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Dr. G. & Friends  |  

The 100% Myth

You’ve seen it.

After taking a congregational vote to call a pastor the tally shows a majority vote in the affirmative, maybe 90%, or 98%, or maybe 87%.

The decision is made, the new pastor will be called.


But then, the moderator says, “Let’s take a second vote and make it 100% unanimous, shall we? It will show unity!”

And, somewhat grudgingly and dutifully, a second vote will be taken.

The new pastor will be told, “The vote was unanimous!”

Maybe three years later, when the honeymoon is over and the first crisis hits, the pastor will find out that the call was not unanimous after all.


Leaders too often feel they need to get 100% buy-in before proceeding on an initiative.

They want to “get everyone on board” to ensure the success of the endeavor.

They want unity to stave off criticism or resistance.


It’s a waste of time trying to achieve 100% consensus, or “getting everyone on board,” or getting 100% buy-in, or trying to bring about change by trying to make people in your organization adaptive, resilient, and innovative.

That approach will never likely happen.

The fact is, it is YOU, the leader, who needs to be 100% committed to the vision, passionately on board with the mission, adaptive and innovative.

Most people in your organization want stability, routine, and a sense of security.

They do not want the burdens of responsibility for the organization’s future–that’s yours to carry.

They are not risk-takers.


Here’s an insight: focus on the resilience of the system rather than of individuals.

Stop trying to change people.

Systems are resilient and adaptive to the changing conditions of their environment.

And when systems adapt, the members of the system accommodate themselves to the changes; systems adapt, people accommodate.

Those who do not or cannot accommodate to changes—new procedures, new directions, new competencies, new skills, new practices—-will leave, replaced quickly by others who can.

Work at changing your system, not the people.

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.

His books on education include Academic Leadership: Practical Wisdom for Deans and Administartors, Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).


Dr. G. & Friends