Bad News

Now, here is a conflicting thought… Have you considered that—for the leader—Bad News is actually Good News.

Think about it. If you are leading well, your staff has the confidence that they can bring the bad news to you as regularly as they bring the good. If however, you’re a leader that is finding out things have gone wrong… and it is too late to fix them, the breakdown is not with your people, the deficiency is with you.

Trust is the single most valuable possession that a leader has. The ability for your people to communicate problems, or forecast potential problems, is created when they trust your integrity as a leader. If they feel they can bring things to you and tap your wisdom for their solutions you will win the hearts and trust of your people. Furthermore, you will avert disaster, and increase motivation within your organization. You will also solidify your legacy as a quality leader.

If on the other hand, your people fear bringing issues to you because your normal reaction is accusatory, questioning, condemning, frustrated or angry, you have created an environment that will destroy trust and ultimately harm your organization. 

Take a minute. What do your people proactively bring to you? Is the report always a good one? Do they eagerly report the negative things? Do you only “find out” about the bad after it has occurred? As you try to discover why that is… perhaps you simply need to look in the mirror.

Allow me encourage you to talk to your people. Build their trust. Let them know that you are open and that you will reward the discovery of problems and their ideas for solutions. Show them in your reaction that you will honor those words. It takes a hundred repeated mature responses to gain an individuals trust, but it only takes one immature response to destroy it.

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Maturity

I have been listening to a lecture series on Developmental Psychology by Dr. Ray Parker which outlines Maturity with the following six indicators. These may be useful to you in your next lecture, in counseling, or simply to help you understand your people better.

• 1 • Maturity bases action on a long-range basis. Immaturity seeks the immediate. We see this in sexual, narcotic, and personality addictions. The mature individual sees beyond the instant gratification to both the long range stability and the consequences should they immediately gratify.

• 2 • Maturity seeks things as they are, accepting the reality of the present. Immaturity seeks to escape reality rather than deal with the present. The mature understands that growth comes from trials. Those who seek to escape difficulty will never mature.

• 3 • Maturity faces the responsibility of actions and lives up to it. Immaturity seeks to blame others and shirk responsibility. This facing of responsibility has a two-fold effect: Maturing the individual and warning them of future similar actions.

• 4 • Maturity accepts the authority of others. Immaturity seeks unearned authority or to undermine or discount current authoritative persons. Everyone is under an authority and the recognition of the wisdom of others and their position “above us” leads to opportunities for growth and learning.

• 5 • Maturity has a proper knowledge and acceptance of self. Immaturity formulates inflated or unrealistic ideas of self. The mature can realistically determine, with some accuracy, their strengths and weaknesses. The immature will inflate their position, their abilities, or their accomplishments, tending to exaggerate. The immature may also run the opposite path as they see themselves as far less than what they are. Their perception of self is one of worthlessness, inability, and useless.

• 6 • Maturity has the ability to love even when that love is not returned. Immaturity will seek return. The mature loves others because of the love and satisfaction they have in themselves. The immature seeks identity through reciprocation. This reciprocation is foundational to the individual’s self-worth and when not received has a detrimental effect on the emotional and spiritual state of the individual.

The Old Man and the Sea

You may or may not know this, but I am a borderline workaholic (some may say there is no border to be seen). I am rarely to bed before midnight and I am always up early to start the day. After a full day of work, I spend the evening with my family, and then once everyone has gone to bed it is back to work. The only thing I let interrupt this evening work time is study or a good book. I read many books, and from time to time I will share something about them with you. I love the classics.

This week’s book was Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. It is a tale of… you guessed it… an old man… and the sea. Really, it is a book about perseverance and struggle. You see, the old man, though his history was one of fishing fame, was ridiculed in his Cuban town because he had not caught in 84 days. He was considered unlucky. He didn’t care, catching fish was all he knew and he used to be the best at it.

How long has it been since you caught a fish?

He was determined, and believed that he would catch the biggest fish ever. HE DID. The fish he catches, he catches with great struggle and pain. In fact the struggle nearly kills him. It drags him to sea for several days of sleepless battle, taking his boat into uncharted waters. He watches as the island of Cuba disappears from view and he fears he shall never return. But, it is acceptable that he should die as long as he catches the fish. He respected the fish, and in that respect desired to kill it.

“The fish is my friend too,” he said aloud. “I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him.” Then he was sorry for the great fish that (like him) had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. “How many people will he feed, he thought”

If you do not see what I see in this paragraph, allow me to comment. If we are to be fishers of men then we must struggle to do so. We may go 84 days without leading another to Christ (I hope not). But, we must keep looking for the big fish. We can catch numerous small ones, and that is good. However, the fish that comes with struggle, although we may be dragged beyond what is familiar and comfortable, when landed has the potential to feed many. We should even be willing to lay down our lives for it. It may in fact mean that we need to ruin their life as well. What I mean is that their life will have to change.

“Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him.”

We all know people, that if we bring them to Jesus, their lives will necessarily change. Certain comforts must go. We can feel sorry for them, but knowing that a life with Jesus is the priority, we determine to allow Jesus to redirect their lives. We kill their “comfortable life” so that they and others will live. It is worth it! There really is no choice in it!