Gail and I have attended a Women of Faith Conference every year for the last ten years. That may sound strange since I am a man but stay with me!
Women of Faith is owned by Thomas Nelson. Most of the speakers at the conference are Thomas Nelson authors. So as the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, I had a business reason to attend. (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)
When I started out in my career, the key to success was having the right answers. If the boss had a question, he expected me to have the answer—or know where to get it. Those who advanced in their careers the quickest were seemingly the ones who had the most answers.
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But as I began to ascend the corporate ladder, I discovered that the key to success began to shift. It became less and less about having the right answers and more and more about having the right questions.
If I asked you your “magic number,” chances are you would look at me and wonder what I really meant. Magic number? Is that like a lucky number?
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If, however, I asked for your hoped-for retirement age, I bet a number would quickly pop into your mind. Was it fifty-five, sixty, or sixty-five?
Everyone wants to be a leader. However, few are prepared to accept the accountability that goes with it. But you can’t have one without the other. They are two sides of the same coin.
President Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here”
But what does accountability look like?
Several months ago, my wife, Gail, and I attended an industry mixer at a conference we were attending. Almost immediately, I was cornered by an author who proceeded to complain about all the incompetent people in his life.
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He grumbled about his literary agent, his booking agent, and his publisher. No one, it seems, measured up to his standards. I tried to change the subject, but he persisted.
Have you ever heard—or asked—questions like these at work? “Who dropped the ball?” “Why can’t that department do its job right?” “When will we find good people?”
These questions lead us into the dangerous traps of blame, victim thinking, and procrastination—ones that leaders work hard to avoid while on the job.
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But what if the person asking these questions was also a parent and later returned to their family, asking: “Who made the mess in here?” “Why won’t he ever listen to me?” “When will my spouse help out more?”
When you’re in charge, it’s easy to get accustomed to having the people follow your wisdom simply because you’re the leader.
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But when was the last time you took a real risk, putting yourself out there with the possibility of failure? Have we become so used to leading that we’ve forgotten what it took to get us there?
The YMCA has a mission: to improve lives by strengthening spirit, mind and body. Coca Cola has a mission: to refresh the world. Star Trek even had a mission: to boldly go where no man has gone before!
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What about you and me? Could we do with mission statement for our marriages? Yes, and here’s why: Many of us enter into marriage somewhat blindly.
As believers, we recognize the value of imitating Jesus and His leadership style. But if we really think about it, it’s strange that we try to emulate a leader who never developed an organization, regularly encouraged people to stop following Him, and ultimately saw His death as the pinnacle of His accomplishments.
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What kind of perspective must a leader have to place high value on these kinds of strategies? Jesus was not a manager. His primary role was to function as a spiritual leader.
Last year was crazy. In six months, I received a publishing contract, started speaking for live audiences, and launched a writing career—all without having to quit my day job. How did it happen? I built a platform. But what does that mean?
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If you want to find and lead your “tribe,” you are going to have to be intentional about the process. The first place to start is with building relationships. I’ve cultivated three important habits that have helped me do this.
It doesn’t matter whether your office is a boardroom, classroom, or laundry room. There are people who do things for you every day. Employees, colleagues, and family are expected to do their part. Do they know that you appreciate them?
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It was a typical Monday, and I was about to churn out a business-like email to my husband. Have you heard back from the tax guy? Don’t forget the teacher-parent conference on Thursday. Oh, and the neighbors are irritated because you put the recycle bin out on the wrong day.
In the middle of composing this gem of gentle reminders, a terrible realization came over me: I send a similar email to my husband every Monday. Imagine his excitement when my name appears in his inbox! I began to wonder. Does he know how much I appreciate him?