As I said in the initial post in this series on developing leaders, organizational leaders differ from other leaders in ministry because of the activities that they are responsible for.
What do organizational leaders do?
1) cast vision or mission (at some level) for the future activities
2) establish goals
3) create plans
4) recruit and develop staff (including leaders)
5) encourage/influence others to invest (mentally/emotionally) in the vision/mission
6) execute plans
7) achieve goals
8) develop other leaders
While leaders do these things, they certainly don’t often do them alone. When you have a team of leaders around you, these activities can be done as a team, collaboratively. Collaboration means that we labor together. When we labor together we can encourage each other, we can learn from each other. When we have complementary gifts and perspectives, we can be wiser, more effective. When each of us is using our gifts and talents together to accomplish the mission, doing what we do best, it is energizing, rather than tiring.
Leaders are developed by letting them participate in leadership activities. Leadership development requires providing opportunities to practice leading. Since we all don’t start from a position of competence in all (or any) activities, we need practice to grow into competence. We can call on team members who are competent or skilled or gifted in each of these activities – to offset our own weaknesses.
Where it goes wrong:
There are three main sins that cause collaboration anti-patterns that can cause this approach to leadership development to fail.
1) Pride – true collaboration requires humility – the willingness to recognize our weaknesses and need to improve.
2) Fear – collaboration requires courage. each one has to put their own best ideas and efforts “out there”. We cannot be afraid of what others will think or do.
3) sloth – collaboration is hard work. It often is harder to get the group on the same page than it is to get a simple task done.
Our development of leadership must address these three sins in its very core. Our own struggle with these sins needs to be evident, at least in the leadership “community”. These three sins and their children must be called out.
A Killer Attitude:
There is one more attitude that causes leaders to fail at collaboration. CLOSEDMINDEDNESS! I think closedmindedness is a real weakness in the church. Not when it comes to doctrines – we need to believe what is true. But when it comes to methods – how we do ministry. I think that many times closed minds are prideful – as in “we already have the answer”. And sometimes they are fearful of rejection of their ideas, so they stay with the “tried and true” answers. Other times closed minds simply recognize that to try something new will be much harder than to “keep on keepin’ on”.
Rather than closed, leaders need to maintain an attitude of curiosity. That is the attitude of a life-long learner. Leaders who are not curious will not grow fast enough to “keep up with the changes”.
What can we do to be more effective?
1) deeply understand each others passions, strengths and abilities – value all talents, gifts and abilities in the context of how they help achieve goals. When we (consciously or unconsciously) value some talents and gifts more than others we miss opportunities to use less valued talents to meet goals. We also miss opportunities to develop those gifts and talents in our leadership community.
2) collaboratively rearrange responsibilities and assignments within leadership community to align with passions, strengths and abilities. When leaders work out of their passions they get excited about the work. This excitement is what the followers (not leaders) observe that gives them hope and courage.
3) learn from each other – as we observe others working in their passion, strength and ability – we gain understanding when we remain curious and attentive. Just because we currently have possess some inventory of strengths and talents doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to develop new ones. Passion is infectious and talents can be developed through observation.