Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Why It’s Important to Get Off to a Good Start in Your Job

It is very important to get off to a good start in any job. Why? Because people begin making impressions and forming judgments about you – your attitude, your work ethic, your approach to your work, how you handle yourself, your relationship to your boss and teammates, etc. – the minute you walk in the door and show up for work. In her book Crush Your Career: Ace the Interview, Land the Job, and Launch Your Future, Dee Ann Turner writes “The first ninety days of any new job are critical. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that is exactly what the first ninety days are – a first impression.” She goes on to state that “The relationship with your new boss is the most critical element of success in your new job.” It’s very difficult to overcome a rocky start with a new boss. Dee Ann adds “Of all the reasons I have seen people fail in their career, by far the most common is the inability to build positive and productive relationships in the workplace.” Continue reading

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What is Emotional Intelligence, and Why is it Important for Leaders?

We all know what intelligence is, but are you familiar with what is known as Emotional Intelligence? This is a relatively new concept, first labelled in 1964, and popularized in the 1980s. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ  by Daniel Goleman is a book that some recommend to find out more about this topic. Goleman tells us that emotional intelligence is the ability to proactively manage our own emotions (EQ-self), and to appropriately respond to the emotions of others (EQ-others). He also states that emotional intelligence is the capacity for recognizing our feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships. Continue reading

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Leadership Attributes: Character

In our series on leadership attributes, we now look at character. British Pastor Charles Spurgeon said that a godly character is the best tombstone. But what exactly is character, or more specifically good character? It may be one of those attributes that are hard to describe, but you know it when you see it.
Many years ago, one of my supervisors and I were interviewing candidates for an entry level position in our organization. The individual selected for the position would be working on the second or third shift, essentially unsupervised. A person of good character was critical in this position. One of our interview questions was “What does character mean? What does it mean to say that someone has good character”? Although each candidate tried, we never did get a satisfactory answer to our questions about character. We then told the interviewees that a definition that we had heard that we liked was:

Character is doing the right thing when nobody is watching 

A dictionary definition that may come closest to what I am talking about here is “moral excellence”. Continue reading


Don’t Underestimate Your Team Members

I enjoy looking at my “Memories” on Facebook each day. These are select items that you have posted on the particular date the past few years. Recently, the above photo showed up, reminding me of a day six years ago in which I learned a valuable lesson – not to underestimate my team members.
For the majority of my career as a leader in a Fortune 50 organization, my team members were located in the same town that I was. They might not be in the same facility, or the same building or floor of the campus I worked at, but they were always in the same town. But in the last year and a half of my career, that changed. First, I had an opportunity to lead a five-person team in Atlanta, and later, I also had the pleasure of working with one person in our Phoenix facility. Although I sadly was never able to make a trip to Phoenix, I was able to visit the Atlanta team four times. During those visits, one of the things we made sure to do was some type of team activity to better get to know each other. The first we did was the Escape Room. Continue reading

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Focus on Results, Not Activities

Many of us are extremely busy in our jobs, callings and vocations. But being busy is not the same as being productive. In the Fortune 50 organization that I worked at for my nearly 38-year career, we would often talk about “results, not activities”. One of the first times I heard this was after turning in my comments for my mid-year review of my goals. That task was always one of my least favorite to do, and I was always happy to get it done. Unfortunately, on one occasion, shortly after turning in my mid-year document to my leader, she returned with it all marked up in red ink. She handed it back to me and said that I had listed a lot of activities. What I needed to do was show results.
This makes sense, of course. Organizations will reward workers for achieving results. Being busy in and of itself will not move the organization forward. What do I mean by focusing on results, rather than activities? Let me give you a few examples. Continue reading

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Leaders, You’ll Rarely Be the Smartest Person in the Room

Leaders may or may not be subject matter experts in their given field. I was rarely, if ever, the smartest person in the room when working with my teams. A leader’s primary responsibility has to be to provide a compelling vision of a better future for their particular area of responsibility (team, division, organization, country, etc.). This has to be a vision that attracts others who believe that the leader has the ability to bring it to fruition. Thus, the leader needs to influence others to follow them. Leadership expert John Maxwell has often said that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”.

Why do I say that the leader may not be a subject matter expert in their area of responsibility? That seems to go against what I have previously written that we want our leaders to have both competence and character. Wouldn’t a leader need to have an understanding of the area they are leading in order to be competent, and earn the trust of their followers? Continue reading

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Leadership Attributes: Humility

What makes a great leader? A few years ago, I asked a few colleagues at work to tell me what they thought were the attributes of a great leader. As you can expect, I got a wide variety of responses, from motivator to inclusive to risk taker and problem solver. In this new series on leadership attributes, I will write about several of these attributes. The first one will be humility.

Jim Collins, author of the business classic Good to Great, in looking for what made the difference in companies that were able to move from “good to great” and sustain that greatness, identified two distinct characteristics among the leaders of those companies, one of which was humility. At first, the importance of humility seems surprising. Think of some of the leaders you have worked with. Would the attribute of humility describe them? I hope so, but I’m not sure. Or consider some of our national political leaders. Humility may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of them. Continue reading

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The Kindle Edition of My Book is on Sale for $.99!

The Kindle version of my book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace, will be on sale for just $.99, beginning at 6:00 am on January 9 until midnight January 15.

In this book, I bring my unique perspective of having been a leader for nearly 38 years at a Fortune 50 organization, a seminary graduate and a leader in my church for more than 25 years, to the growing faith and work conversation. I make the case from the scriptures and many books that I’ve read, that God values our work and callings, as long as we are doing work that is pleasing to Him. I also hope to help you to determine your callings.

The book was written for those who want to know that God values what they do in their work and callings, as they do it to serve and glorify Him. The book is also written for those in the “pews” who struggle to see the connection between what they hear from the pulpit in Sunday morning worship with the rest of the week. The book can be read individually, or in a group setting as “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” are included at the end of each chapter.
Here are a few endorsements of the book:
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How to Make Feedback Your Friend

One of the last leaders I had in my career – one of my favorites and a true servant leader – would often say that we needed to see feedback as our friend. I’m not sure how many people can really say that they feel that way however. I know receiving performance feedback was always stressful for me. Continue reading

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As a Leader, You Don’t Need to Have Many Rules

My brother stopped by while we were playing with our then four-month-old Alaskan Malamute puppy Clara. After he heard me tell her “Stop biting”, “quit jumping”, “don’t pull so hard”, etc., his response was “Too many rules!” I hadn’t thought about it before he said that, but when you are raising a puppy, there has to be a lot of rules, especially when they are between eight and sixteen weeks old, when they are very impressionable. For example, they need to have rules about where they are to go to the bathroom (and where they aren’t), what rooms of the house they can go into, etc.
But at work when you are leading your team, after you communicate your expectations, you don’t need many rules. Continue reading