On several occasions, I’ve heard Danny tell a story about a meeting he attended with a group of leaders in Redding, CA. The meeting was focused on identifying issues that were currently troubling the city and discussing strategies for improvement. As the leaders examined the problems in various areas, from public safety to social services, education, and the business economy, a common theme emerged. They all saw that the number-one factor contributing to these problems was not a lack of funding or programs. It was, in one word, fatherlessness.
Now, I imagine what most of those leaders meant by “fatherlessness” is what we all think of when we hear that term—the widespread impact of family breakup in our society. But when Danny and I talk about fatherlessness, we understand that an even deeper issue lies behind our broken relational culture and its effects on everything, and that is disconnection from the heart of the Father. This means the ultimate solution to the fatherlessness issue is not simply calling for men to be better husbands and fathers, but to seek the restoration of connection with the Father for everybody.
When I look at business culture, I see the same need that I see in every other sector. What we need is a generation of men and women to rise up and lead with the Father’s heart. This is what it means to be an honoring leader—to carry the Father’s core values and demonstrate the relational commitments and behaviors that flow from them.
Here are 4 core values that must guide every honoring leader, and the impact I believe business leaders in particular will have when we start leading from these core values:
1) People are the most valuable thing on the planet, and our relationships with them are the most important things we are called to steward well.
One of the spiritual fathers in my life, Don Williams, always used to say, “Love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself. Life is all about relationships. The end.” For some reason, many people in business get this priority out of order. They act as though productivity and profit are what business is all about, rather than helping people to grow and thrive. When they do this, they forget that productivity and profit are actually the results of thriving people. I like how Ken Blanchard defines profit: “Profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people and taking care of your customers.” “People first” must be the heartbeat of every leader.
2) Our highest purpose is to give of ourselves to invest in the growth, benefit, and success of others.
Jesus, who revealed the Father, set this standard of servant leadership by humbling Himself and “looking out for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4) in everything He did, both in life and in death. And we know He did it not out of duty, but out of love—He demonstrated the love of a Father for His children.
It’s hard to describe, but something so powerful happens when leaders shift into a place of seeing people—both their team members, and those the success of their team will impact—with the attitude, “There’s nothing I want to do more than to make you successful, and I will give everything to make that happen.” This is the birthplace of true greatness in leadership. I believe that everywhere you find a successful, thriving team that is having great results and impact, you will find a leader who is operating with this attitude.
3) In self-giving, we model the path to success for those we are serving and leading.
The power of sacrificial generosity is undeniable. In my own life, I have been incredibly blessed to have a wife, spiritual fathers, and friends who have all sacrificed to look out for my interests and invest in my growth and success. And though their investment was freely given, my sense of gratitude has always fueled a sense of obligation to do the same for others. They have modeled something for me that set the bar for me as leader, mentor, and consultant. One of most rewarding things in my life is seeing people I have invested in run after their dreams and start growing into leaders with a heart to serve others. This is what it means to be a true mother or father—to give yourself to help your sons and daughters grow up to be mothers and fathers themselves.
Recently I’ve read several stories about companies that are giving their employees money to give away to the causes or charities of their choice. It’s just one example of how leaders can both demonstrate generosity and empower their people to be generous in order to create a culture of generosity in their business. This is how honoring leaders think and lead.
4) The growth and success of people is a long-term process; therefore, we must have a long-term vision.
It’s so easy for leaders in business to live in survival mode—and I speak from experience. The problem with survival mode is that it only operates in a very narrow time frame, and leads us to make decisions that may get us through the day or the quarter or the year, but mean disaster in the long term. The heart of the Father is not to help us survive—it’s to help us leave a legacy. As business leaders, we need to carry a vision of the impact we want to have over decades and generations. Every honoring business with sustained success has a leader at the helm who is running after a long-term vision.
There are countless examples illustrating the impact of a short-term vs. a long-term vision, but there are two Danny and I liked so much that we decided to put them in the first chapter of The Business of Honor. For a limited time, you can preview Chapter 1, “A Tale of Two Business Cultures” through our presale campaign here.
Bless you as you grow in carrying and leading from these core values. May we be those who carry the Father’s heart wherever we go and build a legacy of honoring business in our homes, businesses, and communities.
PS) This article is directly inspired by my new book co-authored with Danny, The Business of Honor! You can pre-order it now for up to 35% off here!