This week I am blogging from #OC14, The Orange Conference in Atlanta. Orange is a gathering of thousands of church leaders, with an emphasis on senior leadership, children’s ministry leadership and student ministry leadership. I am highlighting some of the best material from the Orange senior leadership track. Below are the highlights from Jeff Henderson’s thoughtful session on growing leaders.
Think of a person who helped you grow as a leader. What was the most memorable thing they did?
Most people will answer with, “They were patient with me” or “They allowed me to learn from failure.” Another common answer is, “They spent time with me.”
No matter what our mentors did, there is one common thread: someone took an active interest in our growth.
One of the most important (but never urgent) tasks of a leader is replacing yourself. It is important to note, however, that you replace yourself by developing others, not replicating yourself.
After Walt Disney’s death, there was a saying at the Disney company. “What would Walt do?” was the question everyone would ask, hoping to keep the founder’s spirit alive. While this may have been done with the best of intentions, it was a terrible thing for the staff. It stiffeled innovation and bound the company to the past.
Take the story of John Lasseter. He was a young animator at Disney. He brought fresh ideas that didn’t fit the traditional Disney model. He was let go. Then Lasseter joined an upstart company called Pixar. He innovated the movie “Toy Story” and the computer animation that we all know today. John Lasseter and Pixar went on to great success. Old-school Disney Animation withered to a shadow of its once glorious self. Pixar and Disney would eventually merge, with John Lasseter as its president. The lesson: don’t try to replicate yourself. Develop promising leaders so they can lead from their own strengths.
If emerging leaders aren’t sure which direction God would have them go, help them look for God’s thumbprints on their lives. God’s thumbprints are clues as to his plan for our lives.
WHAT IS YOUR STAFF CULTURE?
Develop leaders by creating a great culture and recruiting great people.
If you don’t have a good staff culture, your church isn’t going to work. Many church cultures aren’t healthy. We should have such loving, joyful staffs that those qualities flow through the entire church.
Leaders, ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” “How am I to work for?” This will give you insight into your own leadership. You can also ask your leaders that same question.
The issue of staff loyalty can be a negative in church cultures. If you have to ask for loyalty there is a problem with your leadership. Great leaders never have to demand loyalty.
Hiring well is essential to having a quality staff culture. During inital screening, ask each candidate the following four quetions:
> What are your 5 strengths?
> Who are you learning from?
> What is your ideal job description?
> What is your favorite organization?
Gwinnett Church emails these four questions to all applicants early in the hiring process. The questions take time and effort to answer. Many candidates do not respond. This weeds out the weaker applicants. The candidates who do respond tend to be the stronger ones.
For an example of church culture, Jeff Henderson likes to share the definition they have at Gwinnett Church: “We want to create a staff culture of fun-loving, emotionally-intelligent people who are passionate about leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We will do this by building great teams, delivering WOW through service, focusing on outsiders and prioritizing personal and professional growth.”
HELPING NEXT GENERATION LEADERS WIN
Here are some tips for grooming promising leaders:
> Recruit amazing people and get out of their way.
> Don’t think of yourself as a director. Be a coach. Ask questions rather than give direction. Provide the opportunity to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. Be the ‘question-man’, not the ‘answer-man.’
> Do life with your staff. Being authentic and vulnerable means your staff knows who you really are. It carries some obvious risks. However, the benefit of working with true friends outweighs the risk.
What things do you do to help grow emerging leaders? Leave a comment below.
This information was presented at the national Orange Conference #OC14. Click here for more information on Orange.