The gathering of resumes and conducting interviews can be a harrowing experience. Many people have lost all hope and loyalty through such processes. Too often the behind the scenes politics can become, shall we say, fodder for much gossip and intrigue. Transition can be rough waters to sail through for a few reasons.
- Factions begin warring like Greek city-states trying to gain control
- The group choosing the next leader is not trusted by the whole
- The next leader is not the former leader
- Some people will always not like the adjustment.
Samuel had been leading the Israelites on God’s behalf for a number of years. The people had become unhappy with their current situation and leadership. They began calling for new leadership and demanded something like those around them had. Isn’t that how it usually is? Your organization is going through a difficult time and the leadership is easy to throw under the bus. You look at organizations in your region and in your market that are successful. Then the organization begins to envy those leadership styles and successes. When the resumes arrive and interviews begin objectivity can narrow. Let’s take a look a unique verse during the ascent of Saul to the throne of Israel.
22 They again inquired of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
The Lord replied, “There he is, hidden among the supplies.”
23 They ran and got him from there. When he stood among the people, he stood a head taller than anyone else.
24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the one the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among the entire population.”
And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
25 Samuel proclaimed to the people the rights of kingship. He wrote them on a scroll, which he placed in the presence of the Lord. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each to his home.
26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, and brave men whose hearts God had touched went with him.
27 But some wicked men said, “How can this guy save us?” They despised him and did not bring him a gift, but Saul said nothing.
I Samuel 10
The last verse is common among people. Why does this happen? Here are 4 common mistakes groups encounter during leadership transition and election.
- Taking a false high and holy road. The men in this scripture despised Saul. They could have taken the high and holy road thinking that Israel should serve God and not a king. However, the Bible calls them wicked. A cursory reading could conclude this about them. Groups, especially religious ones, can find small factions of people who want to spiritualize everything. Caution must be taken to not walk too slowly or too swiftly. This mistake usually is extreme in nature. Groups move too slowly when they creep along in prayer waiting for God to drop a resume out of the sky. In this group waiting, not work, rules the day.
- There are those times when a member of the group desires to be the next leader. This can frustrate members of the small, and larger, group. One organization recently worked through 3 chairman because of various reasons, not the least of which is that one desired the position himself. This group in Samuel might have desired the position themselves and were angry and not being chosen. This mistake happens when someone begins to pressure the group toward one decision, thus removing innocence and objectivity.
- Once a leader is chosen there is not always unanimity. Many organizations proclaim unanimity only because members don’t vote, or lie to save potential embarrassment. In my experience those who actually appear to vote are not the ones about which to be concerned. Those who do not vote, but are active, are the ones that bring potential trouble. In reality, those who are backing someone else, and are overruled, must be mature and accept the decision. The common mistake is that this does not always happen. The dismantling of many organizations have occurred as a result of hard feelings or immaturity to accept the ruling.
- Some people are just grumpy. Disenchantment and disillusionment have settled in their lives. A once vibrant individual has been on the wrong side of change once too many times. Now they are just grumpy. There is no trust in new leadership. A dominant feeling is that the organization, and the world at large, is leaving them behind. One way to combat this problem is bring everyone into the discussion.
Whatever the reason, the Bible called them wicked. The next time your organization is choosing new leadership be positive, supportive, and follow-through.