Looking in the mirror

A lot can be said today about corporate ethics, the American people have no faith in Wall Street. Our responsibility as leaders is to not only lead with the highest moral standards but to teach our people how to make ethical choices. There was never a time more important to lead by example then when demonstrating how to make high ethical decisions. As leaders, we are put in a position to make decisions; sometimes they involve personnel and other times they involve the business. Regardless, we need to make decisions that maintain the highest standards and provide our personnel or our customers with the best outcome. Integrity can be simply stated as doing the right thing even when no one is looking. People appreciate it when their leaders are consistent and have their best interest in mind and our customers expect the same thing. As leaders, we are in a place to govern God’s people – providing them with direction and making decisions that affect them.

1 Kings 3:9 – “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and distinguish between right and wrong.”

The verse today can be used as a prayer to God from his faithful servant. We are bombarded with threats everyday and the urge to sin is ever present. We sin daily, the pressure to succeed is always upon us and it would be so easy to cut a few corners, change a few numbers, leave out a couple of details or simply lie. Who will know or even find out? Even if they do, it could be late enough that it won’t really matter anyway. But God knows, he knows before we do. If we do fall and sin when choosing between right and wrong; God’s grace has freed us from the guilt and the sin by giving us His only son, Jesus Christ, to bear our punishment. We can be free from guilt and filled with forgiveness by God’s love for us. We have been given the grace of God and a great example of how to live our lives in Jesus. God is great indeed! If you have fallen to sin, ask for forgiveness, receive it and do what is right – always. By asking God for a discerning heart to do what is right you’ll always be able to look at yourself in the mirror.

Managing Time and Worry

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…”

This is easy for Matthew to say, he didn’t have a shareholders meeting at the end of the month or wasn’t behind in meeting his goals for the quarter. Matthew didn’t have to manage his calendar, keep his inbox clear and answer his cell phone when it rang. All of these things that are designed to make us more productive, can at times, slow us down. We are too busy worrying about today that we seldom worry about tomorrow. Time management techniques are vitally important for today’s leader to be successful. A recent study has shown that it takes the average worker 25 minutes to recover from an interruption caused by e-mail. Think of the number of e-mails that you get during the work day that you stopped working to address immediately, how much time does that add up to? If you save just 10 minutes every hour of your day, you will add 80 minutes of productivity back to your work day; that kind of productivity gets noticed. Invest time in learning good techniques to manage your time like preparing for the next workday and limiting interruptions; you’ll be surprised how good you’ll feel about your work.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” God is at work in your life. He is executing a plan right now! We have all been bombarded with so much self help information and pressure to take care of “Number 1” that we don’t let God in to do His work in our lives. We have to remember that it’s God’s plan and His timeline. We shouldn’t be so worried about tomorrow that we forget what is important. What are you focusing your life and energies on? Living a Godly life is what our Father wants from us, the rest will come in time. So, don’t worry about tomorrow; let God do that, he can handle it. Give praise to God for each day and be patient – His plan for you will be revealed on His timeline. In the mean time, take care of today because tomorrow is taking care of it’s self.

Mr Stipp goes to Washington

I returned last night from a few days in Washington DC at the National League of Cities Annual Conference. City Leaders (I can’t believe that title includes me) from around the country come together to discuss issues facing cities and towns and to take advantage of being in DC to “lobby” our Congressmen. I have been appointed to the National Public Safety and Crime Prevention Advocacy Committee of the NLC. We attended a half-day municipal leadership training session that was awesome. I really gained a lot of perspective about being on a national committee.

Our committee meeting really showed me that we are lucky in our community not to have the types of problems that others do. I also learned that we have taken being politically correct to an incredibly crazy level. I heard a director from the Bureau of Justice Administration talk about needing to help “those that have a conflict with the criminal justice system”. WHAT! I thought that they were actually criminals or accused persons. Having a conflict sounds like a disagreement. Then I remembered that we can’t call Dry-Erase boards “white boards” any more or Easel Pads “flip-charts” or Chalk boards “black boards” but that its OKAY to call white tank top undershirts “wife beaters” but not okay to call them “deago tees”. I digress…

My trip to DC ended in a meeting with Senators John McCain and John Kyl. The few of us from Arizona that were there had about an hour with them in an Q and A session after getting our pictures taken and shaking their hands. I must admit that it was a great experience and that they were pretty straight forward in answering our questions. While they still don’t feel like much will get done in these next few months, they weren’t pointing fingers either.

My next trip is to Ft. McAllister in Oklahoma for an Army exercise, that should make for some interesting reading after I return.

Being Clear

Providing direction to our team members is one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader. We’d like to believe that people would see a need, understand what has to be done to meet that need and then execute it without us ever having to say anything to them about it. Now that would be utopia! We have to provide clear direction to our team so that they can function within set boundaries and provide them enough freedom to make decisions within those boundaries without the need to “checking in” with us. Weekly team meetings can help bring everyone together and are a great place to review the boundaries. Each team member should share what they are working on and what they need help with so that other team members can assist them if necessary. Knowing that your team members need help can also provide you with insight as you look to distribute new workloads while you find ways to help those that are struggling. If you have several team members struggling, the problem may be in the way you distribute work or in how you give direction. Take a few minutes to find out the answers before you start pushing your team harder, the trouble spot could be you.

Psalm 19:8 – “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

The direction and commands we have received from the Lord our God are pretty clear, yet we try to interpret them to meet our own needs. Many people argue that the Bible can be vague and has room for interpretation. This, of course, is the work of the devil in our minds. We were conceived in sin and carry that burden with us from birth. We are assured that salvation is found in the Life of Christ through the grace of God our Father. There is an old expression that we are born twice but only die once. We are physically born on earth and then again born into the life of Christ through baptism but we will only die once from life on earth to enjoy eternal life with Christ and God our Father. The bible has provided us with these truths, over and over in radiant words and images – giving light to our eyes. We are able to see eternal life through that light. Following the commands may be difficult and we will fail at keeping them – original sin is to blame for that. Despite those failings, God has given us His grace and we can be assured of eternal life through Christ – that is crystal clear!

When things seem bad

Leadership is easy when times are good but can you continue to lead with the same passion when times get tough? It is easy to forget where the good comes from when we are successful. When times are difficult, we all have a habit of ducking down and hoping that we’re not next; it’s every man for him self. Don’t lose your bearings when things get harder, continue to seek the Lord. Maintain your attitude and Christ-like perspective, people will appreciate and respect you for it. Rely on God to keep you grounded; He’s the one in control, not you. You will be tested when things get tough, how you treat others, your level of honesty and caring and if you stay committed to serving others, you will lack no good thing. Don’t change your character because the times change. True leadership is shown in the most stressful times. When things start to look bad, you’ll have to step up your communication with the people you lead. They will be unsure and afraid, it’s your job to keep them focused and informed of what is happening. Do not hide the facts or conditions; people will surprise you with their willingness to work toward a common goal when they are part of finding the solutions.

Psalm 34:10 – “Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing”

Do you seek the Lord in times of trouble? Keep the Lord as your focus and continue to seek to understand His word as you develop your relationship with God. This will help you continue to seek the Lord. Seek Him in everything you do. Start your work day with a simple prayer “Lord, please guide my decisions and actions today so that I may bring glory to you and to care for those in which I am entrusted”. Keeping God as the priority in your life will bring good things to you. The old expression “when one door closes another will open” describes this Psalm perfectly. Just as you see things being bad, God will show you the good in the situation. If you are seeking the Lord in the good and the bad times, you will start to see the good things all around you. The thing to remember, and the hardest part, is that change in your life will be on His timeline and not yours. Remain patient and focused on the Lord, he will reveal His plans – have faith no matter how bad things seem to appear.

Managing Change

The other day I was told that my article about managing change was going to be featured on the International Association of Fire Chiefs website as an example of the type of information available on the subscription service that I write for. The staff at the IAFC told me that they have been receiving a number of comments about this specific article and the the Director had even said something about it. The funny thing about managing change is that we’ve been talking about it since the early 90’s; funny how history repeats itself. Here is the link, I hope you enjoy it!

http://www.iafc.org/Operations/content.cfm?ItemNumber=5783