First Who, Then What

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Categories: Pastors Blog

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Dear Pastors

First Who, Then What

I’m sure you have discovered how important it is to have the right people on your leadership team. By right people, I mean people who are the right ‘fit’ for your team (or church or organisation) as well as the right attitude and the right skills.

Most people get up on Monday morning and want to do a great job at work. However, study after study has shown us that the context and environment that people work in is perhaps the most critical factor for that person to be at their best and in so doing perform brilliantly - day in, day out.

You may be saying, “this is all well and good for companies that can hire the best. Not so easy for churches”. I agree. But here’s my question to you. Do you at least agree with the idea? Do you agree that when building volunteer teams you are looking for the right people to do the right jobs for the right reasons.

In his famous book, Good to Great, Jim Collins used a bus and the seats on that bus to put a finer point on this idea. I will turn the rest of this blog over to him.

Excerpts from Good to Great

First Who, Then What—get the right people on the bus—is a concept developed in the book Good to Great. Those who build great organizations make sure they have the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus. They always think first about who and then about what. When facing chaos and uncertainty, and you cannot possibly predict what's coming around the corner, your best "strategy" is to have a busload of people who can adapt to and perform brilliantly no matter what comes next. Great vision without great people is irrelevant.

The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it. They said, in essence, “Look, I don’t really know where we should take this bus. But I know this much: If we get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” rather than “what,” you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction: “Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.” Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company.

To conclude. We are living in rapidly changing times. We have moved from a complicated world to a complex world. If you as a pastor take the time to pray, to search and then recruit carefully you will achieve great things and enjoy the ride so much more.


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