#118: Whatever You Did for the Least of these Employees, You Did for Me

Employees come in all shapes and sizes. Employees are different. Employees have different expectations. And most importantly, employees have different needs.

Stressed Employees

Some of the managers I met over the course of my career didn’t seem to have a clue that everyone didn’t think and act the way they did. They were oblivious to the needs of the employees who worked for them.

Sadly, I was one of those kinds of managers early on in my career before I became a Christian. I was focused on what worked for me and didn’t really think too much about the employees who worked for me, or how their needs might be different than my own.

Then I ran into this passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus is teaching the disciples about what will happen in the end times. The Lord will divide nations into two groups that He referred to as goats and sheep. The sheep are referred to as righteous because they cared for the people in different ways (feeding them, giving them something to drink, clothing them, providing hospitality, caring for the sick, and even visiting those in prison (vv. 35-36)). This care for others, Jesus said, is like caring for Him, because these people are part of His family.

Some of you may be thinking, “OK, but what does this have to do with being a leader in the business world?” To that, I say, “Everything!” “Our employees ARE these people.” Yes, Jesus was teaching the disciples about ministry, but that Word today is for all of us who call ourselves children of God. If we claim to believers in Jesus Christ, then we must follow His teaching in all aspects of our lives. There is no secular life separate from our life of service to Christ.

So if you have been given the privilege of leading others, you bear a greater responsibility to also care for them.

Mark 1:31 describes a scene in which Jesus left the synagogue and journeyed to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed. Jesus went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. In this case, Jesus cared, not for one of his followers, but for someone that was important to one of his followers, his mother-in-law.

Jesus didn’t ignore her as though he was too busy and had other things to do. He stopped and helped. Jesus didn’t instruct someone else to help her, he got personally involved by going to her and helping her up.

Jesus modeled how we, as leaders, should respond to and care for our employees.

Be Sensitive to the Need

Jesus didn’t presume to be too busy or too important to help. He was a sensitive leader whose heart recognized someone who needed help.

Be a Role Model

Jesus didn’t delegate this task. He was a role model to the disciples showing them how to care for someone in need.

Be Personally Involved

Jesus personally went to the woman and took her by the hand to help her.

Be Willing to Meet the Need

Jesus was willing to meet the woman’s need. She needed healing and that is what He provided. Jesus didn’t offer her a coat, or some food, but met the need she had.

This last semester, I had a student who was engaging and bright. All of a sudden her countenance was downcast, her work lacked the polish it had previously. After class, I asked her about it, and she confessed to being in the midst of a great personal family trial. I told her to focus on doing what she could to help her family. I also offered to give her more time to redo an assignment and provide some due date grace on others.

She struggled with her family issue for a time, but knowing that I cared about her and her family gave her a peace of mind and a renewed spirit.

Sometimes all we need to do is listen and be the vehicle that provides God’s grace and reassurance. Sometimes the need is simple, sometimes it is not. Regardless, God has called us, as leaders, to care for his children, our employees.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you had a need met by an employer? As a leader, have you had an opportunity to minister to an employee? What was the result?

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: Relationships | Servant Leadership

#117: 5 Things I learned about building an organization from teaching a college class

My career in the P&G organization gave me exposure to some of the best training available, and I like to think that as trainers go I was reasonably effective, but since January, I learned you’re never too old to improve.

Organization, Class

For the past 17 weeks, I was privileged to teach a class in Sales and Sales Management at a local university. I taught the same class last year. That group of 18 students was dwarfed by this year’s class of 33.

My class this year taught me a lot about effective training and development that has direct application to how we train and develop employees.

Here are five things I learned from the class this year that will help you build your organization:

1) Size matters. One of the important objectives in my class is to have a high level of student engagement in the form of questions and discussion. Last year’s smaller class had a couple of people who tended to start discussions, and that led others into engaging. However, with the larger class, it was much more difficult to get the level of engagement I desired. Even with a couple of outgoing people, it wasn’t enough to open the discussion floodgates.

Lesson for us. If you are leading a group of people, and you really want to engage your employees in a robust discussion, do it in smaller groups. You may have to have several smaller group discussions to engage with everyone, but it will lead to far more robust discussions, and that will help you build your organization.

2) Lectures are boring. The class is three hours long. In the average class, I spent about 90 minutes in lecture time covering two chapters, with a break in-between chapters. The rest of the time is taken up with a quiz and case discussion.  As brilliant as I am as a lecturer, covering the same material as they read in the textbook, led some students to disengage. The one thing students did appreciate was stories and examples from real life that underscored and reinforced the teaching.

Lesson for us. People don’t learn when they are bored. If you are leading a training session in your organization don’t be boringly repetitive like I was. Make your lecture time stand apart and reinforce the learning. Tell stories or give real-life examples to bring the academic to life.

3) Practice is fun. The feedback from the class indicated that some of the most helpful times were when we conducted role-playing exercises designed to put into practice some aspect of the teaching. The entire class would observe as students took turns in a role play. That brought real meaning to the teaching; they suddenly had to do what they had read in the textbook. There is a big difference between reading about handling buyer objections and actually doing it!

Lesson for us. If your training involves an action you want employees to learn, then find a way to let them practice. Even though it is just a role-play people will learn far more from practicing. I’m going to add a lot more role-play practice into my class next year.

4) Some people are more determined to succeed than others. The first night of class I asked every student to fill out a card with some basic information including what grade they hoped to achieve in the class. Part of my job as their instructor is to help them achieve their goal. Not surprising the vast majority of students hoped to earn an “A”. Not everyone achieved their goal grade.

Lesson for us. In every organization, there are employees who will step-up and do what it takes to succeed, to achieve their goals. The hard truth is as much as some employees want to climb the ladder, they aren’t willing to do what it takes to earn it. As a leader, the best thing you can do is help people find work opportunities where their passions will help them reach the level of success they deserve.

5) Be sensitive to special situations. Several members of the class were faced with very difficult personal situations over the course of the semester. Some were athletes in the midst of challenging competitions. Some were involved in other activities that helped them grow as individuals and leaders in their field. The point is people have a lot on their plates, and yes, you could be hard-nosed about your company and your work being more important than anything else. But really, what will you gain by being a jerk, versus what will you gain by supporting people who are dealing with personal difficulties encouraging? What will you gain by encouraging people to develop personally and professionally?

Lesson for us. In a group of any size, there are bound to be issues that affect some employee’s personal performance. Be sensitive to their needs. Be understanding and help an employee through a difficult time. Encourage them to grow and develop. The end result will be better, more loyal employees.

Join the conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of these five lessons resonates with you? What advice do you have to increase the effectiveness of training?

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 | Human Resource Development

#116: 4 Types of People to Watch Out for in a Crisis

Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except, death and taxes.” With all due respect to Ben, I would add “crisis” to that list of things we can be certain of at some point in our lives.


We are at our most vulnerable when in the midst of a crisis.  We are prone to denial, indecisiveness, procrastination, and a host of other physiological, psychological, and spiritual issues.

It is precisely at this time when we are in the midst of crisis, that we need to be on the lookout for those who would attempt to use our problems for their own selfish gain.

In my study of 2 Samuel 16, I ran across four different types of characters who took advantage of King David when he was in the midst of a crisis, and I realized that I’ve run across all four in my business career. My bet is that they will look familiar to you as well.

Set the Scene

David’s son, Absalom, decided he wanted to be king. He started gathering followers and gained enough strength to challenge David’s army. David, in fear of Absalom, fled the city with his people journeying toward the wilderness.

Character #1 – The Opportunist

Ziba, who was the servant of Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son), met David in the wilderness with some food and wine. He told David that Mephibosheth stayed in Jerusalem in hopes of restoring his grandfather, Saul’s, kingdom. Ziba was trying to take advantage of the situation David was in, and it worked. David turned all of Mephibosheth’s property over to Ziba.

Lesson for Us. David should have suspected Ziba. After all, David is the one who restored Mephibosheth, cared, protected, and provided for him. David’s decision was based on Ziba’s word alone, with no assurance that Ziba had told him the truth. Look out for the opportunists.

Character #2 – The Blamer

Shimei, a man from the house of Saul, met David in the city of Bahurim. Shimei blamed David for the destruction of Saul’s family and the nation of Israel.  He was upset because he had lost status when Saul’s family fell out of power, and he blamed David for it.

Lesson for Us. Don’t be surprised in the middle of your crisis if someone from the past steps forward to blame you for something that happened to him or her. They may call you names, lie about you, or disparage your credibility. Be ready for the blamers.

Character #3 – The Avenger

When Shimei confronted David, Abishai’s response was to ask David for permission to cut off Shimei’s head. He wanted to avenge David’s honor right then and there, and he wanted to take drastic action. David wisely said no, not wanting to act impulsively, he thought perhaps the Lord had told Shimei to confront him.

Lesson for Us. There may be those that stand beside us in times of crisis who will come to our defense. That’s admirable, but we need to make sure that any action we take is not taken out of revenge. Be temperate and thoughtful when making decisions in the midst of a crisis.

Character #4 – The Traitor

Ahithophel had been David’s trusted counselor.  But as Absalom gained power Ahithophel turned traitor when he joined Absalom as his counselor. Then he plotted to help Ahithophel destroy David.

Lesson for Us.  There may be those who are with you right up until the crisis erupts. They may desert you thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fight. Be mindful of trusted friends and counselors who may be tempted to defect and leave you in the dust.

Like death and taxes, a crisis is bound to be part of our life journey. There’s not much you can do about them. Try as you might you can’t prevent them all. So when a crisis comes your way watch out for the opportunist, the blamer, the avenger, and the traitor.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you suffered through a personal or business crisis in which you had to deal with an opportunist, an avenger, a blamer, or a traitor?

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 | Self-discipline


#115: 12 Ways to Create and Enjoy Success in the Workplace

It’s nice to be successful. We want to be successful. We want to be married to successful spouses. We want our children to be successful.

Success Workplace

I’ve never met a teenager who said, “Yeah, 15 years from now I see myself huddled under a freeway overpass in worn-out clothes, freezing in the winter rain, using drugs, and waiting for the soup kitchen to open.”

Read the newspaper or watch TV news and you’ll hear about people who seem to be successful. They have money, power, and prestige yet they’re in the throes of depression being admitted to drug rehab centers or worse, being carried to their final resting place, dead at their own hands.

If people with money, power, and prestige aren’t successful then who is? So why is it that so many people who have achieved worldly success seem to be the least satisfied? Solomon was the richest man on earth. He built not just buildings but whole cities. He possessed great wisdom. World leaders came and fell at his feet marveling at his great wealth and wisdom. To the world, he surely seemed successful, yet he said, “when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Eccl. 2:11).

What’s missing in the equation if wealth, favor, and eminence don’t guarantee happiness, joy, or even contentment? Jesus himself taught the disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). He went on to say, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

The reason we work is more important than the work itself. If we work for earthly treasure we receive an earthly reward. This doesn’t mean we aren’t to work hard, but that we should not work simply for the sake of amassing things.

Real success comes from a combination of planning, hard work, and a close relationship to God. Here are twelve steps to help you become successful in a way that will also provide lasting satisfaction.

Steps to Success

  1. Begin and end every workday with God in your heart. Remember that whatever great things you accomplish on earth it is because He has gifted you.
  2. Focus on a vision. Success begins in the mind. Develop a vision for your life. Spend some time figuring out what special skills you possess. Those special skills can be used by God to accomplish great things for Him.
  3. Define your purpose or mission. Once your vision is established you need to develop a framework which will guide you as you achieve your vision. Your purpose statement should include a set of operating principles and values that help define you as an individual.
  4. Set and measure your own goals. Once you have established a personal vision and constructed a framework of guiding values in a mission statement you need to set goals. Establish long-term goals that will lead to the accomplishment of your vision. Set short-term goals that will accomplish your long-term goals.
  5. Think constructively. No great accomplishment in life comes easily. There will be times that you think the light at the other end of the tunnel is just another train approaching.
  6. Keep the vision in mind. Every day you make choices about what you will do. Those choices determine whether you will move closer to achieving your vision.
  7. Reward and discipline yourself. Some people reward themselves whenever they do something well (cheerleader types). Others punish themselves whenever they do the least little thing wrong (perfectionist types). Strive to create balance in your life; reward yourself when you accomplish something meaningful and hold yourself accountable for missing important goals.
  8. Create energy for success by staying physically fit. Fitness creates energy reserves to combat the effects of long work days and stress. Also, God created us to rest one day in seven and to take vacations from work to rest our minds and our bodies.
  9. Develop, protect, and maintain your integrity. Personal integrity is the foundation upon which others base their trust in you. Maintain your integrity and people will trust you first with small things and then with big things. It takes years to build a reputation of integrity but only seconds to lose it.
  10. Learn from adversity and failure. As busy as we all are we just don’t have time to make all the mistakes ourselves, and we certainly don’t have time to make the same mistakes over and over again.
  11. Motivate yourself. The world is full of people who have failed and are ready to provide you with plenty of reasons why what you want to do can’t be done. Learn not to listen to such naysayers and to motivate yourself.
  12. Develop your skill set. For every second that passes man’s knowledge increases. You need to set out on a formal program to develop your skills as well as prepare yourself for future skill needs. If you don’t in a few years you’ll be as useful as a mimeograph machine in a world of high-speed internet.

One Final Thought about Success

There are lots of ways to lose in business and in life. There are lots of ways to win and not feel satisfied. True success comes from fulfilling God’s plan for your life. What are you waiting for? Get started today!

Bonus Whitepaper

This month’s bonus whitepaper entitled “12 Ways to Create and Enjoy Success in the Workplace” contains a broader discussion of each of the twelve ways to create success mentioned in this blog, plus 10 Rules for Losing by the president of Coca-Cola. You may download this month’s bonus whitepaper as a pdf here:

12 Ways to Create and Enjoy Success in the Workplace

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever been this kind of leader? In what way? Have you worked for this kind of leader?  How did you respond? What was the result?

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 | Character