3 Current Cultural Crises That Provide Great Opportunities for Leaders (If You Seize Them)

Ironically, if your goal is to simply gain followers, you will eventually lose followers. And even if your followers stay with you as a statistic, you will not have their hearts. Which means you won’t have them.

Our church, for example, is home to over 2,000 people. We just moved into a new facility and are experiencing another growth spurt. While it’s exciting to grow, it’s even more critical to connect.

So as we grow larger, we are hyperfocusing on personally connecting as many people as possible. Our groups and personal connection points at our church have never been more important.

We’ve also talked to all our communicators in different environments to help us all focus on the more personal, human and even imperfect sides of our personalities.

As you get bigger and have access to more resources, it’s critical to stay grounded, humble, personal and approachable.

People simply want to connect with people and with God.

Leaders who provide connection will own the future.

3. A crisis of direction, not options

A third crisis before us is a crisis of direction, not options.

As this New York Times piece points out, we have more options than we have ever had in human history. And it’s paralyzing us.

When people have the option to do 10 things, they often choose to do nothing.

In the same way that information can be overwhelming, too much choice can be disorienting. The very thing that promises freedom (choice) actually brings bondage.

Smart leaders will stop providing options and instead provide direction.

Leaders who provide direction will still offer choice, but choice among a narrower range of options that leads somewhere meaningful and ultimately beneficial.

Again, you are helping broker meaning in an age of information and choices.

Providing direction can be difficult in leadership. In an age where people are programmed to demand options and endless choices, it takes courage to decide you won’t offer a sea of options just to make people happy.

Leaders who get over their natural desire to be liked will (as I wrote about here), ironically, end up being being far more admired than those who give in to the pressure to please.

Deciding ahead of time on a few options that provide the best outcomes for the people you’re leading will result in more traction, not less.

But it also means you have to do the hard work of:

1. Determining ahead of time where to lead people.

2. Making mid-course adjustments when your way turns out not to be the best way.

3. Having the humility to admit when you’re wrong.

4. Being willing to withstand the constant criticism you will get for not offering more.

But if you can withstand all of this, you will be far more effective.

Naturally, you need to lead people in a direction that ultimately helps them most … this is not about you moving people through hoops to get to a place that pleases you but helps few.

But if you really lead people to a place that helps them, they’ll be incredibly grateful. And they’ll tell their friends.

Our culture craves direction. Few leaders currently have the courage to offer it.  

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.