In a speech to West Point cadets following the Persian Gulf War, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said: “In the final analysis, you should never forget that the airplanes don’t fly, the tanks don’t run, the ships don’t sail, the missiles don’t fire, unless the sons and daughters of America make them do it. It’s just that simple.”
Leaders must realize that the critical need of selecting the right people is more important than ever and that the importance of people is more powerful than ever. As General Schwarzkopf also said, “If they fail, their leader fails.”
Putting the right people in the right place at the right time is a critical component of leadership. Select the right people and churches, business, and organizations thrive. Select the wrong people and the door swings open for problems that stifle growth and productivity and hurt credibility.
An active leader needs to employ a selection process that puts the right person in the right job at the right time. How do we select the right people?
People who are called.
Called people have a profound purpose about their lives that flow from a divine perspective. They are not trying to promote themselves, but instead, they support a higher cause. People who are called discover something bigger than themselves, a mission, a challenge, a goal, or a movement, that draws them into an arena. Called people have a sense that God’s hand is upon them whether they are engaged in a secular or a Christian vocation. They know that God has directed them to whatever type of service or work they provide. In other words, they do not feel a sense of choice in the matter. Consequently, they do not quit, and could not stop if they wanted to.
People who have character.
Character is a high standard of living based on a personal code of morality that doesn’t succumb to the whim of the moment or the dictates of the majority. Character is to personal integrity what health is to the body. Character is not reputation—what others think of us, nor is it success—what we have accomplished. Character embodies the total of our being and our actions. It originates with who we are, but it expresses itself in the way we live and behave.
Leaders can’t compromise the need for character in the selection process. No matter how gifted, trained, or seemingly mature a person is, the actual use of those attributes will be determined by character.
People who are committed.
That is people who display spiritual authenticity. People who have made a mature, consistent, commitment to Christ and his kingdom purposes. People who allow God’s Word to impact their lives daily. People who pray and seek the leadership of God’s Spirit. People who can honestly say to others “Follow me.” Do as I do.
People who are compatible.
The selection process requires that the leader enlist people who are a job fit, a relational fit, a skill fit, and a passion fit. Vince Lombardi once told this team, the Green Bay Packers, “In terms of skill and ability, every one of you is easily replaceable; there are plenty of players around with athletic talent to equal yours.” He went on to explain that the quality that distinguished Green Bay for the other teams was their “chemistry.” The power of chemistry that developed between members and the coach transcended, in Lombardi’s view, individual talent and prior professional experience. He saw it as enabling him to get significant effort from his players.
People who are coachable.
Coachable people are aware of their limitations and inadequacies and eager to learn and to improve. John Wooden, the former basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins, said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
People who are competent.
Competent people are talented, gifted, and perform at a high level. They know their job and do their jobs well. They bring their “A” game every day.
People who are contributors.
They function well as a team player. They are self-aware both of themselves and of others. They thrive in a healthy team environment, wanting the best in themselves and others. Peter Drucker said, “All work is for a team. No individual has the temperament and the skills to do every job. The purpose of a team is to make strengths productive and weaknesses irrelevant.” Contributors work together and help their teammates perform better to accomplish the common goal.
When the leader selects the right people for the right job at the right time, then he can give them the responsibility and leave them alone to do the job.