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The Seven Dysfunctions of an Organization

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The structure of this article is taken from a Daily News article that detailed an elected official’s failed leadership style which resulted in chaos and an organizational mess in this official’s administration. This stunning confidential report was ordered by this official for the purpose of analyzing their operational efficiency when they were serving as a political leader in the Tri-State region.

The following seven points are not meant to be a political report but rather a summary of common dysfunctions in all failing organizations, churches, and even families.

1. There is no unifying overarching vision

• Each department functions separately with a lack of communication; no real message; no real platform, and no agenda.

• Every department within any organization needs to have one unifying vision they look toward in their work that motivates them, so that each piece of the puzzle knows how to come together to form the corporate picture or identity. For example, if there is a church in which the Sunday school, worship team, pastoral team, and women’s committee all have separate calendars, agendas and vision, then the church will have division even if there isn’t any overt divisive talk.

2. There is no communication between the staff and departments

• Every successful organization needs to have one unifying calendar and the ability to quickly facilitate events and dates within the departments and staff of the organization.

• Systems communication becomes more essential the larger the organization. This is so vital; organizations need to continually review their effectiveness in this area, especially as they grow.

• Expansion of services without a commensurate expansion of communication will eventually lead to lack of follow-through in delivery mechanisms which then leads to decreased quality in product and a decline in organizational effectiveness and influence.

3. There are people with titles who have no function

• When people have titles with no meaning attached to them.

• Every organization, including churches, is tempted to reward unqualified people who have been loyal to their organization with important titles. This is a huge mistake because titles without function misleads people and causes those expecting a service to accompany a title to be let down.

4. Leading by consensus and public opinion instead of leading by conviction

• When a leader has difficulty in saying “no” to the demands of other people.

• Having a restaurant’s “maitre d’ style” of management that capitulates to the needs and qualms of one’s confidence.

• First Samuel 15 teaches this was the downfall of King Saul of Israel: he would always acquiesce to the demands of the multitude because he feared the people.

5. People are being paid to do nothing

• When people are put into jobs because of political connections.

• There are organizations and churches that hire people because they are related to them biologically or are friends.

• Leaders need to be good stewards of the finances of their organizations, which should include regular reviews of all staff members so they are held accountable to perform at the highest levels of excellence possible.

6. The leader plays the staff against one another

• Sometimes insecure leaders pit leaders and/or paid staff against one another so that each person’s loyalty is directed totally to them, so there are never unified voices among secondary leadership that can threaten their power.

• Leaders who operate like this violate the biblical law of unity, which is absolutely necessary to obtain a corporate and organizational blessing. (Read Psalm 133.)

7. Lack of ability to keep confidentiality

• Any organization or church that is going to be successful must have staff that keep conversations at work, job performance records, and financial records confidential unless otherwise indicated or demanded by a legal investigation.

• If there is no trust between the staff and leadership then there will be a breakdown in the all-important relational dynamics needed for powerful corporate synergy.

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