In the last article on senior leadership teams, I talked about seven questions to identify who should be on the team. Once you’ve assembled the team, though, then the next opportunity is to create a culture that empowers these leaders. It does no good to invite leaders to be a part of your team if you’re not going to let them lead.
With that in mind, here are seven strategies to empower leaders to leverage their gifts and maximize the potential of your organization.
1. Agree on the vision and values, and let your leaders make decisions.
If the senior pastor has to make all the decisions and come up with all the new ideas, that’s an indication of micromanagement rather than empowerment. The objective is to push decision making to the front lines of ministry. By clarifying vision and values and implementing systems that facilitate next steps, you can free people, both staff and volunteers, to engage ministry without having to wait for permission.
2. Invite conflict privately. Demand unity publicly.
It’s impossible to have unanimous agreement on every decision. The goal is not consensus — there will be rare instances, in fact, when leaders have to make tough calls, and the majority of the people in the room think it’s the wrong decision. That’s leadership. At the same time, though, you have to create an environment where push-back or alternatives are welcomed but unity is expected.
3. Hold leaders responsible for outcomes rather than dictating the execution.
As long as the execution fits within the framework of your vision, values, and strategy, leaders should have freedom when it comes to the path from here to there. If you can’t trust them with executing the tasks, you have the wrong leaders. On the other hand, the expectations need to be quite clear. What’s the win? There should be no confusion over the expected outcomes.
4. Determine what the team needs to process together and what you need to monitor together.
What you want to avoid is the situation where every decision has to rise to the top of the organization. Your agenda should be action-oriented. There should be honest assessment of current numbers and trends. Your meetings should be relatively short and full of engaging conversation where everyone participates. If everyone isn’t needed in the conversation, that’s an indication you should be processing the decision in an e-mail message or a sidebar conversation instead.