In 2002, I learned one of the most powerful leadership principles I’ve EVER learned … and it has PROFOUNDLY impact my leadership, our staff culture AND our church in a positive way.
Let me set it up before I share the principle:
I believe that leaders are learners (no, that’s not the principle). If we are going to be effective leaders, then we need to do WHATEVER it takes to learn, to put ourselves in learning environments, to pay the price to GROW.
Most leaders stop being effective in their leadership when they stop learning–and in so doing become comfortable, apathetic and lazy. God had called leaders to do lots of things, but “putting the church” on cruise control is not one of them!
I remember making the decision to invest in my personal growth as a leader in 1996 when I signed up for a monthly tape club that John Maxwell did. It was a MAJOR financial investment for me as I did not have ANY extra money. It was a major time commitment as I had to listen to the tapes, but it paid off as I was preparing years ago for what I am doing today.
Skip forward a few years when I planted NewSpring Church. I was still hungry to grow as a leader. I would read books, listen to tapes and CD’s and attend conferences … WHATEVER it took! (And no, our church DID NOT have a huge conference budget. Many times in those early years it came out of my pocket.)
However, I began to notice something as we began to bring on staff. As a leader, I have a responsibility to make sure that staff members are allowed opportunities to grow and develop as leaders as well. I need to not only be willing to pay the price for me to grow but for them to grow as well, because … (here is the principle):
The church will move forward a lot faster when WE grow as leaders, not just when I grow as a leader.
So, early on I made the decision that I was NOT going to attend a conference alone. In fact, I always have tried to take as many people as possible and place them in learning environments, because I believe that when we learn together it will be WAY more beneficial for our church than when I learn alone.
It’s not about me, it’s about “WE!”
I was reminded of this concept last week when I found out that a pastor had signed up for our leadership intensive, and that he wasn’t just coming alone but had paid the price and was bringing his entire leadership team. That decision is proof that he is a leader who doesn’t just want to develop himself as a leader but wants his whole team to be developed.
EVERYONE who has EVER attended a conference with their staff and/or volunteers knows that THE BEST time of the conference is NOT the conference itself but rather the conversations after the sessions that take place in restaurants, coffee shops and hotel lobby’s late into the night. It is during those times that major decisions are made.
But those times do not happen when the leader goes at it alone.