Category Archives: Leadership

Do “People Things” First


img_10981.jpg“Business would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with customers and employees.” A tired but true saying my father often muttered after coping with an unhappy customer.

“People Things” are the issues that arise out of dealing with people. “People Things” include daily interactions, but they are critical when dealing with customer
complaints, employee discontent or a colleague’s request for assistance.

Money concerns generate the most critical “People Thing “ issues. When someone says, “It’s not the money,” assuredly it’s the money. Pocketbook issues, such as payment disputes and payroll concerns, are “People Things” that need to be resolved promptly and discretely.

Because dealing with people is the most complex aspect of business, “People Things,” should be at the top of a to-do list. Such concerns are ones that cannot be put off—procrastination only worsens them.  However, decisions should not be made “on the fly.“  “People Things” require undisturbed time to focus on, understand and resolve issues and concerns.

Make the rest of the day easier by  placing “People Things” as the first priority on your daily to-do list.

How Solomon Would Choose A Candidate


SolomonIn Proverbs 6 verses 6 through 19, King Solomon wrote:

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17    haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18     a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19    a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community
.

No matter your political persuasion or party affiliation, King Solomon provides a benchmark against which a candidate can be judged.

Haughty eyes – This is Solomon’s way of describing someone who is arrogant, condescending, and full of self-pride. A wise leader is a humble leader: one who empathizes with those he or she leads, and someone who seeks out and listens to diverse opinions. In Proverbs 11 verse 2, Solomon wrote, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

A lying tongue – My father used to caution, “A man who lies to you, will steal from you.” There is no such thing as a “little lie.” A liar cannot be trusted, and does not respect those he or she lies to. Solomon also wrote, “A lying tongue, hates those it hurts.” Proverbs, 26 verse 28

Hands that shed innocent blood – It is a leader’s responsibility to care for and protect the helpless and innocent—to ensure that the use of force is justified and judicious. “It is not good to be partial to the wicked and so deprive the innocent of justice.” Proverbs 18 verse 5

A heart that devises wicked schemes – It is detestable for a leader to concoct dishonest plots in order to be elected or enriched. A wise leader cares more for those he leads, than he cares for himself or herself. Solomon also wrote, “A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 10 verse 23

Feet that are quick to rush into evil – An evil person is eager to get into all kinds of mischief—more concerned about his or her “wants” than the needs of those he or she leads. “The wicked crave evil; their neighbors get no mercy from them.” Proverbs 21 verse 10

A false witness who pours out lies – A candidate who spreads lies and rumors about his or her opponent cannot be trusted to govern fairly and wisely.   Solomon wrote, “A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.” Proverbs 19:28

A person who stirs up conflict in the community – A candidate who is willing to turn neighbor against neighbor, to divide rather than unify, is someone who is willing to forsake leadership for personal gain. Solomon got it right when he wrote, “who plots evil with deceit in his heart – he always stirs up conflict.” Proverbs 6:14

A leader who possesses attributes the antithesis of the preceding 7 things is: humble, honest, prudent, wise, discerning, fair and a unifier—Someone you may disagree with, but someone you can trust.

You Didn’t Need Me then; I Don’t Need You Now


Jobs GraphA national building supply firm decided to no longer solicit business from custom homebuilders. After the collapse of the housing market, when a salesman solicited a former customer’s business he was told, “You didn’t need me during good times and I don’t need you now.”

When I told my father our sheet metal shop was too busy to take walk-in business, he invited me to join him for a cup of coffee.

Over coffee he told of the difficulties involved in opening a business in the midst of the Great Depression: the phone not ringing; no customers coming through the door. He related how he drove around the county, looking for a job to quote; how he worried about making payroll.

He commented on the loyalty of once small, walk-in customers. How a smile and a thank you for a two-dollar order can result in thousands of dollars of business. He declared, “Every customer is precious; you never know where a relationship may lead.” Needless to say, we continued to accept walk-in customers.

During the housing boom, many building material suppliers erected signs discouraging walk-in customers: “Contractors Only,” “No Cash Customers,” “Customers Must Have a Trade Account.” The advent of the “Great Recession” resulted in many of those signs being removed, but the message, “We don’t need your business.” had been delivered. Gone was the opportunity to develop new relationships; lost was the opportunity to grow with customers; and lingering was the bitterness of rejection.

As with my father and the Great Depression, the lessons of the “Great Recession” are deeply ingrained within many business leaders. They have come to understand the relationships made during the good times, will be needed when the bad times come; and, today’s small customer, may be tomorrow’s prime account.

Tweeting and Posting


My dad told me, “Fools names and fools faces, always appear in public places.”  Advice to consider prior to tweeting or posting.

The Essential Attribute Necessary To Be A Leader


When asked about leadership, one of our nation’s greatest leaders responded:

In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore is integrity and high purpose.-Dwight D Eisenhower

A lesson our current leaders need to learn and practice!

Don’t Patronize Me!


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After a stray dog—who my dad named Brown Dog— adopted our family it became my job to make sure he was fed.  The first evening I fed the dog, I spooned the contents of a can into his dish and watched as he devoured his meal.  He appeared to still be hungry, so I refilled the bowl and again the food rapidly disappeared.  Thirty minutes later an overstuffed Brown Dog loudly deposited the undigested remains of his dinner at my dad’s feet.

My experience with Brown Dog taught me that dogs don’t possess good sense: put food in front of them and they will eat until they are ill.  There are politicians who believe the same is true of us—we are not blessed with the intelligence to recognize what is good for us.  Even worse, is the belief we are not endowed with self control to avoid unhealthy alternatives.  In other words, there are politicians who are convinced, like dogs, we need to be cared for.

During a preteen birthday party at a friend’s home, several of us snuck off into an adjacent orange grove.  When we were out of sight, the birthday boy lit a cigarette and dared us to take a “drag.”  I didn’t want to appear to be a sissy, but I was frightened—I knew “smokes” were addictive and bad for you.  I took a puff, manfully blew the smoke out and spent the rest of the day worried about becoming addicted to cigarettes.

In college I, like almost everyone, smoked—even during classes.  Several years later after completing army basic training I smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.  I was aware they were bad for me—heck we called them “coffin nails—it didn’t matter, I liked smoking.  On my son’s six-month birthday, deciding I wanted to be with him as he grew up, I quit smoking.

Even though cigarette packs didn’t carry a warning and public service announcement and obnoxious anti-smoking television ads didn’t exist, we recognized smoking was bad for you.  Why then the necessity to spend millions of dollars telling people what they already know?  Because it enforces the appearance that politicians really care about their constituents and it satisfies a patronizing need to take care of people.

Supposedly, the cost to society of caring for those who persist in continuing bad habits is the reason behind regulating behavior.  Actually, this is the rationalization for busybodies sticking their noses into other people’s business.  Give me a break—unhealthy people die young; society will care for healthy people for many more years.  I haven’t seen the studies but I have read that societal cost even up.

To avoid future generations becoming automatons looked after by a benevolent and elitist dictatorships, people, of every political stripe, should respond to attempts to limit personal freedom with“I’m not and I refuse to be treated like a dog.”

Leaders Are Not Retreaters


Annually, we would gather at a local restaurant for a holiday celebration that resembled a wake.  Over drinks, our boss would recount the terrible year coming to an end and how he believed our company would not survive another.  The current year ended in defeat and we faced the coming one with dread.

As director of marketing, I was challenged to keep our salespeople motivated.  A tough task with the fear we weren’t going to make it.  Our boss’s answer to falling sales was to retreat: lay people off and cut expenses. We were spiraling down the drain our ever-worsening level of service drove customers away.

Overwhelmed, our boss  resigned his position and took a job delivering phone books—not as much pay but a lot less stress. In contrast to our Ivy League educated former boss, his successor had only a high school education and little experience in our business.

His first day, he gathered the staff and announced we were going to upgrade our computer system.  A new computer system!  Why would you make a major investment with the company going out of business? Maybe, things were not as bad as we thought.

He presented a positive view of the future and employee morale soared, as did productivity and sales.

More important than a college diploma, he possessed a can-do attitude.  He provided hope, while setting an example of hard work and resistance to adversity.  He was a leader rather than a retreater and the company prospered under his guidance.

When the confederate army surged through a gap in the union line during the Civil War battle of Chickamauga, the northern troops and their officers panicked and ran.

General George Thomas wasn’t running.  He assembled a defense line that held long enough for the retreating army to make it to safety.  Thomas saved he Army of the Cumberland and became forever known as the “Rock of Chickamauga.”

George Thomas was a leader.  In the midst of panic he rallied his troops and held his ground.  In contrast, a retreater is prone to retreat.  At the first sign of trouble he or she gives up the fight, runs for safety. As the leader goes, so go the troops with them all hope of success.

In advance of a Japanese victory, general Douglas McArthur was ordered to flee the Philippine Islands. A pragmatist, he knew the battle was lost but he was determined to win the war.   When he arrived in Australia, he made a simple statement that rallied resistance and offered a vision for the future: “I shall return.”

Like McArthur, a leader is a realist.  He or she understands retreat is sometimes necessary; but when required, it is an organized withdrawal, giving way while maintaining morale and setting forth a vision of an ultimate success.

Even when facing failure, leaders continue to lead: presenting a positive view of the future; standing firm in the face of adversity; and offering hope.