Thursday, January 22, 2009

Choosing Advisors Carefully

Every governmental leader, corporate leader, and church leader needs to be surrounded by good advisors.

In 1976, Stephen Hess wrote in Organizing the Presidency that in choosing Cabinet members, while the notion of a Cabinet “type” can be overdrawn, there are qualities that the President should look for in public executives. May I suggest that every pastor and church leader will benefit by using similar caution in selecting close advisors.

Persuasiveness. “This is necessary in large, hierarchical organizations where leaders have limited control over personnel and where the tug of inertia may be considerable.”

Personal stability. “This calls for a sturdy internal gyroscope, stamina, and the ability to work under pressure."

Broad-gauged intelligence. “…ability to conceptualize, to see the policy implications and consequences of their actions.”

Flexibility. “They must do so without losing site of the leader's ultimate goals.”

A sense of duty. “Unlike the President and members of Congress, they are not elected. This means, paradoxically, that they must have an even sharper sense of responsibility than an elected official.”

A thick skin. They “should be lightning rods for public unhappiness and, if they are doing their jobs properly, they will deflect from the leader as much criticism as possible.”

Patience and impatience. They must be able to “deal with endless procedures,” hearings and meetings and yet at the same time they “must prod their subordinates to do better and must use their impatience with the status quo as a constructive tool of management.”

These qualities might well be considered when looking for any team of advisors.

[by Michael McKinney]

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