Leadership skills

Making the Tough Calls


Firing a friend stinks no matter how you phrase it.  My husband let several people go during our years as business owners.  We hired many brothers and sisters in Christ, many in transition between ministries.  Some we knew quite well.  Most of them worked hard and diligently learned the skills necessary for their positions.

A few never mastered key tasks critical to the detailed insurance industry.  Our agency paid fines to the state due to incorrect information on individual policies.  Angry customers barked at our customer service reps because their coverage wasn’t what they requested. This discovery often occurred at accident scenes. Sometimes customer records were stored improperly or completely MIA.  Our csr’s, again, would take the hit when clients called for specific policy information.

Sleepless nights always proceeded the wretched task of “giving someone the opportunity to succeed in a different company,” as my husband phrased it.  The pain of knowingly removing someone’s income and reason to get up in the morning weighs heavily.  In the early years we tried to salvage employees that simply lacked skills or work ethics.  This approach damaged the morale of employees who did their job correctly.  We forced our star workers to carry the weight of other’s poor performances.

We learned to speak the truth in love and execute hard decisions.  A couple folks were so shocked and lacked self-awareness that they left angrily and then trash talked us.  Their bitter attitude, after so much mercy, hurt.  Making tough choices is a harsh reality of leadership.

I’ve observed leaders and pastors who abdicate their responsibility in this arena.  Bullies and complainers are given way too much play and cause substantial damage when a leader won’t do their job.  This applies to families, businesses, churches and governments.

Great leaders rise to occasions and make wise decisions in the face of conflict, criticism, and even danger.  Everywhere from battlefields to businesses, from churches, schools and homes, the world is crying out for courageous, skilled leaders.  You must decide in whatever arena of influence God has given you, what kind of leader you will be. If you desire to be a world shaker and functioning on the forward lines of the kingdom, you will suffer some personal losses.   Here’s a few:

  • Losing the popular vote- This is when you must choose to do the righteous thing even when it flies in the face of majority opinion.  We’ve lost some relationships over these kinds of decisions.
  • Losing your life- When you are willing to lay down your life, resources and dreams for the sake of God’s will and purposes, you are an exceptional leader. Trying to advance your own cause and expecting God to bless it, is a doomed endeavor. Please recall Jesus’ admonition that folks who try to save their lives will lose them. Discover how and where God is moving and blessing and join Him in His work.
  • Losing peace, temporarily-  Holding employees to a standard, correcting straying church members or disciplining a rebellious child are not cuddly moments.  In general, people don’t like to be told they’re missing the mark. Most don’t receive it well.   Just remember, there’s a difference between making peace and keeping the peace.
  • Losing pride-  At times, leaders must recognize that they are the source of a problem. This can be due to us trying to excel in too many areas, instead of bringing other skilled people along with us.  Sometimes we ball up the works clinging to systems and methods that use to be successful but are no longer.  Other times we roll out change too quickly. The point is, a great leader acknowledges when they boggle things and seek appropriate solutions.

If you’ve been avoiding a tough call, face up to it and deal with people in a straightforward, kind manner.  If a dying program needs to be cut, do it.  Need to change processes or personnel, then seek God’s wisdom and make the alterations.  Stand firm in the face of the blowback.   If someone needs some loving confrontation and consequences, get it done and don’t expect a thank you.

It’s resting on you as to whether your family, ministry, business or whatever soars towards it’s God ordained destiny or languishes in a puddle of unresolved problems and unmade decisions.







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