Thought for the Week: A Focus on the Future

Change behavior, not people. Change processes, not standards. Change results, not goals. Mike Ferretti, CEO, Great Harvest Bread

CEO Report CoverThe year 2011 is rapidly coming to a close and, while it’s somewhat artificial to consider January 1st, 2012 as a special day where we are allowed to change, it is still a milestone that causes us to reflect on the past and plan for the future.  New Year’s resolutions are a tradition where we reveal our intent. By itself, a resolution doesn’t change things, but it sets us up to go on record with our priorities for the coming months.

Northwood University has just published my newest “CEO New Year’s Resolutions:  A Focus on the Future” for 2012.  It’s a free report that you can read or download by clicking on the link above or by visiting www.Northwood.edu and choosing the button at the top left corner on their homepage.

For this report, I contacted 50 CEOs of a diverse collection of organizations. These include franchise organizations like Great Harvest Bread listed above, large company CEOs like Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Jere Brown of Dimension Data Americas, non-profit CEOs like William Jones of Focus Hope and Viveka Rydell of PDI Surgery and leaders of tech companies like Andrew Schrage of MoneyCrashers.com and Sam Shank of HotelTonight. There are manufacturers represented like Ron Beebe from Euclid Industries and community organization leaders like Mike Woody from the Midland Tennis Center as well.

While this is not a statistically significant sample of all CEOs nationwide, it is still interesting and informative to see the consistency of the message in this report. As you read it, you get the impression that the leaders of many of our organizations are not cowed by current economic and political conditions but are instead focused on bringing growth and stability to their business in order to benefit their shareholders, their employees and their communities.  As I say in the introduction to the report, these business leaders also don’t represent the “1%” nor do they represent the “99%.” Instead, they represent the heart of American free enterprise.

I hope you find the time to check out the report. I would love to hear your feedback and comments.

Yes, I said “Merry Christmas”

As a departure from my usual practice, I decided to repost this from last year as it was one of the most popular.

Merry Christmas.

Ok. There, I said it. Not Happy Holidays or Great End of Year, but Merry Christmas. This blog isn't so much  about leadership as much as it is about principle.

I love the fact that we live in a country where each person can worship the religion of his or her Christmas028 choice and that because I celebrate Christmas does not mean you should somehow not be able to celebrate Chanukah. In fact, one of my favorite memories was joining a past boss of mine and his family to celebrate a delightful Jewish holiday. But not for one second did he think I had become Jewish anymore than understanding the holiday of Ramadan would make me Muslim.

By the way, I also don't care if Christ was born on December 25, January 14th or July 8th. None of that matters because I am celebrating an event that, to my faith, has so little to do with logistics and details that it's totally unimportant to me. Was December 25th chosen because it allowed for an overlap between Christian and Pagan religions? Don't care. Not Pagan. No wood sprites in my house. Sorry. But there is a Christmas tree and there are gifts for each other because we enjoy the time together.

And finally, to any atheist readers or colleagues that I have out there. I also value that I live in a land where you can discover your own journey as well. But here I have to say, this year's atheist billboards are just a bit on the pitiful, desperate side in my opinion. 

Atheist-billboard-603x175-custom   I'm pretty sure I can give you a lot more of an argument for celebrating God's presence on earth than I can on the success of "reason." Considering that I fail to see a universe appearing out of nowhere to be any more reasonable than a God-created existence, you're not going to win this argument with me. I do think the billboard is pretty though.

So, here's my point and in the end I guess it does relate to leadership after all. Because as a leader your faith and your beliefs represent in large part who you are. You don't need to sermonize or politicize your beliefs for personal or business gain, but pretending as if you are somehow neutral is not authentic either.

God has been great to me in every way and one of those ways is that I live in a society where I don't have to say "Happy Holidays" because I'm afraid I will offend a non-Christian client or acquaintance. If you have read my blog for the last couple of years you should realize by now that my Christian beliefs are woven into my leadership opinions and philosophy. My writing, coaching and other products are not often explicit about religious beliefs but they don't hide them when they are relevant. The easy way to stay comfortable with me is, don't hire me or read my stuff if you don't like where it comes from. But, for all of you who feel the need to share your opinion with me about the foolishness of my faith…well don't be surprised if I share my "foolishness" with you as well.

So, next week we'll get back to the leadership topics that are the core of LeadershipMattersNow.com. In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed time of rest and gratitude for family and friends.