leadership lane-assist

In the previous My Leadership Lane-Assist post, I argue that it is better to persevere in suffering through a personnel vacancy than to endure the long-term consequences of a compromised personnel choice.


When it comes to hiring, wait rather than settle.


I also stated a second prompt, with the promise I would devote this next post to unpacking it:


Adapt your structures to your people, not the other way around.


roles and responsibilitiesGood management practice dictates that a carefully crafted position description is essential to an effective personnel search. I concur.

In fact, you might say that the primary takeaway of my previous post is that clarity about the kind of person that has the capacity to help you achieve your vision is essential to success. Don’t be lazy or vague. Get a clear idea of what you are looking for and don’t settle for mediocrity. Craft position descriptions carefully.

The Right Fit

My wife is a skilled and avid jigsaw puzzle solver. She has an uncanny knack for poring over a uniquely-shaped hole in the puzzle, looking over scores of puzzle pieces, and selecting the one piece that precisely fits the opening she’s trying to fill.

jigsaw puzzleA similar skill is highly valuable in organizational human resources work. Judging good job fit is essential.

Unlike jigsaw puzzle games where you attempt to insert one piece after another until you find the correct fit, you don’t have the luxury of trying one person after another until you find the one that fits you. You have a very limited number of attempts to select the right personnel puzzle piece.

But there is a hidden trap associated with developing a precise job profile. You can get so fixated on precise job fit that you overlook extraordinary potential. Beware the tendency to narrow your field of vision such that your screening process admits only mere slot-fillers and filters out game-changers.

Successful football franchises understand this talent bias. When draft day or the free agent signing window comes along, they have a clear grasp of the personnel gaps and weaknesses they must seek to address.

But have you ever observed how the great coaches and franchises will seize every opportunity to enrich the talent pool, foregoing safe and sound choices that meet existing needs in order to snatch up elite talent that has the potential to elevate everyone else’s performance in the long term? The same applies to your staffing efforts. And that is especially true when you are seeking to fill a recently vacated staff position.

Envision the Potential

Unless you train yourself to think otherwise, you will tend to see the job vacancy exclusively in terms of the previous employee’s contribution and primary duties rather than creatively re-envisioning the vacancy’s potential opportunity to advance your mission, vision, and strategic plans.

A staff vacancy represents a new opportunity to accomplish two very important things:

  • to review the strengths of your existing team members and reconfigure their responsibilities for optimal alignment with their core strengths;
  • to hire the most high-capacity, mission-fit person you can find and redistribute job responsibilities created by the vacancy so as to optimize everyone’s role relative to your mission, vision and plans.

My leadership experiences prompt me to advise that you and your colleagues would do well to learn to take a step back, avoid fixating on specific job responsibility coverage, and instead look for the most talented mission-fit persons available. You can never have enough of those precious human-resource commodities.

One more time, here are my “twin” personnel Leadership Lane-Assist prompts:


When it comes to hiring, wait rather than settle.


Adapt your structures to your people, not the other way around.


If you’ve missed any posts from my Leadership Lane-Assist series, you can find them in our 4ThoughtLeaders blog pages.  Or, if you’re just tuning in, you may want to start from the beginning of the series with my Leadership Lane-Assist introductory post.

Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …


  Is niceness next to godliness?

That is the message embedded in way too much of church youth ministry culture, according to Rod Dreher who cites an experienced youth-worker friend. Dreher provides a sample of the vitriol to which Kentucky’s Whitefield Academy has been subjected in the wake of (false) reports they had expelled a student after they observed her social media post featuring a rainbow birthday cake. Firmness in the face of “soft totalitarianism” will inevitably invoke such hatred, Dreher concludes. Seems no-cost Christian discipleship is over in America.

  The 20s come roaring back

This essay by Baylor University history professor Barry Hankins puts the foment of our third 21st century decade (the 2020s) into perspective. In some pretty striking and instructive ways, contemporary American civic and political culture, judicial strife, public discourse, Christians, and Christian institutions are experiencing similar tumult to that of what has been come to be known as the Roaring Twenties (1920s, that is). Yet during that period, Hankins observes that for a segment of the evangelical population, including many of our Bible college movement forbears, “their main focus was training people to win others to Christ, disciple believers into mature Christian living, and cultivate community in evangelical congregations.”