#110: 8 Steps to Create Your Barrier Busting Enabled Organization

An executive is a coach when he or she goes beyond “telling” and actually demonstrates a skill. In basketball, a player often has better skill sets than the coach, but the coach can demonstrate how to improve. It is the same in business. A manager may not be the best salesperson, but they can show someone how to improve.

Nehemiah Enabler, Organization

But wouldn’t it be great if the manager didn’t have the burden of coaching the entire organization? The secret is to become an “enabler.” An enabler creates an army of employees who teach and coach each other.

If you create an environment where each individual takes charge of not only their own skill improvement but also teaches and coaches others then you are an enabler.

Nehemiah the Enabler

The one thing business does not need is another empty program promising miraculous results. But becoming an executive enabler and creating an enabled organization is truly worth the effort. One great example of the power of enabling is found in the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.

Ezra led a remnant of people back to Jerusalem and they began rebuilding the city. But twelve years later they had still not rebuilt the city walls, and the people were under constant threat from marauders. Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem and left his comfy job working for King Artaxerxes to take over the Jerusalem project. Under his leadership, the city walls were rebuilt in only 52 days.

Nehemiah was extremely effective because he was a man of God, an outstanding leader, a good supervisor, and an enabler. Here are some of the characteristics of an enabler that Nehemiah exhibited:

Remove Barriers

Nehemiah recognized that change is difficult and that men could find many excuses not to finish the work. So before he ever left for Jerusalem he developed a plan. He thought about the work that needed to be done, and the materials required to complete the work.

Once the basic plan was in place and building materials secured, Nehemiah went to Jerusalem and spent three days surveying the city. He personally rode around the entire city to understand firsthand the work to be done. Then and only then did he assemble the city fathers for a heart-to-heart chat. He discussed his vision for Jerusalem; “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come and let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (Neh. 2:17).

The city fathers were so excited about the plan that they immediately agreed to begin rebuilding the city walls.

Empower the Workers

Nehemiah was faced with an enormous project. He did not have the luxury of having a full-time staff of trained wall builders and gate hangers at his disposal. He didn’t have an army that he could commandeer. Nor did he have thousands of slave laborers. Nehemiah had to get the job of building the city walls, and hanging the city gates done with the ordinary citizens who lived there.

He began by enlisting everyone in the city to become involved in the building project. He had goldsmiths, priests, perfume makers, guards, and merchants among the people working on the walls. Women worked next to men. Community leaders worked alongside servants.

Each person was given a specific job; a section of wall, or a specific gate to work on, and they were left to get the job done on their own.

Encourage Risk Taking

Any truly important result carries with it some element of risk. In rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem the people faced opposition from several neighboring cities who conspired to stop the rebuilding.

When Nehemiah found out about the threats he posted guards but kept the people working; “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, ‘Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and workmen by day.’ Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water” (Neh. 4:16-18, 21-23).

People may be averse to taking risks but risk can be evaluated, controlled, and encouraged.

Leverage Diversity

With only a few workers skilled at building walls and hanging gates Nehemiah had to utilize all the labor resources available to him. Priests worked next to merchants and city leaders. People from other towns worked next to the people of Jerusalem. No one who had a heart for the work was kept from helping because of their background, lack of experience, or their place of birth.

Provide Autonomy

While the wall was being built we never read about Nehemiah micro-managing the project. Neither do we read about an army of supervisors running around checking everyone’s work. People had the assignment of rebuilding the wall in front of their own home, and they did so with great care. Nowhere is there a report that their work had to be redone because it didn’t meet quality standards.

Motivate & Inspire

Every day Nehemiah walked the walls watching the work being done. No doubt he encouraged the people as he went. Eliashib, the high priest, set an example by working with his priests rebuilding the Sheep Gate (Neh. 3:1). Workers who see their leaders standing next to them in their labors rather than seeking the comfort of a shady tree will be motivated to work harder.

Reward & Recognize

Following the establishment of a government, the people rededicated the city and themselves to God. Then, at Nehemiah’s command they celebrated; “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to the Lord” (Neh. 8:10).

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to provide recognition for a job well done. Employee surveys continue to reflect people’s desire for recognition and rewards that are administered fairly and recognize work of exceptional quality.

Encourage Followership

It is interesting that Nehemiah had city leaders working on the wall doing the same work as the merchant. Nowhere in this account do we find these leaders complaining about the work they were asked to complete. Neither do we read about the common man complaining about long hours and poor working conditions. People simply went about doing the work they were assigned.

The ability to follow direction and to be a reliable, trustworthy worker is a skill to be honored not one to be looked down upon as subservient.

One Final Thought

Nehemiah was a man of prayer. He prayed for the people in Jerusalem (1:5-11), for success with King Artaxerxes (1:4), when people opposed the building (4:4-5), and for strength (6:9). Several times he prayed that God would remember him for the work he had done.

Nehemiah’s objective in rebuilding the city walls and gates was not to create an empire for himself or to create great personal wealth. His motive throughout this work was to serve God. Nehemiah’s example of selflessness and willing service to God is important for us today. In the rush to develop earth shaking new products that will catapult our companies into global prominence we should pause and reflect.

Consider the example of Nehemiah who cared greatly for God’s people. He left a great job serving a king to live in a ruined city among the remnant of Judah. He faced opposition from outsiders, he dealt with laborers unskilled in their work, and people who made slaves out of their countrymen.

All this he did hoping only to please God. Ask yourself, “What motive is driving my work?”

Bonus Whitepaper

8 Steps to Creating a Barrier Busting Enabled Organization is an excerpt from The Executive Enabler–Enabling Organizations Increases Productivity. This 12-page bonus whitepaper includes much more in-depth content including:

  • Who Should Coach
  • Barriers to Learning
  • Coaching versus Enabling
  • Nehemiah the Enabler
  • Getting Started – 8 Steps to Enabling Your Organization
  • Words to Ponder
  • Cases in Real Life
  • Meeting Notes to Create an Enabled Organization
  • Action Keys for the Executive Enabler

You can download this valuable resource here:

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! Have you worked in an “enabled” organization. Have you led an “enabled” organization? How did that experience compare to typical organizations?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Situational Leadership

#109: Will You Answer God When He Calls You to Lead?

OK, I’ll admit it. I screen my calls using the caller ID. When the caller ID says “Private” I’m like, “No way! Maybe when sergeant calls, and of course if an officer calls, but private, nope, no way am I answering the phone.”

God Calls

I bet, even though the conversation in your head might be different, that you do the same thing!

When I was a younger man, I answered the phone every time hoping it would be the boss asking me to take on some special assignment. As I grew a little older (and somewhat wiser), I realized that some of those phone calls were assignments that weren’t really all that special. Other assignments were things I wasn’t qualified to do, but my larger than life ego made me say ‘yes.’ In both cases, these were assignments I should have said ‘no’ to!

But what happens when God calls? I hate (really hate) to admit it, but there have been times when I treated God’s call like the caller ID said ‘private.’ Oh sure, I had my excuses. There is the selfish excuse: “God, thanks for thinking of me, but I am pretty busy doing my stuff right now.” There is the deflection excuse: “God, I think Mike over there would do a better job for you than me.” There is the delay excuse: “God, I’m just not quite ready yet.” But the truth is, all of these excuses of mine could be summed up in, “God, I’m afraid.”

If you’ve read the Bible or listened to a few sermons, you’ve probably heard about someone that God called, who was either reluctant or downright fearful, to answer God’s call. It’s good to know that we are not alone!

One of my favorite Bible characters is Jeremiah. There are a lot of reasons I like Jeremiah, but one reason is that like me, Jeremiah was reluctant to answer God’s call, but God used him anyway!

Jeremiah’s Back-story

Jeremiah lived during a very difficult time in Judah’s history. King Manasseh was the most evil king who had ruled over Judah. He had caused the people to reject God, and worship idols, to the point that God said they were worse than the people God had destroyed to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land!

When Manasseh died his son, Amon became king and he was worse than his father. He went so far as to make idol worship the official religion of Judah! Thankfully, Amon ruled only two years when his son, Josiah, became king. Josiah tried to turn things around by renewing the people’s covenant with God. He ordered the idols removed, the temple to be repaired, and worship of God to be resumed. The people made outward changes, but their hearts remained hard. And that’s when God called upon Jeremiah!

Jeremiah’s Call from God

Jeremiah records God’s words when God called Him to lead the nation as his prophet:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5

 Now here comes Jeremiah’s excuses:

“Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” Jeremiah 1:6

But, God’s not buying these excuses:

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:7-10

 Lessons for Us from God’s Call to Jeremiah

  1. God is God, and we’re not! Let’s not forget, God is our creator. God knew us before He even formed us in the womb!
  2. God set us apart. Before we were even born God set us apart. That phrase ‘set apart’ means to be holy, in service to God.
  3. God appointed a work for us to do. God has a specific plan of service that he has appointed to each of His children.
  4. God is not put off by our perceived weaknesses. Our perceived weaknesses, whatever they may be, are not a deal breaker to God (see point 1).
  5. God’s direction is specific. God has a specific plan in mind for the work we are called to do.
  6. God equips where God leads. God equips us to do whatever work He has called us to do—whether we believe it or not!
  7. God is with us always. God does not ask us to do the work alone—he is always with us, and because of His presence we need not be afraid.

Whatever work God has called us to do, rest assured that He called us because He knows everything about us. He created us, and He is more than capable of determining what we can do. God will equip us to do whatever He has called us to do! With God at our side, there is no reason to be afraid, success is assured.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! Have you been reluctant to answer God’s call on your life? What happened when you finally answered?

#108: What One Thing are 99.2% of Leaders Doing to Hurt Results?

It’s hard to believe, but a study by the Management Research Group concluded that a whopping 99.23% of leaders are not able to effectively balance the need for achievement and caring in their organizations.

Being focused on results without regard for people may have worked in the past, but more and more data suggests this leadership style does not work with millennials. A Forbes article points out with the percentage of millennials in the workforce growing every year, approaching 40% by 2020, this is an issue.

  • 64% of millennials say it’s a priority to make the world a better place.
  • 79% say they want a boss that acts like a coach or mentor.
  • 88% say they prefer a collaborative work environment.
  • 88% say they want work-life integration.

Don’t get me wrong, every business needs to drive results that generate profits to exist. The issue here is, “How can we manage our organizations so that we deliver the profit we need while meeting the needs of our employees?”

A study by the Society for Human Resource Management noting the top five influences of employee job satisfaction provides some clues:

  • 63% are satisfied with opportunities to use their skills/abilities
  • 61% are satisfied with their job security
  • 60% are satisfied with the compensation
  • 57% are satisfied with communication between employees and management
  • 54% are satisfied with their relationship with their immediate supervisor

Summarizing the Surveys

Millennials want a collaborative work environment where, ideally, their work and their life are integrated in a way that benefits society. Their preferred relationship with management is less dictator and more mentor/coach.

There is a large portion of the workforce that are clearly not satisfied in their jobs: 47% feel they don’t have an opportunity to use their skills, 39% feel their jobs are not secure, 40% have issues with compensation, 43% feel improved communication between employees and management is needed, and 46% feel their relationship with their immediate manager is not as good as it could be.

Course of Action to Improve Results

Imagine if we created a work environment that was collaborative, where employees felt that their work mattered, that they were contributing to a greater good, and where their boss was an encourager, a mentor, a coach that helped enable them to be the best they could be?

Do you think that kind of environment would raise the numbers of employees who had high levels of job satisfaction? Do you think productivity would improve? Would turnover decrease?

My bet is that in the right kind of work environment, where people love what they do and feel valued, productivity would skyrocket, avoidable turnover would drop to nothing, and profits would climb!

The Platinum Rule of Leading

Jesus, teaching the disciples said, Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Actually, I think this is just the starting point for how we should treat those in our organizations.

We should strive to treat God’s children, the way God would treat them if He were standing in our place. Jesus said, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).

What kind of breakthrough might be in store for us if we began leading the way we would want to be led?  And then, what change might we see in this world if we indeed we managed to love one another in a way that reflected Christ’s love for us?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome! What stands out about these two surveys to you? In your experience, how well do you think leaders are doing at leading in a way that maximizes employee job satisfaction? Do you think job satisfaction would increase if more leaders reflected Christ’s love for His children?

 

Category: Relationships | Power and Influence

#107: Three Key Pieces of Advice When Transferring the Mantle of Leadership

The time has come. You have selected and groomed your replacement, and now it is time for you to step aside and let them take your place. It’s hard I know, but it has to be done.

Eagle Soaring, Advice

Or perhaps your young son or daughter is about to leave home and strike out on their own. It is time for the baby birds to leave the nest.

What do you say? What words of encouragement will drip like honey from your tongue? What wisdom will you provide that will equip them to take on life’s adventures?

We all face such times. It may be the employee ready to take your place as the leader of the organization, or the child ready to take on the role of an adult. What do you say, that will really make a difference?

David dealt with this exact issue and has provided a wonderful example of what to say.

David was approaching the end of his life after reigning as king for 40 years. He had accomplished a great deal. David conquered their enemies, united the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, brought organization to the united kingdom, and set aside materials sufficient for the building of the temple.

Solomon grew up watching and learning from his father. Now it was his turn to assume the throne. As David prepared to die he offered these last words to his son:

2  “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, 3  and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, 4  and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’ 5  “Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me–what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. 6  Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his gray head go down to the grave in peace. 7  “But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom. 8  “And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: ‘I will not put you to death by the sword.’ 9  But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” 1 Kings 2:2-9 (NIV)

 

David’s advice to Solomon came in three parts: leadership advice, spiritual advice, and political advice.

1) Leadership Advice

David tells Solomon to be strong and show yourself a man. David knew Solomon would face many difficult decisions as ruler, so his first piece of advice is to be strong and courageous, by doing what God requires of you as a leader.

Lesson for us. We must be strong men and women, not afraid to stand up for what is right and oppose what is wrong. There will always be those who oppose God and His righteousness, so God’s children must always be strong and courageous, and faithful to Him.

2) Spiritual Advice

David tells Solomon to follow God and to keep all of God’s law. Specifically, David mentions God’s decrees, commandments, laws, and requirements. Each of these relates to specific aspects of the Mosaic Law and in effect, David is telling Solomon to be careful to follow ALL of God’s law. The result, says David, is that God will honor His covenant to maintain one of their descendants on the throne of Israel.

Lesson for us. We must be faithful to God and follow Him. To do that we need to know what God requires of us. The best way to know that is to know and understand what God teaches us in His Word.

3) Political Advice

Finally, David gives Solomon some political advice knowing that Solomon would continue to face political enemies. He tells him to rule with justice. Enemies were to be dealt with, and friends were to be rewarded for their loyalty. But in all these dealings, David encourages Solomon telling him he is wise, and to trust in his wisdom as he deals with people in the Kingdom.

Lesson for us. Justice must be established throughout our society. Without justice, we face anarchy, lawlessness, violence, and immorality. Wisdom is needed to execute justice and God is the source and provider of all wisdom (James 1:5).

Whether transferring the mantle of corporate leadership, or sending our children off into the world, we need to be strong, courageous men and women of God, who follow Him faithfully, and seek to be wise and just as we set an example for others to follow.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What have you told young people as they assumed the mantle of leadership? What were you told that made a difference in your life?

 

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

#106: 5 Biblical Steps to Surviving Killer Stress in Your Life

Hey, brother! Have you been downsized, reorganized, re-engineered, and restructured? Are you being asked to make more widgets than ever before with fewer labor hours and no capital to upgrade your plant? Are you being asked to sell more widgets with fewer salespeople and less marketing money while improving your customer service scores? You are? Welcome to business in the new millennium. You ain’t seen nothing yet!

Stress - Make Straight Your Paths

Change is upon us folks and the pace of change is increasing logarithmically. The one certain thing that change brings is stress. The more change, the more stress. There are three kinds of people when it comes to dealing with stress. There are those that love it, the more the better. There are those that deal with it, a certain amount keeps them motivated and focused. And there are those that don’t want any, they run from it as fast as their little legs will carry them.

Most of us fall into the second group; we deal with it. A certain amount of stress in our lives is actually good for us, it keeps us motivated and focused. It keeps us working toward our goals. Without this stress, we would soon be bored. Too much stress, however, can cause us to get downright cranky. Prolong this high level of stress and we lose productivity, and relationships at work and at home suffer. People who have suffered under too much stress for long periods are often referred to as “burnouts.”

If change brings stress, and the pace of change is increasing, then it stands to reason that we had better figure out how to deal with stress effectively or we’ll end up in corporate scrap heaps for sure.

Moses and Stress

Some people assume that if you are a good Christian, then you won’t be troubled by stress; everything will roll off your back like water off of a duck. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible describes dozens of people under stress, but Moses is one of my favorites.

Moses is leading the nation Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Imagine being in charge of 2,000,000 people on a march through the desert!

Despite all the things God had done to take care of His people, it wasn’t long before they were whining about their diet and all the hardships they had to endure. Moses bore the burden as long as he could, but he finally went to God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now – if I have found favor in yours – and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:11-15).

Can’t you almost hear Moses, “Lord, I didn’t ask for this job. Why are you doing this to me? I don’t even like these people! Don’t you like me Lord? I’d rather die than keep listening to these whining people!” Talk about stress!

Fortunately for Moses, he had a smart father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro saw that all 2,000,000 people who had problems could come to Moses for answers. Moses sat all day long listening to every little dispute among the people. That is certainly a recipe for stress! Jethro told Moses, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18).

Jethro hit Moses right in the face; “You’re going to kill yourself if you keep this up!”

Jethro continued, “Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Exodus. 18:19-23).

Notice Jethro’s advice about the people Moses was to appoint. He identified five important characteristics for these assistants; able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain, men who are leaders, and men who are discerning enough to judge.

One of the biggest reasons we have stress is we don’t utilize our resources well. Moses had lots of talented people capable of helping in the work but he wasn’t utilizing them. He hadn’t learned how to say “No,” the importance of training others, or how to delegate.

Does this sound like your story?

Overcoming Stress

We have already discussed stress is often a matter of perception. How can we keep our perspective so that we minimize the effect of stress in our lives?

Proverbs 3:5-8 provides some insight, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”

Notice the five action steps involved in these verses:

1) We are instructed to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. That’s complete trust. It doesn’t mean you’ll trust God with the little things, it means everything!

2) We are not to lean on our own understanding. How many times have you thought God wasn’t acting fast enough so you took matters into your own hands?

3) In all ways, we are to acknowledge God. That means we are to recognize God in everything. God is never apart from us.

4) We are not to get cocky, thinking that we are wise and can handle everything.

5) We are to shun evil. Avoid evil, or even appearance of evil. In other words don’t compromise your integrity.

These five action steps are our part. We are to trust in God, not lean on our own understanding, acknowledge God in all things, not think we are too wise to need God, and avoid all forms of evil.

If we do our part, God’s promises are that He will make our paths straight, and bring health to our bodies. If it’s true that stress results in many of our physical maladies then removing stress through God’s promises will surely bring about healthier physical, emotional, and spiritual people!

Bonus Whitepaper

5 Steps to Surviving Killer Stress in Your Life is an excerpt from Keeping Your Balance–Keys to Surviving Stress in Your Work Life. This 12-page bonus whitepaper includes much more in-depth content including:

  • The top ten sources of job stress
  • Common symptoms of stress
  • 6 Steps you can take to manage stress in your life starting today!
  • Words to Ponder – a collection quotes and Biblical passages about stress
  • A real life case study that examines 7 important things to know about managing organizational stress
  • Meetings Notes – a guide to help you understand the cause and effect of stress in your organization
  • Stress Busters – an 18-point stress buster plan from Dr. Martin Brenner

You can download this valuable resource here:

Bonus Whitepaper — Keeping Your Balance–Keys to Surviving Stress in Your Work Life 

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! Have you worked in a position where the stress became detrimental to you or the people you work with? What affect did it have on you/others? How did you manage through the situation?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Stress Management