Rediscovering Redemption

Chronicling the work of Redemption in the lives of Followers and Leaders. Articles, research and meditations from the writings of Dr. Joseph J. Bucci. Get blog updates by following Joe on Twitter @Re_Redemption

Joseph J. Bucci

Support for an Alternative to Temination Using a Redemptive Approach

Dennis Bakke was co-Founder, President and CEO of the AES Corporation, a leading global power company with businesses in over 30 countries, $40 billion in assets, and revenue of more than $10 billion annually. AES is another example mentioned in he book, “Hidden Value.” When Bakke and Chairman Roger Sant co-founded AES in 1981, they adopted a unique philosophy. They wanted to develop a culture around a set of Christian values which articulated the beliefs that people should be trusted, and that businesses don’t just exist to make money but to serve. Since leaving the organization Bakke has written a book called “Joy at Work.”  Bakke believes that the best and most appropriate response to most mistakes in life and within an organization is to admit the error, ask forgiveness, and promise not to make the same mistake again. It requires that people in the organization understand what it means to forgive (Bakke, 2005). And after granting forgiveness, they (the leaders) should then act as if the problem or action never took place. Firing is appropriate when people do not accept responsibility for transgressions and refuse to ask forgiveness. This is especially true if the problem is a major breach of an important principle or value. Holding people accountable requires enormous humility (Bakke, 2005).

Richard Chewning (1990) in his book, “Business Through the Eyes of Faith,” tells the story of an employee who steals from a business is not fired, but given the opportunity to continue working and not be fired. The manager confronted the employee behavior several times to attempt to salvage the employee (Chewning, 1990). It is a manager’s role to help employees avoid situations that might lead to failure. Managers also need to help employees accept responsibility for failures that are within their control (paths for correction) (Chewning, 1990). The influence of attribution on corrective actions is strongly influenced by the cost associated with corrective actions. Mitchell (1982) noted that the costs of implementing corrective actions may have a large effect on the corrective action process. Specifically, he proposed, irrespective of their attributions, leaders will be inclined to implement corrective actions that incur little personal cost. Confronting behavioral issues is tough work (Dobbins, Sgro & Smith, 1990). It is cheaper to develop the “raw material” within the employees an organization already has than to go out and spend the money to find a “polished” employee in the marketplace (Chewning, 1990).

John Maxwell in his book, “Failing Forward” (2000), quotes management consultant Peter Drucker as saying, “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try.” Granted that the focus of Maxwell’s book is how the effort to try new things may lead to mistakes, and that mistakes really do pave the road to achievement. Maxwell discusses how “the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure” (Maxwell, 2000). The determining issue is whether the manager of the mistake-making employee perceives these mistakes (whether made in innocence or with a dash of insolence) as the foundational blocks in building future success. Hans Finzel writes of mavericks in his book, “Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make” (1994), and notes that most leaders struggle with having persons in their employ who think and act differently than they do. Yet it is these ‘mavericks’ who are not necessarily attitude problems but opportunities for leaders to perceive things from a different vantage point when their viewpoint is understood (Finzel, 1994).  And when people act differently, and when people take risks, mistakes are made and sometimes rules are broken.  Leaders need great discernment to know whether these violations are benign or malignant efforts, and whether forgiveness and redemption can reclaim this situation for greater glory.

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Joseph J. Bucci

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