LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
April 22, 2004

LeaderLines is a weekly “e-briefing” providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.

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Here is this week's LeaderLines. . . .

“Good to Great: Values, Then Vision”
by Tom Goodman

Vision is over-rated.

Yep.  You read that right.  Although “you’ve got to have a vision” is the worn-out advice rehashed in most leadership books and conferences, vision isn’t the first thing a leader should establish.  Values come first.

Don’t get me wrong:  vision is a close second to values, but it still follows values.  The first thing a leader has to do is to establish a team that shares the same values.  That’s the soil in which vision takes root.

Successful organizations understand this.  That’s what Jim Collins discovered while writing his book, Good to Great.  We’re taking a few editions of LeaderLines to look at Collins’ best-selling business book where he highlights the common habits and decisions that led eleven companies from average performance to superior performance.  He found that every turnaround was the result of the right people, the right thought, and the right action—in that order.

It all starts with building a people who share the same values.  The way you build is different in a church of volunteers than in a business of employees, but the aim is still the same:  values, then vision.

Consider David Maxwell, who became CEO of Fannie Mae at a time the company was losing $1 million every single business day, with $56 billion of loans underwater.  His board desperately wanted to know how he was going to rescue the company.  Despite the immense pressure to act, to do something dramatic, to seize the wheel and start driving—somewhere, anywhere—Maxwell focused first on building his management team.  The vision that eventually came from these values-centered people led Fannie Mae to returns that were eight times better than the stock market from 1984-1999.  That’s good to great!

When asked to name the top five factors that led Circuit City from mediocrity to excellence, vice president Walter Bruckart said, “One would be people.  Two would be people.  Three would be people.  Four would be people.  And five would be people.”

This was so important to Coleman Mockler at Gillette that he spent 55 percent of his time in the first two years just forming his management team.  Mockler, the CEO who led Gillette from good to great, became an evangelical Christian while getting his MBA at Harvard and later became a key force in a group of Boston business executives who met frequently over breakfast to talk about incorporating their faith in their daily work.

As a new pastor, I’ve spent this first year just clarifying what really matters—our values:  lost people matter to God . . .  the Great Commission is personal and local not just institutional and global . . .  find out where God is at work and join him . . .  our only focus in decision-making is simply the need that has to be met and the most God-honoring way to meet it, not what will make us “cutting-edge” or keep us “traditional” . . .  God’s work deserves our best . . .  there’s more than one way to skin a cat . . .  it’s not about you and it’s not about me . . .  numbers deserve our attention because numbers represent lives that matter to God . . .  we need to provide a balanced program that pays attention to all four disciplines of Christian growth (H.I.L.L.) . . .  a Bible worth believing is a Bible worth applying . . . .  These are some of the topics that have been repeated over and over again in sermons, conversations, and newsletters.

What vision will spring up from a leadership team that embodies these values?

I can’t wait to find out!


P.S.  Keep our proposed schedule change in your prayers and conversations.  Remember that when I first introduced the plan, I said the (1) staff would come up with a proposal, (2) discuss it among the leadership, and (3) then discuss it with the church.  We are now at the stage where we are beginning to discuss it with the church.  We have had a chance to speak to several groups in smaller settings, and if you would like one of the Ministry Staff to speak to your group, please contact us!  A church-wide “town hall” meeting is being scheduled, but we’d like a chance to fellowship in intimate settings with your own department, ministry group, or even your own circle of friends.  Call us!