Patrick Lencioni’s latest monthly article is now available. It’s called “Discounting Teamwork.” Here’s the upshot:
What’s the practical lesson for companies trying to improve? They should start by spending more of their time and effort creating a culture of teamwork than looking for outside talent, because the rewards for doing so are enormous. For starters, they’ll get more from the employees they already have, and even find stars who are already in their midst. Remember, great football teams birth superstars from the ranks of ordinary players who happen to have extraordinary attitudes. Beyond that, companies that create true team environments become places where other team-oriented players want to work. Great football teams attract players who are tired of playing for selfish, dysfunctional teams, and, in many cases, they even play for less money to have that opportunity.
Perhaps the first thing that a company needs to do in order to improve is to ask itself if it truly believes that teamwork is a strategic advantage, and that it, more than shear talent, brings about lasting success.
I’m going through my in box after being gone for a week, and there are 6 new books in it that I’m looking forward to reading or dipping into a bit more (or, 4 that are actually new, and 2 that are new to me).
Tim Keller’s new book. I’m very excited about it — though I still haven’t had a chance to read Generous Justice (which I’m much looking forward to). Tim also did a recent interview with the Atlantic which is very good.
I haven’t dipped into this much yet and don’t know a ton about it. I think I came across it in a bookstore recently and ordered it from Amazon in order to take a closer look at it. But the topic (namely, cities) is important to me and it looks like it might have some helpful insight, so it seems worth taking a look at. You can also read an interview with the author and his recent article in the Atlantic, “How Skyscrapers Can Save the City.”
Michael Horton’s new systematic theology. I’ve really enjoyed and found helpful the parts that I’ve read so far. And I’m grateful for Mike Horton’s ministry in general, which you can learn more about at The White Horse Inn.
A production of the four gospels featuring the artistic work of Makoto Fujimura, “a devout Christian, and one of the most highly-regarded artists of the twenty-first century.” I was very interested in this when I first heard about it, and some friends graciously gave a copy to me this week (thank you!). You can also see Justin Taylor’s recent interview with Makoto Fujimura.
I try to have a solid commentary on most books of the Bible. I’m reading through Acts now as part of my reading through the Bible this year and picked this up when I realized I didn’t have anything yet on Acts.
Along with Bock’s commentary on Acts (above), these are probably the two best two commentaries on Acts.
Al Mohler. Here’s an excerpt:
Being in a bookstore helps me to think. I find that my mind makes connections between authors and books and ideas as I walk along the shelves and look at the tables. When I get a case of writer’s block, I head for a bookstore. The experience of walking among the books is curative.
. . .
My Kindle and iPad are filled with digital books, and the e-book will be one of the dominant book forms and formats of the future. When I need an e-book, a push of a button makes it happen. Who wouldn’t welcome that development? But the e-book is not the same as a physical book, and both the digital and the printed book have their own charms.
Mike Shatzkin thinks the handwriting is already on the wall — “Book stores are going away.” He may be right, but I hold out hope that he is not. If he is, it is far more than bookstores that we will lose.
I’m looking forward to Tim Challies’ new book, The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. The book releases April 1, but you can also pre-order to get a signed copy).
Here’s a commercial for the book that Tim debuted on his blog this week:
I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about Tim’s book as the release gets closer. The issue of technology and faith is something that we all deal with and can understand better, and, in my view, there are few who have thought through this issue with the insight and depth that Tim brings.
William Carey is well known for saying “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” Is that biblical?
Yes. Here’s one passage that gives the foundations for Carey’s words:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us [the same power that raised Christ from the dead -- Eph 1:19], to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
There are two noteworthy things about this passage in regard to Carey’s statement: who said it, and what it says.
First, what does this passage say? It says that God can do far more than we can ask or think of. And he can do this abundantly. So God is able to do great things.
But is he willing to do them? That seems to be Paul’s reason for pointing out that God is able to do this “according to the power at work within us.” Note also the connection here to prayer. God is able to do “more abundantly than all that we ask.” His point is: Pray and ask for God to work — and he will do far more than what you ask!
So it seems biblical that we should indeed expect great things from God, just like Carey said. But should we therefore also attempt great things for God?
This takes us to a second observation about this — namely, who said it.
The one who penned this passage, of course, was the apostle Paul. And Paul accomplished far-reaching and incredible things for the gospel — to the point where he was even able to say that “from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illlyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19). In other words, he attempted great things for God (and accomplished them!).
So, Paul’s words and example demonstrate the truth of William Carey’s statement. His words affirm that we should indeed expect great things from God, because God is “able to do far more abundantly than we ask or imagine.” And his example affirms that, from this expectation, we should indeed attempt great things for God.
The most important thing is to get the order right. Notice that Carey did not say: “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” He said the reverse. So, attempt great things for God — grounding all of your efforts and labor and dreams in God’s grace, supported by prayer, just like Ephesians 3:20 says.
The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward his goals. He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” His stress is on responsibility. . . .
The person who focuses on efforts and who stresses his downward authority is a subordinate no matter how exalted his title and rank. But the one who focuses on contribution and who takes responsibility for results, no matter how junior, is in the most literal sense of the phrase “top management.” He holds himself accountable for the performance of the whole.
(From The Effective Executive)
Post 5 in the series The Three Signs of a Miserable Job
Today we are getting back to our series on Patrick Lencioni’s book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.
In our last post we looked at what makes a job miserable. Before looking at the three solutions to this, we are going to take a look at the benefits of overcoming miserable jobs — or, in other words, managing for job fulfillment.
Which is what this is really about. As we continue through Lencioni’s book, it strikes me as slightly depressing to talk about “miserable jobs”!
But the point of his book, and this series, is not to focus on miserable jobs, but on job fulfillment. Looking at the causes of job misery is just a lens to help us learn better how to manage for meaning in our work — and not just for our own sakes, but, if we are managers or leaders in organizations, for the sake of those who work for us.
There are four benefits of managing for job fulfillment that Lencioni discusses: increased productivity, greater retention, lower costs, and cultural differentiation. Then I’m going to add one more at the end, and then one nuance. (And to these reasons could be added some of the other benefits covered in the first post in this series, when we discussed why this issue is important.)
1. Increased Productivity
The simple and basic truth is that when you find your job to be more fulfilling, you do a better job at it. You work with “more enthusiasm, passion, and attention to quality” because you’ve developed a sense of ownership in what you are doing. This matters in itself; but if an organization needs more justification than that, it’s that this greater engagement and passion results in higher productivity for the organization — whether that is defined in terms of greater accomplishment of the mission (for a non-profit) or greater profits (for a for-profit — which also should be driven first by their mission, rather than profit, as I’ve blogged elsewhere).
People that love what they are doing do better work. They are more creative, they work harder, and they are willing to go the extra mile — and do it joyfully.
2. Greater Retention
High job fulfillment results in high retention because people typically don’t want to leave jobs that they love. Further, this has the added benefit of attracting more solid employees, because “fulfilled employees tend to attract other good employees to an organization, either by actively recruiting them or merely by telling friends about their enthusiasm for their work.”
3. Lower Costs
One result of greater retention (and better recruiting) is obviously lower costs, because you have to spend less time finding and training new employees.
4. Sustainable Cultural Differentiation
This is perhaps the most significant benefit to the organization. Here’s how Lencioni puts it:
The opportunity for differentiation from competitors by building a culture of job fulfillment cannot be overstated. In a world of ubiquitous technology and rapid dissemination of information, it is harder and harder to establish sustainable competitive advantage through strategic and tactical decision making. Cultural differentiation, however, is more valuable than it’s ever been, because it requires courage and discipline more than creativity or intelligence.
In other words, cultural differentiation not only makes your organization a better place to work overall, but is also hard to copy — and thus is a competitive advantage.
5. It Serves People
The fourth reason managing for job fulfillment matters is that it serves people. People ought to find fulfillment in their work, and organizations should manage themselves in such a way as to be intentional about this. Not to do so is to fail to respect and honor your employees and treat them as real people who matter.
And thus, managing for job fulfillment is not optional. If people were machines, it probably wouldn’t matter much. But since people are in the image of God, we ought to manage our organizations in such a way that our people are treated the way we would want to be treated. The Golden Rule does not cease to apply when we walk into the doors of our organizations. (For more on this, see my article “Management in Light of the Supremacy of God“; Lencioni also talks about this a bit in the epilogue to the book — on which, see my post “Management as Ministry.”).
Discussing the nature of job fulfillment can seem like we are putting to much focus on extrinsic factors — as though whether a job is fulfilling or not depends on our environment rather than our response to our environment. So let me say loud and clear that I am not affirming or encouraging that type of thinking.
Instead, the point is that, if we manage people, we ought to be looking out for our people in this way. It’s simply a matter of serving people well (see above). And job fulfillment is not necessarily automatic, because there can be things that get in the way (namely, the “three signs” that we will be discussing next). So managers have to be intentional in clearing out obstacles to job fulfillment, and this is one key part of their role.
And, second, the point is that regardless of whether anyone else is looking out for your job fulfillment, you can and should take responsibility for it. Finding your job meaningful is not simply a matter of deciding to find it fulfilling. There are real things about the structure of a job that can make it more or less fulfilling — just like there are real things about food or any such thing that make it more or less satisfying. Being aware of those things can enable you to change your environment to make it so that you are maximally able to excel in your role. That is part of being proactive and responding well to your environment — namely, changing your environment to make it better.
There are other things you can do besides addressing the three signs that we will talk about next. One of them is to take seriously Paul’s command to “work heartily as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 6). And it would be enjoyable to do a whole series just on that passage to mine what that means.
But I would also propose that “working heartily unto the Lord” includes doing what is in your power to improve your environment in order to reduce the presence of any obstacles that make job fulfillment more challenging. And that’s what we are going to talk about next.
Posts in This Series
- The 3 Signs of a Miserable Job: An Introduction
- What is a Miserable Job?
- What are the Effects of a Miserable Job?
- What Makes a Job Miserable?
- 5 Benefits of Managing for Job Fulfillment
- Addressing the First Sign: Anonymity
- Addressing the Second Sign: Irrelevance
- Addressing the Third Sign: Immeasurement
A good exhortation from Seth Godin.
The only way to get the important things done is to put them into your life and schedule first, rather than trying to get the smaller “sand and gravel” out of the way to make room. The notion that you have to clear out the smaller stuff first, in order to make room for the larger stuff, almost always ends up back firing (one reason being that there is always more small stuff ready to come in).
Today on Michael Hyatt’s blog I came across this video where you can see Covey illustrates this principle visually:
(HT: Michael Hyatt)
Henry Cloud, from his foreword to Bill Hybel’s very helpful book Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs:
A leader is also responsible for the experience of his or her followers. If your leadership is sound, not only are you hitting the numbers, but you are also lifting the people to experience more health, more growth, more success, and an upswing in fulfillment as a result of being on the journey with you.
Great leaders cultivate an environment where instead of people getting injured, discouraged, and burned out, they are equipped to become what they never thought they could be and achieve things they never thought they could achieve. Great leaders grow not just results, but people too.