Last year the IWU Executive Council adopted an email protocol in which, among other things, we committed not to send each other work-related emails from 6:00 pm on Friday to 6:00 pm on Sunday. We weren’t sure how this would work, or if it would really make much difference in our work culture. After six months, it’s clear that this protocol has made a positive impact. We have had to be flexible when weekend duties have required communication between us, but none of us would want to go back to our old ways.
During the recent Executive Council planning retreat, I asked Keith Newman (CEO for Residential Education) to help us develop a broader set of commitments we could make to each other as IWU’s senior administrative team. We used an excellent document created by the Southern Ohio Medical Center (Portsmouth, Ohio) as our point of departure. Our document borrows its primary language from theirs. We have augmented it with verses that illustrate places at which we see these principles reflected in the Bible.
At the end of our retreat we adopted these principles and affirmed our commitment with a Communion service.
Here, then, are our IWU Executive Council Commitments for Principled Service.
1. We set high expectations for ourselves and others.
We will pursue excellence by selecting and developing great people, setting high expectations and holding ourselves accountable. We are committed to going the second mile. We want to be great stewards and worthy of God’s call on our lives.
We are Christians intent on “walking the talk” but, being human, we make mistakes. When we do, we depend on each other to call these errors to our attention. When confronted, we may be embarrassed, but we contain our defensiveness, thank our colleagues for bringing this to our attention and then strive to do better in the future.
“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
2. We select the right leaders for the right jobs.
Our greatest strength is found in the people who serve at Indiana Wesleyan University. We intend to place leaders in positions where they can succeed and we are committed to recruiting, empowering, nurturing, and rewarding the best of the best. Continuous learning and succession planning insures an even brighter future for our community.
Saying good-bye to well-intentioned leaders who are not getting the job done is hard for us, but we understand that nothing discourages good people more quickly than ineffective leaders. We do not expect perfection but, considering our individual strengths and weaknesses, we do expect each leader to add net value to the organization.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
3. We concentrate on asking the right questions, evaluate our options, deliberately choose the best one and then act decisively.
Like most leaders, we enjoy making decisions and appearing decisive. The inclination to make precipitous decisions is strong. We resist that tendency by forcing ourselves to ask the right questions before jumping to conclusions. We manage by fact instead of impulse by asking for the data to make a compelling case.
In every situation, there are always options. There is always a best option. Recognizing this, we allow a reasonable time to examine our available options prayerfully and carefully and then we select the best one. We then move quickly to communicate the plan, execute the plan and to measure its effectiveness.
Secrecy is a way to avoid being held accountable and can damage our credibility with each other. For these reasons, we make information widely available, and we involve as many people as possible when making important decisions.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” James 1:5
4. We listen carefully and then talk to each other, not about each other.
We are passionate people with strong opinions. We realize that we must resist the temptation to dominate discussions, or to smother healthy debate because it makes us uncomfortable.
In community we know that we will disappoint each other from time to time. When this happens, we recognize the inclination to talk behind each other’s backs—and we resist that inclination by reminding each other about how we would want to be treated in the same circumstance. We practice the Golden Rule.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” Matthew 7:12
5. We deal with conflict directly and resolve it promptly.
Conflict happens. It is unpleasant and most everybody wants to avoid it at all costs. We realize that avoiding conflict is a serious leadership failure, and so we bolster our resolve and deal with it promptly, dispassionately and courteously. As we mature as leaders, we come to view conflict as a vital catalyst for innovation and growth.
When leaders get upset, we usually point to someone or something else as the cause for our outrage. We realize that no constructive change can occur in the blame frame. While unwilling to excuse the rude, hateful or malicious actions of others, we acknowledge that how we respond is our responsibility. We seek to have both the mind and attitude of Christ.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” Philippians 2:5
6. We build lasting relationships by engaging in real work as a team.
A great team is a group of interdependent people committed to a common mission who choose to cooperate in order to achieve exceptional results. We celebrate the diversity of our team by working together for a cause with eternal consequences.
Group social activities have their place, but real teamwork occurs only when we confront a demanding challenge that requires a team approach to achieve the desired result. We look for opportunities to work together as a team. For example, we travel and learn in groups, and we work on meaningful organizational projects during business meals while we are away.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
7. We have fun…
This is more than a job for us. We are called. We genuinely like and respect the people we work with, and we believe in what we are doing. We are privileged to do work that is meaningful—some would say sacred. We are as professional and committed and caring as they come. But “offstage,” when it is appropriate, we have a great deal of fun. We pray, laugh, rejoice, worship, and celebrate, for we are blessed.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The best strategies and principles need to be modeled by leaders to foster community acceptance and implementation. Successful organizational execution always comes down to the involved leaders delivering on their commitments. Knowing this, we do not make commitments lightly. When we commit, we deliver, with excellence and enthusiasm. May God help us make these seven principles much more than words on paper; may His grace and truth guide us in all we do for His honor and glory!