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When Leadership Development Dollars are Tight

In the face of this tough economy I find that many churches are cutting their development dollars.  As they take a magnifying glass and a scalpel to their budget it’s the conferences fees, travel expenses and  book allowance that are among the first being cut.  I understand, things are tight, but just because you cut your development budget doesn’t mean you need to cut leadership development. Here are a few development ideas you can use when dollars are tight.
  • Bring in instead of Go Out. Instead of sending 5-10 people to a conference and paying their registration, hotel, food and travel expenses.  Bring in a speaker for a day.  You get the advantage of more time, personalized attention, up close and personal Q & A, and many times the benefit of an ongoing relationship where you can pick up the phone and call them.  A few I would recommend: Tony Morgan, Alan Danielson, Mark Howell, Bill Donahue, Geoff Surratt, Sherry Surratt, Mindy Caliguire.
  • Peer to Peer rather than Expert to Novice. Take advantage of the collective wisdom of your leaders.  Take a leadership subject, gather your leaders in a room and let them learn from each other.  Here is a simple format you can follow: (1) Introduce the Leadership Topic, for example: Decision Making, Innovation, etc.  (2) Brainstorm a list of challenges or struggles typically associated with that topic. (3) Ask the group to brainstorm key principles for leading well in regard to that particular leadership subject. (4) Rank the ideas according to priority. (5) Develop an action plan
  • Leadership Lunch & Learn. Announce that you are doing a once a month Leadership Lunch and Learn for the next six months. Tell everyone to bring a brown bag lunch (once again saving your organizations budget).  Have everyone read a chapter or two of a book and come prepared to discuss what they learned.
  • 10 Minute Trainings.  Use 10 minutes of your weekly team meeting to focus on a leadership competency.  Have different members of your team lead this portion of the meeting.  Here is a real simple four part agenda you can use that will keep it short but beneficial.  TOPIC- Introduce the leadership topic.  TROUBLE – Share the typical problems or mistakes associated with that leadership topic  TIPS- Share 3-4 tips to help your team lead better in that area.  TAKE AWAY – Challenge everyone to identify one way they can make application in their personal leadership.
  • Mentoring. While there may be a shortage of dollars in your organization, it’s likely there’s not a shortage of wisdom and experience.  Approach your more seasoned and experienced leaders and challenge them (I say require them) to begin mentoring 1-3 less experienced individuals in your organization. This is a great chance to teach your people not to rely on conferences or outside resources for leadership development. And this will be a huge step in helping your organization begin to build a leadership development culture.   Not sure how to mentor check out the following posts: Guidelines for Establishing a Mentoring Relationship, Mentoring Made Easy.
  • Leverage your business people. If you’re leading a church look around your congregation or community for well respected business leaders and invite them to come and lead a session with your team.  I’ve found that in most cases they are honored that you would ask and feel it’s a significant way to use their gifts and experience to benefit the church.

What are other things you’ve done at your church or organization to ensure development is continuing despite a tight budget?

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Mac Lake is the Development Pastor at Seacoast Church, a multi-site church with 13 campuses, where he oversees leadership development, small groups, missions, communications, and internships. He is a popular church leadership conference speaker and the author of the training resource Growing Small Group Leaders. Learn more from Mac at MacLakeOnline.com.