I Saw a Servant’s Heart

by Onyeka Nchege on September 3, 2016

Servants Heart Business leaders often talk about forward thinking, “seeing the big picture,” or maintaining a 30,000-foot perspective.

These phrases are all too familiar, but this week, one man I spoke with offered the highest perspective of all. He removed himself from a very difficult, personal situation and with a single gesture, he left a lasting impression. Here’s what happened:

In business, leaders and executives will have to make tough decisions from time to time – it’s part of the job – the kind of decisions that will impact the lives of others, the kind that have nothing to do with poor performance or lack of discipline. No, sometimes those decisions are made purely based on corporate strategy and direction.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually had to make those kinds of decisions in the past. In fact, that’s how I got involved in the conversation that inspired this post. It was a conversation with Rob, a talented man I have a ton of respect for that sadly, I no longer had a position for.

You know how it goes. I had had this same conversation I was having with Rob a few times already, and I knew I’d have it a few times more before the day was over. But something about this particular conversation struck a chord – his parting words, I wasn’t prepared for his parting words. He said, “What can I do for you?”

I just made a decision that would have a tremendous impact on his life – and the lives of his fellow team members – and Rob offered to pray and tend to others before himself. 
My mission is plastered across the top of this page: “Impacting lives in a positive manner.” At Interstate, we really do bring our “whole selves” to work – your personal life isn’t something you can just put away until closing time.

Nothing mixes personal with professional like those tough conversations, especially when you know the individual has a family to support, a family you’ve come to know quite well. Truth be told, those days don’t feel nearly as “on-mission” as others.

So, in this moment of selflessness, even with the magnitude of the situation at hand, for Rob to ask how he could care for another heart-sore individual was truly astonishing.

So few of us carry that particular presence of mind. What’s more, even can access it in times of distress. But those who carry such a presence of mind do so knowing God has a plan, a vision far beyond that very moment; He sees the light in times of abundant darkness. God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle.

In that moment, God turned my mission around and inside-out through this young man whose words impacted my life in such a powerful, positive manner. I truly believe this was a superhuman caring from the servant’s heart of the Most High, and I’ll never forget it.

As leaders, we work toward a futuristic outlook, a 30,000-foot perspective. But the reality is that there’s nothing more futuristic than eternity, and no perspective is more clear than omniscience.

This moment may have lasted just two minutes – but in the context of hours, people, industries and global forces – it’s impact will stick with me for life.

Take Action: Servant’s heart is more than just talk…..it requires action. Let your light shine.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N.


High Five Your Neighbor……It’s Time for a New Bus

by Onyeka Nchege on August 23, 2016

Friends on the bus ride to travel. give five,A bus armed with explosives and passengers is traveling down a busy city street. The bus cannot be slowed down or accelerated or the bomb will detonate. The only way to save the passengers is to pull up a new bus alongside the old bus and transfer passengers one by one.”

Most people will recognize this description as the movie “Speed.” What most people will not recognize is that this is also the strategy of IT professionals who are tasked with keeping the company running on an old IT platform while transferring employees to a new system one by one.

In today’s world of talented, well-educated IT professionals, leaders are constantly having to seek out new and innovative solutions to keep our team members growing and motivated, while also adhering to our primary objective of keeping the business progressive and competitive. In doing so, we must continue to actively pursue a plan for the “new bus” while avoiding disaster. In an IT organization, the “old bus” to “new bus” transfer takes the form of modernizing our outdated systems while standardizing on industry specific platforms. In addition to transferring our systems to the “new bus”, we must also transition our team members to building and supporting our “new bus” systems and upgrade our stakeholders from our current systems on the “old bus” to our more extensible and scalable solutions on the “new bus”.

Leaders are expected to drive change within an organization; for lack of a better term, they’re change agents. Yet, as technology continues to evolve and work styles continue to diversify, more and more leaders in the IT space are looked upon by their stakeholders to first, keep things running, and second drive change. This pattern of behavior is driven by the “keeping the lights on” mentality, meaning our organizations need the business to keep running as is, while innovative solutions are explored and implemented.

Currently at Interstate Batteries, the leadership team and I are working to transfer our team members from our “old bus” of current systems to a “new bus” of updated, scalable platforms. We understand the criticality of sustaining our business by keeping our old systems running and working well, while slowly integrating everyone on board the new system. This means not just training employees, but establishing and investing in the necessary infrastructure, working to develop and implement long-term solutions instead of relying on quick fixes that just prolong inefficiencies. It’s a system, and the system needs to be trusted. But how do we keep our teams motivated to do the slow transition from old to new.

There are three ways we can help our team stay motivated while moving from the “old bus” to the “new bus”:

    Communicate with Consistency – Whenever you are undergoing change, it’s imperative that you communicate with your team at regular intervals. However you decide to do that, do it consistently.

    Create Space for Conversation – Create opportunities and the forum for team members to ask questions and allow them to ask the hard questions. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, but allow for transparency.

    Back Your Words with Action – Being able to follow through by doing what it is you say you are going to do will go a long way in creating trust. If your message is to tell your team that everyone is vital to the success, show them they matter.

As IT leaders, we understand that everyone wants off the “old bus,” but also that the overall will fail without both the old and new running in parallel. Together, we’re better, and trust me, in the end, there’s enough room on the “new bus” for those willing to make the transition.

Take Action: Ask yourself, how are you contributing to the delicate balance of keeping your organization’s “old bus” running while transitioning to the “new bus”?

Leadership on the GO…..It’s ON!


Perception is Reality, and Reality isn’t Always Kind

June 15, 2016

“You were not open to feedback. Not only did you come across disinterested in receiving any feedback at all, but you seemed disinterested in any clarity surrounding the feedback you were provided with. In fact, you came across quite strong, you came across as if you were ready for war.” I can still remember those […]

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Failure Is Not the Opposite of Success, It’s Part of It.

June 1, 2016

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time,” said Thomas Edison. Just over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled,“Life Beyond an Epic Fail,” in which I talked about three leadership principles you can engage to overcome a failure, ensuring it […]

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Innovation – 24 Hours of Undiluted Autonomy 

May 18, 2016

We often find ourselves saying, “If only I had the time, I’d fix this!” Though we create work-arounds for those items, or find ways to cope, we rarely take the time to implement true solutions to drive long-term change. This isn’t always as simple as it seems, but it’s important for any successful team to […]

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