Categories
Church Leadership

5 Hallmarks of New Leadership

Yoda spins his leadership mantras like a DJThe balance of power has shifted. Whether you recognize it or not there is a big gap between perceived leadership and actual leadership.

  • Old (perceived) leadership: These are the people with the titles, position, and authority of traditional leadership. These people are called “leaders” by vocation. In actuality, they have much power of big things but little power over your moment-by-moment interactions.
  • New (actual) leadership: These are people you are shaping your mind/heart/life around. They influence your thought life, they help shape your aspirations, they inspire you to be the you you really want to be.

These things have shifted in your mind. Heck, maybe you are frustrated because your own leadership has changed and you can’t figure out quite why?

Some examples… Your boss isn’t likely the boss you have on your job description. Your pastor isn’t likely the pastor you sit under. Your teacher might just be a fallback teacher compared to your guru.

It’s almost cute that traditional, old-style leaders, still think they have great influence with the people technically under their leadership.

That’s why one is perceived and the other actual.

In years past things like an organizational chart really mattered. Even if you didn’t have one, you respected a hierarchy that now baffles you with it’s out-of-datedness. If people were truly honest and asked themselves, “Who is actually leading and influencing me today”  their life org chart now looks more like a bowl of spaghetti than a pyramid.

So, these new leaders, how are they doing it? Because it’s not just an age thing. Plenty of old leaders are retaining leadership in this new age.

5 Hallmarks of New Leadership

  1. New leaders collaborate instinctively Old leadership looked at collaboration as a sign of weakness, something they did when they needed help. New leaders assume they need help and know that working together leads to a better end results. New leaders know that when great minds work together the result is always something awesome. Old leaders worry too much about protecting their territory/brand/knowledge base/customer base.
  2. New leaders begat thinkers Old leadership is intimidated by people who are smarter than them or better leaders than them. They build structures where they are the chief and people who work for them are followers. New leaders want the very best ideas and aren’t intimidated that the best idea came from an intern, new hire, or the janitor. They love it and celebrate when their employees leave to start something new. (Anathema to an old leader)
  3. New leaders lead from the the front lines, not the board room Old leaders love meetings, hold secrets from subordinates, and rarely do the work their organization is best known for. But new leaders are front liners, those who get dirty, those who avoid meetings so they can hang with the engineers, they are hands on and know their presence inspires those working alongside them. Old leaders spend a lot of time hiding while new leaders spend a lot of time on site, working their butts off.
  4. New leaders hate vacuums Decisions don’t come down from on high from today’s best leaders. They are group efforts, made in the best interest of all interested parties, because these leaders know they are in the trust business more than they are in business. Old leaders have a tendency to only look outside of their organizations for validation of their decisions as most of their decisions are made in a vacuum of the “top leaders.” New leaders look outside of their organizations all the time, they want to do what makes sense even if it defies logic.
  5. New leaders create environments Old leaders create structures, efficiencies, set priorities, and worry a lot about tasks & todo lists. New leaders care much more about the ecosystem of their environment, bring on the best possible people, and cultivate a place where the best stuff is celebrated, toxic people are fired, and space is creative.

 

Categories
Church Leadership

How to Disembark from the S.S. Fantasia

Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
~ C. Northcote Parkinson

Have you ever talked to someone and wondered… is this person living on the same planet that I am? This is a bizarre cultural phenomenon all too common among church leaders. Their day-to-day life, ministry, and sadly ministry aspirations are not based on reality but a fantasy version of reality that they have created for themselves.

This disconnection often manifests itself to me when false assumptions have driven decision-making and engagement with their local community.

  • Building a ministry around an assumption of the nuclear family. (In denial of the reality of their own extended family and in the face that the community they are trying to reach has no cultural reference to this ideal.)
  • Shrugging off the lack of racial/ethnic diversity in their organization. (In denial of statistical fact that all of America, not just urban centers, have experienced a major shift in statistical balance over the past 10 years.)
  • Redefining ministry measurables to fit the make-up of what happens naturally versus what ought to happen. (In denial of the role of organizational entropy, the reality that if you measure your impact based purely on who comes, eventually this will lead you to a crushing vortex of inward thinking.)

Sometimes, almost never intentionally and certainly by apathy, I see organizations struggling not merely because they have the wrong people in leadership or because they are bad people or because they have bad values. But they are struggling because they aren’t living in their own present reality. They are trying to win a game no one else is playing. 

They may be perfectly positioned to take community-changing action but work extremely hard on the wrong things.

Surrounded by people who think just like them (known as groupthink) they organization sales the seas of their community on the S.S. Fantasia. 

3 practical steps to help you anchor your assumptions in reality

Let’s get grounded in putting our academic study to work for us!

  • Regularly review census and other statistical data in your immediate area. If once per quarter your leadership team reviewed the latest statistical data publicly available for free via the census and the myriad of government organizations in your community, you could regularly make small decisions based on what you learn. For instance, if the school district releases a profile of new students which shows a spike in a demographic you could ask the most obvious question, “What can we do to serve this new group of people?Don’t understand this or does this seem too hard? Make an appointment with a school administrator or local college sociologist who will gladly share this data and help you understand it.
  • Regularly ask for cultural observations during team meetings. You don’t need to be a trained ethnographer to do basic ethnography. Your team is already spending time outside of the office in the community you are trying to reach… add a new question to your weekly meetings asking for one thing you observed. Maybe its that women outnumber men at a coffee shop during the day? Maybe its about what people are wearing or driving or reading. We all gather this data but until we share it with our teams we can’t make adjustments. Don’t think your team can handle this? We asked groups to do this in our Good News in the Neighborhood curriculum, middle schoolers can handle it!
  • Define your geographical target and make decisions to benefit those within that area. Face the reality that there are lots and lots of organizations/churches/ministries just like yours. Don’t be a purveyor of the rule of affinity, that’s a short-term strategy built on a false assumption that people will always like what you are doing. Instead, define your target area… be it by a mile radius or specific streets or even a zip code. And then, when you make decisions, ask yourself what’s best based on what you know from regular statistical data and cultural observations from within that target area. If you really want to go crazy– reward your staff for moving into that area and only nominate unpaid leaders like elders who come from that target area. That will begin to send the message that your organization is about that geographical area.

What are S.S. Fantasia things you see in your area/context/ministry? What’s driving you crazy? 

Categories
Manifesto

Missing the Moneyball

The movie Moneyball brought to light something that has happens in a lot of areas of our culture: We make decisions all the time based on information that doesn’t really impact the result we are trying to get.

Two examples from today’s newspaper:

  •  Only 80,000 jobs added in October, but unemployment rate drops. The unemployment rate is accurately measuring an old standard while missing a cultural shift. Think about all the people you know in the past 5 years who have gone from gainfully employed to gainfully self-employed. The unemployment rate doesn’t measure people who are starting their own business. I think if we measured that you’d be encouraged by economic growth.
  • Home building spent another year in the cellar. This is an economic indicator? New home starts? Sure, the population is growing a little bit every month and this implies new homes should be built to house them. Because that’s what I’d do, right? Wrong. People don’t get married and live in an apartment until they have a kid and build a house anymore. Our society isn’t that simple, maybe it never was. We should measure the homelessness rate instead. That’s what really matters.

Other examples from this weeks news:

  • A lesbian couple at Patrick Henry High School was elected homecoming king & queen. I’m not even sure why this is a national news item. I know adults have an unhealthy fascination with adolescent sexuality and their interest in particularly peaked in the seemingly new phenomenon of LGBT students on campus. But this is measuring the wrong thing. Here’s a school that is safe and supportive of all of its students. Since when is that a bad thing? And what does this story have anything to do with education? Here’s a newsflash: Most people under 25 are completely over culture wars. 
  • Bank of America Eliminates Plan for $5 Debit Card Fee. Do people who work at banks think this has anything to do with $5? What they should be reporting is a trust index. The light bulb has gone off and people have realized that a $200,000 mortgage, some credit cards, some home improvement loans, some school loans, and a car payment is completely stupid financially even though banks says “good for your credit rating.” The real win was for credit unions. Measure the growth of credit unions vs. the decline of traditional banking and you’ll have an interesting index.
  • NCAA stipend not a lean towards “pay-to-play. This is a classic cover-up to get you to measure the wrong thing. While you’re debating the ethics of giving college football and basketball players $2000 each to offset living expenses, you’ll never notice that ESPN is the quiet majority voice dictating the changing landscape of conference play. (And blocking a playoff in football. Did you know they own a lot of the bowl games?) They have you measuring the wrong thing.

What are some things in your life that are measured using an index that doesn’t really effect the outcome?