Week 52 Day 1 - Strategy

"Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it'" - Haggai 1:5-6.

The prophet was giving the people the word from the Lord and the word summarized a failed and flawed life strategyor their 'ways' as the Lord described them. They planted, ate, drank, dressed, and earned wages, but all of it was never enough to fill or satisfy them. In other words, they had a strategy for life that wasn't working. Leaders must not only direct the decision-making process, they must also help formulate a meaningful and successful strategy through which the decision may be safely and successfully implemented. In other words, leaders must be committed to "what' needs to be done, but be flexible and ready to abandon the 'how' the 'what' needs to be carried out and pulled off.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to honestly and ruthlessly evaluate the strategy you are currently using to implement your company's vision and decisions (and for your own personal life as well). Is your strategy working as you intended? Do you need to face reality and shift how you are doing things without tampering with what you need to do? Are you ignoring parts of your strategy that may be working because you didn't intend them to work as they are?

Week 47, Day 1 - Strategy

"They make many promises, take false oaths and make agreements; therefore lawsuits spring up like poisonous weeds in a plowed field" - Hosea 10:4.

This verse sounds like a description of modern life rather than a pronouncement from an ancient prophet. It seems the strategy Hosea referred to was one that included making a lot of promises and breaking them, thus leading to court cases to sort out who was responsible to do what. Leaders must be careful not to rely on the legal system to conduct their business and not to succumb to or be intimidated by people who threaten legal action. The key is not to make any promises that cannot be kept and to conduct business in such a way that, when examined under the scrutiny or lawyers, juries, and judges, those business practices will be upheld as legal and ethical.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine the nature of your promises to your volunteers and workers. Is your strategy to be transparent and honest, or are you trying to outfox your people by being shrewd and coy? Do you play fast and loose with the truth, stretching it to suit your purposes or are you open even when it reveals information not beneficial to your position? Would everything you do and say hold up if scrutinized by a legal team heading to court?

Week 42, Day 1 - Strategy

"Then on the seventh day they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, 'Shout! For the Lord has given you the city'" - Joshua 6:15-16.

Joshua and his army marched around Jericho 13 times, once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day. As bizarre as it sounds, it was a sound (pardon the pun) strategy because the city was conquered and not a life was lost in the process. For this to work, many things had to happen. Joshua had to 'sell' it to the people. Then the people had to commit to the plan and stay together as a unit, not grumbling or second-guessing what was going on. Joshua needed everyone to be 'all in,' for they all had to shout to generate enough decibels so the wall would collapse. Finally, Joshua and the people had to have faith that God would do His part once they had obediently done theirs. When all that occurred, the strategy was effective.

LEADERSHIP WALK: Your Leadership Step today is to consider how well your strategies compare to the one Joshua deployed to take down Jericho. Are you clear about what needs to happen? Have you clearly and simply communicated that to those involved? Is everyone speaking one thing with one voice or is there division on the team? Does everyone have faith in leadership and the strategy? If not, then what changes - to personnel or strategy steps - do you need to make?

Week 37, Day 1 - Strategy

"Now the men had said to her, 'This oath you made us swear
will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you
have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let
us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother,
your brothers and all your family into your house  If any of them
go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their
own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in
the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a
hand is laid on them.'" - Joshua 2:17-19.

In this passage, the spies gave Rahab instructions of what she was to do when they returned to take the land so she and her family would be protected. As simple as these instructions were, it represented a clear strategy for the protection and survival of this family. Whatever goals or plans organizations have, leaders must help devise and communicate clear strategies that everyone understands, has bought into and has the capability of implementing. It all starts with a clear vision of the direction or end result that the strategy will hopefully accomplish.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to take a look at the strategies you have for your personal and organizational goals. Are they clear and concise? If they are not clear to you, then they will not be clear to anyone else and the chances of achieving your goals are minimized. You may want to look at those strategies one-by-one, and tweak, adjust or abandon them depending on their usefulness. In any case, the old adage applies: 'Change the strategy, keep the goal.'

Week 32, Day 1 - Strategy

"Where there is no vision, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction" - Proverbs 29:18.

This verse is regularly quoted to point out the importance of vision. Without it, people tend to do whatever they think is best, without regard to how their actions fit into the overall picture - because there is no clear, overall picture being communicated by leadership. This verse goes on to explain that providing a vision is wisdom and that wisdom will light the way forward. Leaders should always communicate a vision beyond what they know how to accomplish, for this 'vision wisdom' will show up and provide the answers to the 'how' questions that always result when vision is cast.

LEADERSHIP STEP: We have discussed vision in previous entries, but let's pay another visit to this important concept. Your Step today is to take a look at the vision that is spelled out for your family, company or organization? Is it clear as to why you exist? What are you trying to accomplish? Someone once said that vision is where you are going and mission is how you will get there. Are both your vision and mission clear enough to guide the steps of those involved?

Week 27, Day 1 - Strategy

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar
or not?" - Mark 12:13-14.

The leaders of Israel had a strategy to discredit Jesus by trapping Him in words that would inflame the Romans, causing them to arrest Jesus, thus ridding the Pharisees of their nemesis. They flattered Him but then they publicly posed the tough question. The strategy backfired, however, actually increasing Jesus' stature with the people when He gave His famous "give to Caesar" response. This strategy failed because the leaders arrogantly thought they could outsmart Jesus, their competition. Leaders must help come up with strategies that will enable their organizations to achieve their desired and necessary changes and business goals. These strategies should not be an attempt to outsmart competitors, but to achieve what is most important to the organization as defined by its values and business objectives.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Is your business strategy to outwit others, beating them at their own game, or is it to provide the most beneficial goods and services and market them so people will know they exist? Your Step today is to assess the complexity of your business strategy and look for ways to make it  simpler and easy to understand. Eliminate any aspects of the strategy that are based on you winning and others losing, and instead focus on what your company does best.

Week 22 Day 1 - Strategy

"At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual
into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke
so effectively that a great number of Jews and
Greeks believed" - Acts 14:1.

Paul had a strategy for his ministry work. He went to the major population areas of the Roman Empire. When he got there, he went to the synagogue first, where of course he found Jews, but also found devout Gentiles who believed in one God, but who did or would not abide by the rules of a kosher diet. When the Jews became abusive, Paul withdrew with his converts to a place where he could teach and nurture the new church that had been established. All this represented a clear strategy and history would deem this strategy a success. Leaders must also help develop a similar strategy that will enable the organization to meet its objectives and be profitable.

LEADERSHIP STEP: As you lead, how clear is your strategy for your business? Is that strategy clear to your team? Is it working or does it need to be tweaked or abandoned? Your job today is to take a good hard look at your overall organizational strategy or the specific strategies for departments, products or services. If you have the wrong strategy, don't defend it because its yours, but rather abandon it in favor of one that has a better chance for success.

Week 17 Day 1 - Strategy

"Plans are established by seeking advice;
    so if you wage war, obtain guidance" - Proverbs 20:18.

Armies don't just show up one day and decide to fight it out with an enemy. They determine what their objectives are and then develop a strategy to accomplish their objectives along with strategies for each battle they will wage. Usually there is a war council of top advisers who are experienced and who also command resources that will engage in the battle. The same is true for leadership of any organization, whether a family or company. The strategic plans, however, are determined by the objectives and must be clear for the strategy to have any chance for success.

LEADERSHIP STEP: In order to develop a clear strategy, you must have clear objectives. If it is to get out of personal debt, you must have a strategy for that clear objective. If it is to launch a new product line, then be clear on the product, when it will be launched and what the sales goals are. Identify one objective today for your enterprise, and then assemble some trusted advisers to lay out the strategic plans that will enable you to reach that objective in the set time.

Week 12 Day 1 - Strategy

"Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed" - Proverbs 15:22.

Leaders need an advisory team to help them navigate the complicated issues surrounding leadership decisions. This includes people to advise on finances, human resources, team building, strategy, legal issues and any other area that relates to the decisions to be made. What's more, leaders need personal advisors to help them develop and grow as in their leadership roles. Finally, leaders may also need some advisors where personal matters like family and personal finances are concerned.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Sit down and make a list of your personal advisors for business, ministry or personal matters. You can even include on this list authors, teachers or historical figures whom you have studied, listen to, read or learn from. Once you have the list, you must determine if it has sufficient people to get your job done well, and to help coach you to excellence. If not, then you need to decide whom to add to the list.

Week 7, Day 1 - Strategy

"Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails" - Proverbs 19:21.

To neglect strategy and replace it with wishful thinking has been the downfall of many leaders and the people and projects they lead. Every leader must help develop strategies to carry out changes and initiatives in businesses, families and organizations. These strategies involve plans for how to deploy people, distribute resources and spend time. Yet Joseph and Daniel showed that God also has strategies for countries and enterprises that He is willing to share with leaders who know and ask Him - and those are the strategies that have the greatest impact and lasting effects.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Do you believe that God has a strategy for the work you are doing? What's more, do you have faith that He will share it with you, and then help you carry it out? Attached is an article outlining the leadership strategy for an obscure biblical character, someone whom you have probably never considered before today. Read the article and then reflect on how his approach can be helpful to your own leadership at this point in your career.

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