Abdicating Rank

Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, said something that’s still spinning my head. Ambition, not for ourselves, but something bigger. Something greater. Something meaningful.

The disease of mediocrity and stagnant companies is ripe with self-ambition and the individual’s desire to grow their own career, rather than see the product/project/company mission to the end.

Leadership is often confused with personality, rank, and power.

Leaders just need nice, white teeth, a charismatic voice, and be calm under pressure. Right?

There’s a bit more to it. I know I’m guilty of it. In fact, just this week. Using rank, title, personality, traits, or power is an abdication of getting others to follow you. It’s replacing openness, candor, and relationship.

As leaders, we must get others to do what must be done. This involves three components.

  1. Knowing what must be done
  2. Getting people to want to do what must be done
  3. It is not a science, it is an art. (We must develop our own peculiar art form…we shouldn’t — not can we — copy others, though we can certainly learn from others.)

This isn’t manipulation. It’s about the tribe having visibility into the foundational purpose and reason, then wanting to be a part of something bigger, more than a single individual’s dream or hope.

Commanding others (”You have your orders”) is not leadership…that’s dangling a carrot and having someone forced to do it whether they want to or not. That’s role-power, not relationship-power. That is a major difference between a healthy, strong culture and a weak, selfish, wanting culture.

If we need to do whatever it takes to grow and scale our leadership from 1x to 2x to 5x to 10x, then leadership is key. We can coerce others into obeying in order to get that paycheck or promotion…or they can do it because they believe in the greater mission. They see the purpose — they know the Why.

Originally published at www.jeffreybeaumont.com.


I was recently at a conference where the speaker opened with talking about the next generation leaders. But that’s not breaking news. Nor was it his big point.

It was humility.

His belief: “armed with enough humility, we can learn from anybody.” Businessmen can learn from non-profit CEOs; pastors can learn from government leaders…etc. (A beautiful sub-goal of this conference is to draw together people from different walks of life — whether those in business, government, religions, Americans, Brazilians — you get the point.)

At first, I thought it was a lofty goal, though as I reflect on it I can’t help but wonder: what’s stopping me from learning from anyone else, no matter how much our core values, backgrounds, or beliefs differ or are in opposition?

Imagine: leaders of all walks living that out. For the sake of leadership, bettering each other, strengthening countries, and healing humanity.

Imagine: being a leader means listening to others, rather than turning it into a political charade.

Imagine: being a leader means you let the other person talk first, rather than attempting to suck up all the time on the 2 minute tv debate. If we, as leaders, heard others and took into account their thoughts and feelings…instead of demonizing or belittling “them”.

That is humility.

Originally published at www.jeffreybeaumont.com.


Vacations are assumed to be “skippable” but it’s incredible how important these are for us — our hearts, souls, and minds — , even if you only look at it from a work productivity sense. I was reminded when I finally took a break the creativity flowed over. I accomplished much because I had the freedom from work to see a better vision.

Pulling out of the trees to see the forest at large, getting to those other things you’ve always wanted to, or simply resting your mind to ready yourself to jump back in. It’s all so easy to understand, yet I rarely do it. When I do, I’m terrified of all the worst case scenarios that “will” go wrong.

Good thing vacations help prove me wrong. I’m ready to dive back in. Get set. Go.

Originally published at www.jeffreybeaumont.com.

Back into the swing of things

It’s been quite a while since I’ve added anything here.

Much of that is because I felt like I had nothing worthy to share, to give out. There’s already plenty of noise out there, I told myself. I think the deeper reason is because I was afraid to open my mouth until I absolutely knew I had something valuable, something another person would say “Aha! Yes, you have proven your worth.” How wrong of me to wait — instead of just jumping out and hitting a couple bumps along the way. The irony, of course, is that now I have that sense that I “know stuff” about various subject matter, but even still I hope — and plan — to share and pose thoughts and reflections on topics on only have an inkling about.

When we can be open about our insecurities of admitting that we don’t know, we have made progress. That is one thing I feel the freedom from. May this only be the start.

This is my reentry. While I hope this is valuable for others, my goal is to learn much more myself.

Originally published at www.jeffreybeaumont.com.

Gifts-in-Kind — More difficult for Small NPOs — and why accurate valuations are so tough to come…

Another post a guest wrote for nonprofitupdate.info. Here’s the link: http://nonprofitupdate.info/2013/07/29/giks-more-difficult-for-small-npos-and-why-accurate-valuations-are-so-tough-to-come-by/

Valuing gifts-in-kind is not an easy task. Nor is it quick.

There are not-for-profit organizations that appear to be aggressive with GIKs valuations — a quick internet search will reveal that truth. Not convinced? Ask the IRS for their opinion. Then there are others that take whatever value they can find because they lack the capability — they don’t have the know-how.

This post was written with smaller organizations in mind as they usually do not have the expertise, capacity, and staffing to the extent of their larger brethren.

To record GIKs, it seems there are three choices for management (and, by extension, the auditors) on reporting values:

Accept the donor’s stated value,

Don’t record a thing since it appears to be an overstatement, or

Do your homework and come up with a new amount

Hmmm…Choices. Looks like we need to create some methodologies to make a decision!

The first option: I have seen some donor-provided valuations for certain donated goods that seem unusually high, perhaps absurd. Have you?

For the second item, it may be ok to not record, but what if the amounts are actually substantial? I can think of a few risks here.

The third point is the most difficult as management and the auditors must have the time, energy, desire, and knowledge to advocate an accurate measurement. Countless hours could be spent here.

You have to take into consideration fair value measurements, the exit price, where the goods are ordered/picked up, where they will be shipped to (different country, free/costly shipping), expiration dates of products, how much it would cost to acquire those goods in whatever city/state/province/country they will be used in, etc. Pretty simple stuff, huh?

Moreover, unless the organization receives only one or two different products or those are the only substantial GIKs, pricing will have to be examined for many items. This chews up more time.

Then, after careful research has been done, you will have a range of estimates to choose from. You have to pick one.

Do you pick the highest, the lowest, the average, the most common occurrence, the 85th percentile? When you pick one, why did you pick it? What’s your justification?

(Sideline thought: Now, I can imagine management and auditors getting a little squeamish, can’t you? After all, we love being able to pin down numbers because it makes us more comfortable. Something that is grey, or vague, or ambiguous, or questionable worries us, keeps us up at night, and makes us wonder.)

Time for action! A decision must be made, so, which one do you pick?

The conversation

Let’s listen in as the VP Finance/CFO/controller/head bookkeeper/HR manager (that’s usually one person, not five, by the way) thinks about what to do:

“I like the donor stated amount…but, it does seem a little high. What’s the likelihood of someone questioning us?

“Do we have time to review the facts and figures? If I do that, what other projects will be neglected? I’ve got so many deadlines this week. Gotta’ get back to the attorney this afternoon for the next step since we decided yesterday it’s time to fire that guy.

“Let’s see what I could do with those three options. What will happen?

“Purely by the amount of work, I want to take the donor’s number. It’s the quickest and easiest. But…then we need to consider the dangers because the donor is biased to overstate, so much media attention has been calling attention to overstatement, and the media, rating agencies, and attorney generals are all watching.

“So maybe zero is the safe bet. But if the amount is large, then it truly understates revenues. And program expenses. That is also incorrect. And that bothers me somehow.

“OK, fine. The donor number flunks the smell test and the dollars are too big to ignore.

“Looks like a mountain of work. I’ll pull together my own figures and estimate the total.

“Wait! Do we really want to get into all that work for these few GIKs, after all?

“Maybe I should stick with the donor’s number or write it all off, after all.

“But still there’s going to be more later this year and next.

“There’s so many factors, like supply/demand, expiration dates, shipping costs, geography of where the goods came from, and where they will be used that have such a big impact on prices of GIKs from one year to the next. How can I stay on top of all those valuations? How can I get consistently reasonable and accurate figures from a process so complex and difficult?

“And how do I explain it to the auditors?

“Maybe I can just get close enough.

“Maybe we should only accept cars, boats, and RVs? Maybe small things like old computers that don’t have much of a value. Forget the rest of it. That’s simple and easy, right?

Valuation is even more difficult for small organizations.

Originally published at www.jeffreybeaumont.com.