“I am not sure I hired the right staff pastor, he just doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with the work or fit with the personality of our congregation.” “I hired this guy to help us leverage the missional vision of our congregation, he ended up running off with over half our people and creating havoc with our staff.”
The words are all too familiar. We hear them routinely in congregations of every size. Sometimes the “problem” is fixable and at others, the cost of additional transition is unavoidable. What went wrong? In every case one of three factors of leadership development was ignored.
When it comes to developing leadership in a congregation or para-church ministry it is important to remember that leadership starts with developing people – this is an especially critical factor in creating a missional culture.
Regardless of whether a leader is a full time staff member or a volunteer they each face the challenge of engaging a broader level of capacity in their ability to conquer the turbulent, ambiguous surroundings that make up the leadership context.
Capacity is the leader’s ability to interpret and analyze situations from a variety of perspectives, cope with problems recognizing the impact of their own behavior on others and plan action that mobilizes people toward what God has for them and their organization. Leaders who effectively leverage their gifts and calling in the congregation or para-church organization have learned how to grow in their capacity and help shape the capacity of those they work around.
Three factors are needed to determine or predict whether or not a leader has the capacity they need to effectively leverage their role toward accomplishing their mission.
First, high capacity leaders know how to interrogate their own assumptions about reality and the assumptions of those around them. This is called spirituality – it is the application of theological reflection. High capacity leaders ask “why” questions routinely and probe the depths of how reality is defined in the organization. When thinking about what kind of leader you should hire first ask questions such as; Why is a leader needed? What values need to be evident in their behavior? What moral convictions should be evident in their decision making? How have they successfully developed leaders around them? What indications of spiritual maturity should be evident in how they make decisions or relate to others?
Second, high capacity leaders know themselves. We call this personality. They exercise a self-awareness that understands the impact their behaviors have on others. They know how to relate to a variety of other people and seem to have an ability to understand and respond to each individual’s unique motivations. When interviewing potential leaders ask them to describe how they persuaded and motivated a wide variety of people to make a maximum contribution to the organization. Such a leader knows to create an environment to help people determine whether they will perform or not and to design strategies to find the right people. If you are working on your own capacity then ask your self how your last four major decisions were interpreted by those around you and what you did to help them. Did you apply a wide repertoire of behavior or is your leadership stuck in one kind of motivational action?
Third, high capacity leaders are life-long learners. They exercise their mind, their reasoning skills, their analytical skills and their knowledge. If you are interviewing potential leaders, ask what things they have learned in the last three months that altered their leadership behavior or enhanced their effectiveness.
Spirituality, personality and skills are essential ingredients to a leader’s capacity. In reviewing the chart below determine what aspect of capacity development you currently see the need to develop and what actions you will employ to address this developmental need.