Several teams we mentor are struggling to develop the right DNA in their workplace. The types of people we hire is important, but even more important is our own modeling of life and work.  This modeling must be done on all levels, both for expat team members and local employees.  And if you are an employee and not a business owner, the same issues apply in drawing co-workers toward the Master.

The best employees are attracted to quality, transparency, and they enjoy the work they do.  Employees, and more so expat team members, need to know why their job matters and what is the big picture or long range vision of the company.

I have learned that there were two types of employees/team members: the one type sees the business as just another job, and put in just the right amount of work. The other type buys into the vision, and dedicates most of his/her waking hours seeking creative ways to make the vision of the business come true. Clearly the second type is the most valuable even if they have less experience than the first.

Team members who often ask questions about how long before they can get on with the “real ministry,” do not see the business as central to God’s transforming the community. These expats, and local employees too, view the business as a stepping stone to transformation, or something else – like a paycheck.  However, the second type of worker is more focused on the vision; and the bigger and bolder the vision the better.  To hire this type of worker, or find this kind of team member, requires a founder that is able to convey passion for the mission of the business in a way that is credible with smart people who will question whether the vision is achievable.

On my goals for last year was to watch a TED Talk every week. Maybe two-thirds of these talks were a waste of time, but some were excellent.  One of the best is Simon Sinek’s presentation, How Great Leaders Inspire Others.  When you watch the presentation, it should immediately become clear that leaders, especially business owners, need to focus energy on selling the Why, and not the What of the business. Or if you are an employee we need to be talking about the Why of the job we do with co-workers. Each of us moved overseas because we were passionate about the transformation God wanted us to bring through our product or service.  We believed it was His assignment for changing more than the business – we are to change lives.  Simon’s message reminds us to not hesitate, or be scared to tell our co-workers/employees what our grand vision for the business is about.

Let your vision, or rather the vision the Master has given you, motivate your workforce and not just yourself.  I strongly encourage you to listen to Simon as he tells this fascinating story.  Check it out here.



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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