I recently came across an article on Harvard Business Review that I found challenging and applicable to any of us leading teams. The author presents twelve statements that good bosses believe. I have adapted five of the statements that stuck out to me the most here for us as church leaders.
1. I do not fully understand what it’s like to work for me.
It is important for us to recognize that our personal view of how we lead and the reality of how we actually lead are different. Recognizing this difference can help us treat those who work for us with humility as well as offer us the opportunity to improve our leadership by checking in with our employees and team members to clarify what has been communicated knowingly and unknowingly.
2. Having ambitious and well-defined goals is important, but it is useless to think about them much. My job is to focus on the small wins that enable my people to make a little progress every day.
This may seem like an odd statement to include when we talk extensively about the importance ofestablishing a specific mission, vision, and goals. They should be thoughtfully established and serve as the guide for all projects, but if you’re constantly readjusting them or measuring your team on a huge, overarching vision on a daily basis, then your team will never feel successful and become defeated easily. Celebrate small wins with your team along the way to achieving the bigger goals to inspire your staff.
3. One of the best tests of my leadership — and my organization — is "what happens after people make a mistake?"
Innovation is healthy but can only happen if people are allowed to try new things and maybe even fail. Rick Warren recently tweeted, “You must be willing to fail a lot to learn what works. At Saddleback we've tried more things that didn't work than did.” Innovation doesn’t happen in an environment where people are scared to fail. It only happens when they feel free to try new things and express their creativity.
What happens on your staff when someone makes a mistake? Are they criticized in front of the group or do you approach them one-on-one to understand their reasoning for making the decision? Think deeply about your response to this question and about the message you’re communicating to your staff when an employee makes a mistake.
4. My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well.
In a church setting, this cannot be overstated. If you are intentional about implementing your mission and vision, you will encounter “trials of every kind.” You set the precedent for your employees as to how they respond to questions, conflict, and stress. How are you setting them up for success by equipping your team to respond well to hardship?
5. How I do things is as important as what I do.
I was a summer “Work Crew” at Young Life’s Frontier Ranch back in the summer of 2000. One of the first things we were asked to do was to pick up every piece of trash we saw, at any time. The leadership cared about creating a distraction free and beautiful experience for campers. A few weeks into my month, I watched as the property manager, without knowing I was watching, went out of his way to pick up a small candy wrapper. I didn’t need to be asked to pick up trash again.
For ministry leaders, and the whole Body of Christ, acting with integrity and character is paramount. People watch to see not only what we say in front of others, but also what we do when we think we are alone.
What other statements do you think effective bosses believe?