It’s Not About You –
It’s About Others
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want!”
—Zig Ziglar (1926 – 2012)
World Renowned Motivational Speaker
“Shall not God search this out? for He knoweth the secrets of the heart.”
—Psalm 44:21 (King James Version)
EADERSHIP IS NOT CONVENIENT. The Scriptures teach “…and when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
My Journey Towards Leadership
I have been actively working and earning a decent salary since age fourteen. Over a span of forty-three years, I have cleaned the outdoor pool at a mid-sized hotel; served meals as a waiter at fast food and upscale restaurants; validated payroll; processed business and personal checks as a proof operator at major financial institutions; collected delinquent state taxes from businesses as a taxpayer service representative for the Commonwealth of Virginia; sold insurance policies and pieces of artwork; checked in travelers as a front desk clerk at Holiday Inn; worked in retail as a sales clerk at Macy’s; served in ministry as a deacon, prayer leader, adjunct professor, associate pastor, and senior pastor; worked as a manager and director of information technology strategic sourcing at two Fortune 1000 companies in New York City; and protected the citizens of the United States of America through my service as a front-line, mid-level, and senior-level leader with several federal government agencies. My longevity in the workplace, in many different industries and diverse locations, has shaped my views and ideas about leadership both good and bad. I value the mentoring and guidance I received from the good leaders. There were many of them. Conversely, I abhor all interactions from the bad leaders. There were many of them as well. I do not remember too much what was said by the bad leaders, but I succinctly remember how they made me feel—even to this day.
Through these varied occupations and employers that span four decades, and in addition, a few short periods of unemployment, I have learned many life-changing lessons based upon my experience, observations, frustrations, joys, collaboration with colleagues, relationships with peers and bosses, and responses to market fluctuations that influenced my job decisions. One of the most valuable lessons that I recall is my in-depth study, reading, observation, and research on the subject of leadership, specifically, servant leadership. This is a topic first introduced in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf. This retired AT&T executive coined the term servant leadership to describe the type of leadership missing from organizations. His book The Power of Servant Leadership (1998) offers his own insights on the inter-related subjects of serving and leading, wholeness and spirit as a collection of eight essays published from 1977 – 1987. Over the years, I have been fascinated at the volumes of reading material available on this topic, yet surprised at the lacking evidence that these principles and strategies have been put to use. For example, I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review that captures the essence of my experiences in diverse workplaces for over four decades. This article, “Diversity Doesn’t Stick Without Inclusion,” published on February 1, 2017, by Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid, provides an excellent overview of inclusive leaders. This style of leadership is a conglomeration of six behaviors:
n Ensuring that team members speak up and are heard
n Making it safe to propose novel ideas
n Empowering team members to make decisions
n Taking advice and implementing feedback
n Giving actionable feedback
n Sharing credit for team success
This insightful and thought-provoking reading acknowledges that when surveyed, the employees who report that their team leader exemplifies at least three of the above-mentioned behaviors, produce the following results in the workplace:
87% say they feel welcome and included in their team, 87% say they feel free to express their views and opinions, and 74% say they feel that their ideas are heard and recognized. For respondents who reported that their team leader has none of these traits, those percentages dropped to 51%, 46% and 37%, respectively.
“Leadership is about influence, nothing more, nothing less,” says leadership expert John C. Maxwell. With this practice in mind, it is worth exploring how leaders must place the needs of others before themselves. In doing so, perhaps we can mirror the data above by being more inclusive, valuing others’ views and opinions, listening to and recognizing their contributions and gifts to our respective organizations. This is a universal theme that can be applied in our corporations, governments, academia, non-profit organizations, and churches.
The Iceberg Effect
Further evidence supports our need to focus on others as a means to develop, train, and retain good leaders.
The Iceberg Effect is a visual portrayal of how and why we judge others based upon our own perceptions. We envision who a person is based upon what we observe on the outside without having insights into their hearts, life experiences, or innermost feelings. Through our misplaced actions or thoughts, we make an unconscious error when a distorted judgment is created. We do not embrace their potential. We cannot ‘see’ the total person. Thus, we minimize their existence based upon very limited information and prior to establishing a meaningful relationship.
The top portion of the iceberg that is visible for all to ‘see,’ only represents 20% of its total composition. During our interactions with others, behaviors such as speech, behavior, actions, and mannerisms are all visible. Conversely, 80% of the iceberg is not visible. This is the portion of the iceberg that is under the water. It is a representation of the ‘why’ to what we do see (20%). As a direct result, we make assumptions that shape how we interpret what we see and hear through silent thoughts and our own lifelong belief systems.
There are many reasons people do not realize their goals, dreams, and aspirations. In part, many of us do not know our identity. Most are a direct result of life situations and circumstances that have been unresolved since childhood. In other instances, there is a correlation with education levels, family relationships, lifestyle, religious affiliation, peers, working conditions, and exposure to love, or lack thereof, over a lifetime.
Leadership with a Servant’s Heart challenges leaders to dive deep into a personal relationship with others to understand their views, values, hurts, habits, and hang-ups. The conversation and dialogue open doors into the 80% of their lives that are contributing factors in limiting their potential to excel. Helping them to transition from mediocre and average into a state of excellence happens during those moments of open discussions. When the eighteen barriers, characteristics, and attributes are addressed in an environment where trust and rapport have been established, then we begin to understand people in a manner where we can help and assist them at their specific area of need. The eighteen barriers are:
l Drug usage
l Alcohol consumption
l Family upbringing (loving vs. tumultuous)
l Love (or not)
l Mistreatment (including bullying)
l Unhealthy relationships
l Financial problems (insurmountable debt)
l Isolation (no friends)
l Bullying (verbal)
l Abuse (physical and verbal)
l Sexual identity
l Shattered dreams
l Envy (comparing oneself to others)
The Golden Rule
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
—Luke 6:31 (New Living Translation)
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”
—Luke 6:31 (Amplified)
The Golden Rule is a universal and self-explanatory principle about personal and public conduct that every person understands and at its core acknowledges as appropriate behavior in all settings. It is a rule (a prescribed guide for conduct or action) that if applied, will serve as an antidote for societal ills and moral deterioration.
In the Book of Luke, the Golden Rule is exemplified by Jesus Himself through the writing of Luke. As a physician, Luke writes with the compassion and warmth of a family doctor as he carefully documents the perfect humanity of the Son of Man—Jesus Christ. Luke portrays Jesus as the compassionate Savior of the world, with love for all people, whether rich or poor. He reaches out especially to women, the poor, and the outcast of society. Luke emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit and the central place of prayer in Jesus’ life and ministry. But the resurrection ensures that His purpose will be fulfilled: “…to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
In chapter six of this book, the Golden Rule is nestled in the midst of Jesus’ work on the Sabbath including Him healing a man with a withered hand. His work is accomplished within the view of the two major religious sects of His time—the Scribes and the Pharisees—whose core beliefs were that no work should be done on the Sabbath. Jesus then selected His twelve disciples and taught them the principles of the Beatitudes and the rules of the Kingdom life. His message resonated with believers and unbelievers in so much as our Kingdom lifestyle will transcend everything that is wrong with our society and this world.
In another one of the gospels, the Book of Matthew, the Golden Rule is taught to His disciples and the multitudes during His first public sermon (Matthew chapters 5-7) alongside important topics such as the fulfillment of the law, distinguishing between salt and light, love, the pattern for prayer, missions, fasting, financial management, and false and true teaching, just to name a few. As a tax collector, Matthew is convincing in his writing that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. A major theme of this book is God’s rule in the world and in human hearts (the Kingdom of Heaven in particular). The strength and royal authority of Jesus are on display in this book of the Bible as He openly demonstrates through His actions that at all times, we must reciprocate kind acts and deeds to others as we would expect from them. Take the first steps and become the initiator.
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.”
—Matthew 7:12 (The Message)
“Do for others what you want them to do for you. This is the teaching of the laws of Moses in a nutshell.”
—Matthew 7:12 (The Living Bible)
Yet, we fall short in practice and application of the Golden Rule. Why?
Through the centuries, the Bible has been the most widely read of all books ever published; yet as individuals have prompted to read it, perhaps by curiosity, perhaps by spiritual interest, they have often found that it baffles them. In many instances, even those who do not believe that it has any claims on their lives feel, and rightly so, that it is unintelligent to remain in ignorance of the most famous of writings. Still, they along with many sincere believers, all too soon shrink from any serious effort to master the contents of the sacred text. The main reason for not understanding the message of Scripture lies in the failure to see its overall plan and purpose.
Consider these factors that make the Bible different from any other book:
n It was written over a span of 1,500 years (representation of dispensations of time).
n It was written by more than 40 individuals (representation of the multiplicity of people, thoughts, ideas, views, and creativity).
n Its writers were fishermen, rabbis, kings, philosophers, soldiers, and even a tax collector (representation of varied professions).
n Its writers used a variety of literary styles including historical narrative, personal letters, song lyrics, parables, biographies and autobiographies, poetry, and prophecy (representation of diversity).
n It was written on three different continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe (representation of geographic dispersion).
n It was written in three languages: Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic (representation of dissimilar dialects).
Bible Sales Statistics
Christians take their Bibles everywhere with them…but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the one book collecting dust on the bookshelf is the Bible. Yet this need to own at least one copy of the inspired Word of God drives the Bible to be a top-selling book every year whether it is opened and read or not. More than 2,100 languages have at least one book of the Bible in that language.
Between 1815 and 1975, it was estimated that there could have been 5 billion Bibles printed. In 1995, one version of the Bible, the Good News version that is copyrighted by the Bible Societies, had sold nearly 18 million copies. There’s no doubt about it: the Bible is one of the world’s best-selling books. It also proves that God’s Word is a moneymaker for today’s Christian publishers.
l The best-selling and fastest-growing version of the Bible in the United States is the New International Version.
l 82%. That’s the percentage of people who regularly read the Bible who will reach for a King James Version before any other.
l There are more than 168,000 Bibles that are sold or given to others in the United States every day.
l 20 million. That’s the number of Bibles that are sold each year in the United States. That’s more than double the amount that was sold annually in the 1950s.
l Gideon’s International distributed 59,460,000 Bibles worldwide last year. That’s more than 100 Bibles per minute.
l Zondervan, a leading Bible publisher, has more than 350 different versions of the Bible that are in print right now.
l The percentage of Americans who own at least one Bible, whether it was given to them or purchased: 92%. Two-thirds of owners, regardless of religious affiliation, say that the Bible holds the meaning of life.
l The average American Christian owns nine Bibles and wants to purchase more. For this reason, the Bible is actually excluded from book bestsellers lists because it would always be on top.
l 1,300 translations of the Bible are in new languages.
(Note 1: 29 Good Bible Sales Statistics, by Brandon Gaille, May 23, 2017)
We OWN It –
In the United States, 94.0% of adult Americans own a Bible. No other book comes remotely close to that number. Most homes have multiple copies.
Twenty-two percent of households surveyed own one Bible, twenty-eight percent of households own two Bibles, and twenty-one percent of households own three Bibles. Only three percent of households report that they do not know how many Bibles they own.
That’s more—much more—than any other publications.
Beyond that, 47% of American households have at least three Bibles (14% own three, 6% own four, 12% own five, and 15% can’t recall). We also purchase and give them as gifts regularly. How many Bibles has the average American adult either purchased or had given to them by friends and or relatives?
We READ It…Sort of
To a certain degree, the Bible is a regular aspect of American family life. On an individual basis, the 2010 ARG survey found that 52% of adults read the Bible weekly and three-fourths of us read the Bible at least monthly.
To summarize: 94.0% of Americans own a Bible; 90.0% of us believe it still applies today yet only half of us read it weekly (including in church), and only 29.0% read it weekly outside of church.
(Note 2: The Bible in America: What We Believe About the Most Important Book in Our History, by Steve Green and Todd Hillard ©2013, pages 3-9.)
In the spirit of practicing, leading, and living by The Golden Rule, it is imperative that we know the overall plan of the Bible. It is one Book, and there are several telling signs that attest to its message of unity:
n From Genesis onward the Bible bears witness to one God.
n The Bible forms one continuous story: the account of God’s dealings with the human race.
n The Bible advances the most unlikely predictions concerning the future and then gives the record of their fulfillment at the appropriate time.
n The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth.
n The Bible presents a single way of access to God.
n From beginning to end the Bible has one great theme: the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
n The doctrines of the Bible are harmonious even though they were penned by some forty-four writers over more than sixteen centuries.
Our reading and understanding of these truths help us to understand a core tenet of the Bible as recorded in Luke 6:31:- Do to others as you would like them to do to you (NLT), as well as Matthew 7:12: Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them (The Message). Lead others in the way that you would like to be led, that is, with respect, value, loyalty, decency, courtesy, and appreciation. Be on one accord. See others as you see yourself. This is how to treat (serve) others.
Zig Ziglar – The Ultimate Motivator
Born in 1926 in Coffee County, Alabama, as the tenth of twelve children, Zig’s motivational speeches across the globe touched the lives of millions of listeners through his unique and charming personality, body language, and tone. He lived to inspire a generation of followers toward success in life and business through his keynote speeches and multiple books. In doing so, Zig, born into the world as Hilary Hinton Ziglar, amassed a net worth of $15M during his lifetime, in part, because he understood and taught the basic and foundation principles of helping and serving others.
In his own words, Zig describes his humble beginnings as a means to spend a lifetime of service to others:
Today I’m going to be sharing with you my spiritual journey. Interestingly enough, it started when I was ten days old. I died that day. Ten days earlier the doctor had delivered me to my mother and said, “You have a perfectly healthy baby boy.” Ten days later, he laid me on the bed and said to my mother, “He is no more.”
My grandmother reached down and picked up this lifeless body. And they said she started talking to me. But you, of course, know that she was not talking to me; she was talking to her heavenly Father. She was pleading for my life. God responded to that prayer, and obviously, I did survive.
As a child, I watched a widowed mother who lost her husband who left her with six children too small to work –there were twelve of us, all told. She lost her daughter just a few days later. And so it was a pretty tough childhood. I watched—I watched my mother’s incredible faith.
Now, as a child, every week we were in church. As a matter of fact, Mrs. L.S. Jones from down the street drove an old Dodge. And she would come in front of our house and sound her horn and I can see my mother to this day as she would do two things simultaneously: She would reach over and pick up her navy blue hat and put it on the bun on the back of her head (her long hair was rolled up), and she would reach and get her headpin and in the same motion she would put it all together and say, “Let’s go, boys.” And I’m telling you, we headed for the car. It never occurred to us to not go. We didn’t think we had a choice. And reflecting on it, we didn’t have a choice. It was clearly understood: we were going to church.
On Sunday evening we went to what the Baptist call, you know, BYPU in those days. And as boys, we thought BYPU stood for “Buy your preacher’s underwear.” I mean, that’s why we were there. We were in church on Sunday night. We were in prayer meeting on Wednesday night. When the church doors opened, we were there.
On a number of occasions . . . and incidentally, I was baptized when I was twelve years old. I was as lost as a human being could get. I don’t know why I was baptized. I don’t know whether it was because my mother wanted me to, the preacher expected me to, or all of my buddies were being baptized. All I know is, I was baptized.
I well remember one evening. I did a lot of my work at night in those days. I was in the cookware business, putting on demonstrations. I was coming in late one night from, I believe, Lancaster, South Carolina, (we lived in Columbia, a little town called Dent, just outside of Columbia). And I remember that evening turning left, right there at Dent, crossing the railroad tracks and turning right –I remember that.
The next thing I remembered I was being flagged down by the military police in Fort Jackson. I had driven straight for about six miles, I had turned left and the military police said I passed the outpost doing somewhere between 50 and 60 mph. I was so deep up into the Fort Jackson complex that they literally had to lead me out. I was absolutely lost.
Now there are a lot of people who will say, “Well, you know, you weren’t really asleep.” But when I got home that night the Redhead said to me, “Honey, I was praying unusually hard for you tonight.” And those who would say, “You know you didn’t really go to sleep.” But I’m totally convinced that not only was I sound asleep, but I had the greatest chauffeur that any human being could ever have. God sent my angel, and he was driving that car. And he drove it beautifully.
Now you would have thought that with something like that, that at that point I would really make my commitment to Christ. But you see, I wanted to have some fun in life. I wanted to be successful. I wanted to make a lot of money. And obviously, Christians just don’t do those things. I mean, let’s face it: Christians go around with long faces and short pocketbooks. Now, everybody knows that. That was the image; that was the picture that I had of my own.
But on July the 4th, 1972, thanks to an elderly black lady, who spent the weekend in our home, we learned that number one, she was scripturally inaccurate. She claimed to be an angel, claimed to be a faith healer, claimed to be a prophet. We discovered she was none of those things. But there were two things we absolutely knew. Number one, she loved the Lord. And she loved me.
She walked into our home talking about Christ. She walked out of our home talking about Christ. And all during that weekend, all she talked about was Jesus Christ. My Savior came into my life in a very real way that weekend. I’ve always been grateful that she was not prejudiced. Now almost immediately, my picture of being a Christian totally changed.
You know, I tell folks today, Christians ought to be kind of like the story of the Mama skunk and the Baby skunks going by the paper mill. How many of you have ever been close to a paper mill? Okay, you’ll get the drift of this. One of the babies kind of sniffed the air and filled his nostrils with that pungent paper mill odor and said, “Mama, what on earth is that?” Well, the Mama skunk filled her nostrils with that pungent paper mill odor and said, “I don’t know, but we sure got to get some of it!”
Now, you know, I believe–I believe that when people are Christians that somebody ought to have some way of knowing they are Christians. You know, you don’t walk around looking like the cruise director for the Titanic—I mean, that is not my picture of what knowing Christ is all about. No, and I don’t believe that either, that you’re always grinning so wide you could eat a banana sideways. I don’t believe that is in the picture either.
But there’s an absolute joy that comes from knowing Christ that you will not experience anywhere else. When you know Christ, things are absolutely different. Christ manifested Himself in so many different ways almost immediately. It was almost as if He were saying, “Now I’ve let you fool around forty-five years of your life. Now I’ve got some things I want you to do, so I’m going to remove any doubt from your mind that your salvation is real.”
Now I want to give you a little warning. Different people have different salvation experiences. Yours might be totally different from mine. You see, for mine, there was no “magic moment” on that weekend. I do not remember one minute being lost and the next minute being saved. But when I awakened on that Monday morning, I knew beyond any reasonable doubt that Christ was in my heart, that I’d made my commitment to Him, that I was a totally different human being.
Now the first thing I did on that morning was I went to my cabinet –now I was, at that time, a casual, social drinker. Now when I say “casual, social” I mean a maximum of three times a month and that was unusual. But in those days they used to give you the little small bottles on an airplane when you flew. If you didn’t drink on the plane they’d give you two of them. I had a cabinet full of those things. I don’t know if any of you remember seeing that airline movie where one of the flight attendants opened her closet and there were hundreds of those little bottles like mine. I had a case of champagne somebody had given to me. I had several other bottles and when I opened my cabinet door that morning I then headed for the sink with every one of those bottles and I dumped them down. No, now I don’t believe drinking is going to send you to hell. I really don’t. I don’t believe smoking will. With smoking you smell like you’ve been there in advance. But anyhow . . . and you will get there quicker, you know, and so forth.
But you see, you don’t go to hell because of what you do; you go to hell because of what you don’t. And that simply is, believe. And I want to tell you how God used my son, who was seven years old, as a harassment committee of one to make absolutely certain that I walked a straight and narrow path. I well remember our anniversary that November after I committed my life to Christ. We went out to a restaurant that was owned by the Redhead’s hair-dresser. And he knew it was our anniversary. We got there and he gave us a bottle of wine.
Now I knew about my commitment that “never again.” But I did not have the courage at that point to say to him, “No, we don’t drink.” And so the Redhead and I had a sample of that wine. I got home and that seven-year-old boy said to me, “Dad, did you drink any wine or anything?” And I said, “Yes, I did, son.” And if I lived to be a thousand I’d never forget his exact words. He looked right at me and softly said, “Dad, I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am in you.”
I looked at my boy and I said, “Son, I’m going to make you a promise: If you’ll forgive Dad this time, I promise you for the rest of my life I will never have to ask you to forgive me again.” And I’ve kept that promise. Not in my strength, but in His.
After I was saved, I well remember, I was out in my swimming pool. I was looking up into the heavens. Really, I was praising God, and as I lay there I said, “God, I know you put this whole big, beautiful universe together and I know that one of these days you’re going to take it down.” And at that precise moment, a star fell. The God, I felt so close to, was speaking to me: “You’re absolutely right boy, and don’t you ever forget it.” And I never have.
A few days later I had some time off. We decided to go down on a little trip. We drove down to Corpus Christi. And we spent a day there and then decided to go over to San Antonio. And as we headed to San Antonio my son said, “Dad, give me a Bible story.” Well, you’ve got to understand that here’s a boy whose dad had not been taking him to church, who has not been reading him the Bible and had not been praying with him.
You see, when we moved to Dallas in August of 1968 from Columbia, South Carolina, we didn’t have any friends here. Nobody to say, “Well, let’s go to church.” Now in Columbia and other places we always had friends and always went to church, and we went to church because that was the thing to do. On several occasions, as I said earlier, I almost made a commitment. But now we come to Dallas, and no friends, and Sunday was the only day I had! I mean, you know, I want to do something for myself. And so we didn’t go to church.
And now my boy says, “Dad, give me a Bible story.” Well, fortunately, having been raised in the church I knew some Bible stories so I gave him one and he said, “Give me another one, Dad.” I gave him another one. “Give me another one, Dad.” I gave him another one. He said, “Give me another one, Dad.” And about that time I was beginning to run out. And I said, “Well, boy, when we get to San Antonio I’ll get the Book out and I’ll give you more stories.”
We got to San Antonio, checked in, went up to about the umpteenth floor and as the bellman set the bag down he said, “Okay, Dad, get the Book out and give me a story.” I got the Book out and I did remember enough about the Bible. I went to the book of Exodus so I could get me a continuance story there. And I read, and finally, I said, “Boy, I’m hungry. We got to go get something to eat.” And he said, “Okay, Dad. We’ll take it up when we get back.” Well we went to dinner and we came in, and the minute we walked in he said, “Okay, Dad. Get the Book out and give me some more stories.”
I read until I absolutely got sleepy. I said, “Boy, I got to go to sleep.” He said, “Okay, Dad. We’ll take it up tomorrow.” We got up the next day; we were going to drive back to Dallas and normally I drive. But as we headed for the car, he said, “Dad, I’ll tell you what. Let’s let Mom drive. You get the Book out; I want you to give me a story.” God really was using him. You see, when you take that move toward God, you’ll find He’s already headed in your direction; He’s been waiting for you all of your life.
(Note 3: www.zigziglarstory.com)
As a student of his masterful work, I am intrigued that his personal story may be the impetus for his compassion for people and his sheer desire to see them succeed in life. As a baby, Zig was pronounced dead on November 15, 1926, just nine days after his birth, by his family’s physician. However, he was revived in his grandmother’s arms and continued on to enjoy a long and fulfilled life that lasted for eighty-six years. Zig’s many, many quotes have a way to inspire, encourage, and change your way of thinking to become a better you. Achieving success is one thing, but once you become successful you need to keep working at remaining successful both personally and professionally. Notice how some of Zig’s most popular quotes focus on serving others and not himself:
Chart 4. – Famous Quotes by Zig
“The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.”
Enjoy “balanced” success
Build a solid foundation that will stand the test of time through all of your relationships with others.
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”
Work your plan and plan your work
As you win, help and serve others to achieve the same.
“Goals enable you to do more for yourself and others, too.”
Write (record) your goals, review them, then execute.
“It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference.”
Your fulfillment is tied to your willingness to give of self to help others
Use your gifts, skills, abilities, and knowledge to help and service others.
Zig passed away in 2012, but these timely principles live on through the Zig Speaker Institute in Dallas, Texas. His legacy of service continues on.
Vince Lombardi: The Coach, the Leader, the Winner
“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses or the problems of modern society.”
During his lifetime, Vincent Thomas Lombardi (Vince) was a National Football League (NFL) coach, notably for the Green Bay Packers, a team that he led to five championships. His effective and efficient leadership style was so infectious and impactful that in 1970, the league named its famous Super Bowl championship trophy after him: The Vince Lombardi Trophy. What made this great leader great?
In his early years, Lombardi screened Army game films for General Douglas McArthur. For a short time in the 1950s, he taught football in Japan. His preparation as a leader included a position as a high school assistant coach in Englewood, New Jersey, freshman as well as assistant football and basketball coach at Fordham University, assistant coach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, before reaching his goal as head football coach for the Green Bay Packers (1959-1967) and Washington Redskins (1969-1970). During his tenure, he earned NFL Coach of the Year during his rookie season, won five NFL championships (this includes two Super Bowls – I & II), inducted as a charter member of the Fordham University Hall of Fame, named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame posthumously, inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and shortly after his death, the Rotary Club of Houston established the Lombardi Award, an annual honor that recognizes the nation’s best collegiate lineman.
This consummate team builder and motivator inspired others as their coach to achieve their best because he recognized their value to the team. Because of this success, he became a national symbol of single-minded determination to win. Under Lombardi’s leadership, the struggling Packers were transformed into hard-nosed winners. Over the course of his career with this team, he led the club to a 98-30-4 record, along with its five championships, including three straight titles, from 1965 to 1967. The team never suffered a losing season under the Hall of Fame coach. As a coach, general manager, and part-owner of the Washington Redskins, he led that team to its first winning season in fourteen years in 1969.
Lombardi’s hundreds of documented quotes that demonstrate his commitment and faithfulness to others are recorded for all leaders, aspiring and seasoned, to read, apply, and execute. Some of the many include:
l Success / Sacrifice: “Success is based upon a spiritual quality, a power to inspire others.”
l Leadership: “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality – the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.”
օ “They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons.”
օ “After all the cheers have died down and the stadium is empty, after the headlines have been written, and after you are back in the quiet of your room and the championship ring has been placed on the dresser and after all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.”
l Faith: “I believe in God.”
l Passion: “To be successful, a man must exert an effective influence upon his brothers and upon his associates, and the degree in which he accomplishes this depends on the personality of the man. The incandescence of which he is capable of. The flame of fire that burns inside of him. The magnetism which draws the heart of other men to him.”
l Truth: “Faithfulness and truth are the most sacred excellences and endowments of the human mind.”
Simple Ideas, Deeply Understood
Lombardi reminds us that nearly every area of life can be boiled down to some core task or some essential component that must be mastered if you truly want to be good at it. They are:
Fitness: There are plenty of details you can focus on in the gym. Mobility work is great. Analyzing your technique can be important. Optimizing your programming is a good idea if you have the time and energy. However, these training details will never substitute for the one fundamental question that all athletes must answer: Are you stepping under the bar and getting your reps in?
Love: Displays of affection are wonderful. It’s nice to buy your loved ones flowers or to spread joy with presents. Working hard for your family is admirable (and often very necessary). It’s wonderful to upgrade to a larger house or to pay for your children’s school or to otherwise advance to a higher standard of living. I’d like to do these things myself. But make no mistake, you can never buy your way around the most essential unit of love: showing up. To be present, this is love.
Web Design: Building a website is like painting on a canvas that never gets full. There is always space to add a new feature. There is never a moment when something couldn’t be optimized or split-tested. But these details can distract us from the only essential thing that websites do: communicate with someone. You don’t need a fancy design or the latest software or faster web hosting to communicate with someone. The most basic unit of any website is the written word. You can do a lot with the right words.
Mastery in nearly any endeavor is the result of deeply understanding simple ideas. For most of us, the answer to becoming better leaders, better parents, better lovers, better friends, and better people is consistently practicing the fundamentals, not brilliantly understanding the details.
“This is a football.”
Lombardi’s championship pedigree was rooted in his training and passion to serve. Today, the Green Bay Packer organization is publicly-owned and they have won two Super Bowl championships under the leadership of two different quarterbacks since his death.
On February 17, 2019, columnist Jena McGregor penned an article that reflects both the current state of affairs with our senior leaders and the swinging of the pendulum with regards to ethics and integrity—two of the highest characteristics. Its title, “CEOs in an Era of Zero Tolerance” centers on former REI Chief Executive Officer Jerry Stritzke who resigned his position because of a “perceived conflict of interest.” This insightful piece reminds all leaders that questionable behavior must be reported to the board, especially in today’s era of emphasis on executive integrity and zero tolerance for misbehavior.
Outdoor apparel and gear retailer REI acknowledged the resignation of their CEO on February 14, 2019, after a board investigation found that the relationship between him and “the leader of another organization in the outdoor industry” had not been disclosed. Although the inquiry found that no financial misconduct resulted from the relationship, “the facts led to a perceived conflict of interest,” board chairman Steve Hooper wrote in a letter to employees “which he should have disclosed under the REO conflict of interest policy, which requires every REI executive to model the highest standard of conduct.”
Further, Stritzke’s resignation comes about seven months after Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich stepped down for violating a “non-fraternization” policy by having a consensual relationship with another employee. The CEOs of two other tech firms, Rambus and Texas Instruments, also departed last summer after unspecified conduct issues that either “fell short of the company’s standards” or violated the code of conduct via personal behavior inconsistent with “our ethics and values.” Last, in December, the CEO of electronics component supplier Kemet departed following an investigation of “a consensual personal relationship.”
Some evidence appears to show an uptick in how much boards are cracking down on executive’s conduct violations. A study by the PwC consulting arm Strategy&, in 2017, found that although the number of CEOs kicked out for ethical lapses is small (just 18 among the world’s 2,500 largest public companies in 2016), they grew from 3.9 percent of all CEO hand-offs between 2007 and 2011 to 5.3 percent from 2012 to 2016, a 36 percent increase.
Following the departure of the Intel CEO, employment lawyer Valerie Hoffman with Seyfarth Shaw wrote that public company boards of directors now “have an extraordinary low tolerance for bad or non-compliant behavior by CEOs, even CEOs who are otherwise very successful. There has been a sea of change in this in the last 18 months.”
(Note 4: The Washington Post, Section G (Metro) by Jena McGregor, February 17, 2019.)
Chapter one of this book sets the tone and premise of servant leadership with an emphasis on taking the focus off of ourselves and placing it on serving others. Jesus’ teaching on this subject is clear, concise, and direct. If you desire to be great in your leadership acumen, abilities, and skills, then serve others and meet them at their place of need.
If anything is needed today, it is leaders who are willing to take a stand and do what is right whether or not it is politically correct. Leaders who are strong and courageous are very scarce, both in the world and in the church.
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.”
—Galatians 5:13-14 (The Message)
1. Identify two reasons you must treat others with respect.
2. Do you give clear guidance when you delegate a task?
3. How do you rate your communication skills?
4. Do you believe that Biblical principles enhance your leadership skills?
5. What can you do differently to empower others?