Leadership Not by the Book: 12 Unconventional Principles to Drive Incredible Results by David Green and Bill High. Baker Books. 224 pages. 2022
In this book, David Green, founder and CEO of arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, and Bill High, share the uncommon business practices – the “secret sauce” – that Hobby Lobby has adopted that has resulted in their incredible success. They write that every one of the ingredients in the secret sauce comes from the Bible. In addition, most of the pivotal moments in the company’s history took place after Green experienced some divine episode engineered by the Holy Spirit. They write that if you boil down the secret sauce to one key ingredient, you will find the one element that makes the others work is listening to God and obeying His Word.
Hobby Lobby celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2022. In those fifty years, they have gone from less than $150 to $8 billion in sales. They carry more than one hundred thousand items (including seasonal merchandise), employ more than fifty thousand people, and give away 50 percent of their profits to help fund initiatives for God’s kingdom all over the world. The unconventional principles discussed in this book can apply whether you lead a business, a church, a nonprofit, or are just contemplating the idea of leadership.
The secret sauce ingredients can be organized in three major categories:
- God-centered practices
- People-focused practices
- Commonsense practices
Some of my takeaways about Hobby Lobby’s secret sauce were:
- To see yourself as a steward, not owner, of your business or ministry.
- The importance of prayer in our work.
- The importance of giving.
- The importance of character for leaders.
- The importance of a leader’s family.
- The importance of taking care of your people.
- The importance of listening to your people.
- To be true to your calling, your “one thing”.
Below are 15 of my favorite quotes from the book:
- God must destroy our arrogant pride if He is to bless the work of our hands. The Lord loves to bless humility, not smug self-confidence.
- When you’re an owner, wealth can easily become a curse. When you’re a steward, wealth becomes a tool.
- God is the owner of all things, and we are simply his stewards.
- Faith doesn’t mean trusting God only in the easy times. It means trusting God always, no matter the situation, whether in sunshine or storms.
- We obey God not because of what we will get but because He deserves our obedience.
- If you want to bless the world through your work, make prayer a priority.
- Obedience to God may cost you, but some things are more important than profit.
- No matter what other service you might perform, souls are your true bottom line.
- A good leader must have both the appropriate gifting and the necessary character.
- If you want to lead well, you must listen to your people and give them the freedom to challenge you.
- Listening matters. Hire smart, honest people, and then listen to them. When their ideas make good sense, implement them, give them the credit, and celebrate the resulting success.
- Never give leaders responsibility without also giving them the authority required to fulfill that responsibility. Responsibility without authority never works.
- To succeed as a leader, set up a great organization that allows you to focus on your gifting and not get distracted.
- We are not here to create trends. We never create a trend. Ever. We observe what customers want, and we give it to them.
- Doing your job wholeheartedly, as to the Lord, is most often the first step to greater responsibility and larger influence.