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People Not Platforms

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” Lawrence Bossidy

Successful American executives were recently asked the question: ” What do you think are the top five issues that every CEO faces these days?”

“The number one issue is talent acquisition, development and retention.” says Kenneth Freeman, Allen Questrom professor and dean of Boston University School.

Talent, organization, growth, risk, and governance—these comprise my list of the issues that are preoccupying CEOs. Without exception, I have never known a CEO who wasn’t obsessed with putting the right people in the right places and getting them to act as a cohesive team.”Bruce Nolop, former chief financial officer of Pitney Bowes Inc. and E*Trade Financial Corp.

“Team member excellence is within a company’s control, but it requires outstanding recruitment, human-resource practices, training, mentoring, career advancement, communications and a modern work environment,” says Tim Pawlenty, president and CEO of Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington, D.C.-based industry advocacy group.

“Finding and retaining the best talent will always be the hallmark of a great leader. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Find the right people, retain the right people, and empower them to give their best.” says Jay Hooley, chairman, president and chief executive of State Street Corp.

“Leadership development is a critical responsibility of every CEO, including succession planning, cross assignments, global experience, executive education and rigorous performance evaluations.” Robert A. Howell, David T. McLaughlin, D’54, T’55, distinguished visiting professor of Business Administration, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and senior partner at Howell Group LLC.

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Inquiring leaders want to know, “How can we -improvethose on our team?” “How can we acquire, train and retain talent?” It’s worth considering. We must view our team members as co-laborers brought to us by God. He has given them to us to steward, and allows us to nurture and encourage them along the way. So, let’s grapple with the opportunity of how best to engage our team members to connect with God. As leaders, we can lead them closer to God only if we have gone there first. We must answer these two important questions: (Lead Like Jesus Revisited, pages25-27)

“Whose am I?” When we answer this question, we are admitting who is in charge of us. We are choosing the primary authority and audience for our lives. We are ultimately created to please God. As leaders, we have been called and have accepted the invitation to enter an intimate relationship with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.As His followers, we personally have access to His Holy Spirit. We can tap into peace, joy and wisdom for living and serving according to God’s purpose for us. Our lives can make a difference for eternity.

“Who am I?” deals with our life purpose. “What does God want to use me to do for Him?”As the recipients of God’s grace, by the sacrifice of the shed blood of Jesus, we can receive God’s gifts of love, authority and worth, not dependent on our effort.As we fully understand and accept the truth given to us by Jesus, we know we are unable to accomplish anything by our own power.

But what does that look like? How does one lead like Jesus? What makes servant leadership, particularly for believers, so different from all other leadership models in our society? It’s about the Lord Jesus’ example of leadership, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Matt. 20:26-27).

1. Servant leaders seek the benefit of others before themselves. We must desire to place others above ourselves no matter the outcome.

2. Servant leaders view people as valued persons made in the image of God.  Servant leaders view every person, believer and unbeliever, man, woman, and child, as a valued creation of God  Himself.

3. Servant leaders recognize God is in control of all things and we are stewards fo the leadership opportunities He has given to us. He is the owner; we are the steward.

4. Servant leaders minimize their personal need for recognition, fame and popularity in exchange for Christian humility, grace and sacrifice. We must keep a Kingdom focus in mind, as we allow a God-sized perspective for ministry, people and accomplishments.

How do we obtain, train and retain talent? Serve like Jesus. It’s a lifelong journey of applying foundational Biblical servant leadership principles, offering a catalyst for leading, guiding and serving. Serving only with God’s love, Jesus’ authority and the Holy Spirit’s power.

Here’s a beautiful reminder from 1 Corinthians 13 – If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.For we know in part and we prophesy in part,but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This blog originally appeared online at

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