I’m not going to lie.
I can’t tell you why, but I liked Madonna’s Super Bowl halftime show. Honestly, I’ve always liked Madonna. And no, I can’t tell you why about that either. Though I wasn’t over-the-moon about her performing at the Super Bowl halftime, I at least thought she was moderately relevant – which is something I can’t say about some previous Super Bowl performers (I’m looking at you, “The Who”). For some reason, Madonna forgot that she was Madonna and invited some people far too small and far-less talented than she to join her on-stage. One of those being M.I.A., someone who for me, until her Super-Bowl appearance could have actually been MIA. I had no clue who she was.
At any rate, a day after the Super Bowl, a great deal of the conversation around Madonna’s performance was M.I.A. flipping the bird to the largest audience in television. In that moment, we were all reminded of the importance of working with the right kind of people.
In Bill Hybels‘ book Axiom, Hybels writes about the three C’s of hiring – Competence, Character, and Chemistry. We talked about Chemistry last week. What M.I.A. demonstrated during the Super Bowl is something that we’ve all encountered in the workplace — a co-worker who lacks the character for the job. Working with someone who lacks character taints your employer, taints you, and misdirects your customers from your product, mission, and brand.
If you want to advance your mission and team, you must pay relentless attention to the character of visible and vocal members of your team.
- Trust. When a co-worker lacks character, the team discerns that they cannot be trusted. People hesitate to speak-up, offer and volunteer their best. Teammates cease to be open about struggles in their area of responsibility and slowly the team begins to decay. Strategy sessions, brainstorming meetings, and – on ministry staffs – the mutual sharing of joys and frustrations, becomes restrictive because the rest of the team doesn’t trust someone with information. Congregants and customers also notice the lack of character and slowly they begin to not trust you with their patronage. Plus, if you let bad character go, people will assume you approve it.
- Credibility. Madonna, while no stranger to controversy, has become a mother and a quite respectable business woman. She leant M.I.A. her credibility, and M.I.A. spat on it! It may have temporarily helped M.I.A. (who I doubt will be performing at 53), but it hurt Madonna’s brand. The mother, filmaker, businesswoman and humanitarian was thrust back 20+ years to an earlier, less mature, and less developed version of herself. I don’t think many of us want people relating to us or our brand as a caricature of who we used to be. For a while now, when people think Madonna, they’ll think about M.I.A.
- Development. I was once a part of a team wherein one staff member had a profound lack of character. This meant few other staff members were willing to (1) work alongside them closely, and (2) leaders were hesitant to bring new people onto the team. They knew whoever was hired would suffer because of this individuals lack of character. They didn’t want to put new people – especially younger workers – in the path of destruction. One person’s lack of character held back the entire organization. Yes, lack of character is that powerful!