Build Your People, Not Your Company

In the September Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “Build Your People, Not Your Company.”

Dick Shilts, Athletic Director (Retired) of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, will continue this theme at our upcoming Leadership Breakfast on October 19th. Click here to save your seat and hear Dick teach on the topic of “Building Relationships: Going Deeper.”

If you are 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 Dick’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the September Round Table meetings.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)


  • What does taking care of people look like?
  • How do we train and educate leaders to do this?
  • Good systems are useless if your people aren’t properly developed.
  • Issue of time. Mentorship takes time.
  • Some invest millions into equipment/machines, but what are they investing in their people?
  • Example: professional sports teams invest millions into facilities/staff/equipment to keep their athletes performing at their best. Their athletes make them money in the same way that our employees make us money. We must invest in them.


  • People are messy. We must recognize and embrace this to help shape our approach.
  • Be aware. Pay attention to your employees faces.
  • Embrace the process.
  • Invest in your employees passion.
  • Focus on the why. We often say what benefits we offer without explaining why we offer them.  Communicate that you care.
  • Individualize benefits to employees. However, executives must extend trust to their middle managers and establish parameters for them to make decisions on their own so that they are not constantly coming to the CEO with individual requests.
  • Leadership should include HR in their meetings so that they can understand the executives’ vision and implement it in the hiring/training/development process.
  • Top level leaders must be on board.
  • Issue of Execs vs. HR. Need someone who is business minded who also cares for people and is able to properly communicate to executives how their new policies/practices/systems will help with the bottom line.
  • Managers are overworked. We need People Development teams to work closely with managers to help alleviate the burden.
  • Administrative side of HR should be included in Finance. Separate HR into Finance and People Development.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)

What does it mean to build your people?

  • It is a long-term approach.
  • Show sincere interest in them.
  • Be present when speaking with someone.
  • Show individualized edification. This will take extra effort to learn about each of your team members.
  • The way you view your company starts with how you view your people.
  • Company growth can throw off the dynamic.

How do you manage to keep focus of the company while focusing on your people?

  • Keep the big picture in mind while dealing with the little picture.
  • We all want the same thing: love, respect, value etc.
  • What outcome do you want?
  • Rules without relationship seem harsh.
  • Have to deposit [in your people] before you can withdrawal.

How do we value our employees, stay present, and show that we care while getting work done? How do we communicate this to our team?

  • View them as capable. They are more capable than they realize.
  • Acknowledge what they are good at.
  • People are filled with self-doubt and shame. Before asking them to take on a task, affirm their strength and show the reason you have assigned it to them.
  • Culture has built the idea of superman/woman. We know that as the body of Christ, we need each other/others with varying strengths.
  • We don’t have to be “the best,” we just have to be the best version of ourselves.
  • Let people learn to solve their own problems, but we must be a good coach.
  • Problem solving: Are you asking questions to help or are you making them dependent on you?
  • Look for people who have strengths opposite yours.

How do we help and work with millennials?

  • Be authentic.
  • Create community environment.
  • Allow them to fail and teach them how to learn from their failures.
  • Learn who they are and discover their strengths.
  • A one-man band is someone who people throw pennies at on the street, but people pay good money to hear a symphony. Remember to delegate, empower, show them trust, and even let them fail.

Join us next month as we discuss “Implementing & Maintaining A Healthy Work Environment.” RSVP to

How Best to Show Recognition & Appreciation for Your Employees

In the August Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “How Best to Show Recognition & Appreciation for Your Employees.”

Dave Casterline, Executive Director of Three Rivers Health Foundation, will continue this theme at our upcoming Leadership Breakfast on August 17th. Click here to save your seat and hear Dave speak on the topic of “We’re Building People, Not Companies.”

If you are 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 Dave’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the August Round Table meetings.

Birmingham Round Table:

Q1: What are some ways to recognize employees in business?

  • Time off
  • Community service groups
  • engagement in outside activities on behalf of company
  • cash
  • career ladder
  • voice
  • reward
  • growth
  • personal notes of thanks

Q2: When should you show appreciates to employees?

  • Individual focused – Everyone is different.
  • People work for a person, not a company.
  • CBRT – Major mission – “Noblis Oblige” – To whom much is given… need to share more with young people.

Q3: Could/should certain practices be avoided?

  • Separate recognition and coaching – never same time.
  • Paying attention to phone and not the relationship.
  • Avoid participation trophies and employee of the month/year etc.

Q4: What will you do differently in the future?

  • Need to form … – Broaden people’s knowledge.
  • Assign mentors to young people.
  • Create matrix.  Activity for each quarter.

Takeaways for today:

  • Western Heritage – Hillsdale
  • Address proper balance – Personal, job,
  • Customizing recognition to individuals. Prepare a matrix. Ask: How does this person want recognition.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday):


  • Previous generation operated with one mind – the mind of the boss. The employees were an extension of his mind.
    • Leadership was a dictatorship.
    • Micromanagement.
  • If you want to change the current culture, you may need to get rid of some managers who are unwilling to change – even ones with seniority.
  • What is the downfall of recognition culture?
    • Inconsistency.
    • Can create a level of jealousy.
  • The danger of current topic: may result in one way to show appreciation when each person wants to be recognized in a different way.
    • Some individuals are embarrassed by group/public recognition.
  • Can give too much recognition. It can make employees rely on recognition and cause them to be discontent.
  • Recognition must come from the heart of the leader.  Communicating your reward systems can do more harm than good. Can cause the employees to become critical of the leader when they don’t do what is communicated.
  • What is the biggest challenge? Time.


  • Recognition must be genuine – Standard forms of recognition can feel hollow (e.g. Employee of the year/month).
  • Compensation is not just money:
    • Ask what they need.
    • Take time to get to know them.
  • Ask your employees what type of recognition they like best.
  • Treat employees like human beings or recognition means nothing. Take time to greet/speak to each of your employees.
  • Biblical mentality – Romans 12 – Treat others better than yourself.
  • Servant leadership – it is not task oriented. Must put in the work to know your people.
  • Leaders need expectations communicated to them – a heart change may be necessary.
  • Emphasize that it is about people, not engagement scores.
  • Cash bonuses can foster entitlement. Use a variety of different methods.
  • Use reward system to foster behaviors you want.
  • BOOK: “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People” – Gary Chapman.
  • Yearly reviews are too infrequent. Schedule reviews more often.
  • The overloaded leader:
    • Show that you have time to answer questions or give employees resources when you can’t.
    • Be proactive, not reactive. Do you want to deal with a problem now or later?
    • Managers need small groups so that they can lead properly and effectively.
    • If your group is too large with your workload, consider hiring an assistant to give yourself more time to lead.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday):


  • Some employees may not like being recognized.
  • Employees leave their managers, not their jobs. Many individuals like their job, but are tired of the poor management.


  • Sincerity is key.
  • Showing recognition affirms their value to the company.
  • Types of recognition:
    • Writing note cards to say thank you
    • Know them well enough to know their strengths and give them an opportunity to build on them. Build that relationship.
    • Personal emails
    • A simple thank you
    • Gentle discipline. To be told the areas you can improve on.
    • Perfect attendance? More vacation time.
    • Gift cards
    • Cards from leadership on service anniversaries
    • Birthday cards
  • Make the culture in your group even if you can’t affect the entire company culture.
  • Show them that you trust them. Do not micromanage.
  • Failure should be seen as a positive learning experience.
  • Empower employees so they can flourish and do their job freely and creatively.
  • Invest in long term development so they can flourish and feel valued.
  • Provide special projects for them to show that you recognize their potential.
  • Employees need affirmation.
  • Systems need to be recycled or they become less meaningful/effective.
  • People assume that they know what you think – usually assume the negative. As a leader, be sure that you are clear.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday):


  • Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated differently. Not everyone likes public acknowledgement.
  • Some people know how to play the system. They know how to display their qualities at an opportune time to get the recognition rather than demonstrating good character/work at all times.
  • Societal conflicts are eliminating the possibility of connection/bonding.
  • Generation gaps
    • Previous generation was happy with material compensation (mementos, pay, etc.)
    • Current generation wants personal compensation (investment in career development/training, sense of community/acceptance etc.)


  • Appreciation must be authentic.
  • Consider asking what would make them feel appreciated.
  • Consider a list for employees to rank which types of recognition they prefer.
  • Some people are simply self-motivated and don’t need recognition.
  • Don’t reward the task without validating the person.
  • Teaching and development can be forms of showing appreciation.
  • Trust and integrity are essential. Otherwise, it will be disregarded by the employee you are trying to thank.
  • Show them that you recognize that all work has dignity.
  • Management must not treat the team as second class. Remember that every member is necessary for success (For example: a good chef values his dish washer. He saves the other members of the kitchen valuable time so that the food gets out on time).
  • Unexpected ways to show appreciation: Investing in the work environment/building.
  • Leadership must get their team to understand that they are investing in the company, people, and mission. Give them a sense of purpose in their work. Answering “the why” explains their contribution and why they matter.
  • Millennials are no different than any other generation.  They are simply asking for what you only thought about.
  • Welcoming a new employee should be like welcoming a new member of the family.

Want to join us next month? RSVP to

Stewarding Employees Well: Keys to Seeing, Valuing, & Managing Employees as People

In the July Round Table meetings, we discussed the topic of “Stewarding Employees Well: Keys to Seeing, Valuing, & Managing Employees as People.”

Dave Casterline, Executive Director of Three Rivers Health Foundation, will continue this theme at our upcoming Leadership Breakfast on August 17th. Click here to save your seat and hear Dave speak on the topic of “We’re Building People, Not Companies.”

If you are 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 Dave’s presentation is available.

Below are the notes from the July Round Table meetings.

Rochester Round Table:

  • Personality tests to help them reflect on the questions.
  • Be responsive to employees emotional state. Look for opportunities to help.
  • Periodic meetings to check everyone’s pulse.
  • Gossip must stop. Bring the spirit of reconciliation.
  • Employees want you to listen. Stop and listen.
  • As a business owner, we have a responsibility to run the business well. Respect…
  • Pay for performance (KRM). You’re in the game or you’re not.
  • “It’s business, not personal” does not apply to the Christian.
  • Parenting mindset. Whose fault…
  • Don’t let pride marginalize millennials. People work for people. Give millennials purpose.
  • Don’t tell them what to do, tell them who they are…
  • Who is responsible for employee performance? The leader is. We hired them and lead them.
  • Woman at the well example. Judas’ story (He knew he would betray Him). Rich young ruler story (Need to deal with this one thing).
  • Performance is the responsibility of management/ leadership.

Grand Rapids Round Table (Tuesday)


  • Finding the common ground between meeting corporate goals and employee needs.
  • Dealing with communication gaps that isolate employees from the corporate culture.


  • Making training and give-and-take meetings to ensure common
  • Creating a clear set of core values and indoctrinate employees on ways to execute them as a matter of corporate culture.


  • Employees are people too. And people are individuals and must be treated as such.
  • Importance of using core values as a corporate rallying point, internally and externally.
  • A family oriented culture makes employees feel important and more than just a performance number.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Tuesday)


  • Small companies vs. large companies: you lose the ability to have as much contact with your employees as you grow.
  • Breeches in communication between upper level executives and employees in growing companies.
  • It is easy in large corporations to view your employees as numbers and data when you never have the opportunity to interact with them.
  • Effects of society at large: cultural trends of dehumanizing people.
  • Human nature: we are all susceptible to self-centeredness.
  • Inconsistencies in Leadership. Actions of the leadership are often at odds with the stated values of the company.
  • Easy to get in the habit of saying what you want and not asking what your employees see and what their goals are.


  • Try to create small communities within large corporations.
  • Foster a sincere interest in your employees.
  • Continue to align employees with the goals of the corporation. Must be reinforced often.
  • Remember that all employees have a role, including the least skilled.
  • How do you make goals come to life with small groups while unifying the company at large?
  • Departments are like a body: They all are connected and can affect each other.  Cannot allow company to be too segmented – don’t discredit the opinion of an employee because of their position or department. They may have a fresh perspective as an outsider.
  • Let employees know that their opinions matter and are valued.
  • Insecure employees cause turf wars and are constantly on the defense. This comes from an inability to be honest and talk through conflict.
  • When making changes, make sure your employees feel heard.
  • Value your employees beyond what they contribute.
  • Develop metrics to measure the goals of your employees. If you aren’t monitoring or  measuring a goal or task, it will not get done.
  • Company core values are not always sufficient for fundamental principles of communication and interaction.
  • Define your story to demonstrate your values to your employees.
  • Evaluate how your mission statement affects the company culture and culture at large.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Thursday)


  • Balance of workload. Many in leadership positions are bogged down with too much work to adequately lead their teams.
  • We are too busy to get better.
  • Valuing and seeing your employees takes time. It requires talking, learning, and asking questions of them.
  • Leaders often in charge of groups that are too large.
  • Character matters. Often see broken people leading broken people.
  • HR barriers – Legal issues of asking questions that are too personal.


  • We neglect God’s principles in our business to do our own will. View your employees as children of God.
  • Be willing to sacrifice your efficiency in order to have effective one-on-one’s and often.
  • Weigh external metrics against eternal metrics.
  • Be willing to admit when there was a hiring/promotion mistake.
  • Affirmation must be authentic.
  • Remember: Skilled workers will leave their bosses even at the expense of their pay.
  • Good stewardship includes financial responsibility. Is the paycheck you’re giving your employee a blessing or a curse? Instill good financial habits in your employees.  Consider Dave Ramsey’s program for employers.
    • (MLB requires all minor leaguers to go through financial training to ensure that they can manage their new-found wealth well).


  • Help your people figure out what they want to do.
  • Encourage your team.
  • Are we a blessing or curse to our team?
  • Remind them that they are uniquely made by God.
  • We tend to promote competency vs. character.

Kalamazoo Round Table (Friday)


  • What is stewardship?
    • Shepherding
    • A sense of responsibility for…
  • What does a company need to steward well?
  • What does an employee need to be stewarded well?
  • Why do we want to steward employees well?
    • It’s good for us and them
    • Coaching, correcting and by lifting them up they’ll be a better employee & produce more quality work
    • We get so focused on production and execution
    • Everyone brings value – it’s up to the leader to draw that out
    • You only see the tip of the ice burg & the tip of their potential!


  • Give an environment to engage them in the process
    • Surveying
    • 1×1 meetings
    • Use a Scorecard to rate managers & employees
    • Build stewardship into tradition & culture
    • Earn trust – seek first to understand then to be understood
    • Little things make a big difference
    • Help employees find reality & get to know themselves – what is it they’re really good at?
    • Acknowledge when they’re struggling & that we see what they see
    • Have crucial conversations – communication is key


  • If you do not come alongside them and communicate often, they will fill it in and create their own story
  • Compensation / pay incentives = in the service industry, employees shouldn’t make more than 60% of the service value
  • Build equity with people & show them we believe in them and want to invest in their development
  • Help them see our vision for the person
  • Where is the hidden potential in our company?
  • Make truthful and meaningful connections with people

Join us next month as we discuss “How Best to Show Recognition & Appreciation for Your Employees.” RSVP to

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.