How to Lead By the Book
- Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dave Anderson's new book, How to Lead by THE BOOK: Proverbs, Parables, and Principles to Tackle Your Toughest Business Challenges (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).
There’s a widespread lack of integrity today in both corporate ethics and the character of individual employees. But you can overcome this problem by elevating your own organization – and the people who work within it – to become the best they can be when you turn to the greatest leadership ever written: the Bible.
Here's how you can become as successful at work as God intends, by leading according to biblical principles:
Hold people accountable. Define and communicate specific and clear expectations for every area of people’s performance on the job. Give people honest feedback about their behavior regularly to reinforce productive behaviors and confront negative behaviors before they get out of hand. Let people know what the consequences of failing to perform well will be, and then be sure to enforce those consequences whenever necessary. Write down your organization’s expectations and post them in visible places to remind people of them often, and discuss them both publicly and in one-on-one conversations. Make sure that you, as a leader, are holding yourself to higher standards of character and competence than the standards you’ve set for others. Be the kind of role model that people can follow for successful performance on the job. Keep in mind that the more responsibility you have, the more accountability you’ll have as well.
Choose the most effective leadership style: servant leadership. The greatest leader of all time – Jesus – was a servant leader. Follow His style of leadership by modeling positive attitudes, integrity, and discipline at work, and training, coaching, and mentoring others to grow to fulfill their potential. Get to know the people you work with well, and show them that you genuinely care about them. Put their needs before your own plans and priorities.
Recruit great people. Your organization’s success depends on whether or not you have the right people working for you. Do your best to hire people with strong character and competency. Hire people for their heart, attitudes, and talents rather than for their skills and knowledge (which they can acquire on the job during training). Aim to recruit people who are already employed and productive, since those are the ones who the most likely to perform well on the job. Try to make your work environment appealing to top-performing people so you can attract some to switch jobs and work with you.
Interview people well. Use the interview process to screen out job candidates who aren’t good performers so you can avoid unnecessarily wasting time and energy during the hiring process. Go through candidates’ resumes and applications, and knock out those who have made multiple spelling or grammatical errors on theirs. Also eliminate candidates who fail to show up on time or keep scheduled appointments, as well as those who don’t speak clearly on the phone. During interviews, focus more on people’s past accomplishments than on their past experience, since it’s their accomplishments that often predict how well they will perform in future jobs. Explain your organization’s core values and nonnegotiable expectations for employees in interviews so candidates will be fully informed. Ask them about their life histories so far and throw some unexpected questions at them; doing so will help you gauge their character from how they respond. Ask other interview questions designed to help you discern character qualities such as truthfulness, work ethic, learning and following guidance, keeping commitments, forgiveness, timeliness and ability to meet deadlines, and accepting responsibility. Be sure to pray for wisdom before hiring any candidates.
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