8/15/2012 12:38:00 PM
Churches who grow healthier through transition depend on leaders who not only work well together but who are able to clarify both present reality and future expectations.
If you missed last month’s article on Building a Cohesive Leadership Team, you might want to review it because it goes hand in hand with this article and is also a critical discipline required for organizational health. These ideas are presented in more detail in Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage.
Before I jump into today's topic, I want to share a comment left on the blog last month. It comes from Transitional Pastor Hugh Fraser who shares a definition of team he has found helpful in the context of coaching congregations in transition - including church boards:
"A team is a group of people who co-ordinate action around an agreed upon set of promises in order to meet the needs of people and glorify God". My role as coach is to help leaders assess and define their "promises to each other (which can include governance documents, vision, policies and team covenants)", "the conditions of satisfaction for the people they serve" and then coach them toward effectiveness in the way they coordinate action together.
One of the main roles of a cohesive team in partnership with a congregation is to create clarity. This is another discipline of organizational health according to Lencioni.
What It Means to Create Clarity
One of the greatest causes of frustration in the church community is confusion caused by leaders who fail to pull in the same direction or in other words - “leaders involved in misalignment”. Lencioni puts it this way, "...just a little daylight between members of a leadership team becomes blinding and overwhelming...one or two levels below."
How do you Create Clarity?
It is achieved by finding agreement on the answers to six simple but critical questions. These questions are not only helpful for congregations with their leadership in place but also for congregations experiencing transition. The questions help guide your conversations as you focus on spiritual and relationship renewal, vision renewal and structural renewal.
The six questions that create clarity:
- Why do we exist? (this is your reason for existence or core purpose)
- How do we behave? (this is your core values and guides behavior
- What do we do? (this is a list of what you actually do - your activities)
- How will we succeed? (this is your strategy or your plan for success)
- What is most important, right now? (this is your list of top priorities
- Who must do what? (this is your “who will do what by when” conversation)
The three things required to answer these six questions:
- Cohesion among key leaders.
- Avoidance of impressive-sounding or borrowed statements.
- Considerable time.
Another ditch to avoid when creating clarity is waiting until you have it perfect before you proceed! Some congregations become paralyzed by the planning process and never implement the plan because they are waiting to get it just right. The wisdom that says “a plan is better than no plan” has a real ring of truth to it.
What happens while you wait to get it right is confusion reigns, leaders lose credibility, and the organization suffers (Lencioni).
As General Patton once said: “A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
If you put a “good enough” plan into action you can always adjust it as you go as long enough time and trouble has been invested in the conversation as your worked your way through the six questions. When it’s all said and done, too many times, “more is said than done!”
A Final Word
No one said creating clarity was easy but it is a process that has the potential of paying big kingdom dividends for years to come. It’s a practical application of the leadership gift God has given to the church to use with diligence!
“If your gift is...to lead, do it diligently” (Romans 12)
What have you learned about the importance of creating clarity in congregations you have worked with? What is one way you can apply the use of these six question in your leadership and coaching work?