Friday, July 6, 2012

Courageous confrontation

I learned from my mentor that in most organizations (especially churches), most people in authority would rather make rules than deal with a person directly. It takes less time, effort and emotional energy to simply make a rule (which typically applies to a few people, or even a lone individual) than to sit down with a person and coach them through a weakness, blind spot, or failure.

This sort of system simply develops mindless robots, not leaders. Leaders think, followers do. Isn't the goal to get people doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do (and it makes sense), rather than because it's a punishable offense? If we'll courageously confront the behavior based on agreed-upon core values, people are more willing to cooperate. And they'll become a part of the solution, rather than a disconnected, disgruntled part of the problem.

I took too long in confronting one member of our team early on in our church planting journey. This person was quite dramatic and needed to be the center of attention, and it was getting frustrating to us and the rest of the team. Since I really felt they were supposed to be with us, I didn't want to just hammer them (which would have crushed them). I took things slowly and methodically... but never really got to the heart of the matter. To be honest, it was the result of fear... this person was a valuable part of our team (with incredible gifting... a real producer) and I didn't want to lose them. So I reasoned that if I took it slow I could keep them and salvage the relationship.

This turned out to be a mistake. I thought they would be with us a long time, but they left six weeks after I started "grinding off the rough edges." They found someone who was willing to stroke their ego and lead them to another church. (Of course we sent them off with our blessing.) As a result, I was never able to help them grow beyond this personality (character) flaw because I didn't want to hurt their feelings.

We are called to use our influence to help sharpen the people around us. (Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. - Proverbs 27:17) But I failed to do that with this individual.

Actually, in his amazing book "Good to Great", Jim Collins says that failure to confront, or as he puts it, "get the wrong people off the bus" hurts our credibility as leaders. And it can cause our top producers (who already realize that a change needs to take place) to be less satisfied and committed.

All said and done, I wasn't showing this person or my other team members the respect they deserved. After this person left I apologized to those affected, and also to the person. It's one thing to say we desire to help everyone reach their potential, but it's a totally different thing to actually be committed enough to do it. I have since determined to confront when the need arises, and teach my team how to do so biblically. And I've asked my staff to hold me accountable.

So how do you handle confrontation in your organization/workplace/church/family?

1 comment:

  1. I think another reason people don't confront a person is because they have no faith a
    "change" or "solution" is possible. I am speaking from my own experience...sometimes we make the mistake of thinking we understand why the person did what they did when really it isn't the reason at all!