Banish Divisive People

When Dave and Jane and I gathered in a conference room in 2003 to start a new magazine, discussion was, well, boisterous. Loud. Argumentative. Collegial.

We came out after about a month with an editorial focus, a description of readers, a description of companies who would advertise (and why), an editorial calendar, a business plan, a media kit (all the products we could sell to advertisers).

The most dangerous next step was hiring. Bringing in people who had agendas, histories, insecurities could be disaster. We had a core team of 6-7 who stayed together eight years. We built a winning magazine and a good business. Then some new people came along and all the chemistry changed.

We were lucky in many respects. We had a couple of strong personalities who could be divisive in another situation, but they were managed.

Have you ever been in an organization with someone who is just plain divisive? They have an agenda. They are always engaged in hallway conversations trying to build alliances against someone in authority.

Churches are full of this personality type. Businesses, too. I’ve seen it. It’s ugly. I’ve even been the target. Never saw that one coming.

Henry Cloud devotes many pages to the problem in The Power of the Other. He looks at the master organization builder, Paul the Apostle.

Paul says when you see one of those divisive people, recognize it, give them a warning, and, if they don’t change their ways, banish them

Cloud says he’s seen it in organizations. The CEO recognizes the situation and terminates the culprit. Overnight the atmosphere changes. People who had been enemies become friendly. “Gosh, you’re a pretty good guy. I don’t know why I didn’t like you.”

The answer to that is the recently departed divider.

Recognize the signs of a divisive person. Find them, and deal with them. The sooner the better. Rip that cancer out of the organization. Everyone will feel–and perform–better.

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