May 302016

humility and leadershipHumility Shmumility!

The last minute church elder’s meeting started a bit late. The pastor walked in to see several elders bickering over who should be in charge. Without saying a word, he motioned them all out of the room, down the hall, and with a finger to his lips, opened the door to the kindergarten room. A dozen kids sat in a circle singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of their lungs, big grins and wavy arms.

He quietly closed the door and said, “Unless you can love and worship simply like those kids, you have no place leading in this church. And, by the way, if you make one of them mess up, you might as well jump off the Noyo River bridge and drown. Oh, and don’t even begin to think you are better than they are. Their angels get special access to God the Father every day!

Read the real version in Matthew 18:1-6.

What’s this got to do with leadership and the workplace? Often, decisions and actions are based on the struggle for power and status over others. We feel our position must be maintained by pushing others down. Humility? That term gets restricted to religious discussions at church, if at all. This IS business, after all, LOL!

When Jesus teaches and models humility to His disciples, He is educating them about His kingdom and the fact that unlike most human organizations, His is based on loving and serving others. Those that are the most successful (the “greatest”) are those who serve and care for others the most.

Again, what’s this got to do with my workplace outside of the church? Maybe a lot. If one of my primary objectives is to serve, uplift, support those around me, regardless of the org chart- their success, their productivity, their job satisfaction, their employee engagement (Yes, Gallup users!) will make me effective and successful as a leader. Stepping on heads will only carry a person so far. Do leaders make it to the top by such stepping? Yes they do. But I would challenge their right to lead and whether their legacy will be a worthy one.

Think about your circles of influence. Is humility evident in your relationships at home? With friends? With coworkers?

Me? While I find new ways to fail every day, I want and pray for the ability to lead humbly, finding my greatest success and legacy through the success of those around me.

May 032016

No PatiencePatience and the business of managing a successful organization are clearly incompatible. Here’s why:

First, rapidly changing markets make the pace of many businesses nearly frenetic compared to just a couple of decades ago. One of the newest buzzwords is the need to be nimble, rapidly defining and responding to new challenges. Mark Sanborn states, “Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business.”  Patience equals slow, and slow can result in loss of market share or even the loss of the entire organization!

Second,  in the workplace, social factors often get in the way of progress. What’s popular over what’s policy. Without strict and consistent adherence to a company’s policies, anarchy results. Or at least confusion and variability in performance. Being patient, accepting intent rather than conformity, allowing staff to follow the principle rather than the “letter” of the policy, this can breed apathy at best, contempt at worst.

Last,  it is critical to keep a bottom line mentality at all times. Exhibiting patience with variability in performance suggests a higher priority on human resources than profit margins. This is clearly a lose-lose proposition, for without margin, everyone loses! Firmly keeping an eye on key metrics that are indicators of success is critical. Getting distracted by the individual and changing needs of staff causes a loss of focus and inevitable failure. It confuses the definition of where real value lies.

My pastor gave me much to think on with his sermon this past weekend.  The topic? God’s great patience with us. It made me wonder…why is He so patient with us? Doesn’t He have a bottom line, an ultimate objective? Was there anything in the sermon that has any relevance to me as a leader in the workplace? Regardless of your particular faith walk, I’d like to hazard a big, fat YES!

If you agree, then take my three reasons listed above, and use your creative powers to turn them on their heads. Is patience and the work of work wholly incompatible?  Is patience contraindicated in the office? I think….NOT.

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