A Quick Tip for When You Can’t Find the Courage Needed…

Here’s a quick tip I’ve had to use many times in life…

When I can’t find the courage to do the thing I know I need to do…

Instead of trying to muster the courage…

I often need to renew or grow my passion for the thing that needs doing…

It’s a bigger picture approach…

Dave Ramsey says that if you want to get out of debt that you have to “Get angry about it...”

That’s the same idea here…

Emotions often fuel courage…

Grow your passion…grow your courage…

As an example, if you need to address a difficult employee situation, but don’t have the courage…fall more in love with the vision of the organization and it’s effectiveness, and you’ll find courage to have the hard conversation…

You take risks to achieve those things for which you are most passionate…

Think of it this way…if your child was in danger, you’d find the courage to save him or her, regardless of the risks involved…

Fall more in love with what you hope to accomplish and you’ll find more courage…

Are you in a situation now that is requiring more courage? I’d love to hear your story…

(I’ve written previously about the courage of a leader HERE and HERE.)

The Larger an Organization Gets…

Bad leadership is bad leadership. It’s usually easy to recognize.

It’s easier, however, to hide bad leadership in an organization, which isn’t growing. (I wrote recently that it’s easy to keep an organization small. Read that post HERE.)

The larger an organization becomes and the more growth, which occurs, the more bad leadership becomes apparent.

As an organization grows:

  • More people ask questions and challenge the process…
  • More decisions need to be made…
  • More and better systems are needed…
  • More people are required in the process…
  • More leadership development is needed…
  • More delegation and management is necessary…
  • More responsibility is placed on leadership…

…and the better leadership must be.

Continuing to grow an organization requires a growing leader.

How are you growing as a leader?

What is your personal leadership development plan?

Opinion question: Do you think some organizations often outgrow a leader’s capacity to lead well? Have you seen this happen?

An Interview with Mark Schoenwald President/CEO of Thomas Nelson

Over the next few months, I’ll be interviewing some great business leaders. They may or may not be leading Christian companies, but they will be high-level leaders in successful organizations. I think there are helpful things to learn for us in the church world from those leading outside the church.

I begin with Mark Schoenwald, President and Chief Executive Officer at Thomas Nelson. I have met Mark on a couple of occasions and each time he left a great impression on me in a casual setting. I understand he is a runner, which makes me identify with him, but I also gather from our causal encounters that he is professional, methodical, kind, and wise. Mark recently replaced the well-known Michael Hyatt as CEO of Nelson. From the outside, it appears Mark will approach the position different from Michael. I was interested in learning from Mark’s leadership.

Here is an interview with Mark Schoenwald:

How do you keep up with current trends and the market in your industry?

I believe to stay current you have to do multiple things. First, you have to understand history and the key drivers as history has a tendency to repeat itself but usually in a different format. Second, study the key current data; best seller lists, POS, Bowker consumer and customer information. Also, get out of the office and get into stores and online to understand the focus of merchandising and promotions. Lastly, ask the consumer. We conduct focus groups and surveys to gain insight into the key decision drivers as well as candid feedback on product and pricing.

How is your leadership style different than Michael’s?

First, I would like to start with what we have in common. We both strive to honor God in all we do as we lead this company. We believe in transparency, integrity and doing the right thing even if it is difficult or inconvenient. My hope is I am consistent with what Mike has worked to establish as hallmarks of leadership at every level at Thomas Nelson.

A primary difference between us is my initial tendency to learn by listening and communicating in person where Mike tends to thrive by speaking and active in social media.

I am direct with people, focused and motivated by competition. I tend to be more internally focused on our business and driving key initiatives and results. I encourage our people to expect, embrace and navigate change. I enjoy building and being on teams and being right in the middle of the action in terms of work, meetings, interaction etc.

What would you do or advice to give someone starting their career?

Your ability to see change coming and learn to navigate within a culture of rapid change is critical to your success. Second, get up, get out of bed and get going earlier than anyone else. The message is work ethic counts. Be willing to accept any job or assignment with enthusiasm. Once you have established a reputation of a strong work ethic and great attitude, people and opportunities will find you. Every leader wants that on their team. Lastly, listen and learn. Be a sponge and soak it all in. Mix all this together and that person will be successful in any situation, industry or business.

What is the greatest change you have seen in the workplace since you began your career? Does that change the way you lead today?

The speed of change is the biggest difference from early in my career. Phil Cooke said “if you don’t like change, you will dislike being irrelevant even more”. Change has become a certainty in life. But, the speed and magnitude of change continues to increase. We have to learn to accept uncertainty at times. You have to make decisions based on the information and time you have. The risk of delay or not changing is greater than what most people focus on which fear of the change itself. Failure is going to happen when change occurs this fast. That is part of life. So embrace the speed of change, don’t be afraid to make a mistake and if you do, learn from it so we don’t repeat it. I am not encouraging people to be reckless. Rather, be smart, do your homework, rely on your experience and make a decision. Speed demands this and if you can’t or won’t keep pace, you and your business will be left behind.

What are three words people would use to describe you?

Focused, Competitive, Loyal.

What is the hardest thing you have to do as a leader? What have you learned that has helped you in this area?

Delegate. I like to lead and like to drive initiatives. That is my natural bent so I need to learn to delegate and then support the process. I have learned the key is to find and hire the very best leadership you can find. Give people clear objectives and vision and then get out of the way. Be there for support and any guidance they may require but let them accept their responsibilities and perform the work. This is something I have to work on every day.

What motivates you to get up in the morning? What is it that keeps you pushing for more personally or professionally?

I pray daily that I am open and accepting of God’s plan for my life and for the courage to accept it. I am motivated every day to be the best husband, dad and business leader I can be. It is my responsibility to maximize the gifts, skills and situation that God has granted me. The responsibility and gift of the three kids God has trusted us to raise is awesome. The challenge and reward to guide the development of these kids and our family motivates me every day.

I am motivated daily to model leadership by example. To be humble and courageous. Due to my competitive nature, the motivation comes from the internal competition to do the right thing. Learn, listen, lead and grow spiritually, professionally and personally every day.

Great interview Mark….thank you!

Who are some other leaders you’d like me to try to interview here?

Leading with Control Versus Leading with Influence

Let me be honest. I am a controlling person. It’s part of my character. I know that. I test that way with StrengthsFinders. I think my team, however, would tell you that I don’t perform as a controlling leader. It’s been a long process to discipline myself not to respond how I am wired. Successful leaders understand the difference in leading with influence versus leading with control.

Leaders, if you want to to have a healthy team environment, you must learn to control less and influence more. The differences are measured in the results of creating a healthy team.

Here’s what I mean by the results:

In an organization where control is dominant…

  • The leader’s ideas win over the team’s ideas…every time…
  • The team follows…but not willingly…
  • Demands change through fear, not motivation…
  • People are managed but not led…
  • Team members feel unappreciated and under-utilized…
  • The organization is limited to the skills and ability of the controlling leader…
  • Burnout is common…

BUT….

In an organization where influence is dominant…

  • The ultimate goal is what’s best for the organization…
  • The team develops as relationships and trust grows…
  • Willing followers are attracted…
  • New leaders are recruited and built…
  • Change is promoted through desire, not obligation…
  • The organization has the expanded resources of a team…
  • People feel empowered and appreciated…

When it comes to organizational health…influence will always trump control.

Take your pick.

Have you ever been or worked for a controlling leader?

Have you been in an environment where influence is dominant?

What would you add to my lists?

Learning the True Health of a Team: Niche Consulting Offer

I want to offer a special niche consulting opportunity

Before I share it, please consider these questions:

  • Do you realize the influence you have as a leader and what effect it has on your team or organization?
  • How much would it be worth to know the real health of your organizational culture?
  • Would knowing ways to improve in your leadership be helpful to you?
  • Are you as a leader willing to be vulnerable to find the holes in your leadership?

Let’s face it. Leaders are often the last to hear of a problem on a team. Even the best leaders have blind spots they can’t see, but others see clearly. Wise leaders are open to the input of others, in an attempt to improve personally and assist the team or organization they lead.

One thing that has helped me improve in this area has been annually allowing my team to anonymously evaluate my leadership. You can read about my process HERE.

I learned from my team that my understanding of where we were and they way I was perceived, as a leader, was not always reality. My staff said some hard things to hear, but they were dead-on accurate and by adjusting my leadership to the needs of my team, I’ve become a better leader and my team has become a better team.

I want to help your team do the same.

Here is the deal:

I’m offering a special consulting opportunity for your team and leadership. I will come to your location, conduct an anonymous survey of your people’s perception of your leadership, share the results with you personally, discuss ways for improvement, and then bring the team together to discuss our findings. What I’ve discovered is that many times there are very simple adjustments to be made, better ways to communicate, or things I should be doing differently that I never knew were a problem.

This is not for the weak leader, but if you are confident you want to be a better leader, I believe I can help.

Here’s what I can promise:

  • My goal will be to protect the leader and make you better. I am pro-leader. This will be done in a way that honors your leadership.
  • You will gain insights into how you lead and learn ways you can improve.
  • This will not be as painful as it seems, but the rewards will be noticeable.
  • Your people will feel valued and appreciated for you allowing them to speak into your life.
  • You will be a better leader if you adjust your leadership according to our findings.

Just curious about this process? Send me a confidential email and let’s talk about the process? I’m limited to 12 clients this year, so act fast now.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Message

Friday Discussion: Non-Negotiables in Parenting

Recently I was reposted my parenting model I’ve called “Grace Parenting”. You can read the article HERE.

One of the principles in my model is to Major on the Majors, Not on the Minors and I stated that there are certain non-negotiables I think a parent should enforce in their parenting. A reader commented on the post, asking, “What are the non-negotiables?”

Great question! For my family, these were mostly Biblical characteristics I wanted my boys to possess as adults, things most people would agree are a part of having a good, moral character.

Things such as:

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Love

Each of these are what I consider non-negotiable. There is never an appropriate time not to be honest, not to respect, or not to love.

Obviously, you can’t mandate that your children possess these qualities in their heart…you can make them love someone. I believe you can and should address their actions in these areas and they are issues which were handled more strictly in my parenting. I also know you can mandate that children see each of these characteristics modeled for them by the parent.

Those are some of my non-negotiables…though not an exhaustive list…

For this discussion, do you agree with this principle?

What would you add as a non-negotiable characteristic to implement, teach, and even enforce in parenting?

How did you or do you teach these virtues in your home?

Let’s talk parenting!

Leaders Consider the Bigger Issue

In an organizational setting, when little issues arise, I try to consider the bigger issue at stake. Not everything has a bigger context worth considering, but strategic leaders consistently consider if there is one.

For example, if a staff member makes an awkward or unusually negative comment during a meeting, I try to consider the bigger issue. Did he or she simply make a random remark, was the comment limited to the meeting, or is there something unspoken going on that could point to a bigger issue in the person’s life or the organization? If I can’t immediately discern, I’ll most likely question this after the meeting.

If I receive criticism from someone I trust, is it limited to the matter being criticized, or is there a bigger, unspoken issue of concern? I’ll always try to discern what isn’t clear, but ask if I need more clarity.

As a leader, I have learned that I don’t always get the full story. As much as I try to lead around that fact, some people are afraid of hurting my feelings, may be intimidated by my position, or just fearful of speaking up with their true feelings.

I discipline myself to always consider bigger issue questions such as:

  • What’s the real problem?
  • What’s really at stake?
  • Who is really affected by this decision?
  • What’s the real potential outcome?
  • How much is this really costing?

I know as a leader that what I don’t know may be the real issue. Discovering it soon enough avoids potential greater damage in the organization.

What other question should we be asking?

Organizational Learning From Google

I read recently that the creators of Google weren’t looking to create Google when they discovered the complex way of indexing pages. They were working on a research project for their PhD program and stumbled upon the genius of google page ranking, did a little more exploration, and the rest is the incredible history of Google. In fact, I also read where, learning from their history, Google allows employees up to 20% of their time to explore new ideas and innovation.

It made me think about how organizations function. Are we organized to discover the next Google?

Let your team explore and you’ll discover some great stuff. Finding the “next big thing” is certainly more difficult without the exploration.

Plus, it’s damaging long-term for a team to be limited in this area of growth potential. If your team isn’t freed to explore:

  • They grow bored
  • Growth stalls
  • Valuable discoveries are never found.

What new insights is your team discovering?

More importantly perhaps, are they being positioned for discovery? Do they even have the freedom, built into your system?

The Dumbing Down of Leadership

Leaders lead…

Leaders are going somewhere…

And taking others with them…

I love leadership…

I love leading…

I love leaders…

I love the word leader…

I wonder though…

If we’ve popularized the team leader so much that we’ve made everyone a leader…

But not everyone is a leader…

Certainly not everyone is leading…

Even some who think they are…

Is everyone supposed to be a leader?

There are different styles of leadership…

We have different ways to lead…

But if you want to be called a leader…

Then lead…

Any questions?

What do you think?

My Standard Reaction When Someone Quits

I have a basic policy…

I’ve held it almost as long as I’ve been in a management/leadership type of role…

Whether paid staff or volunteer…

If you come to me ready to resign…

I won’t attempt to talk you out of it…

I may try to:

  • Understand your heart
  • Make sure it’s not a knee jerk reaction
  • Make sure you aren’t being treated unfairly by someone else…
  • Make sure there are no misunderstandings between us…

But, if those check out, I won’t stand in your way…

I’ll simply encourage you as you move forward…

I’ve found that convincing a person to stay hardly ever works…

You’ll tend to never be satisfied again…

If your heart has already left our vision….

Am I wrong?

Leader, what do you do when someone quits?