To CEO or not to CEO
There is no factory that produces the ideal leader. Every leader steps in to the position from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, theological ideals, and visions of grandeur. Great leaders will also know when and how to change their approach and styles in order to acquire a desired outcome. Leadership is a VERB, not an adjective.
Whether we like to admit it or not, a church can benefit from thinking like a company. The senior pastor as the CEO and other leaders as Directors or Board Members can be a healthy way to at least structure the expectations and the lines of accountability. This can be taken too far, of course. Still, thinking like a CEO can have its benefits if one is able to remember a few key points of being a corporate leader, and is able to incorporate those points in to their own ministerial leadership style.
- Individual Growth. The past couple of years we have seen tremendous focus on diversity and inclusion. The church has been challenged with questions of inclusion for centuries; and now, with technology and social media, we are pushed right up front to address these questions and considerations. Congregants and members will turn more and more to their church leaders to help them in making a healthy decision concerning diversity and whether or not the very nature of God reflects inclusion or exclusivity. Leaders will be pushed to help people clarify their purpose and potential in and through these often touchy and explosive topics. Individual growth requires introspection (soul-searching) and is a behavior that should be nurtured consistently. The role of a leader is to lead people by example and equip them on how to spend time in quiet introspection as well. As we alluded to in The Burden of Leadership, people are watching us. Which brings us to the next key in being a leader:
- Actions. We have all no doubt heard the expression, “actions speak louder than words”. The REASON it speaks louder than mere words is that through our actions we set examples. Accountability is the key in supporting positive behaviors and correcting unacceptable ones. If leaders are to prevent chaos and stagnation among the ranks, accountability will need to occur. Which brings us to our third key:
- Paying Close Attention. The strong leader must be in-tune with everything going on that is spoken and unspoken among those they lead. All of these internal factors are going to dictate whether or not your vision casting is going to fall flat or rise to the top. Nurturing strong, appropriate relationships is going to assist the leader in keeping a thumb on the pulse of the community. There are times when paying close attention means you need to be the strong, outspoken CEO, and other times you will determine that the best course is to sit and remain in silence. God moves in the noise but teaches through the silence.
- Building Ambassadors. There is a strong price to pay for building strong ambassadors. Leaders must devote time and energy in to each individual responsible for creating ambassadors. The larger the company or faith-community, the more this needs to be delegated. According to SalesForce.com, it takes between 6 and 8 sales ‘touches’ to generate a viable sales lead. It can take a lot of energy and time and resources to convince people to get on the same bandwagon! Building brand ambassadors among constituents is challenging enough but you add the truth that most ministry constituents are volunteers, not paid employees, you can start to see the challenges. Building their trust in the brand that you are building is the responsibility of the entire leadership team and when we fail in this aspect, the vision casting dies.
- Finally INVESTING IN HUMAN CAPITAL is how we, as leaders, recognize and build up our future leaders. It is the fuel we need to continue moving the vision forward. A great leader once said, “The very first day as the pastor of the church you need to immediately begin to prepare them for the day you leave. If the ministry’s vision and purpose walks out WITH you, you’ve done it all wrong”.
There are many more points we could list about being a leader in corporate settings and compare them to ministry but for now, let us focus on these:
- Thinking as great leaders
- Building our teams/brand
- Creating faithful followers (not of us but of Christ)
- Investing in the future
- Embracing the vision