• Books I have read in 2010: 1

    Good to Great

First Who…Then What

Debb and I met today to discuss the next chapter in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great.  I really enjoyed reading the “First Who…Then What” chapter and actually found that I needed to be a little persuaded by Collins as he presented this idea. 

The idea behind this chapter is that if you have the “right people on the bus” you can more easily establish the vision of your organization and because you have the right type of people they will be fine with whatever direction you head.  My first reaction was that the right vision would attract the right people, but my thinking is slightly flawed in that if your organization has to change directions or adjust then those right people might become the wrong people. 

My thought process was also impacted by the fact that here at Dare 2 Share, for the last 12-18 months, we have put alot of energy into our mission and vision.  The recently, due to unfortunate circumstances related to a difficult economy, we had to lay 5 people off.  A very difficult experience this past year.  Since we were recently coming off of the lay-off which came after such a long process of establishing vision my experience was inverted compared to Jim Collins’ advice.

Collins also discussed how to be rigorous in determining getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) as well as making sure that the people on the bus are in the right seats.  He offers up the following 3 Practical Disciplines:

  1. When in doubt, don’t hire.  Keep looking
  2. When you know you need to make a people change, act.
  3. Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.

APPLICATION: In processing this chapter and these final 3 Practical Disciplines I immediately began to think of what this would look like for the Sales Team at Dare 2 Share.

  • We have a very rigorous hiring process in place at Dare 2 Share, especially for the Sales Team.  This reinforces for me that it is much more important to hire the right people to begin with and to put a continued emphasis on character, work ethic, values, and basic intelligence than educational background or experience.
  • I struggle with the second principle in that I have been able to identify people that have been the wrong people on the bus, but being in a ministry lends itself to more grace and a strong desire to give people the benefit of the doubt.  The principle is easy to understand but difficult to put into practice, but acting sooner than later in this instance should prevail.
  • The third and final principle is one that I am most excited about as I am going to have the opportunity to implement it in the next few months.  With the recent lay-offs we are understaffed.  We also have some changes in our conference schedule for next year.  Those two factors will contribute to needing to reassign some of my staff to different assignments.  This principle will now be the first filter I put my ideas through in making those assignments.  I will be sure to post my conclusions as those decisions are made in the next 8-12 weeks.

Level 5 Leadership

I read Good to Great by Jim Collins a week or so ago and I am really enjoying diving in and wrestling through the principles.  It may be the most challenging leadership and business book I have read so far as there is a lot of meat and data to chew on.  I am meeting weekly with my boss and mentor, Debbie, to discuss these principles.

Level 5 Leadership can be summed up as leadership that balances both humility and ambition.  Level 5 Leaders have the resolve to make extremely radical decisions and stand behind them no matter what others might say.  Ultimately those decisions lead to great success for the organization first, the leader second (although the leader would deflect this success to those around him/her and at best classify there good fortune as luck).  Collins actually provides a graph that provides the Level 5 Hierarchy (pg 20):

LEVEL 5 – LEVEL 5 EXECUTIVE: Builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
LEVEL 4 – EFFECTIVE LEADER: Catalyzes commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision, stimulating higher performance standards.
LEVEL 3 – COMPETENT MANAGER: Organizes people and resources toward the effective and effecient pursuit of predetermined objectives.
LEVEL 2 – CONTRIBUTING TEAM MEMBER: Contributes individual capabilities to the achievement of group objectives and works effectively with others in a group setting.
LEVEL 1 – HIGHLY CAPABLE INDIVIDUAL: Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

If I had to provide a fair assesment of where I am at currently I would have to put myself at Level 3, with occasional flashes of what it could look like if I were able to attain Level 4 and/or 5.  Level 5 is certainly the bar I have set for myself.  Without it I will be unable to accomplish my personal goals in life. 

I am reminded of and motivated by Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)

 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Level 5 Leadership is the standard that Collins and his team measured corporate leaders against and I have to agree with their assessment.  I am eager to process through the remaining principles in Good to Great as I believe the application of those principles will contribute to becoming a Level 5 Leader.

APPLICATION: As I continue to push myself to grow in this area, here is a list of questions that I challenge myself with as I sift through the remainder of this book.  I try to revisit this list every few days to keep my eye on the prize that I am pursuing.

  • Where am I at within the “Level 5 Hierarchy”?”
  • What will it take to achieve Level 5?
  • Do I have what it takes to get to Level 5?
  • On any given day, what is the gutsiest move I could make at Dare 2 Share that would position us for success?
  • When it comes to credit do I look through the window or into a mirror?
  • When it comes to blame do I look through the window or into a mirror?

Up your game

A few months ago I was sharing with one of my mentors, Greg Stier, this new revelation I have had in life to pursue being the best Christian businessman in the world.  After he thought a few moments about my statement he asked me what exactly I meant by that.  I went on to explain that my desire was to become as well rounded as possible in all things related to business so that I would be equipped to successfully merge business and ministry for maximum Kingdom impact.  I have no “formal” education when it comes to business, like a degree.  I haven’t even ever taken a business class.  But my desire is to learn and grow and become the best there is in business. 

I also shared with him my goal isn’t to do it this for my own fame or glory but to benefit Dare 2 Share Ministries and the Kingdom of God.  After understanding where I was coming from and what my desires were he shared several thoughts with me and had a great conversation for a good 30-45 minutes about the topic.

Of all the things he said, there is one statment that has stuck with me the most and it actually sums up the entire conversation we had, “Up your game!”  It’s that simple…and complex.  Up your game in everything that you do was his message to me which I totally appreciate.  It’s not just focusing on one thing here or refining my skills and knowledge in a particular area of study within the business world.  It’s a full on commitment to up my game in everything I do…attitude, dress, how I carry myself, as well as my business knowledge in sales, marketing, numbers, reading books, etc.

From that conversation and a few other follow-up conversations with many of my mentors I have come to sum up this goal in life as follows: “to successfully merge ministry and business to exponentially advance the Kingdom of God!”

A heart for Jesus & a mind for business,