  • The Team Leader? – pulling people together to work for a common goal?
  • The General? – leading from the front with great energy to accomplish a goal?
  • The Conductor? – orchestrating the movements of the organization through great planning?
  • The Servant Leader? – seeing yourself as serving your people and helping them to accomplish their work?

There are so many different leadership styles – as there should be as we are very different people. Additionally, different situations often require us to use different styles. Right now, it seems servant leadership is the cool way to lead. I actually like it when it is authentic and not just a leadership strategy.

Let me propose another style – that of a shepherd. A shepherd is at once gentle and strong, kind and stern, protects and disciplines, cares for his herd and yet quickly culls trouble makers, and finally – humble and yet leads with authority.

Ever since I first read The Way of the Shepherd, I became convinced that we needed a new (yet very, very old) way of leading. It seems to me, to be close to the way Jesus led. He truly loves those He leads. He is kind and loving, yet quick to rebuke and discipline. However, that rebuke and discipline is for our good, for our growth, for our protection and helps us to serve even more effectively.

As a shepherd leader, we begin by loving those that we lead – we must truly care, and care deeply, for them. They should be drawn to us by that love.  We should protect them and provide them a safe place to work. As a good shepherd, we should nurture them and help them to grow. As a good shepherd, we should also be ready to rebuke and discipline those we love and lead – for their own good, not because they irritated us.

Instead of following the latest “fad” of leadership – try a new, yet very, very old way of leading. Be a shepherd to your people.

 “. . . shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

1 Peter 5:2-4

Have a great week!

Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 311661-311672). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.

“When budgets a…

“When budgets are cut, weak leaders cut people to make up the shortfall. Strong leaders ask the people to help figure out a better solution.”

 – Simon Sinek

3 C’s of hiring

Orange Brown leaf at Brown Gables 2013“We hire people for what they know and then fire them for who they are.” *

Peter Drucker said in one of his many books that of ALL the decisions that an executive makes, the people decisions are the most important. Jim Collins in his book Good to Great emphasizes the importance of exercising discipline in the hiring process because it is so very important who you bring onto your team. Time and again, we are reminded of the importance to our organizations of how we select people and who we select.

There are three C’s I recommend you consider and they are listed in order of importance:

Character: You must absolutely hire for character. You can teach people skills, you can send them to school and so on, however, there is not much you can do about their character. If you choose skills over character, you will always lose and your organization will suffer.

Chemistry: A very important element is how well will the person fit with your team. I have seen several times people of high character and great skills not make it in an organization because of the chemistry. They just did not fit. This often is not a bad or good thing, it’s just that we are all different and different organizational cultures fit us better.

Competency: This is the obvious one – do they have the skills you need or do they have the potential of learning and growing into what your organization needs? Again, often here you are looking for potential.

And for ministry there is a fourth C – Calling. Ministry, as those of you in ministry know, can be very, very difficult. If you are not called it can become very hard – on the person and on the ministry. I have seen times when great people want to join a ministry because the Lord used that ministry to do a deep work in their lives. If they are actually called by the Lord to that ministry, then that is great. However, if they are not called, then it can become hard and discouraging.

So think about these “C’s” as you are considering your hiring process. Are you considering the right things in the right order as you add people to your team?

Have a great rest of the week!

* – this is a great quote and it is not mine but I have forgotten the source.

compassionate leadership – a new idea?

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  – 1 Peter 2:3

“. . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37 – 39

The Harvard Business Review blog has an entry entitled “The Rise of Compassionate Management (Finally)“.  Following are some lines from the article:

“Don’t look now, but all of a sudden the topic of compassionate management is becoming trendy. . .To manage compassionately, Weiner noted, doesn’t come naturally to most managers. It requires spending the time to walk in someone else’s shoes — to understand what kind of baggage that person is bringing to work; what kinds of stresses she’s under; what her strengths and weaknesses are. In high-pressure environments, such a time investment is anathema to most of us. But such an investment is analogous to the work of a carpenter who carefully measures a piece of wood three times before cutting once: spending such “compassion time” with an employee, Weiner insists, pays off in that person’s much greater efficiency, productivity and effectiveness (and obviates later regrets). It’s not just altruism: as it turns out, companies that practice conscious capitalism perform ten times better than companies that don’t.”

Compassionate management is now trendy? It’s not natural for most managers? How incredibly sad that it is just now a trend – how incredibly sad that it is “just” being realized that people actually work better when they are cared for – how incredibly sad that truly compassionate leadership is somewhat rare in business, ministry, and the non-profit worlds.

Obviously God’s word calls us to love others, to be compassionate, to shepherd those we lead. Yet we fail to do so – so very often.

If you are a leader, take time to read the great little book The Way of the Shepherd. I use it often in the management courses I teach at Bethel College. Consistently, I am told that little book is life changing.

Also, check out this earlier blog post on the difference it makes when you take a genuine interest in the lives of those you lead.

Are you leading with compassion? Are you genuinely interested in the lives of those you lead?

If not, try it and you will be blessed.


a cup of coffee and a story

coffee cup at PTDo you enjoy a good story? Most of us do. In fact, stories have been the way we have handed down traditions, learned about our families and where we came from which helps us to know who we are, stories communicate values, what is important, stories tell of love, joy, hurt and despair. Stories are one of the richest forms of communication.

We all have a story and we are still writing that story – every day. Most of us want to share our story with people who are really interested, who care, and who will give us their attention and truly listen as we share our story. Most of us want to be known.

Now knowing that we want to be known, it stands to reason that others want to be known. They want to share their stories and if you stop and actually listen, you will be fascinated with the stories of others.

How does that tie in with a cup of coffee? I came across a blog by a young lady called 52 Cups of Coffee. For 52 weeks she took one person a week out for a cup of coffee and heard their story and it was a rich education for her – check out her list here. Sounds like a great idea to me!

So, an idea for you – set aside some money to start taking someone out for a cup of coffee once a week to hear their story. Now this is a time for you to ask a few questions and then to do a lot of listening. Sometimes all you have to ask is “Will you tell me your story?”. Other times, you can use these three simple, but powerful questions developed by Patrick Lencioni:

1. Where did you grow up?

2. How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in that order?

3. Please describe a unique or interesting challenge or experience from your childhood.

Now, if you are a leader of people, this is a great way to accomplish Principle Number 1 of The Way of the Shepherd – “Know the Condition of Your Flock”. Get to know your team – really know them – by spending time with each one of them and listening to their story. Try it for a month and see what you learn – you will be blessed.

A story and a cup of coffee – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Grace and peace to you,

a chat with my father

Good morning – we are back in the Midwest after almost a week in the much warmer South. Our primary reason for going was to Daddy and Mama - honeymoon in NOattend the wedding of my sister’s son, but it also gave us time to visit with my parents as well.

During these past days, I had the opportunity to visit with my 84 year old father whose health is not so good and he is beginning to have some challenges with his memory. He sleeps a lot of the time now, but we had some great conversations.

For some reason, much of our conversation centered around his time in the service. Too young to serve in the military in World War II (his two older brothers did – one a bomber pilot and the other an infantryman), he joined as soon as he could which was just shortly after the war ended. He joined the US Army’s Air Forces which later became the US Air Force. He was a radio technician responsible for repairing the radios on the B-29 Superfortress and even once worked on the Enola Gay.

He told me about the fights he got into, how he loved to dance the “two-step”, how beautiful my mother was when they married and about how they loved to dance. He talked about his work and he was proud of his craftsmanship. He was a Class A Repairman for some huge pumping engines at a natural gas pipeline pumping station in Mississippi. We talked some about the things he did, but mostly we talked about the people in his past. He talked about how bad bosses made his work miserable and how good bosses made his work enjoyable. He especially enjoyed his last years as he was treated with respect by his boss and allowed to do his job.

He talked about how different people impacted his life. He talked about relationships. And that’s my point – at 84 years old he most remembers the relationships. Not the tasks he accomplished or the things he had, but it was about the people – the relationships.

So some questions for you – are you working more on the relationships or more on the tasks with people being an annoyance? When people look back on their lives and share their stories, how will they remember you? Will you be that boss or co-worker that made their jobs miserable? Or will you be the one that made their work a joy?

How will people you touch remember you in 30 years?

If you are blessed to still have your parents alive, then go sit down with them and ask a lots of questions – you will be blessed.


Questions About Relationships

Good morning – it’s a crisp beautiful morning! The sunrise is beautiful. Spring is a wonderful time of the year.spring tree by Lauren

When it is all said and done, the thing that really matters the most to us, the thing that causes us the most hurt and joy in our lives, and the thing that most impacts our legacy is our relationships – especially those critical relationships. Our relationship with God, our spouse, our children, our extended family, and those close friends.

Relationships, for most of us, are actually the most important things in our lives. Yet for some reason for many of us, our relationships are what we are least intentional about in our lives. Somehow we just expect them to happen; we expect them to somehow stay strong and to grow with little or no intentional planning and action on our part. So often, the most important thing in our lives receives the least amount of our attention. Maybe that is something that needs to change?

Here are a few questions for you to ask about your key relationships:

– What is their love language and do I communicate with them in their love language or in mine?

– What is their personality type and how does that affect how I interact with them?

– What is their preferred method of communication? Do they like calls, texts, Facebook messages, letters?

– How often do I need to be connecting with them? Some relationships require frequent contact and some not so much.

– What are their hopes and fears? What are some of their favorite things?

– What is going on in their lives right now?

– How could I be a blessing to them right now?

– Am I intentionally scheduling time on my calendar to call them / visit them / write them / or ???

Our relationships are vital – so start being intentional about nurturing them.

Question for you – how do you ensure you are caring for those critical relationships in your life?

Have a great weekend!

What Comes First?

Good morning! Beautiful day today!!  Well, we began Revival Week here at Life Action Ministries last night with a great service. This is a time that we set aside for our entire staff to gather from across the country, Canada and now the Dominican Republic, to focus on the Lord and to see Him do a deep work in our midst.

Question for you – what comes first – the task you have been assigned or your staff member? What is your first focus – task or person?

Of course you have to get the task done – that’s part of your job. But maybe the best way to get it done and done with excellence is to first focus on the person and then on the task.

So again – in your leadership style – what is first to you, task or person?

Blessings on your week!