ExecuServe Business Network

ExecuServe Business Network
Chicago Loop Seminar
Friday, March 8, 2002

“He who thinks he is a leader and has no followers is merely taking a walk.”

Thank you, Kathryn, for the kind introduction and for inviting me to share some leadership principles. Before we get started, let’s open with a brief word of prayer:

Heavenly Father, we gather today to be reminded of our responsibilities as leaders in our work places and homes to provide for the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of those people you entrusted to our care. Grant us grace in ministering to them through Your blessed word. We come into Your  presence with an open mind. Enable us to apply Your leadership principles that can be used by those of us in position to lead others. We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Did you know that less than 3 percent of the world’s population will ever attend a college or university? Yet from this elite group of people flow the vast majority of leaders in business, government, education, law, media, science, medicine, literature and the arts.

Think for a moment what America would look like if there was a shift in our society and culture toward biblical ethics and values! How would that come about? There would have to be a change in the lives of people of influence in our society.

America’s work force today has become a culture which is centered around the office and work place. Most business and professional people spend 50 to 70 hours at work every week. Executives up to 90 hours or more.

It has been my observation that most executives want more than just the recognition and influence that comes with success and status in a job or career. They are looking for direction, fulfillment and strength as they seek to meet the challenges and pressures of life, both at work and at home.

Judged by the standards of society, they are wealthy, powerful, and living the good life… but there seems to be something missing!

Having worked with business executives around  the world for over 35 years I have met many people who achieved incredible success but found themselves struggling with an inner hunger for peace and contentment. I myself was one of them! I know firsthand of the desperate need in the leadership community for hearing the claims of Christ.

Business and professional people live with gut-wrenching, everyday pressures. Their company’s profit and loss statement is never more than one thought away. Eagerly, and sometimes anxiously, they study the forces and faces shaping business and world affairs.

Senior executives can be some of the loneliest people in a  corporate structure. They often feel they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. Do they close a unprofitable plant? What will their downsizing efforts do to the people who are laid off? How do they battle with the competition without losing their integrity?

Many insist on having the latest information before making business or personal decisions. But these same people, careful in business, often handle their spiritual needs haphazardly, never giving serious thought to why  they’re here on earth or where they’re going.

Briefcases aren’t all the baggage these people carry. Their lives are often filled with stress, fear, guilt, hardness, doubt and pain.

Reaching these executives is not easy. Many never attend a traditional Bible teaching church. Their wealth and frenetic schedules insulate them from contacts with those outside their social circle, and their travels and hard work ethic fosters often a mind set of self-sufficiency.

To achieve spiritual communication with the leadership requires meeting them on their turf–in their world. If a business leader senses he or she has an emotional or spiritual need, they are more likely to consult a trusted associate or peer, rather than someone they do not know or don’t have any rapport with.

When we do reach these leaders we penetrate the inner circle of society’s decision-makers. Government, diplomatic, business, civic and social leaders influence an entire nation.  Business and professional people who come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way become the salt and light in a strata of society often overlooked in missionary activities of the past.

A 1998 study on “Leadership Development” conducted by the Saratoga Institute for the American Management Association cited certain characteristics of effective leadership.  The six most important leadership skills were identified as follows:

1 Vision
2 Values and Beliefs
3 Teamwork and  Collaboration 
4 Business and Technical Knowledge
5 Communication
6 Personal Attributes

I have brought a handout with me showing “Ten Business Principles.”  

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 1 Submitting to a higher authority is the basic strategy of ethical living. In doing so, you may seem to lose an encounter, but through adherence to a constant set of principles, you triumph overall. There is no mathematically logical explanation for this, but the proof is irrefutable. Business Commandment One is the embodiment of this universal truth. The other nine commandments that follow Commandment One compromise the recipe for adhering to it. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 2 Living with purpose is the discipline of staying focused on what is important rather than what is urgent, and in doing so is the only way to balance the demands of life in a principle-centered way. Living with purpose is the discipline of crosschecking everything that you do so that your actions stay in harmony with your mission, and so that one action does not detract from another.

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 3 Interact with integrity creates an environment of openness and willingness to risk creative solutions or actions. This environment thrives because there is no history of retribution and embarrassment. Without fear, people strive to improve, rather than strive to avoid blame.

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 4 Fulfill your roles with time for renewal. Everything in life is a cycle. Failure to recognize the beginning and ending of a natural cycle and failure to take time to contemplate the will of your higher authority results in unnecessary fatigue, confusion, and disillusionment. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 5 Care about People. All of the success and all of the failure, all of the profit and all of the loss, all of the creativity and all of the stupidity in organizations come from people. People by far account for the lion’s share of variation in any process. If you don’t care about them, you don’t care about the process, and the business is the process. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 6 Preserve the Sanctity of Life, and be Improvement and Healing Oriented. Murdering another human being is universally recognized as wrong. You can, however, kill a person in an organization without harming them physically. Killing in any sense is wrong; therefore, preserving and improving the life of people in organizations is seen as its positive opposite. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 7 Be Loyal and you will become worth your weight in gold, for all people value those who support their interest in their absence. Violating the basic trust of a relationship destroys even the most basic ability for people to interact. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 8 Be a Good Steward since taking what doesn’t belong to you breaks down the fabric of society and diverts growth resources to non-productive security efforts. 

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 9 Be Honest is a guarantee of your words; your personal integrity and reputation are based on your track record with the truth. If there is variation in the accuracy of your speech, a corresponding variation in your listener’s willingness to believe you will also occur.

BUSINESS PRINCIPLE # 10 Be Quietly Confident is the certainty a successful person displays at the outset of a well-considered course of action. Be happy with your lot in life. You can do so without being satisfied. It’s okay to strive, but it must be for the right reason. 

Let’s for the next 30 minutes or so brainstorm around the tables by discussing the listed questions. Each table should select a moderator to keep the questions flowing. Hopefully you can make it through all ten questions before time is running out.

Do not look at the values and character traits listed on the subsequent sheets. You may later, at your convenience, want to add or compliment them with personal skills and traits applicable in your particular business environment.

30 Minute Break for Table Discussion

Many of us reach the very pinnacle of success, the mountain top of human achievements and yet, we still feel unfulfilled! Others have made it to the top of the ladder, yet for some reason they feel incomplete, empty, and often burned out. Why? Because deep in our hearts we know there is more.

Life is full of questions.  Some are trivial, some are more serious, and some tremendously important: “What is life all about?”, “Is there life after death?”, “How can I make a real difference in the lives of other people?”, “Can I change my world for the better?”

You may have questions about your health, your financial situation, your job, your family or your future. But the greatest, the ultimate question, is about God and your personal relationship to Him. Nothing in life is more important than this.

Good health, financial stability, secure employment, a content family and a hopeful future are all things that people want. Yet even these are temporary and eventually pointless unless you have a living relationship with God, the Creator, one that is clear and certain – and will last forever.

My heart was stirred when I heard this quote by Blaise Pascal, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person which  can be filled by no created thing, but only by God, the Creator…”. 

Perceiving my life as one of having stuffed the God-shaped holes in my heart with power, money, pride and the pleasures of the world that did not fit, that thought struck a chord.

After committing my life to Christian service and letting Him do the filling of my heart, it became apparent to me that most of my peers in the executive world had no idea that only God, and a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, could satisfy the deep longings of the heart and soul.

These days I am part of Chicago-based Executive Ministries, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International. Executive Ministries works with senior executives throughout every major industry in the Chicago area who often struggle with spiritual issues.

One of the places business executives can find answers and peace in the midst of turmoil is through applying biblical principles they can learn from discussion groups like ExecuServe and others across Chicago land who are being available:

…to share information about the Christian faith, centering on a personal relationship with God and to understand the subsequent practicality of this faith on a day-to-day basis,

…to act as a catalyst in bringing together business and professional communities for the purpose of building meaningful and productive relationships,

…to pray for specific needs expressed by people in leadership positions and to act as an   encouragement to individuals in the midst of pressure filled lives,

…and to encourage the development of a moral and ethical value system upon which decisions can be made in order to assist leaders at all levels in the business world.

As a leader, you’ve probably read more than one book on the topic of leadership. Bookstores today are well-stocked with publications by any number of experts who offer their own philosophy and instructions on dealing with the timeless challenges and opportunities that leaders face.

I like to introduce to you today not just another book, but rather, “The Book.”

ISBN13: 9780310922247

This “Leadership Bible” from Zondervan Publishing  House has been created for business leaders like yourself. It will help you develop a heart for Biblical leadership, and encourage you to become the leader you were created to be based on God’s timeless and dynamic Word.

I extracted some of the leadership principles and laminated them for easy of reference. If you like to have one they are available together with some information about my work with the leadership in an envelope on the table as you leave the room. It is my prayer that these principles will be a blessing and enrichment to you as they relate to your professional, personal and spiritual life.

God bless you on your journey to the Promise land.

Rolf Ronstadt
CO-laborer with you in the Workplace

Building Leadership Communities and Citywide Movements

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Filed under american culture, workplace insights

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