In leading people, you can operate from one of two philosophies:
1. People really do want to work and do a good job.
2. People are basically lazy, really don’t want to work, are praying for a lottery win and will do as little as possible to earn a paycheck and keep people off their back
The command-and-control or top-down leadership style is reflective of the second philosophy. Using the old carrot-and-stick approach…you either have to punish or reward people to get them to do their work and do it well.
Everything I have read, studied and experienced in the leadership of others confirms the first philosophy is the one to go with.
The problem in most cases when philosophy #1 is not working is not the people, but the leadership and work environment that combine to mitigate against good work habits and good team morale.
As a leader, I will be the first to admit that it is easier, and more tempting, to catch people doing something wrong rather than catching them doing something right…to blast them rather than bless them.
The modern “progress review,” or it's equivalent, is set up to catch people doing something wrong and then telling them what they need to change to do it right. It is operating from a negative rather than positive starting point.
A few years ago, I read 1 Peter 3:9 in my daily devotional time with the Lord:
“ Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but, on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.” ESV
“ That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead bless--that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” The Message (The bolding is mine!)
It was verse 9 in The Message that hit home with me. “…Instead bless—that’s your job, to bless…” I asked myself what it would look like to do God’s job…for me to bless people instead of blasting them (as I did by criticizing, judging, fault-finding, nit-picking and trying to catch them doing something wrong)?
Memorizing this verse, praying over it and asking Jesus to help me be a blesser and not a blaster has made a huge difference in the way I do most things.
It is impacting the way I talk on the phone, talk in person, treat my wife, kids and grandkids. It slips into most emails I write as I look for a chance to encourage, say something positive, bless people through my spoken and written words. It is unarguably true that a pat on the back goes much further than a kick in the pants.
Be honest with yourself. Ask your family, your co-workers. Do you operate as a blaster or blesser in your relationships at home, church and work? Is some confession and repentance in order?