When I was a child…

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1Co 13:11

Have you ever met anyone that is a full fledged grown up in age, but has not been able to put ways of childhood behind them, someone stuck in time, paralyzed, lost in the world?  Of course you have. They are everywhere.  If you haven’t, you likely are that person. I was.

I remember when I became a man.  It wasn’t when I turned 18.  It wasn’t when I moved out, or paid rent on my own for the first time.  It wasn’t even when I got my first real job, or had my first long term relationship.

When I was 23 years old I remember how I viewed the world in great detail. I had been burned, had a serious attitude toward life and justified it vigorously.

There were three principles that were most important to me.

  1. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Take what you can get.
  2. You can only really trust yourself, everyone else will always let you down.
  3. It’s my life, I will live it how I want! Get off my back!

These three principles became my hiding place in my early adulthood.  They gave me direction (pleasure seeking), protected me from harm (other people) and made me the king of my world (It’s all about Me).  I was a pretty good thinker so I was able to stave off any threat that came along with my witt and ability to argue.  My guards were up and I was a self-preservation machine.  My artistic and deceptive skills allowed me to create a ficade of my life.  I wore whatever mask I needed at the time, and became what I needed, to get what I wanted.  Reality was something to mold, twist and make a slave out of.  Perception was reality, and deception was the way to change reality.

The Crash

And then it all caught up to me at once.  My world came crashing down in a pile of rubble.  Like waking up from a dream or experiencing sight for the first time, I realized that the earth didn’t really revolve around me. It was the greatest most painful loss, and at the same time the biggest sense of relief.

I took a long hard honest look at my life for the first time ever. I was ambarrassed and ashamed of the blindspots that everyone else already knew. I seemed I was the last to find out. I had been exposed.

I took a long look at myself, and here is what I discovered. My worldview was all wrong.  Here are some of the the values I had come to embrace throughout my life:

  • I must let nothing be my fault as to remain blameless.
  • I must allow myself a way out of any situation in case it gets difficult (avoid commitment).
  • I must hold everyone accountable for how they have hurt me.
  • I must be in control of the situation, and not be controlled by the situation or anyone.
  • I must convince everyone of my impressiveness so they will respect me.
  • I must hide my flaws so no one can criticize or look down on me.
  • I must expect grace for my actions, and justice for everyone elses.
  • I must not think about my problems or acknowledge they exist so I don’t have to deal with them.

I realized that I was eating and drinking and being marry to avoid committing to anything.  Committment requires trust.  I didn’t trust anyone, because that would mean I needed to be a person that could be trusted.  I was living life how I wanted because I didn’t want to be held accountable.  I was avoiding responsibility in most every way.

I realized that the worldview that I had embraced, that I thought was serving me, was actually waging war against my soul.  It became clear to me that seeking to serve my own needs left all my needs unmet.

It was that day that I decided I was going to put the ways of childhood behind me.   I was about to begin a brand new life of adulthood.

Because Jesus Christ took 100% responsibility for my sin, I was able to became 100% responsible for my life.  Not only my actions and bahavior, but also my thoughts and emotions.  No longer was I going to allow my circumstances to control my thoughts and keep me in emotional imaturity.  For the first time it wasn’t about self-preservation, pride or impressiveness.

I discovered a different set of principles to live by:

  • I must make no excuses for my actions, thoughts and sins.
  • I must embrace reality (truth) and live by it, rather than distorting it.
  • I must committ myself fully to people and responsibilities given to me.
  • I must forgive everyone who hurt me and expect nothing in return.
  • I must be transparent and humble. For when I am weak, I am strong.
  • I must be responsible for only what I can control, and patient with what I cannot control.
  • I must earn respect through putting others needs before my own.
  • I must expose my sin, purge it from my life and experience freedom.
  • I must live fully accountable for my actions.
  • I must face my fears and perservere through the obsticles holding me back.
  • I must surrender in order to have victory.

I still fall short, but now I am more aware and have a savior to vouch for me.

Give me a call, let’s chat. 319.930.1045 

 

 

 

 

How We Show Appreciation

The 5 Languages of Appreciation

A couple of weeks ago I was able to hear Dr. Paul White talk about his book that he co-authored with Gary Chapman called The 5 Languages of Appreciation. I had read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages many years ago, but I connected with this book in a way that made me take a long look at how I appreciate the people in my work.

It is easy to believe that we are doing better at showing appreciation toward others than we really are.  There aren’t very many people that are truly successful at showing it in the workplace, and we tend to grade ourselves on a curve.  We can tend to believe that being unappreciated is just part of the experience that makes “work” work.

Dr White shared information to help illustrate just how wide this misconception really is.

Why People Stay

  • In a survey of over 35,000 employees completed by the Chicago Tribune, the number one reason cited by the respondents of why they enjoyed their work was:  “I feel genuinely appreciated by this company” November 2013

The Big Picture

“More than 80% of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and more than half of those surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss” (BusinessNewsDaily, 2013)

Why People Leave

  • 64% of Americans who leave their jobs say they do so because they don’t feel appreciated. (US Dept of Labor)
  • The number one factor in job satisfaction is not the amount of pay but whether or not the individual feels appreciated and valued for the work they do.

This survey focuses on how the employees feel they are valued in the workplace.  It does not discuss how they really are valued.  In some cases the problem may be more about the inability to communicate appreciation to valued employees rather than failing to truly appreciate them.  An employee appreciated that doesn’t know it, can’t feel it.  They can’t read minds.

The Gap

“While 51% of managers believe they do a good job of recognizing job well done by their staff, only 17% of the employees in the same groups believe their managers recognize them for doing a good job” (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 2012)

According to this survey 34% managers are not aware of their failure to recognize when their team does a good job.  The question is, are you one of those 34%, or do you work with anyone that falls into this category?

Recognition vs. Appreciation

One of the contributing factors to why individuals don’t feel truly appreciated is that leaders don’t always understand the difference between recognition and appreciation.

  • Recognition is largely about results or behavior, Catch them doing something great, and recognize them for it.
  • Appreciation is more personal, it focuses on the employee’s value as a person and an employee as well as their performance.
  • The relational direction of recognition is top-down, coming from leadership.  Appreciation, on the other hand, can be communicated in any direction.

What Language are you speaking?

Dr. White and Dr. Chapman suggest that we may be “missing the mark” because we arent’ speaking the same language as our co-workers.

“Each person has a primary and secondary language of appreciation. Our primary language communicates more deeply to us than the others. Although we will accept appreciation in all five languages, we will not feel truly encouraged unless the message is communicated through our primary language.”

“When messages are sent repeatedly in ways outside of that language, the intent of the message “misses the mark” and loses the impact the sender had hoped for.”

If you are in a leadership position and feel you need help with understanding a better model of appreciation, I highly recommend that you read this book.  The book discusses the 5 most common languages or channels that people tend to give and receive appreciation. This book has changed the way I will go about learning ways to show appreciation to each individual in my workplace.

Understanding my own language and learning others language is a game changer for me and I believe it can be for you. Appreciation is the secret weapon to bringing people together for a single cause.  When we can appreciate our employees as if they were volunteers, we can change the entire culture of our workplace.

Please share your experience.

 

 

 

Principles vs. Values

111 Three PigsThe 3 Little Pigs

Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? One built his house out of straw, one with sticks and the last with bricks.  They all three had good intentions for the most part, although to varying degrees.  The difference was not necessarily in their intentions, but in the foundational quality of the material.  This is true not only in the material world, but also in the cognitive world.  Our thoughts and what we believe to be true, will determine if our house will fall or remain standing in the face of the Big Bad Wolf.  Ideas have consequences.

Principles vs. Values

  • What are Principles? Principles are guiding truths that apply to all people in all places over all of time. It doesn’t matter if you believe in them or not, you will trip over them if you don’t realize their existence. Principles are often very inconvenient to those who want to live life on our own terms and very convenient for those who wish to navigate per reality.
  • What are Values? Values are preferred beliefs that support principles.  Values are subjective and do not apply to all people in all places over all time and vary from person to person or amongst cultures. Values are the methods that help you achieve a higher cause.

Example:  The Principle of Generosity is true and plays out consistently over time (see list below); however different people value different methods in expressing their generosity.  Some give of their money, some give of their time and effort, others encourage and support and yet others defend or protect.  These are all Values that people hold that are important to them and are for supporting the Principle of Generosity.

When principles are absent, values can operate on their own (not necessarily well) without the foundational support of principles. In the absence of principles, we value whatever meets our own needs.  Discovering these important principles is important to developing a foundation for future strength and significance for everyone who wishes to lead a fruitful life.

Why We Tell the Truth?

Integrity and honesty are both principles that are generally the foundation to why most honest people tell the truth.  People who value integrity and honesty tend to tell the truth not only when it is convenient to them, but even when it is not convenient to them.  The Principle is more important than their individual needs.  They realize the long-term benefit of integrity and honesty for the benefit to others, also for their own best interests.

Telling the truth is not actually a principle, rather a value.  Telling a lie, embellishing and other forms of deception are also values. If they help your cause (right or wrong) they have value (to you). They both support what is most important to you, so if you are NOT a person of Integrity and are more interested in your own wellbeing, telling the truth sometimes suits your self-interest. If this is the case, telling a carefully crafted lie may seem to suit your self-interest as well. If you do not hold the principle of respecting other people’s boundaries (property) you may hold theft as a value that you use from time to time to get what you need.  Noble principles are the anchor for all noble values. Self-centerness is also the anchor for all self-serving values.

The House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”   Mat 7:24-27 ESV

Stand For Something!:

Many people in our country fail to stand for anything significant. As generations pass fewer Americans engage in principle based thinking.  We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, or project our standard onto others in fear that we will appear intolerant or politically incorrect. Tolerance and acceptance are very noble qualities, but when taken to extremes they can cloud our perspective leading us to compromise what we all know to be true.  We need to be strong and stand for proven principles even when it means causing others to stumble or discomfort for ourselves.

Many managers, leaders and parents fail to stand their ground and promote proven reality based principles. We often struggle with the confidence to stand up and express our allegiance to any higher principles, because we view principles and value the same. We see them as personal (subjective) rather than foundational (objective).  In other words, we give our personal values the prestigeous title of a principle, when it is no such thing.  It is just a supporting cast member at best, useful only to a bigger purpose.  And without purpose, your values are useless.

The result is a culture of floating standards (values) and a crop of managers, potential leaders and parents with little feeling of authority. We often feel powerless because we have not taken ownership of foundational truths or a commitment to defend them. Even when given full authority, we fail to feel empowered due to our self-imposed limitations and fears.

Application:

  • Most Americans believe in principles to some degree, but too often fail to take ownership and stand up for them because they don’t believe in a true Creator.
  • If you have an opinion (Value) ask yourself what universal principle it is attached to.  If you cannot come up with one, you may need to do some self-discovery.
  • When finding, ourselves fighting against life principles, we end up shipwrecked, running against the wind or trying to paddle upstream.
  • When we stand upon these very principles and hold onto them and live in harmony with them, we find footing and begin to stand firm on a solid foundation.

Build your house out of BRICKS!

Influence from the Inside Out

You cannot change anyone. 

To grow, one must make an internal choice to become something you are not, or do something you have not done.  This requires letting go of what already is, in order to embrace something that could be.  It must be by choice and not by direction or force for real change to take place.

The Problem with Leadership Today

Most business managers, leaders and even parents tend to go about developing people all wrong.  Most people in positions of leadership struggle when it comes to reshaping how people do things to reach a desired outcome. It may be that we are looking through the wrong end of the leadership binoculars.

Reshaping Behavior

Our authoritative culture attempts to alter or reshape people’s behavior.  There are so many rules, and regulations that tell us what we are supposed to do, and what we are not supposed to do.  I think of the song from the 70’s by the Five Man Electrical Band that says,

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind, do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

More on this in another Blog.

Motivation in the Workplace

In the industrial age workplace, we essentially bribe people to do a specific task.  The motive for efforts is less often because of desire, or because they truly believe in the cause. It is because rent needs paid, and mouths need fed.  In most industries, we see this play out.  Upper management has one vision that motivates them to see the company succeed. Frontline workers are blind to Managments vision.  They put in their time with no purpose, other than to follow directions to make a buck.

A Disconnect of Values

People feel they have little to gain for their effort when they don’t value the task at hand.   People will not give their best effort unless they have a good reason to.  The old school reasoning of “..because it’s your job!” just doesn’t seem to fly anymore.  The sense of personal responsibility of our past generations has been replaced. People need to be personally vested in something before they give their best effort.  The old way of managing people with the expectations of responsibility is fading away.  A more personal, and missional approach is easing it’s way in on our job markets.

The Millennial Generation

Our younger generation  doesn’t have the same sense of corporate duty and responsibility as in the past.  They look at life as an individual journey. They have a more creative and personal approach toward impacting the world.  They need to be inspired to pour their efforts into something.  Technology has created a whole new way in which we communicate and interact with each other. It sparked a sense of creativity in young people that we have never seen before. Unfortunatly, however, creativity isn’t always what is needed in our workforce.

If the world around us is changing, we need to change with it.  We don’t need to compromise our principles and convictions. We need to learn better ways to connect with people if we intend to influence future generation.  

Inspiration

We need to embrace a better way of leading and inspiring people to do something great!  People need to be inspired to believe they can become something they have not yet considered.  I have never met a person that has found their way to success without someone investing in their growth.  Our younger generation needs us to step up and help them, even if it seems like they not interested.

Connecting from the Inside Out

We need to connect with people from the inside out. Focusing on unfavorable behavior is an attempt to change people from the outside in.  If we learn to understand them and value them we can begin to inspire them toward being the best they can be.  When people grab a hold of a vision with purpose something in them gets stirred and a sense of mission takes over.  People are not that hard to keep interested and focused if we approach them with their best interest in mind.  When we try to change their external behaviors to meet our needs, words begin to fall on deaf ears.

Control Without Connection

No one likes to be pushed by someone that has not gained our trust or does not have our best interest in mind. No one likes to be ‘controlled’, no one likes for others to determine their steps for them.  We want to oversee our own life, make our own choices.  We are usually willing to follow someone who has a better vision than we do, providing it’s our own choice.

The Needs of the Millennial Generation

Young people need to be heard.  They need to know that their ideas and opinions matter and that someone is listening.  They want to be included in the plan, invited to the big kids table.  They want to use their creativity to help.  They want someone to get excited when they are excited and listen when they need to vent.  They don’t desire a list of do’s and don’t s, but they are willing to follow that list if they feel appreciated.

Millennials need challenged.  They need pushed to see just how far they can take their knowledge, skills and abilities.  When we are pushed we somehow get up the nerve to get past our fears. It ignites an excitement in our hearts that spur us on to something better.  We will never grow unless we are pushed by someone who we trust.  We need to be challenged by someone who we know has our best interest in mind, someone who isn’t going to leave us.

What kind of leader/parent are you going to be?

Are You Connected?

Need for connection

In the book How People Grow, Dr. Henry Cloud writes “People’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die. It’s a medical fact, for example, that from infancy to old age, health depends on the amount of social connection we have.”  He goes on to say “Virtually every emotional and psychological problem, from addictions to depression, has alienation or emotional isolation at its core or close to it. Recovery from these problems always involves helping people to get more connected with each other at deeper and healthier levels than they are.”

I believe that true happiness absolutely requires and depends on honest trustworthy personal relationships. In the work place this plays out in the need for trustworthy professional connections. The flip side of this would be that without deep relationships happiness or success cannot exist.  I think people resist getting close to others because they don’t think they need others as much as they really do.  At the center of this resistance is usually a lack of trust fed by fear.  As we grow up our ability to trust others usually is greatly affected by the environment we have spent the most time in.  If our experience is that people generally break their promises and let you down, we will be more cautious when considering letting someone into our personal circle.  We’ve been conditioned to disconnect.

Fear

Sometimes fear is a major cause for us to fail to connect with people.  We are afraid of what other people think of us and sometimes terrified of being rejected.  It’s much easier to be disconnected than to try to connect and face rejection. Like Tom Hanks character in Castaway and Matt Damon’s in The Martian, people who cannot trust and fear rejection or intimacy also have to figure out how to maintain their physical and mental health apart from others.

Finding great people

I was at a holiday gathering a while back and one of my relatives was asked where her boyfriend was.  She replied that they broke up, it was not working out.  She then asked if anyone had any suggestions to where she can go to find a “good man”.  She says that all the guys she has been involved with turn out to be duds.  This isn’t an uncommon thought.  I’ll bet there are several million people in our country that feel the same way about finding a soul mate.  There just don’t seem to be any decent ones out there.

Layers of separation

I was with my daughter the other day and a song came on the radio that she was singing to.  I asked her who was singing it.  She said, “are you kidding me?, you really don’t know who this is? Everyone knows this song.” It seems I live in a different world than she does.  What is so common in her world, is foreign to me. I was so close but so far away.

I think socially there are many different cultural layers all overlapping each other with each group being somewhat isolated from the other layers while sharing the same space.  It really is bizarre how these cultural layers can be literally standing in the same place, and like someone who doesn’t like their food to touch, seem to keep from mixing.  That explains why my relative feels so far away from finding a decent guy, and why I was clueless to apparently one of the most popular songs on earth. Sometimes the invisible walls are the thickest.

We are what we hang with

When I was in my early twenties, I was surrounded by many friends and like me, most of them didn’t have any kind of vision for their lives.  We were a crowd that put lots of focus on the here and now, living for the moment.  Most of us were running away from our past in some way. We spent quite a bit of time together and had many social interactions but these friendships were shallow at best.  Friendships (girls and guys) seemed to be temporary and centered around where the next party is.  I had many friends, but meaningful connection was a different story.

The truth is, that I was exactly like the people closest to me, the ones I spent the most time with.  Someone said we are the sum total of our five closest people.  This was certainly true for me. I had a many friends but didn’t really connect with any of them, at least not with any depth. I would go out on the town, have lots of fun, meet more interesting fun people, then go back to my apartment and bask in my loneliness and addictions. There were people all around, but I was all alone. My friends were not interested in connecting with me as a person or helping me grow nor was I with them. We didn’t know how, and were too immature to care or know what it was that we were needing.  We all had our own voids to figure out how to fill.

Where are you looking?

What I know now, that I did not know the first half of my life, is that there are many healthy, happy, connected people out there if you wish to seek them out and find out where they hang.  I am not suggesting that all healthy and happy people are separate from everyone else and part of an exclusive club.  They are all over.  They come in every color and every size.  They are in the stores you shop, walking down the street, eating in the same restaurants that you eat.  You may not recognize them if you don’t know what to look for. If you want to find a bunny, don’t look in a fox hole.

Something missing

Have you ever felt like there was something missing in your life, but you don’t know what it is?  I have asked many people this question in my life and apart from a couple of people I suspect were not honest, everyone has said yes.  Most of the time when I engage in conversation with people about this, it strikes a chord and often leads to a very constructive and insightful conversation.  It seems we all have a void that needs to be filled.

“As people are cut off from others and their souls are starved for connectedness, the need for love turns into an insatiable hunger for something. It can be a substance, sex, food, shopping, or gambling, but these never satisfy, because the real need is the connectedness to God and others, and to God through others.” Henry Cloud – How People Change.

Connectedness

We were created to experience connectedness vertically with our creator and horizontally with people.  It is not until we have connectedness with God that we can truly connect with others on the level we were created for. We also cannot stay connected with God without being connected to other people.  It is through other people who we are supported and upheld. It is other people who push us to grow and to push our limits to reach higher levels. It is through other people that God grows each person.  He sends people to teach you, encourage you, challenge you, discipline you, provide support, advice and direction. This doesn’t happen if you are not connected to people who share these values. We are what we hang with.

Grace is the glue

It is God that gives us the passion and the commitment to extend to others the kind of grace that God extended to us through Jesus Christ.  He forgave us our sins so that we could experience connectedness with him.  Connectedness cannot happen without grace to bridge the gap. Grace is the glue that holds ALL relationships together. You cannot give away what you do not have. Without grace, we all disconnect and go our separate ways. Are you connected?

 

Don’t Be So Bossy!

 

The Boss

“First of all, I will say I hate the word “boss”.  At least when it is applied to me.  I don’t want to be a boss, I try very hard not to be a boss, look like a boss or sound like a boss.  I have had bosses before and it was not very fun.  They were very bossy.

Back in the day the workplace looked a little different than it does now.  The Boss model was everywhere.  The chain of command was very important. Having control, and being “in charge” of your people was the primary responsibility of a person in management.  Make the boss happy and you are “doing your job”.  This is the boss model.

So what is a Boss?

  • A boss is someone who believes their responsibility is to “get” people to behave or work in a way that makes the boss or company successful.
  • A Boss believes they are on a higher plain than the people they work for. They are more important and have a sense of entitlement that others are not subject to.
  • A Boss relies on their title to give them credibility.  They need to remind people who is “in charge”.  Titles are like a badge of honor.
  • A Boss is much more likely to use anger, intimidation and manipulation to get the results that they are looking for.
  • A Boss is more interested in looking good to their boss than to their subordinates. They are quick to point out how much they have accomplished or how valuable they are to the company.
  • A Boss uses their power and authority to be served. They often arrange their job priorities and task to work around their own personal life. That is the whole benefit to being the boss.
  • A Boss takes credit for success, and casts blame for failures.
  • A Boss has a history (or will have) of broken employee relationships in their wake, These are relationships that didn’t need to end the way they did if they would have had better relational skills.
  • A Boss is in search of more power and authority and will step on others if necessary to get it.
  • A Boss manages according to what feels “natural”.  They do what their parents did.  They do what their previous Bosses did.
  • Some Bosses don’t mean any intentional harm, they just don’t know any other way.

How do Bosses maintain control?

  • Carrots – Bosses rely on bribing, using flattery or talking people into things in order to get them to do something for them.  When a boss chases their employees away they have to resort to this to get their remaining employees to pitch in and take on extra work. Incentives are good, but not when they replace true appreciation.
  • Sticks – Bosses need a club.  This would be a way to implement discomfort in order to redirect behavior. Sometimes this is yelling, anger, passive aggression, write ups, guilt, self-pity, anything that will make someone behave in a manor you want.
  • Social bonding – Some managers with boss-like tendencies (BLT’s) will use words strategically to win over their subordinates.  They give an impression of connecting with people, when really they are just using social bonding to gain a false sense of favor.  Some managers with BLT’s try to become besties with people right off the bat.
  • Dog-house management – This is when, at first,  you are on the right side of the manager, they seem to really like you, all seems well, until you let your guard down and cross them somehow. A manipulative boss can change their tune in a split second and toss your butt in the dog-house quickly.
  • Controlling with Extremes – Bouncing back and forth between extremes is a form of dog-house management.  Some Dog-house managers may allow you to make it up to them and get out of the dog-house by proving yourself to them by kissing up, or extra effort.  Sometimes a sincere apology is enough.  When they really need something they may let you out, and pretend nothing was wrong.  You may come and go in and out of the dog-house over time. This is their way at keeping control of you. The message they make is very clear, “I am the boss, and if you don’t want to be in the dog-house, don’t cross me!”
  • Expendable People – Some dog-house managers have a perspective that people become corrupt or lose their mojo and are not recoverable.  When an employee crosses them, they can no longer trust them and have no use for them.  They are very quick to fire and toss on the scrap heap. This type of dog-house management leaves no room for second chances or working out problems constructively.
  • They take things personally – Bosses can be quick to be hurt or offended.  They can take an under achieving employees actions personally.  They have the perspective of “If you aren’t going to do anything for me, I am not doing anything for you”.  If you watch Shark Tank, you may have heard Mr. Wonderful say “Your dead to me!”  when he gets his feelings hurt. I love that show!
  • My way or the highway! – Bosses have to put up a big front so everyone knows who is in charge. Everything is on their terms. They also need to know that there is little margin for error.  Donald Trump – “Your Fired!”.
    They have to overcompensate for poor relational skills.
  • It’s your job! – Bosses are not quick to hand out compliments for people just doing their job.  I have heard managers say things to me similar to “I’m not going to hold their hand and clap for them for simply doing what is expected of them”.  There is some truth to this but people who focus on this tend to have trouble connecting with their people.
  • I am not here to be your friend! – Bosses use this excuse for not wanting or needing to connect with people.  In their eyes trust comes from outward behavior and not inward connection.

To be sure, people who have multiple BLT’s have an uphill battle ahead of them.  Some of these tactics can have an appearance of success in the short term, but lack the interpersonal value to build the kind of relational resume needed for long term and large scale success.

The Servant Leader

So what is a Servant Leader?

  • A Servant Leader believes they are on the same plain as everyone else.  They believe they have a responsibility to serve the people that work under their care.
  • A Servant Leader doesn’t need authority or a tile to gain influence.  Their influence comes from their character and credibility.  Consider Andy Taylor vs. Barney Fife (the Andy Griffith show). Barney points to his badge and gun to gain respect from others.  Andy doesn’t even wear a gun. People listen to him.  A Servant Leader has all the authority they need, but seldom needs to use it.
  • A Servant Leader doesn’t try to change people from the outside in (behavior).  They do not try to “get” people to do something. They get people to “want” to do something.  They work from the inside out by connecting.
  • A Servant Leader takes responsibility for their blunders and the teams blunders.  They resists the urge to blame others.
  • A Servant Leader is more interested in upholding a reputation of good character and integrity than looking impressive or pointing to their success to determine their value. They are transparent and approachable.
  • A Servant Leader doesn’t use flattery or false humility to put on a mask.  They are less interested in telling people what they want to hear and more interested in telling people what they need to hear in order to grow.
  • A Servant Leader understands that you have to earn the right to be heard.  “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  I know this is very over-used, but it is so true.
  • When a Servant Leader see’s abberant or irresponsible behavior they don’t automatically jump to discipline, criticism or removal.  They seek out the reason for the behavior.  They try to connect with the person to discover the cause rather than just addressing the symtom or behavior. They save many relationships and divert costly bad turnover in doing so.
  • A Servant Leader resists the urge to manage according to what feels natural and seeks out proven methods.  They look outside the box to learn what the great leaders have done. Then they do that.

So how does a Servant Leader maintain control?

  • They don’t.  Servant Leaders are not in control.  Each person is fully in control of their own choices and actions.  Unless you live in a communist country, you have the right to work for who you want to work for.  We need to remember that our employees choose to work with us, and have needs to be met in order for them to want to continue to work with us.  They can leave any time.
  • Outcomes – Servant Leaders have a much greater effect on outcomes than bosses because they influence the people around them to own their actions. Influence always trumps control.
  • Influence – Servant Leaders understand a few basic principles about the nature of all people.

1. People need to know that they are appreciated. They need to know that their ideas and opinions matter.

2. They need to know exactly what is expected of them.  They need someone to take the time and help prepare them for what they need in order to be successful.

3. They need to feel needed, and that their hard work matters and makes a difference.  People will run through walls for you if they know it counts for something bigger than the task.

Trust – Servant Leaders understand that their first responsibility is to show people that they can be trusted.  Until you gain the trust of your crew you will have very little influence on their lives.

  • Trust means not making promises they don’t intend to keep
  • Trust comes when your co-workers know that you have their best interest in mind, and you are not going to toss them onto the trash heap.
  • Trust comes from doing the right thing, in the right manor, for the right reasons.
  • Trust comes from giving someone opportunity to show their trustworthiness.
  • Servant Leaders expect the best out of people.  Many Bosses expect their employees to fall to the ground like a turkey, Leaders expect them to fly like an eagle.  They set the bar high and believe in them.
  • Servant Leaders treat people with respect, even when they disappoint. “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, they keep the value of the sinner separate from the value of the sin. They toss out the bathwater without losing the baby.

Which path?

Success or failure is largely decided by the type of leader you are.  These principles are real and true and are absolute.  The path has already been written for both types.  It’s up to us to determine if we are going to take the path of least immediate resistance that requires less change with less results, or the path that requires personal growth and leads to deeper connections and a network of trusted people in your corner which is needed for long term or large scale success.

I’ll bet you have some Boss-like qualities at times and some Servant Leadership qualities. I know I do. Chances are any success you’ve had comes from the areas you exemplify Servant Leader qualities.  Many of the failures you’ve had relationally, probably came from the Boss in you coming out.  Being a “Boss” comes more natural to most, but holds us back and keeps us from being all we can be as a leader.  It takes time, effort, and most of all self-sacrifice to get past being a Boss to become a true Servant Leader. Be prepared, there may be some self-discovery needed before you can begin to make the transition.

Something is wrong

If you are in a leadership role and you always seem to be spinning your tires, not getting anywhere, if people always end up letting you down, and you find yourself burning out, or starting over frequently, you need to know, that’s how it is suppose to be!  Ya, I said that. Just like when your knee bends in a way it was not intended to bend, it hurts!  It means you are doing something wrong, following the wrong recipe. Pain and stress are put in place to tell us when something is wrong to force us to put guardrails in place, change directions or get help. It means you have some obstacles that need to be removed, or wounds that need to be healed.  You may need someone skilled to operate on your heart and help you see what is most important and to help you find your purpose, and learn your giftedness.

I believe we all make life much more difficult than we need to sometimes.  We have Self Imposed Foolish Tendencies (SIFTs) that hold us back and keep us from progressing.  We need to put ourselves under a coach or mentor be “SIFTed” to remove these obstacles, then be open to change.

Hebrews 12:1 says ” Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

  1. People are watching and learning from you.
  2. You have SIFTs that you need to purge before you can finish the race.
  3. You need to persevere so that you can lead the way for your followers.
  4. There is a race marked out for you that you need to find, and finish.

Things have changed over the years.  In this post-modern culture, people are much more experiencial minded.  The younger generations are more relational and respond to connectedness in deeper ways than the old days. They are looking for something to be a part of, something that they can feel good about. They don’t respond the same to authority as they did when I was a kid.  This means we need to change and adjust to meet the needs of our people if we want them to take part in our mission. When we keep trying to change them, or live according to past generations, we set ourselves and all our followers up to fail.

People need people

When we are in a position of leadership we have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in peoples work experience and lives.  Every successful person can look back and see a person or two that came along side them and changed their entire perspective on what it mean to be successful.  We all need someone to show us the way, to help us get past our own Self Induced Foolish Tendencies.  We need someone who believes in us and is willing to have your back and push toward our personal best.

The Pareto Principle says that 20% of the leaders experience 80% of the success.  I promise they don’t do it by being “bossy”.

Your Many Blunders Can Raise Your Credibility

I know, it makes no sense, hang with me.  Think about a two or three people you know that have very low credibility in your eyes or in the eyes of others who know them. Let’s call this group A.  I am sure you can think of many blunders or at least one big blunder that led you to dislike them or at least question their credibility.  Chances are they have made some poor choices over time and done some things to damage people’s perception of them.  

Now think of a few people you do trust, who are generally held in high esteem by most, including yourself.  You trust these people and believe in their ability to do the right thing based on their reputation and your experience with them.  Let’s call this group B.  You may conclude that the difference between these groups would be the number and seriousness of blunders accumulated over time.  After all, we are probably tempted to point out fault with the people in group A more quickly, aren’t we? Let’s put that on hold for a minute.

Credit

In the financial world, the word “credit” is used to refer to how reliable someone is to be trusted to pay back a loan or debt. When a person makes purchases that they are not able to pay for or take responsibility for, their credit rating goes down based on a complicated formula that smart people came up with.  

In the legal world, a “credible” witness is someone who can be counted on to tell the truth under oath.  A credible witness has a history of telling the truth. The opposing attorney will often try to “discredit” the witness in order to show they cannot be trusted with responsible testimony.

We all fall short

One thing that both groups A and B have in common that I believe goes largely overlooked is that all of the people have unquestionably lived a life of many blunders and mistakes.  They all have made many foolish choices that have hurt others. We all have. No doubt some people are less responsible than others, but we have all fallen short no matter what group we fall into.  

Why is it that we tend to remember the blunders coming from the people in group A more easily than group B?

Trust

I am not a genius when it comes to banking and finances, but I know that advisors will tell you that it is good to use a credit card verses cash if you wish to build up credit (assuming you can pay if off as you go).  I think the idea is to build up a track record of being responsible with a debt you owe.  The more you borrow and pay back the more others will be willing to loan to you.  You are building trust and credibility.

Now let’s take a deeper look into group A.  If their credibility is low, chances are it has taken a hit because of their history of not being responsible for outstanding debts(wrong doing) they have acquired or because of their blunders that go unclaimed.  

Some people view mistakes or blunders as horrible acts or events that define them and make a statement about their personal worth or value.  When their mistake is pinned on them they take it very personally and their self-esteem takes a hit. They will do most anything to avoid it. 

Others, like those in group B, when they make a mistake, look at it as a learning experience and consider them necessary bumps along the road to success and growth.

We have a choice

When we make a mistake (selfish or unselfish), we have a choice of what we are going to do with that mistake.  A person in group A may tend to choose to deny responsibility, blame someone else, or run away because of their fear, or distorted perspective on what blame says about them.  

A person from group B may worry very little about what blame says about them and be quick to accept responsibility for their blunder. They realize that everyone makes mistakes and it is unrealistic to expect otherwise. When they make a mistake it puts an extra burden on someone else. They know they need to take full responsibility for their mistake because they owe it to others they have hurt.  They understand grace normally accompanies confessing fault and they understand that any relationship, if expected to be strong, will occasionally require reconciliation (a topic for another time).  

The person who runs from blame values their own “blamelessness” over relational honesty. They tend to have a wounded heart that needs to heal before they can accept responsibility for their mistakes.

The person who runs from blame values their own “blamelessness” over relational honesty.

Own it

Two of the most powerful statements any person can make are “It’s my fault” and “I am sorry”.  These are the responsible way of saying I owe it to you to make up for my mistake and I own it.  They are the words that lead to credibility.  They are music to people’s ears when they may otherwise hold a grudge if they don’t hear these words. It’s much more difficult to forgive a person who doesn’t fess up.

Much like a person who borrows and can be trusted to pay back their debt time after time is a person who can be trusted to take responsibility for their mistakes and blunders even when it happens time after time. The more blunders you take responsibility for, the more credibility you will gain. 

You will never know the depth of how much you can trust someone until you see how they handle it after they have hurt someone.

Some people are defined by their mistakes in their own eyes, but it is how they respond to their mistakes that will define them in everyone else’s eyes.