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Leadership Principle #37:  Lethargic organizations need leaders who aren’t afraid to demolish the crumbling walls and rebuild on a clean foundation.  “‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it seem like nothing to you? Even so, be strong…’” – Haggai 2:15

It turns out there is an association dedicated to saving companies from the edge of death: the Turnaround Management Association.
 
TMA’s Web site describes their purpose: “Executives who run into corporate troubles often go through the same processes that dying people do: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then finally acceptance. The last stage is when corporations hire turnaround professionals….”

The prophet Haggai faced his own turnaround challenge. The temple’s foundation had been built with great fanfare sixteen years earlier, yet the excitement had fizzled and construction had waned.

To get things moving again, Haggai cleared off the temple’s original foundation and admonished the people for living in “paneled houses while God’s house remains unfinished” (Hag. 1:4). Disgusted at their luxurious living, he commanded them to rebuild. The glorious temple would only stand once again if they shook off their lethargy and grabbed their tools.

In one of TMA’s case studies, Oldfields, a £25 million London-based chilled foods manufacturer, suffered a sudden downturn in 2003. Its largest customer, representing 55% of its revenue, threatened to terminate its contract.

The turnaround hero, Joe Considine, quickly diagnosed the owner’s dictatorial style and lack of vision and relieved him. Then Considine did the following:

  • He generated cash through slower bill payment and speedier collections
  • He cut most of the company’s products, unprofitable customers, and salespeople
  • He remained only in markets in which the company could beat the competition 
  • He communicated his plans openly and honestly with stakeholders
  • He installed a new CEO and CFO
  • He clearly identified each employee’s role and responsibilities

Oldfields went from losing £1.9 million in 2004 to a profit of £1.5million in 2006. It was soon acquired for £12.7 million. Perhaps Considine and his team’s greatest achievement was the preservation of 480 jobs.

Most of TMA’s success stories are similar, and they reflect Haggai’s own wisdom when faced with a massively lethargic entity. The overarching lesson is simple: People are reignited when a determined leader motivates them to clear away the rubble and rebuild from the foundation up.


-- This post is from chapter 37 of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H)

 

User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Richard Frazer
    37865087
    Tom: I thought about how to translate these 6 areas into the Church. Here's an idea - and what we did in the church that we helped upcycle: • He generated cash through slower bill payment and speedier collections • He cut most of the company’s products, unprofitable customers, and salespeople • He remained only in markets in which the company could beat the competition • He communicated his plans openly and honestly with stakeholders • He installed a new CEO and CFO He clearly identified each employee’s role and responsibilities How would this look in Church Terms: He did things that increased the number of attendees while closing the back door He scaled down the number of programs the church was doing so they could concentrate on their best and signature services He held open meetings where the vision and strategies were clearly laid out so that all could buy into them and offer their suggestions and support He surveyed the people they had and equipped them to serve in the areas of their SHAPE. Every person had a significant responsibility to fulfill and knew fulfilled their place in the Body. He reinstated the spiritual authority of the Holy Spirit, Jesus (the HEAD of the Church), and the Father as well as declared the rule for the church more would be the Scriptures –not Robert’s Rules of Order, Traditionalism or the Constitution.
  • Lavern Brown
    37699541
    - Generate cash = preach on stewardship, curb discretionary spending, sell assets - Cut products = eliminate unproductive programs - Remain in markets where competitive = know what you do well and tell everyone - Communicate plans openly and honestly = communicate plans openly and honestly - Install new CEO & CFO = replace unproductive leaders (including pastor) - Clearly identify roles and responsibilities = train people for ministry!
  • Tom Harper
    37683337
    Really good comparisons! Rich, you really need to write more about your "upcycling" concept. One of these days you'll finally listen to me and bless pastors with it! :) I find many parallels between biblical business leadership and church leadership. Both institutions can either be run with biblical principles for God's glory, or according to man's wisdom and for man's glory.
  • Joshua Henry
    37507217
    Great lesson Tom. The prophet Haggai's encouragement and casting of a vision that could be, caused the people to break free of their complacency. We can't live in our memories, but we can build on them to make a better future. Sometimes in the church world the idols of traditionalism need to be demolished so that the foundation of Christ can be reestablished.
Leadership on the Verge

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Tom Harper
Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets. He is the author of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).
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