Don’t Be Caught in the 99%

Would it surprise you to know that only 1%-3% of churches have any sort of an intentional leadership development process/pipeline/system? It surprised me. Even among “mega” churches the percentage, according to leading researchers, remains the same. Why? You should ask yourself that question, as should I.

I can offer you three reasons:

  1. We’ve conflated discipleship and leadership development. In other words, we believe our helping people become better followers of Jesus will also automatically make them better/future leaders. Wrong.
  2. We respond to the urgent, rather than endure the urgent as we position ourselves to secure the vital. Meaning we are so busy dealing with what’s in front of us—working in the organism/organisation—that we don’t stop to actually work on the organism/organisation. This leaves us with a dearth of leaders, and a cycle of chaos.
  3. We (Hope | Think | Believe | Dream?) leaders will develop via osmosis, from being around and watching us lead. I cannot count how many church leaders I’ve coached/assessed/trained that just assumed leaders would be made by “doing life” with them. No. Just, no. If it lacks intentionality, it will lack investment. If it lacks investment, it will produce a minimal return.

Likely there are many more reasons than these three, but the result remains the same—almost 99% of churches (and many non-church organizations for that matter) have no intentional plan in place to replicate leaders, and it is often the biggest hurdle to sustainable growth.

What, then, is the solution?

Make a plan and execute it, even if it’s imperfect.

Plain. Simple. Plan.

Maybe you have no clue where to even begin. Allow me to offer three starting points for your new leadership development plan.

First, define leadership. At Renovation we define leadership as: Vision + Faith + Execution. I’m positive I lifted all or part of that, so feel free to do the same.

Next, define what a leader is. I define a leader (likely lifted, at least in part) as: 

1. Self-Aware  2. Self-Correcting  3. Self-Managing  4. Self-Starting  5. Self-Encouraging 

Lastly, define the underlying context/criteria in which these “self’s” will find expression, and in what manner they will be cultivated. At Renovation we’ve decided on 7  necessary “C’s” of development. It is both the grid through which and the means by which we choose tools to use for training and developing leaders. These also function as qualities we want to cultivate in them.

1. Character 2. Competence 3. Conviction 4. Clarity 5. Chemistry 6. Conduct 7. Capacity

Example: Evaluating, training, and cultivating capacity is my personal favorite, because it is not something we intuitively look to, but it is often the culprit in cases where we believe someone to be a poor leader or lazy. Often a lack of capacity masks itself as laziness, and what is discovered is not that people don’t want to do their job well, but rather they lack the capacity to do all they’ve been given. When this is discovered, you have the decision to lighten the load so that they can flourish (if there is room in the role to do that), train them to increase their capacity,  or find someone who’s capacity covers the breadth of the work.

This is a very brief look at the “why” of leadership development, and a couple parts of my “how.” Is this helpful? What would you add?

Whatever you decide to do regarding the leveraging of what I’ve shared here, good or bad, do something! Grow that percentage, and lets lead great organisations that readily replicate leaders.

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