And what a blessing our staff team has been. Since it’s inception, the children’s home has been great at providing and caring for the children who live here. However – and unfortunately – the previous leadership team did not invest much time, if any, in the individuals who worked to make the home a success. I could probably go on for 2000 words about the what’s and why’s, but suffice it to say, the style of leadership Lee and I bring to the home is in stark contrast to what existed before.
Lee and I have been very deliberate in setting up a flat organizational structure with our team. We’ve told them from the beginning we do not have all the answers and we’re here to learn from them. Although we have the responsibility to make decisions, we won’t make any decisions without their input. More importantly, we believe in transparency and honesty. We will never lie to our team or present a situation in a false or distorted way. The best asset any leader can possess is truthfulness, and it’s our intention to operate that way in everything we do.
In leadership, there is a critical importance in the ability to win hearts and minds. It’s been fascinating to see how much of that we’ve been able to accomplish with our team simply by being kind. Scripture teaches us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and Lee and I have focused intently on treating each individual on our team as we would want to be treated. I feel this has truly liberated them to think more creatively and empowered them to do more in their specific roles. We turned over control of menu creation and food shopping to our house cook. Not only has she devoted her time to creating a nutritional and well-balanced menu, she’s used her personal contacts to purchase food items in bulk and has already reduced our monthly food costs by 40%.
Our driver and maintenance person has also exploded with ideas for betterment around the house and campus. Whereas before he was relegated to the background and forced to bite his tongue, he’s stepped up and been such an asset for Lee and me. We’ve asked him to handle all negotiations for us when it comes to material purchases and new expenditures, and in every case, he’s been able to talk the vendor down five hundred to one thousand pesos at a minimum. That’s roughly ten to twenty dollars per instance, and in the short time Lee and I have been here, his negotiation skills have saved our organization at least $100 USD. The important thing is he now feels he has the freedom to do that, and he experiences a lot of joy in being able to maximize the value of a particular transaction.
And for all our team members, it’s about the value of the work they do. Their salaries are meager by our American-perspective standards, but they serve because they thoroughly enjoy being a part of this foundation and being a part of the life-solution for these children. It’s not a job for them per sé. It’s a vocation and a calling, and knowing they feel that way serves as a wonderful reminder of why we are here in the first place.