Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Are You the "Bad Cop"?

Many executive pastors I know spend a significant amount of their time dealing with personnel “issues.” Sometimes we take these issues in stride and other times they’re more like a train wreck, either for us or for the staff member involved. Some execs have thick skin or are otherwise quite adept at this part of the job but others struggle. While the need for someone to be the “bad cop” is readily recognized, most would say that it’s not their favorite part of their job.

I think that’s why Jim Collins’ words in How the Mighty Fall struck such a chord with me. He says that the seeds of a collapse are often planted during a stage of rapid growth. It’s in this season that a company (or church) will:

… begin to fill key seats with the wrong people; to compensate for the wrong people’s inadequacies, you institute bureaucratic procedures; this, in turn, drives away the right people (because they chafe under the bureaucracy or cannot tolerate working with less competent people or both); this then invites more bureaucracy to compensate for having more of the wrong people, which then drives away more of the right people; and a culture of bureaucratic mediocrity gradually replaces a culture of disciplined excellence. When bureaucratic rules erode an ethic of freedom and responsibility within a framework of core values and demanding standards, you’ve become infected with the disease of mediocrity (emphasis added).

Maybe this struck me because my default is to add bureaucratic procedures hoping to police people into the right behavior. Maybe it struck me because having the right people and a culture of disciplined excellence is so powerful and attractive. Either way, it gives me a target to shoot for and a new language I can use to describe my ideal. I want to spend my time creating a “culture of disciplined excellence.” What about you?