What is the most important principle of leadership today? How do we lead and inspire teams to reach outside of their comfort zones? What is the best way to lead teams to inspire results most only dream of? These questions have been rattling around inside my brain for over 30 years. I finally found the answers in a book titled: Lead for God’s sake by Todd G. Gongwer. As the cover of the book promised it caused me to: “think deeply about who you are as a leader, what success means to you, and why you do what you do.”
Last winter I was in a Wednesday night men’s group and one of the guys in attendance said he just finished the best leadership book he has ever read titled : Lead for God’s Sake. So I mentally made a note to myself that I need to pick up a copy of this book. Like I often do I bought the book and put it into my: to read stack. If you have read my posts you know I read a lot and often share books that I believe would benefit those who are always looking to improve and gain knowledge. I just finished a great book on emotional intelligence and the role it plays in sales and I thought I should balance what I learned with some content on leadership. I am a huge Ohio State football fan. While out to breakfast with a banker friend of mine he asked: have you ever read that book that Urban Meyer said changed his life? I was not sure so my friend said he would send me a you tube link. There he was, Urban Meyer sharing how a book his friend Todd Blackledge gave him had a profound effect on his life. So as I packed my carry on for the next customer visit I threw my copy of this book in my bag.
Like Urban Meyer, Ken Blanchard, Lou Holtz and others who read this book, once I started reading it I could not put it down. It is written in the form a story. Stories create mental images and emotional connections that books that share data and theory cannot. The book quickly develops its characters and has a way of sucking you in. I found myself challenging my leadership style in the quite seclusion of my isle seat on Delta Airlines.
I have been trained to “manage” people for years. I found the style of management varied by the person training and their emotional intelligence. There was Chuck at Frito-Lay who was a; Look for an ass to kick or throat to choke kind of manager. (notice I did not say leader) . They believe they can make people do things by the threat of pain. In this style you are not focused on solving the problem, but you are looking for a “who” not a “what” or more importantly a “why”. In this book they refer to this as the hatchet. The beatings will continue until the morale improves kind of thought process. I loved working for Frito-lay until I reported to Chuck. I owe a great deal to the training Frito-lay invested in me and I still use to this day. At first Chuck was kind of an interesting new boss. He was very loud, vocal, and did some things that other conservative Frito-Lay managers would never do. I observed him with customers and today I would categorize him as a relational sales guy. To avoid the pain of his critiques, often done in front of my employees and peers I did learn to improve my presentation skills. I did not do so to better serve my customers and y team, I honestly did so to avoid pain.
Another trainer I had was all about what the book refers to as “treasure”. He creating very compelling compensation plans that if you executed the plan you would earn a huge bonus. To accomplish these stretch goals with huge treasures attached you had to work 12-14 hours a day and often we worked 8 hours on Saturday and I would do my paperwork on Sundays. The trouble with this model is you become so focused on the treasure you forget about things, or do not give things like your family, your health, your friends the time required. You are so focused on chasing that brass ring and the treasure you mentally justify the time choices you make. (been there have the T-shirt)
It’s so easy to look for shortcuts but what this book reinforces is there are no shortcuts. What this book shares as the most important “leadership “principle is…you ready for it?….
This book does an excellent job of sharing how we need to be committed to something higher than the avoidance of pain, or stretching to reach that brass ring bonus treasure. It shares that if you truly want to lead people you need to do so with heart. You need to take a personal interest and invest in those on your team and truly serve them.
For years I have been shaking up customer sand those in my key notes when I say to: stop selling and start serving. I have seen CEO’s cringe when they hear me say this because instantly they fear sales goals will continue to be missed and may drop even further. After reading this book I believe just as we must serve our customers and help them buy, we must serve our teams.
If you are looking for something more, something more that an “atta boy” from the CEO, or a nice bonus, I highly recommend you read; Lead For God’s Sake. If you find you are serving a boss you believes the beatings will continue until the morale improves..Leave! You are worth so much more than the way you are being treated. As I shared in a post some time ago the reason why superstars leave a team is not money like some business owners and CEO’s believe. They leave because they do not feel valued. They leave because their intrinsic needs are not being met and they justify the decision to leave with extrinsic indicators like compensation. I did not leave Frito- Lay because I was not being compensated well, I was just recognized in the company newsletter for sales achievement and those sales resulted in nice bonuses. I left because Chuck was a jerk. I left because the avoidance of pain was not a long term motivator.
What this book did reinforce was just how blessed to serve a leader like Harry Jones. I mention Harry in the about page on my blog. Harry was the person who hired me at Frito-Lay. He took a genuine interest in me, my goals and the training I needed to achieve those goals. He was not “easy” as some would assume as his goals for me and my market was some of the toughest I have ever faced. Monthly I would receive a book or sometimes two from Harry and after about two weeks he would call and ask me questions about the books. He signed me up for Dale Carnegie and Toastmasters. He asked about what I did after work, my goals, and dreams and how he could help me achieve them. I am truly blessed to have served under his leadership. He even called and checked in on me after I was transferred to Chuck’s team. The day I resigned he asked to meet with me and apologized for what he saw I went through and asked how he could help me in my new role. Harry was my character Joe in this book.
Who was/is the Joe in your life?
Are you being a Joe for those you lead today?
Do you believe that if you lead from the heart you will not achieve your goals and be seen as weak? Why?
Have you read this book and applied its principles with your team? Please share some results.
Maybe its and over 54 years old thing… The first half of my career was all about accumulation…winning and I made some bad choices like the characters in this book. In the back nine of my life if you will it is about giving. The reason why I write is to hopefully help just one person learn from my mistakes or apply something I have just learned and avoid a mistake. Everyone is a leader. If you do not have the title of leader at work you may lead your family, a team in your church, a sports team, …you may lead and not have to title of leader ( but that’s another book and post).
I highly recommend you purchase Lead For God’s Sake. If you do please share what you experience reading this book and the success you have applying this principle.