The Danger in “If Just One Person” Leadership

Like Don't move Unlike

There is a growing trend among many organizations to apply a false formula in many aspects of the resource distribution process. I call it the “If Just One Person” false logic.

Be aware of the trend

This trend typically unfolds in this manner. During the budgeting process someone will notice an unusually large dollar figure attached to a new or unproven initiative.

The defender of the line item will then apply this logic. “Hey, if even one person is helped by this, it will have been worth it! Churches will go so far as to say, “If only one person makes a decision for Christ, then every penny will have been worth it!”

The same reasoning pops up in other resource discussions too, such as:

  • If just one person hears about our company because of this marketing campaign…
  • If just one person agrees to start supporting our cause…
  • If just one person signs up for this program…

You get the idea. Put your radar on “full alert” when you start to hear “if just one person” language in your organization.

Recognize why the logic is faulty

In reality there is a dangerous false economy at work here. Suppose, for example, the line item is for $20,000 and it is being justified on the “If Just One Person” logic. But could there have been a far more effective initiative which, for that same $20,000, could have connected with 10 people? Or 20? Or 100?

Know how to respond

Those who toss the “if just one person” line into the resource conversation often place a very high value on the importance of each individual who can be reached or impacted through the organization. That is a value worthy of respect.

They key is to respond with the equally important value of good stewardship. Have the courage to point out that there is still a leadership responsibility at play which requires a maximum return on each dollar.

The stewardship value doesn’t negate the value of the individual; it simply places it in a proper context. Point out that the right to impact each individual is earned through the process of maximizing the return on each investment.

Why is this a big deal?

Maximizing resources is a vital leadership responsibility. Approach this role with wisdom, boldness, and collaboration.

Just be careful of the “if just one person” perspective.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow, Olive & Charlie and John, Fiona, Will & Harvey. Lifelong learner.


  1. Thanks Nino. The matter of distributing resources is a very important leadership role. I have learned the hard way that when people start to use the ‘if just one person’ line of reasoning it can create a real problem.!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *