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Fixing Your Leadership Pipeline Problem

It’s happened once again: You’ve lost a key leader and find yourself filling in and doing things you know you shouldn’t be doing. So, once again, you promise yourself that this year will be different. You’re going to conquer the challenge of leadership development and build a deep leadership bench – a pipeline for developing leaders – for your ministry.

Why is leadership development a reoccurring problem for so many? In short, it’s a lack of intentionality.  We know leadership development is important, but few leaders integrate it into their weekly routine. And even fewer develop an intentional plan that ensures an ongoing reproduction of leaders. It’s just too easy to be distracted by the urgent and allow the development of leaders to take a back seat to everything else. We feel stuck and we’re too busy to develop leaders, but we need more leaders to get all the work done.

In 2013, I begin working with Will Mancini at Auxano to provide a Leadership Pipeline Development process for churches. The process focuses on building a culture of leadership development and emphasizes four essential components of an intentional leadership development strategy.

Structure – How is your church structured? Just as our spinal structure can dramatically impact our mobility, our church structure can impact the development of new leaders. Most churches structure for function rather than for development.  An intentional leadership development strategy focuses on both function and development as they built their structure.

System – How do potential leaders move to new levels of leadership? It’s essential you have a defined system or map for moving leaders from one level to the next. The absence of such a system makes the leadership development pathway confusing and inconsistent.

Content – What skills are essential for every level of the leadership pipeline?  As leaders move to new levels of leadership it requires new skills. Too often we simply throw them into leadership responsibility without proper preparation. An intentional Leadership Pipeline Development plan has defined exactly what competencies are required for various levels of leadership, and how to get them there.

People- Who is responsible for equipping new leaders? If that responsibility falls solely on the shoulders of one person, you will never build a culture of leadership development. The focus must be on raising an abundant harvest of reproducing leaders in your church. That’s when you will begin to fill your leadership pipeline.

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maclake@churchleaders.com'
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.