Tag Archives: leadership

Jesus is CEO of Top-Branded Honey Company.

Nature Nate’s is the top-branded honey in America, but the company’s president, Nathan Sheets, refuses to take credit. Instead, the marketer-turned-beekeeper attributes his business’ rapid success and growth to Jesus.

“The overwhelming theme that engulfed me as I started really focusing on Nature Nate’s was ‘God is our CEO, and I’m simply the chief steward of what He’s entrusted to us,'” says Sheets of his McKinney, Texas-based company.

Sheets pursues this theme not only by cultivating a healthy work environment for his employees but also by using the company’s finances and influence to share the love of Christ and strengthen families and communities.

For instance, Nature Nate’s has launched the Honey Gives Hope corporate giving program and was the presenting sponsor of the 2017 GMA Dove Awards honoring the best in Christian music. The company partnered with the Dove Awards to promote Show Hope, an organization seeking to unite orphans and loving families as quickly and easily as possible.

Sheets believes exercising this kind of stewardship has a positive impact on the company overall.

“The success of Nature Nate’s isn’t because we’re great branders or we’re great marketers,” Sheets says. “I believe the success of Nature Nate’s is because we truly want to use this platform to make a difference for eternity.”

Falling in Love With Bees

“We went from this teeny-tiny honey company in 2012 to five years later, we’re the No. 1-branded honey in America [according to market research firm IRI],” Sheets says. “It’s just a total God story.”

 

Sheets realised that the regional focus of the North Dallas brand would keep the company from growing in popularity across the U.S. After much prayer, he decided to make two changes: personalise the brand name and shift the focus from the honey’s local quality to its raw, unfiltered characteristics.

Sheets’ wife came up with a significant idea: using his college nickname, “Nature Boy.” Together, they settled on renaming the company “Nature Nate’s.”

“We rebranded and did the labels so that 80 percent of the label focus is on raw and unfiltered,” he says. “And man, we were just blessed to be at the right place at the right time in the right industry.”

Selling to Advance the Kingdom

Indeed, 80 percent of the label’s focus is on the honey’s “raw, unfiltered” quality, but 100 percent of the company’s focus is on making an impact for Christ.

“I just came to realise that as a honey company, we don’t have to raise money,” he says. “We can make money, take that money, go do projects and make a difference in people’s lives.”

For Sheets, the company’s impact begins and ends with stewardship.

“I want to steward our people resources, the people who work for us, first and foremost, to make an impact on their lives,” he says. “I want to steward the financial resources and try to make as much as we can, live on as little as we can and give away as much as we can. And then I want to focus on stewardship of our influence and try to use the influence we have at Nature Nate’s to share Christ with people. Then [we can] challenge believers to look at the lens of their business as possibly the biggest opportunity to make a difference for Christ where they are 8 to 5, five days a week.”

Pointing Employees to Jesus

It’s not a requirement to be a Christian to work at Nature Nate’s, but the company’s Christ-focused atmosphere is evident.

Becca May, director of brand management, comes from a non-Christian background, but Sheets has made it easy for her to fit in with company culture.

“I grew up in a Jewish home, and so I was bat-mitzvahed when I was 13,” May says. “I went to a Hebrew school until I was 18. It’s the only faith-background and exposure I’ve ever had. … [Working at Nature Nate’s has] been life-changing and eye-opening—and beyond [our] being welcomed and understood and treated with so much love and respect, Nathan continues to share with us … the lessons and the roots that we find in [his] faith that guide everything we do.”

Several of Sheets’ employees have become believers through personal evangelistic efforts, but his overall focus is on demonstrating and encouraging biblical values. He does this in several ways, such as what he calls “Bee-attitudes”: “Bee passionate,” “Bee creative,” “Bee generous,” “Bee loving,” “Bee faithful” and “Bee honest.” The company rewards employees each month for exhibiting these characteristics. For instance, some employees chose to exercise the “Bee passionate” and “Bee generous” principles by spending their own money to buy needed supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Nature Nate’s has also offered practical help to employees in a number of ways, including setting its minimum pay above minimum wage. Sheets’ employees have benefitted from his generosity and also have supported each other in times of need. The company also offers monthly financial management classes to any interested employee.

Innovating for Better Health

The concept of good stewardship pervades not only the work culture of Nature Nate’s but the company’s goals for the future too. Sheets lists his top three, the first of which is to give away $5 million.

“I used to say we want to be there by 2020,” he says, though he wants to take care that his goal doesn’t become a personal idol that consumes his focus.

Another goal on Sheets’ heart is to hire thousands.

“That’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people,” he says. “On one hand, it really excites me, and on the other hand, it really freaks me out because I know that if you create a machine like that, you’ve got to keep going and growing, and there’s just a lot to that.”

Sheets’ final goal for Nature Nate’s is to create better-for-you products that use honey instead of less-healthy sweeteners such as processed sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

In January, the company will launch four new nut butters, three jams, a syrup for Kroger and a single-serve snack for Walmart.

“We’re really driven by innovation,” Sheets says. “We don’t just want to be the No. 1-branded honey company in America. We want to be one of the No. 1 better-for-you food companies in America.”

The only way he sees these three goals coming to pass, though, is by depending on and emulating Jesus.

“It says in Ephesians that we’re to smell like the aroma of Christ,” Sheets says. “And as we live our lives and live in authenticity and transparency, people recognize that there’s just something different. It makes people inquire, ‘What’s different?’ And that’s what draws people to the Lord. So we just try to live that out.”


adapted from article by Jenny Rose Curtis, assistant online editor for the media group at Charisma Media 

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

Servants, Not Kings

insanely-successful-leaders
Entrepreneur, Josh Linkner wrote a column for Forbes under the title: “Great Startup CEO’s Are Servants, Not Kings.” Over the course of his investing career, he said the duds in his portfolios had been led by grandiose personalities who talked big and acted like kings. The companies that performed best, he said, were led by servants—men and women who kept their heads down, their hands to the work, and who laboured for the best interests of their employers and investors.1

Servant leadership originated with Christ. While ministering on earth He provided a clear example of how to treat others. He came to serve rather than to be served.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45

It’s the little things—returning the shopping cart to its rack, smiling at the clerk behind the counter, picking up the phone to discuss a disagreement rather than sending an email, emptying the dishwasher, letting the other person have the last word, suppressing an exclamation of complaint—that make a difference.

Start filling your day with servant actions, and you’ll fill your life with blessings.

Being teachable and open to new ideas, with a bright outlook toward the future, will make you a servant leader.
Josh Linkner

Company Runs Without Managers

Fascinating article by Inc’s David Burkus. Holocracy, Does it work in practice? (read more at inc.com)

managers meeting

To most business professionals, the idea of  firing your managers sounds insane. However some of the most successful companies do in fact run manager-less, while others have found ways to push some of the management function down to the level of those who are being managed. In either case, more and more leaders are discovering that employees are most productive and engaged when they control their own destiny.

Employees at Valve Software don’t have to take orders from ‘the boss.’ That’s because, at the Bellevue, Washington-based company, there are no bosses to give orders.

As I write about in Under New Management, Valve is a company with no managers. They don’t believe in managers, or job descriptions. When new people join the company, they rotate around on various projects, talk to lots of people, and then decide which project (or projects) to jump into full-time.

Valve isn’t just a small handful of programmers working in a garage either. The company was founded in 1996 by Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell. The company grew organically and quickly based on the success of its critically acclaimed game series Half-Life. The company has grown dramatically from the original partnership to more than 400 people.

Ordinarily, that type of growth would require a fairly rigid hierarchy to manage everyone and keep them working in the right direction. But Harrington and Newell chose to ignore the traditional structure and to build something that would allow innovative and talented people to thrive.

In fact, what Valve employees work on changes so much each day that every employee’s desk is equipped with wheels and organized such that only two cords need to be unplugged before it can be rolled to wherever it’s needed in the shop.

There are lots of people, however, to tell them what they could do. Since Valve has no managers, all projects are started by an individual employee or a group pitching an idea and then recruiting a team. If enough people join the group, the project starts. Sometimes an individual employee is referred to as the ‘leader’ for a project, but everyone knows that this simply means that this person is keeping track of all of the information and organizing what’s being done — not giving orders.

There are also lots of people to tell employees how they’re doing. Valve may not have managers, but it does have a performance management system in place. A designated set of employees interview everyone in the company and ask who they’ve worked with since the last peer review session. They ask about their experiences working with each person. That feedback is collected and anonymized, and then every employee is given a report on their peers’ experiences working with them.

Valve also empowers all of its employees to make hiring decisions, which it describes as “the most important thing in the universe.” Valve attributes the success of its organizational design to hiring the smartest, most innovative, and most talented people it can find. The company’s handbook reminds employees, “Any time you interview a potential hire, you need to ask yourself not only if they’re talented or collaborative but also if they’re capable of literally running this company, because they will be.”

The leaders of companies like Valve have discovered something that researchers have known for decades: when individuals feel free to determine what they’re working on or how they work, they’re more motivated, more loyal and more productive. While Valve’s almost free-form structure may not be ideal for every company, the lessons learned here about improved productivity and engagement are of use to all.

read more at inc.com

The Best Leaders Allow Themselves to Be Persuaded

A very insightful article in Inc. by Al Pittampalli, author of Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World (HarperBusiness, 2016).

The Transformational Leadership Style of Elon Musk

Elon Musk of Tesla Motors

When we think of great leaders, certain characteristics come to mind: They have confidence in their abilities and conviction in their beliefs. They “trust their gut,” “stay the course,” and “prove others wrong.” They aren’t “pushovers,” and they certainly don’t “flip-flop.” But this archetype is terribly outdated. Having spent three years studying many of the world’s most successful leaders for my new book, Persuadable, I’ve learned one surprising thing they have in common: a willingness to be persuaded.

Alan Mulally, the vaunted CEO who saved Ford Motor Company, is, for example, exceptionally sceptical of his own opinions. Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful hedge fund managers, insists that his team ruthlessly second-guess his thinking. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, seeks out information that might disprove her beliefs about the world and herself. In our increasingly complex world, these leaders have realized that the ability to consider emerging evidence and change their minds accordingly provides extraordinary advantages.

One of the benefits of being persuadable is improved accuracy in forecasting the future. When University of Pennsylvania professor Philip Tetlock famously conducted a comprehensive study on this issue, tracking 82,361 predictions from over 284 experts, he found that accuracy has more to do with how forecasters think than with what they know. The winners didn’t abide by grand theories of the world, so they were more willing to listen to new information and adjust their predictions accordingly.

Another benefit is accelerated growth. When Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson studied what separates the masters from the mediocre in a wide range of cognitively complex skills (from chess to violin), he discovered that the quality of practice determined performance. Masters were obsessive about identifying and improving on their weaknesses; that means they were able to overcome the natural human bias toward illusory superiority (i.e., the tendency to overestimate our strengths and overlook our faults) by staying open to critical feedback from others. As Cornell psychologist David Dunning says, “The road to self-insight runs through other people.”

Of course, leaders shouldn’t be persuadable on every issue. At some point, you have to stop considering new information and opinions, make a decision, and move forward. When time is scarce or the matter at hand isn’t very consequential, it’s often okay to trust your gut and independently choose a course based on previous convictions. But for higher-stakes decisions, it’s important to adopt a more persuadable mindset. How can you do this, particularly on issues where you are far from objective?

Recall a moment of opacity. Everyone knows what a moment of clarity is: the experience of finally understanding a situation and knowing just what to do. A moment of opacity is the opposite: it’s when you can’t see a situation clearly, or when something you were so sure was right turned out to be wrong. Can you remember such a time? Persuadable leaders make sure they do. Whenever they’re feeling a little too confident or certain, they remind themselves about past moments of opacity, which motivates them to seek outside counsel and consider other points of view even when they don’t feel naturally inclined to do so.

Keep your hand on the dial, not on the gun. There is no better way to edge closer to the truth than to argue with people who disagree with you. But usually, when we engage in this way, we focus on defending our positions. It’s as if we’re skeet shooting and our counterparts’ points are the clay targets we’re trying to shoot down. We do this because we’re prone to black-and-white thinking: positions and decisions are either 100% right or 100% wrong, and if one can’t be perfectly defended, it must be the latter. But arguments don’t have to be winner-take-all; in fact, the best ones often end in compromise. So instead of imagining your hand on a shotgun, envision it turning a dial that represents the confidence you have in your opinion: all the way to the right means absolute certainty, and all the way to the left signifies none. When your debating partner makes a good point, turn the dial slightly to the left. When evidence that supports your position surfaces, turn the dial a bit to the right.

Kill your darlings. Once you’ve opened the door to feedback and debate, you may find that the evidence is piling up against your previously held view. The next step is to actually be willing to change your mind. That can be difficult when it comes to beliefs to which we’ve become attached, whether it’s a new project idea, an opinion on a long time vendor, or the assumption that you’re a succinct communicator. Writers know a lot about this fear of letting go. We have this terrible habit of falling in love with our own work and picking fights with editors who try to change our words. That’s why writers are advised to “kill their darlings” before anyone else has a chance to. The same applies to leaders. The quicker you recognize and acknowledge that an idea (even a beloved one) is unworkable, the quicker you can move on to the right course of action.