Posts Tagged ‘Work’

Is It Better To Be A Hands-On or Hands-Off Manager

November 20, 2015

A great example of this is the section on task-relevant maturity. This part of the book became very personal for me as it taught me how to formulate the most useful management question that I use in interviews: “Is it better to be a hands-on or hands-off manager?”

Venture Capitalist and author Ben Horowitz wrote the introduction to the latest edition of Andy Grove’s classic book, “High Output Management.” He published it also on Medium. He included this classic question.

What was your initial reaction when you first read that quote? I bet that answer is an indicator to how you manage.

My first reaction with very little thought was, “Yes.”

Grove said, “It depends.”

As a leader, you must observe your co-workers. You must  provide the focus of the organization and an understanding of each person’s role. Then you observe how they are doing.

Some people just take off and start doing. They don’t need someone to tell them what to do next. Or how to do it. They are creative and motivated. Just pull gently on the reins to keep them on the path and get out of the way.

Some people, often new one to the organization or inexperienced ones, need more guidance. Perhaps a few more 1-on-1 meetings to ask questions and provide some guidance.

Knowing your people, their strengths, their motivations, their weaknesses, and then acting appropriately will reward you with a high output team that enjoys the journey.

Leaders Working With A Board

November 13, 2015

He had started a ministry to addicted people. It was a vision. He could help people in dire straights turn their lives around and become clean and productive.

The ministry grew and became an organization. He found it necessary to develop new skills. Some influential people in the community had become members of the advisory board. He needed to learn how to manage them for continued effectiveness of the organization.

I worked with him for a while. Here are some ideas I passed along:

  • You have the vision, never stop passing it along
  • Invite individual board members for breakfast and lunch to share the vision and solicit ideas
  • Help the board find new members with specific expertise–fund raising, marketing, finance, contacts
  • Work especially with the board chairman to encourage team work and collaboration

There was a board I was on once where the administrator was a tyrant. It was “agree with me or leave” except that I was elected to the post and he couldn’t remove me. So, he resorted to intimidation. Didn’t work and he eventually lost the confidence of the entire board and was gone.

His replacement was collaborative both with the board and with the staff. Things worked much better.

Recently the local newspaper reported on a board meeting of a local public school. The superintendent pitched a personnel change. Several board members asked questions about the reason and the necessity. “I’ve done this a long time and I know what I’m doing,” came the retort.

Oops, not a collaborative move. The narcissistic ploy just doesn’t make it as a leader. There should have been an open, collaborative discussion before the meeting ever happened. The leader needs to solicit input receiving (and listening to) a variety of views.

When a leader is dysfunctional or when a board is dysfunctional, then the mission and well being of the entire organization suffers.

Mind Maps and Other Collaboration Tools

November 6, 2015

For the Friday Leadership post, I bring to you the idea of collaboration.

There are times when bringing people face-to-face is essential to accomplish something. Unfortunately most meetings are routine, pointless, serve only to bolster the leader’s ego, or serve as an excuse for coffee and doughnuts.

Many applications have appeared to help team members collaborate while being remote and also asynchronously. Consider Wikis, Slack, project management tools, Quip, Google Docs, (maybe) Microsoft Windows 365, Evernote, Nozbe, and many more.

I’ve been reading Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci lately. The author  spoke at the Emerson Exchange and whetted my curiosity (the first of seven traits).

Scholars have discovered some drawings akin to mind maps in Da Vinci’s journals. A mind map is a powerful tool. And, if you use a digital tool (I use Mindjet Manager), you can put it in the cloud and many can collaborate on ideas.

Don’t know what a mind map is? Here is one  I constructed using the computer app rather than just drawing (maybe the preferred way) for a project I’m working on.

IIoT Project

You can take notes on a mind map, doodle ideas, organize a project or a book, think creatively. It is a great tool. I’m about to work on two books while I’m between soccer seasons. I’ll mind map the outline and then just add text.

Mind maps are a tool. Thinking is the skill. Providing a safe environment for collaboration is leadership. Put it all together and accomplish something this year.


Working Hard As Spiritual Discipline

November 5, 2015

When did you discover the value of working hard? Or, did you ever?

For me, it hit me somewhere around age 19. I just coasted through elementary and high school and “earned” from excellent to good grades. Then there was the university. Competition was tough. Classes were tough (and I wasn’t prepared either academically or in maturity for the jump).

Then, duh, I learned to go to class and do the work.

That is a life-long trait. I can relax, but I know the value and benefits of working hard.

Recently I have been listening to Rick Warren. He’s pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA. He’s been discussing living a blessed life (from the Sermon on the Mount, you know, Blessed are the …). Today he was talking about how God expects us to be people of integrity. And one example of integrity is to work hard. If someone is paying you for a day’s labor, then give that person your undivided attention and focus on the work.

Work becomes a Spiritual Discipline if done with the right attitude and focus.

Hard work also becomes a witness. I heard a story from a business man in a developing country. His example, his hiring practices, and his treatment of employees with the highest ethics served as a witness bringing many people into discipleship with Jesus.

Warren said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could say I hire Christians because they always work hard and have the highest ethics.”

Bringing our spiritual life into all facets of our life is the most important thing we can do.

Thinking and Doing

October 14, 2015

Seth Godin is a marketing consultant. He’s written a few books and has a blog. The blogs are short pieces these days. Usually pithy. Recently he wrote on opportunity and left a few good suggestions.

You can learn a new skill, today, for free.

You can take on a new task at work, right now, without asking anyone.

You can make a connection, find a flaw, contribute an insight, now.

Or not.

We like to complain about lots of things. Work. The boss. The church. Leaders. Not getting ahead.

Godin reminds us of simple things that put the responsibility right back on us.

Today, Jon Swanson wrote on his 300 Words a Day blog about reading. And doing. He read a lot about running. Then he started running. He didn’t read any more. He ran.

He thought about Jesus who said you can sit and listen all day, or you can get out and do.

Preparation is good. Your 15 minutes a day in your chair reading the Bible is good. Your other reading is good.

But, in the end it isn’t good enough. It’s like the athlete preparing for the contest and never entering the competition.

You can do it. Godin says take responsibility for yourself and get up and do. Swanson suggested that there’s a time for preparation and then a time for doing.

What are you doing today?

Do Not Lag in Zeal

October 7, 2015

Do you ever find yourself during the day with a loss of focus, lack of energy, and uncertainty about what to do next?

It happens to us personally. There are times when I just can’t seem to focus and find the energy to do something.

Still deep into studying Roman and looking at the third paragraph of chapter 12, I read “outdo one another in showing honor, do not lag in zeal, be ardent in the spirit.”

Look at those verbs. Outdo, do not lag, be ardent. Action words. Don’t sit around and mope. Do something.

So, what causes the problem?

  • trouble making a decision
  • too many things to do, feeling swamped
  • not focused on the next task (check your Nozbe app!)
  • the food you ate
  • not enough sleep
  • not centered in purpose

I think we can sense that corporately, whether in church or business. Check these thoughts.

  • loss of vision
  • everyone with an opinion, no one with a direction
  • leadership that kills motivation
  • politics
  • no one cares
  • people just want to get along, like a little club
  • forget about those you’re serving

If you personally get into this state of being, it’s time to 

  • pause
  • breathe
  • consciously refocus
  • remind yourself of the purpose of the day
  • go to the to do app and choose the next action
  • oh, and go to work (nothing cures apathy like work)

If it is a corporate thing, then

  • there is a real need for a leader to step forward
  • start reminding people of the purpose / vision
  • refocus on those whom the organization is serving
  • determine tasks
  • go to work

There is much work to do between the steps. But both situations require pause, breathe, focus on vision, go to work.

I think that whoever read these words of Paul “be ardent in the spirit” knew exactly what he meant. Paul must have lived that command daily. As should we.

And Immediately He Went

September 10, 2015

The gospel of Mark contains few extra words. Its compact style with well chosen words moves the reader along with the story.

I’m always struck by the phrase, and immediately he went. 

It seems that Jesus went from place to place quickly. 

Yet, he seemed to have exquisite focus on whatever task lay before him. Heal. Teach. Move. Pray. Heal.

Does that sound like our lives? Do we try “multi-tasking” only to get lost in missing details and focus. Do we try concentrating on two or three things at a time?

I’m trying to keep two blogs current with almost daily thoughts and news. I’ve invested in a coffee cafe and am doing some marketing for it. (Need to get a return on my investment.) After a request from a pastor, I took on a staff role leading missions for my church. August and September are extremely busy months for assigning referees to soccer matches.

On top of it all, I pay my bills by doing research and analysis within the manufacturing technology market along with management and marketing consulting. A big job came my way. Its start was delayed. Its end date wasn’t. It needed to be done in August and September.

I’m betting your lives could have similar scripts. Family. Church. Volunteer. Job. Housework. Yardwork.

The key to survival lies in the ability to focus on one thing at a time. I write everything down I need to do. I’ve mentioned before I use an app called Nozbe (affiliate account, by the way). That way I don’t worry about forgetting something. But looking at the entire list is overwhelming.

Then I remember that old joke–how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I just tackle one thing. Concentrate on only that. Usually 25 minutes then take a short break. That’s called the Pomodoro technique. Sometimes, like this analysis project, I dive into research so deeply that an hour or two pass without my even noticing the passage of time.

Then it’s time for a break. Then focus on the next task.

I think I’m in good company. Many famous and successful people work that way. Thinking about the gospel of Mark–I think Jesus worked that way, too. Focus, work, break (refreshment/prayer). Focus, work, break. 

There is a refreshing rhythm to that pace. Sometimes the break can be 5 minutes of the Pomodoro technique. Sometimes maybe for a day or two.

Find your rhythm. Read. Pray. Meditate. Work. Play. Rest.

Accomplish more. Stress less. Focus on the important things.

Discerning God’s Will

August 19, 2015

“You will win the election if it is God’s will,” the lady told a political candidate.

Subsequent conversations with others about God’s will centered on the question of how do you know and what do you mean.

Is it God’s will for whether the politician wins or not? Or, is the issue whether the politician is following God’s will–his calling–for his life? Maybe he sat in contemplation and God whispered that his talents would be best used as a politician. Although I have to say from personal observation (I’ve met him briefly, he’s my representative somewhere) that he probably had a better calling as a Navy SEAL than as a legislator. But, who am I to question God?

Psychologist Henry Cloud spoke the past two weekends at Willow Creek Community Church on that topic. God’s will for your life–not my legislator.

He talked about finding your passion. Getting your passion aligned with your talents. That will be a hint about following God’s will for your life.

But you need discernment. Is this a real passion or a momentary infatuation? Does it match my talents and skills with passion for service? Can you visualize a beneficial outcome?

He talked of two builders. Each made a pile of money developing tracts of land, building houses, and selling them.

One was tired and burned out. He found it boring to do the same old thing over again–even if he did earn millions of dollars.

The other was energized. “I just love what I’m doing. I fly over the undeveloped tract of land and visualize houses and parks and families grilling and kids playing. I just love this.”

One found his passion. His heart was in it, and his heart was in a right relationship. He made a lot of money, but his heart was on helping others.

This one, no doubt, had found God’s will for his life. And many benefited. The other merely found a job he was good at.

Be Ye Doers of the Word

July 7, 2015

Paul’s work in writing Romans results in his mature thinking assembled into one letter.

He starts with why we need God. He continues with how through Jesus we have access to God’s grace. Then he concludes “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.”

That was in chapter 10. Not satisfied to stop with the basics of spiritual formation, Paul continues with many examples of how we continue our spiritual formation journey through how we live.

I told yesterday how I struggled with Romans 13 in my younger years. But if you read the first several verses of the chapter you can see where Paul was going. Government is instituted by God to create order in society punishing the wicked and upholding the good. Insofar as government does that, it is fulfilling its work as ordained by God.

The 20th Century witnessed the rise to power of the idea that government should take a much more active role in promoting the welfare of the citizens.

It’s kind of like we transferred the idea of God as the “big vending machine in the sky” as when Janis Joplin sang, “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” to the idea of “Oh [insert name of capital city], won’t you give me…”

Before you jump all over me on a liberal or conservative slant, step back and look. From my perspective as merely an observer, I see people of all political stripes in almost all countries with their hands out to their governmental leaders at every level looking for money or favor. Business people want tax breaks or preference for roads and sewers. On the other hand is the dependency we’ve created with the welfare state.

It is a human condition; not a political one.

From God’s point of view, we should obey that government that provides justice and order so that we may go about God’s work in us for our spiritual formation and to teach and to love our neighbor.

I think part of the church’s role in loving our neighbor is not abdicating our role to the government. When a plague hit Rome in the early years of the church, it became a time of great growth in the church. Why? Well, the brave heroes who governed Rome took off for the hills leaving behind women, children, sick, and elderly. Who took care of them? Christ followers left their hiding and cared for the sick and weak.

Should we work to change governments that fail to live up to God’s work for them? Of course we should. Just look to the example of the prophets. Even Jesus tackled the problem of his local government leaders (the Jews, not the Romans).

Should we work to tackle some of the social problems we’ve abdicated to government? Yes! I know the theology that says that all we should do as followers of Christ is to preach. But I cannot find that theology anywhere in the New Testament.

As James instructed, “Be ye also doers.”

Top Ten Leadership Commandments

June 26, 2015

Organizers of the conference a couple of weeks ago gifted us with some books. One of mine was “The Top Ten Leadership Commandments” by Hans Finzel, President and CEO of WorldVenture.

The book itself is fairly autobiographical, but the list is good as lists go. The sub-theme of the book is taking leadership lessons from Moses and extrapolating to present day problems.

The Top Ten:

  1. Thou Shalt Cling to the Vision
  2. Thou Shalt Not Serve Thine Own Ego
  3. Thou Shalt Practice Servant Leadership
  4. Thou Shalt Be Opposed, Resisted, and Misunderstood
  5. Thou Shalt Have a Life
  6. Thou Shalt Sweat the Small Stuff
  7. Thou Shalt Spend Time in the Tent (get away and meditate)
  8. Thou Shalt Lead to Leave
  9. Thou Shalt Never Give Up
  10. Thou Shalt Keep Thine Eye on the Prize

Those of us who have been a leader of something during our lives can look at this list and cringe in remembrance of things we missed. Maybe getting a little too full of ourselves. Maybe ignoring details. Maybe not taking time to refresh.

One of the hardest, at least for me, would be number 4. “I’ve thought this out, what do you mean that you don’t think it’ll work????” Or, worse, when a clash of personal agendas takes everyone’s eyes off the prize.

In the end, Finzel is optimistic and encouraging, even when acknowledging the pain. Go forth and lead!