Keys to Business Survival and Success: What Are They and What Role Does Responsiveness Play?

In the June Round Table meetings, we discussed the “Keys to Business Survival & Success: What Are They & What Role Does Responsiveness Play?”

At our recent Leadership Event, Rick Warren, Chairman & CEO of Warren Strategies, explained that Responsiveness is the Ultimate Key to Business Survival and Success. If you were unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel here where you can review all past Leadership Event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Rick’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the June Round Table meetings.

Birmingham Round Table

Topic: “Keys To Business Survival & Success: What Are They & What Role Does
Responsiveness Play?”
Q1: What are the keys?

  • Need discipline of the new workforce to re-instate performance requirements and
    values with both carrot and stick approach. No need to be militaristic or mean
    spirited – just firm and unrelenting.
  • Use automation where possible to speed up and simplify revenue generation and
    costs management.

Q2: What is important about responsiveness?

  • Use text, email and most importantly the telephone.
  • Be consistent. Adjust to client’s style and use it aggressively.
  • Responsiveness also requires innovation, automation, adaptation

Q3: How are these impacting your business?

  • Hiring staff and getting performance from a new generation of workers is very
    difficult for all businesses. The “old-style’ work ethic is missing and badly needed.


  • Need to step up and meet the challenge of work force lack of discipline and miss set
    expectations of performance demands. Also need to stop sending people to college
    to get deeply in debt and learn very little that will be used in their future career.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)


  • Responding vs. Reacting.
  • You get used to being the “answer man.”
  • Default responses aren’t always the best for every situation.
  • Your response depends on who your client is and what type of client they are.


  • Remain open to monitoring your success. You may have reached success but lost it along the way.
  • Always secure your passion. May lose it as you deal with the business side of things.
  • Desire to develop others.
  • Be responsive to the need, not necessarily the criticism. You don’t have to respond to everything.
  • A response is different from a reaction:
    • Response is calculated
    • Stop, pause, ask questions
    • Silence is okay – slow down
  • Don’t always respond. Allow others to grow and learn on their own.
  •  Focus on the dynamics. Build a plan for your responses to reduce time and increase effectiveness.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)


  • Must have good people in your company in order to succeed.
  • The struggle between hiring manager and C-suite. The hiring manager needs to fill the open position quickly to ensure that the job gets done, while the C-suite wants to focus on finding someone who fits the culture and vision of the company.
  • Companies must adapt to the staffing shortage.


  • Hire good people and get out of their way.
    • Must have good people – even among general labor.
  • Create an atmosphere of creativity. Google requires their employees to dedicate a few hours each week to projects that are not related to their job.
  • Recognize that recruitment relates to marketing and branding. Your company image matters.
  • Remove barriers when recruiting. Certain types of dress may send the wrong impression (e.g. wearing a suit and tie among factory workers).
  • Recruit for your industry, not just your company.
  • Ensure that your hiring manager understands what leadership skills and characteristics you are looking for.
  • Include your hiring manager in meetings so that they will understand the vision and know what you will need in the future.
  • Consider outside vendors rather than hiring a part-time or full-time position.
  • Companies must grow. Be willing to consider options/new technology.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)

Keys to Success: 

  • A good business plan & knowing the business / industry you’re in
  • Marketing / advertising
  • Good relationships with people / vendors / resources
  • Sales plan
  • Profitability
  • Values
  • Good, consistent & effective communication
  • Leadership
  • Alignment with goals / culture / values / vision
  • Right people in right seats
  • Business process
  • Service excellence

What is key when we’re in survival mode?

  • Identify what’s most important
  • Continual learning – gain outside perspectives
  • Be flexible and adaptable
  • Know your customer – research
  • Go to your reserves / financial reserves
  • Keep to the basics
  • Be transparent as much as possible
  • Maintain relationships with good vendors / partners & lean on them for support

Role Responsiveness Plays:

  • Accessibility
  • How much is too much?
  • Need to be client-centric
  • Set measures / expectations
  • Customer isn’t always right – they are always important
  • Set goals for responsiveness – be proactive, not reactive
    • Need to remind staff of the rules of communication every 3 months or so
  • How is our responsiveness structured?
  • How proactive are we?
  • Need to survey clients to confirm
  • Responsibility is on us as leaders


  • Think about proactive ways / tips to maintain relationships – ie. friendships within the organization retain people
  • Attitude – teaching – “nothing should be born before it’s time”
  • Hold weekly leadership meetings to be like a rhythm including quarterly topics for leaders to train / talk about

How does responsiveness play in each of these areas? 

  • Values 
  • Marketing  
    • How well are we showing what’s in it for them?
  • Sales  
    • Are we making this a responsive process – how easy are we to work with from the clients perspective?
  • Operations  
    • Set timeframes / expectations on standard response times
  • Service 
  • Support

Grand Rapids Round Table (Thursday)

The main take-away of the day was: “Above all else, stay true to your core principles and let God provide in order for Him to achieve his purpose.”

Join us next month as we discuss the topic of “Stewarding Employees Well: Keys to Seeing, Valuing, and Managing Employees as People.” RSVP to



The Advantage of Healthy Conflict in Business

In the May Round Table meetings, we discussed “The Advantage of Healthy Conflict in Business.”

Dealing with conflict in the workplace can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. At our recent Leadership Event, Rodger Price, Owner & Founder of Leading By DESIGN, laid out the steps to dealing with the “#1 Communication Challenge: Leaning into Healthy Conflict.” If you were unable to attend, subscribe to our YouTube channel here where you can review all past Leadership Event presentations. Be sure to turn on your notifications so that you are the first to know when Rodger’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the May Round Table meetings.

Birmingham Round Table


  • Conflict can be disruptive
  • Takes people out of status quo
  • Teams – people bring different ideas, uncomfortable
  • How you will be perceived if you have a different viewpoint
  • If there is no leader to help refocus the group
  • Takes time to manage.


  • Need to build acceptance of different ideas into your culture
  • Need a culture of trust and respect for everyone’s opinion
  • Need to “walk the culture talk”
  • Understanding that if you don’t “win” you must respect final decision
  • Make expectations clear


  • Culture plays a big role in supporting healthy conflict
  • Take your time and you will be effective
  • LEAN can be applied to any business (not just manufacturing)
  • Ask three questions before you start to solve
  • “A Factory of One” by Dan Markovitz

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)


  • We’re often afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, but we have a responsibility to help resolve any issues – accountability to ourselves and to the team.
  • Compounded conflict – the issue at hand and the way of addressing it.
  • Getting the right verbiage: “difference” of opinion vs. “conflicting” opinions. The latter sounds more combative.
  • Looking at each conflict with fresh eyes. Don’t assume.
  • Understanding the difference between responding and reacting.


  • Must have trust. Trust is vital to conflict resolution.
  • Eliminate fear from the organization.
  • Address any fear that may be contributing to the conflict. It may be something small to you, but big to them.
  • Accountability.
  • Address an issue soon so that it doesn’t fester and cause a blow up.
  • Help your team to see the importance of addressing an issue.
  • Must have discernment:
    • Wait and assess the situation.
    • Sometimes the argument is not the source of the conflict. May be a deeper issue.
  • Ask questions. Wait to hear all sides of the story.
  • Make it a process.
  • Q: Do you ever want to introduce conflict into a situation?
  • It can teach you lessons personally or about your work environment.
  • Allow the person who created the conflict to grow by pursuing and enacting a resolution.
  • Emphasize learning from other’s mistakes, but teach them how to learn from their own.
  • Use external examples to relate to internal conflicts. May allow your team to see the situation with fresh eyes and soften the blow.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)


  • Conflict with leadership vs. conflict with employees.
    • Being blunt vs. asking questions.
  • Confrontation requires truthfulness.
  • We are often afraid to confront someone because we worry that the problem lies with us. “Is it me?”
  • It is not the content, but the delivery that matters. One can deliver points, but in the wrong way.
  • The difficulty of technology. Comments can easily be misconstrued via phone, text, and email.


  • Q: What is Healthy Conflict?
    • Discussion of ideas
    • Constructive
  • Facts and Data vs. Emotions
  • Confrontation is just a different form of communication.
  • Conflict is good in a competitive environment. It can help you come to a better solution/idea.
  • Avoiding conflict can cause it to reach a boiling point.
  • Address the person causing the conflict and avoid gossip.
  • Don’t ambush. State why you are there.
  • Approach as discussion and not as a lecture.
  • Balance your response:
    • Tell them something positive before the negative.
    • Don’t connect your positive and negative comments with “but.” Connect your comments with “and.”
  • Wait to respond when emotions are high.
  • No better way to gain respect and authority than by addressing conflict in the workplace in a healthy and respectful way.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)

Topic: “The Advantage of Healthy Conflict in Business”


  • Conflict:
    • creates tension & compression
    • helps people get better
    • Engages people – when asking for input/insights
    • Removes obstacles/barriers when resolved
    • Creates an opportunity to learn something
  • Not everything may get worked out
  • Matthew 18
  • Where 2 or 3 are gathered, there will be conflict
  • Conflict should come with a humble perspective (humility)


  • Crucial Conversations training
  • Not promoting fear-based leadership/conflict
  • Lean into healthy conflict – there’s a cultural foundation required to allow this to go right and it’s about how leaders handle situations
  • Need an environment of trust, feedback, accountability
  • Don’t gossip/let conflict fester before it becomes more emotional than it needs to be
  • Go straight to the source
  • Speak truth in love – peacemaking card
  • Handle it timely and right away
  • Practice using role playing techniques
  • 3 Components that promote healthy conflict:
    1. Trust
    2. Commitment to Excellence
    3. Show you care
  • Take “Conflict Styles” assessment –
  • Match emotion with emotion & fact with fact or resolve with resolve
    • Seek to understand the other person’s emotion / perspective to connect logically, not emotionally

Take Away:

  • Always seek to resolve – bring individual values together to build the relationship value
  • Ask “how do we feel about that?” more often
  • Good leaders listen and let others have the answers
  • Celebrate failures – it’s about what you learned, not always about success

Join us next month as we discuss the “Keys to Business Survival & Success: What Are They & What Role Does Responsiveness Play?” RSVP to

What Does It Really Take to Be a Leader?

In the April Round Table meetings, we discussed “What Does it Really Take to Be a Leader?” One aspect of leadership is learning how to deal with conflict in a healthy and productive manner. Rodger Price, Owner and Founder of Leading By Design, will teach you just that at our upcoming Leadership Breakfast on May 18th. Click here to save your seat and learn more about the “#1 Communication Challenge: Leaning Into Healthy Conflict.

Below are the notes from the April Round Table meetings:

Birmingham Round Table Notes


“What does it really take to be a Leader?”

Q1: What are skills and characteristics of good leaders – honorable ones?

Passionate, Integrity, Vision, Consistency, Agility, Followers, Engagement, Service, Communications Skill, High Personal Values, Competence, Common Sense, Caring

Q2: Where are these learned?

School of Hard Knocks, From other Leaders, On the Job, Experiences. Best: Integrated and re-enforced/planned, Mentors, Modeling, Books, presentations, Self-Study

Q3: How are these taught?

Demonstration, Written scripts, Procedures, Speaking, Sacrifice – Leaders eat last, Examples


Passage: Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.”

Kalamazoo Round Table Notes (Tuesday)

What does it really take to be a leader?

  • Thick skin.
  • Proximity can create bad communication/conflict through assuming that people already know what is going on within the company/department.
  • Conflict can be a meeting of the minds. Sometimes the best growth comes out of conflict.
    • Conflict can cause improvement.
    • Have humility and confidence with the big picture in mind.
  • Book: Leading with a Limp
    • Allow your flaws to be seen
  • Integrity of character in all situations. Would rather that someone be consistently bad than inconsistently good. We at least know what to expect from them.
  • Effective leadership is not necessarily good leadership. Hitler was an effective leader, but he certainly was not a good leader.
  • Remember that people don’t purposely do things wrong, but rather do it in response to a situation.


  • Seek first to understand.
  • Don’t assume. Sometimes the lack of performance can stem from their cultural norms.
  • Always ask questions. Ask why someone isn’t meeting their goals and deadlines.
  • Leadership isn’t all about you. Allow others to shine.
  • Ask questions even when you have experience because every situation has its own nuances.
  • What are the elements of communication within your organization? Ask your team and clearly define.
  • What is good communication?
    • Draw people deeper into an issue to get to the root cause.
    • Leaders need to teach others to properly communicate/facilitate.
    • Observe while communicating to your team.

Kalamazoo Round Table Notes (Thursday)

What does it really take to be a leader?

  • Unfortunately, many organizations and leaders don’t know what it takes to be a leader
  • Nobody has clearly identified the characteristics.


  • A key part of leading is listening.
  • The delivery of your message matters. How do you leave people feeling after you interact with them?
  • There is only one person to beat: yourself.
  • Don’t be ruled by your emotions.
  • Follow your gut instincts.
  • Learn how to handle pressure.
  • Discipline your employees. It is one way that you can show that you care.
  • Leadership is spending time with people and developing them.
  • Must take time to reflect and be self-aware. Ask yourself how you can improve.
  • It is also necessary to have spiritual awareness/boldness.
  • Remember that not all leaders are in leadership roles.

Kalamazoo Round Table Notes (Friday)

 Topic: “What does it really take to be a leader?” 

  • Moxy, courage & humility
  • Not a people pleaser
  • High drive
  • Strong response to adversity
  • Confident in the mission – not let acceptance/rejection get in the way
  • Stays the course – is locked in to the mission
  • Decision-making – anyone that makes decisions is a leader
  • Needs to be called a leader
  • Collaborative & able to get others engaged
  • Willingness to serve – servant leader
  • Well-rounded person
  • Good listener to feedback
  • Manages energy well
  • Walks the fine line of transparency and guardedness
  • Hearts, hands & habits
  • Stays hungry & thirsty to learn and grow from others
  • Knows & leads themselves well
  • Comfortable in their own skin
  • Are leaders born or made?
  • Both – born and made if they want it enough to be made & build their skills up (high drive)

Take Away:

  • It takes A LOT to be a good leader (except Christ)
  • Nobody is a perfect leader
  • Continue to press on to be a better leader every day and put ourselves in a position to grow
  • Know what you need to do to lead yourself well first

Want to learn more about how you can become a more effective leader? Visit our video library where you can review all of the leadership topics from past Leadership Breakfast Events.

The Greatest Lessons Learned in Your Leadership

In the March Round Table meetings, we discussed the Greatest Lessons Learned in Your Leadership. Join us for our upcoming Leadership Events where we will dive deeper into what it takes to be an effective leader. Featured speakers include Patrick Colbeck (Senator, State of Michigan) and Mary Jane Mapes (President, Aligned Leader Institute).

Click here to register today!

We hope you enjoyed the meetings this month! We look forward to seeing you again in April. Below are the notes from some of the chapter meetings:



  • Knowing where you’ve been is critical to know where you’re going
  • Staying alert and adapting to business cycles
  • Talent: recruiting, hiring and management
  • Partnering with others on the leadership team to reach mutual goals
  • Defending the corporate culture
  • Focusing on (RFTTM) the relatively few things that matter


  • Be all that you can be within your capacity. Don’t pretend to be more
  • Involve everyone who is effected by change
  • Treat every employee with the same respect you give to your customers
  • Policies should be the result of best practices, so be flexible and examine what works
  • Be humble and considerate. Employees are people too.


  • There can be joy in sacrifice (Christ was the example when He went joyfully to the cross)
  • Be humble and honest which will set the tone for the corporate culture
  • Leadership is the creator and defender (by example) of the corporate culture (good or bad)
  • Pray always for wisdom on how to meet the needs of others and manage the corporate objectives at the same time.


Do you recall one particular Lesson you learned?

  • Now you are the boss: no one is your friend.
  • Expect what you expect; but push only so hard.
  • When you lead with fear/intimidation, no one trusts you, leave you eventually.
  • Put the right person in the right job which will take the pressure off of leadership

Who influenced you in learning leadership and what did they teach you?

  • Mixed signals – unclear objectives/rules are road to failure.
  • You cannot just tell people what they want to hear; be transparent and truthful.
  • Leadership requires an ability to make decisions; and quickly.
  • Can get more done with a team than by yourself. Don’t let diplomacy get in the way of action.

Do you have an example of how you use a lesson learned in leadership?

  • Be organized yourself.
  • Adapt your leadership to various individual’s behavior style (DiSC model helps communication).
  • Most important: demonstrate integrity and worthy of trust.
  • I was once told “Just Google It”. Lesson is that I need to figure it out for myself to really learn.


  • Should use Servant Leadership – Model of Jesus Christ
  • Leaders too often look down on their followers
  • Process of developing leaders – watch, then try-get feedback, then lead alone, then get ownership
  • Leaders should 80% listen, 20% talk. Scale back on the “Salesmanship”
  • Listening requires patience with awkward silence—this is when the “Spirit” is moving inside a person
  • Culture tends to define and confine the ability of leadership to achieve breakthroughs
  • Relinquish control; build up followers strengths, skills, confidence, trust
  • “Sit in your rest” as a leader to let details go and others to step up and solve the problems
  • Breathe life into followers, inspire, lift them up, give hope and love
  • Your demeanor, style (outward presence) telegraphs the inward feelings and state of mind – cannot hide it
  • Accept that as a leader you must grow in your vulnerability and willingness to accept/change


What are the greatest lessons learned in your leadership?

  • We have 2 ears and 1 mouth: listen more.
  • Make your team feel heard
  • Ask yourself/team if you are need to listen or to help.
  • Create a void/silence and see what your team fills it with.
  • Learn to be flexible: “Blessed are the flexible for they will not get bent out of shape.”
  • Don’t avoid confrontation, but be gentle and humble when it is necessary.
  • Red lights in life are a time to pause, reflect, and grow.
  • “When you fall on your face, fall on faith.”
  • Having a plan is valuable, even if it is a dumb one.
  • Watching others teaches valuable leadership lessons.
  • Robert Frost: “The Road Less Traveled”
    • Consider your options, observe, then choose.
    • We can sometimes get too comfortable with things we’ve done many time for many years. Remember: You’ve never been here before. Each day, each situation is new and has its own nuances.


  • You will experience failure. Have the tenacity to “fail forward”
  • Help your team find their way and find solutions on their own.
  • Book: The Multiplier
    • “Accidental Diminishers” – You are an accidental diminisher if you are intending to help someone, but end up helping too much. This ultimately weakens the one you’re helping by not allowing them to learn and grow.
    • Management is similar to parenting. Being too caring can enable of bad behavior. So, just like parents, we must discipline our team members so that they continue to grow.
  • How do you properly instill ethics in your team?
    • Mentoring
    • Shadowing – allow young leaders to follow you and observe you in a variety of situations.
  • Leaders must be servant minded
  • What is “healthy” for leadership?
    • Must not only be a good leader at work but also in personal life and family
    • Leadership teams should have healthy home lives (1 Timothy 3)
  • What is Integrity?
    • Consistent ethics across your life – professionally and personally.
  • Bucket Analogy: buckets made with planks – if one plank is too low, the water will spill out – regardless of where the plank it is. In the same way, your whole life needs to be aligned whether it is at home or at the office.
  • Young, passionate leaders
    • Help young leaders to develop in all areas of life
    • Express how certain actions are damaging
    • Teach them how to lose with grace
  • Help Unhappy/Immature Employees receive development. We’ll help you get where you want to go – even if it’s not with the current position/employer.
  • There is grace in holding up the mirror for others to see themselves/their faults
  • Vision Casting
    • Casting a vision for the organization, team, individual – where do they want to go?
    • Chick-fil-a career page clearly lays out the vision of work experience in their company.
    • Consistency


Do you learn from success or from failure?

  • Both – Comes down to how we view failure. If we have a positive view on failure, we learn more.
  • Failures – trying to understand the impact on the people around us and how they respond.
  • Challenge + Adversity: there are no failures – it’s the journey.

Greatest Lesson Learned:

  • Observation – learning from watching others.
  • Who is the greatest teacher? You? The circumstance? Someone else? We have to take ownership in learning the lesson. It doesn’t do any good to simply have a nice thought.
    • Being the best teacher is being the best student.
  • You have to be receptive to learning when you have adversity put in front of you.
  • Other people and situations matter as well. You have to align yourself with them.
  • We have to be teachable, honest, and vulnerable.

What is success?

  • Can be a combination of three things:
    • Learning from others
    • Circumstance from the economy
    • Learning more about yourself in each decade of your life
  • Is it learning or applying what we’ve learned.
  • We haven’t learned until we’ve applied – Learn from doing.
  • Can’t prove what you know until you demonstrate.
  • Human nature: learning is the driving force – continually learning and making things better.
  • Lifelong learners – if you don’t take time to apply it what good is it?
  • Human Capacity to learn
  • Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
  • We can learn something after that “aha” moment.
  • Not everyone wants to learn. You have to be more purposeful and intentional today to learn and not waste time on useless info/emails.
  • Experiential learning is key.

Greatest Life Lessons:

  • We tend to forget what we’ve learned if we don’t practice it
  1. You can learn from everyone
  2. You can always learn one thing each day
  3. Incorporate it – apply it to continue to grow.
  4. You can get caught up playing roles in a business and can lose sight of who you are/your values and judgement.
  5. Learning from a lifetime and loss.

Recent lesson learned in leadership in the last month?

  1. We don’t have all the answers – ask questions.
  2. We become what we think about.
  3. Learning to listen better and thinking deeper about what’s in between the lines and not proving my perspective.
  4. Real strength comes from knowing our strengths and finding others to compliment them.
    • One of my biggest strengths is one of my biggest weaknesses.
    • Renewing of your mind:
  1. Mental health – Right thinking leads to right doing.
    • Garbage in, garbage out.
    • Have conviction in everything.
    • If you’re influenced by anyone other than Him, you’ll more than likely fall short.
  2. Be real. Meet people where they are at.


Most of our lessons learned had to do with people management.  The upshot of “how to avoid making the same mistake again” boiled down to one thing.  In every event where we learned a hard lesson, we had not adequately prayed about the issue and trusted God to lead us.  Thus, the way to avoid the same mistake (and others) in the future is to remember to pray about all decisions and trust God.


Raising the Bar on Your Leadership Performance

In the February Round Table meetings, we discussed how you can Raise the Bar on Your Leadership Performance.  If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us on March 16th for our 5th Annual Leadership Summit at the University Club in Grand Rapids.

Click here to register today!


The real key to raising the bar on our leadership performance is directly related to how much time we spend praying about being more effective leaders, and listening to what God tells us.  Whatever we try to do on our own will meet with limited, unsustainable success.

Practical “helps” along the way were deduced from observation of how Jesus helped train His disciples to be leaders, and then to be better leaders.  (We figured Jesus didn’t need to raise the bar on His own leadership performance!!)

What did He do?  What did they do?  Made mistakes.  Lot’s of them.  And then they learned from those mistakes how to be better the next time.  They didn’t hide the mistakes (not that they could have, really), or argue that it wasn’t a mistake.  They accepted that they screwed up, accepted correction, accepted restoration and improved.

What else?  They never lost sight of the goal … “Go make disciples of all nations.”   We should do the same.

When they were faced with the “daily operations,” like what to do with the widows and the hungry and the squabbles, they prayed and asked for guidance.  Then they delegated.  Sometimes we need to delegate in order to have the right people doing the right work (feeding the hungry).  Sometimes we delegate to train up new leaders (like when Christ sent the disciples out to the towns to spread the gospel, as part of their training).  Effective delegation is a difficult balance, and not a natural trait for most of us.

They also balanced goal achievement with people-care.  They didn’t compromise on either front and that, really, is the mark of excellent leadership.


Q1: What does this mean? Challenges you face?

How high is the bar set? Is it too low? Always need to raise it for continual improvement.

Vision: What to do; Mission: Why I do it. Need to connect the personal WHY with the Job WHY. Before commitment can be deeply made and felt. We are faced with multiple WHYs – they need to be brought into unity: personal, family, job, community. Clarity and unity empowers/energizes.

Q2: Why would this help the leadership in a company?

Most people don’t see the light until they feel the heat. Only when errors, pain, suffering, failure get their attention, do people figure they need to figure out WHY and act in response to their discovery.

Q3: Who would be impacted and how?

Customers, suppliers, employees. Unity in the leader’ personal WHY and the company WHY is first. Then this unity needs driven through company.

Takeaways for today:

The “WHY” opens the gate to the “WHAT”. I did not make satisfactory progress until I began working for a bigger mission: other people. Central Values will drive all activities and behaviors – both good/evil. I am motivated to dig out my leadership ooks and push myself back into deeper learning. You must be open and aware of input from others – control the ego and listen for insights that will make life/work easier. Get a coach; I performed better when I had one. Use an outside board of advisors.

Additional Notes:

  • A lot of people do not see the light until they feel the heat
  • Define your mission and invest in it
  • All human energy focused on self-image and to fulfill self-desires
  • Two primary motivations in all actions 1) Fear and 2) Greed
  • Leaders need to re-think and look at “How many people we serve? and how well we serve?”
  • Be open to “Let Go” to become wildly successful
  • Unite Personal “Why” with organizational “Why” to achieve happier (and successful) work life
  • Remain focused on Christ — [or your own Higher Power] — and make Him your first and highest Mission, to please Him and to honor Him, in all that we do.


The conversation drifted a bit to our own leadership styles and companies.

Dirk has taught this in his consulting arena.  He uses 5 phases of leadership growth. He couldn’t remember one of them but here was his input.

1) Initially,  getting the leadership Position

2) Working under management’s Permission

3) (he couldn’t remember this one – it also starts with “P”)

4) Developing the People under you

5) Reaching people “beyond” = Pinnacle.  We used the example of Jeffrey with CBRT -beyond his role at StructureTec.

Jesus’ leadership style is the perfect model. BUT Elijah was the example of a leader who had to stand against culture. What does that look like for leadership in today’s PC reality and governmental overreach into the business environment?


A real leader raises his/her own bar and then teaches others to do the same.



  • How do you raise your own bar on your leadership performance?
  • Sometimes you’re the leader simply because no one else will step up.
  • How do you relate to your new employees/the younger generation?
  • How do you lead people who move on to other jobs so quickly?


  • Must have self-awareness and be able to assess how you’re doing.
  • Create your own metrics to measure your success – but you must also have the integrity to follow those metrics once they are set.
  • Be humble:
    • Be willing to learn from others, including your employees.
    • Allow your team to see what you see.
  • Open up communication if there are any rifts and be willing to admit your faults.
  • Lead by asking. Don’t simply give someone the answer they need. Help them to find it on their own.
  • Force your employees to grow through tough love.
  • Step away. Allow your team to learn and grow without hovering over them.
  • Demonstrate that you have confidence in them.
  • Be invested in your team. Reward them for their work, even if it’s a simple thank you/recognition.
  • Refer to your story: Stories reinforce your work culture and create a sense of history/loyalty.
  • Confidence is contagious.


  • Leaders make room for deep thought. They create white space.
  • Leaders Muse (think deeply on a subject). Muse is the opposite of amusement.
  • Leaders think 1st before reacting. They respond, not react.
  • As a leader, do we tell God about people or do we tell people about God?
  • Raising the bar is raising your relationship with people

Leading With Emotions: What is at Stake?

Marshall Round Table Notes

In the discussion we essentially reworded the title to, “How do we lead in light of the fact that emotions are part of us, and of everyone else, too?”

  • Best quote of the day was from Randy, from a previous sermon.  I don’t remember who was quoted but it was something like, “The heart is an emotional idiot.”  I.e. Leading with just one’s emotions is disastrous!
  • Based on how Christ led and dealt with emotions (His emotions and the emotions of others) we concluded that the first thing we need to do is to clearly articulate the goal and the expectations, and never lose sight of either. 
  • In the example of Jesus, the goal was to do God’s will and bring salvation.  Whether His emotion was grief, anger, impatience or whatever, He always responded by sticking to the goal and living by God’s expectations (e.g. in the Garden, in the temple with the money changers, etc.). 
  • When dealing with the emotions of others He sometimes treated them compassionately (the shamed woman caught in adultery), sometimes by telling them to get over themselves (the disciples arguing about who would sit by His right and His left), sometimes by being very “in your face” (“whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones”), etc.  In every circumstance, though, His response was based on keeping focused on the goal and then taking into account the emotional makeup and spiritual condition of the person in front of Him.
  • Based on His example we need to have, and share with staff and leaders, a clear and objective articulation of goals and responsibilities from which to hold a respectful and rational discussion.  Then we need to consider our emotions and the emotions of others and adjust the execution of our leadership accordingly.

Grand Rapids Round Table (Tuesday)


  • Define emotion
    • Passion
    • Truth with Love
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ) increases with humble leader
  • If the stakes are high it forces EQ to increase as well
  • EQ bridges to context – emotions are needed to help deliver the message
  • Must have balance
  • Must be honest
  • Nonverbal
  • Showing emotion (the right way) shows that you can handle the situation at hand
  • Shows everything will be Ok
  • EQ helps leaders evaluate above the fray
  • Helps deal with good and bad


  • Be consistent
  • Be passionate about the right thing
  • Be purposeful
  • Be humble
  • Set the tone as the leader – buck up
  • Keep the pity parties private
  • Trust must be developed before crisis
  • Have to move forward
  • Be accepting of others – not everyone was raised with the same EQ capacity. It’s a leaders job to help others develop

Take Aways:

  • People remember how you made them feel not what you said
  • “Jet planes don’t have rear-view mirrors.” You have to move forward or you’ll fall from the sky.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)

During our discussion, we focused on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. 


  • Leading with the heart and passion, but not with emotion
    • Passion can lead to negative emotions.
  • Consistency: Maintaining steady emotions.
    • Emotions are fleeting/erratic/dangerous – do not make decisions based upon them in a moment.
  • Shift in Work Culture: Managing without any personal interaction doesn’t work anymore. Open yourself up and show that you are a human being.
  • Leadership development is a hot topic with lots of material, but not necessarily quality material.


  • Get to know your employees as much as possible in order to manage them and their emotions properly.
    • However, balance is necessary. Do not get involved too personally and lessen your authority.
  • Exercise Emotional Intelligence: 
    • Be open and vulnerable without spilling your guts.
    • Be consistent in emotions, reactions, and treatment of your employees. Treat all of your employees the same (those you like and dislike).
  • If your managers are failing to maintain authority/professionalism/consistency, try to provide a mentor.
  • Must have a strong on-boarding program.
  • Remember: Positive relationships do not always equal popularity and being liked.
    • We are not here for employee approval; we are here for their well-being.
  • Don’t overwork your best employees. Allow them the time to develop/mentor other employees. 
  • Always be open to learning.
  • Be reflective and introspective to evaluate how you are doing.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)


  • How do we coach someone who’s emotional on the job (in a negative way) without them becoming all emotional about it?
  • How do we balance our own emotions so that we don’t either go too far or become cold and impersonal in our relationships?


  • Sometimes emotional people need to learn for themselves from their mistakes. Self-discovery on their part is better than us trying to “fix” them.
  • In some cases we might not be the best person to address negative emotions in a colleague. Sometimes another person would better serve as the key influencer.
  • God created us with emotions. They’re a key part of our makeup.  Jesus showed emotion.
  • Positive emotion can be a powerful tool (not in manipulative way, though) to promote a cause, to get people on board and focused on the same goal, or to effect positive change. Negative emotion can have the opposite effect.
  • A workplace environment can either strive or be stifled depending on the emotional atmosphere. If a colleague is afraid to fail because of perceived ramifications that will follow, innovation and creativity can be shut down.
  • The emotional atmosphere in the workplace radiates outward not only to the employees, but to the customers and clients as well. Its effect is felt far beyond the walls of our business.  It’s critical to establish a positive emotional culture in our workplace.
  • Without emotion we can be seen as being cold, distant, or uncaring.
  • We spend a lot of time training people how to do their jobs. How much time do we spend training them in how to conduct themselves emotionally on the job?
  • Since emotions come from God, we need to regularly submit our emotions to the Lord so that He can continue to hone, form and shape us. That way we can set a godly example for others to follow.


Seven Principles of Sound Governance

In the December Round Table meetings we discussed the “7 Principles of Sound Governance.”


Ultimately we addressed the seven attributes of good governance from the perspective of Scripture.  We asked, what if the Trinity is “governance” and “the church” is the “company”?  How would the seven attributes apply?  How does God, the Three in One, “govern” us, and what can we learn from that?

  • Tell the truth.  Be honest in and out of season.  Christ was always 100% honest, but He communicated His honest comments in ways that were most effective for the listener.  For the repentant sinner, He told them to leave their life of sin.  For the self-righteous, He was brutally direct about the condition of their spirit.  For the crowds, He taught in parables to make deep truths more accessible.  When we govern (or lead) we need to consider honesty in those terms.
  • Be faithful and fair.  We wanted to add “grace”, because we were very thankful that God isn’t JUST fair, but also extends grace.  If He was just “fair”, we would be bound for hell.
  • Embrace accountability and insist on it.  Christ was very clear about what the church needs to be accountable for.  It isn’t a bunch of minutiae; He focused on the key attributes of relationship with Him.  Likewise, when we govern/lead we should keep our focus on the high level deliverables, not the minutiae.
  • Respect the governed and respect the government.  When Jesus said “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” He was showing significant respect for the governed (because our human governments are actually governed by God).  We should do likewise.  Respect those who govern us and, when we delegate, respect the rights of those to whom we have delegated.
  • Govern with humility. Christ was the ultimate of humility.  We should pick up trash on the ground (not walk over it), pitch in to help when we can, and basically consider others better than ourselves.
  • Serve the governed, not the systems and people of government. Jesus was born into a gigantic cobweb of man-made systems that had sprung up over the centuries from a few God-given directives.  He lived within most of those systems, and only really challenged the ones that got in the way of what really mattered … relationship with God.  Likewise, when we govern/lead with wisdom we need to keep our focus on what really matters, and pick our battles carefully.
  • Acknowledge the nature of government, and of man.  We started by talking about the nature of government, and of man.  Jesus said He did not trust Himself to men because He knows what is in a man.  That lead us to realize that the nature of both government and man is flawed, and is entirely incomplete and inadequate except when it is in full relationship with God.  Ownership, then, requires that we be on our knees seeking God at all times.  This realization also drives the other attributes (they are intertwined) … it drives humility, respect, accountability, etc.



Prior to the challenge we reviewed the seven principles (trying to keep into context the application to business)

  • Owners have extreme independence – “it is my show”
  • Do not want to be open and honest – avoid conflict and accountability
  • Service to self in today’s world in counter-cultural
  • Through the world’s lens – humility = weakness
  • The nature of fallen man
  • Lack of pure motives – “hidden agendas”
  • Too complicated
  • West Michigan “nice” attitude
  • Fear, ego, pride, etc.
  • Inability to transfer a healthy culture to the next generation of leadership and / or ownership
  • Do not want to mentored – “lack of a teachable spirit”
  • Lack of mentors – “takes too much time”
  • Avoidance is easier (for the time being)
  • Lack of candor


  • Truthful evaluations – Top 5 strengths vs. Top 5 weaknesses – create a formal process for the top leader with input from the team
  • Strong self-evaluations
  • Self-discovery
  • Simplify the message and the process (and even the organizational structure)
  • Understand “fairness” and the impact when people feel things are not fair
  • Identify roadblocks to success – be honest, listen, show humility
  • Watch the “company you keep”
  • Develop strong core principles and values – live by them / re-enforce them
  • Create a governance process
  • At the end of each meeting give people the opportunity to cover the last 10% = “what are we missing or lacking or didn’t cover?” or “what are you going to tell your spouse when you get home tonight about this meeting – good or bad?”


  • Understand the roadblocks
  • Be clear on fairness and the impact of people being treated “unfair”
  • Truthful evaluations – formal process
  • Humility – starts with your relationship with God / always look to the cross
  • Develop candor and fairness
  • Covering the last 10%
  • Keep in mind the good for the company


Governance Means:

  • Compliance
  • Authority
  • Leadership principle

How does governance apply to business?

  • We govern ourselves and others

What do the 7 Principles mean to us?

  • Code of conduct
  • Follow them – stems from failures
  • Code of ethics training

What do the 1st and 2nd principles really align to us?

  • Impact – negative + positive

Theme – about the person that you’re service.

  • Leaders are meant to serve the people
  • Empowerment of others – making those around you better
  • Serve the people:
    • Communicate
    • Respect their views
    • Share the big picture
  • Seek the truth – based on all perspectives

What is a principle?

  • A lighthouse in your life
  • Keeps you on the straight and narrow
  • A standard
  • Foundation – to be better & to guide us & demonstrate what you stand for.
  • You will crash if you don’t have principles
  • If you’re in the dark, you don’t have them
  • We’re not bad people / leadership; when we’re in the dark, we can’t see



Tell the Truth – It can be skewed so easily

Take Away

  • These 7 principles are a wish list (or prayer list) from a political stand point
  • Self-governance – people don’t see everything we do at all times
    • Our inner conscious / drive to do the right thing
  • Make these to be auto-pilot – am I truly exemplifying these values?
  • Building each other up – how can we be lighthouses in the world to others?
    • And not look like we are know-it-alls?
  • Explain where you’re coming from
  • Humility is key
  • Become a good story teller – “Don’t bleed all over others – share your scars”
  • Saying “I’m sorry” – be willing to acknowledge (especially when you have the ultimate authority)
  • End result of sound governance:
    • A good night’s sleep – peace & contentment
    • Trust, loyalty, the right employee retention

How do we be more proactive?

  • Don’t forget to cast the vision to others
  • Serve our people and their needs



  • Many perspectives
  • The Word tells us the real truth
  • Makes life simpler to walk through when you know it
  • Sales people must be trust advisors – develop relationships with others
  • The sale is only the starting point
  • Alternate truth (from the media)
  • Don’t be overly judgmental & understand the truth of others perspectives
  • We’re not always willing to expand our truth
  • Everybody is emotionally driven
  • Our anxieties are what hold us back – 30 years ago vs. today
    • How different were people with mental illness back then vs. now? Not very much at all -appears worse today due to heightened awareness and social media
  • It’s hard for people to discern the standard
  • BOOK: Colin Powell – “What You Know, Think, The difference Between the Two”
  • Review an issue with multiple options – take out emotional involvement
  • Focus on the idea or issue

Instilling Trust:

  • How do you get individual buy in of these principles and create the culture to where that’s the norm and not the exception?
    • State it as part of your culture
  • Be Respectful
  • Govern with humility
  • Serve the people, not the system so that they can support the system
  • Marketing is your message of the truth – it can be propaganda

Take Away

  • We have to be patient to allow the team to understand the truth
  • Come up with a collective truth
  • Take people from where they are & take them to where you want them to go
  • Model the truth that you know
    • Lead from back when needed
  • We can disagree behind closed doors but we need to agree on the same goal
  • Reinforcing / modeling / adherence to this principle
  • Model what we say we want to do


What is our interpretation of the 7 Principles of Sound Governance?

  • Leading / managing a certain way; ethically
  • Can’t lie – if you lie to customers you have nothing
  • Integrity, you’re not always watched as a leader. If you don’t have a peer review to help guide you – like a mentor / overseer
  • Sound Business Acumen – a lot of great people also should / shouldn’t lead (an aspect) of a company
  • Mentoring – within & outside your company
  • Humility
  • Servant leadership & empathy
    • Serving & caring for others
    • There’s a balance between serving/caring & holding them accountable
    • “Cure period” – where you have crucial conversations that either leads to performance improvement or separation/termination
  • Discipline – the greatest form of love
    • Constructive criticism
    • Fair & firm
    • Boundaries – there’s a greater good that needs to be protected
    • Accountability is a form of caring
  • Patience – leading people takes a lot of this
  • Creativity
  • Ingenuity
  • Personality / Culture
  • Emotional stability
  • Passionate for products/service/business model