In 2001 Jim Collins came out with his landmark book – Good to Great. In 2005 he came out with a follow up for churches and nonprofits called Good to Great and the Social Sector. There’s so many great applications from these two books. We’ve used many of the concepts in our church over the years. The one that has actually stood out the most to me was Collins’s view of the five levels of leadership. Here’s a summary of the five levels. As you read these, consider where you actually live today and where you want to be in the future. Try to be honest with yourself.

Level 1: The Highly Capable Individual
This is the kind of person who has a lot to offer. They make a contribution because they have knowledge, talent, and skills needed to do a really good job.

Level 2: The Contributing Team Member
This person not only has skills and knowledge, but is a good team member who works well with others to help the team to be effective, productive, and successful.

Level 3: The Competent Manager
This person is able to organize a group of people to execute specific projects, programs, and goals.

Level 4:  Effective Leader
This person leads a department or organization to accomplish a vision by executing key goals. There are lots of top leaders who are able to do this.

Level 5: The Great Leader
This kind of leader can take a good church or organization and make it a great one. This leader has all the knowledge, capabilities and skills of the other four levels but they have one more key asset. They have the unique blend of HUMILITY and WILL that is essential for the greatness of the organization.

Humility and will! This is ingenious. I’ve observed a special and critical connection between these two traits in leadership. I’ve written often about the importance of humility. My third blog was about humility and I called it “The Greatest Trait.” It is the first and most important of my Seven Non-negotiable Traits of a Leader (you can access the videos here – register to get a login permission). Most leaders primarily rely on a strong persona and a strong will to be a great leader. They can view this as being large and in charge. I often remind leaders that they can’t be very successful without humility. A strong will gets things done for sure. No leader will be great without humility.

Humility and a strong will seem to be contradictory at first, but together, they make for a great leader. They are the core of what it means to care for people and get things done. Both are essential for greatness in a church, non-profit, business or any organization.

Think about the greatest leader ever – Jesus. What humility! The very fact that he left the privilege of heaven and came to earth was an act of humility. His willingness to sacrifice his life for those he created was an act of humility (see Philippians 2:6-8). He used all his resources, knowledge, character, his very life, for our benefit.

What strong will, too. Jesus was no wimp. He knew his purpose and didn’t let friend or foe distract him from his mission. In three years he got out his message and trained eleven guys who started a movement that changed the world. Against overwhelming odds, he endured more than any of us will ever experience and overcame every obstacle and challenge to offer humanity a living hope.

What does a level 5 leader really look like and do? How do we lead like Jesus? It takes intentional effort to become a person of strong will and an observable humility. Here are some specific descriptions, attitudes, actions and skills that help us develop and grow our humility and will. What specific things might you add?

Traits of Humility

  • Genuine – you are authentic. There’s no pretense. You are the same person when standing in front of your staff or congregation as you are when you are standing beside an entry level worker.
  • Servant attitude – your focus is not to make yourself successful but to help everyone else be successful. You’re willing to make the costly investments in others to help them grow and develop. You consistently are thinking about others and putting them first. You are about setting up others up for success.
  • Team player – you value and practice collaboration. You know that the best comes from a team with all their unique perspectives and gifts. You work to create not just unity in your team, but you go the extra mile to make sure each team member is appropriately challenged and supported. You model and help each team member be a contributor and to support the contributions of each other. A humble leader channels their ambition into the team rather than himself or herself. Humble leaders hire great people, often who are better than they are, and empower them to lead well.
  • Celebrity adverse – you don’t talk about yourself. You’re not seeking to be the celebrity or be in the spotlight. In fact, you are intentional to put the spotlight on others. Rather than looking for praise, appreciation and affirmation, you work hard to give those same things to others. You look for literally every opportunity to recognize great character, a job well done, an insightful contribution or whatever in others. You look for ways to express and show appreciation. This kind of leader is compelling, but modest. They are never boastful. By the way, in Collin’s research, he found that many of the best leaders never wrote a book.
  • Looking out the window – I love this picture Jim Collins gives. He says as a humble leader you look out the window to others, rather than in the mirror to yourself. You give credit to others when things go well and take the blame when things go wrong.
  • Common words used to describe a humble leader: quiet, modest, reserved, gracious, calm, mild-mannered, self-effacing, and understated.

Here’s the bottom line question of being humble. Do you lead to make others and the organization successful or do you lead others to make you successful?

Traits of a Strong Will

  • Intense resolve and resilience – you will do whatever needs to be done to make the organization great. No challenge, hindrance or obstacle will dissuade you. While modest and humble, a level 5 leader is anything but weak. They experience fear, but act for the good of others in spite of the fear (hence they are seen as fearless). They are so sold out to their cause that they will endure the lows and hard times.
  • Clear catalyst in achieving results – you are fanatically driven with an incurable need to produce sustainable results. You excel in great ideas and vision, but what makes you great is your ability to consistently execute those ideas.
  • Dedication to the organization – you will do anything that’s legal, moral and God honoring to make your organization great. You are devoted to your work while maintaining your own balance, equilibrium, health and important relationships.
  • Strong work ethic – you model self-sacrifice and others see that you are more “workhorse” than “show horse.” Key to this quality is that you are self-motivated. You set your own goals and standards and do your best to live by them. You have a passion that shapes how invested you are in your team and the organization. Finally, you live by a “whatever it takes” attitude.

So great leaders, or level 5 leaders, have this unusual combination of a very strong will and a humble character. This allows them to aim not for their success, but for the success of the organization, however that success is defined.

If you got this far in reading, let me tell you that this will be my final blog until early July. I take the month of June off as my annual “sabbath.” I use this month to unplug from work and the daily stress of the continual production cycles. I’ve found it is an essential part in keeping me healthy by providing rest and renewal. So, I’ll be back in July!

As leaders, we focus on what we do and how we do it. We are looking for results, especially in the form of seeing God change lives. We are absorbed by strategy, planning, making decisions, dealing with conflict, helping and caring for people and so much more. However, far too many leaders neglect their inner life. I could fill a page with the names of famous people who were doing amazing things, were loved and respected by many; but neglected their soul, their motivations, compulsions, passions, needs and their character. Even pastors, who talk all the time about the inner life, are well known to have neglected what’s going on inside! Jesus’ harshest words were toward the hypocrites (Matthew 23) who focused on the outward and neglected the inner life.

So leaders concentrate on the whats and hows, but too seldom do we address the why; especially the whys inside us (see Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle). What causes me to do something or not? What is my passion and purpose for what I do? What motivates me is often unconscious and thus a blind spot. Yet, the most powerful parts of our personality, and thus leadership style, are tied not to what we actually say or do, or how we act; rather, it’s tied to why we say or do or act the way we do. Motivations are so powerful and left unaware or unchecked, they can be disastrous. Knowing what motivates us is critical to good self-awareness, which is a critical part of being a healthy person and leader. Self-awareness is essential if we want to avoid personal disaster and want to change.

Maybe there is an aspect of your personality or leadership style you are aware of that you want to change. How do you change it? How do you become a better leader or parent? Most of us opt for “behavioral modification.” That’s when we focus on changing a behavior. In the realm of faith, we often call this “sin management.” That rarely works for very long. Why? Because behind the behavior is a motivation. The motivation, or compulsion, is more powerful than the behavior. So you can sincerely desire to eliminate the habit, sin or behavior; but if the passion is still there, it trumps the effort to control the behavior. If you want to change the behavior, change the motivation that’s inside.

So we invite God to help us change the inside motivation or passion, which leads to outer change. Real lasting change is an inside-out job. It needs to be in that order. God’s truth and God’s Spirit together are the best inside-out change agents ever. We have to be willing to cooperate and collaborate with God to bring about inner and thus outer change.

I could write a book on how we cooperate and collaborate with God to experience growth and change. In fact, such books have been written. But let me address a starting point: What I’ve observed is that most inner issues stay unconscious. They are a part of our blind spots. That’s why I try to mentor and help our leaders grow in their self-awareness. I did a 12 minute video on self-awareness that you can watch to learn more.

Creating self-awareness to discover the inner dangers that lurk below the surface takes intentional effort. Asking for feedback in humility is a basic and standard way to grow your self-awareness. Really listening to others helps us discover our own blind spots. Prayerfully asking God to reveal your less than ideal motivations is vital. I’ve also found for myself that one of the things that is so helpful for me is to use some effective tools that help identify who I am.

There are a bunch of quality tools available. I’ve used the Myers Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI) for almost 40 years. I love the Leading from Your Strengths, RightPath, Clifton Strengths (formerly Strengthsfinder) and DISC assessments. All are helpful.

There is one tool that is extremely helpful at getting to the level of motivation and the interior issues of passions, fears and needs. This tool is called the Enneagram. The Enneagram helps you identify your blind spots, since it is so hard to see your own compulsions that create your false self which in turn can hinder you and trip you up. Over time, this tool helps you to grow spiritually and reconnect with the voice of God and his grace that can lead you back to your true self, your “home space” or true type. This tool helps you see that you are not your “gifts”, rather that your identity is that you are first a child of God with unique gift sets. It can help you rediscover the way of Jesus based on godly motivations in your unique personality.

The Enneagram is a valuable tool for your own self-awareness. The process of becoming aware can help you to disbelieve and discard the false self illusions and rediscover your true self based on godly motivations. But beware! The Enneagram will make you uncomfortable. It will challenge you in very vulnerable ways as it helps you uncover the motivations behind our behaviors.

There are tons of resources online to help you explore your Enneagram type. There are many free and for fee Enneagram tests on the internet (see below). Don’t rely only on the tests alone. Because we are influenced by our false self, we can mis-represent ourselves and our motivations when answering the questions. Use the tests to narrow down your basic or main type to a few. Remember, you have a main type, but there are other types that might in fact reflect key aspects of your unique personality.

Take your time to discover your true type. As Alice Fyling suggests: “Date the Enneagram.” Do the work and take the time by taking the tests, reading the reports, and using some of the books and resources below. Ask someone who knows you and loves you to give you feedback. The discovery of your true self is a spiritual journey, not a one-stop event. If you’d like to explore more on the Enneagram, here’s the link to a 16 page Enneagram Overview that I’ve written and developed from some of the sources below:

Enneagram Tests:

My Top Four Favorite Books:

Other Resources:

I make an effort to be a continual learner. I believe effective leaders must be constant learners to grow their own self-awareness, understand our changing culture and learn from the wisdom and mistakes of others. I continually read books and articles, listen to podcasts, attend conferences and ask questions whenever I’m meeting with other leaders to keep learning.

I was listening to a podcast by Donald Miller and Andy Stanley (Episodes #122 and #123) and as often happens, there was one conversation that as soon as I heard it I said in my head; “YES! That’s so true!” Sometimes others put into words what we instinctively know. And their conversation was about a critical part of great leadership that doesn’t get enough attention.

Here’s what Andy Stanley said that we need to be reminded of over and over. People follow clarity more than character. Now, he was quick to assure us that character matters. Further, Stanley noted that people will say that the character of a leader is the most important aspect in their decision to follow a leader. But in reality, people will follow the clear message, or clear vision of a leader, even if they have doubts about his or her character. Why? An effective vision, mission, and purpose are all tied to clarity and people need clarity, not ambiguity. There’s too much noise and too many distractions in our world and anything short of being crystal clear won’t be heard. More than ever, folks want and need the clarity of a compelling vision, mission and purpose. And great leaders provide that.

In the podcast, Miller and Stanley invited us to test the “theory” out. They asked the audience what the vision and slogan was of the last two presidential candidates who won. Almost everyone can remember the themes, slogans and chants of Barack Obama (Change and Yes We Can) and Donald Trump (Make America Great Again). No one remembers the themes, slogans or chants of those who lost. Often (not always) they did not present a clear vision. But this isn’t about politics, so please don’t go down that road. This is about clarity, regardless of whether you agree with a particular candidate or not. People respond to a clear message. By the way, if you want to have some fun with this, go to the list of presidential campaign slogans throughout American history and you can see not just who actually won, but the slogans that are winners and losers – go to Wikipedia Campaign Slogans.

Jesus Clarity

Now to the one who really matters…Jesus. There was never a leader who was more clear than Jesus! The clarity of Jesus literally knocks you over, especially if you have any spiritual sensitivity. That is one of the two reasons why 49 years ago I decided to follow Jesus (the other was that after reading his teachings, I wanted to be like his teachings and like him). Listen to the clarity of Jesus as to why he came and his purpose in Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We remember the clarity of our main priority found in Matthew 22:37-40Love God. Love others. And he was so clear about our mission in Matthew 28:19-20 – Go everywhere and make disciples!

Vision Clarity

Do YOU have clarity in your vision? Do you really know where you are going? Are you crystal clear on where you are leading your church or organization? If I sit with you, can you in 3 minutes or less, give me a clear sense of where you are taking your  organization? If I’m trying to get to know you and your organization, I don’t care about the hows (methods) and whats (programs or services). I want to know if you can tell me clearly where we are going and why I should be a part of it.

Mission Clarity

Is the mission clear? No military can ever succeed without a clear mission. A mission is what we are doing right now. It’s our job. What’s the mission you are inviting me into that will make a difference? Is there enough clarity that I actually, on my own or with others, engage and do the mission? Do you remind me about it over and over?

Discipleship Clarity

Is there clarity about your path and plan to make disciples? If I walk into your church, visit for a few weeks, will I have absolute clarity about my next step is to engage and grow in my faith? Are the steps toward becoming more like Jesus clear? Is there a roadmap that I can follow? It might literally be “step 1, step 2…” We use this process: Starting Point (that’s where you start if you are new or finally ready to start), Discover (to discover your next step), Launching Point (to help launch you into the community or service). It doesn’t matter what the language or program is, but that you have clarity and it is communicated consistently so it can’t me missed. Make it easy to engage!

Message Clarity

I’ve talked about this in previous blogs, but our Sunday messages or sermons must be so clear that they are memorable, actionable and portable. I attended a church whose pastor is well known and respected for great Bible teaching. I went with good anticipation, listened carefully and took notes. After my wife and I left I was so disappointed. The teacher went through a chapter of the Bible with some interesting points. But I left without any clear action I could take and without any key point or organizing principle that I could share with others. It was great information, but it gave me no clear path for transformation or application. Is your message clear?

Organizational Clarity

Patrick Lencioni wrote one of the top five books I recommend for Lead Pastors, Presidents, CEO’s or anyone in charge of their organization. His book, The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business has one main, clear point – clarity is what is core to organizational health. He has four disciplines that create clarity. It’s worth the read!

There is so much power in clarity to lead people to a better place. Have I been clear?…..

Glen

If you know someone who might be helped by the Leading Edge blog, invite them to subscribe here.

Don’t End in a Dark Cloud

This has been another bad season for church leaders. Some 300 priests in Pennsylvania were identified as having sexually abused over a 1000 children. Do an internet search for Bill Hybels or Willow Creek Church and you’ll read about the allegations of sexual misconduct and sin tied to the abuse of power and more. It is a very sad story of how a man who did so much for the church and the kingdom over the years, ended his ministry in a dark cloud. When the first news of the allegations appeared, Hybels denied them and only admitted to misjudgment. Frankly, when I first heard what he did, I called it “stupid”. From his own admission and from the allegations, he apparently invited women alone into his hotel rooms; had dinners one on one with women; traveled with women without their husbands; and more. Of course more is alleged to have happened that goes beyond just stupidity to outright sin, but just what he admitted to was more than dumb.

The World HAS Changed

We live in a #MeToo world. I’m actually grateful for this movement. For too long, too many men (including priests and pastors) have used and abused women and children. The core message of #MeToo is that we need to insure honor, respect and protection for all. The heart of #MeToo is that all people, especially women and children, must be listened to when they are violated or feel that they have been. But honor, respect and protection must have policies and processes that create a culture and systems that actually makes those values real and lived out. The failure at the Willow Creek Church was that the leaders at every level didn’t listen to and truly investigate the allegations.

Don’t Be Stupid

So I titled this blog – Don’t Be Stupid. I’m not just being blunt, that idea comes from Ecclesiastes 10:1-3 (NIV). It says:

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell,

   so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

The heart of the wise inclines to the right,

   but the heart of the fool to the left.

Even as fools walk along the road,

   they lack sense

   and show everyone how stupid they are.

It only takes a “little folly” to ruin years of ministry and service, and damage our organizations. When we lack wisdom and common sense, we’ll only show others how “stupid” we are. Don’t be stupid! What does that mean? We’ve created policies and procedures at Pantano Christian Church to protect both ourselves and others. We keep reviewing them to make sure they protect all parties. Let me just introduce you to what we do and why.

Protect Yourself!

First, as a leader (in church or in the business or the non-profit world), you must protect yourself. There are two levels to this. The most basic level is to protect yourself from sexual temptation. This requires more in depth attention, so I’ll address this in another blog. Then, you have to protect yourself from unnecessary allegations. You can’t stop anyone from making an allegation at any time for any reason. But there are some things you can do to limit the reasons for someone to assume the worst and if an allegation is made, to protect yourself.

Here’s what I (we) do. I will not meet (meals, meetings, counseling) with or travel with a person of the opposite sex alone. I will meet with a woman as long as other people are present or I’ll meet in a setting where I can have a private conversation, but only in my office or space where there are open windows and other people in the immediate office area. I won’t allow myself to be in church bathroom if it is only me and another boy. If I find myself in that situation, I walk out. In counseling with the opposite sex I won’t share any of my own experiences or past struggles with sexual matters. I’m a hugger, but I’m very careful in how I hug a woman and only in a public place. I won’t put myself in a situation where someone can make an allegation and I (or the church) have no way to defend myself. That’s the world we live in! Don’t be stupid and protect yourself!

Yes, some of these “rules” make travel, meetings and greetings more difficult. I’ve even been criticized for following these principles. But these policies allow for me and others to have private conversations with the opposite sex – just not in a compromising context. And should an allegation come, I’ve at least attempted to protect myself. Too few churches, organizations and businesses have these policies. You can see our policies in the Resource section of the Leading Edge website.

Protect Your Staff and Volunteers

Second, you have to create an environment that protects your staff from any form of abuse or harassment. Abuse or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at our church. It must be a safe place for all. We will do all we can not allow physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual abuse to exist and persist.

We have a clear policy on this. We have every staff member read and sign that they have read and agree to the policy. Every year in an all staff meeting I review this policy and remind everyone that we find any kind of abuse or harassment unacceptable. Further, I tell the staff that if they ever experience this they must first confront the person doing the harassment or abuse unless they truly fear physical harm. They have the right to express that they are uncomfortable in any situation. If the employee feels they have not been heard or the issue isn’t responded to well enough, or there is retaliation, they have the right to go to the next level of leadership all the way to the church board if needed. In fact, I beg them to take it to the appropriate next level. I want my staff to be responsive. Finally, we are just beginning to set up a group who will be able to receive and process any allegation against a staff person or key volunteer leader.

I shared these ideas and more at a lunch during the last Global Leadership Summit that we hosted at Pantano in August. You can watch the video here. Don’t be stupid! Protect yourself, your staff and your volunteer leaders as well as your whole congregation.

 

Here’s my first Leading Edge blog post! Thanks for subscribing! I thought I would start my blog with the 4 books I recommend to every church leader. We all learn to lead in different ways. Conferences are great. Mentoring is essential. Experience is invaluable. But reading is one of the key ways I learn and most leaders learn. I can’t encourage you enough to make the discipline of reading a priority.

The books I share below are books that I actually took our leadership team through and we used to develop our ministry. These books prompted hours of prayer and reflection on my part which led to leadership retreats, meetings, and eventually new ways of doing church. I especially recommend these books for anyone who has recently become a lead pastor or started a church or is ready to turn their church around. I believe these books, though some have a church focus, have many applications to non-profits and businesses as well.

#1 Church Unique – How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement by Will Mancini. You can see by the title and subtitle how critical this book is. When I first became the Lead Pastor of Pantano I took my executive team through this book and we develop our “vision frame.” The vision frame is the clarity of your vision surrounded by a frame that covers your mission mandate, your values and motives, your key strategies and the mark or measurements of success. This has provided us a guide and blueprint for moving our church toward truly impacting our culture.

See the Church Unique Visual Summary pdf on the Leading Edge website under resources.

#2 The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. In 2012, God made it clear to me that the health of our staff and church was to be a priority. That same year The Advantage was published – thank God! Lencioni maintains that organizational health is dependent on a cohesive leadership team that has and communicates clarity. I took our executive team through the book and we developed our playbook from the 6 questions that create clarity.  

Click here and go to “Free Tools and Resources” for a summary of the principles or disciplines of The Advantage. See our Pantano Christian Church Playbook 2.0 pdf on the Leading Edge website under resources.

#3  Deep and Wide – Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley. This is a must read book if you want to reach unchurched people while serving those who already follow Jesus. This book provides inspiration as well as practical strategies to help people find God and a church community. I’ve had all my key leaders read and discuss this book!

#4 The 4 Disciplines of Execution – Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by McChesney, Covey and Huling. Our entire leadership now focuses on one big WIG (Wildly Important Goal) at a given moment. That’s the first discipline. But big important goals don’t just happen. Execution is actually rare in most organizations. The other three disciplines help you execute: acting on lead measures, developing a scorecard and then creating accountability. We practice this for every WIG and the results have been stellar. See the overview video here, the content overview here and the summary of The Four Disciplines of Execution pdf on the Leading Edge website under resources.

I would read the books in the order I listed them. But make the commitment to actually do the work each requires. And honestly, it will take you a long time, likely years, to actually do what these books suggest. But the results are so worth it.

And please share with us some of your “must read” books and why they are a must read!