The story goes that a man was working in a car factory in Chicago. One day he told his manager that everyone needs to work harder, with slightly longer days, and not take as many breaks. The leadership of the car factory did not dare give him a good answer, but the truth was they were afraid of what the working union would say. They could face a riot in the facility and no leader wanted that on their CV.
Some years passed and some other nations started to produce great cars. The one man that had been looked down at, mocked and nearly fired had got his prophecy right. The US car industry had failed to change and stayed with what was comfortable, becoming outworked by other nations. The man lost his job, house and car.. The directors were long gone…on a beach in Florida…
Well, it’s only a story, but it tells us that when someone in our team, our organisation, takes the effort to speak up, it can be wise to listen and see if there is any truth in what this person is saying. I have spoken up a few times in my organisation only to find out that we do not appreciate whistle blowers.
How do we report problems or concerns?
Often we have heard that if we have an issue with somebody else we should go and talk, if that does not help bring someone along. It’s the biblical model we say, and rightly so. I believe strongly in this model done right. If someone hurts me, or makes a inappropriate joke, yes, go in silence and speak with the person, resolve it there and then.
But when there is a major concern and we only see things getting worse, how can we do this?
In my time as a baseleader I was open to listen to concerns. Sometimes I could work them out and sometimes not. Sometimes I had a word from The Lord to wait and other times I reacted without any word. I remember times where I wish no action was needed and times where I really hoped someone else would lead, not me..
A long time ago we housed an outreach team in our community that was way outside of our dress code. I don’t consider myself very strict, but this was far from acceptable. Two of my staff brought the concern to me. I could have said, “Go and speak with them about it, if that doesn’t help bring some one else with you too.”…But that is not leadership, that is not to take responsibility. I made up my mind and asked them to close their eyes for two more days, and they would leave our community. In the end I did not take my responsibility as a leader and let it go.
Another time, one of our people had gone through tough things in his past which manifested in behaviour such that he could no long stay with us. He had not told me anything about this and I found out through other people. I had to sit down with him and ask him to find something else to do and wish him all the best. I led my community by taking their concerns and dealing with them.
Leadership is to make action out of concerns. How do we bring them in?
If I see something that is not my business to deal with I go to my leaders, tell them the concern and it’s up to them to deal with it. I have done my part and I am free. The leaders need to seek wisdom and confront if needed, make restrictions if needed and, if it is of a character that is not acceptable in our mission, we need to ask people to make a move.
We can not just say “Go and talk with people”, this is an excuse for not taking action or even worse losing authority in leadership. We leaders deal with things, and if needed we find support in national and regional leadership teams as well.
My hope is that we will be leaders that lead, even if sometimes I’ve wished it wasn’t me that had to do it. My dream is to see our level of responsibility grow and make room for concerns if they should arise
Let’s do it in love for each other, seeing the best in our friends so we can speak the truth in love.