How Not to Loathe the Culture You Are Leading

One of the dangers of a growing organization or ministry is the temptation to quickly bring people on to the team to meet the demands of the growth. Of course, there is nothing wrong with desiring to scale the team. As the organization grows, wise leaders expand the leadership base.

The temptation is to take shortcuts on ensuring those joining the team are deeply committed to the mission and values of the organization/ministry. The temptation is to settle, to quickly grab a person and put him or her in a role. When work is piling up, unread emails in the inbox are growing, and demands seem to be rising, the easy solution seems to be quickly putting someone in a role. But wise leaders know—likely they have learned—that putting the wrong person in a role is a short-term solution with adverse long-term implications.

Tony Hsieh (founder & CEO of Zappos) tells the story about his former company, LinkExchange, which was sold to Microsoft for 265 million. When the company was just getting started, Tony and his friends loved the culture. They worked together all the time, sometimes forgetting what day it was. As the company initially grew, they hired their friends, people who shared the same values and understood the culture of the team. But as they continued to grow, “they ran out of friends to hire.” In other words, people began to join the team who did not share the same values. And the culture quickly deteriorated, so much so that Tony said he no longer wanted to come to work at his own company. He now obsesses over cultural fit in his current role at Zappos, and rightly so. Over half of an employee’s annual evaluation is based on living their values, and he has said, “An employee can be a superstar in job performance, but if they don’t live up to core values, we will fire them just for that.”

While we often imagine that declining and crumbling organizations begin to fall apart because they have grown complacent, Jim Collins, in his book How the Mighty Fall, states that complacency is not the issue. Decline begins when the growth of an organization outpaces the organization’s ability to have the right people at the table.

Surely one aspect of “the right people” is a deep-seated commitment to the mission and values that drive the organization. As the organization grows, new people will be invited to join the team. If you move too quickly and fail to ensure the alignment of values, you may end up loathing the culture of the team you are leading.

How can you not loathe the culture you are leading? Do everything you can to ensure the people joining the team, at their very core, carry the DNA of the culture you envision.

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Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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