#205: The Disastrous Effect of One Bad Apple on Your Organization

Out behind the farmhouse was the root cellar grandpa built for grandma. It was big enough to store all the delicate fruits and vegetables that needed protection from the searing sun of eastern Washington.

Apple Attitude

In the back of the cellar was a barrel of Washington Delicious apples. Grandma used to pick apples at nearby farms and store the apples in the root cellar. She would inspect every apple as she placed it in the barrel because, as she told me, one bad apple would cause all the rest of the apples in the barrel to rot. Thus, the wisdom of the saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.”

It turns out the same thing is true for organizations. One bad apple, one person with a bad attitude, can have a disastrous effect on your organization!

How to Recognize the Bad Attitude Apple

Most of us past the age of four can identify someone with a bad attitude. They are easy to spot because their attitude is displayed through their words and actions. They are negative, critical, grumpy, impatient, arrogant, self-centered, and on and on.

In an organization, these are the people who complain about everything. They spread gossip. They talk about others behind their backs. And when the bad attitude is severe enough, they will even undermine the authority of the leadership.

I’ve seen it play out in large and small companies, work teams, non-profit organizations, and even in church groups. No organization is exempt from the decay brought on by the bad attitude apple.

What Causes the Bad Attitude?

It is important for us as leaders to understand what causes a bad attitude. The Bible says our actions reflect the condition of our heart.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).

Solomon taught the actions of a man reflected his heart.

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (Proverbs 27:9).

In other words, a bad heart causes a bad attitude. As a leader, there is very little you can do to affect change in someone else’s heart.

What to do About a Bad Attitude Apple

If you’ve ever struggled with a bad attitude yourself, you know someone else can’t force you to change how you feel. That change must come from inside you. You have to perform heart surgery!

The same is true for the bad attitude apples in your organization; they have to want to change. They have to be willing to perform heart surgery on themselves.

That said, there are three things you can and should do as a leader to help them:

1) Be a coach. A coach is an instructor or teacher. Sometimes people don’t realize how their bad attitude is being expressed so let them know how their attitude is affecting the organization.

2) Be a mentor. A mentor is a trusted advisor or guide. Knowing is different from doing. By mentoring someone with a bad attitude, you can help them recognize their bad behavior and focus on being more positive.

3) Be an example. Most important of all, as a leader, you must be a role model. Your life must set an example of the right kind of attitude. Your attitude, according to Paul, should be the same as Jesus, a humble servant obedient to God.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV).

A bad attitude apple can have a disastrous effect on an organization. As a leader, you can’t afford to ignore the bad apple. You need to take action before their attitude spreads to the rest of the organization. A leader guided by the Holy Spirit can be a catalyst for attitudinal change. Be a coach, be a mentor, be an example, and be the powerful, inspired leader God intends you to be!.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with someone who had a bad attitude? How did his/her attitude affect the organization? How did you deal with the person?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?


Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships



#173: What Unique Trait Should Christians Share with Redwood Trees?

When I was a young lad, perhaps 13-years old, I along with 30 other members of Boy Scout Troop 193, boarded a rented school bus and set off on a 6-week adventure.

Trees, Unique, Redwood, Trait

We left Spokane, Washington and camped our way down through Oregon, into southern California, up through Nevada, and back home.

Along the way, in northern California, we stopped in the Redwood State Park to see the Giant Redwood trees. They are the oldest and tallest trees in the world.

These redwoods are truly amazing. Some of them are over 2,200 years’ old. They were already pretty good sized trees when Jesus was born! Now, however, they tower over 300 feet tall. Many are over 360 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter!

Despite their enormous girth and height, their roots are remarkably shallow reaching only 6-12 feet deep into the soil. What holds these majestic specimens up in the harsh winds of the coastal climate? Two things. Their roots stretch out fifty feet in all directions to give them stability. And they grow together in groves so their roots intertwine and support each other.

I’ve always thought this was an incredible picture of what it means to be in unity as a body of Christian believers. We are stronger together when our “roots” are spread out and intertwined. We are stronger together when we are united and support each other.

There are many Bible verses that speak to the importance of unity among the body of believers.

For example:

King David wrote how good and pleasant it was to God for believers to dwell together in unity:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

The apostle Paul wrote extensively on the subject of unity among believers. Writing to the Ephesians and referring to the church, Paul said there is one body united by one Holy Spirit:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Paul, again writing to the Ephesian believers compared the church to a body with every ligament supporting the rest:

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16).

Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers stressing their need to put aside divisions among them, to be united in mind and thought.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Writing to the Galatians, Paul taught we are all one in Christ. In the body of believers, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male and female, or slave and free. We are all one in Christ!

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

And finally, writing to the Colossians Paul exhorted them to let Christ rule in their hearts, united in one body of believers.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

These are just a handful of verses that deal with the subject of unity among Christian believers. There is little doubt that the Lord’s hope for us is that we, as a body of believers, will be united in our faith.

What concerns me is there is often more disunity among believers than there is unity. We argue over minor points of theology. We publically cast dispersions on other denominations because they hold to a different liturgy or sing different kinds of worship songs.

No wonder the outside world looks on Christians with confusion and downright skepticism!

I do not believe this is disunity and division among the body of believers is pleasing to the Lord. As a body, we should be like the giant redwood trees of northern California whose roots intertwine providing strength and unity to all.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What is your view of unity in the body of Christians believers? Is it important?

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Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships


#168: Why Are More Professional Relationships Crashing Every Day?

The state of our professional and personal relationships is in decline. And that has me worried.

Relationships Plane Crash

I see two factors contributing to the decline.

The first is technology. We have email, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other technologies that allow us to communicate without actually connecting.

The second cause is an outgrowth of the first, and that is the increasing trend to work remotely, away from the office. The 2010 American Cities Survey completed by the Census bureau states that just under 10 million workers work from home full-time and another 4 million work from home at least part-time. The total of 14 million people working at home is an increase of 35% over the prior decade. Imagine what the number is today, six years later!?

What is missing from relationships built on this technology is the depth that comes from actual contact with our fellow man. We check in with someone via a two-sentence email, an instant message or a Tweet, and then we are on to the next thing. We cannot establish a meaningful connection with anyone this way.

I liken this technologically driven relational contact to what pilots call a “touch and go.” Touch and goes are when you come in for a landing, the wheels touch the runway, then you power up and take off again.

Many of our relationships today are built on touch and goes. Email, instant messenger, Twitter and all the rest allow us to execute touch and goes. We can connect frequently and with ease and still not build a relationship.

Building Relationships

Real relationships, the kind that can stand the test of time, are built on solid a foundation. The foundation of strong relationships is on display throughout the Scripture. As Christians, we should set an example for everyone to see. Here are five ways we can build relationships on a solid foundation:

  • Love one another. Jesus, teaching the disciples said, Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
  • Encourage one another. Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Respect one another. Peter, writing a series of instructions to believers living among Gentiles said, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
  • Invest in one another. Paul writing to the Romans said, We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
  • Pray for one another. Paul, this time writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Let me be clear. I am not against the use of technology. I am, in fact, a closet geek. I use email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. But here’s the thing. As great as these tools are, they are just tools. The communication they support is not a substitute for deep relationships built one-on-one, face-to-face.

So use the tools that are right for you, but remember too that God made us as relational beings. We need to be in relation with one another. We need to love one another, to encourage one another, to respect one another, to invest in one another, and to pray for one another. When we do these five things we will build strong relationships that will be a light to the world.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your reaction to the premise that the use of technology is weakening our ability to build strong relationships?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?



Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships

#151: Me, Myself, and I, the Unholy Trinity of the Selfish Leader

There was a time in my early days as a leader when I thought quite highly of myself. I perceived myself as being smarter than most of my bosses, certainly smarter than my peers, and my employees, well they were downright lucky to have me as their boss!

Selfish Leader

Looking back, I believe my leadership style came from a confluence of my own insecurities and the command and control style of leadership exhibited by the post-WWII leaders I worked for.

What that means is I did everything I could to hide my own insecurities behind a wall of bravado. It means that everything I said and did as a leader was designed selfishly to advance the cause of me, myself, and I.

Thankfully for me (and everyone in our organization), I became a Christian, and God started working on me right away. I soon realized the kind of leader I was, was not the kind of leader I wanted to be.

I’d like to say my transition was like a larva in its cocoon that metamorphosed into a beautiful butterfly. But it wasn’t. It was more like I was this huge piece of stone that God had to hammer away at until He got something that He could use.

Because of my history, I can spot selfish leaders from a mile away. Check this list of seven characteristics. If someone has three or four of these characteristics, they are well on their way to being a selfish leader:

1) Rejects counsel and advice from others.

The selfish leader believes he/she is the smartest person in the room, and there is little to be gained from listening to the wisdom of others. Even if someone else has a good idea the selfish leader will reject it because it isn’t theirs.

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, rejected the counsel of his father’s advisors. Instead, he listened to his young friends who told him what he wanted to hear, and the result was rebellion in the kingdom and war. (1 Kings 12)

2) Makes unrealistic demands on others.

The selfish leader will make unrealistic demands on others in an effort to further their own agenda.

Solomon had taxed the people heavily to pay for his own luxurious lifestyle and all his building projects. Rehoboam promised the people rather than lighten their load he would lay an even heavier burden on the people. (1 Kings 12)

3) Threatens drastic punishment for failing to meet demands.

The selfish leader is not afraid to beat people into submission. They will cajole, humiliate, threaten, and if needed, make an example of one to “motivate” others.

When Rehoboam announced his new “I’ll tax you more than ever” plan he followed up with a threat saying, if you thought my father was hard on you when he whipped you, wait till I get ahold of you! (1 Kings 12)

4) Refuse to help others.

The selfish leader isn’t about to help others unless there is something in it for them.

Nabal was a very wealthy man. David and his men had protected Nabal’s servants and his flocks from robbers and nothing had been lost while David gave them protection. When David and his men needed some food and water they asked Nabal and he refused to help them. (1 Samuel 25)

5) Makes rash pronouncements.

The selfish leader is all about grandiose gestures, promises, and proclamations. It’s all about making him look bigger than life.

Jephthah returned victorious from battle and announced that whatever came out of his door to greet him he would kill as an offering to the Lord. Who should emerge to greet him but his virgin daughter! (Judges 11)

6) Obsessive Paranoia.

The selfish leader is often paranoid that someone will discover their incompetence. When that paranoia becomes fixated on a single individual or group they seek the destruction of their “enemy.”

Saul was just such a king. He was paranoid that David was about to take away his kingdom and he became so fixated on David that his risked the kingdom in an attempt to kill David. (1 Samuel 22)

7) Rejects God’s direction.

The selfish leader doesn’t just think he knows better than his contemporaries. He or she is also able to rationalize their decisions as being better for them than following God’s direction.

Jonah was a prophet of God. But when it came to delivering the message of repentance to the Ninevites, Jonah rejected God’s call and ran the other direction. We all know how that worked out! (Jonah 1)

Truth be told I still struggle with being a selfish leader sometimes. But when that happens God gets out his big hammer and chisel and starts hammering away on me. He’s trying to make me more like Jesus.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for or with a selfish leader? How did it affect you? The organization?


Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships

#102: What I Learned on a Playground that Actually Helped Me as a Leader

Do you remember your grade school report cards? There were grades of “outstanding, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory.” And rather than just subjects, there were grades given for social skills and work habits. One of these skills was “works and plays well with others.”


I never thought much about being graded on “social skills” until I started working. Early in my career, I realized why it was so important that I know how to “work and play well with others.” This skill forms the basis for all personal, corporate interactions! Who would have thought that a skill developed on the playground when I was six would be so important to my career development?

Of course in the business world, we do not refer to it as “working and playing well with others.” No, we created a whole field of study called “organizational development.” Organizational development tries to explain how people interact in the workforce, and how those behaviors affect corporate profits.

Interestingly, most of our formal education centers around knowledge, not on developing our ability to work and play well with others. While I was graded on this skill in first grade, I don’t recall any teaching on the subject. Because of my business focus in college, I did get some classes on organizational design and development, but mostly it was finance, marketing, and other such stuff. In my 36-year corporate career, I had a couple of seminars on diversity. But that’s about it.

Sad to say, but true, most of our ability to work and play well with others was developed on the playground when we were six or seven. Fortunately, the Bible provides a wealth of information on the subject. It provides guidelines for personal behavior, our interactions with others, and importantly, has a lot to say about employer-employee relationships.

Leadership Lessons from the Playground

If you want to get a grade of “exceptional” rather than “needs improvement” in working and playing well with others you need to know how build esprit de corps in your organization. The military describes esprit de corps as, “the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.” Developing high group morale, or esprit de corps is not an easy task. Here are eight steps you can take to build esprit de corps from Dr. Alan McGinnis’ book Bringing Out The Best In People.

1) Place a premium on collaboration.

There’s a saying, “Two minds are better than one.” Encourage people to work together rather than separately. Reward those who succeed through collaborative efforts.

2) The need to belong.

Employees want to belong. They want to feel needed, appreciated, and accepted by the group. Make it easy for people to gain acceptance in your group.

3) Quality Control.

Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing for a leader. Peers will often hold each other to higher standards than the boss will. Don’t assume responsibility for quality control on every little thing. It is far better for the group to hold its members accountable for high performance.

4) All for one and one for all.

Remember the call of the Musketeers? It was “All for one and one for all!” Leaders should be in it with the troops, and every member of the group should understand their performance is a reflection of the group. Army generals Patton and MacArthur, despite their shortcomings, earned the undying loyalty of their troops because they were devoted to the welfare of their men.

5) Promises.

Nothing destroys morale as fast as the broken promises of a leader. Don’t make promises you cannot keep, and be honest with employees on the day that you have to explain why the raises you promised won’t be forthcoming after all. A reputation for integrity can take a lifetime to make, and only seconds to lose so guard this characteristic with all your might.

6) Fairness.

Believe it or not, there are bosses who structure contests so their favorite employees will win. They think no one sees through them. What fools! As a leader, your first job is to create a well-defined set of work principles and expectations that you can enforce with complete fairness across your organization.

7) The preservation of the individual.

While employees want to be members of a group they don’t want to lose their own identities. Make sure people are valued for their unique skills and specific contributions to the group.

8) Fun.

All work and no play mean increased employee turnover. While business is serious and the stakes are often high, make sure that work includes some humor.

One Final Thought

A group whose morale is high is stronger and more productive than any single individual. They can create more and do more, at a lower cost than individuals who are serving their own self-interests.

The writer of Ecclesiastes provides a wonderful view of the strength of a group; “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12).

The key to strength in numbers is unity of mind and purpose. But the key to morale is job satisfaction and satisfaction from our work comes from a focus on God. He meant us to work and gave us skills to make us successful. But success, no matter how you define it, is hollow outside of a personal relationship with Jesus. If you don’t think so look at the entertainment stars who have everything money can buy but search madly for meaning in life. They search with drugs, alcohol, and special causes but as Solomon said, these are all meaningless without God.

Bonus Whitepaper

What I Learned on the Playground that Actually Helped Me as a Leader is also available in the form of a bonus whitepaper.

This 11-page bonus whitepaper includes:

  1. More in-depth content covering the world-view of organizational behavior,
  2. Biblical principles of organizational behavior,
  3. 7-elements needed to build organizational morale,
  4. Some great quotes,
  5. A case study, and
  6. A key points summary.

You can download it here:


Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome! Have you worked in an organization where there was low morale, strife, or poor relationships between employees and management? If so, what impact did that have on you as an employee? Have you had to turn around an organization with low morale? If so, how did you do it?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Categories: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships

#005: Love One Another

February is the month of love. Hearts and flowers and boxes of candy abound, and romance is in the air, but not for everyone….

Cross on Hill, Love

.…so it is a good time to remind ourselves how much our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to reflect that love to each other.

It’s easier said than done though sometimes, isn’t it? As fallen creatures, even with the best of intentions, we tend to disappoint each other on a pretty regular basis when it comes to the command to “love another.” Moms and dads argue with each other and say spiteful things. Kids rebel, rejecting the love of their parents. Family members get in fights, often over trivial things, vowing never to speak to one another. Yes, there are times when rejection from loved ones wounds us grievously and makes us wonder whether we are even worthy of God’s love.

But God does love us! And in a way that it so strong and undeniable it is even hard to comprehend. Paul writing to the Romans said, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can separate us from the love of our Heavenly Father! We are His children, adopted into His family—a family that will last beyond this earthly realm into eternity!

Yet while we are here on this earth God tells us over and over to love one another. Did you know there are 22 verses in the New Testament that tell us to “love one another”? In fact, in several verses, we are commanded to love one another! Why? Because if we say we love God and His Son abides in us, then God’s love is perfected in us as we love one another (1 John 4:12).

If you want God’s love perfected in you, you must love one another because He loved us first!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How will you reflect God’s love to someone you love this month?

Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships