Raising the Bar on Your Leadership Performance

February 22, 2018

In the February Round Table meetings, we discussed how you can Raise the Bar on Your Leadership Performance.  If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us on March 16th for our 5th Annual Leadership Summit at the University Club in Grand Rapids.

Click here to register today!


The real key to raising the bar on our leadership performance is directly related to how much time we spend praying about being more effective leaders, and listening to what God tells us.  Whatever we try to do on our own will meet with limited, unsustainable success.

Practical “helps” along the way were deduced from observation of how Jesus helped train His disciples to be leaders, and then to be better leaders.  (We figured Jesus didn’t need to raise the bar on His own leadership performance!!)

What did He do?  What did they do?  Made mistakes.  Lot’s of them.  And then they learned from those mistakes how to be better the next time.  They didn’t hide the mistakes (not that they could have, really), or argue that it wasn’t a mistake.  They accepted that they screwed up, accepted correction, accepted restoration and improved.

What else?  They never lost sight of the goal … “Go make disciples of all nations.”   We should do the same.

When they were faced with the “daily operations,” like what to do with the widows and the hungry and the squabbles, they prayed and asked for guidance.  Then they delegated.  Sometimes we need to delegate in order to have the right people doing the right work (feeding the hungry).  Sometimes we delegate to train up new leaders (like when Christ sent the disciples out to the towns to spread the gospel, as part of their training).  Effective delegation is a difficult balance, and not a natural trait for most of us.

They also balanced goal achievement with people-care.  They didn’t compromise on either front and that, really, is the mark of excellent leadership.


Q1: What does this mean? Challenges you face?

How high is the bar set? Is it too low? Always need to raise it for continual improvement.

Vision: What to do; Mission: Why I do it. Need to connect the personal WHY with the Job WHY. Before commitment can be deeply made and felt. We are faced with multiple WHYs – they need to be brought into unity: personal, family, job, community. Clarity and unity empowers/energizes.

Q2: Why would this help the leadership in a company?

Most people don’t see the light until they feel the heat. Only when errors, pain, suffering, failure get their attention, do people figure they need to figure out WHY and act in response to their discovery.

Q3: Who would be impacted and how?

Customers, suppliers, employees. Unity in the leader’ personal WHY and the company WHY is first. Then this unity needs driven through company.

Takeaways for today:

The “WHY” opens the gate to the “WHAT”. I did not make satisfactory progress until I began working for a bigger mission: other people. Central Values will drive all activities and behaviors – both good/evil. I am motivated to dig out my leadership ooks and push myself back into deeper learning. You must be open and aware of input from others – control the ego and listen for insights that will make life/work easier. Get a coach; I performed better when I had one. Use an outside board of advisors.

Additional Notes:

  • A lot of people do not see the light until they feel the heat
  • Define your mission and invest in it
  • All human energy focused on self-image and to fulfill self-desires
  • Two primary motivations in all actions 1) Fear and 2) Greed
  • Leaders need to re-think and look at “How many people we serve? and how well we serve?”
  • Be open to “Let Go” to become wildly successful
  • Unite Personal “Why” with organizational “Why” to achieve happier (and successful) work life
  • Remain focused on Christ — [or your own Higher Power] — and make Him your first and highest Mission, to please Him and to honor Him, in all that we do.


The conversation drifted a bit to our own leadership styles and companies.

Dirk has taught this in his consulting arena.  He uses 5 phases of leadership growth. He couldn’t remember one of them but here was his input.

1) Initially,  getting the leadership Position

2) Working under management’s Permission

3) (he couldn’t remember this one – it also starts with “P”)

4) Developing the People under you

5) Reaching people “beyond” = Pinnacle.  We used the example of Jeffrey with CBRT -beyond his role at StructureTec.

Jesus’ leadership style is the perfect model. BUT Elijah was the example of a leader who had to stand against culture. What does that look like for leadership in today’s PC reality and governmental overreach into the business environment?


A real leader raises his/her own bar and then teaches others to do the same.



  • How do you raise your own bar on your leadership performance?
  • Sometimes you’re the leader simply because no one else will step up.
  • How do you relate to your new employees/the younger generation?
  • How do you lead people who move on to other jobs so quickly?


  • Must have self-awareness and be able to assess how you’re doing.
  • Create your own metrics to measure your success – but you must also have the integrity to follow those metrics once they are set.
  • Be humble:
    • Be willing to learn from others, including your employees.
    • Allow your team to see what you see.
  • Open up communication if there are any rifts and be willing to admit your faults.
  • Lead by asking. Don’t simply give someone the answer they need. Help them to find it on their own.
  • Force your employees to grow through tough love.
  • Step away. Allow your team to learn and grow without hovering over them.
  • Demonstrate that you have confidence in them.
  • Be invested in your team. Reward them for their work, even if it’s a simple thank you/recognition.
  • Refer to your story: Stories reinforce your work culture and create a sense of history/loyalty.
  • Confidence is contagious.


  • Leaders make room for deep thought. They create white space.
  • Leaders Muse (think deeply on a subject). Muse is the opposite of amusement.
  • Leaders think 1st before reacting. They respond, not react.
  • As a leader, do we tell God about people or do we tell people about God?
  • Raising the bar is raising your relationship with people