Doing Leadership Differently

It seems that every popular author has written about leadership. There is so much material on leadership … some of it is good, and some of doesn’t say much. However, we all know leadership is important. I would like to weigh in on some areas where I would consider doing leadership differently.

The first thing we need to provide for our leaders is an accountability system that goes beyond the yearly review of their job performance. In the church, we need to be careful we don’t violate a leader’s personal boundaries, yet, it is in these personal boundary areas where people like Ravi Zacharias had their darkest days. So, how we set up open communication, trust, and privacy is critical to effectively keeping a leader from falling into temptation.

Here is a list of 10 values that I think can keep leaders accountable:

1. A leader has to be aware of their vulnerable blind spots.

Self-awareness is a critical value to how a leader will be tempted by the pride of success or the narcissism of being a sought-after leader. Success can be a blind spot for highly motivated people, and those who follow success will eventually find that success has a limited shelf life.

2. A leader is not infallible, nor are they always right.

This is probably one of the hardest areas for a leader to admit. A leader loves the praises of their followers, so to be wrong puts their credibility at stake. Being wrong is a human characteristic … no one can be right on everything. Yes, people think they are right on everything, but the Bible tells differently. Most leaders have some narcissism to their personality and depending on how self-aware the leader is that narcissism can grow and get out of control.

3. A leader is transparent and admits to their shortcomings.

Leadership in the church world has to be on a scale somewhere between Jesus and the Apostle Paul, and leaders feel they need to measure up to the expectations of their parishioners. Many churches today require their Pastors to have a PhD because they don’t want anyone to think less of them for having a pastor without a higher degree. It really has become a status symbol. I am not knocking people who go on to achieve the much sought-after degree of Doctor, but having a Dr. in front of your name doesn’t make you a better Christian, nor does it give you a better standing with God. On the contrary, sometimes the more educated you are the less spiritual you become because the faith that it takes to believe is now transferred to values. Values are helpful, but values are not faith.

4. A leader pursues courage and displays strength.

One of the more tragic cases of leadership I’ve seen is when rioters threatened to burn down a city, and the leaders in that city told their police to stand down. With that order by the city leaders, the looters and rioters in Minneapolis were given the freedom to take what they wanted and burn what was not protected. A trait of good leadership is the strength to have the courage to make the right decisions in the middle of a crisis. In this example, the mayor of Minneapolis and the governor of Minnesota showed no leadership qualities of courage or strength.

5. A leader takes advice and pursues a variety of inputs before committing to a decision.

Bad decision-making can make or break a congregation. If a leader is wise, they know that standing alone holding the bag on a bad decision is not a desirable place to be. In fact, it will be the last place they stand before being fired. Leaders today must connect with other leaders, and be open to other ideas. One of the biggest mistakes is to think your leadership style will survive any challenges for people who elected you as pastor. If you believe this, you are in for a big surprise. People only love you when you are successful. If the weakness of a person who fails is exposed, you, my friend, will be replaced … guaranteed.

6. Leaders need other Godly leaders for fellowship and encouragement.

I said other Godly leaders for a reason. Sometimes in leadership circles, there is a kind of pecking order that gives the person with the largest ministry an edge on influencing the group. Sometimes leaders like to impress fellow leaders by exercising the bragging stories. Those are the stories that illustrate a miracle or two that brought in more people or money than anyone else sitting at the table. This leaves people in awe and feeling inadequate because it doesn’t work like that where they minister. They are lucky if they ever see a miracle, and their congregation hasn’t grown in years. You can imagine how inferior some leaders feel when this happens in their leadership meetings.

7. Leaders need good management skills … especially with their time.

The day is full of time-wasting projects and people. If a leader does not guard the time in their day, they will lose the battle of being overcommitted and under budget, in the time it takes to do the job of leading others.

8. Leaders need accountability partners.

This is where this principle will be a prerequisite for the future of leadership. The pain it costs the congregation for a pastor to fail in their duties morally, financially, or spiritually, will be too great for that church to survive. When the culture of Christianity is built upon the merits of a talented person, you are asking for failure to happen. No leader is beyond the temptations we all face as humans, and if your leadership is successful in attracting people, you are a prime target for moral failure. This is where the organization needs to get personal in expecting an accountability team to probe, process, and protect their leader against the kinds of things that leaders fall prey to in the church world … money, sex, and power. It will be critical for leaders to have a skill set that is accountable to people who are equal in status to speak into a leader’s life.

9. Leaders need continuing education to equip themselves for a changing world.

Your leader may be highly educated with a Doctorate, but that means nothing in a world that completely changes every ten years. What leaders faced ten years ago is quite different from the issues they face today. That is why leaders need continuing education on culture, procedures, problem-solving, and innovative ways to motivate people who now stay home and watch a live Sunday service on the Internet. Most Christian leaders have not adapted to this new age of church at a distance.

10. Leaders need good communication skills.

The ministry has a lot of areas that need perfection. They need to be proficient in prayer, exegeting the Scriptures, promotion, and personal interaction with their congregation. Exegeting the Scripture means to expound, draw out meaning, or interpret the Scriptures. These skills are all about communication … how do we find the meaning and how do we communicate that meaning to others.

As you can see, this list is a bit different from what is normally published about leadership. I stayed away from the normal ideals of leadership and focused primarily on what is often not talked about in leadership circles.

Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler