Thursday, April 08, 2010

Good to Great to Godly
Corporate wisdom means "getting the right people on the bus," but spiritual leadership requires something more.
Mike Bonem | posted 4/05/2010
"We need more structure in our decision making. Without that discipline, we'll never accomplish anything."

"We're a church, not a business. We need to rely on God. We can't operate like the corporate world."

Ever been on one side or the other of this argument? Or perhaps in the middle? The tensions are present in most churches in America today. As corporate "best practices" are applied to church life, church leaders struggle to make sense of it all.

When I worked in business, Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras was one of a handful of keep-at-my-fingertips references. It identified factors that enabled organizations to achieve superior performance over the long haul. So it was with great anticipation that I went to a Leadership Network event where Collins was to speak. In his presentation, he described the research findings that led to his second book, Good to Great. He emphasized the importance of getting "the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus." Collins discovered that strategic direction was less important than having the right leadership team. If you have the right people, they will help define the future direction of the organization. If they're in the wrong positions but have great potential and fit well, you can move them to a "different seat on the bus." But when someone is wrong for the organization, whether due to personality clashes or lack of ability, hanging onto that person can drag the entire enterprise down. Collins concluded that we should focus on senior staff as a top priority.

I nodded my head in agreement. Even though my job was in the marketplace at the time, I was also consulting with churches on pastoral leadership issues. I knew the tendency of many churches to make excuses rather than confront underperforming staff members. I remember thinking, Wouldn't the church be much more effective for the Kingdom if we got the wrong people off the bus?

Little did I know that within a year I would join a church staff and gain first-hand opportunities to test this and other business principles as a church leader. I did not foresee the challenges I would encounter.

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