Leaders and Decision-Making

The organization is paralyzed with an indecisive leader. Indecision is caused by one thing: fear. In leadership, passivity is not an option.

Steps to decision-making:

  1. Take time to see the impact of the decision.
  2. Procrastination can be avoided by setting a self-imposed deadline; nail it down.
  3. Write it on the calendar and be ready to pull the trigger.
  4. Gather options, then gather more options. 90 percent of making the correct decision is gathering information.
  5. Train your team to bring you several solutions, not just the problems. Options and walking through worst-case scenarios can help eliminate fear.
  6. What do your guiding values tell you about this issue? (Golden Rule, ethics). Don’t let your principles change, change your processes.
  7. Who are the people impacted by the decision? Don’t be a respecter of persons; treat kings and sinners alike.
  8. There is a way to minimize risk by making bite sized decisions; test before a full launch.
  9. What are the financial implications of the decision? Never go all in and bet the bank.
  10. Decisions are liberating because you don’t have to carry the burden of questions.
  11. Decisions are a form of confrontation and sometimes instigate confrontation. Confrontation is best served fresh and get it over quickly.
  12. Principled people are forced to recognize evil, inequity and integrity problems, and act against evil.
  13. Ask the experts (someone who has done it lately, not someone with an opinion); find several people who know more than you.
  14. Ask your spouse.
  15. All else fails, write yourself a report describing the problem, the solutions and time-line.

Never quit when God calls you:

As a boy, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was told he would never amount to anything. If he quit, we would all be speaking German right now. His “never give in” commencement speech in October 1941 (see the closing remarks).

Opening Remarks: Almost a year has passed since I came down here at your Head Master’s kind invitation in order to cheer myself and cheer the hearts of a few of my friends by singing some of our own songs.

Body of the Speech: The ten months that have passed have seen very terrible catastrophic events in the world–ups and downs, misfortunes, but can anyone sitting here this afternoon, this October afternoon, not feel deeply thankful for what has happened in the time that has passed and for the very great improvement in the position of our country and of our home?

Why, when I was here last time we were quite alone, desperately alone, and we had been so for five or six months. We were poorly armed. We are not so poorly armed today; but then we were very poorly armed. We had the unmeasured menace of the enemy and their air attack still beating upon us, and you yourselves had had experience of this attack; and I expect you are beginning to feel impatient that there has been this long lull with nothing particular turning up!
But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough. It is generally said that the British are often better at the last. They do not expect to move from crisis to crisis; they do not always expect that each day will bring up some noble chance of war; but when they very slowly make up their minds that the thing has to be done and the job put through and finished, then, even if it takes months – if it takes years – they do it.

Another lesson I think we may take, just throwing our minds back to our meeting here ten months ago and now, is that appearances are often very deceptive, and as Kipling well says, we must “…meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same.”

You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done. Those people who are imaginative see many more dangers than perhaps exist; certainly many more than will happen; but then they must also pray to be given that extra courage to carry this far-reaching imagination.

Closing Remarks: But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period, I am addressing myself to the School, surely from this period of ten months, this is the lesson:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished. All this tradition of ours, our songs, our School history, this part of the history of this country, were gone and finished and liquidated.

Very different is the mood today. Britain, other nations thought, had drawn a sponge across her slate. But instead our country stood in the gap. There was no flinching and no thought of giving in; and by what seemed almost a miracle to those outside these Islands, though we ourselves never doubted it, we now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.

You sang here a verse of a School Song: you sang that extra verse written in my honor, which I was very greatly complimented by and which you have repeated today. But there is one word in it I want to alter – I wanted to do so last year, but I did not venture to. It is the line: “Not less we praise in darker days.”

I have obtained the Head Master’s permission to alter darker to sterner. “Not less we praise in sterner days.”

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days, the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.


  1. Aristotle said there is only one way to avoid criticism; do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.
  2. Carl Jung said that error is just as important a condition of life’s progress as truth.
  3. Ask yourself, “is this something Jesus would do?”
  4. Get the opinion of someone outside the problem. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, call a lumberjack.
  5. Where there is no counsel, the people fail (Proverbs 11:14).
  6. God will guide with his counsel (Psalm 73:24).
  7. Jim Rohn said that indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity.
  8. A double-minded man is unstable in his ways (James 1:8).
  9. Fear of decision will get you killed, think of that squirrel in the road.
  10. Seth Godin said that when you fall in love with the system (religion) you lose the ability to grow. He also said that the secret to being wrong isn’t to avoid being wrong.

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Team Addition and Subtraction

Proper hiring creates a good team; and a good team lowers turnover. Team members leave or are let go because they should not have been hired in the first place. Take time to fill positions. Turnover is expensive in lost productivity and morale within the team.

When posting jobs, give enough information for candidates to rule you out before wasting your time. Word your posting in such a way to attract the personality and character you want. Never sell the job, always have the opportunity that is available; people desire work that matters.

If the person is all about money and benefits, they won’t last long on your team, you will never satisfy them. Listen more than speak. Never hire with only one interview. Working for a Christian company is not a code for lazy.

Twelve Steps to Hiring:

  1. Pray – God must send the right people.
  2. Key Results Area – describe what winning looks like in your company.
  3. Resume – they’re useless, unless you use them to start a conversation.
  4. Personality test – DISC is a good tool.
  5. Do you like them? Lot of talent is not good enough.
  6. Do they light up when they talk about the position?
  7. Compensation calculation, policy, benefits review.
  8. Personal budget – so they know they can live on the salary you are offering?
  9. References – they are useless, unless you do the phone interview.
  10. Spouse interview – this will change your life.
  11. Mission statement (company and personal) – Dave’s company doesn’t sell books, they sell hope.
  12. 90-day probation for the company and the person.

When team members fail:

Team members have to perform in the company or they have to leave.

Determine the root of the performance failure:

  1. If the problem is your leadership, fix it.
  2. Did you hire someone who didn’t fit the position?
  3. Were they given the tools to win?
  4. Were you there to mentor them?
  5. Were the objectives clear?
  6. Were conflicts unresolved?

When the problem is personal: quantify (child with the flu is different from child with cancer).

  1. Can you tolerate the poor performance until the problem passes?
  2. Do you need to bring in a professional to help?
  3. Does the personal problem put the company in jeopardy?
  4. Does the team need extra support while the recovery occurs?
  5. There must be incremental progress or they need to go.
  6. Make errors on the side of giving too much grace.

When the problem is incompetence:

  1. Use the Golden Rule, treat them gently.
  2. Incompetence is not evil; we are all incompetent at something.
  3. Can incompetence be solved with mentoring or education?
  4. Is the incompetence a character issue?
  5. Is there an integrity issue?
  6. Is the character issue laziness?

Steps toward resolution:

  1. Is a reprimand in order? This is a frank discussion of the performance shortfall and your analysis of the lack of performance.
  2. A good reprimand is short, uncomfortable for everyone, the problem is attacked (not the person), done in private, and is gentle.
  3. One Minute Manager: sandwich method (praise, hit, praise).
  4. Attack the problem but reaffirm the person.
  5. Deal with conflict or it will build.


  1. They will be asked to leave immediately when there is a moral or integrity failure.
  2. Deal with them carefully, prayerfully, over time and never in anger.
  3. The issue causing you concern should be the subject of frequent reprimands.
  4. Reprimands should become increasingly formal with clearly defined changes required.
  5. The last reprimand must be in writing with deadlines of performance.
  6. It must never be a surprise as to why someone was fired.
  7. Some people will become aware that they do not fit the organization, and they leave on their own.
  8. Sanctioned incompetence demoralizes the rest of the team.
  9. You must have the courage to pull the trigger when it is time for someone to leave.
  10. Seth Godin says, “defending mediocrity is exhausting.”

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The Finances of an EntreLeader

Financial Peace University is mainly for individuals and families but the principles apply to business as well. There must always be a budget, and money is kept in separate accounts (personal vs company). At least 25 percent also must be set aside for taxes, in a separate account that will not be touched.

Debt: The borrower is always a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7)

  1. Borrowed money always increases risk.
  2. Borrowed money always magnifies mistakes.
  3. Borrowed money always hurts and even destroys cash flow.

Myths about Finances, Debt and Credit:

Myth: Borrowed money is needed to start or expand a business.
Truth: Starting or expanding gradually increases cash flow and reduces risk. Dave reminds us that the tortoise always wins. Build your business with a crock pot rather than a microwave.

Myth: A line of credit is needed to cover cash flow fluctuations.
Truth: Cash flow fluctuation can be predicted with forecasting and budgeting, and having cash saved will help cover your needs. If you have a seasonal business you can plan for fluctuations in cash flow, and still not go into debt.

Myth: A credit card is needed for online and phone purchases and travel.
Truth: A debt card will do everything that a credit card will do, except create 18% debt.

Myth: A credit card will help me keep my expenses organized.
Truth: Use an accounting system, so a debit card does the same thing.

Myth: Large purchases require a business to use a credit card.
Truth: Avoid risk and mistakes by renting, outsourcing, buying used and paying cash.

Kids and allowance? Children learn about welfare with an allowance but they learn about a paycheck when they work. When the son comes to you and says he needs money, Dave says that he doesn’t need money, you need a job.

Never by anything that is not designed to make a profit. Don’t rationalize your wish list. Never purchase anything because you think you need a tax write-off. It’s a myth.An item that costs $10,000 that is an allowable deduction saves someone in a 30 percent tax bracket $3000 in taxes. So buying something that isn’t needed is like trading $10,000 for $3000. If your CPA suggests buying something you don’t need purely for the write-off, fire them.

Dave says that 60 percent of all small businesses start up with $5000 or less. Never make your decisions based on fear. Caution is OK, because that can bring peace.

In Good to Great, the author advises that we get the write people on the bus, then get the right people in the right seats on the bus.

A worthy goal in business is to shamelessly make money to benefit others. Churchill said that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. In a book called, Thou Shalt Prosper, the author says that business is serving; work is a higher calling.

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Dreams, Visions and Goal Setting

Dreams are wishes that seldom happen. Life does not hand you your dreams. Dreams can only become a reality when they become a part of your vision. The leader must do something about his dreams and vision. You must also cast your vision to others if your vision is big enough. If there is no vision, the people scatter (Proverbs 29:18).

Helen Keller said the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.

Vision that is ready to go to work is called a goal. A great Scripture on reaching your goal is 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25. Dave Ramsey says that opportunity knocks at your door wearing overalls.

From your vision and goals to have long-term positive impact, they must include goals for: Career, Financial, Spiritual, Family, Intellectual, Physical, and Social. Imagine each area as a piece of the pie. Ziglar calls it the wheel of life.

Gossip: talking to someone about something or someone who is not in a position to fix it.

Plan on problems: you are employed to solve problem, or you are not needed.

Goals are bite-sized visions: Goals convert vision into energy. You cannot be vague with your goals. Do the activity that brings the results (like a salesman making 30 calls a week is the base line). You cannot reach the goal if you do not do the work.

Goals work SMART if they are:

  1. Specific: create precise behaviors and outcomes, linked to rate and frequency. Each objective must have only one desired outcome.
  2. Measurable: too “improve” is far too vague, mention steps toward the desired outcome.
  3. Achievable, and yours (not someone else’s goals): stretch, but make it reasonable.
  4. Results oriented: and in writing
  5. Time bound: when will the results be expected?

Break everything down into smaller parts and time frames.

For your team to have goals, you must have goals. Sharing goals and selling goals is called casting a vision. Shared goals create communication and unity. A positional leader pushes you into goals (go make your quota), while a servant leader pulls you into goals. Goals for a team are shared when they are developed together. Individual team members cannot have goals dictated to them; instead, help people to develop their own goals.

Management by objectives: when team members set goals within general company guidelines. Coach Carter (the movie) said that if you have no vision to college, you cannot win a national championship. Napoleon said that leaders are brokers of hope. Ziglar said that if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.

We can spend a ridiculous amount of time avoiding the things that are outside of our comfort zones. The movie, Castaway, shows us there is a sin of losing time. Steven Covey (the 7 Habits guy) has an interesting matrix on establishing priorities:

If you don’t do Q2, you will always move to Q1. Recognize that you are being productive when you are in Q2. Scott Peck said that “until you value yourself, you cannot value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything about it.” Good verses (Proverbs 16:9, Isaiah 30:1). If the leader must ask “where do I start?” you have not broken the goal into measurable action plans (like if I want to drive home, what do I do first?).

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Leaders and Entrepreneurs

I was able to participate in a one-day Dave Ramsey event back in November 2010; held at Regent University here in town. I wanted to pass on a few of my notes, which by the way, helps me to review and remember all that great information. If you have ever been to a Ramsey event, he is high energy and quite entertaining.

It Began with Definitions:

  1. Leader: Servant, humility, integrity, ethical, visionary, communicator, mobilizer, inspiring, perseveres, mentor, consistency, compassionate, faithful, confident, and decisive.
  2. Entrepreneur: Visionary, organized, inspired, mobilized, committed, focused, student/learner, bold, driven, creative, ambitious, risk taker, responsible, and tenacious.

A good leader brings others on board to cover over one’s own weaknesses. If you are not all these thing mentioned above, you suck as a leader. High quality people will follow a high quality leader.

  1. Leader: the one who rules, guides and inspires others.
  2. Entrepreneur: a person who organizes, operates and assumes risk for a venture.
  3. EntreLeadership: the process of leading to cause a venture to grow and prosper.

Organizations and teams are never limited by their opportunity; they are limited by their leader. The enterprise will never outgrow its leader. An organization is limited only by the leader’s capacity, intelligence, education, character, ability and vision. John Maxwell calls this the leadership lid.

To lead, the boss needs to understand the difference between positional power and persuasive power. The traditional model has a triangle with the point at the top, with a positional boss. The servant model has the point at the bottom with a servant leader. The servant-leader inspires and casts a vision while the other has authority because he “writes the checks” and “because I said so.” Anyone can be a boss, but not everyone can be a leader.

Patrick Morley states in The Man in the Mirror, that we as leaders should:

  1. Take divinely inspired risk.
  2. Depend upon God.
  3. Take responsibility.
  4. Expect opposition.

Passion: the one with passion cares deeply about the outcome. The most untutored person with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without. The movie Braveheart embodies the essence of passion; they fought with passion, and that no one could take away their freedom. He learned about leadership, it is not about the position. “They will follow you, not the nobility or leaders with the title.”

Zig Ziglar said that you get what you inspect, not what you expect. Upward mobility is dependent on downward availability.

The Conductor Illustration: A concert is not about the conductor, it’s about the music. The conductor doesn’t make a sound but makes it all come together. He empowers others to do what they were trained to do. Leaders must awaken the possibilities in other people, brighten their shining eyes. Success is defined by how many eyes are shining around me. Who am I if those around me are not shining?

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