Archive for August 2014

Week of September 1, 2014

What Do You Think . . . makes it so easy to forget our families?

I once heard a recognized counselor and author speak at a conference, and had the opportunity to meet him after a session.  I was so intent on making myself known to him that I completely forgot that my wife was standing next to me, and failed to introduce her.  What an impression I made on a renowned marriage and family counselor.  I have also seen in leadership experience how quickly and easily people can take family for granted, and pour their energy into public success and achievement while forgetting that they have a family helping them to get there.  In your own personal life, how have you seen this happen?  What makes it so easy and common to forget about our families?  Please share in the comment box below.


The Way of the Shepherd, by Kevin Leman and William Pentak

The Way of the Shepherd coverI learned early on in my leadership development, by both example and experience, that it is important to take care of people.  Eventually, this became one the core attributes of my leadership philosophy and practice.  However, I experienced a time at one organization when it seemed like, by being very intentional about taking care of my specific employee group, I was fighting an uphill battle of resistance among much of my surrounding leadership team.  It felt like whenever I tried to identify and implement something that would allow my employees to feel taken care of, my peers within leadership tried to derail rather than support me.

It was during that time that I came across the book, The Way of the Shepherd, by Kevin Leman and William Pentak.  This particular book was a wonderful encouragement to me in reinforcing my belief in the importance of taking care of people (especially when my encouragement at that time was not coming from the people around me).  I resonated with the principles and ideas within, so much so that I have since used the book again in other places as a leadership study.

The book draws lessons on leadership from an illustration of a modern shepherd and his sheep.  In the process, management principles are presented that focus on character, priorities, and caring, aimed at engaging your employees and developing yourself.  Using the shepherd/sheep analogy, Leman and Pentak expound on these 7 principles:

  • Know the condition of your flock – know your people, engage your people, and care about your people
  • Discover the shape of your sheep – choose and use people that fit, according to their strengths
  • Help your sheep identify with you – communicate authenticity and a shared vision
  • Make your pasture a safe place – build security and significance, and address issues
  • Use the staff of direction – provide direction, empower people, and help them grow
  • Use the rod of correction – protect, correct, and inspect
  • Develop the heart of a shepherd – live a genuine example of caring leadership

It’s a fairly short book, easy to read, but I found it to be a great resource and encouragement in my leadership.  The principles make sense and are very applicable for effective leadership.  This is definitely a book for your shelf if you are trying to make a difference in your people.


Leman, K., and Pentak, W. (2004). The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.

Quotable (Jeff McMaster, on the importance of family)

“No one is irreplaceable.  When you leave an organization or a job, remember that they will move on without you, but your family will be the one thing goes with you.  Never forget that your family is more important than your job.” 

Dr. Jeffrey McMaster

Your Family is More Important than Your Job

This statement – “your family is more important than your job” – is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my leadership development.  So important, in fact, that over the years it has been one of the more frequent statements that I have shared with others in conversations about job decisions, especially when they have come to me struggling over what the best decision is for their family.  The lesson initially came home to me shortly after I had stepped into my first senior leadership role.

I had been working in an organization where I had been very effective, and had played an important role in helping to bring about valuable and significant change.  It seemed that I had been able to have positive influence on the organization and on many people within and connected to the organization.  Looking back, I can see that my ego was being fed, and I was becoming prideful in my perspective.  In the development of my personal work ethic, I had been taught to work in such a way that I would become more important to the organization than the organization was to me, but in my pride, this grew into the sentiment that I was invaluable to the company.  I began to believe that if I were to ever leave, the organization would suffer and would take a noticeable step backward.

And then it happened.  I was given an opportunity to become the leader of another organization, one that was experiencing struggle and decline.  Although I had anxiety about whether or not I was prepared or capable, and about the unknown of this new experience, I was also excited, and anticipating the change to again be an agent of change.  My family was very supportive and excited along with me, encouraged me in this opportunity, and embraced the prospect of this new experience.  So, we loaded a moving truck, packed up our family, and moved a thousand miles away to a new home and a new life.

As I left the previous company, I secretly believed that my loss would hurt, and even had the arrogance to think that it would require two people to replace all that I was doing.  I imagined in my mind that I would soon be hearing about how much they missed me, and how much they realized I had meant to them.  But then, the unthinkable happened – they moved on without me!  They hired someone else with his own set of skills and passion, they adjusted, and they continued to move forward.  Meanwhile, I was struggling to win the support and trust of a skeptical group of people who had no idea what I had accomplished or what I could do.

It was then that I began to realize I was not irreplaceable.  I figured out that, other than in my own mind, none of my accomplishments came with me.  Don’t get me wrong here – the experience came with me, which was very valuable in helping me to do the job well.  But this new group of people didn’t know and didn’t care what I had done someplace else.  And all of a sudden, the only thing I had left to support and encourage me was my family.  I realized that I had actually been pouring my energies into accomplishment at work at the expense of my family.   I also realized that at any time I could lose or leave that job, but if that happened and I lost everything that came with my work (including recognition and accomplishment), I would still have my family.  Like switching on a light, I suddenly understood that my family was more important than my job.  Life moves on, jobs and careers change, and although I may have some influence and leave behind an impact, just about he only thing that goes with me moving forward is my family.  So if my job is costing me my family, the job needs to go before my family does.

This is one of the most important lessons you could learn.  It is a “meaning and contentment of life” type of statement. No one is irreplaceable.  When you leave an organization or a job, remember that they will move on without you, but your family will be the one thing goes with you.  Never forget that your family is more important than your job.

Available Resources: A Book, Team Tips, and Consulting Services

Please and Thank You graphicWould you please help spread the word?  My advertising budget pays for the cost of the free use of social media and nothing more; therefore I am relying entirely on “word of mouth” to make people aware of the contents of this blog and the availability of my recently published book.  If you find either or these resources to be helpful or valuable, would you help spread the word?

Finding Purpose cover→ My book, “Finding Purpose at the Intersection of Passion, Ability, and Opportunity” is available on Amazon (also available for Kindle). Click here to order a copy.

What is God’s purpose for you? What are you supposed to do with your life? These are difficult questions that we all wrestle with, often causing frustration, anxiety, or indecision. Using the concepts of passion, ability, and opportunity, Dr. Jeff McMaster presents a road map for identifying your individual purpose, and finding fulfillment in it. Based on principles from the Bible, these simple ideas can help you gain a better understanding of what God made you to do, and find fulfillment in it.2) You can get a free digital copy of my “Three Keys for Forming a Good Team” by signing up for email notices! On the Common Sense Leaders home page, enter your email address and first name (and I guarantee your information will not be shared with anyone else), and I will send you a free digital copy, containing three important factors to keep in mind when putting a team together.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 1.03.32 PM→ You can get a free digital copy of my “Three Keys for Forming a Good Team” by signing up for email notices! 
On the Common Sense Leaders home page, enter your email address and first name (and I guarantee your information will not be shared with anyone else), and I will send you a free digital copy, containing three important factors to keep in mind when putting a team together.

→ I am now available for professional consulting services! E.L.M. Consulting Services can provide professional services for analyzing and assessing your Educational organization, your Leadership, and/or your Ministry; for teaching and training those within your organization through workshops and seminars; and for assisting you in creating and communicating a plan and prescription for future growth, change, and development.

My experience and expertise in these areas, combined with my ability to make connections between an organization’s past, present, and future in a way that makes sense to people, can help you to identify, understand, and implement changes that will benefit the employees, the constituents, and the organization itself. Available services include:

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Educational workshops and seminars –

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Plan and Prescribe: Developing purpose by working with your leadership team to define, strategize, organize, connect, and communicate a vision and plan for growth and development


E.L.M. Consulting Services – Discovering Your Story, Developing Your People, Defining Your Purpose

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