Leading with beliefs and values has become increasingly challenging in today’s environment. As a company, Ascendant has always made the effort, at times clumsily, to constantly raise the standard for excellence while demonstrating core values.
When one has core values, they must not be easily dissuaded or intimidated to conform to the norm. They answer to a higher calling and live their lives according to Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” For example, according to an April 2020 article in Creative Studio, “Christian CEOs want their faith in Christ to be fully integrated into their business practices, influencing everything from production to employee relations, from hiring practices to strategic planning.”
We interviewed our own CEO, Raoul Davis about values. He shared five pillars that were influential in his own life including his Christian values.
Pillar One: Spirit
Values can be centering for how a CEO leads. For example, when one decides to follow Jesus Christ, they believe the Holy Spirit begins to guide, direct, convict, comfort, and help that person walk in a more selfless way. One way to accomplish that is through daily prayer, listening for direction, journaling, and then committing to following those directions.It becomes really difficult to pray, reflect, and think about the needs of others and then lead with greed. Being centered around values can help you build a better overall culture.
Pillar Two: Strategy
Christian CEOs don’t rely on their own power, but realize the successes they achieve are due to faithfulness to complete the good work started in them (Philippians 1:6). Sam Thevanayagam, CEO of Parts Life, Inc., says regarding his gift of recreating, “I have a unique ability and a unique process – it’s actually trademarked – that not only recreates a technical data package but then recreates a part.”
At Ascendant, the way we focus on putting clients’ needs first, positively communicate with our team, and innovate is influenced by Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, John the Baptist, and the teachings of Jesus. As one Ascendant client, JiNan Glasgow George says (jinanglasgowgeorge.com), “God gave us all the power to create.”
Pillar Three: Clarity
Peter Demos grew up in the restaurant business with his parents but chose his own path as a lawyer before he gave his life to Christ in his forties. “Demos’ understanding of his mission and purpose was further clarified when a trusted mentor told him that he isn’t actually the managing director of the company – God is. Ever since then, Demos has viewed himself as a steward.”
Raoul Davis, CEO of Ascendant Group, started his company with a vision to merge his passions. He loves sports and he loves God. His heart’s desire was to avoid trying to put their clients in a box, but to amplify their strengths. By working with clients that exemplify excellence, mission, and ideas that better the world it helps Ascendant meet its vision to to help infuse positivity and hope in a world that desperately needs it.
Pillar Four: Assignment
While most CEOs start a business with a purpose, usually born out of a passion, value-based CEOs do so more from a position of knowing their assignment comes from their deep imbedded beliefs, not just something they thought up themselves. Simon Lee, CEO of Buy On Purpose, had the same literal dream for 30 days straight. Over a three-month period, he fasted, prayed, and sought counsel regarding the interpretation. He eventually concluded God was calling him to start up a company and give away 50% of his profit. However, Lee didn’t push ahead with his decision until God answered his prayer for his parents to be in unity with his decision to leave their business and start out on his own. The time between when his dream started until he started his business was six months. Maybe it was the combination of trusting a dream, patiently awaiting his parents’ blessing, and faithful diligence on the front end, but Buy On Purpose has proven to be successful year after year. The average NPS (Net Promoter Score) for a company is 42. Lee’s business’ score is 88.
Pillar Five: Anchoring
One of the ways to measure a CEOs success is through understanding what anchors them.
Jeff and Ally Davidson started Camp Gladiator, one of the nation’s fastest-growing fitness companies, because they chose to live generously. They believe “God created a world where there’s enough to go around. He clothes the flowers and feeds the birds, and he’s going to take care of us. We have an abundance mentality because we have faith in God.” It’s that anchor that has allowed Camp Gladiator to design their packages to be as accessible as possible to everyone, not serving only the elite. They also ensure that anchor carries through to their employees which cultivates a positive company culture.
The Ascendant team has a director of Encouragement and Organization who often writes encouraging emails to staff with an open invitation allowing them to submit prayer requests or just state areas they need support. Joan Maxwell, CEO of Regulator Marine, has a team called “In His Service,” which administers the company’s employee emergency assistance fund and its corporate giving, as well as plans events for the factory. This reinforces their anchor focused on serving others. The ultimate goal of Simon Lee, Jeff and Ally Davidson, and other Christian CEOs is “to honor God and serve others.”
Many value-based CEOs have these five pillars in common. They all want to honor their beliefs, serve others, and live the principles of their faith in a world that too often only provides lip service.